This year marks the 8th annual Winterlicious, one of the premiere culinary events in Toronto. 150 restaurants throughout the city are offering three course prix fixe menus for $25-25 for lunch and $25-45 for dinner.
This is a great opportunity to get out there and sample of the great food that this city has to offer without spending a fortune.
Photo Credit: John Hritz
I've already made some reservations and I can't wait to see what everyone has to offer! For a complete list of the restaurants participating, visit Toronto.com
Today it is absolutely bitter cold in Toronto. Its about -15°C right now (or 5°F for my friends south of the border) and Whiskey and I are curled up trying to keep warm (he is a living, breathing hot water bottle).
How long is it until Summer? Actually I don't even care about it being hot, I just would like some warmth...how long is it until Spring?
Despite the cold snap right now, last night I went up North to visit my parents and walked in to discover that Spring had come early to their house...
This reminds me that eventually the nice weather will be back, but I can't wait to see all the flowers bloom again. My mother put this together for next to nothing. She picked up the rectangular container for 50 cents from a florist shop that was downsizing (regularly $20!), the river stones are from a local dollar store and the tulips were only $7.00. A fresh flower arrangement for only $8.50!
I love the Spring colours and they really stand out with the new paint as a backdrop. I may just have to stop at the local fruit stand on the way home tonight and pick up some fresh blooms for myself.
Hope that you all have a wonderful weekend and keep out of the cold! Brrr....
There is nothing that I love more for lunch than a nice big bowl of delicious soup. This week I made a batch of lentil soup to pack for lunches and I've been loving it everyday. Not only is it tasty and healthy (lentils are high in protein!), but its also inexpensive and easy to make. You can make this vegetarian-friendly by using vegetable broth, but I went with chicken broth because it was what I had on hand. The spices makes this a great dish, but without being too overpowering.
What you'll need:
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
1 Carrot, sliced
4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 cup Dry Lentils
1/4 tsp Dried Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
In a large pot, sauté the onions and carrots in the olive oil for 3-5 minutes until the onions turn clear.
Last week I posted about the new flooring being installed at my family's home and I can safely say that I love the new tile. Its looking great and really updated the space. While everything was already out of the room, it made sense to repaint the walls and they look fantastic.
For the nook, we used Benjamin Moore's "Natural Linen". Its a nice smooth beigey colour thats a nice change from having yellowish walls for the past sixteen years.
And it really makes the trim stand out. Do you notice anything different with the trim?
I'm often searching the web looking for good story ideas for films and one of my favorite sites to look for interesting leads is Yahoo's Odd News. These are the bizarre (and often hilarious) stories that you don't see on the front of the page of the paper.
Photo Credit: Getty Images, Tim Boyle
Stories like the one about eight teenagers in Germany being rushed to the hospital after drinking concentrated chilli sauce on a "spicy" dare last Wednesday. Or the Chinese city that named a mountain after Avatar.
Here are some of my favourite headlines from today, that I just had to share with you. Its always a great reminder that no matter what stupid things I do today, there is definitely someone out there doing something even stupider.
This weekend some of the gang had a surprise Going Away Party for my dear friend, Lyndsay. In a week she is heading out West to British Columbia for a new start and we couldn't let her leave without a proper send off. Despite the fact that everyone knows that I am a) always late and b) the worst at accidentally ruining surprises (seriously, do NOT tell me what you are getting people for Christmas) they entrusted me with keeping her occupied until everyone was ready for the big surprise. Thankfully I didn't say a peep, but I was 15 minutes late - what can I say, we were visiting my Mom and she was giving us all the good small town gossip.
But all was forgiven when I showed up because I brought these:
Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream Icing
For ages I've wanted to try this Bailey's Buttercream Icing from Deb at smitten kitchen, but I just hadn't found the occasion for it. They don't have a lot of booze in them, but they just didn't seem like the kind of thing that you would take to a family party with kids and pregnant ladies everywhere. So a big party full of slightly inebriated adults seemed like the right place to test these out.
