Quinoa Chicken Salad in #Augtober

by Nadine on August 26, 2014

Dear, whoever first created the #Augtober hashtag: thank you for telling the truth. 

This recipe is quick to make, and can easily be doubled. It’s healthy. It’s gluten-free. It’s a crowd-pleaser. The leftovers are tasty. Everyone wins.

It even makes radish-haters like radishes!

The original recipe came from CookingLight, but we quickly changed things up. Most notably: we swapped out the couscous for quinoa.

Here’s the version you’ll get at Casa Kalinauskas:

Quinoa Chicken Salad
  • 2 cups chicken broth (no sodium added)
  • 1 box uncooked quinoa
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked in olive oil and cubed
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup diced radishes
  • 1/2 cup chopped seeded peeled cucumber
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in dry skillet over med-high heat
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions, using chicken broth instead of water.
  2. In the meantime, cook chicken (or just use leftovers), prepare vegetables and toast pine nuts.
  3. Let the quinoa cool for a few minutes, then combine quinoa, chicken, vegetables and pine nuts in a large bowl.
  4. In a small container, whisk together oil, vinegar, spices and garlic. Drizzle over salad, stir to combine.
  5. Serve in pitas (optional; not gluten-free) with arugula, cucumber slices and tzatziki.



Go Long: Planning for the Gabriola Skirt

by Nadine on August 24, 2014

[Illustration: Paper Fashion]

I finally made the gingham Lonsdale dress I blogged about here. Photos to come.

(Here’s a shadowy Instagram pic. My handsome photographer was too busy working for a living to help me get a good shot.)

It was a bit of a lesson in “what not to do”: DON’T leave your machine with your needle aligned to the left. You will make all of your seam allowances too large and end up spending too much time worrying that you’re making a dress for a very tiny person.

Always check your settings, folks.

Sheesh. It was salvageable, thanks to super-slim seam allowances at the zipper and an (apparently) abnormally narrow ribcage.

If you sew — or are about to, as I know some of you are dreaming of doing — you’ll encounter 101 different sizing charts. By Hand London, so far, seems to fit me well. No alterations needed for their size 8/12. Sewaholic‘s size 6, however, sort of fits me at the waist, but is way too huge at the hips*, something that wasn’t an issue for the sundress, but might be for my next project: a long skirt.

*I’m more banana-shaped than pear-shaped. A broad-shouldered banana. Maybe a tall strawberry? Fun fact: All women are shaped like fruit.

If you use any of the commercial pattern companies — Simplicity, Butterick, Burda, Vogue — expect to wear a much larger size. Ignore numbers. They don’t mean a thing. Besides, there’s only a tag in the clothes if you add one, right?

Note to self: Order custom tags that say “I dressed myself!”

Anywho. I’m taking my sweet time figuring out how to fit this baby: The Gabriola Skirt.

So far, using this tutorial, I’ve traced the pattern pieces to grade from a side six waist to size 4 at the yoke and size 2 all the way down, hoping it will sit high on my waist. I could be in trouble.

I have plans for this lovely Gabriola: my brother-in-law’s wedding. In THREE WEEKS.

I don’t have fabric yet.

I’m the worst.

I first fell in love with the idea of wearing a long skirt to a formal event in 1997, when Claire Danes wore the most perfect sweater-skirt combo (by Narciso Rodriguez) at the Oscars.

I was 14. I wanted to be her.

Then, in 1999, Meg Ryan and Gwyneth Paltrow both rocked ball gown skirts the Golden Globes.

Then, more recently, these ladies reminded me that I should just get a long skirt already!

I want to go to there wear these. Now.

And…an endorsement from Ms. Kelly herself.

And if it were up to Matthew — and I’m not disagreeing with him here at all — I’d make a skirt that’s essentially the bottom of this dress. Beacause wow.

With the exception of my very long wedding dress — I bought it off-the-rack and had to have a seamstress magically add six inches to the bottom — and one cheap cotton sundress from H&M, all my skirts and dresses are knee length and shorter. Time to mix it up.

