Monday, November 21, 2011

Little Things

This is a quick, healthy and delicious dinner. If only I could figure these things out for every night... This one's easy though. Pop the chicken thighs in the toaster oven with onions, garlic (okay I use garlic from a tube...) sage, salt and pepper. Get the barley boiling. Sautee onions, mushrooms, sage and garlic, add white wine and a few spoons of heavy cream. Simmer. The barley should be done cooking in 30 minutes, so leave everything alone until then. Then quickly blanche your asparagus, drain the barley, mix it into the mushroom sauce, and serve with the chicken. Ta da! Sort of.

I was in dire need of a haircut. Unhealthy ends, lots of weight at the bottom which made my hair crazy flat. But my hairstylist has just moved back to Japan, and I don't really have money for a haircut anyways. So I trimmed it myself! I'm happy, the ends are a bit more polished now and there's more volume at the top. Nothing drastic, but I'm pleased as punch about it.

Another quick, healthy dinner! The smell of white wine tomato sauce always makes me so happy. I sauteed some onion, then threw in the chicken breast, added white wine, a squirt of garlic from a tube, one cocktail tomato diced up, salt and pepper and then voila! This sauce is amazing with mussels.

 These are the colors I find myself regularly wearing from left to right: Sephora's "It Girl", NARS "Schiap", NARS "Belle de Jour", Revlon Colorburst "Soft Nude", Revlon Moondrops "Blase Apricot", Rimmel "Airy Fairy".

 Need I say more? I'm a big dark chocolate fan and find milk chocolate difficult to eat now for the most part, but after revisiting smores with the toaster oven, I've decided that it must be milk. My marshmallows have to be charred brown and black outside - I love that delicious caramel crispy gooeyness you get.

Liming and I took Steven out for his birthday, it was a low key, lovely event. Okay, so I contributed to dinner and Liming paid for most of it - I don't want to steal his credit. But I did get Steven a birthday card! Despite having a busy schedule, it's so important to celebrate special moments with friends. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Bauer Kitchen

When asking about good restaurants in Waterloo, The Bauer Kitchen popped up several times. Some people raved about it, while others said it was good but overpriced.

Well I just had to see for myself! :) I mentioned this to Mario, and he ended up taking me there to try their fall dinner menu.

You can't see it really well, but my top is covered in little stars like the popular Dolce & Gabanna star motif of this season. I got it from H&M and adore it. 

What a handsome face.

The "Chipotle Roasted Pork Belly Pizza" was served with white sauce, over dried yellow cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic cloves, roasted red pepper, bocconcini, provolone and scallions for $14.95.

Because of the description, I expected to see clearly visible pieces of cherry tomato, charred morsels of pork belly, and rounds of bocconcini but instead came upon a rather anticlimatic visual presentation. Pretty bland, to be honest.

Disheartened and not expecting much, I took my first bite. Surprise! My first thought was, "This is really interesting! And really good." I forgot that the base was a white sauce when I saw the pizza, but it's actually a really good choice. The pork is so salty, the garlic strong, and the red pepper lively that a neutral base like a white sauce was what really allowed those flavors to pop through. It was one of the most interesting pizzas I had ever tried.

My only complaint was that the bottom of the pizza had gotten a bit soggy. :(

It's interesting that despite being a "low brow" food, good pizza is actually difficult to replicate at home - at least if you don't have a wood fired oven and a pizza stone, which many people don't. In Toronto I really love the pizza at Mark McEwan's Fabbrica, and used to love the pizza at Pizzeria Libretto until they randomly started getting worse...

The "Herb-brined chicken supreme" came with porcini brandy cream sauce, roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables for $22.95.

The chicken was incredibly juicy, and the vegetables were cooked to perfection. Admittedly this wasn't a culinary revelation, but it was roast chicken done just as it should be. I couldn't really taste any cream sauce, but this is a dish that really allows the ingredients to speak for themselves without gastronomic flair or exotic sauces.

I'd like to return to try their intriguing cocktail menu, and maybe sample their steak tartare...!

The Bauer Kitchen
187 King Street South, Unit 102
 Waterloo, Ontario

The Bauer Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Throwback Love

For school I'm reading an article by Kate Warren, "Creative Re-enactment in the Films and Videos of Omer Fast". She discusses our preoccupation with the past, and notes our desire for re-creations, re-readings, and re-productions of the past.