There were a big hit! Lyndsay is not even a big "sweets" person (unlike me, oh boy), but she loved these. Caught her eating just the icing off of one of them.
Have you ever been in a difficult pilates or yoga pose and have a 12lb mutt run over and jump on you?
These days, as soon as I roll out my blue mat, Whiskey runs over like "Hey! Is it time to play on the ground again?"
If I push him off, he comes right back like its a game.
If I have my head upside down, he starts to play in my hair - tossing and turning in it like its one of those brushes at the car wash.
If I start to do crunches, he sits on my stomach with his front paws on my knees.
If I am sitting, reaching for my toes, he will run through my arm like its a jungle gym.
Basically I become his own personal obstacle course. I guess I should just consider it as added resistance on every leg lift I do. Who needs Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper when you've got Whiskey?
Butternut Squash is a great well-balanced food that is rich in complex carbohydrates and low in saturated fat and sodium. It is a very good source of vitamins A and C and contains beta-carotene, magnesium, manganese, calcium and potassium. In other words, not only does it taste awesome, its also great for you. I've had one sitting around the apartment for awhile (you can actually see him in my Fall decor on the bookshelf), so I figured it was about time that I cooked him up and what better way than a creamy, flavourful Roasted Butternut Squash Purée to warm up on these cold winter days.
What you'll need:
1 Butternut Squash
1 tbsp Olive Oil
2-3 cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 cup Onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves Garlic, crushed
4 lbs Potatoes, diced
Salt and Pepper
Dash of Cayenne
1/2 tsp of Cumin
1/2 tsp Sage
Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut butternut squash lengthwise, cut off top and remove seeds.
Brush insides of squash halves with olive oil. I'm usually not a fan of silicon products, but I am loving these little brushes. Super easy to clean and work just as well as the old bristle style ones.
Today I learned a nifty little trick that I just had to share with you.
You know when you crack an egg and you accidentally get small bits of the eggshell in the bowl and spend ages trying to fish them out?
Next time take the empty shell half and use it to scoop up the small bits. I don't know why it works, but the shell seems to attract the smaller bits, unlike your fingers or spoon, which seem to repel them.
I tried it this morning while making an omelette and it worked! Woohoo!
Did you watch the Golden Globes last night? Being in the film industry, I love to cheer on all my favorite TV shows and films, but the woman in me always has to watch the gowns. I was lucky enough to walk the red carpet a few years ago at a film premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in France and I can remember being absolutely petrified. All eyes are on you and the whole time you're thinking "Is my dress straight? Am I walking too fast? Can you see my Spanx through this thing?" Seriously, its nervewracking...which gives me so much respect for the actresses who do it in front of millions of viewers. Here are a few of my favorite looks from last night:
Jennifer Aniston was one of the evening's knockouts with her perfectly tousled locks and sexy and simple black Valentino gown with a high slit up her thigh.
Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
I'm not a big fan of pink, but I couldn't resist how stunning Emily Blunt was in her pink tulle and chiffon strapless Dolce & Gabbana gown. There is just something incredibly romantic about it.
Today I'm having one of those lazy days where I'm still sitting on the couch in my Roots sweatpants, and haven't made any attempt to move since I've woken up. There are dishes to be done and places to go, but I am just happy to sit on the couch and hang out with this guy:
Looks pretty comfortable, eh?
Despite having bought this throw as a nice accent for the couch, Whiskey as commandeered it as his own. Its so soft and plush that I can't seem to keep him away from it. It will be nicely laided over the back of the couch and then I'll come home to find it all bunched up in a ball on the couch with an 11lb mutt snoozing on top.
But its really hard to kick him off of it when he looks this cute and warm and cuddly. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?