Do you go long, friends?


YouTube Tuesday: ‘Baby Baby,’ baby

by Nadine on August 19, 2014

Amy’s back.

Not that she ever went anywhere.

Happy belated birthday to me.

I’m now THIRTY-ONE, guys. And I’m mostly pretty totally okay with it.

In somewhat-related news, John Stamos just turned 51. Sadly, I still don’t know his anti-aging secrets.

Whose blood* are you drinking, John? Tell me, before it’s too late!


*Please don’t let it be blood. Please say “red wine.”


Easy as [Peach] Pie

by Nadine on August 15, 2014

I made a pie! From scratch! By myself!

“Make a pie” was on my “13 things in 2013” list. I didn’t do it. So I added it to the “14 things in 2014” list. And I kept not making pies.

Pie is intimidating. Scratch that. Pie CRUST is intimidating.

But when a basket of almost-too-ripe peaches stared me down on the counter yesterday, I knew I had to take action.

So with the help of my favourite online bakers and real-world friend Karen, I dove in.

For a wedding gift, Karen gave us a gorgeous illustrated recipe for vodka pie crust.

Lovely, right? Click on image for large version.

I swear this was the flakiest, most crave-worthy crust I’ve ever tasted. Pure pastry goodness. And I didn’t even know what I was doing! No-fail, people. You can do it, too.

With the dough made and cooling in the fridge, I turned to Smitten Kitchen for a filling recipe.

(Here you go.)

I stuck with Smitten Kitchen for dough-roll-out tips, then followed Joy the Baker’s top-crust advice and used an egg wash followed by some serious cinnamon-sugar sprinkling.

And then I went BACK to Smitten Kitchen for baking temps and times.


What did the pioneers do without food bloggers and a million open tabs?

So thanks, Karen, Smitten Kitchen and Joy the Baker. Y’all are the best. Everything turned out freakin’ delicious.

Arguably the best thing I’ve ever made. Or at least the thing I’m most proud of making.

Have any recipes been intimidating you lately?


Brr! Even our salad is in layers

by Nadine on August 14, 2014

Baby, it’s cold outside. What the heck?!

We’re wearing layers today. And eating ‘em, too.

Here’s my mom’s 7-layer salad. It tastes like my childhood.

Unlike her, I did NOT make my own pita bread. (Mom, how on earth did you have time to make pita pockets with three little kids running around?!)

Mom’s 7-Layer Salad
Prep time: 20 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, shredded
  • 1-1.5 cups chopped celery
  • 16 oz. frozen peas (DON’T YOU DARE COOK ‘EM)
  • 2 cups mayonnaise (sometimes less)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups chopped ham
  • pitas, with pockets
  1. Layer ingredients — in order — in a large bowl. Do not mix.
  2. Cut pitas in half. Stuff with salad.
  3. Eat. And then eat more.

Tastes great made a day ahead and covered in fridge.



Happy Birthday, Grandma

by Nadine on August 12, 2014

Today is August 12. My Grandma’s birthday. She would have been 86.

She’s been gone for six years now. Some days it seems longer than that. Other days it still doesn’t feel real.

Not many people know this story:

On my 22nd birthday, my grandma gave me a birthday card. I was expecting the usual inside: $20.

Not this time.

She wrote me a cheque for $300.

I had just graduated, had little-to-no money, and was moving to Toronto for a job that started at just $11 an hour. She thought it would help.

It did.

With that money, I could afford to sign a lease.

A few years later, months after my grandma died, my mom divided up some of her portion of the estate among her kids.

That cheque helped keep me afloat during my first year of freelancing.

It wasn’t much by some people’s standards — maybe the equivalent of a few months’ rent at my tiny apartment — but I finally had the courage to quit my job and call myself a writer.

I made $14,000 that year. Grandma’s money kept me from going into debt.

