Saturday, 31 December 2011

Breaking Bread

On New Year's Eve I am a fan of staying at home and steering clear of expensive parties, hard to get taxis, and high heels. 

It's going to the same old bar tomorrow night, but without the $100 entrance fee. 

Who wants to stand in cold rain in the middle of the night hoping that a taxi stops to pick you up? 

And well, maybe I will wear my heels at home because they make my legs look more toned and I can always take them off if they get uncomfortable. 

Plus, there are no lines for drinks at my house and there's always plenty of food. I am going to have bubbly wine, smoked salmon, cheese, veggies and dip, chicken wings, and lots of other easy as pie snacks throughout the night. 

And then for later, I have made some amazing buns for a midnight meal of leftover holiday ham sandwiches. I know I'll be hungry for late night snacks and I am planning ahead because they aren't aren't going to be any local deliveries happening at midnight!

Keep reading to find out how to make your own Sweet Potato Buns. If you start now, there should be enough time for the buns to rise nicely.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Skinny Dipping

Veggies are so healthy and fill me up really well, but sometimes I just get really sick of them and need something to dip them into. The problem with store bought dips is that they're usually fattening. Did you know you might be better off ordering a hamburger opposed to a salad at some fast food restaurants because of the dressing? 

But homemade dips can be really healthy and tasty. Plus, the simple hummus (as you've already seen in my posts about regular hummus and spinach hummus) can be twisted into so many creations. 

Here's another yummy version of hummus. This one stays creamier after it's refrigerated and it incorporates any leftover holiday sweet potatoes that may still be cluttering up your fridge too!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Be Merry, Berry, and Bright

Christmas may be over, but it's still a holiday today so enjoy it! Eat, drink, be berry berry merry.

And if you haven't eaten breakfast yet, try this yummy French toast with blackberry syrup.

I was so caught up in making sure I had all the veggies I could need for Christmas dinner that I forgot all about making sure I had enough fixings for some holiday breakfasts. I had my French toast in a frying before I even sniffed around my fridge for maple syrup. And of course there was none inside.

Luckily my freezer is stuffed full of local blackberries and after making this breakfast, I might just "forget" to buy maple syrup again!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Treats for Santa

I know what Santa ate at my house last night, it's always the same thing. Gingerbread cookies!

My family bakes gingerbread cookies together every Christmas Eve and then throughout the day we gather in the kitchen to decorate and taste our creations. 

We use a straw and poke holes in the heads of some the cookies before they're baked, so that they can hang from the tree. And everyone has to make a gingerbread man the resembles themselves in some way. 

Keep reading to see what my family made my cookie look like this year because I'm not home this Christmas. And also keep reading to see how I make my cookies.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

A Slice of Torture

Waiting for Santa to arrive is a little bit like torture, but I am talking about what I had for dinner tonight. What I have every single Christmas Eve is Torture.

Maybe I should start another way because it's sounding almost like I've become the Grinch...

Tourtiere is a traditional Christmas Eve meat pie that originated in Quebec. The name is derived from the now extinct Passenger Pigeon or tourte in French, what used be commonly used in the pie.

If I had been eating pigeon, I might have still thought my dinner was torture, but I make mine with ground pork. When I was child though, none of my siblings or I liked our pork pie and we called it Torture.

The name stuck and so we still call it Torture. I didn't think I'd ever make it myself, but when my mom broke her back a few years ago I made my first one.

I wasn't a great cook and I had no clue how to make our special meal, so I looked up a recipe and threw in things I thought might taste good. The outcome was great and now I am the official Torture maker.

Want my recipe? Just keep on reading. :)

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas Eve Eve

Traditions are important to me, especially during the holidays, but sometimes I like to break out and try something new. 

I don't mean I want to start abandoning my Christmas tree and decorating with bushes or serving tofu instead of my turkey. No, the big things will the way they always were. And I will tell you that the day I stop putting up a tree is the day I've gone crazy!

But maybe some of the sides will change and so will my table setting. Those items aren't something really traditional to me and I like seeming a little spontaneous for a traditional meal. It keeps things fresh. :) 

First, take a look at my favourite scalloped potato recipe. It's easy to prepare it in advance and tastes as great as mashed potatoes do. 

