Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Naan-tastic!

I can try to explain to you how much I love naan bread, but you probably wouldn't really understand. I could eat it all day, everyday. I love it dipped, topped with salty or sweet things, plain, hot or cold. I know naan is not a new food trend by any means. I know a ton of people who use naan in their meals on a regular basis. For this post I just want to give you a little run down on the different ways I use naan and hopefully one of these ways will be new to you!
Use more Naan by:
1. Dipping it in your soup.

Photo from Emily at Back to the Cutting Board blog.
I imagine this would taste good with most soups, but I usually use it with this recipe for African Peanut Soup. Beats crackers by a long shot. I bet it would go well with chili too!

2. Making a meatball sandwich or a taco.

This is the easiest weeknight supper ever. Do up some pre-cooked frozen meatballs in the microwave and coat them with BBQ sauce. While they're nuking, fry up some peppers and onions if you like. Throw it all on a piece of naan and add tomatoes and voila-- instant supper. This can be served with a salad or some fresh cut up veggies. You can also try any other type of sandwich, how about chicken & asparagus? Also you can try making either a bean or beef taco by topping it with meat, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa.
3. Piling it with pizza toppings.

 Another super-easy lunch or supper here. Spread some pizza sauce or pasta sauce on the bread, leaving a half an inch or so along the edges to give it a "crust." Then top it with some spices & your favorite pizza toppings. I love using goat cheese or feta, peppers, spinach and bacon. Bake at 375 or 400 until the crust is warm and the cheese is melted. Use a fork & knife to eat or cut it into quarters and dig in, like me! A similar idea I've tried is making big bruschetta pizzas drizzled with balsamic. More bruschetta is always better... Oh, and I bet garlic fingers would work too!

4. Creating healthier make-shift Beavertails. 

Photo courtesy of cbc.ca
This one I've only tried once, but I've been craving it ever since I saw that the Beavertails stall on the waterfront is now open. To make them, heat up the oven to 350, spread butter on the bread and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake until soft and warm. Also, you could try heating it up without the butter and then doing PB and banana, chocolate drizzle or maple butter. Yum! I really need to get on this.... now.

5. Serving it with dips.

Tzatziki, hummus, edamame dip, red pepper dip.... I wish I could try them all. You can either just warm the naan up in the microwave or crisp it up in the oven for a different texture.

It's fun to have naan with Indian food, but I hope you've got some ideas for working it into your regular, everyday meals. Let me know how you use this lovely bread.  Thanks for reading!

xo Janelle

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Casa Fridays: Mini Closet Makeover

Good morning!

I'll have a post up today with before & after pics of my storage closet. In the meantime, check out these creative closet makeovers from Real Simple magazine. 
As promised, here are the before & afters of my storage closet. Note that the Before is actually midway through as I only realized I should take pictures after I had already pulled out all of the cardboard boxes that were stacked there.



Please ignore the large door on the side that looks like an old piece of plywood. Our closet door in our bedroom kept coming off the track, even after being repaired, so Darryl took it off and we're storing it here for now.

This is what we were up to on Victoria Day! D started vacuuming and this motivated me cleaning out the storage closet. I used to have to keep my dresses in the coat closet which was not very convenient. That added to the fact that I also have gym clothes in the storage closet, pyjamas in a box under the bed, clothes in a dresser and in my room closet made me consider the storage closet as an option for a 2nd closet. So I pulled out the mountain of boxes in the closet and rearranged the rest of the junk and pushed it to the opposite side of what you see in the photo. (That's when I took the before pic) Then after I vacuumed and washed the floor I moved in my plastic storage container, all of my dresses & my jewelery hanger. A new walk-in closet in one hour and fo' free!

Thanks for reading,

xo Janelle

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I dream of Bora Bora

Warning: This post is photo-heavy.

