Tuesday, February 28, 2012

cranberry apple crisp

This was our snack on Sunday. I had to seriously restrain myself from eating the whole pot full. Apple crisp was my favorite dessert growing up, tied with cheesecake. I remember mom used to make this at least once a month. Since we had a bag of apples that were a little past their prime, I decided to attempt making my own recipe.

In all honesty, I tried making apple crisp about 3 years ago and ended giving it entirely to my roommate. The "crisp" on the top was chewy and not at all cooked. It tasted okay, but the texture was gross. This time, I was determined to do it right. I was petty sure the reason it didn't turn out the previous time, was because I didn't add enough butter. So, I added lots of it this time, but I used margarine instead. The verdict? Amazing. Melt in your mouth apples with crunchy cinnamon-y topping topped with a scoopful of heaven (aka.light Cool Whip). Must. Not. Eat. Whole. Pan.

Cranberry Apple Crisp
Preheat oven to 375F.

5-6 apples
squirt of lemon juice
handful of Craisins
1/8c apple cider (unpasteurized)

Squirt a bit of lemon juice in a medium bowl. Core & slice the apples and toss with the lemon juice to reduce browning. When finished, lightly pack apple slices into a corningware dish (I used a round white one). Add a handful of Craisins. Pour cider over apples.

1-1/2c large flake oats
1/4+ c margarine
1/4c brown sugar

Mix these ingredients in a bowl until crumbly. Mixture should look something like this:

cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves

Spoon crumbly oats over apples and press down lightly. Sprinkle with a generous amount of cinnamon and a sparing amount of nutmeg & cloves. Bake at 375F for 40 mins. Top with a big spoonful of Cool Whip or ice-cream. Serve warm.

*If there's too much water/cider in the bottom, just drain it a bit! Maybe next time I'll try soaking the apples in the cider and then draining before putting them in the pan. If I do, I'll post an update.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

steppin out to the market [navy & pink]

 photo from IBackpackCanada
photo from HalifaxFarmersMarket

Yesterday we hit up the Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market. I absolutely love strolling the aisles and picking out pretty handmade things and delicious ingredients to bring home. I always end up spending more than I intended to, which is why we don't go every weekend. This time we brought home gerbera daisies, goat cheese, sausage buns, a mini meat pie and dog treats. Goodies aside, we had fun exploring all the different vendors and artisan's booths. We tried some Canadian tea.

I had mango-maple and ended up drinking the rest of D's masala chai. He's not really a tea person...

We stumbled across these beautiful ash wood cutting boards and serving planks. I think they're absolutely stunning.

I had a nice little catch-up chat with my former manager and then headed off to pick up this meal for only $6 from Amir's Indian Food. I love coming here. Me & mom had his samosas way back in the summer.

And later that night we used our buns to make these.

It was a lovely start to a lazy Saturday. And to link up with Harpers Happenings, here's what I wore on our adventure:

There's a little story behind this outfit. I saw this gorgeous top at Pseudio that had white, navy & pink stripes of different widths. I thought it was such a fun combination, but it was not in my size. Thinking I could recreate the same feeling with something I already had, I threw on a salmon tank and my well-loved, can't-live-without-it navy cardigan. I think it turned out alright. Comfy enough for lounging and passable for public.

I'm working on my poses, guys. My photographer is giving me some direction... "Do something with your hands."

White tank: mens, Wal-mart
Leggings: kids, Wal-mart
Salmon tank: H&M
Cardigan: Old Navy
Boots: Hush Puppies
Necklace: two combined, cant remember...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

lunch quickie: bacon avocado fresh spring rolls

My workday lunches can get pretty boring. They're usually delicious, but ordinary. I think I once ate tuna, crackers and raw vegetables every day for a week. And there's always the fallback sandwich or wrap.

Since I'm lucky enough to get to come home for lunch for a full hour, I usually just make something when I arrive as opposed to having something prepared. It has to be something easy & relatively fast so that I can join D on the couch for the Price is Right on TV. Yes, we sometimes act like we're in our seventies. Watching PIR, playing scrabble, doing other old people things...

Last week I had an avocado that needed to be eaten up so I thought up with these delicious Bacon Avocado Fresh Spring Rolls. They don't take too long to make, about 10-15 minutes for 4 and are a great alternative to a sandwich.

You will need:

rice paper wraps - tomato - bell pepper - avocado - real bacon bits - deli shaved ham - ranch dressing or honey mustard

You will need to:

Cut the tomato, avocado & bell pepper into slices.

Fill a bowl with 1" deep hot tap water. Carefully place one rice paper wrap in the hot water. Let soak for about 20 sec and then flip and soak for another 20 sec. Keep soaking and flipping until the wrap is soft enough that you could fold it in half.