Its Friday and all I can think about are these chocolately chewy brownies. A few years ago I was watching an interview where the actress Jenna Fischer, from the hit TV show The Office, was talking about these amazing 88 calories brownies that she made. I had to try them right away and sure enough they were as amazing as she said. When I did the calculations though they came up a little bit over what she said, but at 108 calories a brownie you don't have to feel guilty about eat one (or a whole pan, lol). Not only are these a smarter dessert choice, but they are also super easy to make. Try them this weekend and you won't regret it.
As you can see, I never got around to taking a picture of an individual brownie because some friends came over and these were gone in no time, but they work out to be about 2" x 2.5" for each brownie.
What you'll need:
1/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce (I used some from my Homemade Applesauce recipe)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 Egg Whites
1 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Unbleached All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Instant Espresso Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips
Last week, for the first time in almost three years, I got back in the water. Instead of grabbing something to eat on my lunch break I headed over to a local pool and swam lengths.
I forgot how amazing it felt to be in the water. I don't run, so I don't know if this is like runner's high, but thats what it sure felt like. Short of being chased by a tiger, I never have any inclination to run. I may lightly jog through the park, but there is no marathon in my future. I've been a swimmer my whole life, and I'm happy to stay in the water. Ironically I've grown up by a lake my whole life and don't like open water, so I guess really I'm happy to just be a little goldfish in my bowl/pool.
Originally I thought that I would just swim lengths until I got tired, but then I noticed a little sign on the wall listing the distancing of the pool, and on a whim I decided to see if I could swim for a mile. Then a km. And before I knew it I'd done 2km. I stopped shortly after that because my foot was cramping and my arms were sore and I still had to make it back to the office and complete a half day's work, but that feeling of having accomplished something (even that inconsequential) was enough to brighten my day.
Now I'm looking forward to getting back in the water again next week, just losing myself in the sound of the water rushing by with each stroke. Is there anything that you do in your life that has that affect - being both calming and invigorating at once?
One of the first things that we learned about Shadow when we adopted her is that she will eat ANYTHING. I've never known a dog to sit perfectly for a piece of lettuce. She been caught running through the house with a stem of grapes hanging from her mouth, or even once we came home to find out that she was eating tomatoes on the white rug (that was a baaaad day).
After everyone in the family constantly asking each other "is that okay for dogs to eat?', my sister made up a list of what Shadow can/cannot eat.
Sadly many of her favorite things are on the no list (she will do just about anything for a grape), so we have to be extra careful to keep them away from her. (My cheeky brother added the "everything" at the bottom).
I know that this may look ridiculous to people who come to the house and see this on the fridge, but I swear that this little list has been life saving for that dog. I don't know how many times I've dropped something on the floor and then looked up to see if it was safe for her to eat before she came barging into the kitchen. Doesn't mean that it has stopped her from sniffing out any chocolate that she can find, but it makes it easier to know what is going to keep her healthy.
Last week I posted about the renovations that my parents wanted to do to their kitchen and nook area - the most used space in our family home. Now that the game plan was all laid out, it was time to start dismantling everything to start the work. I called dibs on the crowbar :)
First we had to remove all the furniture so that we could prep the room for the tile to be laid. The space looks so much bigger without the couch and chairs. That oak table in the middle of the room is one of my favorite pieces in our house. My parents purchased it from an old neighbour in their small town on Georgian Bay many years ago before they moved to our new hometown. The woman who owned this raised twelve kids around that table. Don't worry, they weren't all crammed around it like that - it has leaves to expand it.
In the bottom corner you can see where we started to pull off all the baseboards and quarterround. The tile will be adding additional height to the floor, so we will have to reinstall the baseboards afterwards, which will be a great time to repaint them and replace any sections that need repairs.
It feels weird to be able to look out the big window without sitting on the couch. I love the view of the river from here. Its Whiskey's favorite spot too - he sits on the top of the couch and guards for squirrels in the ravine.
