Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Christmas Sweaters, Cakes, Cookies, & Plates

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party - For as long as I have known my best friend Robin, I have known her sister Jamie to be the hostess with the mostest! Jamie is one of those people who was born to entertain, host, and care for others (which is very fitting considering that she is a nurse!), throwing parties and get togethers all year round, always complete with the most delicious drinks, snacks, and desserts, almost always created all by Jamie herself! How perfect that Jamie would fall in love with her husband John, also a fantastic host and cook (not to mention a hunter as well!), making them the perfect party-throwing team! Every year since I have known the pair they have been throwing an annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, bringing together all their friends and family, in their most hideously incredible festive sweaters to eat, drink, and be merry, all under one roof! Jamie always outdoes herself each year in both her menu and sweater, and this year was no exception.

Donning a brand new homemade ugly Christmas sweater, complete with a stocking cellphone holder (a must for any party host!) Jamie and John once again threw a great holiday party, this time with some new and very unique menu items. I was surprised and incredibly excited to hear that Jamie and John had special ordered an ostrich egg to make a frittata to serve at the party, to serve alongside elk sausages (very cool!). With their incredible culinary skills, I was sad to see that the frittata was already devoured by the time Robin and I arrived at the party, but we were still able to scope out the giant ostrich egg that they had saved! It was so cool to hold the ostrich egg shell in my hand, feeling the strange texture, weight, and thickness, of the shell. So cool! Thanks Jamie and John for another successful and hilarious ugly Christmas sweater party! Check out Jamie's fantastic food blog, Martha In Training, here to learn more about Jamie and what she's cooking up next!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party: Sweet & Splendid Cake - At every party and get together that Jamie hosts, one of the things I look forward to most is seeing what type of creation her friend Danielle has created. Danielle has her very own custom cake business called Sweet & Splendid Bakeshop, creating the most imaginative, beautiful, and delicious cakes I have ever seen! There's always this whimsical quality to her cakes that makes them really stand out for me, which is easy to see with the cake that she served at this years Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. The red velvet and mascarpone cream cake looked so adorable, shaped like a chimney with Santa's legs coming out the end, as though that jolly belly of his got him stuck in the narrow passage. Although I missed snapping a photo before everyone cut into the cake, you can still see the fantastic artistry that goes into Danielle's work! What really blows me away about Danielle's cakes is that not only are they beautiful and complex, they are also always delicious! Check out Danielle's website to see more of her creations at Sweet & Splendid Bakeshop here

Annual Christmas Cookie Bake - One of my all-time favourite family traditions is spending time with my Oma in her kitchen, with one or two of my little (er...not so little anymore) cousins at my side, rolling, cutting, and decorating Oma's infamous Christmas cookies! It is something that, no matter how busy all of our schedules get, I will never fail to miss! I love my Oma so much, and being able to spend that time with her, doing one of our favourite things in the world, means the world to me! I appreciate the time that Oma spends preparing the dough for all of us, and setting up the cookie decorating station complete with all the cookie cutters we have been using since I was a toddler, sprinkles, egg wash, and, my favourite baking accessory, her antique German cookie press that turns that delicious cookie dough into something even more spectacular! Oma, thank you so much for always making time to make Christmas cookies with me every year, for whipping up delicious lunches prior to the cookie bake (your fried chicken, pickles, and beets hit the spot!), for sharing your wine coolers with me, and for making me smile with your dirty jokes! I love you! 

Christmas Plate 2012 - It may not be the most beautiful plate, but it is certainly the most delicious! Any good Christmas plate should be colourful, piled high, overflowing, and look like a delicious mess. It's clear to see that this years Christmas plate certainly fits that description! On my plate this year is:  ginger-ale glazed ham with caramelized onions, turkey with cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes with red peppers, cheesy scalloped potatoes, pomegranate and brie salad with balsamic glazed pecans, green beans with caramelized onions, shredded beet salad, and stuffing! The best!

