DIY Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Olive Garden Salad Dressing Recipe

We don’t visit the Olive Garden very often, but when we do, I make sure to load up on their salad and breadsticks.  I honestly could drink their salad dressing straight from the bottle – it’s so good! I’ve been trying for years to dupe their dressing recipe and never really been successful.  Until now!  I found this recipe on and thought I’d give it a try.  It was close, but I made a few small modifications and I personally think this as close as I’m going to get to the real thing.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup Canola Oil
  • 1 tablespoon White Wine Vinegar (or Cider Vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon of White Vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of Mayonaise
  • 1 tablespoons of Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Pepperonicini juice
  • 2 tablespoons of Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Garlic Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning

Combine ingredients into a blender, or a salad dressing shaker and mix until fully blended.  I personally use this salad dressing shaker and I love it because I can just throw all the ingredients in and give it a good shake, and I’m good to go.

I like to double the recipe and I find that the dressing lasts me a week of salads for lunch; I tend to keep it simple for myself, but if I was making it for a group and I wanted an authentic Olive Garden salad experience, I’d pour this over a mix of iceberg and romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pepperoncini peppers, black olives, red onion, matchstick carrots, chopped purple cabbage, and croutons.  Top with freshly shredded Romano cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.  And maybe add some warm breadsticks too…;)

Adapted from  

Enjoy! 🙂

Saturday Cocktail – Cherry Limeade

Cherry Limeade Cocktail

Happy Saturday!

What’s a weekend without a cocktail or two?  Not much if you ask me! 😉  Today I’m sharing my version of one of my favourite drinks from the Yard House.  Unfortunately here in Canada we don’t have any Yard House locations…actually perhaps that’s a good thing because I would eat and drink there way too often.  If you ever visit them I’d highly recommend their Queso Dip – it’s pretty much the most amazing thing ever.

Another one of my favourite items on their menu are their Cherry Limeades.  I discovered them last year at their Vegas location and I was hooked. It’s the perfect drink for summer…or anytime really.  So I thought I’d try to make them at home for the time when I really feel like one and can’t make it to a Yard House location hundreds of miles away.

According to they menu, the cherry limeade contains Cruzan Black Cherry Rum, Amaretto Disaronno, citrus agave, fresh lime, and a sugared rim.

Cherry Limeade Cocktail

Here’s the recipe for my at-home version:

1 Shot Bacardi Torched Cherry Rum
1 Shot Disaronno Amaretto
Splash of Rose’s Grenadine
Minute Maid Simply Limeade
Fresh lime

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with the desired amount of ice.  Shake it like a polaroid picture (sorry, couldn’t help it).  Pour into a short glass.  Top with limeade. Squeeze in fresh lime juice and garnish with a slice of lime.  Enjoy.

Adjust the sweetness to your liking using more or less grenadine.  Adjust the tartness with the fresh lime juice.  You can also add salt to the rim but I was being lazy and didn’t feel like bothering with that step.


Where’s your favourite cocktail?  Let me know below!

Have a great weekend!

Valentine’s Day Essentials

Valentine's Day Gift Guide 2016

So what are everyone’s thoughts on Valentine’s Day?  People seem to have some very strong feelings about it.  Like they hate it because it’s a highly commercialized, Hallmark holiday and technically you should be showing your loved ones how much you care about them, more than once a year.  I can understand that.  And then there’s those that love it and go all out and get the flowers, chocolates, candlelight dinner, teddy bears, etc.  I get that too because it’s kind of fun.

Personally I’m a little indifferent to it.  D and I have been together for a long time and there’s been years where we buy each other expensive gifts and go for an expensive meal and others where we do absolutely nothing.  I tend to like something that’s somewhere in between.  This year I think we’re going to keep it simple and just go for a nice meal on Friday or Saturday, instead of Sunday, so we can avoid the crowds, higher prices and fixed menus.  And we’ll probably skip the gifts this year.

