Italian Night

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For a quick and easy snack you can toss some olives on the able along with prosciutto wrapped dates for a little nibble until dinner is ready to go. (I sprinkle a little truffle salt on the dates for a more unique taste)

Handmade Gnocchi

I thought I’d give gnocchi from scratch a shot. Ingredients look simple but don’t be fooled it’s a little more difficult than it looks.

Ingredients

2 potatoes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg

Directions

Prep 30 m

Cook 30 m

Ready In1 h

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel potatoes and add to pot. Cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and mash with a fork or potato masher.
  2. Combine 1 cup mashed potato, flour and egg in a large bowl. Knead until dough forms a ball. Shape small portions of the dough into long “snakes”. On a floured surface, cut snakes into half-inch pieces.
  3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until gnocchi have risen to the top; drain and serve.

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The Sauce

The sauce recipe is from my auntie Linda, who is full blown Italian. Her primary method and throw everything in a pot and simmer it. I basically watched her and attempted to write down what she was doing. The being said this recipe is overly clear but it tastes great every time!

Ingredients

Olive oil at bottom of pot

1 Medium Onion

Garlic 2-3 cloves minced

Cook until soft

Add in

Crushed chili peppers

24 oz of Tomato Juice

1 can of Tomato Sauce

Simmer for 4 hours

Then Add

2 small cans of tomato paste

Mushrooms and Green Peppers

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

1 more can of tomato paste (at the end)

1/2 tsp of chili powder

1 tsp of garlic powder

Simmer for 1-2 more hours

Cooking it slow is key!

The Salad

The salad was pretty simple I just threw together some mixed greens, sliced mixed baby tomatoes, bocconcini cheese and tossed it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

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Fall Brunch

Fall is my favourite season and there’s nothing better than going back to your home town and having a lovely brunch with your girlfriends.

Flowers and Decor from Swish Flowers

Help yourself options are key during any event since that means less running around for me! All baked goods were from Bon Ton Bakery

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Bagel Station
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Assorted Treats

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Noodle Night

When its crappy and raining out, who doesn’t love noodles? They’re  comforting  and warm your belly. I chose this recipe because it’s healthy, light and delicious! The recipe is adopted from The Coup, an amazing vegetarian restaurant in Calgary, AB. I recently purchased their cook book and have been going nuts with it! The recipe I chose is loaded with veggies, which is a huge wine for me!

The Decor

The Food

Green Coconut Curry Hot Pot

For Both

4 tbsp lemongrass minced

2-3 tbsp green curry paste

6 tbsp fresh ginger minced

1 cup water and bouillon cube or 1 cup veggie stock

3 cans (1200 mls) coconut milk

6 fresh lime leaves

50 mls fresh lime juice

1/4 cup date paste (recipe to follow)

For stir-fry

4 cups seasonal veggies cut into thin slices

1/2 package GMO free edamame beans not in shell

1 1/2 cups noodles cooked

1 lime cut into quarters 

oil for sautéing

For Date Paste

in a pot, place 3/4 cups of dates and 2 cups of water and boil until dates are soft and most of the water has evaporated, place mixture in food processor and blend until smooth- this will make 1/4 cup refrigerated and save for something else, it’s a great alternative to sugar!

Directions

in a pot on medium heat with a little oil heat lemongrass, curry paste and 3 tbsp ginger for 5 minutes, stirring constantly

add stock, coconut milk, and lime leaves

bring to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer for 20 minutes

turn off heat, add lime juice and date paste and stir untl smooth

add coconut curry mixture and heat until it bubbles

portion cooked noddles in each bowl and add veggie mix to each

garnish with a lime wedge

Dark Chocolate Tart

INGREDIENTS

Crust Ingredients:

⅔ cup almond flour

¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

½ tsp vanilla

1 tablespoons coconut oil, warmed to a liquid

¼ tsp sea salt

Dark Chocolate Filling:

1 tablespoon of coconut oil, warmed to a liquid

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

2 heaping tablespoons raw cocoa powder

INSTRUCTIONS

In a bowl mix together crust ingredients. Using individual mini pie molds (2) divide the crust between each mold and press evenly to the bottom and sides. Place in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile stir together each of the filling ingredients in separate bowls. Once the tart crusts are set, pour the filling into each tart and place back in the freezer for 20 minutes to set.

Garnish with cocoa powder, shredded coconut, and enjoy!

