Tag Archives: Christmas

turkey dinner hand pies on a white plate

Turkey Dinner Hand Pies Are the Leftover Hack You Need

Step aside, turkey noodle soup and hot turkey sandwiches – this reimagined twist on turkey dinner leftovers is the game-changing recipe you need for the holidays. Store-bought puff pastry means you only need 15 minutes of prep time to whip these up before popping them into the oven, so you can get back to snuggling up on the couch and basking in that cozy holiday feeling. Warning: you *may* never be able to eat regular leftovers again.

turkey dinner hand pies on a white plate

Turkey Dinner Hand Pies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
Cool Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 40-45 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
Flour, for dusting
8 thick slices leftover roast turkey
½ cup leftover gravy, plus more for dipping
½ cup leftover stuffing
½ cup leftover cranberry sauce, plus more for dipping
1 egg mixed with 1 Tbsp water, for egg wash
1 tsp fresh thyme (optional)

ingredients for turkey dinner hand pies on a marble countertop

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.

2. On a lightly floured surface, lay out pastry sheets. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough until both sheets are roughly 10″ x 12”.

3. With a sharp knife, cut each pastry sheet into 4 rectangles, creating 8 rectangles total.

a puff pastry sheet on a white countertop cut into quarters

4. On the right side of one pastry rectangle, lay a slice of turkey. Spread 1 Tbsp gravy over the turkey. Top with 1 Tbsp of stuffing, followed by 1 Tbsp of cranberry sauce. Brush edges of the pastry with egg wash, and then fold the left side of the pastry over the right, lining up the edges as best you can. Crimp shut the open edges with a fork to seal, and use a sharp knife to mark 3 slits in the pastry. Repeat this step with the remaining pastry sheets, creating 8 hand pies total.

Related: Here’s How Long You Can Eat Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

steps for stuffing turkey dinner hand pies shown in 4 separate images

 

5. Brush the tops of the turnovers with remaining egg wash, then sprinkle with fresh thyme (optional).

Related: Use Leftover Potatoes to Make This Internet-Famous Crispy Potatoes Recipe

3 unbaked turkey dinner hand pies on a parchment lined baking sheet

6. Bake the hand pies for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and crispy.

7. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.

4 turkey dinner hand pies on a cooling rack

8. Serve immediately alongside additional gravy and cranberry sauce for dipping.

Related: Save That Leftover Pie Dough and Make These Cinnamon Pinwheel Cookies!

a turkey dinner hand pie on a patterned plate, cut in half to show filling

Looking for more leftover ideas? Try these 10 Ways to Use Your Thanksgiving Leftovers, From Potatoes to Stuffing.

Need-to-Know Tips for Freezing Cookies and Bars

During the holiday season, that overworked oven has a lot to do, like churning out batch after batch of Christmas cookies. Instead of freezing dough and stressing on the big day, get the hard work out of the way now and enjoy the baked fruits of your labour all season long. Follow these simple steps for bars and cookies and you’ll never get (freezer) burned again.

Choose Wisely
To set yourself up for success, it’s best to stick to sturdy cookies and bars — no architectural spun sugar flights of fancy here. A big batch of classic chocolate chip, shortbread or even gluten-free cookies will keep you stocked for future cookie exchanges. Bars, on the other hand, are generally pretty low maintenance to begin with, and often feature a solid shortbread crust, so you’ve got more options to let your imagination run wild.

Contain Your Excitement
Whether using a serviceable plastic container or a sparkly snowflake cookie tin, the key to storing cookies and bars is keeping them air tight. Even a plain resealable freezer bag (or two, to double-bag) is fine, as long as you get the air out first — oxygen is your enemy when trying to avoid freezer burn or staleness. Fill containers to the top, and use a straw to suck out the air from bagged cookies to avoid crushing your creations.

Related: Classic Christmas Cookie Recipes That’ll Spread Holiday Cheer

Give Yourself Space
On bake day, make sure you have enough room on your counters or tables to cool your baked goods properly — before the first batch even hits the oven. Ensuring cookies and bars are sufficiently cool avoids taxing your freezer, and prevents soggy, broken pieces.

Flat Out
If your freezer is packed, a little shuffling before bake day to give yourself a nice, flat surface for freeze your cookies will make your life much easier. If you’re using freezer bags or soft-sided containers, don’t just toss your creations carelessly into the freezer. Try chilling the cookies or bars first on a baking sheet in the freezer, then transfer them to their final packaging.

