November 30, 2012

Our Tree

  Tomorrow is December the 1st. What better way to welcome the last month of the year than by put up the Christmas tree!  It's usually a family affair when it comes to setting up and decorating, but I tend to be a Nazi (Grinch?) when it comes to these things (cooking/baking included) so I spent three relaxing hours with Tank putting hooks on ornaments and hanging them. Whoo hoo!


 To the tree, I added some of new ornaments I picked up last year on clearance. Have I mentioned that I love end of the season/holiday clearances?? Not only does it save a tonne of money, there's no running around stores and stress as you've already got everything! I did, however buy a couple boxes of candy canes and re-used the little gingerbread men cut out ornaments I made the previous year. Super cute! 

Tank's pretty excited about this tree. I'm sure most of you can guess why. :P
Thank goodness for shatterproof balls! Ha ha, B-A-L-L-S. She's loving the felt tree skirt and can't get enough of it. Notice how it's a bit disheveled? It was a lot worse before. 

I'll probably pick up more decorations as they go on sale. We still have to hang the lights and some other things, but I'm super happy the tree is up! The house across the street have all their outdoor decorations up and the house a couple doors down from them have had their tree up for about a week. I felt a little left out, so here it is! :)

Greek-y Pork & Rice

I'd like to tell you that this is totally authentic, but then I'd be a huge liar. You know how I never follow recipes? Well, I didn't follow a recipe for this meal either. I winged it.

But not completely!

Thus making this more of a "I ate this!" post rather than a post with a recipe.





I Googled, read and then used what I remembered, which to be honest could have been nothing at all since I get distracted. A lot. Sometimes-ish. Ha! I put in lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, mint, rosemary, white wine, salt and pepper, crushed garlic and onions on the cubed pork meat. Sounds about right, right? I can't even tell you the cut of pork, because I didn't buy it. It was boneless and delicious. I'm thinking pork shoulder.

Anyway, I whipped up a quick yogurt sauce (a tzatziki sauce, if you will) and made seasoned rice on the side. Mum had made her delicious garlic and chili marinated cucumber salad so we had that too! 

Those dark caramelized bits of meat are my favourite. :D

November 29, 2012

Tank's Outfit: Santa

Bribes.

"Seriously?"

"Guys. Don't make me wear this."

The back. lol
 I think the photos explain it all.
Tank's expressions are limitless!

...to be continued.

Cupcakes for Matthew!

How darn cute are these cupcakes?? I made these for my cousin. To be more technical, these Star Wars cupcakes were made for my first cousin, once removed which is also known as my cousin's child.

I totally had to Google that. Confusing? A little.

The birthday boy's name is Matthew and he is absolutely adorable! And lucky! He got a Star Wars themed party. Rich is a little jealous. He won't admit it, but I know he secretly is! Matthew requested chocolate cake and chocolate frosting. He's likes Lego, so what better way to decorate than to use Lego coloured sprinkles and to incorperate Lego Star Wars characters!

See that fierce Jedi cut out? All credit goes to Richard! He helped me with the circle cut out images and the stand up signs too. :)





The cupcakes all set up at the party! Photo from: ThreeKnightsandaPrincess

The cake was dairy, egg and most importantly nut free! It was made from scratch using Rich's mum's favourite chocolate cake recipe. I went with an old school chocolate heritage frosting, which has no vegetable shortening, fraction of the butter, real chocolate and isn't packed with confectioner's sugar. It's lighter in texture but holds just as well and due to the lack of shortening, a better mouth feel! Yum!

Now I'm craving for a cupcake, or two. 

P.S. I'm taking orders!

November 28, 2012

But, SID!

I love these two.
I love these two together!

November 27, 2012

Tank's Stash


 There's a hundred trays of cat food in that photo up there. ONE. HUNDRED. I don't think any of us will ever know exactly how happy Tank is right now! I'm just going to assume that happiness is bust'n out of every little tiny kitty cat pore. (Do cat's have pores? If not, lets pretend.) She loves Whiska's wet cat food. We got a couple samples of it in the mail and little missy gobbled it up as if she hadn't eaten any food in days. But she had, like, 15 minutes prior.
  
Oink!  

It cost me less than $5 for all of these trays (taxes included), using coupons and price matching at Walmart. A little prep work can result in a killer deal! Totally worth it.

I've investigated the ingredients list and it's not all that bad. There's extremely minimal filler (no corn) and the top four to six ingredients are meat (liver, beef, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, white fish, chicken-by-products and/or meat-by-products). I don't feel bad feeding her this food- especially since she loves it and well, after being super sick and not eating at all, I'm glad she's pigging out!

Taxes...

