Category Archives: entertaining

Apple cider Moscow Mule

Kick Off Cozy Season With This Autumn-Inspired Apple Cider Moscow Mule

As the weather changes and the autumn apple cravings kick in, this cider twist on a Moscow mule is a must-try cocktail to celebrate the start of fall. The spicy flavour of the ginger beer (a key ingredient to a traditional Moscow mule) pairs perfectly with the sweet mulled cider. So throw on your favourite fall sweater and shake up the latest That’s the Spirit cocktail!

Apple cider Moscow Mule

Apple Cider Moscow Mule

Prep: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1

Related: Travel Back in ‘Thyme’ With This Seasonal Twist on a Classic Aperol Spritz

Apple cider Moscow mule ingredients

Ingredients:

2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 pinch ground cinnamon
3 ounces apple cider
3 ounces ginger beer
Apple slices, to garnish
Fresh rosemary, to garnish
Lime wedge, to garnish

Related: This Blood Orange Negroni is the Perfect Summer Cocktail

Apple cider Moscow mule with cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker or cocktail mixing glass with ice. Add vodka, lime juice, ginger, cinnamon and apple cider. Shake or stir until well combined, about 30 seconds.Hand stirring apple cider Moscow mule
  2. Strain over a moscow mule glass filled with ice. Finish with a splash of ginger beer. 
  3. Garnish with apple slices, rosemary and lime. Cheers!

Apple cider Moscow mule

Like Marcella’s Moscow mule? Try her refreshing Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Thyme Aperol Spritz

Travel Back in ‘Thyme’ With This Seasonal Twist on a Classic Aperol Spritz

Thyme Aperol Spritz

Thyme-Infused Aperol Spritz

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings:  1

Related: Savour the Best of the Season With This Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

This That’s the Spirit Aperol spritz is a classic summer cocktail. It’s light, refreshing and truly tastes like summertime in Italy. Take this cocktail up a notch by incorporating a little thyme-infused simple syrup. The thyme really complements the orange and herbal notes in the Aperol tying this cocktail together. Perfect for a hot summer day (or eve), this spritz is one you’ll want to keep making again and again! Cheers. 

Related: Savour the Best of the Season With This Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Ingredients:

Thyme simple syrup (makes 0.5 oz)
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs

3 oz Prosecco D.O.C
2 oz Aperol
0.5 oz Thyme simple syrup
Splash of soda
Garnish: Orange wedge and fresh thyme sprigs

Related: This Blood Orange Negroni is the Perfect Summer Cocktail

Directions:

Thyme-Infused Simple Syrup

  1. Add ½ cup sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Remove from heat and add 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme. Let steep for 10-15 minutes, depending on how strong you want the thyme flavour to be. 

Related: This Earl Grey Mar(tea)ni is the Cocktail You Need

Thyme Aperol Spritz

Cocktail 

  1. Fill a white wine glass with ice. 
  2. Pour 3 parts of Prosecco D.O.C, followed by 2 parts of Aperol and 0.5 oz. thyme-infused simple syrup. 
  3. Top with a splash of soda and stir. 
  4. Garnish with an orange wedge and fresh thyme sprigs. 

Like Abhi’s summer cocktail? Try his refreshing Brazilian Lemonade Margarita

 

Marcella DiLeonardo's strawberry rhubarb spritzer

Savour the Best of the Season With This Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Marcella DiLeonardo's strawberry rhubarb spritzer

Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Related: Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Marcella DiLeonardo's strawberry rhubarb spritz ingredient shot

Strawberry rhubarb pie in a cocktail? Yes please! This That’s the Spirit cocktail is a sweet-and-sour-lover’s dream. It features freshly picked local strawberries and vibrant pink garden rhubarb. However, if you only have frozen fruit on hand, that works too. Just adjust the honey based on the sweetness of the strawberries. Lastly, don’t throw away the leftover fruit compote, enjoy it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or mixed into your morning yogurt. Cheers!

Ingredients:

1 tsp lemon zest
½ cup fresh or frozen rhubarb, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, diced
2 tbsp honey
1 pinch salt
¾ cup water
4 oz gin, divided
Sparkling water, to finish
Sliced lemon, to garnish

Strawberry rhubarb compote

Directions:

  1.     To a saucepan over medium heat add the lemon zest, rhubarb, strawberries, honey, salt and water. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes, until the fruit breaks down.

  1.     Using a fine mesh sieve, strain mixture to release the syrup. Set aside in a glass jar until ready to use. This syrup can be made up to a week in advance. 
  2.     Fill 4 cocktail glasses with ice. Evenly divide the syrup and gin amongst the glasses. Top with a splash of soda water, garnish with lemon and serve!

Related: Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Abhishek Dekate's Brazilian Lemonade

This Refreshing Brazilian Lemonade Margarita is THE Drink of Summer

Looking for summer in a cup? Look no further. This Brazilian Lemonade Margarita is a combination of two popular summer drinks that is super refreshing and a perfect way to cool off on those hot summer afternoons. Made with fresh limes, this That’s the Spirit drink is not only tangy and sweet but deliciously creamy too. Lose the tequila and this can easily be enjoyed as a non-alcoholic bevvy  as well. Cheers!

Abhishek Dekate's Brazilian lemonade margarita cocktail in a rimmed glass

Brazilian Lemonade Margarita

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1

Related: This Refreshing Brazilian Lemonade Margarita is THE Drink of Summer

Ingredients to make Abhishek Dekate's Brazilian Lemonade Margarita

Ingredients:

Brazilian Lemonade
4 limes
½ cup condensed milk
½ cup granulated sugar
4 cups cold water

Cocktail
4 oz Brazilian Lemonade mix
1 oz tequila
Garnish: salt rim + lime slice or wedge

Related: Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Directions:

Brazilian Lemonade

  1. Mix cold water and sugar and chill until ready to use. This step can be done ahead of time.
  2. Wash limes thoroughly with soap and cut each lime into 8ths.\
  3. Add cold water and sugar mixture into the blender along with limes and condensed milk.