Honorable Mention: Yours Truly - It was too dark for me to take a successful photo, and, quite frankly, there were just too many dishes for me to even narrow down which photo I would post, but I couldn't post a Weekly Roundup without mentioning what may be one of the best dining experiences I have had in Toronto to date! Last week I had the absolute pleasure of dining at the Ossington hotspot Yours Truly, which blew me away with their unique, striking, and absolutely delicious tasting menu! Not only was the inventive meal (complete with unbelievable cocktails) an adventure for the taste buds, it was also a great conversation starter and learning experience. It was such a joy to be able to engage with the bartender and servers about each dish that we were enjoying, learning about the techniques, ingredients, and time that went into each dish and cocktail. Every single aspect of the dinner was spot on! It was a memorable meal and evening that I won't soon forget! Tip: Sit at the bar for the ultimate  dining experience!

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Listening To:
Major Lazer - Get Free (Feat. Amber of Dirty Projectors)

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

12 Days Of Wine Country Ontario Contest Winner!

Thank you everyone who participated in the 12 Days Of Wine Country Ontario giveaway! Congratulations to Genevieve Anderson our lucky winner who will receive a gift certificate to the Shaw Spa for a relaxing Grape & Wine Exfoliating Treatment! I hope you enjoy your Wine Country Ontario experience! Please email me at with your home address so we can send you your gift certificate as soon as possible! 

Listening To:
Nick Drake - Pink Moon

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Give The Gift Of Wine Country Ontario - CONTEST!

With only one week left until Christmas Eve, the pressure is building to grab hold of those creative last minute gifts for your friends and loved ones. I always say that as much as I adore unwrapping a gift, and making use of it as early as Christmas morning (nothing like cozying up in that new sweater while enjoying Christmas Day!) I appreciate the gift of 'experience' more than anything! I'm lucky to be one of those girls that is often thought of as "the girl who has everything", which makes gift giving for me pretty tricky. Giving me something to experience means giving me the gift of a memory, rather than junking up my dresser more than it already is. 
The key to giving the gift of experience, is personalizing it for that particular person. Take myself for instance, just by glancing at my blog it's easy to see that I am a fan of wine and, with my many blog posts on visits to Wine Country Ontario, there's no doubt that visiting Ontario's wine region is something I immensely enjoy. Why not give the gift of Wine Country Ontario to a wine loving friend or loved one by registering them for a winery tour, or perhaps give a gift certificate to a winery with a fabulous restaurant! With the stress of the holidays and inevitable dry skin this time of year, one of my favourite Wine Country Ontario gifts are gift certificates to the spa in wine country! Sure you can get a massage or an exfoliant treatment pretty much anywhere, but when in wine country, go for something interesting! I LOVE the sound of a Grape and Wine Scrub such as the one they have at the prestigious Shaw Spa in Niagara. The Shaw Spa's Grape and Wine Scrub Treatment scrubs away that dry Winter skin by using the extracts from the grape seed, leaf, stems and wine, leaving your skin smooth and perfectly hydrated! What better way to end a day of winery touring, than relaxing at the spa!
Wine Country Ontario has been kind enough invite me to be apart of their #12DaysWCO, a 12 day celebration of the season! Each day a different wine loving blogger will suggest one of their favourite Wine Country Ontario gifts to give under $100 and, even better, Wine Country Ontario will send one lucky reader that very gift! So, how can you win a Shaw Spa Grape and Wine Scrub Exfoliating Experience? All you have to do is comment on this post, describing your favourite Wine Country Ontario Experience, or, if you've never had the chance to experience Wine Country Ontario yourself (what's wrong with you?), comment and tell me why you would like to! So what are you waiting for? Share your Wine Country Ontario experience with me! Good luck! 

* One comment = one entry. One entry per person.
* A winner will be selected at random on Friday December 21st!

