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The secret behind social media couples

As you boast in your chocolates and flowers, and prepare to get jiggy tonight with your significant other, you may also be thinking about ways to aesthetically document everything in a way that will get you the most likes on social media. Whether it be your caption, your strategic ring finger positioning, or a snapchat of bae being bae — it’s time someone expose the truth behind Instagram Couples. Let’s begin.

To all those single ladies scrolling past PDA pics and teddy bears all over your news feed, just know – it’s all fake love. The statement, so eloquently sung by Drake, is also backed up by science. A report from the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin recently concluded that people who overshare about #bae on social media are also the most insecure about them.

#Yikes.

So, to the couple who stare into one another’s eyes at fancy restaurants three times a week – we see you. And your cry for help. I don’t want to assume your night will end up in an argument over why your significant other’s phone went off one too many times or how the bill is going to be split, but according to science; I have to. And while I want to be empathetic for your situation, the narcissism behind your posts and the way you make my single ladies sob make me not want to.

The secret behind becoming a successful social media couple is to have so much fun with your significant other that you forget to take a picture. It’s to go to a fancy restaurant and enjoy the food while it’s still hot, instead of standing up on your seat trying to get the perfect shot. And the juiciest secret of all? Post so seldom that your followers have to message and ask you how your life is going, in which you can respond ‘great, just busy with #bae!’

That’s not to say you need to deactivate your Facebook account and delete your social media. Your loved ones enjoy seeing highlights in your relationships; whether that be a recent engagement or wedding photos. Sitting at your desk on a cold, winter afternoon can become a whole lot better with a few vacation photos of your favourite couple at a tropical destination.

However, if bae is mad at you and you’re cooking dinner for them – maybe ask for suggestions on what to cook for dinner instead of boasting about a #datenight that’s really another #forgiveme night. Work on your relationship. If your partner photographs that well, I’m sure they look much better in person. Embrace it. Cherish it.

Remember, happiness doesn’t come in the form of likes and retweets. It comes in the forms of smiles and a whole lot of good loving.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sneak Peek: Café Boulud and getting the most of Winterlicious

I love the concept of Winterlicious. For a couple of weeks in the dead of winter, over 200 restaurants across Toronto offer three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus at cheaper than usual price points. You’ll find lunches at $23, $28 and $33, and dinners at $33, $43 and $53.

It’s a great reason to finally pry yourself out of the couch, perhaps consider wearing something other than pyjamas, and go have a delicious meal at that place you’ve always wanted to check out.

The problem with Winterlicious, and a common refrain I hear from some disgruntled licious-goers, is that it can be really hit and miss.

At the best of times, it can be the ideal way to try one of the city’s top restaurants that might typically be outside your budget. At the worst of times, it can be a human zoo stirred to frenzy at feeding time with unmanageable crowds and noise levels, seriously sub-par food, and dismal service, and a somewhat traumatic aftertaste.

Café Boulud is one place to find the former this January: a best-of-times Winterlicious experience.

Café Boulud’s Winterlicious lunch menu

While at other places I’ve found the pick of menu options to maximize value yields a fairly obvious choice of starter, main, and dessert (skip the pastas and salads; go for the fish, unless you’re vegetarian obviously), at Café Boulud I had a harder time deciding.

The choice of starter is between a meaty coq au vin terrine, a delightful comfort food staple — French onion soup — and a perfectly light and fresh smoked salmon salad with julienned apples. Uh, I’ll have one of each, please??

The pike quenelle I ordered for the main course surpassed my expectations. For the uninitiated, a quenelle is like a savoury sponge made with a combination of creamed fish, breadcrumbs, and egg to bind it. It’s much better than it sounds. It was huge; not common for a fish dish, especially not a Winterlicious one, and came surrounded by a rich and buttery bright yellow sauce with some firm mushrooms for a nice flavour and texture balance, plus rice pilaf on the side.

Chef Daniel Boulud has said this is his favourite dish on the menu, because it offers a slightly more adventurous, yet still accessible, foray into French cooking for diners who are keen to explore the cuisine further.

But the ile flottante for dessert really — excuse the eye-rolling cliche — took the cake (I know, sorry). That fluffy meringue resting delicately on a creamy pool of crème anglaise, dotted with a couple of raspberries and topped with a paper-thin maple sugar crisp, could be the best ile flottante I’ve had.