Do you have a specific place that you would visit in a heartbeat if it weren't for the job, money (or lack thereof), other commitments or kids? Yes, you know the place I'm talking about. The one your mind flashes to when someone says the word paradise. That place. Well here's mine:

The St. Regis in Bora Bora--which is in the French Polenisian Islands if you didn't know. (I looked it up.) If you've seen Couples' Retreat, it's the hotel they stay at. They have balconies right above the ocean and tubs that you can see the ocean through the clear bottom. And... cue my squeal of excitement.

These are the rooms:

See the website for rates & more eye candy. Clearly these bungalows are way, and I mean wayyy, out of reach for me now and probably in this lifetime, which is why I'm hoping to someday visit these cabanas in Tulum, Mexico.

The swinging daybed outside

The tub is built right into the patio!

How perfect is this tub? You already know I love natural wood.

Amaretto sours anyone?

They're like the next best thing.... with less silk pillows and the addition of mosquito nets. They're not luxurious but give more of a cottage experience. They're simple, comfortable, rustic but still romantic. Not to mention, the views are breath-taking and you're right, right on the beach. Literally a step away... And for a beach-obsessed girl like me, this place looks perfect.

Tell me what your idea of paradise looks like. I wanna know!

xo Janelle

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Double Peanut Butter Cheesecake

As promised, today I'm posting the peanut butter cheesecake recipe that I whipped up last week. Please note, this is for peanut butter lovers only. It has a strong taste, but it's not overpowering. Consider this a warning though, you probably will want to eat more than one piece... Everyone I gave some to at work seemed to enjoy it & I got an "It's good" at home. Licking the bowl/spoon was a spiritual experience... Ha.

I used light cream cheese & light cool whip, because to me they taste the same. If you prefer the full-fat versions, I'm sure they would sub in fine. Or, feel free to sub in light peanut butter if you want an even lighter treat.

Here's what you need:

Most of the ingredients to make a little "piece of heaven" (get it?)

1     pre-made graham cracker crust (or make your own if you've got the time)
2 pkgs     light cream cheese
4-6 tbps     brown sugar
~1/4 c     peanut butter
1/2 c     Reese peanut butter Chipits
cool whip (as needed)

How to do it up:

1. If you want to pre-bake your crust follow the instructions on the lid. Otherwise, go to step 2.
2. Heat up both cream cheese packages by opening them and placing the blocks on a plate. Microwave for 30 seconds, check them and then heat again for 20-30 more seconds if needed.
3. Plop the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Add brown sugar a couple tablespoons at a time, creaming the mixture together well. Add the peanut butter. (Have a taste to see if more sugar is needed. If so add one tbsp at a time.)

4. Add the peanut butter chips and mix to evenly distribute them.

5. Scoop the mixture into the center of the graham cracker crust and spread gently outward toward the edges. Don't worry if the crust breaks up a bit, the mixture should hold it together.

6. Refrigerate until set, if you can wait that long... If not, top with a dollop of whipped cream and indulge yourself!

And the result is a cheesecake that's creamy, nutty and decadent but light. FYI this recipe was inspired by many others I've seen linked to on Tastespotting but I came up with a modified recipe that was more simple and (a little) less sweet. Let me know if you give it a try!

*What's your favorite PB recipe? Tell me in the comments!

xo Janelle

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Me, Abby & Cucumber salad

Hello everyone,

Here's a little peek at what I had for supper tonight. Leftover panang chicken from Cha Baa Thai on Queen St (hot hot hot) & thrown-together cucumber salad to cut the heat a bit.

To make the salad just slice an English cucumber nice and thin & lay it on some paper towels (or Kleenex). Sprinkle some salt on top to help them dry out.

Spoon some plain yogurt in a bowl. Add pepper, coriander, cumin and just a bit of chili powder. Mix well & add cucumbers. Refrigerate for 30 minutes if you have time. Enjoy!


This is what we're up to tonight:

I had to retype the end of this post because as I was writing she was simultaneously trying to sit on my arm, type on the keyboard, chomp on my belt and lick my face. One of her keyboard attempts posted this before it was finished.

We're off for a walk to burn off some energy.

