Category Archives: Party Time

Good Wine, Great Friends

Image

Mike and I decided it was high time we had ourselves a dinner party! So, we rounded up a few friends and cooked up a storm. There was wine, champagne, delicious food and a lot of laughs, oohs and ahhs as the food was prepared and presented. One of the wines brought by a friend was a red called Balthazar which was sublime!

Mike decided on a 5-course variable menu throughout the night.

First course: Appetizers

*Lightly seared tuna tacos with grated carrots, beet relish, basil and a mexican lime olive oil vinaigrette

*Caramelized onions on a homemade fresh baked baguette

*Panko breaded then deep-fried goat cheese and fig balls

 

Second course: Soup

*Roasted corn and bacon chowder

 

Third course: Salad

*House salad (mixed greens, grated carrot, sliced cherry tomatoes, candied almonds, applewood smoked cheddar)

*Butterleaf salad (avocado, cherry tomato)

Accompanying dressings were:

*Raspberry lime vinaigrette

*Honey-lemon basil vinaigrette

 

Fourth course: Mains & Sides

Mains:

*Chili and herb marinated pork tenderloin

*Five-spice roasted whole chicken

Sides:

*Green & Yellow beans, peas and carrots steamed with butter and brown sugar

*Potatoes au gratin (3-cheese Scalloped potatoes)

*Roasted garlic lemon and herb risotto

 

Fifth course: Dessert

*Warm chocolate chunk brownie with roasted pecans, drizzled with vanilla bean caramel sauce and finished off with a sprinkling of Himalayan pink sea salt

Advertisements

Triple Destination Vacation!

Standard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, Mike and I had quite an adventure this January. New year and a new vacation!

We started off in Phoenix, Arizona, with Mike’s family who have a house there. We went swimming, toured the Olive Mill and went to a college football game called the Fiesta Bowl. Go Baylor Bears! The weather was nice but it cooled off at night to a point that we were wearing jeans and hoodies. We were warned about the temperature at least and packed accordingly. I even got to learn a new game with dominoes! I absolutely love a good board game. One that doesn’t end in a family war is best. We also tried fresh orange and grapefruit juice which was delicious!

The difficult part was we had to also pack for Mexico. Our suitcase was split down with middle: desert winter weather clothes on one side and sunny beach clothes on the other. Somehow, we were able to fit everything into one checked suitcase and two carry-on bags each. I’d like to think we are pretty talented since our trip went from Jan.1-17 and we shared a suitcase!

After fun with Mike’s family we hitched a ride to Las Vegas via my Aunt Ro, Uncle Bernie and cousin Janissa. They were in Phoenix, so we met up with them and began a four-hour road trip through cactus country. On the way we stopped to grab photos next to cacti three times our height and grab gross fast food. I will admit I ate the chicken nuggets from McDonald’s but it was out of pure need to eat and not a positive culinary choice. At least the honey mustard sauce was good. And yet, I think road trips require at least one greasy food stop along the way. It just has to happen.

After catching a glimpse of the Hoover Dam and snapping some photos of the countryside we found ourselves in Las Vegas. Sin city. ba ba baaaahhhh! My Aunt had booked us for 4 nights at the Plaza Hotel which is located on the Old Strip. We met up with my grandparents who were staying on the Old Strip as well. This leg of the vacation was part of my birthday present as well because my grandparents had said they wanted to take me to Vegas when I turned 21. We gambled a little, ate a lot and took in as much as we could during our stay. Mike and I took one day to go check out the New Strip. We bought bus passes and headed on over. Those bus passes were priceless after we discovered how far apart each hotel was from one another. The walking could have easily tired us out in a matter of hours if we didn’t have the buses to ferry us to each hotel. Mike wanted to check out the Bellagio water fountain show and Caesar’s Palace. I wanted to see Mandalay Bay and the M&M Store. We did it all and then some since there were other hotels close by. We bought tickets to the Cirque du Soleil show called KA’ (martial arts and sword fighting) and bought an awesome batman painting all done by a spray-paint artist on the street. I freaked out when we went into the M&M store which has 4 levels of crazy. I only bought coconut M&M’s and took lots of pictures with the life-size versions of the peanut and regular chocolate M&M characters. SO COOL! On the Old Strip we also bought another painting of a Japanese cherry blossom tree and watched the light show that goes on every night. After talking to locals we found a great movie theatre to go watch 47 Ronin. The cab ride was $25 but the movie was worth it! The entire theatre was tricked out with reclining lazy-boy style chairs with cup holders. No one kicked the backs of our seats and we didn’t have to share an armrest with anyone else. It was pretty darn awesome.