Thats our little river at the bottom of the hill. See that big tree with branches on only half of it? Victim of a sneaky snowmobiler who hit it while he was trying to use our yard to get up to the road. Breaks my heart to see it so bare, but thankfully the ravine on the east side of the property is lush and offers lots of shelter to the wildlife around here.
In these long cold winter months its not always easy to find new and exciting ways to incorporate vegetables into our meals, so when I came across a photo of a Vegetable Pot Pie in Allergic Living, I just had to experiment with this.
Not only is this recipe incredibly delicious, it is also very good for. Its loaded with veggies, and contains none of the butter or cream that typically makes pot pies a rich indulgence.
What you'll need:
4 tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Pearl Onions, peeled
1 cup each: Carrots, Potatoes, Parsnips and Leeks, diced into ½ cubes
1 cup White Mushrooms, halved
1 cup Frozen Peas
2 tsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
¼ cup All-Purpose Flour
4 cups Vegetable Stock
Salt and Pepper
3 medium- sized Yellow Potatoes, peels and thinly sliced.
I was in the kitchen this morning and when I turned the corner this is what I saw:
Whiskey was sitting right in front of the little electric fireplace that I have. My apartment is freezing from this big temperature drop and of course my landlord is on vacation, which means no one can turn up the thermostat. Poor little guy gravitates towards any warmth.
It even made him sleepy. Two seconds after this was taken he slumped to the floor and had a good two hour nap. Must be nice.
Sixteen years ago my parents unexpectedly sold their house within four days, and suddenly they had to design and build a new house bronto, with two little girls and a four-month-old baby in tow. It was rushed to say the least. Now they are in the process of updating their house, and the room that needs the most work is of course the place where we all spend the most time - the kitchen/nook area. Its a small kitchen that opens up into a larger eatting/sitting area that gets a lot of natural light with great views of the river behind them. People naturally seem to gravitate towards this room and it always feels homey, but all of the traffic has had some wear and tear on it. Their main goal is to replace the linoleum flooring with ceramic tile and update the rooms.
The fireplace was actually built by my father just over a decade ago using plywood, decorative molding and a gas fireplace kit. In order to have all the tile lie flush with the molding, the entire unit will have to be dismantled, along with the baseboards and quarter-round. In the mirror you can see the heavy pink/burgundyish drapes that cover the french doors leading to the porch. Those are going to be replaced as well, in something closer to the new colour palate of the rest of the room.
The flat screen television used to be where the antique wicker chair is now, resting in a stand on the little sideboard below it. This created a dark corner there, and limited the amount of seating that we could have. However, mounting the tv to the wall was no small task. It took my father two days this Fall to get all of the cables for the tv and surround sound wired through the walls, as well as anchoring the wall hooks for the tv. The weekend that he did it was the same weekend that my sweet little cousin was visiting. And she was going through her 20 Questions phase, and wouldn't stop pestering him with questions: "Uncle, what are you doing?", "Why?" (I'm sure that he was asking himself the same questions!)
I just found out about a giveaway that I just had to pass on to all of you....too cute to resist. Working Mommy over at Lessons Learned is having her first giveaway ever, and props to her for picking a great one! She has teamed up with Andrea, the artist behind the Etsy store, I Got Squares.
Andrea is thinking green these days and transforming old game pieces into funky charms. Any Where The Wild Things Are fans out there?
She takes Scrabble tiles and mini domino pieces and gives them a new life as key rings, neckless charms, bracelets and coasters. She even makes unique wine charms like those above.
Wouldn't these make a great Valentine's Day gift? Andrea also makes custom orders and you can get you own Scrabble pendant with the photo of a loved one. My sister and her friend are real Scrabble geeks together (they even made up their own rules), and I bet they would go head-over-heels for these little guys.
The contest ends at 11:59pm on Sunday, January 10, 2010, so be sure to head over to Lessons Learned and sign yourself up! And be sure to check out her blog while you're there - I look forward to hearing what lessons she has learned every day. They're always sure to make me laugh!