Listening To:
John Lennon - So this is Christmas

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Your Fam Is My Fam, & My Fam Is Yours

Dinner at the Orlando's - One of my best friends is my friend Alex Orlando. Alex has been given the title of 'the best' ever since we first met in grade four, and has remained the best thanks to the strange sisterly bond we have with one another that only seems to get stronger as years pass. With her family living right around the corner from my old house, we couldn't help but have spontaneous get togethers whenever we could. Whether it was just going for a walk, having a dip in her hot tub or my pool, having a late night gossip session on our couches, raiding each others fridges for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Years leftovers, or munching on nut brittle while making a gingerbread house at my breakfast table, we would always make ourselves at home in each others homes. Her home became my home away from home, a place I knew I could run to if I ever was in trouble, needed a hug, or even needed an egg for a recipe (my sister once ran over to Alex's for that very thing!), and the same went for my home for her. Her parent's, Marisa and Paul, quickly became aunt and uncle figures for me, taking me along on family vacations, inviting me to their backyard parties, and welcoming me in for their Sunday night family dinners. After moving into our apartment a month ago, one of the many things that made me sad was knowing that I would no longer be neighbors with the Orlando's, my second family. Farewell to the days of running around the corner, through the snow, in my pajamas just to hang at the Orlando house.

The most recent time Alex and I got together, I told her all about how my mom and I were adjusting to living in this new space, and some of the troubles we've been having. Alex perked up and said "I know just what you two need! You need to come over for an Orlando Sunday night dinner!" Right when she said that, I knew she was right! I know how welcoming, delicious, and hilarious Sunday nights at the Orlando house can be, having been invited numerous times now, and knew that my mom could definitely use a night of laid back fun. This past Sunday we put our plan into action and headed over to their home. With Alex, Marisa, Paul, Alex's sister Victoria, her husband Kyle, their grandmother Flora, and my mom and I all sitting around their big dining room table, we had the most wonderful time sipping vino and enjoying Marisa's incredible culinary skills. The night began with everyone gathered around their kitchen island, devouring the plate of shrimp and flatbread that Marisa had put out, catching up on all of the recent events, and looking through photos from Victoria and Kyle's wedding this summer.
Dinner at the Orlando's - After appetizers in the kitchen we headed into the dining room for even more deliciousness! We started the meal with the highlight for me, prosciutto and melon salad with arugula and buffalo mozzarella. So incredibly delicious! My mom and I often make prosciutto wrapped melon, but we loved how striking looking and delicious Marisa's salad was! I will definitely be replicating this tasty salad the next time I entertain! The salad was followed by comforting chicken parmesan, roasted fingerling potatoes and butternut squash, and broccoli. Stuffed to the brim, I couldn't believe I still had room to dip into the dessert tray that was served, quickly grabbing a cannoli for myself. Thank you so much to the Orlando family for taking us in and making your home ours for the night. You are possibly the warmest people I have ever known, and one night at your place can make that warmth and positive energy linger all week long! I can't wait to have you over to our place so we can share that same love with you! 

Follow Alex on Twitter to learn all about this incredibly talented, multi-taking gal that I am so lucky to call my best friend!

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Camera Obscura - Country Mile

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Welcome Home To Birthday Love

Surprise Cake Pops - My friend Mike is probably one of the most social people I know, with a super close core group of friends that he's had since childhood, as well as a slew of friends all over the province that he's met through his successful drumming career. When his girlfriend Vittoria sent out an invite for a surprise 25th birthday party for Mike, I couldn't help but worry that someone would spill the beans considering his large social network. To our surprise, and especially Mike's, Mike had no clue that Vittoria had planned this special party for him, gathering all of his friends together in a privately booked venue, complete with all the finger food you could ever want, and a beautiful slideshow of Mike's memories and friends. There was no denying how happy Mike was, with a giant smile plastered on his face all night, and a stunning, smiling Vittoria by his side.  My favourite bite of the night was the  festive and sparkly cake pops and cupcakes that Vittoria brought! I had a delicious carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting and a yummy, super sweet red velvet cake pop speckled with silver sprinkles. I have to find out where Vittoria got them. They would be great to serve at a holiday party! I'll keep you updated! Check out who Mike is drumming for next and follow along as he reaches rockstar status on his Tumblr here!

