Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan Cocktail

2015 is just around the corner and I feel that the best way to say goodbye to the past and hello to the future is with a great cocktail. I fell in love with the cosmopolitan when Sex and the City was at its peak. Served in a chic martini glass, this is the type of drink I typically go for – a perfect mix of sweetness and tartness that I can slowly sip on. This recipe can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you are ready to serve which means less time in the kitchen and more time entertaining guests.

As with any recipe, I recommend using the best quality ingredients, it really does make a difference. Choose a mid- to high-range vodka, and as for the lime juice, none of that bottled crap. Fresh is always best. Same goes for the pomegranate juice, choose one that has no added sugar and just one ingredient – the pomegranate juice. Finally, I love adding a lime peel to get that beautiful contrast in colour and add an extra flavour boost. And there you have it, the perfect New Year’s Eve drink!

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan Cocktail

Pomegranate Cosmopolitan
Serves 6

2 cups good-quality vodka
1 cup Triple Sec
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
Lime peel strips to garnish

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1. Mix the vodka, Triple Sec, pomegranate juice and lime juice in a pitcher. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.

2. When ready to serve, add some of the mix to a shaker filled with ice and give it a few shakes.

3. Pour it in a chilled martini glass and garnish with lime peel.

Cheers!

[All photos are my own and not to be used without]

Wrap it up!

I’m one of the few people out there who really enjoys wrapping gifts. I love getting all of my paper, ribbons and ornaments, and having a moment with myself creating beautiful packages to give to others. I won’t lie, there’s often a glass of win involved to make it even more fun. Now, I realize how geeky that sounds, but I honestly love coming up with wrapping ideas. To me it feels like since the gift I am offering was purchased, the wrapping is the homemade part of the gift that makes it more personalized. Sound like something you want to do? Then take a look at these creative gift wrappings for the holidays.

Gift wrapping - Add a little green

The key is to forget everything you usually use as holiday wrapping. Get rid of the red glitter wrapping paper, the shiny paper bows and metallic plastic ribbon. Instead, reach for simple brown paper, a metallic marker and holiday ornaments (the dollar store is a great place to find these on the cheap) and start wrapping. Leave the wrapping paper as is or draw your own pattern. Then use the holiday ornaments as accents instead of the tacky bows we often see. The result: chic and simple holiday gifts that are as pretty to create as they are to receive!

Gift wrapping - garland

Gift wrapping - Hand drawn paper

Gift wrapping - Newspaper and bold letter name tags

Gift wrapping - Pinecones and spruce

Gift wrapping - Pinecones

Gift wrapping - Polka dots and bells

[Photo inspiration via Pinterest]

8 unique hostess gifts that aren’t boring

While it’s not a set rule that you need to come bearing gifts, offering the hostess a little something is a nice gesture to say thank you and show your appreciation. It’s also a great way to make someone smile! Here I share a few of my favourite hostess gifts to give (and to receive) during the holidays.

 Dyptique candles

Dyptique candles are one of those splurge gifts that people won’t necessarily treat themselves to. These have the most amazing scents to brighten the room. And with so many ways to use the jars afterwards, what’s not to love?

Kate Spade Camdon Pom Pom slippers

After a day of planning, cooking and running around, what hostess wouldn’t want to slip her feet into a cozy pair of slippers like these? I especially love the pink pom pom on these Kate Spade Camdon Pom Pom slippers.

Aesop body products

Another gift that most of us won’t bother to splurge on for ourselves. Aesop products are formulated with plant-based ingredients and the highest quality laboratory-made ingredients to create products with a high efficacy and the greatest antioxidant properties. And they smell amazing. I’m particularly smitten with the hand cream that has a soothing scent of lavender.

Jonathan Alder Tangiers Coaster Set

Raise a glass to this colourful set of coasters by Jonathan Adler. The pop of colour is perfect for any time of year. And let’s face it, you can’t go wrong with a gift from Jonathan Adler.

Chocolats Genevieve Grandbois

Chocolates are always a good idea. In Montreal, we have chocolate shops by Geneviève Grandbois and they are delicious! She offers a sweet selection of miniature chocolates as well as other decadent treats perfect for a hostess gift.

Garance Doré 2015 desk calendar

What better way to look forward to the new year than with a chic calendar. Leave it to the always stylish Garance Doré to create this beautifully sketched calendar that will have your hostess thinking of you all year.

Coach LOCK and key bangle set

The perfect accessory for ringing in the New Year. The Coach Lock and Key bangle set (available in three colours) adds just the right amount of sparkle with its Swarovski encrusted lock.

Kate Spade JULES POINT BOTTLE STOPPER

Fashionable and functional, these glass wine stoppers by Kate Spade are sure to be a hit. I love how the playful shapes add just the right touch of colour to any table.

Spiced Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Spiced butternut squash soup

As soon as the temperatures drop, I’m all about the comfort foods. More specifically, I love the soothing warmth of soups and stews. There’s just something about the rich, creamy and sometimes hearty textures of these foods that is like a warm hug in your tummy. This particular soup comes from one of my favourite chefs, Candice Kumai. When it comes to food, her and I share the same philosophy which is eat foods with benefits. Why wait until the New Year to adopt such a delicious philosophy?

This butternut squash soup is so easy to whip up. A drop of maple syrup and a few pinches of pumpkin spice add so much depth to the flavours. And the heavy cream is swapped for Greek yogurt and almond milk for a boost of protein without the added fat and calories. But don’t worry, nor your tastebuds or anyone else will be able to tell the difference.

Spiced butternut squash soup

Spiced butternut squash soup

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted from Candice Kumai
Serves 4

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 lbs butternut squash, peeled, halved and chopped into cubes
2 apples (I used Gala), coarsely chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice + more for garnish
Nonfat Greek yogurt, for garnish

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1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add the squash and apple, and cook until golden brown stirring regularly, about 15 minutes.

2. Add 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until the apples and squash are tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Transfer the soup to a blender in batches. Don’t fill your blender more than 3/4 of the way up and make sure to leave the top slightly open to let steam escape. Otherwise, the steam will literally blow the top off. Add 1/4 cup of the almond milk, the maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Pulse a few times to release the heat, then blend until smooth. Pour into a clean saucepan and repeat with the remaining soup and almond milk until it has all been blended. If your soup seems thick, add the rest of the chicken broth.

4. Heat the soup over medium heat until warm. Serve topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a pinch of pumpkin pie spice. It’s also a great side to a apple walnut Gruyère grilled cheese.

Bon appétit!

[All photos are my own and not to be used without permission]