4th Annual Wine Pairing Evening

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It has become a tradition in our household to host a dinner/wine pairing evening with some of our closest friends. In fact, I blogged about one such night back in this post. My husband and I take care of the main courses and dessert (along with wine pairings) and the other two couples bring an appetizer/other course with a bottle of wine.

We hosted our 4th dinner the other night and below are some photos of the amazing food/wine we consumed over the course of the evening. I, of course, had to abstain from the wine so I’ll just have to make up for it next year, right?!

Appetizer Course:

Assortment of Bruschetta paired with Mateus Rose´ Wine (courtesy of our friends, Kevin and Steph)

IMG_3495From left to right: (1) Garlic tomato bruschetta with roasted garlic cream cheese and parmesan; (2) Bacon and caramelized onion marmalade with brie bruschetta; (3) Prosciutto and basil pesto with mozzarella bruschetta; and (4) Avocado, smoked salmon, and red onion bruschetta

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Main Course

Prosciutto wrapped stuffed pork loin accompanied by rough mashed potatoes and warm brussel sprout salad with apple and walnuts paired with 2007 Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Malbec Blend – that was a mouthful!

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Pork Recipe
Potato Recipe

Cheese/Charcuterie Course

Assortment of cheeses served with prosciutto, peppered salami, homemade pickled beets, and olives  paired with a 2013 Comoloco Jumilla Red Wine  (courtesy of our friends/sister and bro-in-law, Karissa and James)

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Dessert Course:

Molten chocolate cakes with whipped cream and berries paired with a 2012 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine

IMG_3492 IMG_3487Chocolate Cake Recipe

A couple years back, the six of us broke out in unison to Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling.” This year, it was Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” along with some other massively cool hits from 1999. Yep, there’s no mistaking it – we are definitely Millennials a.k.a. Gen Y-ers a.k.a. Da Best….too far?

It was a great night with great company and conversation! I hope some of you think of starting this tradition too!

Thanks all for reading!

Pumpkin Pie (or something like it!)

I enjoy cooking in general, but for some reason, I always end up being in charge of dessert (it can’t be my massive sweet tooth, can it?). This past Thanksgiving weekend, I was in charge of dessert for two different dinners and I thought it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pumpkin in the mix! Here’s what went down:

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

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This a recipe that I got from my mother-in-law – she has been making this recipe at Thanksgiving for years. I have never been a big fan of pumpkin pie but the fluffiness of this recipe converted me! I added my own touch by making a gingersnap crust (using homemade gluten-free ginger snaps to boot) and I garnished the pie with a sprinkle of cinnamon and chopped pistachios. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 envelope of gelatin
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 nutmeg
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar

In a medium saucepan, mix gelatin with milk over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and pumpkin. Separate the egg yolks, whisk and add to pumpkin mixture and heat until thickened. In a separate bowl, whip the eggs with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until fluffy. Refrigerate the pumpkin mixture until cool. Meanwhile, whip the cream with 1/4 cup of icing sugar. Prior to serving, add the egg whites and half the cream to the pumpkin mixture. Pour into the crust, top with whipped cream, and garnish with cinnamon and pistachios.

Here’s the recipe for the gingersnap crust and the gluten-free cookies if you so desire.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Chocolate Tart

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This was my first time making this dessert and it was delicious. The combination of chocolate and pumpkin was spot on. This is an Anna Olson recipe and the recipe can be found here.

For the crust, I had to substitute g-free flour for the all purpose flour and it messed up the crust quite a bit, but it still turned out really tasty!

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I hope all my Canadian friends had a lovely Thanksgiving and that you feel as blessed as I do. Thanks for reading!!

The Guest Quarters and Making Guests Feel Welcome

Today, I am sharing with you the “guest quarters” and my tips on making guests feel welcome.

Our guest quarters – which really just consist of the guest room and the guest bathroom – are tucked away in the basement. We don’t get overnight guests too often so I kept the decor fairly inexpensive. I prefer to spend money in spaces that we use more.

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The bed and the desk are from my single days. The bedside tables were a great find on Kijiji and the buffet was my grandparents. My husband spent many painstaking hours refinishing it. I wish I had some before pictures, but he did it a few years ago before the thought of blogging ever crossed my mind!

 Most of the decor is from Winners and Homesense. I would eventually like to paint over the “Builder’s Beige” walls and add more artwork.

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The guest bathroom is simple, but functional.