Good night,

xo Janelle & Abby

Friday, May 20, 2011

Casa Fridays: Reclaimed Wood Tables

Happy long weekend everyone! Hope you get to spend some time relaxing. So, it's not a secret that I'm into interior design and decor (HGTV is always on), but because I live in an apartment there are limits to what I can do. For example, I'm not going to go out and buy a new bed/dresser set because it's expensive and I don't want the hassle of selling it in a year for less than what it's worth. Makes sense, right?

Now I may not be able to buy big-ticket items, but a girl can dream. And dream I do. I probably spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about how my future home will be, what style of furnishings I want, paint colors, backyard ideas... etc. etc. etc. A lot of this daydreaming will never amount to anything. Would I like an old claw-foot tub in a spacious bathroom with floor to ceiling windows? Um, yes. But will it ever happen? Ha.

But I bet you've guessed (by the title of this post) that the one thing I absolutely will have one day: a reclaimed wood dining table. Or at least one that looks like it was reclaimed. There's something about them that captures my full attention, all the knots, the dents, the imperfections. They remind me of a cottage or a camp table and they're just so comfortable looking. These tables look like someone enjoyed them before you did because, well, someone did (unless you DIY). Plus, you can feel good about reusing wood that otherwise would be rotting in a landfill somewhere... Reused, comfortable, pretty and you don't need to worry about every little nick, dent and scratch.

There are a few ways to go about getting one of these babies:
1. You can either buy the reclaimed wood and make your own. Most cities/towns have a place you can go to get wood that's in decent shape. Hardware stores would know where the closest one is...

2. Buy one, either in-store or hand-made. Check Kijiji for some authentic, handmade ones. They're generally less pricey than store-bought ones.

Photo credit: The Globe and Mail

3. Or you can take the ambitious route and buy wood, make it look reclaimed and make a table yourself. Young House Love has an easy-to-follow tutorial. On a side note, if you like home-related things check out their blog. It's about renovating/decorating their old bungalow project by project. Oh, and they're pretty hilarious.
Photo credit: John & Sherry of younghouselove.com

 Here are some other ones I like:

Just an old door with glass on top. Genius!

I would put bright colored chairs with this one.

Love this pretty blue one.
I hope you're daydreaming now too... Thanks for reading!

xo Janelle

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tasty "Wednesdays": Asian Home Gourmet (aka Indian food fast)

So I guess Tasty Tuesdays, as I decided to call them, have turned into Tasty-whenever-I-have-time. Last week it was Thursday and now it's Wednesday. Hopefully next week I'll be on track!

As I mentioned here, on Tasty Tuesdays I'm going to share a new recipe I tried, a cooking/baking tip, a restaurant review, a quick meal idea or a profile of an ingredient I use often. Tonight I want to talk about Indian food. Basically, it's delicious. The depth of the spices, the subtle heat, the smell... oh, and the naan. Ohhhh, the naan. But all that deliciousness isn't usually made in less than a few hours. Not only does it take a lot of time to cook authentic Indian, but it takes a lot of ingredients and a lot of kitchen know-how that I just don't know.

Now I could always order take-out and the Taj Mahal is only a short 10 minute walk away, but then again I'm a cheapie. I can't help it; it's in my blood. So while strolling the international section of Sobeys last fall I spotted a packet (on sale!) of Asian Home Gourmet butter chicken spice paste. I was skeptical because I had tried a butter chicken ready-made sauce before and it was good, but it just tasted a bit flat. Anyway, long story short-er I bought the paste, brought it home and followed the directions exactly. And............ I've bought it at least 3 times since then. It requires very minimal ingredients (chicken, onion, cream/milk etc.) and it kicks a butter chicken craving for less than half the price of take out. I'm not saying it tastes like you're at the Taj Mahal in Moncton (which I miss, PS) but for 4$ and a half-hour of my time, it's pretty damn impressive and tasty! You can up the yum factor by pairing it with ready-made naan (or homemade if you're feeling ambitious) and/or some basmati rice.

I also just recently tried this Asian Home Gourmet Indian Chicken Madras Curry, but I subbed chickpeas for the chicken. It was thick, rich and warm, almost like a wintery stew which was perfect for the rain storm-y day we were having.

