White Chic Dining Space

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Think an all white space is drab and boring? Think again! With small pops of colour you can really bring a space to life, like this ultra chic dinging room!

Image: Christopher Baker

Image: Christopher Baker

 

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Raspberry Mojito

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Image: sb.chic

Image: sb.chic

 

Mojito’s are a great cocktail to drink with friends at a bar or on the beach at some fancy resort. Where ever you are, a tasty mojito can be enjoyed everywhere and anytime. There recipes can also be adjusted to bring in new flavours like this raspberry mojito!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1oz. Rum (I prefer the Kraken)
  • Small splash of simple syrup
  • Small handful of fresh raspberries
  • Mint leaves
  • 3 Lime Wedges
  • Splash of sprite
  • Soda

Start Mixing:

In a tall glass, muddle mint, raspberries, lime wedge, and simple syrup. Add rum, and then fill the glass with ice. Top with soda and a small splash of sprite. Use a stir stick to give it a quick mix and don’t forget to add a straw. Enjoy!

Photo Confetti

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Photo Confetti

Guests will go crazy for large photo confetti, especially when they find out they are in some of the photos!

Just recently my father celebrated his 60th birthday with family and friends at a restaurant in Mississauga. Since the restaurant dealt with food preparation, décor, and alcohol I felt that I needed to add a little something that would personalize the event and give it some pizzazz. To be honest I also kind of felt weird that the whole event was taken care of, which is a feeling I am not used too. So I decided that since we were celebrating a milestone birthday I NEEDED to include 60 photos of the birthday boy from all the years in his life, including those he spent with family and friends that were also attending the party.

confetti

I proceeded to flip through a lengthy amount of family albums as well as sift through digital photos on all of my family’s computers. I narrowed my photos down to 60 and I started scanning (not a fun process). As soon as all the photos were scanned I used iPhoto (which crashed on me a hundred times) to give all the photos an antique tint. After the photos were printed I used two drinking glasses as stencils (one smaller and one larger) so that I could easily cut out circles. I also needed to cut the same sizes of circles out of tissue paper to add colour to the confetti. I chose to use red, gold, and silver which are all rich colours that went with the overall theme of the restaurant.

Instead of doing the conventional throwing of the confetti into the air, I thought I would save the restaurant the mess and place the confetti all over the table to look more like a table runner. The overall look was beautiful and personable (exactly what I was going for). All the guests had such a great time looking at all the photos and reminiscing about their “younger days”. They even began gathering all the photos and passing them down the table to ensure everyone got to see them. As the night finished I began collecting the photos to throw them in the garbage and I was surprised that guests started to take the photos home with them, talk about an easy cleanup!

To re-create this craft you will defiantly need patience, time, and great scissor cutting skills but the end result will be worth it!

Photo Runner

 

 

Glitter and Glitz

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 Glitter and Glitz

One way to glam up a party or an event is to glitter a champagne bottle. It’s so simple and I guarantee you that the finished result is not cheap or cheesy looking.

I did this for New Years (of course the ultimate occasion for a glittered champagne bottle) and it looked fantastic! Of course you can do this for any event such as birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and bachelorette parties! Not to mention you can colour coordinate the glitter to match the theme of your party. As an example you can use pink glitter for a bachelorette party.

There are two ways you can re-create this look:

The first way is how I approached this task and I’m not sure I would recommend it. I purchased a bottle of glitter paint from Michaels craft store and painted the bottle with several coats, as the paint was slightly transparent.

The second way, is to purchase glue and glitter and just like you learned in kindergarten you put the glue on the bottle and then sprinkle the glitter on top. I feel like this is a messier approach but it’s a lot faster and it also adds texture to your final product.

And there you have it, the most awesome party craft you will ever learn!!

 Glitter and Glitz

The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs

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Image: Anthropologie

Image: Anthropologie

This unique centerpiece inspired by Anthropologie is perfect for a Christmas or New Years centerpiece. Use it for your buffet table, or your drink station for an eye catching twist on your typical floral arrangement.

Although this centerpiece is easy to make, finding a life-like goose may pose a challenge. I will be searching around a few craft stores this week…and will keep you posted if I find one. As for the eggs, they are real so all you need to do is boil them and paint them a dark shimmering gold, with paint from your local craft store such as Michaels. As for the bowl, use a large glass bowl or as depicted in the photo above a punch bowl, which would tie-in nicely to a drink station.

I really love this simple yet elegant centerpiece idea…so wish me luck on my quest to find a life-like goose that is not “stuffed”. If you have any ideas of where I could find one leave a comment down below!