This is all orchestrated in a bright yet cozy upstairs dining area inside the elegance of the Four Seasons. It’s full of dark greens, rusty oranges, comfy leather banquettes and warm brass accents.

You can find Café Boulud’s full Winterlicious menus for lunch and dinner here.

How to get the best Winterlicious experience

Start by choosing your restaurant wisely. The cheapest options aren’t always the best value. I’ve found that it’s often better to “splurge” on a higher end restaurant, and at $33 for lunch it’s not that much more of a financial stretch. Look for places that have some prior years’ experience delivering Winterlicious menus so you won’t face any first-timer kinks. It can be wise to choose a smaller place with fewer seats to avoid the fall-flat catered feel of mass-produced menu items.

Finally, check out menus online first so you can be confidant there’s something on there you’ll love, and try to book during off-peak days (early in the week) and times (lunches are often less hectic).

Winterlicious runs January 26 to February 8, and bookings are already open. Seats can go pretty fast depending on the restaurant so make sure to book as soon as possible to get the table you want.

Do you plan on trying out a new restaurant this year? Let us know how it goes in the comments below!

Toronto eatin’: leftover turkey soup

Let’s be honest — you can only eat leftover Christmas dinner for a few days before it makes you want to throw up. Even a good turkey sandwich only goes so far. Instead, why not put some turkey aside to make something different. A good turkey soup is perfect for lunches or dinners, and excellent on a cold winter day.

The recipe I’m going to share is for a chicken vegetable soup I make on a regular basis. Just swap our turkey for chicken and you are good to go!

Start by sautéing garlic and a chopped onion in a large pot. Add in chopped vegetables of your choice (carrots, mushrooms, celery). Stir for a few minutes. Add canned corn and green beans. Pour in two cups of chicken broth and some pepper and salt to taste. Since the turkey will already be cooked, add it in last. Shred it up before putting it in the soup.

If you want to make it more of a Minestrone soup, you can add a can of tomatoes. Boil for 15-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked.

In a separate pot, cook a cup of rice. When you are ready to serve the soup, warm it up with a few spoonfuls of rice. By cooking the rice separately, you avoid the starchiness of the liquid. You can substitute rice with potatoes or macaroni noodles, but the cooking process should still be the same.

Toronto decor: 5 simple centrepieces for your holiday dinner

Are you hosting Christmas dinner? I’m sure you already have your menu prepared (if you don’t, you should probably get on that) — but how about the decor? Typically, people don’t think about how they are going to set their table until the night before. By then, it is too late to get any kind of extravagant dishes or inspiring centrepieces.

But, don’t worry. There are some simply ways to decorate your table for company. Here are a few ideas:

Centrepiece: The table centrepiece is critical to the ambiance of a dinner party. If you don’t have a lot of space (who does during a Christmas feast), take a clear glass vase or even a bowl and fill the bottom with large chunks of salt or stones from your backyard. Rinse if dirty. Place a thick, round candle in the centre of the bowl and place some pinecones, garland, or even some extra bobbles you may not have put on the tree, around the candle close to the rim. If you have a spare long piece of garland, you can also line the centre of the table with it and place candles, bobbles, and pinecones at random across the table. It sounds messy, but it can actually turn out quite pretty.

Floral arrangements: Get a thin vase (or even a glass cup) and fill it with water and some fresh flowers. To make it more festive, try adding in a few pieces of pine or a ring of cranberries. Make sure the colour of the flowers is warm and inviting, like a dark red. Feel free to use fake flowers from the dollar store if you can’t get any real ones. No one will care that much. You can make them even more festive by wrapping your vase with small string lights!

Place settings: Uncle Jim may not get along with Aunt Sally — don’t give them the option of sitting near each other! You can create some really nice labels using Microsoft Word, but you can also get a little creative. If you have some stock paper, print a small tag with each guests name on it. Punch a whole in the top and thread a ribbon through to create a bow. Place on top of each plate setting with a red or gold bobble. You can even do it without the bobble!

Bar cart: Keeping wine or bottles of scotch on the table can prove welcoming with easy access, but it also takes up much needed space. Instead, set up a small table and put your alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages there with an ice bucket. Put bobbles, ribbon, pine, or garland in between the bottles. You can even use tea lights, which are easy and cheap to find at any dollar store. You can even tie cinnamon sticks together with a ribbon! Get creative. Keep a small tin of holiday cookies by the car cart too! For those who may be indulging over the holidays, it’s a great way to soak up the alcohol. It also offers a conversation piece while people wait to get their wine!

