Saturday, November 24, 2012

Recipe: Cheesy Orzo

Mmmmm...comfort food.  Serve it at your next party, it's delicious and is especially a hit with the kids!

Cheesy Orzo
Rachel Ray

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans (14 ounces) chicken or vegetable broth or stock
2 cups orzo pasta (enriched rice may be substituted)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano or Romano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat an 8-inch pot with a tight-fitting cover over moderate heat.  Add oil, onion, and garlic and saute for 2 or 3 minutes.  Add broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in orzo and return broth to a boil.  Cover pot and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until liquid is absorbed and pasta tender.  Remove lid and stir in cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to your taste.  Your favourite fresh herbs may also be stirred into the orzo or rice to strengthen the flavor.


♥ Vesna ♥

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Recipe: Bucatini All'Amatriciana

Are you having a dinner party and don't know what to serve?  Below is a recipe for Bucatini All'Amatriciana (via Epicurious).  I am a huge fan of Italian food so, naturally, it is something that I recommend.  Trust me, you are going to love it! 

Bucatini All'Amatriciana


2 tbls. extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. thinly sliced guanciale, pancetta, or chopped unsmoked           bacon
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 28 oz. can peeled tomatoes with juices, crushed by hand
Kosher salt
12 oz. dried bucatini or spaghetti
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino (about 1 ounce)


Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add guanciale/pancetta/unsmoked bacon and sauté until crisp and golden (about 4 minutes). Add pepper flakes and black pepper; stir for 10 seconds. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until soft (about 8 minutes). Add tomatoes, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 2 minutes before al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
Add drained pasta to sauce in skillet and toss vigorously with tongs to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente (about 2 minutes). Add a little pasta water if sauce is too dry.  Stir in cheese and transfer pasta to warmed bowls

♥ Vesna ♥

Monday, October 29, 2012

Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

If you're carving pumpkins in the next couple of days like I am, you will want to make sure to save those seeds!  Most people are unaware of how to prepare seeds for roasting.  The most important thing to do (that most people don't do), is to remove the shells from the pumpkin seeds.  This is definitely time consuming, but well worth it.

1.  Rinse seeds in a strainer with warm running water.

2.  Lay the seeds out flat on a cookie sheet (note: do not lay them down on a paper towel as the seeds will stick to it when it dries).  It will take a day or two to completely dry.

3.  Remove the shells from all the pumpkin seeds (this is absolutely necessary for this special recipe - it could take a day or two as well, depending on how much time you can dedicate).

4.  Preheat oven at 350ºF.

5.  Very lightly, coat all the seeds with oil and salt.

6.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they start to brown.


♥ Vesna ♥

Friday, October 19, 2012

Halloween: Pumpkins

Halloween is just around the corner, so if you haven't already picked your pumpkins, time is running out!  Remember, you have to make time for carving the pumpkins, as well as removing all the seeds for baking - at our house we even remove all the shells before they are baked (no, we do not have a lot of time on our hands, but we sacrifice it for the delicious flavour) .

Halloween is one of my favourite times of year and I just wanted to share some of our pumpkin photos, as well as ones that I have come across in my travels or on the Internet.

♥ Vesna ♥

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Recipe: Pumpkin Shake

Move over Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, and make room for a delicious, inexpensive, home-made, Pumpkin Shake!  So quick and simple!

Here's the recipe:

Mix ½ cup of pumpkin puree with 1 cup of vanilla ice cream, and ½ cup of milk.  Top it off with some whipped cream and a pinch of cinnamon.


♥ Vesna ♥

Friday, July 6, 2012

Party Checklist

I know that planning a party can be a little overwhelming, so I've created a checklist to make your life easier.  The point of a party is to have fun, and being organized and well-prepared is the best way to approach your special day with minimal stress.  Visit to view my party checklist.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Canada Day and Fourth of July Fireworks!

With Canada Day and Independence Day around the corner, I just wanted to remind everyone how to set up a fireworks display, and the safety precautions needed when handling fireworks.  Enjoy the party!! 