Straining of Brazilian lemonade

4. Pulse blender a few times (10 seconds max. each cycle) until ingredients are fully integrated. Do not over-blend as this will cause the limes to break down leaving a bitter aftertaste.
5. Strain liquid through a fine-mesh strainer using a spoon.
6. Serve over ice and enjoy!

Abhishek Dekate rimming a rocks glass

Cocktail

  1. Rim rocks glass with salt and set aside.
  2. Place ice cubes in your rimmed glass.

Adding Brazilian lemonade to the rocks glass

3. Add tequila and Brazilian Lemonade mix.
4. Stir and garnish with a lime slice or wedge. Enjoy!

Like Abhi’s summer cocktail? Try his Blood Orange Negroni.

Vegan Antipasto Skewers Are the Creative Plant-Based Appetizer You Need

Let’s be real: the heart of any celebration is the food. To keep your guests happy, make sure the apps are flowing, which as it turns out, is a bit of an art form: appetizers should look “appetizing,” they should be finger-friendly, mess-free and only take a few bites to consume. That’s why these We Know You Have 10 Minutes vegan appetizers in the form of antipasto skewers make for the best addition to your table. They’re user-friendly, beautiful and a cinch to make! And since dietary restrictions are commonplace these days, it’s important to accommodate with vegan finger foods. These two dairy-free plant-based beauties are the perfect place to start.

Olive, Artichoke, Tomato and Balsamic Skewers

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 3-4

Ingredients:

Small wooden skewers (or toothpicks)
Artichokes, from a jar
Kalamata olives, pitted
Cherry tomatoes (extra points for multi-colour!)
Basil leaves
1-2 Tbsp balsamic reduction or syrup

Directions:

1. Remove the artichokes from the jar and cut them slightly so they’ll fit onto the skewers and are manageable to eat.

2. In any order, thread the ingredients above through the wooden skewers. We like to ribbon basil leaves between the ingredients to create more vibrant colour throughout and to get that punchy taste of raw basil with every bite.

3. Once all ingredients are on the skewers, take your balsamic reduction and lightly drizzle it over top. You can pour the balsamic on a spoon, hover about 10 inches above the skewers and drizzle away.


Eggplant, Tofu, Zucchini and Pesto Skewers

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 to 35 minutes (if you roast the eggplant and tofu the night before, then the total time will only take 10 minutes!)
Servings: 3-4

Ingredients:

1 eggplant, chopped into 1 ½ inch cubes
1 brick tofu, patted dry and chopped into 1 ½ inch cubes
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
¼ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
1 zucchini, peeled into ribbons
8 sun-dried tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
Small wooden skewers (or toothpicks)
2-3 Tbsp pesto

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Chop the eggplant and tofu into cubes, they should be around the same size.

3. Season both with oil, salt and pepper. Place them on separate baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Related: These Are the 5 Best Meatless BBQ Skewers You’ll Ever Eat

4. Roast the tofu for 15 minutes and the eggplant for 20-25 minutes. Both should be lightly crisp.

5. While the eggplant and tofu are roasting, peel the zucchini into thin ribbons and make your pesto, if you’re not buying it pre-made.

6. Once all veggies are prepped, begin threading them through the skewer in any order you desire.

7. Place them on a tray or plate and lightly dollop a few spoonfuls of pesto over areas of the skewers.

Like Tamara and Sarah’s vegan antipasto skewers? Try their easy lemon spatchcock chicken or sumac-spiced roasted delicata.

Published November 30, 2019, Updated December 23, 2020

Young woman using a laptop during Christmas

How to Host a Virtual Cookie Exchange — Plus Tips on Mailing Food to Loved Ones

By this point in the holiday season, festive bakers are busy preparing for a Christmas cookie exchange party or two. Getting together in person this year isn’t an option, but you can still celebrate virtually. Here’s a step-by-step guide for hosting a virtual cookie exchange along with some tips on mailing holiday treats to your loved ones.

Young woman using a laptop during Christmas

Step One: Create Your Invitation and Guest List

First, you’ll want to make a list of bakers to include in the cookie exchange. This can be a small circle of close friends and family or a larger group for ambitious bakers. Then, create an invitation that details how many cookies should be sent to each participant and the timeline that everyone has to bake and deliver their cookies. Invitations can be sent via email or create a Facebook event instead.

Related: Double-Decker Chocolate Cherry Cookies Are Twice the Fun

Step Two: Select Your Recipe

Once the invitations have been sent out, have everyone RSVP with the type of cookie they plan to bake. Bakers should also have a backup recipe to avoid duplicates. When selecting a recipe, opt for a cookie that won’t go stale quickly, like shortbread, biscotti or these stained glass sugar cookies. You might also want to think about creating a digital recipe book to share with everyone or have each participant include a recipe card along with their cookies.

Step Three: Purchase Your Supplies and Start Baking

Check your pantry for baking supplies and make note of what you’ll need to buy for your cookie recipe as well as any parchment paper or other tools. You’ll also want to pick up seasonal cookie tins or boxes to package up the goodies once they’re ready to send. Then, set aside some time to bake your cookies. You could even make your dough in advance and freeze it, then bake them closer to when you plan to deliver or mail them.

Christmas cookie cutters, cookie dough, flour, and beaters from a hand mixer

Step Four: Mail or Deliver Your Cookies

Once the cookies are baked and cooled, divide them into batches for each person on your list. If your plan is to deliver the cookies yourself, package them up in the boxes or tins that you purchased. Line each package with parchment paper and add decorative tissue or a bed of crinkle paper for a bit of fun.

Related: Anna Olson’s Ultimate Holiday Cookie Hacks

If you plan to mail the cookies, pack them well in an airtight freezer bag or a vacuum-sealed bag before placing them in the cookie tin or box. The last thing you want is for your friends and family to receive a bunch of broken cookies, so be sure to arrange the cookies so they won’t be shuffling around too much and add padding to both the container and the bottom, top and sides of the box you’ll be shipping it in. Keep in mind timing if you want the cookies to arrive by a specific date. It’s usually best to express ship these so they’ll arrive on time and as fresh as possible.

