Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Recipe of the Week

cardiganista's Easy Chicken Tetrazzini 

This is a recipe I threw together last night when it was freezing, rainy and I was feeling meh - I didn't want to spend a long time "cooking" but I wanted something comforting and warm and casserole-like for the boyfriend and myself. It was loosely based on a couple of things I found online, but it's extremely versatile and is a very easy leftover/pantry meals for those nights you want comfort food without much work. I suppose you could also make it ahead, throw it in the fridge and bake it later - or freeze for a while and then bake. It also heats up great (better?) for lunches or dinners the next day. 

Cooked chicken (or turkey) - 1 or 2 cups depending on how much chicken you want
I used 1 package of those pre-cooked sliced breasts, rotisserie chicken leftovers would also be delicious, Thanksgiving turkey or any leftover chicken
Pasta - one package 
I used whole wheat spaghetti, but use whatever you have/like
1 can cream soup - mushroom or chicken is best
1 cup chicken broth
I used bouillon + water to equal a cup. If you don't have broth, any liquid would probably work even milk or water.
1/2 cup white wine
1 TBLS italian seasoning
My italian seasoning is a herb blend - use any herbs you have.
1 TSP seasoning salt
Or not, if you're watching sodium
3 TBLS cream cheese
1/2 cup-1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
2 tomatoes
parmesan cheese to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large saucepan/skillet/pot, cook chopped onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until translucent, making sure not to burn garlic.
3. When onion and garlic are cooked, add 1/2 cup white wine, stirring and cooking until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.
4. In the meantime, prepare pasta according to directions on box, cooking for only about 2/3 of the suggested time, or until still quite firm
5. When wine mixture is reduced, add 1 can cream soup, 1 cup broth and chosen seasonings (italian + seasoning salt) to the mixture and stir until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat until bubbly.
6. Add mozzarella and cream cheese, cooking and stirring until cheese is melted and incorporated. 
7. Dice 2 tomatoes (or frozen/fresh/canned vegetables of your choosing) and add to soup and cheese mixture
8. Add bite size pieces of chicken to mixture, stir and remove from heat. Set aside until pasta is ready.
9. In a large baking dish, or in the pot you used for the mixture if its oven safe (like a Le Creuset or knock-off) combine pasta and chicken/veggie/soup mixture. 
10. Cover with foil/lid and bake for about 40 minutes in 350 degree oven. After 40 minutes, remove covering, sprinkle with parmesan if desired, and allow to brown. 

Serve with a green salad - we had caesar last night because I was planning tomato-based pasta at first, but a balsamic vinaigrette dressing would be great!

Monday, September 27, 2010

J. Crew Final Sale Promos!

Found out this morning that J. Crew is doing another free ship/% off Final Sale promo. You can see the details at J. Crew Aficionada. I'm pretty interested in the 20%/free shipping on $100 - code is SHOPCREW. 

I did a mock check out and my three top items equal $103 with the 20% need to throw in any cheap ride-alongs. If I do bite on final sale, it'll only be on items that have been reviewed in the blogosphere several's not like I have the option to try things on at a B&M, and I find returning things via mail such a friggin PITA that I rarely return anything from US online merchants anyway! I try to only buy basics that have been reviewed a lot, or things I already have a good idea on sizing for. I find cardigans are one such thing - I'm always a medium. If it runs small, well I won't be buttoning it. If it runs large, I'm usually more unhappy, but I will put it in the dryer if its cotton, and if becomes a "borrowed from the boys" look for me. 

Pants are obviously iffier - I have had bad luck with J. Crew pants before. I have 10's that are too big, 10's that fit, 8's that fit and 8's that are too small. Such is life. I'm pretty much always an 8 in pencil skirts...I don't think I actually own a skirt that's not a size 8, from any retailer! Maybe it's an inner thigh problem that accounts for the difference in pant sizes. 

Anyway, without further ado, I bring you my FS J. Crew current shopping cart:

Bettina Cami ($19.99) - Size 8 in Tuscan Olive (here)
I wouldn't pay more than 20$ for the Bettina, because it's a little casual for me, but I don't own anything in Olive, and I think it would be a great fall addition to my wardrobe. And this is cute...and I would probably end up wearing it a lot with a cardi and jeans. 

Rimini Cardigan ($59.99) - Size Medium in Cobblestone (here)
I have wanted this sweater since the catalog. Is there a JCA who doesn't own this item? Or at least tried it on? Didn't think so. Love the cobblestone colour, love the moto-inspired styling. I love it. I've debated on colour...thought about black or black pine but really, I like the beige. It looks to be a nice beige. I'm not worried about sizing on this baby, since it appears to be TTS and in any case, it's not a button-pulling situation, so even if it fits tight, I'll live.

