Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick (and how to fix it)

Okay I'm not that sick but I have a really terrible sore throat and a snuffly nose. I feel a bit worn down. Life is hard I know ;) I'm a cry baby.
Anyways, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share my naturopath's stop-your-cold-in-its-tracks remedy. It tastes a bit like Neocitran but without the knock you out for 8 hours effect. The ginger is awesome for your immune system, lemons are full of vitamin C, and honey is a natural antimicrobial.

You'll need:
- a hunk of ginger (not minced out of a jar, real ginger!)
- water
- 1 lemon
- honey

- Take about an inch of the ginger and peel it. Chop or grate it and throw it in a medium size pot (if you grate it, you may want to throw it in cheesecloth). 
- Cover with 2 cups of water. Boil for 20 minutes. The longer you boil it, the stronger it'll get.
- Remove the ginger pieces (hence cheesecloth or I just slice mine now and fish it out with a slotted spoon)
- Add juice of 1/2 lemon.
- Pour into your mug, add honey to taste and enjoy!

My naturopath recommends drinking 2 mugs of this a day. I've taken to doubling this recipe and reheating over the course of a couple days. It seriously works and it's tasty!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Valentine's Day Dinner: A follow up

A friend asked me to post a follow up about our amazing dinner from Ezra so here it is! We literally ordered one of everything and it looked like this:

Our menu was amazing. I couldn't wait to dig in! You can see how excited I am in this photo:
You can also see Dan laughing at me. On to the food. That's what we're here for right? First course: Dan had truffled celery root soup with apple/crab salad and crispy shallots. I picked this for him because typically any time I've had something with truffle in it I've hated it. When I poured this out to heat it up for him I could smell the truffle and was glad I had picked the other started. But then, magic happened. The apple/crab salad balanced out the truffles perfectly and oh my god shallots have never tasted so good (and I like shallots!). I pretty much had to physically restrain myself from taking the bowl and running into the other room to polish it off. 

For my starter, I had boston, arugula and baby spinach salad with chive yogurt "queso fresco" and parmesan olive oil croutons. Mmmmmmm delicious! This is probably one of my favourite salads ever. It was light (albeit huge! You can see it on my plate in the photo above), fresh and the queso fresco added a really neat tang that I loved. And yes, I ate it and half of Dan's soup. 

Mains: Dan had red wine braised beef short rib and veal pot pie with cipollini onions, roasted squash and pickled baby vegetable salad. This was a perfect hearty winter meal that I knew Dan would enjoy. I have a rule against eating cute small furry animals so I passed on having this as my main. I did, however, try a bite (repeating it was only the short ribs I was eating in my head) and I ended up pounding the table with the fist a la When Harry Met Sally

The meat was melt in your mouth tender. Dan remarked on how Ezra made sure to tuck a piece of meat in each corner since that's where you start on the meal. You never ended up with a forkful of pastry and sauce. It was awesome! 

I had the lobster gratin with meyer lemon/almond crust, oyster mushrooms, leeks, fingerlings and lobster reduction. I'm not a seafood person. Again, Ezra has changed my world. What is with this man?! The lemon/almond crust was light with soft underlying flavours and added the most wonderful accent to the delicate lobster meat. The veggies underneath were amazing, so full of deep flavours that were rich and aromatic. Mmmmmmm! 

Last we had dessert. Dan and I are so different when it comes to dessert. I'm an absolute sugar fiend. You could give me a bowl of caramel doused in maple syrup with spoon and I'd be in heaven. Dan falls more to the savory side. Our two desserts were worlds apart but each was perfect for us and we didn't end up stabbing each other with our forks to get the last bite of the other's plate. Dan had Upper Canada's "Comfort Cream" cheese with brandy poached pears, pear gastrique and walnut bread. The cheese was a delicious brie texture and when it was all stacked up it made for a lovely little morsel of heaven! Dan was thrilled at the "non-sugar" option and it ended his meal off perfectly.

