Weekend Links

This weekend I was lucky enough to get away to the mountains (Whistler) for a little R&R. This included my favourite burger and fries out (Earl’s), a long walk (or two) through the forest, cooking at home, going to the pumpkin patch, and devouring some of my current favourite books, previously mentioned here and here. This morning I’m going to round out the fall weekend with a long walk through the fog and a homemade Apple dutch baby pancake. Perfectly relaxing.

Read below for my favourite links from the week!b4ad7c7b07bfcf3a2f23e4156eb7093c

An interesting article on young millennial women who don’t necessarily know their ultimate passion, and how to move forward in your career regardless.

I’m loving this new (and gorgeous) quarterly journal for women who love fashion, food, beauty and wine. Check, check, check, check!

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker (such a big investment for a small kitchen). I think I found a winner here.

This morning commute look is on point.

It’s my champagne birthday next month (eek!) and I’ve been dreaming up menu ideas, outfits and themes. It’s all about rosé champagne.

Have a relaxing Sunday.

*image via Pinterest (original source unknown)

#WineWednesday – Fall Harvest Sunday Night Dinner Edition

As you all know, one of the main focuses of my blog is finding great-priced, attainable, delicious wines. When roaming the liquor store, I tend to stick to a $20 price point (this may seem outrageous for my American readers, but I assure you this is reasonable here). While there are places to splurge: a special occasion, champagne, port, table wine needs to be accessible and affordable. Luckily, there are a lot of affordable wines out there so I’m happy to share them with you all!

I really like doing wine pairings with my meals. It may seem fussy (not what I’m about) but I assure you with a few tips and tricks, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. I wanted to serve a white with the butternut squash soup and harvest salad, a red with the chicken and a port for dessert. I often tend to stick to this variation: start with the lightest wine, move to a heavier option for dinner, and finish with the heaviest (and sweetest) in small quantities. Sometimes, I throw all of the rules out the window, but for the most part I like to progressively get heavier with the wine pairings. By the end of my dinner parties, after a nimble of port, you’ll be ready to snooze (or dance).

Read below for my pairings for the Butternut Squash Soup & Harvest Salad, the Chicken Marbella, and the Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes.

Bringing in the bottlesSip October-47 Sip October-46moschofilero boutari + harvest saladFirst wine of the night: Moschofilero Boutari

Moschofilero Boutari 2012 with Butternut Squash Soup and Harvest Salad

At $15.99 (this wine is on special until Nov 1), this Greek white really surprised and delighted me. Greek wine has a reputation for being very light – which is perfect with Greek food, but doesn’t lend itself to heavier flavours. The Moschofilero, on the other hand, is bursting with aromatic flavours and floral scents and stood up perfectly with the soup and salad.

With the Butternut Squash Soup, the wine tasted crisp, had hints of apple flavours, and cut through the creaminess of the dish. It was a perfect start to the meal, especially with the contrast of warm soup and refreshing wine. The wine brought out the sweetness of the soup while still injecting a hit of acidity. A great way to end the summer and start the fall.

With the Harvest Salad, the crispness of the wine matched the salad perfectly. It was a foil for the gouda honey thyme cheese as, again, it’s zesty profile cut through the creamy cheese and brought out the stronger herbaceous flavour.

This is the type of wine you can drink by itself or with light dishes.

red to go with the chickensecond wine: cotes du rhone brunel de la gardine

2012 Brunel de la Gardine Côtes du Rhone with Chicken Marbella

It is rare to leave the liquor store with a great French wine that is under $20. At $17.99, this wine’s value is unparalleled. Upon first taste there are hints of blackcurrant and light tannins on the end. Throughout the meal, the wine completely opens up and shows more of its complexity. For this reason, I would reccomend pouring it into a decanter even just for a few moments to allow some oxygen through the wine. It has a good balance and the after taste is reminiscent of green pepper and blackberry.

It’s light, which allowed the strong chicken flavours to stand out, and fruit forward, which complemented the sweet undertones of the dish. The slight chocolate flavours allow the richness of the chicken filled with capers, bay leaves and olives to come to the surface. This is one of those reds that most people will gravitate towards, and is a safe bet for those who are new to red or new to wine pairing. It can be aged in your cellar (or wine rack) due to its Mourvèdre grape, allowing the smokey undertones to develop more and more.

cap off the night with some port: dow's ten year old tawny portport + pumpkin spice cupcakes

Dow’s Ten Year Old Tawny Port and Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

When planning the Harvest Dinner, I wanted to keep it pretty simple. This, for me, meant buying dessert. While this may have been eschewed decades ago, in this day and age, sometimes you simply don’t have time to do it all. Enter Sweet Bake Shop, my go-to bakery in Yaletown for desserts and birthday cakes alike. Luckily, they had added some fall items to their menu, namely this Pumpkin Spice Cupcake which was perfect for finishing off the meal with. And, what is more perfect then some port at the end of a long dinner party?

