April 25, 2012

My Birthday Weekend

Breakfast pizza and homefries
Yesterday, my twin sister Genevieve and I celebrated our birthday together, though I'd been stretching out my birthday celebrations for a few days before that! Our birthday involved so much delicious food (and food-related gifts) that I thought it would be a shame not to share it all with you.  Hope you enjoy!

The celebrations began with breakfast Saturday morning at a cute little restaurant/variety store in London, Ontario called the Bag Lady Variety.  I'm stretching things a little by saying this was part of our birthday events because it was more to celebrate finishing classes (yay!), but I loved it there so much that I wanted to include it in this post!  I had a very hard time deciding between "the mojo", which was two pieces of cinnamon french toast sandwiched with peanut butter, banana, and honey, or the breakfast pizza, which was topped with sundried tomato pesto, spinach, mozzarella, peppers, onion, and scrambled eggs.  As you can see from the picture above, I chose the latter, and it was amazing!  Gen ordered the mojo and was kind enough to share a few bites with me, and it was pretty incredible too.  I'm going to have to remember that combination the next time I need to impress someone with breakfast at home!

The best part was looking around at all the interesting odds and ends in every corner of the restaurant - see pictures below for a few examples.  If you're ever in London, you should definitely give this place a try, I hear they have great lunches too!

Bag lady cafe

On Saturday night, I enjoyed a nice dinner out with Ryan to an Italian restaurant called Abruzzi as another early birthday celebration.  We don't go out to eat too often, so it was such a treat to be served such beautiful food!  For my appetizer, I ordered an arugula salad with honey roasted pear, candied hazelnuts, and fried brie with a maple cider vinaigrette.  I've never even heard of fried brie before, but oh my goodness, that stuff should be banned - it's dangerously good!

Pear and arugula salad

For my main course, I ordered one of the few vegetarian items on the menu (I'm not a vegetarian but there aren't a lot of meats that I like), which was a pizza with artichokes, olives, tomatoes, mozzarella, and house-made ricotta.  It arrived piping hot and smothered in cheese, which is exactly how I love my pizza.  I couldn't finish it all but it was really good!  Ryan ordered a wild B.C. halibut with ricotta gnocchi and a basil pesto - I was a little jealous of his choice because it looked even better than mine!

artichoke, olive, and tomato pizza

We spent Sunday laying around being lazy (which was wonderful), then on Monday I had to take care of a lot of schoolwork, errands, and grocery shopping for our birthday dinners and cake!

The morning of my birthday (Tuesday), Ryan took me to Cora for breakfast, where I enjoyed a big plate of crepes, french toast and fresh fruit covered in maple syrup.  Yum!

breakfast at Cora

In the afternoon we went to see The Hunger Games, which made my day - it was amazing!  I've only read the first book so far but got the other two for my birthday so I cannot wait to read them!

I spent the evening relaxing with some prosecco and enjoying spending some time with my family.  For our birthday dinner, our parents always let us choose whatever meal we want and they do all the cooking (and cleaning up!)  Gen and I requested different main dishes this year - she chose (and made) a beet and goat cheese flatbread topped with arugula.  You can see it in the background of the picture below, but she also has a closer picture of it on her blog, Vanilla & Spice.


For my main dish, I chose a chicken cheesesteak sandwich that I'd seen on Confections of a Foodie Bride.  I always think that Philly cheesesteaks sound so good, but I don't like steak so I've never actually tried one.  A chicken cheesesteak is much more my style, and my parents did an amazing job of preparing it!  They also made some delicious sweet potato fries and a strawberry and almond salad that we all shared.  Everything tasted amazing - thanks Mom and Dad!!  I highly recommend the chicken cheesesteak recipe - go get it here!

chicken cheesesteaks for dinner

As usual, my family spoiled me with wonderful gifts, and I thought I'd share some of the food-related ones here (actually, the majority of my  presents were food-related - they know me well!)  Below are some of the books I received:
  • An issue of Clean Eating, which I haven't read before but a quick flip through revealed quite a few recipes I'll want to try,
  • A special issue of Vegetarian Times with menus from a ton of different countries - I asked for this after checking it out at a Chapters and wanting to make every recipe in it!
  • The cookbook Healthy Starts Here, which is another one I hadn't heard of but it gets amazing reviews so I'm excited to read it,
  • Food Blogging for Dummies, which looks like it will be a great tool to help me improve my blogging skills (though I wish I'd received it before I started this blog!)

I also received some great food products, pictured below:
  • A set of measuring spoons from my sister, because I'm always complaining that we don't have enough
  • A bottle of ice cider, which I cannot wait to try
  • A vegetable steamer, because believe it or not I didn't own one before!
  • A chip making kit for the microwave! I'm pretty excited to try this one - it comes with a mandoline and special tray for slicing and cooking potato chips, or even sweet potato, carrot, apple, pear, or mango chips!
  • A Silpat baking mat - I've wanted one of these for so long after hearing so many bloggers rave about it, so I can't wait to use it and start saving on parchment paper!

Gen and I love making our own birthday cakes, and even though it means that our family has to eat a ton of cake, we each make separate ones because we each love choosing, designing, baking, and decorating our own cakes!

Gen made a vegan pina colada cake, which was so good!  I admit I was skeptical about it at first because it didn't contain any dairy, but one taste and I was proven wrong - you would never tell it's vegan!  She'll be posting the recipe on her blog in a couple of days, so be sure to check back at Vanilla & Spice for the recipe.  In the meantime, you can read her recap of her birthday here!

For my own cake, I chose a banana layer cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting on the inside and whipped cream cheese frosting on the outside.  It definitely deserves its own post because it was so good, so be sure to check back here in a couple days when I'll be posting the recipe and lots more pictures!  For now, here's a little tease:

I had an amazing weekend and am so thankful for all the wonderful people in my life who helped make it so special.  I realize I said 'amazing' or 'wonderful' or 'great' in pretty much every sentence of this post, but I couldn't help it, it was!  I'm one lucky girl :)


  1. Your dedication to this blog inspires me. To say the least, it also makes me very hungry =P. 

  2. I loved reading your recap, since I never got to see your meals at Abruzzi or Cora's! I was happy to share the day and meal with you, and
    I'm glad you liked my cake too!  And maybe you'll let me borrow your silpat sometime ;)

  3. Happy belated birthday to you and your sister!!! And what a great celebration you girls had!!!! It's really nice to see people enjoying food so much.

    Tanti auguri!

  4. What a delicious birthday weekend! Your cake looks spectacular, I can't wait to read more about it!

  5. Wow, what an amazing birthday!  I'm glad that you and your sister had such a wonderful week of celebrating.

  6. I'd love your recap of your bday week. That is a blast! You deserve every sweet treat and every savoury dish. Cheers!

  7. Happy birthday lovely!!  OMG that pizza looks awesome...you definitely celebrated right.  I had no idea you were a twin! Love that it means you get double the cake...one for each of you!

  8.  Thank you so much, it makes me so happy to hear that!

  9. Maybe if you let me try some of the cool things you got!

  10.  Thank you so much, Liana!  We are a food-loving family for sure!

  11.  Thanks, Alana!   I haven't found time to post it yet but will do so ASAP!

  12. Thanks Joanne!   I love having two cakes but my family who I'm constantly force-feeding desserts to doesn't like it so much haha

  13. Happy late birthday! Looks like a lot of great eats!


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