I embarked on sugar overload and was a very very very happy woman with my dessert! Warm callebaut chocolate bread pudding with chestnut-crusted marshmallows, spiced creme fraiche ice cream and blood orange salad graced my plate. It was topped off with some hot fudge. See above Meg Ryan clip for my reaction. A little of each on my fork and oh my gosh, again, heaven! I loved the combination of the chocolate bread pudding with the blood orange salad with a touch of ice cream. So amazing! 

Now that your mouth is watering, enjoy your next meal! Get a little creative and enjoy! Thanks again to Ezra for yet another inspiring and delicious meal!

Vote for us!!!

It's time for some shameless self promotion. Dan and I have been selected as one of five finalists in a contest for free engagement photography, but to win we need your votes! So please visit Avenue Photo and vote for the Winnebago Adventure. That's us! Thanks so much!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bridesmaid Inspiration: I have become a Polyvore whore

I discovered a magical place today. It's called Polyvore. You create little inspiration boards of fashion or art or whatever floats your boat. It's totally addicting. My ladies, this is your inspiration for your dresses! Go nuts!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love Day

It seems I've been posting a lot more about food than weddings lately. I do have wedding things to blog about, it just seems salivating over my latest culinary conquest entertains me more. This posting is a little of column A and a little of Column B. 

I think I've posted before about our wonderful caterer and how we found him. Ezra Title of ChezVous Dining may have changed our world. For Dan's 30th birthday I wanted to something big. I wanted something once in a lifetime amazing. We went away for the weekend to Muskoka to stay at a beautiful lodge for a few days and went paragliding. When we got home Dan was surprised by a man we had never met standing in our kitchen preparing a gourmet meal for us. A couple of our close friends were in on the job and had set up an uber romantic scene for us on the back deck which was amazing. In fact, it was so good we hired Ezra again for Dan's 31st birthday. And then we emailed him and asked if he would cook Dan's birthday meal every year for us. I don't plan on ever backing out of that deal! 

This is one of those little things that makes our relationship awesome. Once a year we get to splurge and have the most amazing meal in the comfort of our own home (we're homebodies and we have a spectacular view from our back deck). We spend a lot of time making sure other people enjoy our home and their time here but it's not often we sit back and let it all sink in. Enjoying one night of utter indulgence is something both Dan and I agree is well earned and it's easily our favourite night of the year.

When Ezra agreed to cater our wedding and he said yes we were ecstatic to say the least! Ezra's star has blossomed, he's about to shoot the second season of his TV show, The Healthy Gourmet, so we're so thankful he has time for our wedding. 

So I love my fiance, I love our chef, and it's Valentine's Day. Where am I going with this? People keep asking "Are you cooking for Valentine's Day?". Ummm no. I made a HUGE brunch this morning for my family which got demolished before I could take a photo, and that was more than enough cooking for me. BUT I did get an email from Ezra about two weeks ago offering a Valentine's Day meal delivered to your home which, of course, I jumped on. I think I emailed him back in about 35 seconds and before even asking Dan. 

What's the perfect Valentine's Day for me? When a good looking man arrives at my door with a beautiful bag full of amazing food and a long stem rose. SCORE! (Sorry honey)

Unpacking my goodies

I can hardly wait to dig in tonight! It took so much will power last night to keep this stuff in the fridge! If you ever want a good Valentine's Day, trust me, kick back your feet and call Ezra!

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

It's been a weekend of family and Olympics, sorry for not posting this recipe sooner! So I took my 2 for $4 packages of red peppers, cut them in half and laid them on tin foil covered cookie sheets under the broiler until they were good and charred. I did 7 total (one was moldy inside when I cut it open, ew).

When those were done, I threw them in paper bags until they cooled. While they were cooling, I cut a bunch of roma tomatoes in half, tossed them with some olive oil and fresh minced garlic and put those in the oven on 325 for about 45 minutes or until they start looking  soft and shrivelly and smell awesome. 