 

 

Party Planner: High Tea and Hats

Planning a party can be fun but also a lot of work and expensive. I often find items for a lower price at home sense.  For an event like this I don’t want everything to be matchy matchy so I’m going to get assorted tea cups and dishes. Almost like I Mad Matters Tea Party. We’re clearly going to have a little booze in our cups! Flowers are also a nice touch for these types of events and peonies are my favourite.

Inspiration

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Attire

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Floral DressPretty In Pink DressWhite Crepe DressFloral Flare Dress

Hats and Fascinator 

Pink Fascinator, Derby HatBlack Fascinator

A few can be found at Nordstrom and Chapel Hats

Food Ideas

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Strawberries Filled with “Clotted” Cream

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1⁄2 cup heavy cream, very cold

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

16 large fresh strawberries

Combine the mascarpone, cream, sugar, vanilla, vanilla bean seeds, and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until soft peaks form. Scrape the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.

The strawberries need to stand flat. Cut the green leaves off the strawberries so they will stand upright when placed on the platter. With a small, sharp knife, cut an × in each strawberry, cutting almost to the bottom. Gently, with your fingertips, spread each strawberry apart to make 4 “petals.”

Fill each strawberry carefully with the cream and serve immediately.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bites

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Ingredients

2 English Cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1″ rounds

1 pound smoked salmon, cut into bite sized pieces

(1) 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

1 tablespoon Horseradish (more or less to taste)

1 tablespoon heavy cream, optional

Toothpicks or tiny party forks

Instructions

Peel cucumbers and slice them into 1″ circles. Arrange on a platter as desired. Place in the refrigerator while preparing the cream cheese.

Place cream cheese, dill, horseradish, and cream in a large bowl. Beat until well combined (a handheld mixer really helps here.)

Spread 1 teaspoon of cream cheese on top each cucumber slice (more or less to taste), then top each slice with a bite sized piece of smoked salmon. Insert a toothpick down the centre to keep in place.

Serve at once, or keep in the refrigerator until needed.

MAKE-AHEAD SPICED FRENCH TOAST

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I love anything that you can make the day before. It takes some of the stress off.

Serves 4-6

Note: You do not have to make this ahead of time. The entire dish can be assembled and baked at once for crisper results.

Ingredients:

1 loaf of sourdough bread (lightly toasted or day-old bread works best)

2 eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon crushed cardamom

pinch of salt

1 cup chopped fresh fruit (optional)

1/2 cup nuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

maple syrup, warmed, for serving

1. Slice bread and arrange in a lightly greased baking dish, with pieces slightly overlapping.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, milk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt, until sugar is dissolved.

3. If you’re using fruit, scatter it over the bread slices. Pour the custard mixture over the bread and fruit, coating each slice, and refrigerate, covered, overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using nuts, scatter them over the top of the French toast. Bake for 50 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature with maple syrup.

Cucumber Sandwiches Three Ways 

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Drinks

I picked up some tea cups at home sense for each of the girls to use during the brunch. Home sense also has some platters and cupcake towers you can place some of the goodies on.

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Blueberry Tea (One of my Favs)
Makes one

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1 jigger Grand Mariner (1 oz.)
1 jigger Amaretto (1 oz.)
1 tea bag, orange pekoe or black tea
1 snifter
Hot water

Add the liqueurs to a snifter, add the tea bag and then fill with hot water.  NOTE:  Water shouldn’t be too boiling; you don’t want to break your glass.  Let the tea steep for a minute or two, then sip and enjoy.

I’m playing around with a bar cart and other set ups so stay tuned for the actual event!

 

Roaring 1920s

I adore the 1920’s. Everything about this era is amazing, the style, the drinks, the decor, the music. I was lucky enough to be able to be taken back in time to an event that was all about prohibition and glamour. Hand crafted cocktails were served and everyone dressed the part.  Even the venue was perfect. An event company called Social Button in Calgary, AB put on this event and did an amazing job.

The Decor

The Attire

Most of the ladies were wearing pearls, sequins, long dresses and classic shoes. Here’s what I wore:

 

HeadbandGownPearls, Heels

The Drinks

The event was sponsored Remi Martin and all drinks were  made with it.

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I Vote For: Pizza Party

Sometimes staying in with a girlfriend having some wine,homemade pizza, and good conversation is all you need. I put some tunes on my new record player with some new records I picked up from a record flee market and had some ZA I literally threw together but turned out amazing. I made the dough the night before so I wasn’t so rushed after work. I’m all about simple.