A box of cookies with a red top, clear window on top, and twine wrapped around it

Step Five: Celebrate!

Once everyone’s cookies have arrived, it’s time for your video call where everyone can celebrate together and sample the goodies. Create a signature beverage that everyone can enjoy along with the cookies and designate someone as the DJ to play some holiday tunes by using the audio sharing feature of your video call software. If schedules can’t permit a virtual party, have each person share a video greeting with them sampling some of the cookies that participants can watch at their leisure.

A silver tray with assorted Christmas cookies including linzer cookies, chocolate snowflakes and rugelach

Finally, invite everyone who participated in the cookie exchange to make a donation to a food cause in their community. If everyone lives in the same town, have everyone chip in for a group donation.

Looking for more holiday baking inspiration? Check out these classic Christmas cookie recipes that will spread holiday cheer.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images, Unsplash, Pexels and Food Network Canada

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

This Baked Brie With Nuts and Dried Fruit is the Perfect Holiday Appetizer (or Easy Dinner Idea!)

With five minutes of prep time, this incredibly easy appetizer is a favourite around the holidays — or any day for that matter. You don’t even need to splurge on a fancy Brie, a budget choice is just as delicious with every sweet and savoury bite. And while this holiday recipe calls for walnuts or hazelnuts, as well as cranberries or cherries, feel free to add in whatever nuts and dried fruit you prefer. Almond and pecans are always tasty, alongside apricots or figs. You can also swap out the herbs for a strip of orange or lemon zest too.

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

Baked Brie With Nuts and Dried Fruit

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

200 g double cream Brie
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp butter
2 sprigs thyme or rosemary
½ cup toasted walnuts or hazelnuts
¼ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit ingredients on table

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the Brie in a small oven-safe skillet or a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Score the top with a paring knife for the cheese to quickly warm. Bake until softened and slightly puffed all around about 15 minutes.

Related: Best Edible Gifts Under $20 That’ll Make Anyone’s Holiday Sweeter

2. While the Brie is in the oven, make the topping: combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, butter and thyme in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil; cook, stirring until brown sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in nuts and dried cranberries.

Making baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

3. Immediately top warm Brie with hot pecan cranberry mixture and serve with crackers and fresh fruit if desired.

Tip: If using a heat-safe small skillet or ceramic dish, the Brie will stay warm for up to 15 minutes. It can also be reheated in the microwave until warm, about 30 seconds. If you’re a fan of toasted nuts, feel free to toast them before adding to the brown sugar mixture. Do so over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.

Serving of baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

Like Soo’s baked Brie recipe? Try her Chinese scallion pancakes or pan-fried pork chops with roast cabbage wedges.

How to Make Bruschetta in 15 Minutes (Plus the Best Bruschetta Bar for Nights Inside)

Nothing says staying indoors quite like a delightful seasonal spread bursting with fresh ingredients. We absolutely love to use the best of the season, and one summer and early fall favourite is tomatoes. Fresh, juicy and perfectly ripe at the end of summer, we’re always looking for ways to make them a star. Our new favourite is to assemble a quick and easy bruschetta bar when spending time inside with loved ones (because we’re desperate to switch things up these days!).  With a few simple ingredients, you can showcase the bright, herbaceous flavours of this beloved app and present an impressive spread in just a few minutes.

How to Make Bruschetta (And the Best Bruschetta Bar!)

bruschetta-bar-spread

Related: From Homemade Bread to Pickles, 20 Recipes to Master While Indoors

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
4 tomatoes, seeded and diced or 12 cocktail tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Vidalia onion, minced
1 clove garlic, grated
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup labneh or Greek yogurt
3/4 cup ricotta
3/4 cup hummus
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 Tbsp za’atar
1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
Olive oil

bruschetta bar assembled

Related: Ranking Canadian Retailers Offering Grocery Delivery Right Now, by Price

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
2. Place labneh, ricotta, hummus, walnuts, parsley, basil, parmesan and pine nuts into small bowls and place on platter.
3. Sprinkle labneh with za’atar and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle ricotta with herbs, if desired.
4. Assemble all items on a platter and serve with plates for guests to assemble their appetizers.

Looking for more easy peasy recipes? Trust us: these snack plates are the easy dinner option you need this week!

Celebrate Mom With This Epic Mother’s Day Brunch Waffle Platter

Your Mother’s Day plans may look a little different this year: whether you’re celebrating in person or virtually, we have an epic, inspiring, gorgeous spread that screams “we love you, mom!” It’s a beautiful brunch platter, similar to how you would construct a cheese or charcuterie board, but this time, it’s centred around waffles. The batter in this recipe calls for gluten-free buckwheat flour (one of our favourites) but you can easily swap it for spelt, whole wheat or all-purpose if that’s what you prefer or have on hand. Now, it’s time to learn how to make the sweetest morning spread for that special lady in your life. (Don’t forget the card!).

Gluten-Free Buckwheat Power Waffles

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes per waffle
Total Time: 14 minutes
Servings: 3 waffles

Ingredients:

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 Tbsp coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch sea salt
1 egg
¼ cup melted coconut oil
1 cup dairy-free milk (or milk or water)

Related: These Waffle Recipes Will Make You Jump Right Out of Bed

Directions:

1. Plug in your waffle iron.

2. Mix the dry ingredients into a bowl.

3. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

4. Pour the dry into the wet and whisk until a batter comes together.

5. Once the waffle iron is hot, scoop about ⅓ cup batter onto the iron, close it and let it cook for about 3 minutes. Or whenever your waffle maker tells you it’s ready! Ours has a handy green light that lets us know the waffle is cooked.

Select Your Toppings

This is where you can let your creativity shine, adding your favourite toppings and bringing as much colour and texture onto the board as possible. If you have little ones, include them in the process too, let them pick their favourite ingredients to cascade around the board.