Despite that, I thought I’d put together a collection of my favourite Valentine’s Day things, in case you needed some inspiration for the big Day:

  1. Grower Direct Vibrant Dreams Arrangement:  I love getting flowers any time of year, and I don’t depend on D to buy them for me – I’ll happily buy them for myself!  I love this arrangement – classic V-day colours but a little more understated than a dozen red roses.
  2.  Pier One Pink Champagne Ombre Filled Candle: Could there be a more perfect Valentine’s Day candle?  With notes of grapefruit, citrus and strawberry you really can’t go wrong (not to mention the beautiful ombre jar).  Plus let’s be honest, real champagne is over-rated.
  3. Nova 7 Benjamin Bridge Wine: Wine wouldn’t be my drink of choice…unless it’s this one.  This is my favourite wine ever – it’s sweet, sparkling but not at all dry.  And it’s from Nova Scotia!  #whoknew
  4. Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Lipstick (Firebird): No better day to break out a bright and bold fuchsia or red lip!
  5. Purdy’s Cinnamon Hearts:  Whenever I see these hit the stores, I am instantly reminded of my childhood dog (RIP Twinkle) who ate an entire bowl of these in one sitting.  She was home alone and we had left a bowl on the end table.  We came home and they were gone.  Still makes me giggle to think about it.
  6. Kate Spade ‘One in a Million’ Initial Pendant Necklace: Okay I know I have a bit of a Kate Spade problem but I’ve been eyeing these for years.  I think they’d make a really great gift, especially for V-Day!
  7. Cookies by George Junior Cookie Box: Have you ever had a Cookies by George cookie?  If not, you’re missing out (highly recommend the M&M ones)!  These little boxes make great gifts for anyone and they deliver all throughout Canada and the US!
  8. Remy Olivier Cast Iron Fondue Set: If you’re planning on hanging out at home, may I suggest a fondue party for 2?  We fondued on NYE and it was really fun (and delicious!) and it was nice to do something a little different!
  9. Tokoyo Milk Tainted Love No. 62:  I have a mini bottle of this from a set I bought on Black Friday from Sephora and I think it makes a great V-day fragrance – warm, a little mysterious and a little musky.
  10. PS, I Love You:  I can’t remember how many times I’ve watched this movie, nor read the book.  It’s a tear-jerker, comedy and romance all mixed into one.  If you’re looking for something along those lines to read, I’d recommend this (it’s usually on tv at least once a weekend as well 😉 )
  11. Brooklyn Brew Shop Home Brew Kit: I hate buying D presents, he’s always disappointed in whatever I get him.  He’s definitely not into the sappy gift thing so beer is a safe bet, even if he does have to make it himself.
  12. Ricki’s Heart Intarsia Pullover: I’m a bit of a geek and like to wear holiday-themed things, whether it be jewelry or clothing on holidays.  I like that I could wear this sweater after Valentine’s Day as well.
  13. Purdy’s Peanut Butter Hearts: Valentine’s Day 101: Chocolate.  Add peanut butter and you’re golden.
  14. OPI’s Hello Kitty Collection Nail Polishes (Small + Cute = ❤Charmmy & Sugar):  I picked up a few of these polishes from the Hello Kitty collection a few weeks ago and these two are my favourite and couldn’t be more perfect for Valentine’s Day.  I like using Charmmy & Sugar for an accent nail.

Thanks for reading!


This & That Fridays – January 15


Happy Friday!  I hope you had a great week.  Mine was….long.  I was off sick last week and the week before that I was off/working from home so this was the first full week I’ve worked in a little under a month.  On top of that, I’m still not feeling great – this flu/virus/whatever it is, really likes me and doesn’t want to leave.  It’s starting to get really frustrating so I’m hoping that by next week I’m back to normal.

Have you seen OPI‘s new Hello Kitty collection?  I’m not a Hello Kitty fan myself but I will be hunting these down!  I definitely want Look at My Bow, Spoken from the Heart, and Charmmy & Sugar and Small + Cute = ❤.  Lots of pinks and surprisingly I don’t own many pink polishes.  These is the perfect Valentine’s Day collection!