I think throwbacks resonate with a lot of people-- we all seem to be curious about time periods that are inaccessible to us. Recently I saw "All About Eve" and oh how I love it. The script is fantastic but I couldn't help but enjoy escaping to another time as well.

The play which the movie was based off of.

These throwback thoughts were furthered sparked when I went to Winners and found a duo package of China Glaze nailpolish.

The colors are gorgeous: "Bubbly" is the perfect mix of vintage pearl and the effervescent sparkle pop of champagne, and "Gussied up Green" is an intriguing, dark green that I can see in old dresses and costume jewelry.

These shades are a great example of the past re-created-- made anew, presented in a modern context. I love it.

Coat: Zara, dress: Forever 21, leggings: Forever 21, boots: Boathouse

I don't mean to look so serious here. :/ But I love the peter pan collar of my jacket and the classic Mad Men/Joan cut of my orange dress. I love a little touch of classic old school in any outfit.

I also recently got this necklace from Forever 21 and can't wait to find an occasion to wear it. Although knowing me, I'll probably pair it with a t-shirt and a jean jacket to dress it down. I love the sturdy, thick chain matched with the delicate, feminine pearls. Forever 21 Curb Chain necklace.

I'm nursing a sore throat and a headache, I hope it goes away soon!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sablétine Croissants

Going out for breakfast is one of my favorite things.

I love a hearty Western breakfast (lots of bacon, please!), and sometimes I pine after a dainty goat cheese souffle/eggs benedict smoked salmon experience.

But then there are times (several times, actually) where all I want is a good butter croissant.

Out of my big city Toronto stomping grounds, here in little Waterloo, lies a lovely looking French bakery: Sablétine Fine Pastries. Will my finicky carbohydrate demands be met?

In my humble opinion, a croissant should make deliciously crackly, crunching sounds as I bite through its butter flaked outside, making way for a soft, light and faintly sweet pillowy inside.

I am happy as a clam right now.

After being so impressed by their croissant, Mario and I loaded up on eclairs, macarons, chocolate cakes and raspberry pistachio cheesecake. I really like spending time with people who get as excited about food as I do.

I'm still keen to go back to Toronto and try the Celestin bakery for their famous baguettes. Things to do, things to do.

Sablétine Fine Pastries
203 King Street South
Waterloo, ON

Sablétine Fine Pastries on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

I will never pass up the opportunity to dress in costume.

My class decided to do a group costume this year and went as the Wizard of Oz cast! The student association had some costumes leftover from last year, and when I saw the Leg Avenue lion costume I immediately thought of this lion makeup tutorial using the same Leg Avenue costume and had to do it. Here's my loose interpretation:

I was also a blue fairy-- I didn't have time to go all out with the makeup like I had planned, but I still liked my costume in the end. I'm wearing a French Connection dress with dollar store wings!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Little Things

On a quest for Halloween accessories at the local thrift shop, I came upon these darling little necklaces for only $2-3 each. Since I don't drive, I don't really make the time to shop vintage - but I usually find something lovely like this each time I go. Does anyone else go vintage shopping anymore?

I normally wouldn't wear it with this casual, slouchy grey sweater but I wanted to take a photo of how they look on... I'd normally pair it with a more fitted t-shirt and blazer.

Shoppers Drug Mart is having another big beauty sale! Revlon nail polishes are down from $7 to around $3 I believe, and Rimmel Lasting Finish lipsticks are at $2.99 from around $7. There is a particular lipstick shade, Airy Fairy, that has been all over the YouTube makeup guru community for ages now. I can see why, Airy Fairy is a lovely cool pink nude shade-- a great go to color.

I told a classmate of mine today about it and she went to go buy it but it was sold out everywhere she checked!

Another product I've found and really liked wasn't on sale, but is still worth mentioning: Maybelline's Instant Age Rewind Dark Circles Eraser in "Brightening".

I once fell for YSL's Touche Eclat but could not justify spending $50 on a concealer. I tried L'Oreal's Touche Magique as a replacement, but I wasn't very happy with it. It dried very quickly and looked quite ashy and chalky in flash photography.