If you're an Indian food lover like me, but you don't have the time or supplies to make your own, I would definitely suggest you give them a try. Has anyone else used these spice pastes? Let me know what you think! Here's a photo so you can spot them easily at the grocery:

It actually turns out to be much more yellow than orange...

Thanks for reading! Also, check back next week for my peanut butter chip cheesecake recipe.

xo Janelle

Monday, May 16, 2011

Casa (Monday): Upgrade!

I have some exciting news to share. Well, let me rephrase that. It's exciting for me because I was fed-up with our old couch. For the first few months it did the trick and to be honest, I didn't even really notice how uncomfortable it was, but lately it's been driving me nuts. Let me just say that it was very generous of D's parents' neighbour to give it to us. If she hadn't our living room would still look like this:

Bachelor pad?
Now I don't have a pic of our old couch in it's entirety, but you can see the top of it here

and the bottom of it here

Needless to say with the brown velour and vibrant 70s flower pattern it just wasn't our style. So we found this beauty on kijiji. After a "nail-biting" coin toss at the sellers house, my cousin and grandfather helped us bring it home. 

There it is! Our 200$, 8-year old, Ikea, Abby-friendly couch. It's comfy, it's easy to vacuum and when I wear gray sweatpants I blend right in. What more could we ask for, really?

xo Janelle

Friday, May 6, 2011

New Blog Plan: Casa Fridays!

Happy Friday!

So, as I mentioned yesterday I'm going to add some features to my blog to encourage myself to post. On Taste-Test (or Tasty, I haven't decided) Tuesdays I'll be doing the usual recipe posting, restaurant review or a profile of an ingredient I use often. On Fridays I'll be doing a Casa feature, where I'll share what I'm doing to fix up the apartment, link to pictures/inspirations I've found online or possibly do a fashion piece or two. So we'll have 2 theme days a week and then have a regular post somewhere in there if I can come up with an idea for a post.

So to kick off the Casa feature this week I'll tell you all about my "super-exciting" patio plans. One of the things I was the most excited about when we moved into this apartment in September was the large balcony. By the time they finished the new railing, it was almost December, so we haven't spent any length of time enjoying it yet. But with the weather starting to warm up, I've been reminiscing about past summers and how we used to eat most of our meals out on the back patio. Now because I've been having visions of sipping lemonade in the sunshine, I came up with a basic idea of what I want to do with our outdoor space.

First of all, we definitely need some sort of small, 2-seater table. I've been looking quite a bit, but everything I've found is either too expensive or just not my our style. That was until I stumbled upon this small, cheapie set from Jysk:


I think that 80$ for a wooden set is a pretty reasonable price and I love the natural, low-key look that it has. I'm planning on picking it up this weekend, but not before I sit and test out those chairs. I can always add a couple of cushions in a fun color if the seats are a bit hard.

Last week I also managed to score a set of solar, twig-like lanterns. I didn't snap a pic because my camera battery is dead, but they look like these decorative balls, just strung on a string:
Google Images
These will be wrapped around the top of the glass railing for some ambiance & soft lighting at night.

A few other things I want to add are a planter with some high branches, possibly an outdoor rug of some sort (for Abby) and maybe a piece of weather-proof art, just to brighten up the beige space. Because the table and the lanterns are very neutral, I plan on adding pops of color with the planter, rug and accessories. I'll post some progress pics and show you the final result too, so stay tuned!

Thanks for visiting!

xo Janelle

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lazy Tuesday

It's been a month since I've posted. Eep.

Today I have the day off & so Abby and I have just been lazing around all morning. We stayed up late watching the election last night, so we're a little low energy I suppose. I'm thinking about a few ideas for posts but they're not quite ready yet... maybe later on today or maybe later on this week. I plan on making more of a structure to my blog, like a weekly plan. I'll have certain features on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays for example. This will keep me on track!

Keep checking back, there's more to come soon. I promise :)

xo Janelle