Every time I look back at my life in Toronto, the way my career’s evolved, and how this city has become so important to me, I think of her.

I literally could not have done it without her.

On days like today, I wish I could tell her that.

Thanks, Grandma.


O Captain! My Captain!

by Nadine on August 12, 2014

Stand on a desk if you can today.


Summer Eating: Chicken Avocado Mango Salad

by Nadine on August 7, 2014

This is a staple meal in our house. We eat it at least twice a month between Easter and Thanksgiving, not because it’s the “right” thing to do, but because we can’t help it. It’s addictive.

(Yes, it’s possible to crave salad.)

Adapted from this recipe.

Chicken Avocado Mango Salad
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 2-4
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 2 Tbsp red onion, diced
  • 1 heart romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Slice chicken breast. Toss in olive oil over medium heat. Season with fresh ground pepper.
  2. Divide lettuce, mango, avocado, red onion between two bowls — or more, if you like small salads.
  3. Top salads with cooked chicken.
  4. In glass jar or measuring cup, whisk together balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Drizzle dressing over salads.
  6. Enjoy.


What’s your favourite summer salad?


Can a country song give you an STD?

To be fair, I was warned. In a rant by a Nashville resident who knows way more about the country scene than I do.

Florida Georgia Line.


I caught the second half of the CMA Music Festival on ABC tonight.

Hmm, I wonder what’s new in the world of country, I thought to myself, hoping for some fun hooks and impressive guitar riffs with a dash of “How Great Thou Art.” Or Jennifer Nettles.


Bad ink, gal-unfriendly lyrics and ill-named “wife-beaters.” What’s wrong with sleeves?!

(Zac Brown Band and Keith Urban, I’m NOT looking at you. We’re good.)

FGL started playing their hit song I can’t remember the name of and have no interest in Googling.

ME: Look! They’re so gross.

MATTHEW enters the room.

ME: You have to admit that Kid Rock is the sexiest redneck, right? I mean, compared to this?

MATTHEW: They’re just standing there.

ME: So sweaty. With bad tattoos. I can’t even. So awful.

MATTHEW: Um, they’re not playing any instruments. They’re just a country boy band.

To confirm this assertion, the singers slap hands as if playing some choreographed playground game. I’m dying.

ME: Ugh.


STILL ME: Ooh. Stop it! They’re, like, where Creed probably would have ended up.

The song finally finishes.

You know what it is? It’s the Sheryl Crow effect. Kid Rock did a duet with Sheryl…and I love her. So he doesn’t give me the heebie-jeebies the way this group does. Also, he rhythms “things” with “things” in “All Summer Long.” That takes real guts. So I’m cool with his brand of creepy bro, but not FGL’s.

ME: Maybe if Florida Georgia Line recorded a single with Amy Grant, I’d feel different?

MATTHEW: Oh, my gosh. That will never happen.

And later:

MATTHEW: It’s weird that Shania Twain isn’t part of these things anymore…I wonder how country fans feel about Johnny Cash.

Then a band I can only describe as “auctioneer-turned-camp-counsellor-turned-ACDC” started playing.

I need a Dolly Parton palate cleanse.

Friends who listen to country, who are your current favourite non-gross artists?


Parisian Style: Home Edition

by Nadine on August 4, 2014

When we were in Paris, I found myself making mental notes — and taking photos — as if I were actively seeking home design inspiration.

Because we have a Versailles budget. Obviously.

I fell in love with flooring in Paris.

Especially chevron floors. If we ever own a home and have a few thousand to spare, we will have chevron floors. (Not herringbone.) Even if we have to do the math ourselves. (So much floor math.)

With warm white walls. Because Paris.

Moulding! Detail!


Other places I’ve found design inspiration: Green Gables, Black Creek Pioneer Village, ZebuuLikely General, The Toronto Zoo….

I think I have a problem.

Do you ever find yourself at your favourite local restaurant, plotting to steal some of their design ideas one day?