Did you heard about the EOS lip balm controversy?  Someone filed a class action lawsuit against the company claiming their lip balms caused such bad irritation around her lips that she required medical attention.  Normally I’d roll my eyes when I see something like this because it just comes across as a cash grab.  But I’ve actually had a similar (albeit lesser) reaction to their lip balms.  However I just stopped using them and it went away….not sure why this wasn’t an option here.  And if I were to sue a company every time I had an allergic reaction to one of their products – let’s just say I’d be pretty rich.  Or in debt up to my ears in legal fees.

I’ve recently discovered my new favourite design tool for my blog – Canva!  I’m using it to design a new header, because I used PicMonkey to design my current one and it’s always been blurry, no matter if I size it to the proper specifications or not.  There’s so much you can do with Canva that is completely free – and you can pay for the extras as you go (if you want them).  I still really like PicMonkey for photo editing but I’m excited to see what I can do with Canva!

Who was your best dressed at the Golden Globes?  I’ll be honest, I rarely watch the actual award shows and lately, not even the Red Carpet Shows (I find the questions so stupid, pointless and awkward) so I keep an eye on sites like People and US to see what everyone is wearing.  I think my favourite overall was Amy Adams.

I made the Fox & She’s Get Better Chicken Noodle Soup recipe last weekend and it was really good.  I made a few modifications: I added 3 cloves of garlic, omitted the onion (I thought I had one in the house and I didn’t) and topped it with freshly shaved Parmesan Reggiano.  Oh I and I just used up a rotisserie chicken that we had for dinner the night before (which worked really well!).  I’m kind of soup-ed out for the time being, but next up I’d like to try making an Italian Wedding Soup.

Alright well after a wild and crazy Friday night, I’m headed to bed early and I couldn’t be more excited about it.  Have a great weekend!


Christmas Baking Menu


Image source: (L-R): Snack Source; Canadian Living; Food Network

Happy first day of December! Christmas is coming way too fast for me, I don’t feel prepared at all.  I thought I’d start the month off with a little something different and fun…and delicious – my holiday baking menu! I always like to do a bit of baking when the holidays make their way around. However I’ve learned the hard way not to overdo it – otherwise in January I’m left with a freezer full of treats to tempt me while I’m trying to scarf down a salad.

There are a few things that I consistently make every year though. And I also like to try out a one or two new recipes as well. First up:

Chunky Toberlone Shortbread

I’ve made these for years and I like them because they are something a little different than just regular shortbread.  Plus they are super easy! The most strenuous part of this is chopping up the Toberlone. I prefer to do it by hand to ensure the pieces are a little more even but a mini chopper works too.

Tip – ensure you use superfine sugar as mentioned (or follow the directions to grind regular sugar more finely) – it makes a difference!

Cherry Cheesecake Squares

This is one of the treats I look forward to most every year – because who doesn’t love cheesecake? Plus, if I’m going to order dessert, I rarely pick cheesecake because it’s usually so rich and filing that I can’t fit it in after a meal. But these are cut in to smaller squares so you can still get your cheesecake fix in, but in a smaller portion.

Enough of my attempts to justify eating cheesecake! I wasn’t able to track down my exact recipe, but the one noted above is similar to it. The only difference is I add a teaspoon of lemon zest in lieu of lemon juice to the cream cheese mixture. And I use plain old cherry pie filing from the can (although the homemade version sounds delish!)

Tip – I use light cream cheese just to save a bit on calories (I don’t find it affects the richness or creaminess at all).

This year I’m going to give these two a try:

Three Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Three ingredient chocolate peanut butter cups? Enough said.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprint Cookies

Have you ever tried one of Starbucks Caramel Pretzel Sticks? They are really, really good and I feel like this may be a good cookie version of those.

I’ll make sure to post an update on how the last two turned out – I’m super excited to try them out! Do you do any holiday baking?  Let me know below!

Thanks for reading!


This & That Fridays – November 27


Happy Black Friday all!  I hope those in the US enjoyed Thanksgiving with your famillies and friends and those in Canada enjoyed a regular Thursday.  And today I hope you’re successful in fighting the masses at the Black Friday sales!