Vanilla Bean Spritz Shortbread

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Vanilla Bean Spritz Shortbread

Pretty Portions
Think about how you’ll be bestowing your baked goods on friends and family, and portion accordingly. Have a friend who can’t stand pecans but is nuts about shortbread? Assemble their package before it goes into the freezer, rather than trying to sort cookies and find a gift tin on the day you see them. Thinking of having guest-ready assortments handy for your open house? A little planning means you’ll have a perfect plate ready to pull out of the freezer when guests arrive.

Line ‘Em Up
Parchment paper, wax paper or aluminum foil are all good choices to layer in between cookies or bars to prevent them from sticking when storing. Give yourself a two-inch overhang on each side of the container it easier when lifting cookies or bars out.

Thawing Out
All the hard work is done — now, all that’s left is the taste test. If you can’t wait to thaw your creations, slip them frozen into a preheated 300°F oven for a few minutes to reheat. Otherwise, you can thaw them out easily: although, depending on the ingredients, cookies and bars may have varying thaw points, a general rule of thumb is six to eight hours, to overnight on the counter, covered lightly. Watch out for cookie thieves, though…you may come down in the morning to an empty plate and an innocent looking, crumb-covered family.

Published November 10, 2016, Updated November 27, 2019

These Christmas Cookie Trees Are the Prettier (And Easier!) Version of a Gingerbread House

Stacked anywhere from four to 14 cookies high, these Christmas Gingerbread Trees are festive and fun. Their 3D shape allows them to stand tall on any dessert table, or could be used to decorate individual place settings at your holiday feast. Much quicker and way less complicated that assembling an entire gingerbread house, these cookie trees come together rather easily during this busy time of year. Featuring homemade gingerbread cookies, the festive treats taste just as good as they look, too!

Gingerbread Christmas Cookie Trees

Bake Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 2 dozen, 4 to 5 cookies per tree (depending on size)

Ingredients:

Gingerbread Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 to 2 Tbsp water

Royal Icing
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ Tbsp meringue powder
3 Tbsp water, plus more to thin
1/2 Tbsp light corn syrup
¼ tsp vanilla extract or lemon juice (optional)

Directions:

Gingerbread Cookies
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and all of the spices together. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and brown sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the corn syrup and molasses and mix until combined.

3. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two additions. Mix until combined. If the dough seems dry, add in the water and mix until the dough comes together to form a ball.

4. Gather the dough and form into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature until it is soft enough to roll out (5 to 10 minutes). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick baking mats. Set aside.

6. Dust a clean work surface lightly with flour. Roll out the dough until about ¼-inch thick and cut out with various sizes of star cookies cutters.

7. Baked the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges turn slightly golden. Repeat with the remaining dough.

8. Completely cool the cookies on a wire rack before decorating.

Royal Icing

1. Place the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Gently stir to combine. Add the water and mix on medium-low until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and continue to mix until stiff peaks form, 5 to 8 minutes.

2. Add the corn syrup and vanilla or lemon (if using) and mix to combine. If the icing is still rather thick and clumps together, add more water (a teaspoon or two at a time), until the icing holds stiff peaks.

Assembly
1. Thin the royal icing with water until the desired consistency is reached (for piping, it should resemble the same consistency as toothpaste). Decorate the tops of the cookies, as desired.

2. While the icing is still wet, build the Christmas Gingerbread Trees by stacking the smaller stars on top of the larger stars. Use a dab of icing in-between cookies to secure as needed. Attach a small star to the tops of each tree.

For more holiday baking inspiration, these watercolour snowflake sugar cookies are here to dazzle, along with our top 100 holiday cookie and square recipes (bring on the sugar rush!).

Make Your Home Hygge with Scandinavian Cardamom Buns

Cardamom buns are a Scandinavian specialty widely available in cafés and bakeries in Nordic regions like Sweden and Denmark. I think of them as a more twisted, texturally interesting, tender-to-the-tooth cinnamon bun with spicy floral notes and eye-catching beauty. The cardamom-spiked dough, filling and glaze bring hygge vibes and cozy winter appeal to your kitchen, perfect for fika (the Swedish coffee break), a lazy winter weekend or your holiday brunch spread.

The cardamom buns I enjoyed in Scandinavia use whole black cardamom seeds in the dough and filling, which I’ve found in some specialty food stores and online. The whole seeds add candy-like crunch and big, bold cardamom flavour, but they are harder to track down, so I’ve developed this recipe with ground cardamom. Just make sure your ground cardamom is as fresh as possible for the biggest bang for your buck. This recipe is all about the spice, and as fragrant as it may be raw, it does dissipate during baking — don’t be afraid of the large amount used in this recipe. 