Then, take a peek at how I'm setting my table this year. It's a riff off the korknisse or "cork elves" popularized by blogs a few years ago and brought back into light by Canadian Living this year. 

Thursday, 22 December 2011

O Tannenbaum

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit,
Nein, auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
Wie treu sind deine Blätter!

Or in English...

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!
They are green when summer days are bright,
They are green when winter snow is white.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us!

I would love to hear someone singing Christmas carols right about now, but instead I think I will have to settle for eating some Christmas cookies. It's a dark night, almost the longest night of a year, and no one is venturing out to sing at my house. 

However, you never know what's going to happen tomorrow, I mean the days have just started getting longer so maybe someone will be singing soon!

To celebrate the fact that the days are finally getting longer and my favourite German carol, I've made my favourite Christmas cookie - German Moons. 

Plus, below my recipe I've got another treat for you. I went around Victoria on a Christmas lights tour and some of the houses were really dressed up!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Mele Kalikimaka

Mele Kalikimaka means Merry Christmas in Hawaiian and I know far too many people planning on vacationing in Hawaii for the holidays this year. 

Since I will be staying in rainy old Victoria this Christmas, I decided to make a quick Hawaiian style dinner to try and make me feel a little less jealous of the fun in the sun crowd I know. 

The meal certainly reminded me of I think Hawaiian food should taste like. And maybe if I'm really good for the last few days of the year, I'll get a chance to taste the real thing sometime soon!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Take a Guac Around the Block

This time of year I always love snacking and nibbling on all the goodies at holiday parties. I tell myself it's ok because it's Christmas, but when the holidays are over I usually notice that my pants a tiny bit tighter.

So today's post is my yummy and lower fat version of a favourite snack food and also an encouragement to walk around the block at least once this holiday season.

Hopefully your pants will fit perfectly and you'll still be able to enjoy all cookies, cheese, and wine you want.

And who knows, maybe you'll see some festive holiday lights on your walk too?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Press Release

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Ok... so what I'm about to share with you isn't exactly pressing news.

But it is delicious news and one of the easiest to make cookies that look like they took hours to prepare.

That caught your eye didn't it?

So, my first question is: do you have a cookie press?

If you answered yes, congratulations because you're in luck! But, if you answered no it's ok too! My cookie press was only $12.99 and it's really easy to use.

Let's get going on this recipe. Christmas is just days away!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Buttering You Up

Now is the time to start filling your freezer with food for the holidays, at least that's what I am going to do this weekend.

I don't want to be baking, cooking, and cleaning during the real festivities. I want to eating, drinking, and partaking in the festivities!

So, today I'm cleaning out my freezer and making my traditional Christmas Eve lunch butternut squash soup - with a twist. Usually there's no curry, but I thought this year needed a little something extra!

I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Garlic-y Goodness

When you think about tomato sauce, what comes to mind?

If you're thinking of a jar or can of processed sauce, you need to read further. And even if you didn't, keep on reading because this sauce is easy, delicious, and healthy too!

I use jarred sauce when I need it for pizza or a last minute dinner, but I love to make this sauce for pasta if I am able to plan ahead an hour or so.

And if you love roasted garlic and tomatoes, you will too. And let's be honest, who doesn't love roasted garlic and tomatoes?

So let's get cracking with the star of this dish- roasted garlic.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Roasted and Toasted

I love winter cooking because it's full of comfort food. But that doesn't mean I don't miss summer food during the winter too. 

One of the things I especially miss is barbecuing. I love the smell of the grill and the taste of gently charred food. Only gently charred, and it's always done on purpose. :)

I know you're probably thinking that I mean steaks and burgers, but actually one of my favourite things to grill is asparagus. 

I know that sounds weird, but once you try it - you'll be hooked. I'll be sure to show you my tips when it gets warmer. 

Here's a way to make asparagus in your oven. It's sure to make your dreams of summer grilling come true. 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Twist and Shout

I love throwing a holiday party and I love twisting up one of my favourite recipes to make something new and exciting.

One of my favourite appetizers to twist into something new is also my simplest - a puff pasty tart baked in a mini muffin tin.

To me, using as few ingredients as possible is key when making bite sized treats because you know you're going to have to make a lot of them. But making all those ingredients mesh perfectly can be a challenge all on it's own.