Happy Birthday Daddy! - One of my favourite places to have a guaranteed good time in Toronto is Guu Sakabar. The combination of the lively atmosphere, incredibly friendly staff, and killer menu makes Guu one of my go-to places ever since I was first introduced to it by my sister Justine and her boyfriend. Thanks to all the hype we've given Guu over the past year or so, my dad listed Guu as one of the top places he wanted to check out for his birthday this past week. Despite his initial grumblings about the loud volume and uncomfortable seats (I believe he said "I want a little cushion for my bum. Can they bring me one?") we all ended up having a great experience at Guu. My dad loved getting to try so many different tastes, with his favourites being the Kimchi Nabe Hot Pot and the Kakuni Pie, pork belly pastry with sweet soy sauce. Happy Birthday Daddy!

Kobi's First Visit to the New Place - Moving into this new apartment from our home with my mom has taught me a lot about what it means to call a place a 'home'. It's more than just bringing your furniture in and hanging your photos on the walls. No, this isn't a snap-your-fingers kind of change. Turning a 'house' into a 'home' is about creating memories and bringing in love. More than anything, the experiences that have made this place feel like my new home have been things like having my sister and her boyfriend over for sunday night dinner, making fresh pasta with my cousin, smelling my moms familiar spaghetti sauce cooking in the kitchen, and, most recently, welcoming my dog in for his first visit to the new place! My dog Kobi lives with my dad, so it wasn't until this week that we finally had a chance to have Kobi over for a visit. Seeing that big bundle of adorable fluff running around to each room with the biggest smile on his face, his tail spinning like a helicopter, sniffing all of the familiar furniture that he remembers from our old home, and cuddling up on the floor with him while he snored in contentment really felt like that final push to make this place feel like my home. Kobi this is just as much your home as it is mine! You are always welcome! 

This Is Love - This past summer my cousin Matty married the girl of his dreams, Becca. Although we don't get to see Matty and Becca as often as we like with the two of them living in BC together, we had a chance to see just how special their relationship is when they lived in Toronto for a short period of time a few years ago. They have that unique kind of love where, after spending no more than five minutes with them, you can't deny that they were meant to be together. So incredibly kind, talented, smart, and creative, they balance each other out perfectly, sharing hobbies and interests, while still allowing each other the independence to have their own niche. Despite how badly I wanted to attend their wedding in BC, the timing just didn't work out with so much chaos in our lives due to the sale of the house. I, of course, scoured Facebook for every photo I could find of Matty and Becca's wedding, but no photo was as beautiful as the one they sent for their thank you cards this week (which says a lot considering the abundance of stunning photos I had found). Probably one of the most beautiful photos I've seen, this photo brought the happiest of tears to my eyes, seeing this beautiful moment between them captured so perfectly. We feel so lucky to welcome you into our family Becca! I wish you two the most joyous life together! 

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Carla Bruni - Le Ciel Dans Une Chambre

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Campbell's Alfredo Sauce with Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock

With such a busy schedule, it can be really difficult to come up with interesting and unique recipes every night of the week. Sure, it's easy to come up with inspired meal ideas, but making them happen under time constraints is another story. On a weekly basis I find myself sacrificing the flavour and complexity of my meals due to my busy schedule, choosing to take shortcuts or tone down my recipe to fit the time that I have. That's why I was so excited to receive a package from Campbell's Canada containing their full new line of Stock First stocks, including beef, chicken, and, most interestingly, cream stock. Campbell's new line of stocks takes the stress out of cooking, allowing home cooks to amp up the flavour of their dishes in next to no time at all. Although I was eager to try each one of Campbell's new stocks, I had to give their Cream Stock a try thanks to a craving for fresh pasta. Campbell's provided an incredibly simple and quick recipe for Alfredo sauce using their Cream Stock, which would allow me the time to concentrate my efforts on making the perfect, fresh, homemade fettuccine noodles.