Remember to include both sweet and savoury toppings and to cut everything into bite-sized pieces (or put out knives so they can be sliced!). You want this to be captivating for the eye but you also want everything to be edible. We once went to a party where they placed whole apples on their charcuterie board — who was going to chomp on a whole apple at a party?! Be realistic and mindful of portion size.

Related: 20 Simple Make-Ahead Brunch Recipes That’ll Still Impress

Here are examples of toppings we think would be amazing, but just choose a few, there’s no need to go overboard.

Fresh Fruit and Veg: Apples, pears, mango, pineapple, bananas, kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, purple and green grapes, oranges, radishes, carrots, cucumbers, capers, olives, cherry tomatoes with feta, fresh basil or mint leaves.

Protein: Hardboiled eggs or soft-boiled eggs in cups, sausage or bacon, lox or smoked salmon, cheese (like gouda, goat, crumbled feta).

Pantry Items: Dried fruit (like mango, dates, raisins, craisins), chocolate chips or cacao nibs, coconut chips, roughly chopped nuts (like pecans, almonds, cashews, walnuts), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, granola.

Spreads/Syrups: Maple syrup, honey, peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, jams, chocolate spread, yogurt.

Assemble Your Board

1. To assemble the board, get all of your ingredients ready first, including waffles, toppings and the dishes you want to place ingredients in, like small bowls, cups and spoons.

2. Find a big board and start with the waffles, place them in different areas around the board and stack a few to create levels.

3. Next, add the fresh fruit in small piles around the board. You can also mix some of the fruit together.

4. Then, add in the protein, if you’re using any. Find open spaces and add some cheese over here and a few eggs there. If you’re using lox or something that’s very overpowering and you don’t want it to touch the other ingredients, place it in a bowl or on a plate and then onto or next to the board.

5. Fill the gaps with the pantry items like dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

6. Finally, add the little cups or bowls of syrups and spreads. These can be on the board or beside the board depending on how much space you have. Remember to include appropriate knives or spoons with the dishes.

7. If you still feel like it’s not complete, add a bit more colourful fruit, which will most definitely seal the deal.

Want more recipes that’ll impress mom? Whip up a batch of fudgy sweet potato brownies or lemon meringue cupcakes.

5 Delicious Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Home (Including a Taco Bar!)

While you could say the star of a Cinco de Mayo party is the margarita, the celebration wouldn’t be anywhere near complete without a rainbow-bright spread starring all of our favourite Mexican dishes, spices and fixings. And just because we’re stuck at home this year doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate in style just the same (bring on the virtual dinner parties!). We’ve even created a taco-themed Zoom background to get the party started.

It’s time to bring on the guac and tacos (okay, and churros for dessert) with this tasty, sweet and savoury Mexican-inspired menu for a successful Cinco de Mayo fiesta at home this Tuesday, May 5th.

Fresh Salsa Verde

When it comes to classic party dishes, you can’t go wrong with a hefty platter of chips and salsa. And this vibrant version, featuring fresh green tomatoes, mint leaves, garlic and lime juice, is guaranteed to satisfy taste buds everywhere. Don’t have mint? Swap for fresh or dried basil, or any other herbs you have on hand!

Get the recipe for Fresh and Minty Salsa Verde

Classic Guacamole

Where there’s chips and salsa, there should also be an (extra-large) offering of guacamole. Try this super simple five-ingredient recipe and serve with these non-traditional — but incredibly delicious — homemade wonton chips. Cue the drools.

guacamole-with-crispy-chips
Get the recipe for Classic Guacamole and Chips

Related: Creative Ways to Eat Avocados (That Don’t Involve Toast)

The Most Epic Stay-at-Home Taco Bar

Now that you and your household have dipped into the homemade salsa and guac, it’s time for the main attraction. And by that we mean the most eye-catching, drool-worthy taco bar that’ll brighten your menu… and entire week, let’s be honest.

Even better? It’s a cinch to assemble: begin by stocking up on Old El Paso hard shells and soft tortillas. Then opt for protein like grilled flank steak, shredded chicken and refried beans. Next come all your favourite fixings: pickled jalapeños, corn, avocado (or the guac you made!), shredded lettuce, sliced peppers, fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Last but certainly not least: shredded cheddar, sour cream and a whole lot more salsa for good measure. Voila!

Related: Tasty Taco Recipes You’ll Crave Every Day of the Week

Bean Salad

This colourful side dish features a medley of refreshing flavours — corn kernels, bell peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes, avocado, pinto beans and fresh cilantro — then it’s tossed in a light, garlicky lime dressing before serving.

pinto-bean-salsa-saladGet the recipe for Pinto Bean Salsa Salad

Related: These Delicious Recipes Will Make You Rethink Canned Beans

Classic Churros with Caramel Sauce

Anyone with a sweet tooth will absolutely devour these doughy deep-fried, cinnamon-sugar treats. The best part? They only take 15 minutes to make thanks to using store-bought puff pastry.

cinco-de-mayo-churro-recipe
Get the recipe for 15-Minute Churros with Caramel Sauce

Wash down these eats with a refreshing drink to sip and celebrate. Here are our very best Cinco de Mayo cocktails.

This Jalapeño Popper Dip Will Be Your New Favourite Super Bowl Appetizer

Everything you love in a jalapeño popper is whirred into a cheesy, party-perfect dip. Spicy jalapeños, crispy bacon, cream cheese and a crunchy topping come together for a delicious, ultra-indulgent dip. Serve this up with veggies and tortilla chips at your next party for a crowd-pleasing riff on the new-classic appetizer.

Related: Score a Touchdown with These Vegetarian Finger Foods

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:
6 strips bacon
2 (250 g) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
4 jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
3 green onions, minced
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Sliced veggies or tortilla chips for serving

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, turning occasionally, until crispy, about 10 min. Remove bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and reserve 2 Tbsp bacon grease in a medium heat-safe bowl. Once bacon is cool, chop or crumble into pieces.
3. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese until smooth. Gradually mix in mayonnaise until fully combined. To cream cheese and mayonnaise, add Cheddar, jalapenos, green onions and bacon pieces and mix to combine. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly into a 9-inch round ovenproof dish.
4. Stir panko into reserved bacon grease and sprinkle over cream cheese mixture. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until bubbling at the sides. Serve warm with tortilla chips or veggies for dipping.