Super thankful that my cashier is amazing and super patient with me.
She's the only one who won't runaway and hide when I come around with my coupons and flyers! Checkout was super fast!
(103 items = 100 Whiskas + 1 butter + 2 Optic White tooth paste)


Yep, bought the food along with the display trays. How else am I going to store them all nice and neat?

Tank guarding her food stash like a lazy little trooper

The food expires late September 2014. That's plenty of time for her to finish a hundred trays. We feed her half a tray a day and since she's on an open feeding schedule, there's kibble for her to munch on all the time. (She's 9-ish pounds. I'm not concerned about overeating.) That means, it'll literally cost pennies a day to feed her!

Smart Shopping

Swanson chicken broth: on sale 48¢ a can (bought about 15 of these in total!)


November 22, 2012

Meat, Potatoes & a Reduction

Dinner. It consisted of pan seared strip steak and mashed white sweet potatoes with a rich red wine and balsamic vinegar reduction. We had salad on the side and a small glass of blueberry/banana smoothie! I think we got all the food groups covered! 

Now I know, I know, the potatoes aren't white. But I can tell you that they WERE white before I cooked and mashed them. I guess they just oxidize to a beautiful granny smith colour? No idea- all I added was a couple pats of salted butter, dash of chicken broth and a pinch of sea salt. I kind of like the added colour and the contrast of the sauce, don't you?

The sauce was 50/50 red wine and balsamic along with whatever steak drippings/juice added in and reduced about 50%. I added sugar, salt and/or more vinegar to taste then strained it. To finish it off, I added a tablespoon of cold butter and swirled it in then I just drizzled it on my steak, the mash, plate and licked it off my fingers after dragging it through the bottom of the sauce pan. Yum!



I like that last picture. It makes me hungry.

November 20, 2012

Congee Queen

 Went out to lunch with my mum, aunt and uncles the other day at Congee Queen. The food was flavourful, fresh and service was fast which makes for a great quick and delicious lunch! 

Char Siu (BBQ pork) rice and Chinese greens

Thousand year egg and salted pork congee (my favourite!)

Youtiao (Chinese fried dough) to dip into the congee!

Crispy chow mein (Stir fried egg noodles) with greens, mushrooms and chicken

Stir fried rice noodles with seafood, bean sprouts and peppers

Fried turnip cakes with XO sauce! SO GOOD.
We had also ordered pork liver congee and a side of Chinese greens. There was so much food, we ended up with left overs! Yum.

Take a Guess!


 Can you guess what these are for?


November 17, 2012

Peking Duck at Home


I winged it! Get it? GET IT? What you see in above is Peking duck, made by yours truly. It was honestly, easier than I thought. But then again it's wasn't made traditionally and I added my own spin on things, but my family, espeically my dad (who is a huge BBQ duck lover/critique) loved it. And I believe them, because my taste buds told me so. The scarey part is to remake it so that it's better next time, which is a little difficult considering I didn't measure out...anything. Whoops. The "secret" spices I used were a little bit of all the Chinese spices I found in the cupboard. I sniffed and put. If it smelt familiar, I added it. This included five spice, all spice, white pepper and another spice which was label in Cantonese. Ha ha!

The roasted duck was served with a made from scratch steamed bun wrap. I followed a recipe online for this and it turned out okay. Not as fluffy as I thought they would be, but it did the job and tasted fine. It was the texture that I need to work on! But it was my first time, so eeeeh...WHAT.EVER.

Peking duck wraps are usually eaten with cucumber and green onions (sometimes carrots), so that's what we did. Combine that with a light slathering of hoisin sauce, makes Friday night dinner!

Fresh out of the oven

Check out that colour!

Check out that crispy skin!

Thanks to the "glaze", the duck got a super deep and rich colouring and some additional flavour.

lol, my try at slicing up a peking duck

Definitely not perfect

The meat was still moist after an hour and a half in the oven!

Assembled

The buns are slightly sweet, soft and are the perfect vehicle for all the yummy innards

Flavour party!
Duck meat, cucumber, green onions, steamed bun goodness
We've got three ducks in the chest freezer, so it's safe to say that I will be revisiting this dish before the year's end. Perhaps I'll have the Peking duck with Chinese pancakes instead! This is a dish we usually have when we're out for dinner, so I'm pretty darn happy that I'm able to make a yummy version of it at home. Bonus points for the entire dinner being less than $10 for four people. ;)

I'll have a recipe for you next time. Promise.

About

Hi, I'm Janetta from Toronto. I cook, bake and make big messes. I photograph nearly everything and those photos will most likely end up being posted here. I've got a little black cat named Tank, who's super cute and a little bit nosy. You'll see a lot of photos of her too!

Contact me at: jubesandtank@gmail.com

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