Monthly Archives: July 2013

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

One of my favourite things about being a “grown-up” is cooking and baking.  As a little girl, I got to help, but the menu was mostly decided by Mom, and there were healthy staples that were almost always to be found on our table – usually meat was grilled, and paired with a fresh garden salad, especially when it was warm outside.  There were other delicious menus as well, but that’s the one I remember most often.  Once I was out on my own, I grew to love pre-planning menus, gathering ingredients, and trying out new recipes.  One dish that I definitely did not grow up with but love is pasta salad.  I find it delicious, flavourful, and filling, so I’m sure there will be a good amount of pasta salads on here, as well as pasta dishes in general.  Here’s a really easy one that’s packed with flavour, and perfect for a summer evening.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad (original recipe found here)

Makes 12 servings (likely as a side, maybe 6-8 as a main)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups rotini pasta, uncooked (I just used an entire 375g box)
  • 1 can (540mL) diced tomatoes, drained
  • ¾ cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup sliced pepperoni
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to instructions.
  2. Mix tomatoes with mayo, fold into the pasta.
  3. Add olives, pepperoni, zucchini, and parmesan cheese, toss lightly to mix.
  4. Set in fridge to chill.
  5. Sprinkle on a bit more parmesan right before serving.

Yum!  You could also add chicken if you like, and I’m sure it would be delicious!  I served it as a side for hubby, and had some as a main for myself.  I love that it’s easy, and makes a nice big batch, perfect for a crowd, or to pack as a lunch!  I cut up the pepperoni and zucchini into thin slices, and then quartered the slices for a more bite-sized effect.

I’ll admit, I was a bit trepidatious when I made it, since there were lots of olives, which I know some people love and some hate.  I loooove olives, but Nick is more neutral towards him.  However, once I presented the salad, I had two small helpings, and Nick had three – so I’d say this recipe is definitely hubby-approved.  And as always, I asked it this was a recipe to repeat, which was met with a response somewhere between “yes” and “mmmm”, so happy dance for that!

Let me know if you’ve tried any new recipes lately that you’ve liked 🙂

Advertisements

Delicious Greek Yogurt Key Lime Pie!

Have you ever stumbled upon a recipe that seems to slap you silly, because it’s so awesome?  No, I’m the only dorky one?  Okay.  Because that is pretty much what happened to me recently.

On a whim, along with the normal plain nonfat Greek yogurt I like, I picked up some Oikos Key Lime Greek Yogurt.  Yes, I know, it’s 2% and it does have some sugar in it.  However, not a lot of sugar, and still has all the joyous benefits of Greek yogurt, namely protein and good bacterial cultures and sunshine!  So as I’m enjoying a few spoonfuls in the morning right from the tub, I am struck by the sheer deliciousness – it seriously tasted like Key Lime Pie filling!  And then as I’m flipping the tub around to see the nutritional info, ingredients, whatnot… what do I see but a recipe for Key Lime Pie using the yogurt???    So my (severely caffeine-deficient) thought was “Healthy AND easy Key Lime Pie?  Oh, it is ON like Donkey Kong!”  Yes, I say ridiculous things to myself in my head, especially before coffee.  Sooo…. long story short, and with a few modifications, Greek Yogurt Key Lime Pie!  Here it is folks 🙂

Preheat oven to 375.

Whisk together:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 375g Oikos Key Lime yogurt (about 13 oz)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 62 mL (1/4 cup) honey
  • 3 tbsp corn starch

Pour mixture into prepared 9” diameter graham cracker pie shell, bake for 30-35 minutes until set.

Chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge.

Top with whipped cream, and serve!

A few notes:

I didn’t have zest of lime, so I used a splash of lime juice.

Taste the filling as you go to make sure you have the right sweet to sour ratio for you – I ended up sprinkling in a bit of Splenda to sweeten it up a bit.

I baked mine for 28 minutes – the pie crust itself was pretty much ready so I didn’t want it to burn or anything.

Next time, I’m thinking of adding a drop or two of green food colouring, maybe to make the lime colour more vibrant.

This recipe makes 8 servings of yum!  And with only about 140 calories per slice, plus a decent source of protein.  A healthy, fruity, decadent dessert that won’t sabotage your smart eating – that is my kind of recipe!  Nick is usually pretty neutral about Key Lime Pie (whereas I loooove it), but one bite in and he said it was amazing, and that he was very impressed with my baking skillz.  So there you have it – a hubby approved recipe, which is a very important point for me.