After four days of Vegas we were ready to go to Mexico. We boarded our super early flight after grabbing a shuttle from the hotel and jetted off to warmer places. I forgot to mention Vegas was a bit colder than Phoenix so jeans and hoodies were the wardrobe of choice.

Cue arriving in Cancun, Mexico. We get through customs and hop in a shuttle van to drive to our hotel the Grant Sunset Princess Resort. Little did we know our driver used to drive in the movie Fast & Furious…or so I thought at least. We had a few other people from different hotels to drop off in the shuttle as well. This guy from New York starts chatting with the driver and we zoom a good 6 meters past the entrance to our hotel. Mike is about to say something when our driver slams on the brakes and proceeds to back up in a lane full of moving traffic. Needless to say I was hoping we didn’t have the same driver for our return drive to the airport.

Following our bumpy and life-threatening ride we arrive at the hotel and realize the place is huge! Our room is a quick jaunt down the path and the beach is another adventure to get to as well. We got there at night so we walked around and thought we had the place figured out. We did not realize the hotel was so large it mirrored itself. There were actually two lobby’s which looked identical as well as a lobby bar with identical furniture, orientation, etc. Confusing beyond belief! Eventually everything was figured out and we set out to meet up with the Sunwing representatives, with whom our trip was booked through. We ended up booking two excursions with them as well. One to the Mayan ruins called Coba and a snorkelling trip on the Mayan Reef in Puerto Morelos. We also booked a shuttle to Playa del Carmen, to meet up with some friends who were staying close by. Now I have a warning for every person who travels to this area of Mexico. Part of our free shuttle deal was that we had to stop by a jewellery factory/store first and take a tour. We did and we bought something each. Little did we know the company was a big fraud scandal used to trick tourists. Our lesson was a cheap one but another group who went on the shuttle with us bought $1000 worth of merchandise and there was a no-refund policy. The factory was called Matis Jewellers. Also, do not buy anything from a store called Lapis. They are both fraudulent companies making money off fake jewellery. That was honestly the only low of our entire trip. Now onto better times.

The great thing about our resort was it was all-inclusive. We never had to worry about food or drinks. There were bars all over the resort and 4 buffets plus 6 reservation style restaurants we could go to eat at. Plus, the was a span, gym, and daily activities. We tried out the archery the one day and almost checked out tequila volleyball but decided to just go chill out at one of the swim-up pool bars instead.

Our Coba tour was amazing and we both climbed right to the top of the ruins. It was a long day but worth it. Our guide also took us to an underwater lake where we swam around and cooled off. We also went to a Mayan village where we met the locals and watched a shaman perform a ritual asking their Gods for rain. The snorkelling tour was a little less exciting but still fun. Mike had too much tequila the day before so he stayed on the boat and I went to check out the reef. We blame the college girls from Wisconsin haha. There weren’t a lot of fish like I had seen in Maui or like Mike had seen in Cuba but there was still a good number of marine life to be seen. We only did the half day trip and it was more than enough time spent out on the ocean.

Other than the two trips and our visit with friends in Playa del Carmen, we stuck to the resort. We walked up and down the beach looking for shells and enjoyed all the sun. Apparently, the week before we arrived the rain had been pouring like crazy! Maybe too many shaman’s had performed the rain ceremony. Either way, everyone we met who had been there for the week before were happy the sun was back. Most of the people we met were from Canada. Mostly Alberta and some from Toronto area.

I know I mentioned the great thing about all-inclusive was partly the drinks, but really it was great. If someone ordered a round of shots they were free. If we wanted two more slushy drinks and another rum and orange juice there was no extra cost. If we wanted to meander our way over to grab a snack at the buffet we could eat whatever we wanted and not price it all out. It’s a lot easier to hang out and have a good time with people when you’re not running a mental tab of all the money so many drinks and food consumed would cost. I would say our time in Mexico was probably the least stressed out I have ever been. A person learns to relax. One day we spent all day in one of the pools. I think we sat down at 10AM and didn’t leave until 4PM. Albeit, we got a bit too much sun that day but we weren’t worried! Cold shower and ¬†nap was all it took for us to be ready to go.

