December 13, 2013

Easy Chicken Salad Sandwich

I've been making sandwiches more often recently, mainly because I've kind of put cooking on the back burner for a little bit. I'm sure you've noticed the lack of "home cooking" posts lately.  I'll be honest; I haven't been inspired to cook anything wild and exciting. 

It's okay though, because I'm still creating deliciousness! 
In this case, deliciousness in the form of a chicken salad sandwich. I love that I can prep a large batch of the filling and just scoop from the fridge whenever I'm hungry. It's super easy to make in the toaster (aka. mini) oven. This way I don't need to hover over a stove nor do I need to heat up the kitchen. Oh and it saves me from doing lots of dishes.

Here's what I do: 
  1.  Preheat the oven to 400F and line it with foil so that there's plenty of excess hanging over the end. We're going to make a sealed packet out of it, so be generous! Foil not big enough? Use this method.
  2. Get three or four fresh chicken breasts and prep them by rinsing.
  3. Place chicken on to the lined pan and add in a tablespoon of water/per chicken breast. Throw in some basil or rosemary if you want.
  4. Create a packet out of the foil, encasing the chicken inside. It doesn't matter how you do it, just make sure that the edges are tightly sealed so no juices and/or steam can escape.
  5. Put the pan with the wrapped chicken on it, into the oven and set the timer on for 25 minutes. This is free time, so go ahead and do some chores or watch a bunch of You Tube videos!
  6. After 25 minutes have passed, the chicken should be cooked through. Carefully remove from the oven and open the package up (it will be super hot and steam with race out) to check for done-ness with a meat thermometer- 165C. I am without one of these tools, so I simply cut into the thickest part. 
  7. Stick the chicken back in sealed, if it needs more time, checking every 5 minutes. Otherwise, allow the meat to cool in the pan along with its juices*. 
  8. Shred or chop into your desire consistency. Sometimes I add diced celery or onion. I like dressing it with Hellmann's mayonnaise, salt, black pepper and whatever herbs I've got. Store in the fridge until you're ready to chow down. It'll keep for about five days in there, but I doubt there will be any left by three.
*If there's any liquid in there, save it! That's chicken stock and it's gold. For those who prefer to use less mayo but would still like a moist chicken salad, sub in some of this stock instead.
That's all! It's eight steps, but in short it's really just steaming chicken in a foil packet in the mini oven for 25 minutes the adding things to it. Clean up is a dream. The foil goes into the trash and if you're good, you'll shred the chicken with clean hands or a fork, into the bowl/container you'll be storing it in! What's there to wash? A knife from chopping veggies and maybe a fork. Ha!
I ate my chicken salad between two toasted pieces of whole wheat vegetable bread and a couple slices of Roma tomato. Something green, like lettuce or cucumbers would have been a terrific addition, but I used what I had and this was it. So good!

December 12, 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


I was fortunate enough to be given preview passes to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty yesterday in the theater. The official release date is Christmas. It stars Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig, along with Shirley MacLaine and a handsomely rugged looking Sean Penn. This movie actually originated from a short story written in 1939 by James Thurbur. It was first made into a film back in 1947 (of the same title), which I had no idea about until just now. Either way, all I need to say is that I loved it and everything about it was beautiful. Seriously, some of the shots were breath taking. The colours, composition, everything. A total treat for your eyeballs.

I'd like to visit runaway to Iceland one day. 

If you get the chance, go watch this film. It was entertaining throughout, with just the right amount of humor. The visuals and special effects were really quite stunning and it had a story that I thought was both enjoyable and relate-able to some if not most people. Not to mention the soundtrack; which was perfect. I would definitely watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty again.

P.S. I want a slice of clementine cake.

December 11, 2013

Review: Purex Plus Oxi Review

We all do laundry; while some of us love it or tolerate it for the sake of having clean clothes, some of us think it a tedious chore and would rather buy new clothes than to have to wash them. I actually happen to enjoy doing laundry! I don't like washing dishes (probably because I don't have a dish washing machine), but I do have a laundry machine and to me, it's relaxing. 

December 05, 2013

Vegan Cut Out Sugar Cookies

These cookies are good. Really good. They hold their shape and have the perfect texture; tender, flaky, with a slight chew and are a little crisp around the edges! I simpley adapted a regular cut out sugar cookie recipe to be dairy free and egg free by using a stick of salted vegan butter (not from a tub) and a starch based egg replacer. You can use extracts of your choice or just stick with good old vanilla- it's totally up to you!