Stretch Double Serge Pencil Skirt ($49.99) - Size 8 in Abyss Blue (here)
I'm really excited about this. I've seen it on a lot of people in the blogosphere and it looks super flattering - waistband looks perfect, and those seams on the back...Wa-BAM! Love the colour there a season I'm not going to be able to wear this in? I'm going to love it with a black blazer for work or cardis to school. I would like the mink as well, but it's no longer around in a size 8. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Old Navy Haul and Reviews

Lands End Canvas Heritage Cardigan Review

This summer, LE Canvas had a pretty amazing (50% I think it was) percent off sale. I ended up buying several things, in particular two Heritage Cardigans hoping they would be Jackies without the high price. I got them for 23$ US each I believe. They are still available here at $20.99 for select colours and $39.50 for the newer fall colours. I bought mediums in white and chocolate brown, which is a medium brown and a good neutral, I find.

I have to say that the Heritage cardi is not my favourite cardigan in my closet. I have found that I much prefer 3/4 sleeves on cardigans, and this is a long (quite long) sleeved cardigan. It also fits large - I think maybe if I bought a small I would've been happier, but I am very rarely a small. Compared to the J. Crew Jackie (here), which is my holy grail of cardigans, it is a LOT bigger. And I know the Jackie fits small, but there is a big size discrepancy. 

This is a picture of my Fall 08/Winter 09 (old) Jackie sitting on top of my Heritage in white (and my dog's legs) and below just the Heritage Cardigan. You can see the inch and a half on either side! Also the sleeves are significantly wider. Length is about the same although I find maybe because of the fit on me, the Jackie feels shorter. I also find the LE Heritage cardigan fits boxier, probably because it's a touch big on me. I'll be honest...this Jackie barely buttons. But I don't button cardis usually anyway, so I love its fit. It is my favourite cardigan in my closet for colour and fit. I also find the Jackie looks "dressier" than the LE Heritage cardigan. Maybe it's the sleeves or the cropped fit, maybe it's the tighter weave or the pearl stick out buttons as opposed to the plain buttons on LE's cardigan.

Brown is lighter IRL
The good thing about the LE Heritage cardigan is its soft, soft, soft fabric and the way its wearing. I throw it in the wash and dryer and it looks and feels brand new every time. It's also quite warm (warmer than Jackie) and I do think it looks cute on. Here is a pic of it unbuttoned and then buttoned - ignore the outfit, it's not what I'd wear the cardigan with but it's what I had on today. Usually I push the sleeves up but I find they stretch out and fall down easily. This is a cardigan that stretches out with wear due to, I assume, it's soft cotton. I don't usually wear it more than once because of that. 

 Essentially, I wouldn't pay full price ($40) for this cardigan. I'd pay the extra $20 for the Jackie due to a PPW calculation. But at 20$, its worth it - especially if you size down and like long sleeves. I'm giving this cardigan a merino or *** rating because although I don't love it, I love the price and I know a lot of people would like it a lot. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Recipe of the Week

Oven Fried Cheesy Chicken Breasts with a Pecan Crust - recipe here

I've made these twice this week...which should tell you how much I like them. It feels "fancy" and while prep is a bit messy/time consuming, it's do-able for a weeknight dinner.

Essentially, its chicken breasts stuffed with cheese (I omitted the bacon called for in the recipe) dipped in honey mustard and rolled in breadcrumbs and pecans (I used panko). Mmm...I used goat cheese the first time but the boyfriend doesn't like the second time I used smoked gouda. Much more delicious. To spice the breasts I used chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Whatever you have is good I'd say. 

Last night we had it with baked butternut squash (cut squash in half, dot with butter/spices, bake at 400 degrees for a little less than an hour in a pan with 1/2 inch water in the bottom) and a salad.

Earlier this week, we had it with The Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Smashed Potatoes (recipe here - watch out, the site and Ree's recipes are ADDICTIVE). Loved the recipe, but they were much better the second day, I have to say. 

Anyway, recipe rating: cashmere (****/****).

Cardiganista's Rating System:
polyester = 1 star *
cotton = 2 stars **
merino = 3 stars ***
cashmere = 4 stars ****

Welcome & Outfit of the Day

Welcome to my blog! I'm hoping to do J. Crew and other clothing reviews and some OOTD...more in an attempt to be more fashionable myself than to really give suggestions.

Shirt: LE Canvas Gingham Shirt in Coral. Looks more pink in the picture but is actually a darker coral colour. Size 10 - I sized up and its a good fit, although I normally am an 8 in a button-down shirt (such as J. Crew/BR etc.).

Sweater: Old Navy's Cable V-Neck Sweater - this year's version here. Size M, although lately I have been sizing down to a S in Old Navy. Nice cotton sweater, although wouldn't mind a few more inches of length. Durable as usual in ON stuff. Camel is very in this year, so this old sweater will likely be getting more wear.

Pants: J. Crew Skimmer Pant in Black - available here. I bought a 10 because generally 8's are too small in J Crew pants for me, although I'm an 8 in pencil skirts. I have 10's in the 3" chino shorts and my 8 in the Wool Gabardine Durham Pants (suiting separate) are a bit too tight to be appropriate. The skimmers are too big, though. These are belted and I still find too much fabric in the hips/bum region. I was looking for a fit more similar to the model....but they were final sale for 14.99? i think in one of the 30% off promos, so I'll live with it.