Fresh homemade pasta is actually quite easy to prepare, but there's no doubt that it is a time consuming process. I can't help but stress out every time I make homemade pasta, rushing to just get it done, realizing that I've spent so much time working on the noodles, that I haven't left myself much time for the sauce. Because Campbell's recipe for Alfredo sauce was so incredibly simple, I could finally find the joy in making fresh pasta again. With my cousin Kim by my side to help, as well as a notepad filled with recently-researched pasta making tips, and plenty of time until dinner, making our fresh fettuccine noodles actually felt very relaxing. We had so much fun using the swanky, new, red lacquered pasta maker that I had received as a birthday gift this year (thanks Alex!), taking turns with who got to feed the dough through the machine. We were absolutely giddy over it! Making the fresh pasta noodles was an absolute breeze thanks to my previous experience in making pasta and the slew of new tips that I applied. Check out my homemade pasta making tips here:

Fresh Pasta Tips
  • Give yourself plenty of time to make the pasta so you're not rushing to get it done. This may not be the best weeknight meal, especially for pasta-making virgins.
  • Remove eggs from fridge a half hour before making dough.
  • Don't add too much water. You want the dough to just come together. I add about a tablespoon at a time.
  • Don't just punch the dough around when kneading, make sure to fold the dough over itself over and over again until you have reached the right consistency.
  • Don't simply time yourself when kneading the dough, feel when the dough is ready. This takes some practice, but after a few tries you'll get the hang of it. 
  • Allow the kneaded dough to rest for 1-hour.
  • If you don't have a pasta dryer (I mean, who does?) hang your cut pasta noodles on clothes hangers to dry.
  • And most importantly, don't freak out! It's easy to freak out the first time you make pasta from scratch, worried about sticking noodles or cracking dough, but the trick is to laugh it off and keep going! Practice makes perfect, and the more you practice making pasta the more intuitive it becomes. 
Once the noodles were dried and ready to hop into the salty bath on the stove, all I had to do was whip together the Alfredo sauce. The unbelievably simple sauce came together in no time at all, but had the rich flavours  and velvety smooth texture of a sauce that required much more time and effort. My favourite thing about the cream stock was the texture. When making a creamy sauce I often have trouble getting the sauce to the right consistency, always having a too-thin or too-thick sauce, or finding that right consistency, only to have it separate on me. This sauce had that perfect consistency that I've always been aiming for, with no separation issues. Kim, my mom, and myself all loved the Fettuccine Alfredo, with each one of us enthusiastically going up for seconds. Creamy, comforting, and absolutely delicious, I will definitely be making this dish again, and it's all thanks to Campbell's Cream Stock! 

Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock isn't technically a "stock" although it performs like a stock in many ways, creating a base for your dish, adding rich and robust flavour in the time it takes to open the carton.  I'm often skeptical with products such as this, sure that I am sacrificing quality ingredients and my health for convenience, but I was happy to learn that Campbell's Cream Stock does more than just elevate your recipes, it contains no artificial colours or flavour, is gluten free and suitable for vegetarians, and it has 83% less fat and 78% less calories than the same serving of 35% whipping cream (125mL). I will definitely be purchasing Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock in the future and would suggest that you give it a try as well! 

Tip: Make this meal even more substantial by adding grilled chicken or shrimp!