I’ll Take a Double Scoop

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Pinot Noir Sorbet

What could be better than Pinot Noir? How about Pinot Noir sorbet!! This delicious recipe is great for dazzling your dinner party guests and not to mention beautiful in colour. The sorbet is very rich in taste so you do not need to serve a lot therefore, use smaller, shallow bowls to present this treat. In addition, you may serve a dark chocolate dessert such as cake or brownies as it pairs nicely with the Pinot Noir Sorbet.

Makes about 1 quart

What You’ll Need:

2 pints fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup Oregon Pinot Noir
2 cups water

Start Cooking:

Combine the berries, sugar, wine and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pass the mixture through a food mill, using the fine plate. Or, with a rubber spatula, force the mixture through a sieve. Chill the mixture completely, and then freeze in an ice cream machine following the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the sorbet to a container, cover, and freeze for several hours or overnight until firm.

Blueberry Lavender Vodka Spritzer

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Image: The Kitchn

Image: The Kitchn

Recipe incorporated from The Kitchn.

Makes a 32 ounce pitcher

What You’ll Need:

1 cup blueberries, for ice cubes
2 cups vodka
3/4 cup blueberry lavender simple syrup* recipe below
4 ounces lime juice
Soda water
Fresh lavender for garnish

Start Mixing:

Divide the cup of blueberries between two ice cube trays and fill with water. Freeze completely.

In a glass pitcher combine the vodka, simple syrup, lime juice, and club soda. Add ice cubes. Add remaining ice cubes to glasses. Pour the mixture over top and serve with a sprig of lavender.

Blueberry Lavender Simple Syrup Recipe

What You’ll Need:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup blueberries
4 lavender sprigs (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried food-grade lavender buds)

Start Cooking:

Combine these three ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to a low simmer and add 4 lavender sprigs (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried lavender) and keep on low heat for 10 minutes.

Strain pressing the blueberries to get all of their juice.

Savory Cheese Tartlets with Blackberries

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Image: Driscoll's

Image: Driscoll’s

With the Holiday’s fast approaching I almost forgot about what happens afterwards…New Years! This year I am planning a New Years Eve party which means that I have to start planning a menu and theme pronto! I started today with appetizers and came across a Savory Cheese Tartlets with Blackberries recipe I found on a blog called babble. Sounds delicious!

What You’ll Need:
Cheese Filling:
5 oz. rindless goat cheese, at room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. honey, preferably full flavored, such as chestnut or thyme, warmed

Cream Cheese Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature, plus more
for pans, if needed
3 oz. cream cheese, cut into tablespoons, at room temperature

Start Cooking:

Combine flour and salt in a food processor fitted with metal chopping blade
and pulse to combine. Add butter and cream cheese and pulse about 10
times, until mixture begins to clump together. Gather up dough and shape
into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and easy
to handle (about 2 hours).

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Have ready
two 12-cup miniature muffin pans (each cup measuring 1 7/8 inches across
the top and 7/8 inches deep), preferably nonstick. If the pans are not
nonstick, lightly butter them.

Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Place one piece in each muffin cup.
Using fingers, press dough firmly and evenly up sides to make a pastry shell.
Freeze 5 minutes.

Mash goat cheese and cream cheese together in a medium bowl until
smooth. Add egg, yolk, minced thyme, salt and pepper and whisk until
combined. Spoon equal amounts of filling into chilled pastry shells.

Bake tartlets until crust is golden brown and filling is puffed (about 25
minutes). Let cool for 10 minutes in pans. Remove tartlets from pans and
transfer to a wire cake rack to cool completely.

Just before serving, lightly brush tops of tartlets with about 1 tablespoon of
honey. Arrange berries on top as desired. Drizzle with the remaining
honey. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and serve.

A Place for Christmas Greetings

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Image: bhg

Image: bhg

Living in a digital age we hardly ever get letters or friendly greeting cards in the mail, we normally receive them through are emails or not at all. But during this festive season I can count on a few people to send me a Christmas greeting card, not a lot but just enough to get me excited that I got something other than a bill in my mailbox!

Now that I have a few Holiday greeting cards I want to display them somewhere in my condo. I found this crafty idea on Better Homes and Gardens, and thought it was a neat idea. All you need to buy are some cranberry branches (I think that’s what they are called) which can be found at floral shops, dollar stores, or craft stores and place them in a vase anywhere in your home. Done! Quick and easy, and you didn’t even need to get your hands dirty!