These are just a few suggestions. Above all else, use what you have at home and make your atmosphere as cozy and comfortable as possible. Keep to rich tones, put on some soft holiday tunes, and enjoy the company!

How will you be decorating your home for Christmas? Let us know in the comments below!

Recipe: sticky apple-cider glazed chicken

Why not take advantage of the cozy elements of fall and use all of these fantastic flavours in your cooking. Nothing is better on a chilly day than a warm cup of apple cider. How wonderful would it be to take those flavour combinations and make a meal out of them?  How about apple cider glazed chicken? This recipe is inspired by one of fall’s favourite treats— apples. This recipe is simple, healthy and delicious and is sure to please.

Ingredients:

  • 8 bone-in, skin on chicken drumsticks (or thighs)
  • 1 medium apple- thinly sliced
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp soya sauce
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Season chicken with salt, pepper, cinnamon, soya sauce, and thyme and place in a lightly oiled pan and roast for 40 minutes.
  3. As the chicken bakes, combine apple slices, apple cider, honey and butter to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until mixture is reduced by half.
  4. Carefully remove chicken from the oven and pour the mixture over the chicken and return to broil for 5 minutes or until the mixture sticks to the chicken.
  5. Serve chicken with extra pan drippings and enjoy.

Will you be serving this for your next family dinner? Comment below

 

 

 

Recipe: mouth-watering eggplant and cheese pie

Eggplant and Cheese Pie

Sometime people crave something a bit lighter for a delicious summer dinner, or maybe you are interested in a vegetarian alternative to a delicious cheese bake. The eggplant and cheese pie is the perfect meal with just the right amount of ingredients that make this meal rich, yet simple to prepare and enjoy for you and your family.

Ingredients:

• 2 small eggplants, peeled and diced
• 1 cup of shredded cheese of your choice (a smoked cheese like gouda adds a burst of flavour)
• 3 eggs
• 3 tbsp milk
• 1 medium yellow onion
• 1 glove garlic, crushed
• 1 package phyllo pastry
• ½ tsp salt
• olive oil
• ½ tsp black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Celsius

1. Using a 25 cm quiche dish, gently layer sheets of phyllo pastry, ranging from 3-5 sheets, depending on the desired thickness of the crust. Brush each layered sheet with a small amount of olive oil

2. Wash the diced eggplant with salt and leave to soak for ten minutes, then rinse with cold water and dry thoroughly.

3. In a large skillet, heat up some olive oil, lightly brown the onion, garlic and add the eggplant, toss on medium heat for five minutes and sprinkle with black pepper.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs with milk and whisk lightly

5. Add your sautéed eggplant to the quiche dish and distribute evenly, pour the egg mixture and then generously add the shredded cheese

6. Place uncovered on the top rack of your oven for 20-25 minutes

Once completed, slightly leave to cool and serve your delicious and cheesy eggplant pie. Enjoy with a serving of fresh cherry tomatoes or even a lightly tossed garden salad. If you would like to make this meal even richer, feel free to add other vegetables or even plump tomatoes to add a colourful and delicious burst to your meal. Enjoy!

RECIPE: Crustless Quiche Lorraine

I love eggs. I don’t know why, but when I’m tired and just don’t want to cook, I go for eggs. But sometimes, a plain omelette isn’t enough to satisfy the craving. That’s when quiche is perfect. Feel free to play with the recipe below — add in a few extra vegetables or some fancy cheeses. Do you have company coming over? Make your quiche a little fancier with some spinach and brie.

Here’s a basic quiche recipe to get you started:

INGREDIENTS
  • 12 oz. bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 eggs
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 c. heavy cream (can substitute half & half or milk)
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 c. Swiss cheese
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh chives
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and cook until tender; add cooked, crumbled bacon and heat through.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, egg whites, cream, and flour and mix well.
  3. Stir in salt, pepper, and cheese.
  4. Add onion and bacon from skillet and stir to combine.
  5. Pour into a greased 10 inch pie plate or similar sized baking dish.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 45 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up.
  7. Remove from oven; garnish with fresh minced chives.
  8. *Quiche can be eaten warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Repost from Cathy Trochelman and Lemon Tree Dwelling.