I bought these Lucky Brand boots a few weeks ago and I looooovve them!  I ended up exchanging the Marc Fisher ones I bought a month ago as they just weren’t me.  These ones though – I wear them with everything and anything.

This is seriously the best salsa ever.  I discovered it a few years ago at a local craft fair and I ordered a case of it.  I can literally eat an entire jar in one sitting.

Need some budget-friendly and homemade gift ideas?  This list of 30 days of edible gifts has some seriously delicious inspiration, such as chocolate-covered bacon (yes please!).

I’ve discovered my new favourite, go-to t-shirt!  Lightweight, soft and a relaxed fit while still figure-flattering.  And currently 50% off!  Thank you Gap!

Do you follow The Small Things Blog?  I discovered her years ago and I’ve been a loyal follower ever since.  I really like this recent hair tutorial she did. She always makes them look so easy but I might actually give this one a try for those rare days when I skip my contacts.

I wish you a wonderful weekend!


This & That Fridays – October 30


Well here we are again, another week complete!  Hopefully yours was a good one!

So tomorrow is Halloween!  Do you hand out candy?  I do and it’s one of the things I look forward to all year.  We only get around 20-30 kids but I love seeing all the costumes.  Plus I dress my dog up and she loves hearing the doorbell ring and greeting the kids at the door.  Anyway if you’re looking for some last minute costume ideas, this Real Simple article has some clever (and groan-worthy) options for you.

Are you a fan of the Hunger Games?  The trailer for Mockingjay: Part 2, which is the final installment in the series, is out.  I don’t go and see many movies in the theaters but this is going to be one of them.  So stoked!

I got a new iPhone last weekend and now I’m on the search for a case.  I want something cute, yet functional and not too chunky.  I kind of like the looks of this clear glittery one and I REALLY like this Ted Baker folio version.  This gold floral lace option is intriguing too!

I have a bunch of chocolate chips in my pantry that I need to use before they expire so I might whip up a batch of these.  Two words: Peanut butter.  Chocolate.   Thank you Pioneer Woman!  (My waist line does not thank you).

So we’ve had some chilly, very Fall-like, almost Wintery weather here this week which was a bit of a shock for me.  And I’ve realized it is now officially back to being tight and nylon season.  I wear a lot of skirts and dresses to work and as much as I hate wearing them, they are necessity.  What are your favorites?  Hue makes my favorite tights but nylons are a different story.  Just this week for instance – I brought a brand new pair, had them on for all of 2 hours and managed to rip a hole in the knee.  I PAID $15 FOR THEM!  Yes I know that’s my own fault but they were really good ones.  But obviously not that good if I ruined them 2 hours in. Anyway I’ve learned my lesson, I’m not doing that again.  Joe Fresh makes some decent ones for not a bad price so I might have to stop in there this weekend.  But if you have a good nylon recommendation help a girl out and share please!

Lastly, after reading fellow blogger Stash Matters’ post on Essie’s Cashmere Matte nail polish collection, I fell in love with the shade Coat Couture.  Despite her less than glowing review on the formula, I decided I needed this in my life. I gave myself a manicure Sunday night and let me just say, this is going straight into the garbage!  My nails were chipping like crazy by Monday afternoon, and not just small chips – it was literally coming off in large strips!  I removed and re-applied some of the nails with bigger chips on Monday night and by Tuesday afternoon it was the same thing.  So disappointing as this is such a beautiful and unique colour.  No patience for this one!

And that’s it for this week!  Have a wonderful weekend and a spooktacular Halloween!

Thanks for reading!


This & That Fridays – October 23


picmonkey_image-33It’s finally Friday.  Thank goodness.  I feel like this was the longest week ever and it was just so busy.  I was supposed to put 3 posts up this week but I only got to 2 but I’m not going to beat myself up about it, because it’s better than last weeks 1!  #smallwins

So, I’m going to start off this post with food.  Specifically ice cream.  I had this Presidents Choice Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream last weekend and I was in heaven.    If you’re not totally sick of pumpkin flavoured things yet, I recommend you immediately make your way to a Superstore or Loblaws or whatever and get some.  Quite possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten.   It has graham cracker pieces in it people!