Start by adding sugar and softened v.butter into the mixing bowl. I'm using a Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment, but a hand mixer will do as well. Don't have either? Get your whisk out. It's time to give those arm muscles a good work out! 


Cream the mixture, starting on low and then up to medium.

While that's getting all smushed together, make the equivalent of one egg using an egg replacer of your choice. You don't have to use this brand, it's just what I've got on hand.

Now is the time to sift all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and to set it aside for a moment...

...because it's flavour time! I chose to use three extracts; 1/2tsp of butter, and a 1/4tsp each of lemon and almond. The butter extract is vegan and adds a richness to the cookie. As for the other two, they're both my favourites! 

Yes, the recipe I wrote calls for only a 1/2tsp of extract and here I am using a full teaspoon. It's hard for me to follow instructions (even if they're my own) 100%. If you follow my blog, you'll know I like to deviate from recipes, ha ha ahahaha.

Oh by the way, I kind of have an obsession with almond scented and flavoured items. It wasn't always like this. I use to be completely repulsed by it, but that has since change.

Continue to cream the v.butter and sugar together for another 10 seconds.

 Add the "egg" and continue beating on medium speed until...

...it looks like this (after about a minute). It'll look pale in colour and fluffier in texture. Remember to give the bowl a good scrape down to ensure everything is evenly incorporated!

Remember that lovely bowl of flour, baking powder and salt? Add that into the mixing bowl.

Start incorporating it all together on the lowest speed possible, or else...well just try it. Turn your mixer on high and see what happens.

Actually, don't. Unless you like inhaling flour and cleaning and totally messing up any decent measuring that you did previously. But you don't like any of that, do you. DO YOU?!

That's what I thought. Lowest speed.


After a minute or two, it'll look crumbly and not much like a dough.

Don't worry, it's fine. Add cold water a tablespoon at a time. Wait about 30 seconds between tablespoons, to ensure the water gets distributed throughout.

Soon enough, everything will pull away from the sides of the bowl and a soft dough will have formed! 

Get some plastic wrap and dislodge the cookie dough on to it making sure to get every little bit from the bottom of the mixing bowl.

Since there are no eggs, this recipe makes for a relatively pale dough which I find makes a prettier iced cookie.

Wrap the dough tight in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. 

To roll the dough out, I would suggest doing so between two sheets of wax paper, parchment paper or even plastic wrap. Not only does it help with rolling the dough out, it eliminates the need to add flour to prevent sticking, thus making more texturally consistent cookies. 

I made my cookies a little less than a quarter of an inch thick and baked them at 350F (325F convection) for about 10 minutes or until the edges were golden. Once they were cooked and cooled on a rack, they were frosted with a simple egg free icing made of powdered sugar, soy milk and food colouring. Voila!

http://instagram.com/p/hVLt7QN3l6/
Instagram
Check out my super "rustic" cookie decorating skills. Rich decorated the dreidels (I outlined) and I did the rest. They're not the prettiest cookies I've made, but they tasted good!

Chanukah!


Menorahs were lit, prayers were said, we spun dreidels, latkas/bagles/blintzes were consumed and I even tried my hand at making vegan latkas on the George Foreman! And you know what? They were tasty, not greasy and therefore I ate like, 10 of them for dinner. Mmm.

December 04, 2013

Smokey Eyes & Pale Lips

The MAC Fairy paid a visit and came baring gifts! I've put every single one of these items to good use and gained a few new favourites as well. 

Three beautiful lipsticks in neutral and nude shades. I've been using Cherish a lot lately- it's the perfect your lips but better shade that has the perfect mix of pink and warm brown undertones that I find compliments my NC20-25 skin tone. It's perfect when applied with a light hand topped off with sheer nude or clear gloss. Honeylove and Peachstock are on regular rotation as well. 


I was also generously gifted with four pretty eye shadows to add to my collection. All four compliment each other, Fig.1 being a colour I've been using for years.

Antiqued- A luxurious rusty red, bronze-y brown shade in a slightly metallic (veluxe pearl) finish. It's super pigmented, easily bendable, rich and buttery. For those with green or blue eyes, this shade will make them really sparkle and pop!

Ricepaper- Perfect for highlighting, this shadow has a frost finish, but it's not too shiny and most importantly not too stark as it has a nice balance of ivory, peach and the slightest bit of gold shimmer.  I sometimes dust a little on my cheekbones on top of my blush to add a complimentary highlight. Double duty!