When the peppers are cooled, rub the bag over them and the skins should peel off easily. If you're like me and this doesn't work perfectly, get as much off as you can, and don't stress about the rest! I don't peel and seed my tomatoes either, but a lot of people do. Whatever floats your boat. It's going to taste delicious either way. 

Now put your roasted peppers and tomatoes in a decent soup pot. Grab your immersion blender (if you don't have one GO GET ONE NOW! Or just use a food processor but they're such a pain to clean up, you'd be better off spending the $50 on the immersion blender) and blend away! You want to get all your veggies nice and smooth. You may want to add some chicken stock to help the process along. You'll need a cup of chicken stock either now or when the veggies are done anyways. When that's good, simmer with the chicken stock on the stove for about 10 minutes to get your flavours going. Add 1 cup of milk (or cream, whatever your diet will allow), and a good handful of chopped fresh basil. Some more freshly minced garlic or even caramelized onions would be tasty additions too! I like to run my immersion blender through again at this point to make sure I don't have any big basil leaves floating around. 

Add in some goat cheese if you'd like to make it a little silkier. Season with salt and pepper to taste! Delicious! We had ours with brandied carrots and parsnips and an oven baked ham.
It's not a gourmet lookin' plate but it sure was yummy!
 *All of the above photos are personal photos*

Friday, February 12, 2010

What's for dinner tonight?

- Roasted tomato and red pepper soup with fresh basil and goatcheese
- Oven baked ham 
- Brandied parsnips and carrots (to make up for the ham since Dan hates it)
- Fresh french loaf

Inspired by: 
- packages of red peppers on sale at grocery store 2 for $4 (four/package, awesome deal!)
- beautiful roma tomatoes I grabbed at the St Lawrence Market a couple days ago
- the need for ham for Valentine's Day brunch casserole

Photos and recipes to follow shortly!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Best Grilled Cheese EVER

Yesterday Dan and I auditioned for a tv show. It's basically a competition about who can throw the best dinner party. My friend works for the production company and emailed the application saying "You have to  apply for this". Le sigh. Fine. I didn't actually think they would call. They did. The upside of it was that my friend and her boss came for lunch, the downside of it was that we had to clean all the piles of paper and crap off our counters (why does stuff always accumulate on kitchen counters?!) and then cook lunch on camera. However this also meant I got to make one of my favourite meals ever. Enjoy!

Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese


- 1 loaf multi-grain type bread
- 1 log goat cheese, room temperature
- 2 portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 onion (I used vidalia), sliced
- fresh basil leaves
- butter or margarine, room temperature

1. Throw your onion slices in a pan to caramelize with a bit of EVOO or butter. Keep the heat fairly low, you don't want to fry them. I occasionally add some water to help soften them, stir every few minutes. You want them to turn a lovely golden brown colour as the sugars in the onions caramelize. It should take about 10 minutes or so. 
2. Throw in the sliced portobellos towards the end of the onions and let them soften up as well. 
3. Slice up your bread, butter one side of each slice.
4. Add goat cheese (don't be stingy!) and some of your onion/mushroom mixture. Top this off with a few basil leaves. 
5. Fry that puppy up in a hot pan! Be careful when flipping, it has a propensity to want to fall apart since it's not like traditional cheddar grilled cheese that sticks together naturally. 
6. Take a bite and repeat after me: "Oh.... my..... god....."

We served this with sweet potato fries and garlic aioli. Sorry I don't have pictures of this, we ate it all.......................................................... *insert my embarrassed face here!*

Sweet Potato Fries
- 1 sweet potato/person
- cumin
- dried oregano
- paprika

1. Preheat your oven to 425*.
2. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. You can get about 2 sweet potatoes onto a sheet. They have a tendency to caramelize a bit and will ruin your cookie sheets if you don't line them. Trust me. 
3. Cut your sweet potatoes into wedges, traditional "fries", rounds, whatever you prefer. 
4. Toss in a bowl with a healthy drizzle of EVOO. You want to coat each fry, but not have it dripping. Add you cumin (I probably do a 1/2 tbsp per sweet potato), a few shakes of dried oregano, and about 1tsp/sweet potato of paprika. (Sorry I've made these so many times I don't use the recipe any more. Just put stuff on till it looks good). Toss again to coat.
5. Spread out in a single layer on your cookie sheet.
6. Bake at 425* for 25 minutes, flipping once half way in between. 