Scandinavian Cardamom Buns

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Rise Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Makes: 15 to 20  

Ingredients: 

Dough
1 cup, plus 1 Tbsp whole milk, heated to 110°F
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
⅓ cup dark or light brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cardamom
Pinch, kosher salt
75 g salted butter, room temperature
Oil, for greasing bowl 

Filling
65 g salted butter, room temperature
⅓ cup dark or light brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Glaze and Sugar Sprinkle
¼ water
¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp to 1 Tbsp granulated sugar

Directions: 

Dough
1. Place warmed milk in a heat-proof bowl and sprinkle over yeast. Allow yeast to activate for 10 minutes while you prepare the dry ingredients.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together flour, brown sugar, cardamom and salt. Fit mixer with the dough hook, turn on low and slowly add milk and yeast. With the mixture running, add pieces of the room-temperature butter until incorporated, and then turn to medium-low speed. Knead on medium-low speed for 5 minutes, until the dough is springy but still soft.

3. Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and allow to proof in a warm area of your kitchen away from drafts for at least 1 hour, up to 1 hour 30 minutes.

Filling
1. Cream all filling ingredients in a medium bowl until combined. Set aside.

Assembly
1. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Sprinkle a clean surface with additional flour and turn out dough. Flour rolling pin and roll into a rough rectangle approximately 13 inches by 21 inches. Evenly spread over filling using an offset spatula all the way to the edges.

3. Using a ruler or by eye, cut into 15 to 20, ¾-inch- to 1-inch-wide strips, from long edge to long edge.

4. With the filling facing towards your fingers, wrap each dough strip around two to three fingers, three to four times, creating twists and small layers in the dough as you go for a taller bun, leaving a small strip to fold between your fingers and tuck in the bottom of the bun to secure. Repeat with remaining dough and spread formed buns evenly out on the prepared baking sheet, leaving room to expand.

5. Cover baking sheets with a clean damp kitchen towel, place away from drafts and allow to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Baking and Glazing
1. Position oven racks to accommodate two baking sheets with good airflow. Preheat oven to 425ºF.

2. While buns are proofing, for the glaze, combine water, brown sugar and cardamom in a small saucepan over medium heat until brown sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside.

3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through, top to bottom and vice versa, until tops are golden brown and buns are bubbling in the centre. Do not over- or under-bake. Immediately after they come out of the oven, brush with all of the glaze and sprinkle with sugar. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes, then enjoy warm or room temperature, storing loosely covered for up to 12 hours (see Notes for make-ahead option).

Notes:
1. The baked cardamom buns are best the day they are made, but can be frozen (once cool and the glaze is set) for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature or in a low oven.

2. Prepare the dough and filling the day before up until rolling (after the first proof; stopping before Assembly in directions). Cover each bowl tightly or transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before rolling, filling and forming.

Stay cozy Scandinavian-style with more hygge recipes, and whip up a batch of these colourful Swedish Christmas cookies.

Stained-Glass-Cookies-on-plate

These Stained Glass Cookies Will Bring the Sparkle to Your Cookie Swap

These stained glass sugar cookies will literally sparkle and shine at your holiday cookies exchange. Made from your favourite sugar cookie dough and a handful of hard candies, these festive treats look just like stained glass! No need to spend hours making icing or decorating cookies – the magic here happens while the cookies are baking. We like punching polka dots out of classic Christmas tree cookies using a piping tip (genius, right?) to create jewel-toned ornaments, but feel free to use whatever cookie cutters and shapes you have on hand and get creative with your cut-outs.

hand-holding-stained-glass-cookies

Stained Glass Sugar Cookie Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 9 to 12 minutes
Total Time: 120 minutes
Makes: About 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1 recipe sugar cookie dough
1 198 g bag hard candies (like Jolly Ranchers)

Directions:
1. Prepare the cookie dough as directed. Divide the dough in half, shape into disks, and cover in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

2. When ready, roll out one half of the cookie dough at a time to about ¼-inch thick on a lightly flour-dusted work surface. Using a decorative cookie cutter, cut out shapes of dough.

Related: Easy Make-Ahead Christmas Cookies for Your Holiday Bash

3. Transfer the cookies to a parchment lined baking pan, spaced about an inch apart. Use a smaller cutter or the end of a round piping tip to punch out holes. Chill the cookies (on the baking pan) for at least 30 minutes.

filling-stained-glass-cookies-with-candy

4. Stack the cookie dough scraps and cut-outs and re-roll. Repeat with the remaining dough. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.