Mini Shrimp PO’Boys with Smoky Matchstick Fries

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Mini Shrimp PO’Boys with Smoky Matchstick Fries

These delicious sliders are small in size but big on taste! But WATCH OUT, the recipe calls for the spicy mayo to be covered and refrigerated for at least 2 hours. Of course I only skimmed the cooking instructions before hand, so when it came down to cooking I only left the spicy mayo in the fridge for about one hour. It was not such a big deal, as the food still turned out amazing, but it is always nice to know before hand. I really think recipes with longer prep times should have BIG warning labels to alert those of us who don’t have time to properly go-over cooking instructions until the very last second!

What You’ll Need:

SPICY MAYO

  • 1 ½ cups mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt

SLAW

  • 1 cup finely shredded green cabbage
  • 1 small carrot, shredded
  • ¼ cup finely chopped sweet pickles

FRIES

  • 1 russet potato, about 12 oz
  • 8 to 10 cups sunflower or peanut oil
  • 1tsp smoked sea salt (or by all means use regular sea salt)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Malt vinegar

SHRIMP

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup corn meal
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 12 small slider buns

Start Cooking

1. To make the spicy mayo, combine mayonnaise, thyme, cayenne, and salt to taste in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2hours or up to 1 day.

  1. For the slaw, combine cabbage, carrot, pickles, and ½ cup of the spicy mayo, tossing to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving, up to 8 hours.
  2. For the fries, peel potato and cut into matchsticks 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) long and 1/8 inch thick. Place the cut fries into a large bowl of cold water as you work and let soak for at least 15 minutes or for up to 1 hour.
  3. For the shrimp: in a bowl, whisk together eggs and water. Add flour, cornmeal, salt cayenne pepper, and baking powder and stir to make a smooth batter. Allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F, and line 2 baking sheets with two layers of paper towel.
  5. Place the oil for the fries in a deep pan or a deep fryer over medium heat – it should be 2 to 3 inches deep, but no more than half filled.
  6. Drain potatoes in a colander and rinse. Thoroughly pat dry. Using tongs, add one quarter of the potatoes to the hot oil and fry for about 2 minutes or until golden and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove from oil and spread out on lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with smoked sea salt and pepper. Keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining potatoes, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain temperature.
  7. Raise the temperature of the oil to medium-high.
  8. Pat the shrimp dry and dip in batter, letting excess drip off. Carefully drop into hot oil, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until batter is golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove from oil and place on lined baking sheet in oven with fries. Repeat with remaining shrimp.
  9. Spoon slaw on bottoms of buns, top each with 2 shrimp. Spread spicy mayo on lids of buns and sandwich on top of shrimp. Serve fries with remaining spicy mayo in small bowls for dipping, and malt vinegar to shake on top.

Makes 12 Servings 

This recipe is from the LCBO Food/Drink magazine Holiday 2012 edition.

A Cause for Celebration

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Image: Crate and Barrel

Image: Crate and Barrel

Last weekend, I celebrated my birthday alongside my brother-in-law’s, which is just ten days before mine. Since we have such a large family, and it can be quite difficult to pin everyone down for a party, we always combine our birthday’s into one making it easier for everyone to come over, as well for the hostesses (my sister and I)!

 Since the event was planned last minute (again trying to pin everyone down for one day), there wasn’t too much time to decorate a birthday theme so my sister and I decided to keep it festive with the Holiday season, especially because all her Christmas decorations were already up and scattered across the house.

The evening got off to a good start with a Whiskey Sleigh Cocktail, which not only did extremely well the ladies but the men drank a few too!

IMG_20121201_125133

Whiskey Sleigh Recipe

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 ½ oz. Whiskey
  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • 1 oz. pear juice
  • 2 oz. pomegranate juice
  • Pear sliced into slivers
  • Pomegranate seeds

Start Mixing:

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add all ingredients expect for pear slice and pomegranate seeds. Shake and strain into a rocks glass with ice and garnish with a pear slice and pomegranate seeds.

Makes 1 Drink

For appetizers, my sister made some baked Brie with spiced mango chutney, served with baguette slices and apples. The apples kind of make you feel like your eating healthier but you know down deep inside that you’re only telling yourself that so you can eat more of the yummy cheesy goodness!

Baked Brie with Spiced Mango Chutney

Baked Brie with Spiced Mango Chutney Recipe

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 frozen puff pastry sheet thawed
  • 2 tbsp spiced mango chutney (or any flavored chutney/jam)
  • 1 small round of brie
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts toasted

Start Cooking:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degree C). Lightly grease a baking pan.
  2. Slice the wheel of Brie in half, horizontally, so that the halves are two, flatter wheels of Brie. Lay the puff pastry in the baking pan. Place half of the Brie (rind-side down) onto the pastry dough. Spread the chutney evenly over the top and then sprinkle the walnuts over the chutney. Place the other half of the Brie (rind-side up) over the walnuts. Bundle the pastry dough around the Brie.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

For Dinner, we served multiple dishes including two different kinds of meat which were a ground beef wellington from Chef Jamie Oliver, and maple glazed pork loin from Chef Ross Dobson. These two men rule my kitchen at home, and I suggest you buy all their cookbooks just as I have…you will not be sorry!