(To me it's obvious, to others it might not be... but the area around my nose should not be so white and ashen like it is in the photo)

The pink fluid of the Maybelline formula blends really nicely into the skin, which means less coverage but a really lovely natural uplift. Like I actually had been sleeping properly and going to yoga on a regular basis or something.

(Hee hee the white stuff in the corner of my eyes is white eyeliner I hadn't wiped off properly. Oops.)

This is going to look a little gross. But I love this meal.

To like this mess, you have to 1) like tuna salad sandwiches, and 2) like cottage cheese. I used to hate cottage cheese as a kid, but something just changed in me one day and I can't get enough. I love how it adds creaminess to so many things in a healthy way.

This is my quick healthy alternative to a tuna salad sandwich. Open and drain a good can of tuna that's been stored in olive oil. I like the Italian brand Callipo.  Mix with capers, finely diced red onion, cucumber slices, a good serving of 2% cottage cheese, lemon juice. The lemon and red onion really bring the tuna to life, the cucumber offers a cool mild backdrop to the bold flavours, and the cottage cheese unites everything in a delicious creamy swirl.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Express Dinners

Sometimes I'm just so tired that I need something instant and frozen for dinner. For the most part though I like to cook what I can, because I enjoy it and it's healthier.

There a ton of quick and easy cooking books on the market now-- the most famous ones being Nigella Lawson's "Express", Jamie Oliver's "Meals in Minutes", and most of Rachael Ray. To be honest though, sometimes I don't even have the energy for their idea of "fast" cooking.

For example, Nigella Lawson's mustard pork chops required me buying hard cider and heavy cream. It's certainly not the most arduous task, but it's not something I could call a "go to" recipe. They were delicious, especially with the gnocchi, but I have a tendency to overcook pork chops (i.e. dry) and I felt bit of added sugar was necessary to round out the recipe.

Now this is my idea of lazy cooking. Nigella Lawson actually gave me the idea (although it's not a particularly unique one) during one of her Express segments. She suggested items you could keep in the freezer, and fresh tortellini was one of them. "Just boil them in hot soup, and you have supper!" True, and perfect for a cold night. I just sautee an onion and a carrot in a bit of oil, add broth, some herbs and tortellini and it's honestly so, so good and simple.

My freezer is currently jam packed with various fresh stuffed pastas from President's Choice (available at supermarkets such as Loblaws, Valumart, Zehr's, etc). They're normally on the high end of $4, but right now they are on sale for $1.50!!!!!! As a student, I wept with joy.
President's Choice Trentino-Alto-Adige Porcini Tortellini is one of my particular favorites.

Savoury oats are an easy, no fuss alternative to risotto. Just cook the oats as normal, add a wedge or two of Laughing Cow Cheese, throw in some roasted pre-cut butternut squash cubes and herbs and you're done! You can also cheat and add a tiny splash of chicken stock concentrate.

Curry is supposedly easy, but still takes a bit more effort than I'm prepared for sometimes... Still, if I'm going to do it, I like to adapt Nigella Lawson's red prawn and mango curry. I follow it really loosely - I don't use mango or fish sauce (I would if I had it). But I make sure to have fresh coriander, a stalk of lemon grass broken in (it's only 50 cents or so at the supermarket), and fresh lime juice.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mom's Birthday Brunch - Zucchini Pancakes

It was my mom's birthday yesterday! Part of my present to her was making brunch.

I wanted something quick and easy but creative. My starting point was finding some way to spin the traditional Western breakfast.

President's Choice had these lovely looking lamb sausages for sale, and I thought they were a nice effortless way of jazzing up the meal. But what goes with lamb? That's when I had my brilliant zucchini pancake idea! (When I think of lamb I think of roast vegetables and other earthy things to compliment it. And mint jelly.).

I used this recipe for zucchini, but made the point of squeezing the grated zucchini before mixing the flour in. I didn't want the pancakes to be too soggy!

Tester pancakes.

To tie everything together (and to act as a dipping sauce) I served the plate with some Greek yogurt and honey. The honey is amazing with both the pancakes and the sausage, and the yogurt is thick, creamy and heavenly cool against the rest of the warmth.

I'm really happy with how it turned out, and happy that I didn't feel like passing out with exhaustion after cooking. Happy birthday, mom!