5. Grind the hard candies into a powder using a food processor, one color at a time. The powder will begin to clump and harden if left out, so use immediately.

6. Using a small spoon, carefully fill the holes of the cookies with different colors of ground candy. Fill the holes completely. Try to prevent the candy from spilling onto the surface of the cookie. Brush away any excess candy.

Related: Ree Drummond’s Best Holiday Desserts

stained-glass-cookies-on-tray

7. Bake the cookies in the pre-heated oven for 9 to 12 minutes. If at 9 minutes the candy-filled holes seem thin, very carefully spoon in a little bit more candy and continue to bake just until melted.

8. When done, place the baking sheet on a wire rack. Allow cookies to completely cool before carefully removing the cookies with a metal or rubber spatula. The melted candy will be very hot. Please take caution and do not touch until cookies have cooled.

9. Store cooled cookies in an air-tight container.

Stained-Glass-sugar-Cookies-on-plate

Looking for more sweet inspiration? Try our very best classic Christmas cookie recipes.

gluhwein-in-cup

How to Make Traditional German Glühwein

Glü-what? Glühwein is a spiced red wine that’s traditionally served at Christmas markets in Germany and Austria. Translated roughly as “glowing wine” which refers to the temperature the wine is heated to, this holiday drink is meant to warm you up as you make your way around the market stalls, chatting and shopping and will ensure you won’t get cold.

Mulled wine, as we call it in English, is actually really simple to make and even better, it’s easy to make large batches which makes it perfect for entertaining over the holidays.

Making mulled wine is simple but it does involve a little bit more than just heating the wine – it’s a delicate balance of spices (cinnamon, star anise, cloves), citrus fruits, alcohol and sugar. Play around with the ratios to see what you like best. Mull your wine early to fill your house with the wonderful smells of the season to greet your guests as they arrive. Keep the pot on very low heat through the party and keep an eye on it – you’ll surely need to make more at some point!

cup-of-gluhwein

Glühwein Recipe

Makes: Approximately 2L (enough for 12-24 depending on if you are serving tasting portions or full serves)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
8 cloves
2 clementines or small oranges
peel and juice of 1 lemon (approx. 1/4 – 1/3 cup)
peel and juice of 2 clementines or small oranges (approx. 1/2 – 3/4 cup)
2 x 750 mL bottles fruity red wine
1/2 cup port
1/2 cup Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1/2 cup brandy
clementine or orange slices, for garnish
cinnamon sticks, for garnish

cup-of-holiday-german-gluhwein

Directions:
1. Place the sugar and cinnamon stick in a large (2 litre) pot.
2. Stick 4 cloves into each whole clementine and place them in the pot with the sugar.
3. Add the lemon and clementine peel and juice (you should have around 3/4 – 1 cup juice in total) to the pot.
4. Pour in just enough wine to cover the clementines and heat over medium heat until it boils. Simmer for around 5 minutes.
5. Add the rest of the wine, the port, the Grand Marnier (or Cointreau) and brandy and stir well. Heat for around 15 minutes on low-medium heat. Do not allow the wine to boil.
6. Serve hot with a slice of orange or clementine and perhaps a dash of cinnamon or cinnamon stick as garnish.

Looking for more seasonal drinks? Try these 10 Tasty Mulled Wine Recipes.

This Sticky Toffee Pudding Bundt Cake is a Thing of Beauty

A take on the classic Christmas pudding, this sticky date Bundt cake is sure to be a crowd pleaser this holiday season. Drizzled with a toffee caramel sauce, it is elegant enough to be served for Christmas but simple enough to be enjoyed over coffee.

christmas-sticky-toffee-bundt

Christmas Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe

Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour
Makes: 1 (12-cup) Bundt cake

Ingredients:
Toffee Sauce:
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
1 Tbsp molasses
2/3 cup heavy cream
½ tsp salt

Cake:
2 ½ cups dates, chopped and pitted
1 ¾ cups boiling water
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
3 Tbsp molasses
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt

sticky-toffee-bundt-cake

Directions:
Toffee Sauce:
1. Combine brown sugar, butter and molasses in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from heat, and stir in heavy cream and salt. Let cool completely.
Tip: When adding heavy cream you can also add a splash of spiced rum or whiskey to toffee sauce, if desired.