Make-Ahead: You can make this dip ahead of time (without the panko topping, and prior to baking) and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Warm refrigerated bacon renderings in the microwave until liquefied and stir in panko. Sprinkle cream cheese mixture with panko mixture and bake, adding 5 minutes to the cooking time (40 to 45 minutes instead of 35 to 40 minutes).

Nothing gets a crowd going like a good app, so here are 35 last-minute party appetizers that are beyond easy.

cheeseball bites

Cheese Ball Bites Are the Ultimate Make-Ahead Party Appetizer

Your favourite party-perfect appetizer made mini! A simply adorable starter for the holiday season, these mini cheese balls are easy to put together and can be rolled in a variety of delicious ingredients. Serve with fresh bread for spreading, and you’re set for festive entertaining. No time? Make your gathering even easier by preparing and rolling the cheese ball bites (without coatings) up to two days ahead (wrap and refrigerate). When guests arrive, roll in your desired coatings, then dive right in.

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 24

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Ingredients:

Cheese Ball Bites
1-½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 brick (250g) cream cheese, softened
2 green onions, minced
1 tsp paprika
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

Coating
3 Tbsp chopped, toasted walnuts
3 Tbsp chopped dried cranberries
3 Tbsp chopped crispy fried onions
3 Tbsp minced chives
3 Tbsp (3 strips) cooked, crumbled bacon
3 Tbsp roasted sunflower seeds

Serving
Sliced fresh baguette
Crostini
Crackers

Directions:

Cheese Ball Bites
In a large bowl, stir together cheddar cheese, cream cheese, green onions, paprika and cayenne pepper. Form mixture into 24, 1 Tbsp balls (tip: dampen hands with a little water if mixture is sticking).

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Coating
Roll 4 balls into walnuts, pressing lightly to adhere, and place on a serving platter. Repeat with remaining balls and coatings (4 balls per 3 Tbsp of topping).

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Serving
Serve finished cheese ball bites with fresh baguette, crostini or crackers.

You can also try these 25-minute everything bagel smoked sausage rolls, along with our best last-minute party appetizers that are beyond easy.

25-Minute Everything Bagel Smoked Sausage Rolls with Puff Pastry

These are hands down one of my favourite appetizers to serve at any social gathering. With the help of the smoked sausage, the rolls come together within 25 minutes! You can prepare them ahead of time and simply pop them in the oven to bake as guests begin to arrive. If Dijon mustard isn’t your jam, sub with equal parts cream cheese for a tangy filling.

Everything Bagel Smoked Sausage Rolls

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12 rolls

Ingredients:

1 sheet frozen all-butter puff pastry, thawed
6 smoked pork sausages, halved
¼ cup whole grain or Dijon mustard, plus more for serving
1 large whisked egg, for egg wash
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 Tbsp dried minced garlic
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
½ Tbsp white sesame seeds
½ Tbsp black sesame seeds
½ Tbsp flaked sea salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF . Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Roll out the prepared puff pastry and slice into 12 evenly sized squares.

3. Brush the centre of each square with mustard. Place the sausage on the mustard and trim the ends of the pastry to ensure the edges of the sausage will be showing.

4. Brush the left side of the square with egg wash and gently roll. Press the ends to seal. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining squares for a total of 12 sausage rolls.

5. In a small mixing bowl, toss together the garlic, onion, sesame seeds and salt.

6. Brush the top of each sausage roll with the remaining egg wash, and sprinkle generously with everything-bagel seasoning.

7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve with additional mustard for dipping!

We’ve also rounded up 35 Last-Minute Party Appetizers That Are Beyond Easy and 20 Un-Brie-lievably Good Baked Brie Recipes.

seafood tower

How to Make a Stunning Seafood Tower

The holidays are a time of year when we indulge — and there’s just something ultra festive about a vibrant, chilled seafood tower. Typically looked at in awe while dining at a contemporary seafood restaurant, you might be surprised to realize that making a tower chock-full of delicious ocean bounty is quite easy to do at home. All it takes is a little preparation and final assembly right before your holiday party guests arrive. Just follow these simple tips and everyone will be impressed!

seafood tower

Buy Good Quality, Sustainable Seafood

When you’re serving friends and family a big smattering of seafood, you want it be as fresh and delicious as possible. While some grocers offer fresh shellfish at their seafood counters, you’re better off going to a local fishmonger.

Prepare Seafood Same-Day, if Possible

Shellfish like mussels, clams and oysters, can be purchased a day or two ahead, and live safely in your refrigerator until you’re ready to prep them. The latter two can be cooked and chilled hours before eating, but set aside a few minutes to shuck the oysters right before assembling the tower.

Chill Tower Tiers Before Serving

Got a fridge full to the brim with holiday dishes and bottles of wine? Well, one of the handy things about our Canadian winters is the fact that our back deck or balcony can double as a large freezer (or fridge if you’re closer to the west coast). Giving the tower layers an hour or so to get cool will help keep the ice from melting too quickly while you’re assembling.

seafood tower

Have the Right Tools Handy

While you can remove all of the lobster meat beforehand, guests like a little hands-on activity at a party, so make sure to have the necessary seafood picks and seafood crackers (nut crackers work well in lieu) for people to use. Napkins too!

Don’t Have a Tower?