Campbell's Fettuccine Alfredo
Fettuccine noodles (see recipe below)
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper, plus more for serving
1 carton Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

  1. Simmer wine and cracked black pepper in a medium-large saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced by half.
  2. Add stock and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  3. While stock is simmering, cook fresh fettuccine (see recipe below) in boiling salted water until al dente.
  4. Add cooked and drained noodles, chopped parsley, and parmesan cheese and stir to coat noodles completely. Serve with more fresh cracked pepper and parmesan cheese. 
Fresh Pasta 
3 cups flour
5 egg yolks
1/2 tsp salt
cold water

  1. Take eggs out of fridge 1/2 hour before making dough.
  2. In a medium-large bowl add the flour and make a small well in the centre. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add the beaten yolks and the salt into the middle of the well in the bowl of flour. Keeping one clean hand for mixing, and one for adding water, mix and form the dough, adding a little bit of water at a time until you have formed a nice, firm, but slightly sticky dough. You want to add enough water for it to just come together. Don't let your dough get too sticky.
  4. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, folding the dough over itself over and over again until you have a smooth and slightly springy ball. Lightly coat dough in olive oil, place dough back in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
  5. Tear off a piece of dough bigger than a golf ball, but smaller than a baseball. Continue making the noodles following the instructions on your pasta maker. 
  6. Dry lightly floured noodles on clean clothes hangers. This should take about 15-20 minutes. 
  7. Cook pasta in boiling salted water for about 4 minutes, or until al dente. 
Learn more about Campbell's Stock First products here!

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Weekly Roundup - Holiday Gifts & Pasta Making Tips

Holiday CHEERS with Steam Whistle - With the Holidays fast approaching, I can't help but worry over not having purchased any gifts for my friends and family, nor have I given any gift ideas for myself to the many friends and family members who have been asking. Now that my bedroom and closet are a mere fraction of the size they were only a few weeks ago in my old home, I can't imagine asking for more "stuff" to crowd this already cluttered space. My Holiday gift idea dilemma was solved thanks to Steam Whistle and their new Holiday 12-pack. Spread some Holiday CHEERS by giving the gift of craft beer this season! Wrapped up in a festive, easy-to-carry-and-store Holiday box, Steam Whistle's Holiday 12-pack is the perfect gift for any beer lover! 

The County General - Being so busy preparing for our big move over the past few months has not only meant me neglecting my blog, but also some of my closest friends. My best friend Alex , who may have the busiest and craziest schedule out of anyone I know, was one of those people. With so much happening in both of our lives lately, we couldn't believe that it had been so many months since we had caught up. With so many stories to recount, we wanted to find the perfect place to unwind, unload our gossip, and indulge in delicious food and drinks. Walking against the freezing cold wind along Queen Street West, I was desperate to just pick a place and be done with it, but Alex insisted that there was a great cozy spot coming up that would be perfect for our reunion. I was happy to learn that this little spot that Alex was referring to was The County General, a restaurant I have been dying to go to for months now. My excitement at finally getting to try their infamous Fried Chicken Thigh Sandwich knocked the cold right out of me! After hearing so much hype about the sandwich, it would have been easy to be left disappointed, but The County General's Fried Chicken Thigh Sandwich knocked my socks off with its perfectly crispy and juicy buttermilk fried chicken thigh pieces, soft fresh milk bun,  avocado chutney, and an abundance of cilantro leaves and stems. Served alongside their hand-cut fries and killer hot sauce, this sandwich was absolute perfection, and easily takes the top spot as my favourite sandwich in Toronto!

After savoring every bite of that perfect sandwich, you would think I wouldn't be able to even look at any another bite of food...well, you would think. Our conversation came to a halt when the table next to us caught our attention with the arrival of their Fried Chicken for two. The smell of the "KFC" n' Soy Garlic Chicken alone had me swooning, but what really caught my attention was the dramatic way in which the chicken was served. With a long sheet of paper running along the table, The County General sees no need for plates. The sticky, glazed chicken is poured right onto the paper on the table, followed by a generous topping of garnishes, which included sesame seeds, mint, thai basil, cilantro, green onions, and avocado sauce, all of which is served alongside a half-dozen mini steamed buns. Can you say foodgasm? That beautiful and delicious looking presentation had me thinking of nothing but fried chicken for days! I had to get my hands on that chicken as soon as possible. Only four days later, I came back to the Country General for their dreamy fried chicken and I have to say, it was just as incredible as it looked! I only wish I had more of an appetite to finish it all! 