Cake:
1. For the cake, preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine dates, boiling water and baking soda. Cover and let stand 1 hour. In a blender, puree mixture until smooth, about 1 minute.
3. Cream butter and brown sugar with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Stir in molasses.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Add to butter mixture alternating with pureed date mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture until incorporated. Pour into prepared pan.
5. Bake 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
6. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Invert onto cooling rack. Brush exterior of cake with toffee sauce and cool completely. Drizzle remaining sauce over cooled cake.

Looking for more inspiration? Try our Show-Stopping Holiday Desserts.

Show-Stopping Christmas Cupcake Wreath

Want to turn heads at your next holiday party or create a flashy dessert table? Turn ordinary cupcakes into a show-stopping centrepiece by simply arranging them to form a wreath!

CupcakeWreath01

Adorn mini cupcakes with sugar paste holly leaves before gathering them to create a giant edible wreath. A few sprinkles and sugar pearls give this easy dessert a bit of extra flair. Guests may resist snagging a cupcake for fear they may mess up the design, but this hesitation will only last a second — they’re too delicious not to enjoy!

If you don’t have a holly leaf cutter, you may cut the fondant by hand, make icing leaves using a piping bag and leaf tip, or tint the buttercream green and decorate as desired.  Arrange the cupcakes on your serving area before you frost and decorate to help create a more cohesive design. Pipe the buttercream so they almost touch, and arrange the leaves so they overlap and join the cupcakes together. Enjoy!

Active Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook: 12 to 15 minutes
Total: 5 hours, 45 minutes (including setting/cooling time)
Serves: 45 mini cupcakes

Vanilla Spice Cupcakes:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk

Holly Leaves:
3 to 4 oz green fondant
Holly leaf cutter
Paring knife
Foil or a brown paper bag

Vanilla Buttercream Icing:
3 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Assembly:
Piping bag and piping tip
Assorted sprinkles (optional)
Festive bow (optional)
Round red candies or fondant balls

CupcakeWreath02

Directions:

Cupcakes:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a mini muffin tin with cupcake papers and set aside.
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
4. With the mixer on low, gradually add in half of the dry ingredients. Slowly stream in the milk and mix until combined. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Mix on medium for no more than about 30 seconds or until completely combined.
5. Evenly distribute the batter into the liners using a spoon, filling 2/3 of the way full.
6. Bake the cupcakes in the preheated over for 12 to 15 minutes. When done, they should be slightly golden on top and toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean.
7. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack before frosting.

CupcakeWreath06

Vanilla Buttercream Icing:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the egg whites and sugar. Whisk briefly by hand until combined.
2. Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. Stirring intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it reaches 150°F to 160°F on a candy thermometre.
3. Once hot, carefully return the mixer bowl to the stand mixer. Fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg white mixture on high until stiff peaks, about 8 minutes. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature.
4. Stop the mixer and swap the whisk for the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla, cinnamon, and butter, a couple Tbsp at a time. Once all of the butter has been added, turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until smooth.
5. If the mixture looks curdled, just keep mixing until it is smooth (this could take up to about 5 minutes). If it appears soupy, place the mixer bowl in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes, then mix until smooth.

CupcakeWreath04

Holly Leaves:
1. Crumple then flatten a piece of foil or a brown paper bag (cut to lay flat) and set aside.
2. Working with only a portion of the fondant at a time, roll it out to 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch thick. Use the holly leaf cutter to cut out the leaves. Using the back of a paring knife, score the leaves down the centre and diagonally on each side to create leaf impressions. Pinch the bottom of each leaf then let dry on the foil or paper bag for at least 4 hours or overnight. Repeat with the remaining fondant. You will need about 60 to 80 leaves to complete the design. The crumbled foil/paper bag will give the leaves a natural shape as they dry.

CupcakeWreath07

Assembly:
1. Arrange the cooled cupcakes into the shape of a wreath on a large serving dish or platter. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip with the buttercream. Pipe the frosting onto the tops of the cupcakes and sprinkle with sugar pearls, jimmies, or dragées, if desired.
2. Arrange the dried holly leaves on top of the cupcakes to form a wreath. Top with the red candies or fondant balls and bow to complete the design.

CupcakeWreath03
3. It’s easier to pipe the cupcakes and arrange the holly leaves after the cupcakes have already been placed in the wreath shape. If transporting, pipe and decorate each cupcake individually, then arrange into the wreath shape before serving.

Looking for more festive treats? Try Ina Garten’s Festive Holiday Desserts.