At first sniff, the port is jammy and reminiscent of brown sugar and raspberries. As Port is much higher in alcohol, you can smell this ruminating off of the glass, but it is cut with the sweet undertones.

With the Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes, the intense dried fruit flavour allows you to sip slowly and enjoy. Surprisingly, the port cuts the sweetness of the cupcakes, allowing the spiced flavours to stand out and linger.

See – easy peasy! For your first wine pairing meal, trying pairing one or two wines and work your way up to it! It’s a fun process so enjoy!

Photos: Christie Graham Photography

Flowers: The Flower Factory

Wine: The Bacchus Group

Styling: Sophie Collins of Sip Savour Share

Fall Harvest Sunday Night Dinner: Chicken Marbella

As I mentioned in the first Sunday Night Dinner post, a big inspiration behind this series were the Sundays I spent as a child around a table with my loved ones. The adults would drink wine and the kids would plot out our next adventure, which usually involved checking out the “haunted” abandoned house down the street. It was a time to connect and re-energize for the rest of the week and was often my favourite part of the weekend.

Not much has changed since then. Well that isn’t necessarily true: I’ve moved to the other side of the country, have made a home with my boyfriend, and often get to host these dinners. I relish spending my whole Sunday preparing for a “simple” dinner for my family and friends. Sunday Night Dinner is truly special and I hope to carry on the tradition for years to come.

One dish that often made it’s way to the table on Sunday nights was my mom’s rendition of Chicken Marbella. I considered this “Mom’s chicken” and now often make it myself for big groups. It’s so easy, and you can’t go wrong with this recipe, so I’m not going to re-create it! Enjoy, that recipe is seriously perfect.

ready to dig in

Sip October-14 Sip October-31 Sip October-5

chicken marbella

Photos from Christie Graham Photography and flowers by The Flower Factory.

Check back tomorrow for the long-awaited #WineWednesday featuring wine pairings.

Fall Harvest Sunday Night Dinner: Soup and Salad

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of fall food is squash and soup. Growing up, one of my favourite soups was a creamy butternut squash soup. Setting out to create a butternut squash soup that didn’t totally throw my eating habits out of wack, I wanted to ensure my recipe wasn’t brimming with cream. Luckily, squash is creamy in its own right and the recipe ended up being very healthy. I also wanted to serve a salad to start that was reminiscent of the flavours of the season. When I had originally designed this table top, I had an apple on each place setting but since that took away from the flowers, I removed them and put them in the salad. Entertaining is all about thinking on your feet and not being stuck to one particular outcome. Read below for two of my favourite new recipes. Both of these would be great on your next Thanksgiving table, or even tonight as a refresher from last night’s heavy meal!

Sip October-4

moschofilero boutari + harvest salad

 Fall Harvest Salad

Serves 4 as an appetizer

3 handfuls of spinach (or your preferred green)
1/3 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup of your favourite crackers, crumbled (I used Lesley Stowes’ Fig and Olive Crisps)
2 apples, cored and sliced thinly
4 tbsp crumbled lemon & thyme goat gouda (or your favourite cheese)
balsamic vinaigrette (oil, vinegar, and dried herbs whisked together)

1) Make dressing. Set aside.
2) Add spinach to a large bowl and top with pumpkin seeds and vinaigrette.
3) Top with apples, cheese and crackers before serving.

Sip October-16

Sip October-20

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 4 as an appetizer

1 butternut squash, peeled, cleaned out and chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 yellow and orange pepper, chopped
6 cups of chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cream
fresh oregano for topping

1) Add the butternut squash, onion, garlic, peppers, and chicken broth to a big pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
2) Using an immersion blender (my new favourite kitchen tool), blend the soup together.
3) Add salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 cup cream, mix more.
4) Ladle into bowls and add a sprig of oregano for serving.

Check back tomorrow for my favourite Chicken Marbella recipe, and Wednesday for a special edition of #WineWednesday featuring the wine parings for these foods!

Photos: Christie Graham Photography

Sunday Night Dinner: Fall Harvest Edition

There is something so romantic to me about the falling leaves, cozy nights by the fire and even the rainy mornings that fall brings. What better way to spend a fall evening than enveloped in the aromas of fall’s best produce, drinking some (reasonably priced) perfectly-paired wine and finishing off the night with seasonal treats? For this Sunday Night Dinner, I wanted to emulate the fall wine harvest that happens around this time every year. Leaves have turned colours and the grapes are ready to harvest. While we weren’t actually on a vineyard, it certainly felt like it. Between the colours of the flowers by The Flower Factory and the big red wine glasses, this easy-to-put together family-style feast transported me straight to Napa in the fall. I hope this Sunday Night Dinner brings you around the table with your loved ones to sip great wine, savour great food, and share the memories you’ll certainly make. Make sure to stay tuned all week as I recap the recipes and wine pairings as well!

All photos by the incredibly talented, Christie Graham Photography.

