Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Roasted sweet potato and chickpea salad with couscous, vegetables and honey-chile dressing

Not long ago, I wrote about my efforts to counter weekend summer indulgences with wholesome salads. I adapted this recipe from one printed in a recent issue of Style at Home magazine. I omitted the lentils, substituted different vegetables, and swapped sambal oelek in for harissa paste. I have to say, I liked this way better than the salade niçoise. Sweet and tangy flavours get me every time. And as someone who’s pretty liberal with sauces, marinades and dressings, this packed a lot of punch without an excess of dressing. Brad gave this an enthusiastic two thumbs (vegetarians, take note).


To make dressing, whisk together 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3T apple cider vinegar, 2T honey, 2T orange juice, 1T Russian-style mustard, 1T orange zest, 2 tsp sambal oelek, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom and 1/2 tsp salt. 

Peel and dice 2 sweet potatoes into 1" cubes. Toss with 2/3 of the dressing. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drain 1 can of chickpeas and toss with remaining dressing. Spread in a single layer on another baking sheet. Wrap 3 beets in foil. Roast sweet potatoes, chickpeas and beets at 375F for 40 minutes. 

While potatoes and chickpeas are roasting, cook 1 cup dry couscous according to package directions. Boil 2 cobs of corn for 2-3 minutes. Let cool, then cut corn away from cob. Finely slice 3 green onions.

Once beets have cooked, remove skin and dice in 1/2" cubes. 

In a large serving bowl, gently toss couscous, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, beets, corn and green onion with 1/2 cup of pine nuts. Serve warm, and spinkle mint leaves over top before serving. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hakuna matata

Deciding what to wear to a wedding taking place at a zoo was surprisingly easy - my flowy jungle-print maxi dress. I added a green stone earrings-and-pendant set handed down to me from my grandmother. A coral clutch and toenail polish picked up more of the colours in the print on the dress. It was a hot and humid day so I kept my hair off my face in a stylized tri-pony inspired by Blake Lively (see the inspiration photo here). 


Hakuna matata is a Swalihi phrase meaning 'no worries'. It was popularized by The Lion King movie.

You have to be hakuna matata to get married with a baby belly that looks like this! To everyone's relief, their baby girl did not make her arrival until five days after the wedding. 

There were lots of cute animals at the zoo, like this alpaca....

Or these giraffes.

Monkey faces!

A short sleeve knit cardigan kept me warm through dinner.

Dress - Ted Baker outlet
Cardigan - Veronika Maine (most recently here)
Earrings and pendant - grandmother's closet
Bracelets - Aldo accessories and Toronto boutique
Clutch - Coach
Pumps - Guess
Sunglasses - Winners

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Salade niçoise

After weeks of indulging in BBQs, wedding meals, and my fair share of beer, wine and cocktails, I've been craving healthy summery salads. Recently a colleague was telling me about his new investment property in Nice, which got me thinking about...salade niçoise. 

I prepared it recently for a light but filling weeknight dinner. This recipe is pretty classic, but it's a nice reminder that sometimes there's just no need to mess with centuries of French culinary development. This serves 6(ish). 


To make salad:

Prepare four-hard boiled eggs. Put 4 eggs (the older, the better) in a pot of cold water, add 1T vinegar and bring to a boil. Once boiling for one minute, remove pot from heat and cover with a lid. Let sit for 12 minutes. Scoop out eggs using a slotted spoon then plunge into ice water. Remove shells and cut lengthwise into quarters.

Trim and steam one large handful of green beans for 3-4 minutes, until tender-crisp. Cut into thirds and set aside.

Boil 2 lbs of baby potatoes in a pot filled with about 8 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Slice potatoes in half.

Slice 1 pint campari tomatoes in half. 

Wash and chop 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce. 

In a large bowl or shallow serving platter, combine lettuce, tomatoes, beans, potatoes and eggs. Add 3 tins of canned tuna and 1/4 cup each of chopped anchovies and olives.

To make vinaigrette: 

Whisk 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1 tsp chopped garlic, a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper.