Shake off excess water and lay it flat on a plate. Top with 1/2 or full slice of ham, tomato, pepper and avocado. Sprinkle with bacon bits and add one thin line of sauce.

i ran out of avocado on the 2nd day. please use your imagination!
Start rolling the spring roll at one end, tucking the sides in as you go. Then place the spring roll seam side down on another plate and repeat for the rest of the rolls.

If you need help wrapping/rolling, check out this video from Expert Village.

Yum. These are fresh, healthy and surprisingly filling. They taste great with the honey mustard or the ranch, depending on what flavour you're feeling. Don't omit the avocado, like I did here, they're much better with the avocado's cool, refreshing taste.

Now I'm dreaming of summer so I can eat these on the patio with a lemonade in hand. Soon enough...

Friday, February 24, 2012

veggie-packed fuselli casserole

*My computer had to go back to the Dr. which is why I've been MIA this week. It's all good now though & my webcam is functioning!

I almost titled this post macaroni casserole, because it's pretty much just a vegetarian version of the one my mom used to throw together with ground beef... but I used fuselli instead, so there's that.

I'm going to do a whole post on Daiya soon!
Veggie-packed Fuselli Casserole
*Serves 6-8

2/3 bag of fuselli
2 large bottles of pasta sauce
2 handfuls of baby spinach
1/2c frozen corn
almost 1 sleeve of unsalted soda crackers
lots of grated cheese

- Preheat oven to 400-425F.

- Boil water in a large pot. Add pasta and stir, continue to boil on reduced heat. When pasta is almost cooked (7-8mins) add frozen corn. Cook until desired tenderness & drain.

- Put pasta/corn in a large bowl, add spinach, pasta sauce and stir until pasta is coated. Pour into 13x9 pan and flatten lightly.

- Crush crackers over pasta to cover and grate a generous amount of cheese over top.

- Bake for 25 mins, then let cool slightly. Done!

This meal never fails to remind me of home. My mom's comfort food is the best. Doesn't everyone say that about their moms though?


Monday, February 20, 2012

eat your heart out, new york fries.

We've officially declared this week: the week of amazing suppers. C (the roomie's gf) is staying with us for their Spring Break and for the past two nights the four of us have had supper together. With Abby under the table, as usual. So for the rest of this week I'm going to attempt a food post every night. I promise you delicious looking photos & somewhat original recipes. Sound good?

Tonight we had oven-baked fries with the works. All day I had been craving a big veggie nacho poutine from Smoke's poutinerie. It's basically nacho toppings on fries. Think peppers, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream etc. Like New York Fries Veggie Works. Knowing how bad they are for me and thinking of the havoc they would reek on my sensitive [not to mention lactose-intolerant] stomach, I decided to recreate my own version at home. I hope you ate supper already, because this might make you hungry.

For the fries:

Wash up your potatoes well. Slice them lengthwise once and then lay both halves flat. Cut fries into ~1cm slices. Put them immediately into a bowl of the very hot tap water. (I got this tip from a forum online. I guess it draws out the starch and helps make them crispier. Trust.)

Preheat oven to 425f. Once the potatoes have soaked and then oven is hot, dry them off with paper towel.

Spread a baking sheet with olive oil, about 4T. Spread it around with your hand or a pastry brush & sprinkle the sheet generously with salt.

Lay the fries on the pan so they are not touching.

Bake for about 30 minutes, turning every 8-10 minutes. The more you turn them, the less likely it is they will stick. If you have parchment paper, all the better! When they're almost cooked, sprinkle them with chili powder or your favorite spice.

Drain on paper towel and serve piping hot.

Load them up:

Here's whats on mine:

chili, guacamole, Tofutti sour cream, red onion, green onion, bell peppers, tomato, Daiya imitation cheese.

Technically "healthier", not deep-fried and all five food groups. Good enough for me!

Did you ever try to make a healthier version of a fast-food or restaurant favorite?

Friday, February 17, 2012

the travel bug: pack me in your suitcase!

I get the travel bug a lot. Ever since I was a kid, my parents would take us camping for 2-3 weeks every summer and down to our Nanny & Grandad's once a year. And, I'm a Sagittarius. I'm not one for believing horoscopes but when it comes to signs, mine is scarily accurate. Here's a bio, if I've made you curious. Basically,  adventurous, hard-time settling down and likes variety. Yes, yes and yes.

The whole point of me telling you this, is that I live for the excitement of traveling. I like exploring and I LOVE airports. It's the energy: people coming and going, adventures starting and ending. My coworker went home to Tanzania a couple of weeks ago and I begged her to take me with her. How amazing would that have been? You know, minus no one being left in the office...