Although the tiered presentation definitely adds a “wow” factor to the table, using a couple large serving trays and laying out the myriad of shellfish over ice, studded with lemon wedges and ramekins of sauce is pretty appetizing, too.

seafood tower

How to Make a Seafood Tower

Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

Tower
Crushed ice (enough for each tower level, approximately 10 cups)
1 lb fresh mussels (steamed and chilled)
1 lb fresh manila clams (steamed and chilled)
12 freshly shucked oysters
24 large cooked prawns
1-2 lbs cooked lobster (claws, arms and tail separated)
⅔ cup seafood sauce
1 lemon (halved and cut into thin wedges)

Spicy Lemon Aioli
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp sambal oelek
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ tsp ground black pepper

seafood tower

Directions:

1. Evenly distribute crushed ice onto each of the 3 tower tiers.

2. On the bottom tier, lay out all of the clams, ½ of the mussels and ½ of the oysters.

3. On the outside of the second tier, alternate 1 oyster with 4 prawns. Work your way around the tier. Take lobster claws, arms and tail and place around the centre of the tier.

Seafood Tower

4. Fill any empty space on the second tier with remaining mussels.

5. On the top tier, place ramekins of sauce and fill remaining space with lemon wedges.

Related: Tasty Lobster Recipes Anyone Can Make

6. Place all ingredients for the spicy lemon aioli in a small bowl and stir to combine. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve with seafood.

spicy lemon aioli

Published December 19, 2016, Updated December 1, 2019

A Fondue Board is the Easy, Cheesy Way to Entertain for the Holidays

A new take on the holiday cheese board, but with fondue at the centre, this entertaining spread is surrounded by delicious dippers waiting to be dunked and devoured – all of which are customizable. Festive, warming and perfect for that après ski vibe we all strive for (even if you’ve been inside by the fire all day).

If you don’t have fondue forks, just cut your dippers a little larger so guests have an easier time dunking by hand or spooning the molten cheese onto their item (no one wants to be fishing out a tiny piece of bread from the fondue pot). Tip: to keep your fondue sans alcohol, replace the traditional white wine with stock or whole milk (directions for this below). 

Swiss Fondue Board

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8 

Ingredients:

Serving Suggestions
Seedless grapes
Sliced apples or ripe pears
Sliced baguette (or cubed if you have fondue forks)
Crackers
Steamed potatoes
Raw or steamed broccoli florets
Sliced raw carrots
Cherry tomatoes
Cured or roasted cooked meats
Dried or fresh apricots, plums and figs 

Swiss Fondue
1 garlic clove, halved
1¼ cup dry white wine, stock or whole milk
1 tsp white wine vinegar (only add if using stock or whole milk)
14 oz (400g) Gruyere cheese, grated
7 oz (200g) Emmentaler cheese, grated
3.5 oz (100g) Gouda cheese, grated
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour or 1½ Tbsp cornstarch
Pinch, freshly grated nutmeg
Ground black pepper, to taste 

Directions:

1. Arrange all of the items you’ll be serving with your fondue on a wooden board, platter or on individual plates, leaving space in the centre for your fondue pot or serving bowl.

2. For the fondue, rub the bottom and sides of a medium saucepan with the halved garlic clove; save the remaining garlic for another recipe. Add wine, stock or milk and vinegar (if using stock or milk) to the saucepan and heat over medium until steaming. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss all three cheeses with flour or cornstarch, nutmeg and pepper, and add cheese mixture to the warmed liquid. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until the cheese is melted and smooth, allowing to gently bubble for 30 seconds, which will cook the flour or cornstarch fully and thicken everything to the proper consistency. Remove from heat.

3. Transfer cheese fondue to a warmed fondue pot and holder with a tea light underneath to keep it warm, or a heat-proof ceramic serving bowl, and serve alongside your preferred dippers. If using a ceramic bowl without a tealight, warm briefly in a low oven to loosen again if the fondue has gotten too thick (this doesn’t happen too quickly, but will occur about 30 minutes after it’s off the stovetop), or transfer back to a pot and reheat for a minute or so on the stovetop.

For more holiday inspiration, whip up a few of these crowd-pleasing holiday potluck recipes, and trust us when we say: you’ll devour these eye-catching cheese ball bites (the ultimate make-ahead app!).

Jillian Harris Opens Up About Her Granny’s Legacy in the Kitchen (Plus Holiday Tips & Recipes)

Jillian Harris knows a thing or two about crafting a well-balanced meal, which might come as somewhat of a surprise to devoted fans of HGTV Canada’s Love it or List it Vancouver star.  Although the vast majority of the pink-hued photos on the social media influencer’s Instagram account are dedicated to decor and design pieces (and her adorable kids!), Jillian also reveals that food has played a significant role in her life since childhood — thanks, in large part, to her beloved Granny and her family’s Ukrainian heritage.

“I really love wholesome, rich comfort food — the food that makes you want to have a glass of wine and curl up and go to sleep,” she says. “We grew up with meals full of pierogis and cabbage rolls.”

Jillian, who has since switched gears to a mostly plant-based diet in her adult years, recently joined forces with her cousin, dietitian Tori Wesszer, for their first cookbook that was released just in time for the holidays, Fraiche Food, Full Hearts: A Collection of Recipes for Every Day and Casual Celebrations. Given that this time of year is all about spending time with family, it’s fitting that their Granny’s passion for food and loved ones is all over this book.

“She was literally our best friend,” Jillian says of her grandmother, who was bestowed with the nickname Beet Roll Queen, and who passed away this July. Adds Tori, “We were just so sad that she didn’t see this [cookbook] come to fruition. She would have been thrilled to see her legacy and her love for connecting people and family.”

Fraiche Food, Full Hearts takes those same hearty, soothing recipes the cousins grew up with and gives them a healthier, more plant-based spin — although it warmly embraces all dietary needs. “It’s approachable for every family,” Jillian says of the cookbook. “[It gives you the chance] to lean into the whole plant-based diet, but we’ve made it flexible and convertible for everyone.”

So whether you’re expecting a handful of out-of-towners or a slew of extended family this holiday season, there are a few simple hosting hacks that Jillian and Tori suggest you try in order to have a stress-free, dietary-friendly holiday. (Don’t worry — you’ve got this!)