Traditional Acadian Christmas Meat Pie Recipe

There’s a new meat pie in town! We’ve all heard of tourtière, the French-Canadian spiced meat pie. But there’s another French-Canadian meat pie that is just as worthy of your love: an Acadian pie traditionally eaten at Christmas that hails from the Maritimes. I first heard of it through my cousin-in-law’s wife when we were sharing holiday eating traditions. When she said the words “traditional Christmas meat pie,” I had to know everything about it.

acadian meat pie

Not only did I get the recipe, but I also got to make the pie with her parents, Norma and Rufus, who are of Acadian descent and grew up in New Brunswick. We were going to cook her family’s recipe, handed down to her dad by his mother. Rufus has been making this same pie for decades in huge batches for family Christmas gatherings.

acadian meat pie 2

When we first began cooking I asked Rufus: “So this is kind of like tourtiere, right?” I received a firm lesson from Rufus that it is not. Tourtiere is a Quebecois dish, and we were making an Acadian meat pie. The flavours are different and, according to Rufus, better.  The meat is flavoured with onion and most importantly, summer savoury (the stuff from New Brunswick is best). Tourtiere uses ground meat and has a spiced taste from nutmeg, allspice and cloves that is totally different from an Acadian meat pie. Which one is better? They are both delicious in their own way, but I am a bit more partial to the Acadian meat pie since I learned it from a dad who has been carrying on this long Christmas tradition for his family.

acadian meat pie 3

A sincere thank you to Norma and Rufus for sharing their Christmas family recipe and traditions with me and our Food Network Canada readers. Maritimers are so friendly, aren’t they?

Acadian Christmas Meat Pie Recipe

Ingredients:
3 pounds beef blade roast, bone-in (or similar inexpensive cut)
3 pounds pork shoulder picnic roast, bone-in, skin removed (or similar inexpensive cut)
2-3 heaping Tbsp summary savoury
3 medium onions, chopped very fine
1/2 tsp dried ground ginger
6 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
Salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Cut the beef and pork into large chunks, about 2-inches in size.
2. Place the meat in a large heavy pot and add enough water to cover the meat. Stir in the chopped onions, summer savoury and ground ginger.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a sturdy simmer for about 2 to 3 hours or until the meat is tender and comes easily off the bone. Add water if the cooking liquid evaporates too much; the meat should remain covered with liquid when cooking.
3. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and when fork tender, drain and mash. The potatoes should be finely mashed and have no lumps; the texture of the potatoes must be completely smooth for the filling to turn out correctly. Season the mashed potatoes well with salt and pepper.
4. Once the meat is cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the cooking liquid.
5. Shred the meat. Remove any bone and large pieces of fat. However, keep some small pieces of fat for flavour and mash it into the shredded meat.  Set aside about one cup of the cooking liquid. Place the shredded meat back into the remaining cooking liquid. Season the meat well with salt and pepper. Simmer the meat and liquid for another 30 minutes.
6. Mix the mashed potatoes into the shredded meat, one large spoonful at a time. Incorporate each spoon of mashed potatoes well before adding the next. Once all of the mashed potatoes are incorporated, taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if needed.  The meat and potato filling should be moist  – not too dry or too wet. If it seems too dry, add a bit of the reserved cooking liquid. The mixture should not be too wet. If there are pools of liquid in the mixture, it is too wet and the pie crust will be soggy.
7. Using your favourite pie dough recipe or purchased pie dough, roll out the dough and place in a pie pan. Fill the pie pan with the meat and potato filling. Do not over-stuff and pack down the filling. Cover the pie with a second piece of pie crust and crimp the edges, creating a seal. Cut steam vents into the top and brush the crust with an egg wash.
8. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven until the crust is golden brown, about 30 – 40 minutes.

Tips:
This meat pie can be served warm or at room temperature and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner over the Christmas holidays.
This recipe will make enough filling for approximately 8-10 pies.
If you’re not making that many pies,  freeze the filling and use it at a later time.
This recipe can be scaled up or down; however, the ratio of meat and potatoes needs to remain at 1:1.

Looking for more recipes? Try these great Acadian Recipes.

Maple Gingerbread Buche de Noel with Salted Praline Topping

Making your own yule log at home can be achieved in a few fun steps. In this take on the traditional bûche de noël, spiced gingerbread cake is filled and topped with a super-sweet maple frosting, and covered in a salted walnut praline for added crunch. Celebrate the season with this gorgeous centrepiece on your holiday dessert table — it’s sure to garner praise from guests!