What are some of your favourite summer recipes?

Dash of Pink is One Year Old!

Wow, I cannot believe it’s already been a year!  A whole year of fun, food, beauty, life, and pink-ness.

Well, I really want to thank YOU.  You readers are the main reason for Dash of Pink even existing.  Plus it’s cute I’ll mention something to a friend of mine, like moving into the new place, and she says “yes, I saw the pictures on your blog, it looks great!”  Seriously, that just gives me some big warm fuzzies.

So, I thought it would be fun to get some stats on Dash of Pink’s first year, so here is Dash of Pink by Numbers:

  • 34: number of published posts to date – and lots more on the way!

  • 6: number of total comments – don’t be shy guys, I don’t bite 🙂

  • 118: most blog hits in a day – blew my mind

  • 2,289: total blog hits to date – also, blew my mind

  • 3: average posts per month – yeah, that’ll go up

  • 495: number of average words per post

  • 304: number of Pinterest followers

And since I blog about lots of various topics here, I even made a handy dandy pie chart showing how it’s all split up!

Wow, this is revealing.  I thought this would be a mainly beauty/fashion, decorating, and lifestyle blog, but Food & Drink has quite the presence too, huh?  Though I guess that shouldn’t surprise me since I love cooking and baking so much.

Now that I’ve looked back on a year of blogging, I’ve developed some goals for myself and Dash of Pink.  And I thought it would be a good idea to post them here, and that maybe it would be that extra motivation to light a fire under my, um… arse.

1. Post more consistently – this is pretty much Rule 1 of blogging, and it’s something I need to work on, so… yeah.  Also, it helps me to write and publish, sort of helps me unwind or decompress, so I really shouldn’t drop the ball when life gets busy.  And I want to have more great stuff for you guys!

2. More regular categories – doing more Style Icon Spotlights, maybe introducing a new weekly category like Wordless Wednesdays or Flashback Fridays.  This would add some more stability and consistency to the blog as well.

3. Find balance – work, business, blog, and real life – it can be a lot to juggle, but I always need to remind myself, balance.  Balance, reflect, enjoy the moment.

So, there you have it.  A look back at Year One, and my goals for the next year at Dash of Pink!  Have a slice of pink cake to celebrate!  And of course, I want to express a heartfelt thanks to you, the readers.  You are really the reason for Dash of Pink to even exist, this little corner of the web,  and my life is so much better for it.  Year One has already been much better than expected, here’s to a Year Two is filled with even more life, love, beauty, and PINK!

Windows Updates

But we’re not talking about the computer kind.  Nope, instead, we got curtains!  Woohoo!  It may not seem like a big deal, but it is a big, huge, monumental deal.  Yes, monumental.  More on that in a moment.

Sooo, why curtains?  Being high up and having fantastically large windows would seem to invite the idea of bare windows.  But I wanted to still have some privacy, and make more progress on the hotel vibe… and Nick wasn’t really enjoying having glaring sunlight in his face at 5am, so light-blocking curtains seemed like a good idea.

So, it was time to shop around – my first instinct was soft white tulle-like sheers, and then black and white damask opaque curtains.  I quickly learned that it’s very hard to find good black and white damask curtains.  I wanted to have them be mainly white, with a large print pattern.  Most of the stuff I found was either mainly black, or had too small a print, and looked too busy and teeny-bopper – yikes.  So I tried black and white florals, and even grey and white damask.  A few options showed up here, though nothing was ideal, and the ones that were nice were far out of budget at over $100/window for the curtains alone!

All I wanted was some nice mainly white curtains with a cute pattern that wasn’t too distracting, and added subtle interest and sophistication.  I decided to give Ikea a second chance (knowing already that they had no damask), thinking they might have something.  Oh happy day, they did!  My eye was instantly drawn to their Ferle curtains, and at $14.99 a pop, the price was right.  Plus I love that the design was beach/ocean-inspired, since that’s a nice ode to our honeymoon.