Fall Harvest Flowers by The Flower Factory

Fall harvest flowers by The Flower Factory

Bringing in the bottles

Prepping for the fall harvest dinner

Ready for the harvest dinner to start

Catching the last of the afternoon rays

Details are of utmost importance

Small details can make a big impact

First wine of the night: Moschofilero Boutari

First wine of the night: Moschofilero Boutari

moschofilero boutari + harvest salad

Moschofilero Boutari + my harvest salad

Sip October-16

Butternut squash soup

chicken marbella

Chicken Marbella

ready to be served

Ready to dine

Sip October-12

Candles always set the tone

fall harvest floral closeup

Fall harvest flowers closeup (The Flower Factory)

ready to dig in

Bon appétit!

it was a success

Plotting the next Sunday Night Dinner (to come next month!)

looking forward to the next Sunday Night Dinner!

Happy Fall!

Sunday Night Dinner – Fall Harvest Edition

When hosting a wine pairing dinner, you don’t have to worry too much about what your table will look like. Cooking whole, natural foods and pairing them with delicious wine will look beautiful enough! However, if you want to take your dinner party to the next level (don’t we all), I would suggest investing in a couple of items. First and foremost, a flower arrangement can really bring everything together. Gloria from The Flower Factory hit the nail on the head with her arrangement of cabernet-toned dahlias, rich snow berries, perfectly placed greenery, and even some dried wheat to tie it all together.

When picking up a new book at Chapter’s, I found these gorgeous serving boards made of real wood that complemented our table. I loved the variation of heights on the table and think it made the whole tablescape a little more interesting.

Now, onto one of my favourite parts of the table: the wine glasses. Ever since starting to watch Scandal a few months ago, I’ve had my eyes on these wine glasses. What can be more romantic and elevated than super tall, big red wine glasses? While they aren’t the most practical, that’s ok! Not everything has to be! It’s nice to have a few different types of glassware for different occasions. These are going to become my go-to wine glasses for dinner parties.

Overall, when entertaining I always remember to keep the focus on the food and wine and let that shape how I plan the rest of the night. Most importantly, flowers make a huge impact and they last for a week so don’t be afraid to buy a small arrangement for your next party. You’ll be glad you did!

Coming up tomorrow and Tuesday – all of the recipes from the food you see above. Most importantly, make sure to stop by on Wednesday for a full recap of the wines pictured here as well as their food pairings and tasting notes. It is #WineWednesday after all!

Pictures: Christie Graham Photography

Flowers: The Flower Factory

Wine: Moschofilero BoutariBrunel de la Gardine Cotes Du Rhone 2012Dow’s Ten Year Old Tawny Port

Styling & Concept: Sophie Collins of Sip Savour Share

French Pharmacy Favourites

The pharmacies in France are like a mix of Shopper’s Drug Mart, Sephora, and the Holt Renfrew beauty counter. They have everything from high end toothpaste to Caudalie products.  I spent more time that I’d like to admit admiring all of the products and even testing a few out. After I purchased everything, I used each product for the rest of the week and I swear my skin was glowing (the relaxation from the vacation could have contributed as well). So, I’ve rounded up my favourite French pharmacy buys. The good news? Most of them are available stateside.

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Klorane Dry Shampoo: I am the last person in the world that would buy dry shampoo. I’m lucky enough to have thick hair and only wash my hair about twice a week (embarrassing to admit? maybe…healthy for your hair? definitely.) However, after reading multiple blogs that suggested buying this product, I thought I may as well try it out. I waited until the end of my hair-washing cycle and tried it out. It adds volume, cleans, and extends your blow-out for a good day or two. I may not be fully converted, but I’ll be using this from time to time for sure.

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Homeoplasmine: Even Gwyneth Paltrow sings the praises of this multi-purpose ointment cream. I’ve been using it on everything from cuts to dry lips and I love it’s totally clear, nourishing feel. Think of this as the French version of Aquafor or Vaseline, but better. You have to ask the pharmacist for this one.

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Caudalie Eau de Raisin: Any company that uses grape extracts from the wine harvest wins automatically in my book. But seriously, this French company took the compound in wine that is touted for a healthy lifestyle (resveratrol) and realized it’s importance for skin care. I use this at the end of a long day or to freshen up my makeup as I transition from day to night. It instantly perks me up.

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Caudalie Divine Oil: This, my friends, is what they call a “miracle product.” I use it on my legs, cracked elbows, nails, hand and hair. My favourite use for it is as a somewhat mask before bed. I swear I wake up the next day with smoother, more tanned and toned skin. Miracle!

IMG_4615The only product that missed the mark for me was the Caudalie lip balm. It just didn’t jive with my lips, but it did smell great!

Coming up this Sunday: Canadian Thanksgiving and my Fall Harvest Sunday Night Dinner shot by Christie Graham Photography. You won’t want to miss it! It will go live Sunday morning.

Have a great week!