Related: 14 Things You Didn’t Know About Jillian Harris


Get the recipe for Jillian’s Almost Famous Stuffing

Plan Ahead

“Plan out your menu ahead of time, and buy our cookbook!” Jillian says with a laugh. Although this might seem a little obvious, it’s easy to lose track of our schedules during the chaotic holiday season. We always think we have more time than we actually do, but between work, family obligations and shopping for gifts, we’re suddenly left wondering what to whip up in the kitchen for the big day.

Jillian suggests planning early — as in, right now. Be sure to inquire about dietary requirements in advance. No one wants a “food surprise” after you’ve spent the better part of your day cooking the meal. Where possible, make some freezer-friendly recipes in advance for a stress-free holiday.

Related: 20 Holiday Staples You Should Make Ahead This Year


Get the recipe for Jillian and Tori’s Sunshine Muffins

Stay on Top of Dietary Needs

This one is a biggie for both Jillian and Tori — and it’s something that is easy to overlook. “You really want people to feel like [their dietary needs] are as important to you as it is to them,” Jillian says. “They want to know that you’re hearing them. I think it makes people feel really good.”

By way of example, Jillian shares her own awkward, albeit hilarious, common situation. “My parents still don’t quite get [why it’s important],” she says with a laugh. “If I go over and they have hamburger soup, then that’s what you’re getting. But there have been times when they’ll make an extra plate for me and I’m like, ‘thank you for that slice of toast and piece of orange.’ Basically, my dad just thinks my taste buds are messed up.”

Related: 15 Vegan Roast Alternatives for Meat-Free Guests


Get the recipe for Jillian and Tori’s Mushroom Wellington

Stay Calm, Be Flexible

Before your head starts swimming at the thought of creating multiple menus to satisfy those with gluten intolerance or a vegan diet, fear not! “Having recipes that can be flexed either way is important, and it doesn’t mean you have to make an entirely separate menu for people with special dietary needs,” says Tori.

Offer a small variety of side dishes — no one is expecting an entirely separate menu just for them. “Usually people who have special requests don’t expect to be able to eat everything,” Jillian says. “They just want one or two options.”

Another alternative? Host a potluck where guests can bring a wealth of food options that will keep everyone satisfied, and perhaps introduce others to new dietary options.

Related: Our Top 100 Holiday Cookie and Square Recipes

Excerpted from Fraiche Food, Full Hearts: A Collection of Recipes for Every Day and Casual Celebrations by Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer. Copyright © 2019 by Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer. Photography copyright © 2019by Janis Nicolay. Published by Penguin Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

8 Cooking Tips to Make the Perfect Mashed Potatoes Every Time

The perfect mashed potatoes should be creamy, fluffy, decadently buttery and so good it requires little to no gravy if made right. Why then have we grumbled over gluey, lumpy and sloppy interpretations of what is a simple staple on every holiday menu? You need only follow 8 incredibly easy tips for the lightest and most sublime mashed potatoes. This spuds for you.

1. Mix it Up

We like Yukon gold potatoes for their buttery texture and golden hue, and Russet potatoes for their starchy, dry quality, making for a lighter mash. Choose one or mix the two for the best of both worlds.

2. Size Matters

Peel and cut the potatoes the same size and add to a large pot of cold water. Both measures will ensure even cooking to prevent the outer layer from breaking down, avoiding lumps.

3. Seasoning is Everything

Add enough kosher salt or sea salt to boiling water until salty to the tongue, about 1 Tbsp salt to 6 cups water. Two cloves of garlic will flavour the cooking liquid and the potatoes when you mash together.

4. Shake the Pot

Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Set over medium heat, shaking the pot, uncovered until all moisture has evaporated, about 1 minute.

5. Hot Liquid Equals Smooth Mash

Heat butter and cream or milk in a saucepan until steaming, and keep warm. A hot mixture is easily and quickly absorbed into the mashed potatoes. Starch requires full-fat dairy for a creamy texture, so don’t skimp out during the holiday.

6. A Ricer is Nicer

A ricer or food mill is a professional cook’s tool to push the spuds through small holes to get that restaurant-quality texture every time.

7. Fresh is Best

Reheated mashed potatoes are never as good as freshly made. To prep ahead: peel, cut and soak your potatoes in cold water, and combine the butter and cream or milk in a saucepan, covered. Stir in the seasoned cream mixture into the potatoes and taste for seasoning. You may need to sprinkle more salt, and remember, reserve any remaining cream mixture, as the potatoes will continue to absorb the liquid.

8. Dress for Success

Perfect in its natural state, don’t forgo a simple garnish like a square of butter, and or chopped chives, green onions or parsley. You can also stir in a spoonful of sour cream for a tangy finish.

Classic Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

1.5 kg russet and Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in large chunks
3 cloves garlic, smashed
¾ cup 35% cream
¼ cup milk
½ cup butter
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
3 green onions, chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp butter (optional)

Directions:

1. Fill a large pot of cold salted water; add potatoes and garlic. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes are falling apart, about 15 minutes.
2. Drain potato mixture and return to pot over medium heat; shake pot, uncovered until potatoes are dry, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl.
3. Using a ricer or food mill, press potatoes and garlic through ricer back into pot.

4. Heat cream, milk, butter, salt and pepper in saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted, and mixture is hot. Stir into potato mixture and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
5. Transfer to serving dish and top with butter and green onions (if using).

See here for the ultimate guide to turkey cooking times, a reliable Thanksgiving checklist to stay ahead of the stress, and the best make-ahead baked stuffing.

Why Custom Catering is Becoming the Next Best Dining Experience

When it comes to food trends, 2019 has been all about consumers dictating which ingredients wind up on their plates – not to mention the cultivation of Instagram-worthy experiences. We’re demanding more healthy, sustainable farm-to-table options of our own choosing while also being given the opportunity to flaunt our food photography skills by capturing the latest crazes to emerge from the culinary world.

That’s where custom catering and grazing tables come in – merging big, diverse and beautiful displays that showcase our love of food with unique experiences you can enjoy with family and friends. From spectacular styling to high-quality ingredients (wave goodbye to processed meats!), these tables and platters make for a showstopping bespoke dining experience.