So we happily picked those out, and went in to look at sheers, hardware, and light-blocking liners for the bedroom.  For curtain hardware, we went with silver-grey tone all around, to match the soft grey in the curtains, and because the curtains had rod pockets (we didn’t want huge contrast at the top. Here’s what we went with:

1. Our beloved Ferle curtains, 3 sets in total

2. Lill sheers, 3 sets in total at $5.99 each

3. Glasnava Liners, only 1 set for the bedroom for now

4. Racka extra long curtain rods, 6 total

5. Betydlig brackets, 18 in total (!)

6. Hogtidlig pretty finials, 3 sets

7. Raffig plain finials, 3 sets

After getting a few handymen quotes for the drilling, we decided to rent a hammer drill from Home Depot, and resident handsome handyman Nick got to work.  Here he is in action!And that was quite the ordeal.  As you can see, the windows go wall to wall and clear up to the ceiling, and that means ceiling mounted rods and brackets.  Our building is awesome and solidly built with concrete, rebar, sheetrock, who even knows what else is up there, so it took sweet hubby pretty much an entire day just to get the holes done, and we were up early the next morning using the drill to screw in the brackets.  Fun all around needless to say.

We finally got all the hardware up – yay!  So I got to work tightening curtain rod holders, and then on to the curtains!  Our only hiccup there was with the liners in the bedroom – they came with some sort of odd little flimsy plastic clips that we couldn’t really figure out to attach to the Ferles, so I finally gave up and decided on a staple gun (and by that I mean a normal office stapler), figuring it would be sturdy and I could just remove the staples to wash the curtains, and then restaple.  We also decided not to hem the curtains shorter in the name of a breezier look (and a mix of laziness and tiredness).

So, without further ado, here is the before with our naked windows (scandalous!).  The living room is on the top, and the bedroom is on the bottom.

And the glorious after!  Ta-da!

Aren’t they purdy?  I love them, even though they’re not damask, I love them like my own babies.  And you can really see the difference in light blocking with the liners.  We didn’t know if we’d want them in the living room too, so we decided to try it without first, but now we know we’ll probably get the liners there too.  Our curtains are up, check it off the list!

Have you guys done any home improvement projects lately?  Or gotten new curtains for a fun new look?

(Ikea photos above from http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/)

Light Summer Beauty – Tinted Moisturizer

Summertime, and the living is easy, or at least that’s how the song goes.

Many people love summer, and it seems to bring out the best in us, I find.  The glorious sun and warmth makes us happier, livelier, more likely to get outside, and healthier!  To add to that, a soft sun-kissed light tan does wonders for the beauty routine.  It was in summer, and out of necessity, that I discovered tinted moisturizer.

As a teen, I was obsessed with having flawless skin, but almost never did.  My skin was quite good, but I always seemed to have one or two blemishes somewhere on my face, or a hint of redness around my nose.  So naturally, this called for a foundation with good coverage, and I stuck to those formulas religiously.  I’ll discuss my current favourite in a different post.

Not only is it hard to have a smooth foundation, but my skin tone is very difficult to match for some reason.  I’m very pale, with a neutral/warm undertone, but so pale that even the palest of warm foundations or concealers looked too yellow on me, and left me with orange blotches.  Pretty, I know (not).  And so-called translucent powders basically need to be completely colourless and look white, or else those go all orange-yellow on my face too.  However, when I tan, I go dark, like hispanic looking within a two-week vacation.  So, my normal vampire-pale, medium coverage foundation would look ridiculous with a tanned body.

Since I didn’t really want to experiment too much and buy a bottle of each shade from vampire pale to Snooki tan, I opted for tinted moisturizer.  It boasts being a sheer coverage, so just enough to even out skin tone, and cover small blemishes, without totally painting me dark or totally whitening out my tan – yay!  Plus, hitting my late teens and then my twenties, my skin started to figure itself out, so I didn’t have nearly as many breakouts.

I use Artistry Tinted Moisturizer, and it’s fabulous.  It gives decent sheer coverage, and feels as if I’m not wearing any makeup at all.  It also has SPF 8, which really isn’t super good protection, but layered with my normal SPF 15 moisturizer, I’m set!  It’s the perfect veil of protection and kiss of colour, and I love (looooove) that it doesn’t clog my pores.  I buy it here ,and it’s only $28.95 for a tube that lasts me a decent long time, usually 2-3 months.  I use Tint 1 for everyday wear, and then switch to Tint 2 in the summer when I’ve gotten a bit of sun.  I love that Tint 2 is light enough that it doesn’t look bad if I’m still pretty pale, but works perfectly when I’m really tan as well.  I just use it like my normal foundation, dot it on my skin (often over primer), blend with a beauty blender, and then use concealer and loose powder as normal, as well as any eye & cheek makeup I want.