Remember what fireworks were like when we were young?  They've come a long way from the days of the Burning School House.  Fireworks that are available to the general public nowadays are actually quite impressive and reasonably affordable.  Here are some tips for setting off the most impressive fireworks display.  
  1. Get as many people involved as possible (friends, neighbors, family).  More people pitching in, means more fireworks.
  2. Lay your fireworks out in a row, on a table or on the ground, and spend some time organizing a firing order.  You can let your guests get involved in this part.  You want to start off with a fairly big bang to get your audiences attention.  Then shoot off your smallest fireworks, gradually getting bigger and louder as you go.  Now, throw in your second most impressive firework and call that your pre grand finale, after it goes off pause for about 10 seconds.  This will have everyone thinking that the show is over start back up with a few more small to medium fireworks.  Then, all at once, set off the big guns and this will be the grand finale that will make everyone's jaws drop.  
  3. Get set up while it's still light out.  Set chairs/blankets out at a safe distance.  Line up all your fireworks in their proper firing order, set up, and ready to ignite.
  4. This is a great idea: use a road flare to ignite the wicks, you can get a road flare at any automotive store and they are only about $5.  Road flares burn for about 20 minutes, which is plenty of time to light all your fire works, they give off a lot of light, and they add about a foot to your reach.  One more advantage to using the flare is it won't blow out with the wind and that is important for timing.
  5. Be safe, have fun, and enjoy the show!!     

Vesna ♥

Friday, June 22, 2012

Canada Day Food - Appetizers, Snacks, Desserts, and Drinks

Canada Day is on it's way!  It's not necessary to have a formal dinner when celebrating any particular event.  Money and time spent, not to mention the stress of it all is not worth it.  So just do up some appetizers, snacks, some desserts, and drinks, and get the party under way!  Scroll below and prepare these for your Canada Day party.


At my Canada Day party last year, I cut up some red bell peppers, arranged some of the peppers in the shape of a maple leaf in the middle of the platter, and thick solid  lines on either side to create the Canada flag.  Serve with ranch dipping sauce or Greek yogurt.  This was a healthy appetizer that everyone loved and still talk about to this day!!

Below are little sandwiches I made for the party.  I happened to find some maple leaf-shaped cookie cutters in my kitchen drawer from a bridal shower gift one year.  I knew they would come in handy!  Just use white Wonder Bread and fill the sandwiches with Philadelphia Cream Cheese (original - whipped) and strawberry jam.  So good!  I'm craving it right now!!!


Red pistachios and jordan almonds can be served as snacks.  And don't forget the ketchup chips!


Serve red and white fruits: raspberries, cherries, strawberries, watermelon, dragon fruit, and pineberries (strawberries that taste like pineapples).


Make these patriotic desserts, you'll have everyone singing, "Oh Canada!" 

Start off with something simple.  Dip strawberries in white chocolate, and then dip into red sprinkles.

savvy mom

Strawberry Cheesecake Bites

Oh She Glows


·         Homemade or store-bought graham crackers
·         1 tub non-dairy cream cheese (or regular if you prefer)
·         1/2 cup- 3/4 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s)
·         2 vanilla beans or 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
·         1 pint strawberries, hulled and diced
·         Sugar, for sprinkling

1. Make your homemade graham crackers in advance or simply purchase graham crackers from the store.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Slowly add the icing sugar to taste. Add in a couple scraped vanilla beans and maple extract or a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice if you prefer. Store in fridge. You can also make this in advance!
3. Hull a pint of strawberries and dice.
4. Lay your graham crackers onto a large serving plate and spread with cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle on diced strawberries and sugar.
Notes: The homemade graham cracker recipe made about 13-15 maple leafs, so you may want to double the batch. I had leftover cream cheese frosting, so 1 tub should cover about 25 maple leafs depending on how much you use.
Be sure to bake your graham crackers a couple minutes longer (I think I baked mine for 17-18 minutes) so they were extra crispy once cooled. That ensures that the cream cheese frosting won’t make the cracker get soggy (it will get a bit soft after 20-30 minutes, but not too much).
Cosmopolitan Slushy
Susan Quick, Real Simple


·         10 ounce (1 1/4 cups) citrus-flavored vodka
·         1/2 cup Rose's lime juice
·         2 cups cranberry juice 
·         4 ice cube trays



1.      Combine vodka, lime juice, and cranberry juice in a pitcher with 2 cups water and stir to blend. Divide between ice cube trays and freeze at least 4 hours or overnight (the drink cubes will freeze only partially). Just before serving, empty trays into a large bowl and using a fork, break up cubes to loosen ice crystals (the ice will be slushlike). Spoon slush into tall stemmed glasses and serve immediately.