Fig.1- M.A.C. describes this colour as "eggplant purple" and that is exactly what this colour is. I've adored this shade for forever as I tend to lean towards plum/berry/burgundy shadows to smoke out my eyes. It's not the easiest and most pigmented eye shadow (Matte2), but with a little work it and a good emollient primer, it works in beautifully.

Sable- I asked for bronze/plum shades and this embodies it all. Sable is warm with gold and bronze with just enough plum to keep it cool. It looks fabulous smoked out with Fig.1 or my favourite, Sketch! The eye shadow is buttery, has great blend-ability and is superbly pigmented. It would look fab on anyone and is super versatile; a "go to" shade for sure.

Thanks again MAC Fairy for keeping me pretty!

November 28, 2013

Thanks Chicken Dinner

Happy Thanksgiving, Americans!

We (your neighbors up north) celebrated our Thanksgiving in October, but who says you can't have an inspired meal? It's always a good time for poultry and sides of mashed potatoes, dressing, homemade cranberry sauce and luscious gravy. At least at my house it is. I mean, c'mon. DOUBLE CARBS!

By the way, I've moved my rosemary plant into the mudroom to overwinter along side my basil, but the latter doesn't seem to be doing so well. It must be a combination of minor neglect on my part and their poor delicate leaves not being able to withstand negative degree weather here in Toronto. It's snowing and that means it's time to set my Christmas tree up! But that's for another post.  


Keep on scrolling for more food things. 

The chicken breasts were salt and peppered, rubbed with both chopped basil, rosemary and olive oil. They were then seared in a pan and finished off in the oven, on a rack with a little water in the pan underneath to keep everything nice, steamy and moist.Gravy was made from de-glazing the pan with stock and whatever juices were thrown in as well along side a buttery roux.

While that was cooking away, a simple bread dressing was made with stale bread and whatever was in the fridge. Potatoes were peeled, boiled, buttered and mashed and there was cranberry sauce simmering away on the stove top. I didn't even bother with fresh cranberries. I cheated by using Craisins, sugar, water and a little orange zest. Then I Magic Bullet-ed the life out of half the mixture and voila.  




I served a salad on the side to you know, make it a complete meal. 

Now I've got to plan Christmas dinner. Hopefully it all works out and I'll be hosting again this year!

November 26, 2013

Skull Heads, Kitten Lola and Halloween

On Halloween night, Rich and I headed over to his brother's place (armed with home made caramel corn, by the way) to enjoy spooky festivities with his family! But to really get into the Halloween spirit, I did a little face painting on us. 40 minutes for my face and a brisk 15 on his- I think they turned out pretty decent! 

"I'm smiling and really happy right now! Can you tell?"


Their family adopted a new fur baby named Lola and she is just the cutest, tiniest little bundle of energy! So curious and knows no boundaries. #kittenlyfe


Dark came upon us and so we lit the candles in the pumpkin and signaled for all the trick-or-treaters to visit. 




Lola wanted to join us outside. What a little rascal. <3
Rich's nephew J dressed up as a leprechaun, despite what his Bubbie initially thought! (A pickle, hehe)


I'm glad I wore my rain boots, as it was raining on and off throughout the night. I got to walk into puddles, muck and leaves! It was a little chilly, butwe still walked around the neighborhood for an hour or so. There apparently weren't a lot of kids out, but J was able to get more than enough goodies. Even Lola was a little jelly. Check out his stash!


Can't wait for next year!

Carving Pumpkins

If you've been following my blog, you'll notice that I had taken a small hiatus from blogging. I have good reason though; I have been busy learning to crochet. I'm working on my granny-ness, so instead of picking up my camera, taking lots of photos and sharing them with you here...I've been buying a gazillion skeins of yarn and making lots of super cozy, over sized, chunky knit infinity scarves. 

I am obsessed and I promise to show you what I've been up to soon. :) 

But for now, I'm going to play a little catch up! 

Rich and I carved our Halloween pumpkins on Devil's Night and his pumpkin just couldn't wait any longer. It started to fuzz and become rabid hunk of fruit. The more disgusting the better, right? Initially we just thought to chuck it in the composter, but upon further inspection I suggested we just lop it's head off and so we did!



The only sad part about the pumkpin being moldy was that I couldn't harvest, roast and consume the seeds. I love roasted pumpkin seeds! 


I cut a little notch in the opening in mine, because I wanted something different. I felt fancy fancy.


This was the stencil that I chose and fixed up in Photoshop. Below is what Rich chose to carve- a scary jack-o-lantern face.




Three hours later...





So babe-ly.


All I was missing was my little bear!

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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