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Cooling Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours, 10 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

Maple Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter
11/2 cups canned full-fat coconut milk
11/2 cups icing sugar, sifted, more for rolling
3 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp cornstarch, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp maple extract (optional)
Pinch, salt

Gingerbread Cake
Oil, for pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, more for pan
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tsp ground dried ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp five-spice powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

Salted Walnut Praline
1 cup raw walnuts
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt

Assembly
1 tsp cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions:

Maple Frosting
1. Combine all icing ingredients in a medium saucepan, whisking constantly until mixture is bubbling and thick. Continue to whisk and cook for 1 minute.
2. Pour into a medium bowl and chill overnight.

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Gingerbread Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Line a half sheet pan (18″ x 13″ x 1″ high) with parchment paper; oil and flour parchment, tapping out excess flour. Reserve.
3. Add a clean tea towel to counter and evenly dust over additional icing sugar.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, five-spice, baking soda and salt.
5. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a handheld mixer in a large bowl, beat eggs on high speed until tripled in volume. Add sugar and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until thick and voluminous. Add flour mixture and beat until almost combined. Finish folding in by hand with a large spatula. Smooth batter into prepared pan.
6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cake springs back when you touch it. Immediately flip out onto tea towel and remove parchment. Starting at the end, use the tea towel to roll the cake into a log shape.
7. Tuck in ends, transfer to wire rack and cool completely in tea towel, about 4 hours. Reserve.

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Salted Walnut Praline
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Combine walnuts, maple syrup and salt to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until maple syrup is caramelized.
3. Cool completely (they crisp as they cool) and roughly chop. Reserve.

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Assembly
1. Whisk frosting until smooth (soften at room temperature for 30 minutes if required).

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2. Carefully unroll cake and spread 1/2 of frosting over interior, leaving a 1-inch gap around the edges. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp of walnuts praline. Carefully roll and ice the outside of cake with remaining frosting. Place cake on serving plate.

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3. Gently press walnuts onto exterior and dust with cocoa powder. Loosely cover (a large cake dome, box or oblong plastic container) keep chilled until ready to serve.

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Homemade Baileys

Homemade Irish Cream is Your 5-Minute DIY Christmas Gift

In coffee, on ice, in adults-only smoothies or as an eggnog add-in, homemade Irish cream is the gift that keeps on giving. You won’t believe how easy it is to make this holiday favourite right at home. Packaged in small glass jars, one batch will yield at least a dozen homemade gifts or enough to treat guests, friends and family during the holidays.

Homemade Baileys

Total Time: 5 minutes
Makes: Approximately 3 cups

Ingredients:
2 cups half-and-half cream
1 (300 mL) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whisky
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp finely ground coffee or freeze-dried instant coffee
1/4 tsp salt

Homemade Baileys

Directions:
1.Add all ingredients in a blender and puree until fully combined. Pour into sterilized glass jars, seal and store in the refrigerator up to 1 month.
2. To serve, stir into hot coffee, serve on ice, blend into a milkshake, whisk into eggnog or whatever you can dream up. Irish cream also makes a great base for truffles, homemade ice cream and boozy custards for your holiday trifle.

Looking for more homemade gifts? Try 4 Genius Homemade Christmas Gifts from Anna.

Best-Ever Gravy Recipe

Don’t let your gravy be an afterthought — this killer herb-infused, make-ahead recipe is about to become your secret weapon for winning the holidays.

Never underestimate the power of a good gravy. From its ability to heat up lukewarm mash to its sly way of camouflaging a turkey that’s been cooked a bit too long, gravy is the unsung superhero of holiday cooking that rarely gets the glory it so deserves.

best-ever-gravy-recipe-with-chicken-wings

Making it ahead means you can take your time creating the kind of rich and velvety gravy holiday dreams are made of. This one is built on a solid foundation of chicken wings, a gorgeous helping of flavour-packed vegetables, and a seasonal trio of fresh herbs, all slow-roasted to perfection. To really send it over the top, add the juices from your roasted bird the day of for even more depth of flavour. Just try not to guzzle it up all before it hits the table.

best-ever-gravy-recipe-using-chicken-wings

Ingredients:
8 to 12 chicken wings
2 yellow onions, halved with outer skin in tact
4 to 5 small carrots, peeled, quartered
3 celery stalks, quartered
4 fresh rosemary stems
4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
4 fresh bay leaves
1 Tbsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp flour

best ever gravy with mashed potatoes

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Place all the ingredients in a large roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for about 75 minutes.
3. Set roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add 8 cups of boiling water, scrapping up any brown bits as you stir. Sprinkle in flour and stir to ensure no lumps form. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, smashing with a potato masher every now and again.
4. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into another pot. Let cool. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
*If serving with your holiday turkey, reserve any juices from your bird and add this to your make ahead gravy.