The minute this poodle sweater from RW & Co. goes on sale (and it will go on sale!), it will be mine!  I picture it going great with these distressed jeans I picked up there last weekend.

Have you heard of Benefit’s Brow Genie?  You upload a photo and it custom maps your eyebrows to show you the best shape for your face.  Cool idea, but I have no idea if it actually works.  Might have to give it a try this weekend because brows are not my area of expertise by any means.

I wanted to try Milani’s Baked Brush in Luminoso but the only place that I know of that sells it here (Superstore) was sold out.  I ended up with Bella Rosa and holy cow is this a pigmented blush!  Like all’s I need do is tap the tip of a fluffy brush in it every so slightly and I can do one whole cheek with it, sometimes both!  This is a really intense berry pink and I own nothing like it so I’m kind of glad Luminoso was sold out now!  Delizioso Pink and and Dolce Pink are my list to try next.

I’m hoping to catch up on some Halloween programming this weekend; here’s a list of what ABC has on tap.  Frankenweenie and Sleepy Hallow are my favorites.  What are yours?

Wishing you a fantastic weekend!


This & That Sunday – Thanksgiving Edition!

picmonkey_image (2)

I’m doing something a little different this week – instead of my This & That Friday post, I decided to bump it to Sunday because here in Canada, it’s our Thanksgiving weekend!  In the spirit of the holiday, I’ve themed my post around the things that I am thankful for.  First up, the important things:

  • Family.  I’m really looking forward to sharing turkey and gravy, pumpkin pie and good wine with them and just spending time with them period.  I feel very grateful to have a wonderful husband, supportive parents, and devoted furball in my life.
  • Good friends.  A co-worker of mine who has also became one of my closest friends is moving back to her hometown this weekend and I’m so sad to see her go.  Heading back to work Tuesday is going to be tough without her there but I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to not only work with her but to have gained a lifelong friendship.
  • The basics.  A roof over my head, food to eat and a job that makes those both possible.  My heart always hurts for those without these – circumstances can change so quickly and you never know when you might end up in a similar situation. It’s so important to be grateful for all that we have.
  • My blog and my readers!  I’m so glad I decided to start blogging – I’ve learned so many things and as much work as it is, I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I’ve completed a post!  And thank you to all my readers – thanks for following me, reading my posts, liking them and commenting on them!  It really brightens my day to know when someone enjoys or likes what I’ve written!  🙂

Now, on to the superficial stuff:

I’m thankful for having a new series to binge-watch on weekends!  D and I started watching Boardwalk Empire about a month ago and we got through a bunch of episodes last weekend and we’re both hooked.  It’s an HBO show so expect no shortage of violence, crude language and nudity but we’re hooked.  Steve Buscemi is fantastic in this!

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I picked up these leggings at Costco about a month ago and I finally tried them out last week.  I paid $12.99 for a pack of 2 and I’m loving them – they’re fleece lined so they’re going to be nice and warm for winter dog walks.  But that also makes them super comfy for lounging around the house in.  So far, no pilling either.  Note: These run slightly big, I’d normally be a medium in any other legging but I’m a small in these.  So I’m thankful for Costco and their awesome deals!

Have I mentioned that Halloween is fast approaching?  It’s only my favorite holiday of the entire year.  And I’m one of those crazy people who dresses my dog up in a costume.  She goes to doggy daycare once a week and they actually throw a Halloween party for all the dogs and have a costume contest. #dontjudge  Last year she was a cowgirl and she won first prize!  I’m trying to figure out how to top last years costume…Party City has some absolutely hilarious options, including Dorothy, Bettlejuice, or a T-Rex.  She’d never let me put any of those on her but just looking at them makes me giggle!  So thankful for ridiculous doggy Halloween costumes!