A week in Mexico was great. We had fun and by the time we left it felt like it was time to go home. Four days in Vegas was definitely enough. I bet we could have spent more time in Phoenix and had some more fun with Mike’s family. They said there was so much more to do. I hope we can go back there! All in all our first vacation together as a couple was a success. We took pictures, bought a cheesy souvenir from every place we went and met up with great people along the way, and we didn’t kill each other! Big bonus! I can’t wait for our next adventure abroad.

P.S. I only put up a few photos for the blog. If you want to see all my photos you can check out my Facebook page.

Stay classy,

~E

Busy Baking!

Image

Busy Baking!

Yes, I realize I’ve fallen off the track and haven’t posted anything about food in a very long time. So, here we are!

My friend Mercedes came over one night and we baked up a storm!

We also wrapped Mike in garland and wore ugly Christmas sweaters. Needless to say we know how to make a long night of baking into quite the event.

In the bottom left photo we have: Milk chocolate and white chocolate swirl almond candy-cane bark.

In the bottom right photo: ginger snap cookies and festively-shaped red velvet cakes with cream cheese icing.

We also baked candy cane shortbread cookies and a few pie crusts to fill with deliciousness later on. A few days later I made an apple pie as well.

I hope everyone is enjoying the season and getting excited for Christmas day! T-minus 8 days ’til we can open presents!

Stay classy,

~E

Aside

Happy Halloween and Sunday Funday!

Mike and I had a pumpkin carving shindig this past weekend with friends and boy was it a great time!

We had pumpkin aranchinis, pumpkin fries, pumpkin bruschetta with homemade bread, pumpkin oreo cheesecake and of course baked pumpkin seeds. Here is what was in each dish (all appropriately seasoned):

DSC_1220

Pumpkin Arranccinis

*risotto

*chicken stock

*onions and garlic

*parmesan

*roasted sugar pumpkin

Pumpkin Arranccinis

Pumpkin Fries

*sliced sugar pumpkin

*beer batter

*fried in duck fat

Pumpkin Cheesecake

*cream cheese

*nutmeg

*cinnamon

*sugar

*eggs

*pureed sugar pumpkin

*ginger

*oreo cookie crumb base

*chocolate chips on top

Image

Pumpkin Bruschetta

*cinderella pumpkin

*grape tomatoes

*garlic

*red onion

*basil

*rosemary

*feta cheese

Image

Check out all the photos of our carvings! I admit that I am not a great carver. I hope everyone had a great time partying, trick or treating and lighting up the night on this spooktacular night!

DSC_1235

DSC_1218

Stay classy,

~E

Pumpkin Carving Shindig

Meal Fit For a King

Image

Hockey Games and a Meal Fit For a King

Edmonton versus Winnipeg!

Perfect time to chow down on a fancy hockey game spread of course!

Here we have confit potato and duck leg, roasted butternut and acorn squash, blueberry and fennel crabapple braised red cabbage accompanied by fresh heirloom tomatoes, steamed sweet corn and a pumpkin. Why the pumpkin? It’s October 1st! Of course we would go buy baby pumpkins to make our place look extra awesome for Fall.

Stay classy,

~E

Rainbow March

Standard

OH Pride Day!

A time when the most popular colour is rainbow and dancing in the streets while scantily clad is encouraged during the day. I have many friends who are loud and proud about their sexuality and I can honestly say they are the most amazing friends I have the pleasure of knowing.

This year was my first year of actually seeing the Pride Parade in Edmonton and it was awesome! Companies from all over the city had pride floats in the procession. Holy crikey I am using quite a lot of alliterations. Anyways, the best float I saw was a group of lovely ladies dressed up in beaver and lumberjack costumes. The ideas for floats were clever and looked like so much fun! Whether LGBTQ or straight but supporting the pride of being free to express, tons of people were out and about to celebrate.

Coincidentally, the Pride parade happened on the same day as the downtown Farmer’s Market so good food mixed with high energy celebrating made for a wonderful day!

I even got to see my friends walk in the parade! They were the Inqueeries group and they were cheering loud! Hopefully next year I can walk in the parade with them.

Happy Pride Day!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Image

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today I have the pleasure of turning another year older! The best part of my birthday was yesterday. We had a celebration out at my parents house and then came home to a surprise party set up by my dashing and very sneaky boyfriend!
I LOVE SURPRISES!

Thank-you to all of my family and friends for making my birthday an amazing experience!