Gently toss salad with vinaigrette.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Follow the leader: pink/red

Hands up: who remembers Sarah Jessica Parker leading the surge on red and pink with this daring colour combination?

I was about to relegate my burgundy wax denims to a storage bin for the summer when I decided to give them a whirl with a cherry blossom print top, ivory blazer and rose heels. Ta-da! It's a muted version of SJP's combo. 

With the wedding series, I haven't had time to plan any mid-summer outfit-type posts but I'm hoping to get a few up before the return of cool weather!

  (These photos pre-date the wedding, when I was still breaking in my bridal shoes I'm breaking in. Lots of outfits were planned around this footwear!)

Jeans - Banana Republic
Top - Louben via Winners
Blazer - H&M
Sandals - Nine West via outlets
Bracelets - Aldo Accessories and hand-me-downs
Earrings - Gift

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cute and comfy sweats for summer road trips

I've logged a lot of time on the road this summer (six straight weekends, to be exact). Long car rides call for clothes that are cute enough for truck station pit stops but cozy enough for curling up in your seat watching the landscape roll by. I've been wearing variations on this outfit: hat, sweatpants, comfy cotton layers on top, ballet flats or sandals and a travel mug.

On a recent trip to Syracuse, I bought these sweatpants from BCBG and loved them enough to get them in both navy and grey. Five years ago that would've seemed a little rich but already feel I've gotten my money's worth because THEY DIDN'T SHRINK (your turn, J Crew pajama designer). They're not completely shapeless and wonderfully, luxuriously soft. There's nothing like getting home from work and pulling a pair of these on. At about $45 a pop from the outlet store, they weren't cheap but not outrageous either. If they last the 10 years my previous pair did, they'll be worth every penny.

I like that this outfit is also reflective of my more casual side, which I don't always show on the blog. Another peek into the real me? We took these photos in my childhood park, which may explain my sudden urge to hop on a swing or set up an impromptu game of soccer baseball. 

This weekend we are celebrating our friends' wedding, taking place at a zoo (how fun is that?!). The bride is 9 months pregnant and has been remarkably chill about everything...but send good vibes that the baby stays inside for another couple of hours!!


Sweatpants - BCBG
Short sleeve tee - French Connection
Long sleeve tee - Michael Stars via Sak's Off Fifth
Fedora - Forever 21
Sandals - Ann Taylor
Bag - Dooney & Bourke

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A look back: the awesomest moments (part 2 of 2)

These are the moments that touched my heart.


Photographers capturing us reading each other's vows

My dad catching his first glimpse of me

My cousin/bridesmaid Rachelle hand-making these phenomenal signs.

Receiving a sweet note and beautiful rose gold necklace from my sister the morning of the wedding. 

Greeting my 94-year-old grandfather after the ceremony 

(Update: This photo is all the more meaningful to me now, as my grandfather passed away shortly after the wedding.)

My bridesmaid's husband Mark filming our wedding. His wife Sara using the same font as our stationery on the CD printout, and repurposing our invitation as the CD case insert.

Groups of guests linking arms and swaying to the music during the father-daughter dance.

Getting to face our guests during the ceremony, rather than have our backs to them. 

Choosing to place my bouquet at his mom's gravesite, instead of a bouquet toss.

Friendships and sisterly bonds that withstand the test of time.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A look back: the awesomest moments (part 1 of 2)

(This is the second-to-last post in my wedding series.)

Wedding planning and weddings themselves are full of unexpected or lighthearted moments. These are some of my faves.


Not taking ourselves too seriously during our entrance.

Laughing until our sides hurt during the obligatory roasting of the groom.

My girlfriends writing down their wedding dress predictions and dropping them in our envelope box.

S’s dress matching the bathroom walls.

The sheer randomness of some of the reply cards.

Becoming the newest member of the sisterhood of the travelling garter. 
Total weight: 40g
Becoming the newest member of the sisterhood of the travelling bridal magazines. 
Total weight: 56.8 pounds

{Photo credit}

Making a birthday beer cake for delivery to the boys at the hotel.

Ordering an entirely-edible Indiana Jones birthday cake from my baker friend for a post-wedding brunch.

Sunglasses. Because, why not?