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Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas

This versatile Italian dish isn’t as difficult as you may think, there are endless variations of this creamy comfort food, but this Wild Mushroom Risotto with Peas is a favourite that your friends and family will enjoy.

5 3/4 cups canned low sodium chicken broth
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped onion
10 ounces white mushrooms, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

BRING THE BROTH to a simmer in a heavy, medium-size saucepan. Add the porcini mushrooms. Cover and set aside until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms and finely chop. Cover the broth and keep warm over very low heat.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the white mushrooms, porcini mushrooms and garlic; saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rice, add the wine; cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, adding more broth by cupfuls and stirring often, about 28 minutes. Stir in the peas. Mix in the Parmesan cheese, Season with salt and pepper to taste.

** In order to use dried porcini mushrooms – or any dried mushrooms for that matter, you have to reconstitute them by allowing them to sit in hot water for a few minutes, absorbing that water and plumping up. Then the mushrooms are ready to cook with, and you have all this flavourful liquid as a by-product.**
 

 



Romantic Winter Weddings

While winter is not the most popular season for weddings, it can be one of the most romantic and magical times of the year. We are seeing more couples capture the richness of this season with it’s warming colours, roaring fires and twinkling lights, that add a cozy warmth, which can not be captured the same way at a summer wedding. Winter weddings can be truly spectacular.

Keep in mind, when choosing a winter wedding location, the indoor space should be warm and inviting, making your guests feel at home. Wood-burning fireplaces and rooms with windows, so you can see the soft fall of snowflakes outside, and, the sun flooding your room with natural light adds a cozy warmth to your winter wedding. It is also a good idea to select a wedding venue that can accommodate everything you need in one location; ceremony, reception and overnight accommodations for your guests.

The ambience around a winter wedding is similar to the first snowfall of the season, it’s magical and very romantic. Make sure to highlight and maximize the winter elements in your decor; faux snow and Christmas twinkle lights add to a perfect winter wedding wonderland, incorporate this with natural components, such as frosted pinecones, pine leaves and snowflakes. 

A romantic winter wedding provides the perfect opportunity to serve wintry comfort foods. Try hearty dishes, like pasta, lasagna, a roast, casseroles, classic filet mignon, hearty greens and warm soups. Also, be fun and creative with the dessert course, consider setting up a fancy hot chocolate bar, and serve creamy eggnog cocktails and spicy mulled wines, it’s a sweet and stylish way to celebrate the season.

There’s a new take on self-service candy bars that’s perfect for trendy winter weddings: an all-white candy spread. Think white M&Ms, yogurt-covered pretzels, white chocolate-covered cranberries, white-coated chocolate mints, nonpareils covered in white sprinkles, and various white Jelly Belly flavours. Self service candy bars can serve as both dessert and party favours.

Have a look at some winter wedding inspirations on pinterest.

Don forget to have fun creating a winter-themed wedding invitation. You can play up the uniqueness of your chosen wedding date by including snowy scenes, holiday themes, snowflakes or cozy fireside tableaux.

And, when it’s time to shop for your wedding dress begin your search by browsing dress photos online. The season will also affect your choice of material, brocade, faux fur and velvet will keep you warm in the winter, but, satin, shantung, silk and tulle are perfect year-round.

The entire wedding, from ceremony to reception, is guaranteed to make an impression in the memories of all your guests simply because it’s different from all of the spring and summer weddings they typically attend. Plus, your wedding will provide something to look forward to in the colder months.

Few Toronto wedding venues compare with the casual elegance and timeless style of our unique Old Mill Toronto, creating an unrivalled location for your special Wedding day.



Girlfriend Getaways Are Necessary

It is often hard to make plans with your friends for a weekend or even during the week without real life stepping in the way. It’s truly a gift to have wonderful friends and it’s important to take the time to nurture your relationships and enjoy each others company away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A Girls Planned getaway is the perfect time to catch up with each other, and rediscover the bond that created your friendship in the first place.

There are many experiences that you can choose from when searching for a perfect Girlfriend Getaway, but first you should ask yourselves what type of an adventure are you looking for:

Relaxing by a pool
Spa going
Wine-tasting
Shopping
Outdoor Adventure and exploring
Yoga Retreats
Cocktail Celebrations

The bond between women plays an important role in your physical and mental health. When you can spend a lot of time with your girlfriends, your happiness levels will soar. Take time to laugh together, try something new, and enjoy your friendship, there are endless choices for that long awaited getaway with your girlfriends. So grab the girls and pick a date! Friends are nurturing and feed our soul, leaving us energized and inspired to take on the world.

Did you know that July 30 is International Friendship Day, a time to recognize your friends and their contribution to your life. Friends come in many different shapes, sizes and guises: school friends, work colleagues, siblings, partners, parents, pets and neighbours. Pull out all the stops and let your friends know they are truly appreciated on International Friendship Day!

The Old Mill Toronto celebrates friendship with The Girls Great Escape.  This unique weekend exposes you and your girlfriends to unique workshops, wonderful food, wine tastings, Luxury room accommodations and spa services. Every Escape is different from the next and many of the girls come back to try out new experiences.