Pizza Dough

Ingredients

1 tsp active dry yeast

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

2 cups flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoons white sugar

Preparation

In a bowl, combine the water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until the mixture foams on top, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, it is important to work with the plastic blade or the dough hook. Combine the flour and salt. Increase the speed to medium and add the yeast mixture until a soft ball forms.

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for a few minutes on a floured surface to prevent sticking.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes in warm and draft-free area. Cut the dough in half.

Use the pizza dough immediately or refrigerate it (less than 48 hours), otherwise place it in an airtight bag and freeze.

This recipe will make two 23-cm (9-inch) thin-crust pizzas or two 20-cm (8-inch) thicker crust pizzas.

The nice thing about pizza you can almost literally put anything on them. I grabbed a few ingredients I already had and a few from the store.

Pizza Sauce

I threw a few things in a pot and simmered it over 15 mins

1 can Tomato Sauce

2 tbsp Tomato Paste

1 tsp dried basil

1tsp dried thyme

1 garlic clove crushed

Dash of salt and pepper

Pizza Toppings

I decided to wing it again with the toppings. I went with a basic margarita pizza and a three cheese truffle pizza.

Margarita Pizza

Dough rolled thinly

Thing layer of Pizza sauce covering dough (1″ left at edge)

Mozzarella cheese sprinkled throughout

 Topped with vine tomatoes

Bake for 15 minutes on 350 degrees C

Top with basil after out of the oven.

Three Cheese Pizza

I skipped the sauce for this one

Dough rolled thinly

Brush pizza dough with black truffle oil

Scatter prosciutto on top of pizza

Top with mozzarella, provolone, and pecorino cheese

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees C

Remove from oven and:

brush again with black truffle oil

top with sage fried in butter

drizzle with spicy honey

The pizzas weren’t perfectly shaped but they were delicious.

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Entertaining: Spanish Night

If you haven’t been able to tell yet I love theme nights and entertaining. Tonight’s evening is inspired by my love of Spanish food and culture. I find that adding a theme makes the evening so much more memorable and exciting.

The Inspiration

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Decor

I found these cute little candle cactuses at Superstore for $5

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This blanket I’m using as a table cloth I found in Punta Mita, Mexico for $10. Half the proceeds went to the local school. This blanket here is just as cute. Plus I love the tassels.

 

The Table

 

Food

To start: for appetizers I decided to keep it simple with some olives, prosciutto wrapped dates and some Spanish style meats and cheeses. I got most of these items from The Italian Centre.

Prosciutto Wrapped Dates:

6-10 fresh or dried dates

olive oil (i used black truffle for a more unique flavour)

Truffle Salt

I wrapped all the dates with prosciutto. Heated the oil in the skillet and cooked the dates for approx 2-4minutes depending on how crispy you like them. Finally I sprinkled them with truffle salt. They are so simple and yet so delicious.

The Main Course

Spanish-Style Fideos with Chorizo

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

12 ounces angel hair pasta, broken into 1-inch lengths

1/2 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed and meat crumbled

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 chipotle chiles in adobo, seeded and minced

1 cup tomato puree

8 baby zucchini

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

1/2 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained if canned

Freshly grated Cotija cheese (I used an aged feta since I couldn’t find Cotija), cilantro leaves, thinly sliced radishes, minced white onion, Mexican crema (or sour cream) and dried oregano, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat until the milk solids turn brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the broken pasta and cook, stirring, until browned all over, about 7 minutes. Transfer the pasta to a medium bowl.
  2. Add the chorizo to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the fat is rendered and the meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chipotles and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato puree and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the zucchini with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning, until very lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a work surface and let cool slightly, then cut in half lengthwise.
  4. Add the chicken stock and black beans to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the toasted pasta and simmer over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until the pasta is al dente and coated in a thick sauce, 5 to 7 minutes. Ladle the noodles into shallow bowls and arrange the zucchini on top. Serve right away with grated Cotija, cilantro, sliced radishes, minced white onion, crema and dried oregano.

To Drink

Again I wanted to keep it simple with less running around mixing drinks for everyone so i suggested that guests bring a Spanish wine of their choice.

But if you’re feeling more adventurous this Spanish inspired cocktail is pretty simple to put together: Elderflower Gin and Tonic

Dessert

Both are great and you can make the night before so you have less to do the night of the dinner.