If you’re wanting something different for your Thanksgiving dessert or just a dessert in general, may I recommend this Blueberry Crumble recipe?  I made this multiple times throughout the summer and it was delish!  Crumble recipes scream fall to me and although blueberry season is pretty much over, I was still able to find fresh ones at my grocery store last week.  Very thankful for homemade desserts!

And that’s it for this week.  For all of my Canadian readers, have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!  I hope you get to enjoy time with family and friends and eat lots of yummy food!  And to everyone else, just have a great weekend in general!

Thanks for reading!


Review: Bakers Krate – September 2015


Today I have a review of September’s Bakers Krate dessert subscription box!  In August Bakers Krate sent me one of their Sweet Express Boxes and I was thankful to receive the September box from them last week! I figured I might as well share my honest thoughts on the box as I did last time!

First off, a little bit about Bakers Krate.  They are a Canadian company based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba and their goal is to share Canada’s tastiest desserts with everyone, no matter what province they are in!  The Sweet Express Box is the only box that can be shipped across Canada and they have 2 other boxes that ship solely within Winnipeg (lucky them!).  The price for the Sweet Express box retails for $19.99 with an additional $9.99 for shipping.  Included in the box is 6 gourmet desserts.

So, on to this month’s box.  When I cracked this open I was happy to see that they had made some modifications to the packaging.  In the August box there were some dessert bars that had been tossed around a bit as a result of shipping and some of mine arrived a little squished or worse for wear.  This time they included bubble wrap and mini “air bags” around each of the desserts and that really seemed to help as they arrived in perfect condition.

Like last month, they included a card that described all the products included in the box:


And now the best part – the desserts!:


Coconut Macaroon – a deliciously sweet, moist, and chewy dessert with a crispy shredded coconut exterior.

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a macaroon prior to this?  I was a little apprehensive trying this because it just looked like it was going to taste like dried shredded coconut but I was pleasantly surprised.  This was moist and chewy, as per the description, and offered just the right amount of sweet.


Amaretti – This cookie originated in Venice, Italy.  it has a crisp and crunchy exterior with a soft interior.  The perfect texture for a cookie!

Again, I don’t think I’ve ever had an amaretti cookie or if I did, it was a long time ago and it was nothing memorable. But I really liked these!  I was expecting them to be hard and crunchy but they were soft and chewy, with a light almond flavor.  The icing sugar and almond on top were a nice touch.


Lemon Coconut Bar –   Similar to a drink you may have had on the beach.  A tangy lemon flavor combined with sweet coconut.

Lemon bars are a favorite of mine so I was intrigued to give this one a try, especially given that it had coconut in it.  The crust appears to be a thick shortbread topped with a basic lemon filing with coconut mixed in.  I thought this was good, although I found the crust a touch thick and I felt it needed a bit more lemon flavour. I’m a little picky with the way I like my lemon bars though!


Turtle Slice – Even those without sweet tooths can’t resist this delicious bar full of chocolate, caramel and walnuts.

The moment I saw this I knew I would have to save at least half for my husband who is a huge Turtles fan!  It looked delicious and it was.  Extremely decadent and rich, and one of those desserts that you need to wash down with a large class of milk.  Similar to the brownie in last month’s box, I feel like this would be even more delicious on top of some vanilla ice cream.


Dipped Biscotti – A peanut buttery flavoured biscotti dipped in creamy white chocolate that just melts in your mouth.

I’m not a big tea person and I don’t drink coffee so biscotti is something I rarely reach for.  But this one sounded really good….peanut butter and white chocolate?  Yes please.  These were fantastic dipped into my hot chocolate!

Overall while I enjoyed the desserts included in the August box, I felt these were superior.  There was something in this box that would suit everyone’s taste and the desserts just seemed to be of higher quality – like I couldn’t easily duplicate these at home!  Plus the improved packaging is a big win for me – if I were to send one of these as a gift I’d want to make sure that they arrive in their intended state so the addition of the bubble wrap and mini “air bags” put my mind at ease.

A big thanks to Bakers Krate for sending me the September box!  If you’d like more info on their subscription box, please visit their website.

Thanks for reading!