Hubby and I never really do anything to celebrate Halloween.  Actually, even growing up Halloween was not my favourite holiday - I much preferred to stay home, all warm and cozy, rather than trick-or-treating.  However, every year, I donned my costume (Catwoman = Best. Costume. Ever.) and braved the cold in search of delicious treats!  The best part was coming home and spreading all your goods over the floor and surveying your bounty.

As I've gotten older, I much prefer the "simple" Halloween (hanging out at home and answering the door for little trick-or-treaters) rather than attending a party at a friend's house.  Although, I do have to admit that I'm looking forward to the day when I can live vicariously through my children and help them pick out costumes and take them door to door to collect their sweets.

This year Hubby and I will be spending Halloween with family at his parent's house, handing out treats to the ghosts, goblins, and little princesses of the neighbourhood - and I can't wait :)

So, here is my Halloween treat for you, not candy, but some festive trivia:
The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), that is, the night before All Hallows Day - neat!


there's somethin fishy goin on

Once of my favourite chefs is Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  I find that I always really like her simple and fresh recipes; good everyday food that is also fancy enough to serve to your guests!  Tonight I made Ina's Mustard Roasted Fish - it was a super easy and yummy weeknight dinner!

·         4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
·         Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
·         8 ounces creme fraiche
·         3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
·         1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
·         2 tablespoons minced shallots
·         2 teaspoons drained capers
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Combine the creme fraiche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it's barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it's done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.

PS:  I really like halibut, so I used that instead of red snapper.  Also, I didn't have creme fresh, whole grain mustard or capers on hand, so I substituted with sour cream, honey Dijon mustard and lemon zest and juice.  The lemon gave the sauce a nice freshness and I would definitely add it again.

PPS: I was worried that this dish would have a strong mustard favour, however, the sour cream lightened the flavour nicely.  I served the dish with roasted asparagus and fresh bread - delicious!

bakin' a mess in the kitchen

Admittedly, I'm not much of a baker. Actually, much to the dismay of Hubby, I only bake a couple times a year - if he's lucky! I would much rather spend hours trying our new recipes for savoury appetizers and dinners than make a batch of cookies. These past couple weeks, however, I've been baking up a storm!
It all started when I had a craving for key-lime pie. I knew that finding key limes, however, would be next to impossible; after some googling, I found this recipe for a not-so-key-lime pie, and it was YUMMY!!


dreamin' of deutschland

Oh, 2012, you can't come quickly enough!

Last month Hubby and I decided that we would start saving for a trip to Germany.  Actually, we're hoping to visit 3 countries - France, Germany, and Italy - during our 3 week vacation.  We decided that before we take the next step and become parents (eek!), we feel the need to feed our travel bugs.  From the second that we started talking about it, my mind was all the way across the Atlantic, dreaming of places that I've wanted to visit ever since I can remember.

So, being the hyper-organized and easily excited person that I am, I quickly got to work creating an itinerary and budget for our trip.  Of course, since the trip is so far away, it's hard to plan out an exact itinerary, but I've roughed out one to give us an idea of how much we need to save in order for our dreams to become a reality.  We've got a year and a half to scrimp and save every extra penny - and I can't wait!!


mmmm, wine

Just a little over a week ago, Hubby and I invited six of our wonderful friends over to our place for a chic wine and cheese night.  I wanted to test this out on our close friends, just in case I failed miserably...however, the night was a total susccess!!  The night itself was easy, however, it did take a lot of planning and preparation to make it successful.

Weeks in advance I studied the different varietals of wines and put together a shopping list and budget.  I started purchasing the bottles many weeks in advance as buying eight bottles of wine all in one shot would really put a hole in my pocket.  Once I selected which wines we would be tasting, I then researched to see what types of cheese paired well with those wines. 

I chose to do the tasting blind - meaning, I covered the wines in brown paper bags so that we didn't know what type (or how expensive) the wine was.  I found that this added a very interesting dynamic to the tasting.  Wouldn't it be funny if somebody was CONVINCED that they hated Chardonnay, but that's the wine that they liked best after the blind tasting?  Also, I think that if you do the tasting this way it really forces you to use your imagination and be creative with the tastes and smells.

In the end, our guests had a really great time.  Everybody wrote their own notes during the tasting, and discussed before revealing the true identities of the wines.  It was neat to see all the reactions when the wines were finally revealed.  It was a classy night that was a nice break from the same old thing - so if you're interested, try it! After all, what could be better than good friends, fine wine, and delicious cheeses?

PS:  Because we're on a budget, I asked all of our guests to bring $20 to cover the cost of the wine.  Hubbby and I covered the cost of the cheese and the appetizers ourselves.  Our guests were more than happy to pay the $20, and I had sooooo much cheese left over after that I sent everybody home with a care package full of delicious cheese and crackers - happy friends and no waste!

PPS:  I rented a pack of 10 wine tasting glasses from Lonsdale Event Rentals, just to add a touch of class and becuase they were really inexpensive ($5/10 pack).