Churros

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 Spanish Cakes

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Hostess with the Mostess

Hosting  a party can always be exhausting and expensive so sometimes it’s nice to provide the hostess with a sweet little gift. It’ll definitely make his or her day. Here are some examples I found on Pinterest but I can’t wait to come up with some of my own ideas!

  1. Rosemary Croutons

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Cut a day-old loaf of sourdough into cubes, spread them into a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle a bit of salt, through a few pieces of rosemary on top and bake for 12-15 minutes at 400°. Package them in a cellophane bag with a little tag and a small rosemary branch!

From Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere

2. Chalk Cheese Board

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3. Be old school and bake some muffins and put them in a basket or wrap them in a pretty tea towel for them to keep. They will definitely appreciate a quick treat in the morning while cleaning up the mess all their guests made.

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Recipe here

4. Make some homemade Jam and head to your local bakery and pick up a loaf of bread. Wrap in a cute tea towel, add a cute wooden knife to spread the jam, and tie it off with some ribbon and you’re good to go.

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From Martha Stewart

5. Herb Infused Olive Oil

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You can buy a bottle for fairly cheap at Ikea. Simply pour some olive oil in the bottle and put a stem of rosemary in and voila!

6. Whipped Butter

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You can pretty much take 1/2 cup of butter and add anything you want whether it be cinnamon and honey or Jalapeno and Honey or even Rosemary and Garlic. Simply add all the ingredients to a mixer and whip! After place them in small mason jars. You can buy the jars and labels at Micheals. On the back of the labels  is a site you can visit that has templates and allows you to type pretty much anything you want.

You can also print these labels here.

From Makeit-Loveit

 

My Sister’s Shower

This is a bit of a throw back from the fall but I thought I would share: I’ve always loved throwing parties but this one was my favourite. I spent a lot of time and effort on this day but perhaps it was because it was for my sister and I wanted everything perfect. The shower took place at in the home we grew up in, my parents house. I spend months researching catering companies and scrolling through Pinterest, trying to come up with ideas.

The decor involved balloons from Party City, mini pumpkins from Superstore, flowers from Swish Flowers, and pom poms from Kate Spade.

My sister wanted something classy without “cheesy”bridal shower games and I figured  a wine and cheese tasting style party would be perfect. I purchased from random picture frames and headed to the local craft store and put together a few signs for each station. I purchased a few wine makers to prevent everyone forgetting which glass was there. (it also makes for less glasses at clean up)

I decided to go with Cavern in Edmonton, AB for the caterers. They deliver all the food and pick up the dishes the next day so its low fuss. I made some appetizers myself that were quick, easy, and tasty.

Watermelon, Feta, Mint Cubes and Cucumber Cups with Smoked Salmon

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As far as games went: I set up a station for everyone to write a date idea for the happy couple.  I also did  “How well do you know the Bride,” and  “What’s in your purse games.” Both games were simple and tasteful and the winners received a bottle of wine.

I made everything “help yourself,” with a coffee station and assorted bottles of wine which, made less running around for me and I could sit back and relax a little more.

Overall I think the night was a huge hit! At least I thought so anyways!

Cheers!

Dumplings and a Sake Cocktail

Entertaining in a small space can be challenging but not impossible. I moved into a 600 sq ft apartment  approximately 2 months ago and I didn’t have enough space for a big kitchen table, however adding a few more seats around the couch and setting up all the food on the island does just the trick. I placed big furry pillows on the less appealing plastic chairs to make them more comfy and inviting. IMG_4051

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Cozy pillows

No matter how hard I try I can’t ever seem to plan the meal to be ready at the right time due to most of my friends either arriving too early or too late. Since I don’t get home  from work until about 5PM I decided to chose something simple yet delicious, DUMPLINGS! I had no idea where to get them and after scoured the internet for a while I decided to try my luck in China town. I found treats galore just walking from store to store.  I stubbled upon puffy pork and chicken buns from Diamond Bakery. Frozen dumplings from a random store I can’t even remember the name of and finally since I work in the North of Calgary I stopped by the best recommended dim sum place, T Pot.

Recommendations By Avenue

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I also decided to find a different twist on Sake.  I took a look on Pinterest and found one that sounded amazing!

Grapefruit Lemongrass Sake Cocktail

 

 

Chopsticks, Bamboo Steamer (I found one cheaper at Superstore), Sake Set,