The County General - No meal is complete without a killer cocktail! After just learning that week about how to make a perfect mint julep, there was no other cocktail I could imagine ordering than The County General's Spicy Serrano Mint Julep with Jim Beam Bourbon, fresh mint, and house-made serrano syrup. It was really interesting and I enjoyed the first few sips, but it was a little strong for my taste. At my next visit I tried The County Drive In, with Makers Mark, Aperol, fresh lime, and Jones Cream Soda. The perfect balance of both sweet and bitter, this cocktail was right up my alley!

Winter Drinks - Normally after a big meal and so many drinks all I can think about is cuddling up for a nap, but the County General put me in such a great mood I just kept going! Here is my friend Rommi and I drinking our winter chills away at the Banknote at King and Bathurst. 
First Family Dinner - With each passing day, our new apartment is starting to feel more and more like our home, but nothing made this foreign space feel more "homey" than hosting a family dinner in our new dining room. With my sister Justine and her boyfriend in attendance, we popped bottles of bubbly and indulged in my moms comforting pulled pork, mashed potatoes, and roasted carrots and toasted to new beginnings! I guess home really is where the heart is. 

Fresh Pasta - After seeing my mom back in action in the kitchen on Sunday, slow roasting pulled pork, I knew the time had come for me to reacquaint myself with the kitchen and make something special. For months now I have been aching to try the beautiful, red lacquered pasta maker that my friend Alex had bought me for my birthday, so with the afternoon off and my cousin Kim on her way to help as sous chef, I could think of no better dish to make than fresh pasta! Armed with a notebook full of pasta making tips and tricks, and Kim at my side to help, making fresh pasta has never felt easier!

One of the most useful tips that I used that day was a trick on how to dry fresh pasta. In my previous attempts at making fresh pasta, I was always left pulling my hair out, so completely frustrated over the pasta noodles sticking together and ruining all of my hard work. Without a pasta dryer, I would always lay my noodles out on flour-dusted cookie sheets, which not only took up a ton of room, covering every surface in my kitchen and dining room, but also didn't allow for the pasta to dry, resulting in goopy, stuck together noodles, disappointing in both taste and appearance. I had to figure out a way to hang the pasta strands to keep them separated and allow them to completely dry. It took Kim by surprise to arrive at our apartment to see clothes hangers dangling from all of the kitchen cupboards, my solution to not having a pasta dryer. Although it appeared strange, drying my pasta noodles on clothes hangers was the perfect way dry and separate the fresh noodles! This was my best attempt at fresh pasta yet! Stay tuned for an entry coming up soon on more pasta-making tips!  

Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock - Thanks to a recent delivery  at my doorstep from Campbell's I was inspired to make their recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo using their Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock. The incredibly simple and quick to prepare sauce was the perfect accompaniment to my not-so-simple fresh pasta. Keep your eyes peeled for an entry coming up soon on my review of Campbell's Cream Stock as well as their tasty recipe for Alfredo Sauce! 

Wine Bottle Pen Markers - Still in reunion-mode with so many good friends to catch up with, I spent my friday night by the fireplace, stuffing my face with sushi, and sipping on vino, with my friend Danielle. I loved the personalized glasses that Danielle served our wine in, with "Ginger" and "Cinnamon" scrawled on each one. As a housewarming gift, Danielle and her boyfriend received a bottle of wine from a friend along with two wine bottle pen markers. These cute silver and gold pens are a great way to personalize friends wine glasses at dinner parties. Writing guests names on the glasses is a good way of recognizing who's is who's, but why not deck your glasses out with clever phrases, interesting quotes, or even cute drawings to act as a conversation starter. These wine bottle pen markers are also a great stocking stuffer idea for the guy or gal who has everything! Hint hint...I want these! 

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Listening To:
Badly Drawn Boy - Once Around The Block

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