As for dessert, I served white chocolate pistachio truffles (made from scratch). I found this recipe from the latest LCBO Food/Drink Holiday 2012 magazine. Although I love the satisfaction I get from making food from scratch, the white chocolate truffles were quite easy to make but extremely greasy/fattening. Let me explain; as I rolled the chocolate balls in my hands to create several round balls the chocolate left my hands VERY greasy and sort of felt like you just lathered your hands in melted butter. This could make some people think twice before eating these delicious treats – I did however eat one (I had too!). The truffles were quite tasty although a bit too sweet. Next time I would opt for using milk chocolate instead!

Wrap it in Bows

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Image: Simply Bloom Photography

To bring some good Holiday cheer to your table try adding red napkins tied as bows. These bows are a simple way to add drama to your table and are a great during the Holiday’s since they are reminiscent of wrapping bows on Christmas gifts.  Cranberries are also great to incorporate in your Christmas tabletop since they are very festive and can be found in you local grocers throughout the winter.

Sugar and Charm has an easy tutorial on how to fold napkins into bows.

Another simple trick to create a unique Holiday table is to use cranberry garland (which can be found at a Dollar Store or craft supply store) and tie it around the ends of your runner. Although it does not stand out as much, it’s all in the details!

Painted Napkins with a Star Napkin Holder

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These unique napkin holders are a great way to give your table setting a rustic yet elegant sentiment, and the best part is that you can make them yourself!

To make these at home you will need:

  • Cotton or linen napkins
  • Small paintbrush
  • White spray paint, available at craft stores
  • Dried sweetgum fruits
  • Metallic cord, or any time of rope
  • Glue gum

Napkins How-To

1. Wash and dry the napkins to remove sizing, which can cause paint to adhere poorly.

2. Paint napkin edges using brush. Let dry completely, 2 to 3 hours. Flip napkins, and paint other side.

3. Heat-set paint (ironing is the most common method) according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Napkin Holders How-To
1. Lightly spray-paint sweetgum fruits; let dry.

2. Cut cord into 12-inch lengths. Dab hot glue into openings of 2 sweetgum fruits, and insert end of a cord into each. Repeat to make additional ties. Let dry.

3. Wrap cords around folded napkins.

Spiked White Hot Chocolate

I came across this recipe on a blog called Sweet Designs and thought it looked really cute and also sounded very appetizing. After trying the recipe at home I knew I had to share it with all of you! It is a little bit more involved but the results are worth it!

Makes 6 8-ounce drinks

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped and reserved, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 oz, good-quality white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup rum
  • Whipped cream for garnishing

For the Snowman Stirrer:

  • 12 marshmallows
  • Edible markers
  • 6 mini Oreos Cakesters
  • 24 6-inch strands winter blue coloured yarn

Start Mixing:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla seeds. Bring the milk to a boil, then remove from the heat and set aside for 15 minutes, allowing the spices to steep in the milk as it cools.
  2. Strain the milk to remove the spices, and then return it to the pot. Add the white chocolate and rum. Heat the milk until the white chocolate has melted, stirring with a wooden spoon. When ready to serve, ladle into mugs and top each with a dollop of whipped cream. Tuck a snowman stirrer in each and serve!
  3. To make the snowman stirrer, make a face on the marshmallow using edible markers. Slide it onto a stick and add another marshmallow, pushing the stick through so that it comes out the other side. Slide an Oreo Cakester onto the stick just far enough to catch it. Tie the yarn around the seam where the two marshmallows meet.

Latté Love

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Image: Camille Styles

Everyone knows that coffee goes well with dessert, so why not combine the two? For your next party serve a hot coffee station featuring flavored coffees, creams, and an assortment of toppings like cinnamon, cocoa, and liqueurs like Kahlua, Baileys, and Frangelico. For that extra wow factor keep a variety of doughnut holes or timbits at the bar to create the ultimate desired treats. These will surely keep your guests caffeinated and ready to party!

For larger events and gatherings such as weddings, or showers go the extra mile and design specialty labels showing the event date and names of the honorees, as shown in the photo above. These simple treats will certainly blow your guests away!