Aliza Devenyi, who co-owns Toronto’s cured.catering with Zoë Wisenberg, can attest to the high demand for photo-ready displays. “Most clients are concerned about the ‘wow’ factor,” she says, referring to the stunning table-sized charcuterie boards (pictured) she and Zoë specialize in. “Clients want an impressive, beautiful and, most importantly, delicious spread.”

According to a recent survey on millennial spending habits, more than 3 in 4 (78 per cent) said they would choose to spend their hard-earned cash on desirable experiences over material things. This pattern in spending habits is what economists are referring to as the “experience economy”, and its influence on food culture is undeniable – foodies need only look to the growing trends in farm-to-table options, custom catering and grazing tables for evidence.

“[They’re] not only a beautiful focal point for any party, but they provide a fun, interactive and customizable experience for guests,” Devenyi adds. “Gone are the days of stuffy dinner parties with complicated cuisines.”

A Visual Feast

For the uninitiated, a grazing table or supersized charcuterie board may resemble a traditional buffet at first – but instead of stacking a plate high with a limited selection of food, they instead allow guests to walk by, pop a bite-sized item into their mouths and keep mingling with the crowd. After all, nothing brings a group of people together quite like a table gorgeously styled with a rainbow assortment of drool-worthy foods to choose from.

And, as companies like cured.catering have proven, grazing tables or super-sized charcuterie boards are also genuine works of art. Even Pinterest is reporting that searches for grazing tables have skyrocketed by more than 163 per cent in the last year – and you can credit that surge in popularity to its Instagram-ready displays and communal experiences.

It also allows for customizing to suit a variety of dietary needs as people become more vocal about taking ownership of what’s on their plates.

With the growing number of dietary requirements, Devenyi and her business partner Wisenberg have had to get creative, sometimes crafting tables with a 50/50 balance of meat and vegetarian options. Think: prosciutto and honey paired with blue cheese (a personal favourite of hers) or something like vegan cashew “cheese” balls and thinly sliced veggies with nuts.

“We’ve noticed an increased demand in requests for offerings that cater to specific dietary needs, like gluten sensitivity, dairy-free and vegan,” she says. “We also have people asking for lighter options, such as more fruit and crudités.”

All of cured.catering’s creations are made up of locally-sourced produce, meats and specialty cheeses – something more foodies are taking note of when choosing where to spend their money.  As the business has developed, so too has its offerings, including all fruit or dessert tables – and candy tables for those with a major sweet tooth.

It’s apparent from rainbow bagels to epic spreads that people are eating with their eyes now more than ever before, with no signs of the trend abating anytime soon, including the ability to pick and choose how and what food you consume.

“Every bite has the power to be a different, transformative taste, which is why I think it’s so popular,” Devenyi says. “It’s not a plated meal, but rather … a way for guests to get creative and indulge in their hearts’ desires.”

All photos courtesy of cured.catering 

Conquer Brunch With This Make-Ahead Veggie Strata and Sourdough Bread

You can never go wrong when serving your guests a hearty, veggie-packed breakfast casserole topped with melted, gooey goat cheese. Stratas are usually reserved for birthdays, Mother’s Day or Easter brunches, simply because they easily feed a crowd and can be fully prepped ahead of time; so no fuss, no muss when entertaining guests. Make this the day before and pop it into the oven when it’s go-time. What makes this strata even more special is that it’s made with sourdough bread, an artisan-style loaf that is easy to digest and adds incredible texture and bite.

Make-Ahead Vegetable Strata With Sourdough Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 zucchini, sliced into thin circles
1 ½ cups chopped kale or baby kale
1 ½ tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
6 eggs
1 ½ cups dairy-free milk
4 cups sourdough loaf cut into 1 inch cubes
4-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

1. Place a skillet on medium heat, coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil and add the onions. Stir occasionally and allow them to cook for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
2. Add the cherry tomatoes and zucchini and let them cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add the kale, thyme, sea salt and pepper. Stir until the kale begins to wilt.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and dairy-free milk.
5. In a large casserole dish (9×13), coat the bottom with a little olive oil, spread ½ the bread on the bottom, top with ½ of the veggies, then layer the rest of the bread and veggies on top.

6. Pour the egg and milk mixture over and crumble the goat cheese on top, nestling some pieces underneath the bread cubes.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. It can be left in the fridge for up to one day.
8. When you’re ready to bake, heat your oven to 350°F, place the uncovered strata in the oven for 45-50 minutes until it starts to bubble up and crisp.

This Make-Ahead Veggie Strata & Sourdough Bread

Still salivating? Here are 25 more crowd-pleasing brunch recipes and 15 sheet pan breakfast bakes that promise to please!

baked-brie-rolls

Baked Brie Becomes a Show-Stopping Appetizer with Pull-Apart Bread Rolls

Store-bought pizza dough makes this show-stopping appetizer come together in a matter of minutes. A wheel of Brie is already a crowd-pleaser, but it is transformed into a truly sensational holiday dish when baked with fresh buns and served warm from the oven. Serve in the cast iron pan at the table so guests can tear off pieces of bread and dig in to the gooey, melty cheese.

BakedBrie3

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients:
600g pizza dough
170g Brie wheel
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Pinch each salt and pepper
Jam (cranberry, fig or lingonberry)
Fresh figs and rosemary sprig (to garnish)

BakeBrie1

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Divide dough into 75g pieces. Roll each into a tight ball; set aside.
2. Using sharp knife, remove top rind of Brie. Place Brie, cut side-up, in centre of cast iron pan. Arrange pizza dough rolls around cheese.
3. In small bowl, combine melted butter, rosemary, salt and pepper. Brush butter mixture over pizza rolls.

BakedBrie2
4. Bake in 400°F oven until top of pizza rolls start to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375°F; bake until pizza rolls are golden, hard on the outside and sound hollow when tapped, about 15 minutes.
5. Spoon a little jam over Brie; top with fresh figs and garnish with rosemary sprig.

Looking for more inspiration?  Try Our Cheesiest Appetizers Ever.