Here is a perfect holiday quick fix for an appetizer party. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree

I think I got my love for the Christmas season from my mom. She has so many traditions and each and every one of them are special to me. 

One of her traditions has to do with choosing a particular kind of tree. She would bundle all four of us kids into the van, drive to the tree farm, and off we would run to find perfect one. 

We wouldn't look for the biggest tree. We wouldn't look for the straightest tree. We wouldn't even look for the prettiest tree. What we would look for would be a tree with a bird's nest hidden in the branches.

I am not exactly sure what my mom liked about trees with a bird's nest but, if I had to guess, it must have been because what a bird's nest symbolized. To me a bird's nest symbolizes love and life; a whole family of birds grew up in the tree. 

What could symbolize Christmas more than love and life? 

Now, I will forever look for a tree with bird's nest hidden in it when I am choosing my Christmas tree. 

And I will have to ask my mom why she always loved a tree a with bird's nest too!

Here are one of my mom's favourite Christmas cookies, Bird's Nest Cookies. And if you're not a big fan of coconut, try using chopped up peanuts in place, they're delicious that way too!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Quick and Easy

My Christmas tree is decorated and just like every year I had to make a bunch of snacks to enjoy for the party because it takes a few hours to decorate the tree and you need your energy to make everything look perfect.

This year I didn't want to spend too much time in the kitchen so everything I made had to be quick and easy. But, most importantly, it all had to taste great too.

I knew I wanted to make a spinach dip for one of my appetizers, but I was hoping to make something a little healthier than a cheesy baked concoction. I wasn't the most concerned about the calories in general, I just wanted to be able to enjoy a few cookies too.

Here's my version of a healthy spinach dip using ricotta in place of the common cheddar. It's great for veggies and anything else you want to dip into it. Plus, no baking is required so it's much faster to whip up than the baked version!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Acadian Tradition

You may or may not know that I lived in the Maritimes for seven years and during some of that time I worked in tourism. I got to know a lot about the history and culture of the Maritimes and really enjoyed my time there.

One of my favourite things to learn about in the Maritimes was the rich Acadian history. My interest may have stemmed from the what I learned about Acadian cooking, but it developed into learning about the history too.

Acadians were French colonists that refused to sign allegiance to the British during the 1700s and were expelled from living in the Maritimes because of it. Many Acadians were killed or died from disease during the expulsion and many others travelled down to Louisiana and made up the Cajun culture we still see there today.

Luckily for Canada, thousands of Acadians gradually returned home to the Maritimes and brought with them their culture and signature dishes.

You may think that Acadian cooking would show a lot of Cajun spices like we see in Louisiana, but actually Acadian cooking changed to Cajun when they arrived in Louisiana. Traditional Acadian cooking used a lot of root vegetables that could be stored during cold Canadian winters and this recipe is no exception to the rule.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Christmas Cheer

It's my favourite day of the year tomorrow and I am very excited!

You might wonder why I love December 3 so much, but it's not the date that's especially great for me. It's more about what I get do tomorrow and that the first weekend in December has finally arrived!

If you haven't guessed yet, I am heading out to get my Christmas tree tomorrow! And I cannot wait for the smell of pine and the sounds of unwrapping special ornaments to be at my house.

I can hear cheers from some of you, but I know there might be groans from a few others too. And while I do realize that my love for Christmas is much greater than most people's, I won't give up on you groaners until you love the holiday like do.

So, cheerers be happy and groaners get ready to smile because I am here to spread Christmas cheer! And I am going do this in the form a fun craft and a tasty cookie.

First, here is a craft project I worked on last year. It's practically free, environmentally friendly, and great family fun.

Just a small warning before you begin though, your cheeks may hurt from smiling at the end of this craft.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Golden Nuggets

I was thinking about how I haven't shown anything Luke has made during one of his ventures to the kitchen in awhile. And then I really thought about why I haven't...

It's because he hasn't made anything in quite some time!

So instead of pushing Luke into making something new, I have decided to show one of his favourite side dishes.

It's one of my favourite foods, a potato. But it's done in a way that almost tastes like a chip, making it better than a normal spud! Just be sure to cook them long enough, there's not much worse than raw potato!