Like I said before, summer is an ideal time to lighten up your makeup look.  On weekdays, I use the following: Enchanted Garden eyeshadows and a hint of blush, the lightest hint of mascara, and something on my lips, a balm, gloss, or stain.  On weekends, just blush and lip stuff.  This season, you don’t really need heavy dark eyeliner, piles of mascara, and super-obvious lipstick, at least not during the day.
Do you have any beauty switches for summer?  Tried tinted moisturizer?  Let me know 🙂

(Photo of Artistry Tinted Moisturizer from Artistry US’ Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/artistryus)

Cats, Foxes, and Jonas!

So, yesterday I turned 23.  I know, gettin’ old over here.  But anyways, best birthday ever!

I know that the Facebook flood of well-wishes is kind of common, and often joked about, but it still gives me the warm fuzzies.  And that started quite early in the day.  Throughout the day, the fun continued, with wonderful cards and gifts from my in-laws and co-workers.  I even got a card with a cat on it, which was hilarious – and I definitely have a thing for cats.

Dinner was hastily enjoyed at the Fox & Fiddle in CitiPlace, not exactly a birthday dinner as much as we needed to grab dinner in the area before the main event of the evening.  However, dinner was nice, enjoyed on a patio in the sunshine, and capped off with cookies & cream cake!  Here’s a pic of us at our table:And the cards I received.  On the left is the cop cat from work, and Mr. Snugglewhiskers was from Nick.

After a quick bite, we were off to the show – we went to see the Jonas Brothers!  How amazing is my husband for setting that up?  And for actually going with me?  Very amazing.  The concert was fantastic, the music was great, lots of singing along to cheesy-awesome music.  Check out some pics of us, the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, and the obligatory blurred shot when the Jonas Brothers were on stage (hehe)!

It was a fantastic night, capped off with even more well-wishes and a sweet Happy Birthday voicemail message.  I’m so very thankful, and grateful, and feel incredibly blessed to be where I am and surrounded by so many amazing people.  Only one day in so far, but 23 is looking pretty good 🙂

Summerlicious 2013 – Meow!

Summerlicious is a pretty big deal here in Toronto.  Basically a whole bunch of the top restaurants all around the city do a discounted prix fixe for about 3 weeks, and basically either offer a $15 lunch/$25 dinner or $25 lunch/$45 dinner.  And reservations go fast!  This year was the first year I actually paid attention to the subway ads and decided to do some sleuthing beforehand so we actually got out for it.

We also figured this would be the perfect way to explore a little more of our neighbourhood, so we picked out our restaurant, and made the reservation for a Saturday evening.  We decided to go for dinner at Alleycatz, a restaurant with live music we’ve probably walked by a gazillion times, and always said “we should go there sometime” – and so we finally did.  Plus they had the $25 dinner, so that was easier on the wallet.

The restaurant itself was pretty and dimly lit, so we didn’t take pics inside, but here are some pics taken from their gallery so you can see it:

And as for the Summerlicious experience itself, here is what we had:

Appetizers – Nick and I both had the mushroom crustini.

Mains – Nick had braised beef short ribs (in a port wine juice served with sweet potato mash and ratatouille vegetables), and I had the giant ravioli (stuffed with roasted tomato & ricotta cheese in a spicy rose sauce, organic spinach, topped with asiago cheese).

Dessert – Nick had the classic chocolate iced brownie with French vanilla ice cream, and I had the tuxedo truffle mousse cake.

It was amazing!  Everything was super tasty, and I had to literally talk myself out of licking the plate after the ravioli, it was just. that. good.  Salivating as I type right now remembering it.

The other big feature about the restaurant is their live music.  Being that it was Saturday night, the band started closer to 10pm, but already at 8:30pm we noticed that they started charging cover and people arrived in a more clubby mood.  By 10pm, it was getting pretty busy, and lots of people were laughing and having a good time.  Then the jazz kicked in, and we really like live music at dinner, it makes the whole experience more romantic.

All in all, we are super glad we went, and we really liked Alleycatz.  The prices for a la carte dinner is still a bit high for our cheapo tastes, but we’ll definitely be back for drinks, dessert, and they have a good constant prix fixe option.  Plus we can’t wait to check out their Salsa Mondays – where they do salsa dance lessons!

Their website is listed here, and you can check out menus, live acts, and even order food!

Have you guys tried any new places in your area – or elsewhere?  Spill!

(Photos taken from Alleycatz website at http://www.alleycatz.ca/)