So, travel right now (at least the kind of travel I'm itching for) is not feasible. Instead of actually traveling, I figured I would share two special trips that I've experienced.

Bayahibe beach in the Dominican Republic (2007)

My entire extended family (minus 1 cousin + 1 uncle) went to Casa Del Mar all-inclusive resort (which is now Dreams). What a wild time this was. All of my relatives were so relaxed. It was such a great experience to be surrounded by family in such a beautiful place.

Months before the trip we solicited donations from local businesses. Thanks to their generosity, we were able to donate a dozen laptops, suitcases full of school supplies, sporting equipment, clothes and toys.We visited a school one morning to drop off the items. That day was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

And later on, I tried windsurfing...

We went on a guided day-trip to the capital for some shopping and sightseeing. I bought a ring here  in the nations stone, Larimar, which is only found in the DR. I never take it off.

There were always games and activities put on by the staff.

And I was in a pageant. How hilarious is that? I ended up in second place. The first place prize was a trip back to the resort for 4 people. My prize? A lobster dinner. 

Global Brigades MTA, Honduras (2009)

In my 3rd year at Mount A I joined the university's first Global Medical Brigades group. I was excited by the possibility of visiting a Spanish-speaking country and practicing my newly developed language skills. What I actually experienced was way beyond what I expected. This trip was truly transformative.

The mission of the brigade was to visit remote areas in Honduras in order to provide medical services to people who did not have the means to access permanent clinics. Our brigade also participated in 2 days of public health brigades where we worked on building 2 outhouses, 2 chimney cooking stoves, laying concrete floor and building a water reservoir.

Geared up and ready to board.

Our mobile clinics served about 500 people per day. People would line up hours in advance to be seen by the doctors, dentists & nurses who were part of the brigade. For both days I served as a translator. Using my trusty Spanish-English dictionary as a guide, I communicated symptoms, outstanding health issues, questions and instructions from patient to doctor to patient.

What was once a new program at MTA has continued to expand. This years brigade is heading down to Honduras today! Good luck & safe travels.

I hope this doesn't come across as "Look what i've done! I'm so humanitarian!" because I really don't mean it in that way. I was simply fortunate enough to have been given these opportunities which have turned out to be amazing experiences. I'll always remember and cherish what I've learned from these trips.

Have you had any memorable trips? Will you be taking any soon? Leave me some stories in the comments!

*If you want to know more about Global Brigades Honduras, click here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Steppin Out: hearts a plenty

In honor of valentine's day eve, I'm bringing you a little outfit post. I wore this outfit 2 weeks ago when a bunch of friends & I had a hotel party and went out to a club. I was a little worried that I looked too much like "valentine's day" but I decided to go for it anyway because I wanted to wear one of my favorite tank tops. It has little hearts on it and I got it on a boxing day sale at Old Navy. I just couldn't leave without it... If you read my post last week, then you can understand why.

That night it was freeeeezing, but we were going to a dancebar, so a skirt or a dress was a must. I knew just what to do... bust out the tights! I think almost any outfit can be made winter appropriate by adding some tights. Don't you agree?

Taking a photo of myself in the bathroom, feeling like a "floozy". (Haha, Arzina!)

Close-up of the mini-hearts.

Top: Old Navy
Cardigan: Joe Fresh
Skirt: Urban Planet
Tights: Forever21
Shoes: Ivanka Trump (mega-sale @ John David Shoes)

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

valentine's confession.

Fact you may not know about me: I am obsessed with hearts.

Show me almost anything with hearts on it or heart-shaped and I will probably squeal. Is it attractive? No, but that's me. Haha. And although I think Valentine's day has been twisted into a commercial holiday, I love that there's a day dedicated to love. Love of all kinds. Friend love. Puppy love. Romantic love. Just love. Despite my cynicism about marriage (ask me about that another time), I am such a cheesy, hopeless romantic. So in honor of Valentine's day coming up, I figured I'd share some pretty heart things that I love. Yes, love.

My (almost) favorite t-shirt (H&M).

My hanging paper heart art.

This gorgeous chair.
 A handmade ring I bought last summer. It never leaves my hand.

This style of heart necklace.

These glasses from ClearlyContacts. I'm pretty sure I'm buying these, even if I only wear them around the house. Maybe not in this color, but they have tons to choose from. I mean, come on, they have hearts on the sides, how can I resist? Seriously.

What do you think? Do you love Valentine's Day or hate it? Stay home watching chick flicks and pig out on chocolate?

I personally love all of the heart shaped things on sale a few days later. I've always said that's my favorite part of the "holiday"... Haha. We don't really do anything extravagant, just give each other a card & go out for dinner....

xx Janelle