 Here are my tips on making your overnight guests feel at home:

TIP #1: Choose the right space

Pick a room that offers the most privacy to your guests and, if possible, dedicate one bathroom just to your guests.

TIP #2: Create an inviting space with decor

As you can see from my guest room, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to do this – the window treatments were a cheap DIY project, the furniture is re-used, and the décor is from inexpensive home stores.  If you are planning on re-decorating another room in your home, you could “transfer” the old décor into your guest room. Be creative!

TIP #3: Provide storage space

Place at least one piece of furniture in the room that guests can use to unpack their clothes. Don’t forget to leave hangers in the closet. And, for goodness sake, do not use wire hangers  (shudder) – splurge a little on wooden or fabric hangers!

TIP #4: Prep the space

Thoroughly dust and vacuum the room prior to you guests arriving. Put freshly laundered sheets on the bed and provide extra pillows and blankets. Make sure that the bathroom that your guests are using is clean and sparkling. Put out 1 bath towel, 1 hand towel, and 1 face cloth per guest.

Tip #5:Stock your guest room

I’ve stocked the guest quarters with the following items:

  • An alarm clock
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body wash and body lotion
  • Q-tips and cotton balls
  • His and Hers Toiletries Baskets
  • Hairdryer
  • Magazines and books

You can go crazy and stock the room with whatever you think your guests would enjoy – a full-length mirror, bottles of water, a TV, One Direction posters, etc.

TIP #6: Finishing Touches

Make your guests’ stay even more memorable by adding chocolates on the pillows or fresh flowers on the nightstand. I stocked the bathroom with yummy smelling body wash/lotion – even if your guests remembered theirs, they may want to use yours as a treat!

I hope you enjoyed this long-winded post! October is still a few weeks away, but just to build up some anticipation, I am dedicating my posts in the month of October to ideas for fall décor, cooking, and baking – its gonna be a good time!

Thanks for reading!

Dinner For Six

We started a tradition in our house of having a few of our closest friends over every spring for a several course meal with wine pairings. My husband loves to cook and I love to bake/entertain so we always enjoy putting these things together….and of course, we both love wine so it’s a great excuse to drink copious amounts of it!!

This year, we did 5 courses. We asked both couples to bring an appetizer and a bottle of wine to pair with their dish (it’s too much work to do it on our own)!

The evening was a smashing success. It started with a crisp glass of champagne and ended with a rowdy game of Telephone Pictionary. If you’ve never heard of or played this game before, I highly recommend it. You will get a great ab workout from all the laughing! Somewhere in between all of this, the six of us belted out “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida.  I know what you are thinking and yes, we are that cool!

Let me set the scene first. Here’s what the table looked like:

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And without further ado, here’s each course with its wine pairing (if you are interested in any of the dishes, I’ve put some links at the bottom of this post):

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Blue Corn Chips
Paired with Moët & Chandon Champagne

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Lettuce Wraps
Paired with 2012 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Cloudy Bay

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Cream of Cauliflower Soup with Blue Cheese and Chives
Paired with 2010 French Chablis from Vielles Vignes

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Short Ribs with celery root puree and carrots
Paired with 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape by Roger Sabon

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Salted Caramel 4 Layer Chocolate Cake
Paired with a 2005 Riesling by Mission Hill


And just so that you don’t all think I am too much of a pretentious douche, this is how I pronounce Châteauneuf du Pape.

A special shout out goes to my mama who made 90% of the cake so that I could get other things ready! Thanks mom!!

Recipes Links

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Daniel Boulud Short Ribs

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake  (To make it gluten-free, I swapped out the cake recipe for this one)

Thanks all for reading!

Flourless Chocolate 5-Spice Pudding

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I have a HUGE sweet tooth and a love for baking. This makes for a very lethal combination. I try to only bake when I have company so I don’t devour it all myself (believe me, I’ll do it)! We had dinner guests a few weeks ago and I made this dessert.

Baking is a little tricky at my house because I am married to a gluten-intolerant fellow, but I found this delicious and flourless recipe by Anna Olson.  I  took her advice and served the puddings with a vanilla cranberry compote.

The puddings (which were actually more like individual-sized cakes) were really moist which is usually  the downfall of gluten-free recipes. The five-spice added a really unique flavour as well. This is what Anna says about it:

Chinese 5-spice powder is a blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seed that matches very well with chocolate.

I also dusted each cake with icing sugar before serving.

The result: delizioso!