While those are in the oven make your:

Garlic Aioli
- mayonnaise (the shock! I don't make my own!)
- 1 lemon
- freshly ground black pepper
- fresh garlic, not minced out of a jar

1. Throw some mayo in a bowl. Enough for everyone and some extra so you can have an excuse to make more sweet potato fries tomorrow. 
2. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon, or relative to the amount of mayo. I think when I made it yesterday I did 1 lemon and 1 cup or cup and a half of mayo. 
3. Grind in some fresh pepper. More than you think you should. 
4. Use your handy dandy garlic press and squash in some fresh garlic. I did about 3 cloves. The more the better as far as I'm concerned!
5. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed!

Enjoy everyone! 

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Superbowl of Chili

Sorry to burst the bubble, but Superbowl is about:

a) Food
b) Commercials
c) Football

We all know it, let's just acknowledge it and move on. Having the perfect chili recipe is key to this event. One year Dan decided to make some sort of crazy award winning chili recipe with individual bread bowls for everyone. It was a disaster. The chili was so hot no one could eat it, and the bread bowls turned out like hockey pucks. I think we ordered pizza. 


Since then I have reclaimed the rights to making chili in our household and stumbled onto the most awesome recipe ever. Once again, thank you for being amazing. 

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili Recipe
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Boilermaker Tailgate Chili

"This is the chili recipe the gang eats at Purdue Boilermaker football games. I always prep and cook the chili the night before and then reheat the next day. This is a combination of many different tomato-based chili recipes. Good luck and enjoy."

Rating: This 
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Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 2hrs
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins


  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans chili beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chili beans in spicy sauce
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green chile peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon bacon bits
  • 4 cubes beef bouillon
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) bag corn chips such as Fritos®
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground chuck and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
  2. Pour in the chili beans, spicy chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, celery, green and red bell peppers, chile peppers, bacon bits, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, hot pepper sauce, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and sugar. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, or refrigerate, and serve the next day.
  4. To serve, ladle into bowls, and top with corn chips and shredded Cheddar cheese.
I skip the corn chips part, but whatever floats your boat. I'm also fond of using chiles in adobo sauce to add a bit of smokey flavour, and I use real bacon rather than bacon bits. We usually top it with a bit of sour cream and chopped green onions, and have some sour dough bread for sopping up. Soooooo good! I can hardly wait to get this started this afternoon! 

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Assembling My Womenfolk

Dan has seven groomsmen. That's right, seven. He is not Greek or Italian, he just has a lot of great friends. I'm lucky because I have a lot of great girlfriends, so finding a comparable number of women to be bridesmaids was hardly difficult! As soon as we got engaged (and I mean within an hour), I had already talked to my sister and asked her to be my Matron of Honour. I emailed my oldest and dearest friend Stacey in Vancouver and asked her to be a bridesmaid in an email that I'm pretty sure was all in caps locks that went something along the lines of:


Thankfully for Alena, Sara, and Kathe they all live in the city and I was able to ask them each at a dinner. I like the face to face aspect since this is a fairly important job! And by fairly important I mean I need them to look pretty in dresses, show up on the day, and keep my stock of Pepto on hand so I don't throw up from nervousness on my dress. 

I had one girl left, my "cousin" Sami. She's one of those close-friends-of-the-family type of cousins. She's in university in Kansas and I love this girl like a little sister. But how to ask her? My initial freaking out "ohmygodwe'regettingmarried!!!" was done, and I wanted to do something special for her since she was so far away. Enter the "Will you be my bridesmaid?" book. Five pages, each of them relevant to the wedding. 