If a getaway is not in the cards for you at this time, why not spend time with the girls at home. Catch up over some take out, enjoy the beverage of choice and watch a good friendship movie like; Fried Green Tomatoes, First Wives Club, An officer and a Gentleman and of course Beaches with Bette Midler…make sure to have a kleenex on hand though when she sings Wind Beneath My Wings!

The best of friends can change a frown into a smile when you feel down. The best of friends will understand your little trials and lend a hand.  The best of friends will always share your secret dreams because they care.  The best of friends are worth more then gold, they give all the love a heart can hold.

When is the last time you had a getaway with just your girlfriends?



Why Do We Celebrate Thanksgiving?

 

For some of us Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to celebrate a long weekend, usually eating delicious food consisting of Turkey, with family & Friends.  But let’s explore the real meaning behind Thanksgiving.

Let’s take a trip back to 1621 Plymouth Massachusetts. After the harvest crops were gathered Govenor William Bradford announced a meeting on the hill for all pilgrims to listen to the pastor render Thanksgiving to God for all “his blessings” and to give thanks to Squanto and the Native Americans for teaching them how to do things and live life in different ways.

You might think that after 1621 the Pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving every year and that it just became a national holiday. Well, that’s not the way  it happened. It wasn’t until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving an annual National Holiday.

Canadian Thanksgiving is more closely connected to the traditions of Europe than of the United States.  The very first celebration in Canada was in 1578 when Martin Frobisher an explorer from England arrived in Newfoundland. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World, peace and good harvest. That means the 1st Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth Massachusetts.

For a few hundred years, thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November but it was declared a National Holiday in 1879, originally on November 6th, but after the World Wars it was moved to the second Monday in October because it kept conflicting with Remembrance day.

Another reason for Canadian Thanksgiving arriving earlier than its American counterpart is that Canada is geographically further north than the United States, causing the Canadian harvest season to arrive earlier than the American harvest season. And since Thanksgiving for Canadians is more about giving thanks for the harvest season than the arrival of pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate the holiday in October. Other than the date there is not much difference in our celebrations, we both celebrate Thanksgiving with parades, family gatherings, pumpkin pie and a whole lot of turkey.

What will you be doing to celebrate Thanksgiving this year?



Penne Alla Vodka Recipe

Penne Alla Vodka

One of the most mouth watering Penne a la Vodka’s you will try and it’s made right in your kitchen. Each bite oozes deliciousness.

 

1 lb (500 g)             Penne Pasta         (about 6 cups) 

4 tbsp                     Butter

1/4 lb (126 g)          Pancetta   (you can also use lean smoked bacon)

4                            Garlic cloves minced

1/2 tsp.                  Nutmeg

1/2 tsp.                  Cayenne pepper or a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

3/4 lb (375 g)         Ripe tomatoes peeled & diced (approx. 2 – 3 large)

** You can use peeled 28 oz canned tomatoes when fresh tomatoes aren’t in season**  

1/4 cup                  Vodka                  

1/2 cup                  Whipping cream

Salt & Pepper to taste - 

1/2 cup                  Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese  

Directions - 

1.      Boil water for pasta

2.      Melt butter in skillet.  Add pancetta or bacon, garlic, nutmeg, cayenne pepper                     tomatoes & vodka.  Cook until vodka absorbed.           

3.      Cook pasta in boiling water until just tender. approx. 8 – 10 min.  Drain.

4.      Stir in cream.  Season with salt & pepper.  Cook until sauce thick and creamy, stirring          from time to time.  Toss with penne.

5.      Sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano cheese.  Garnish with fresh basil or parsley.  

 Enjoy!

Makes 6 servings.  

 



How To Choose The Right Wedding Photographer

Choosing the right wedding photographer can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you ask the right questions to get the best fit for you.

We spoke with Toronto based wedding photographer Ian Liwanag from Photo & Co. to get his perspective on what couples should be asking, in order to choose the right photographer that will give them a lifetime of memories to cherish.

How long have you been a wedding photographer?
Experience speaks volumes, but what should be of real value is the photographers ability to manage potentially stressful situations. You need a connection with your photographer that allows you to feel comfortable and trusting, so make sure you enjoy being around each other and you trust them to capture your special day. It’s very important to have a mutual understanding of expectations.

How many hours do we have you for or do you provide special packages?
It’s always best to let the photographer know exactly what your needs and expectations are. Some of my clients ask me to capture their whole story from start to finish, from getting ready, to the ceremony, to the venue itself, with all the flowers and decor and of course dancing. While other clients simply want basic coverage of their ceremony with family and friends. 

Can we see your portfolio of past work?
Every professional photographer has a different eye, their work is very subjective and you need to look at their work to determine if their creative approach matches your artistic integrity. It doesn’t matter how recommended they are to you, if your not loving their style you wont love your photos.

Are the photos edited for touch ups?
Basic colour correction like taking care of brightness, contrast, levelling photos should all be included in the post edit. 

How long will it take to get our images back?
An acceptable turn around time is typically 2 months.

A professional photographer will be able to cover all the technical aspects of your wedding day photography, i.e. lighting issues, composition of your photos, attention to detail, there is no “do over” on your wedding day, it’s always best to hire a professional photographer and not “Uncle Bob”.