(Our venue the Alton Mill
So what I did is quite simple really. I used Photoshop and put about a half inch white strip along the left side of the photo since I would need to bind the finished pages together. Next I simply picked my font and typed my "Something old...." in the corner. I did all the photos as layers in the same file and just changed the text so would be in the same spot in each photo. 

(My ring)
(My Mom's pearls)

Next I made a "Will you be my bridesmaid?" page. I found an image I liked online (sorry I'm not going to be able to credit it, I can't remember where I stole it from, my apologies!), and isloated the green colour since I was on my green bridesmaid dress colour at the time. I turned the opacity waaaaaaay down so my text would really stand out. 


And now, assembly time! I lined them all up, punched holes in each photo and laced them up with blue ribbon (another "something blue") which I tied at the top with a little knot. Nothing complicated. If I had had a better hole puncher (not from the dollar store), I probably could have punched all the photos stacked up, but I'm cheap so I had to do them one by one. 

I popped it in the mail and off it went to Kansas! A week later I got an email from Sami saying she nearly cried when she read it and she's thrilled to be a bridesmaid! Hooray!!!!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Spaghetti Squash Primavera Spectacular!

We got a little crazy around here last night! We're on the wedding diet bandwagon (sort of), so I'm trying to be a little creative when it comes to what we're eating. Instead of loading up on carbs, I made a "pasta" dinner with spaghetti squash last night. Dan named it one of his top 5 meals of all time! Hooray! I sort of winged it so the directions are a bit loose (yet again, I swear I'm totally a recipe girl, I don't know what's gotten into me!), use this as inspiration rather than strict instructions. Add extra EVOO and garlic to taste at any and all points throughout this recipe as you find necessary.

-spaghetti squash
- red onion, thinly sliced
- red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 portobello mushroom, sliced
- 1 tomato, chopped
- fresh thyme (about a tsp)
- fresh basil, chopped (about a tbsp)
- salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 375*. Now get yourself a spaghetti squash. Cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Oil up the cut side with some EVOO and place it on a baking sheet (cover the sheet in tinfoil to save you some headache later) cut side down. Bake for about an hour. I actually made Dan do this part since I was stuck in traffic and he said he pierced the skin with a fork a few times, so do that, it worked well.

When there's about 15 minutes left, heat up a fairly large frying pan on medium with a couple tablespoons of EVOO in the bottom. Throw in some garlic (I love garlic, so put in as much as you prefer), and heat for about a minute. Now throw in your onion and peppers. Cook them until soft or however you like them, probably about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat on your stove a bit. Next it's time for the thyme, mushroom and tomato. If you do these for too long or on too high a heat they'll sort of disintegrate and be yucky, so put them in about 2 minutes before your squash comes out.

When your squash is done, pull it out of the oven, flip over the halves, and start shredding at the flesh with a fork. It should start coming away in strands (like spaghetti). Mmmmm!!!!
Dump all that yummy squash into your frying pan and toss it with your other veg. Throw in your basil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Let it all heat up and meld together and it will be amazing! Top with freshly grated Parmesan.

Monday, February 01, 2010

I love white.

People always ask me "What are you colours for the wedding???". I typically give them a blank stare, a long pause and then mutter something like "White..... and whatever looks good on my bridesmaids....". I love white. I have always loved white. When I moved out from my parent's house it was my dream to have white leather sofas. I would live in a white house with white walls and all white furniture. I would then only wear black and walk around looking like an exclamation mark in said house because it would be funny. 

So when it came to picking my wedding colours I was immediately stumped. I'm an interior designer, asking me to pick a favourite colour is like asking a mother to pick her favourite child. What do I want the girls to wear? Whatever they feel gorgeous in! My rule was one I borrowed from my best friend when I was one of her bridesmaids, "Look pretty when you stand in a row". I asked them all to wear some sort of apple green shade because it's pretty, but now I've changed my mind again. I'll probably change my mind 4 more times after that. Right now I'm thinking some sort of blue/grey tone or light blue sort but I'll probably change my mind again. 

What are my colours? I'm a bride, I'm wearing white.