How to Host a Feast of the Seven Fishes Like Matt Basile

Until he was well into his teens, restaurateur and cookbook author Matt Basile had never tasted a Christmas turkey. Instead, the Italian-Canadian creator of the Toronto street food company, Fidel Gastro, spent his childhood holidays dining on Southern-Italian specialties, like fresh grilled shrimp and fettucine Pomodoro.

Basile’s family never called their holiday meal a ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes,’ but as he points out, “Italians — especially southern Italians — don’t really look to name a food trend; they just eat the best quality food.” Even among the Italian and Italian-American families who call their holiday dinner by the idiosyncratic name, there are no set rules for what must be served, although, as the title implies, seafood is appreciated.

Here are Basile’s tips for hosting a memorable and delicious Italian-Christmas dinner.

garlic shrimp

Start with Love (and Frangelico)

“Lots of love and food,” were always on the menu at Basile’s Nonno’s house, where his family would gather for a festive feast, always served family-style. “It’s just how you ate,” he says. “It forced you to be patient and to look at the person across from you and make sure their plate was topped up before yours. It taught you to share a meal with the people you loved versus just consume one.”

Before the generous meal, there was “always enough to feed an army,” says Basile — his family served Frangelico aperitivos.

Add Seafood (and Pasta, and Steak)

Grilled shrimp, grilled sardines with lemon, and crab legs were regulars on the Basile family’s holiday menu, often served alongside fettuccine pomodoro and steak. But it’s the zuppa di pesci, a fragrant seafood soup, that really gets Basile in the Christmas spirit. “The most nostalgic of the dishes was the zuppa di pesci — tomato broth with incredibly soft potatoes and carrots with clams, cod, salmon and shrimp,” he says. “It would be something I would absolutely crave every year. A few years ago when my girlfriend and I opened our restaurant, we invited both our families and I made a massive 20 litre pot of it.”

tiramisu

Don’t Forget to Espresso Yourself!

The Basile family capped their holiday meals with Sambuca-laced espresso,  a nice alternative to dessert. But just in case you and your guests still have belly room, consider serving one of these Italian holiday favourites: panforte, a spiced chocolate cake, crisp pizzelle waffle cookies, creamy tiramisu, or a towering fruit-studded panettone.

Whatever menu you choose, remember Matt Basile’s advice: setting a festive mood is more important than serving any particular dish. “If you have to follow rules like it’s biblical, then you’re doing it wrong,” he says. “It should be fun, first and foremost.” Good times are not just for guests, either — as the host, it’s essential for you to participate. After all, says Basile, “the more fun you have, the more fun your guests will have!”

Anna Olson’s Tips for Hosting the Ultimate Cookie Exchange

Everyone wants a holiday cookie tin brimming with an assortment of styles but often there just isn’t enough time to get all that baking done, even if your intentions are true.

Hosting a cookie exchange with friends is the best way to get a great variety and also make an occasion out of getting together to swap.

Get the hot chocolate (or mulled wine) warming…it’s time for cookies (and I hear there is a certain North Pole resident who is rather fond of cookies!)

Get the hot chocolate (or mulled wine) warming…it’s time for cookies (and I hear there is a certain North Pole resident who is rather fond of cookies!)

Here are three key tips to hosting a successful cookie exchange this holiday season.

1. Make a Cookie Wish List
If you are initiating the exchange, create a list of cookies that people can sign up for. That way you know you’re getting a balanced mix of colour, size, shape, flavour and texture. Of course, invite your guests to offer their own favourites before confirming the list. They may have a fantastic family recipe you wouldn’t know about! Also inquire into any allergies, so guests can steer clear.

Specify how many cookies each should bring. If a group of ten people are asked to bring a dozen cookies for each person, then everyone goes home with ten dozen cookies – perfect!

2. Consider Exchanging Dough
If you are meeting weeks before the holidays, your cookies might be stale (or eaten!) before you even get to your own festivities.

Exchanging cookie dough to be frozen and baked later is another great option.  The dough should be shaped as they should be baked. Icebox cookies can be shaped into logs to be sliced and baked and chocolate chip cookies can be scooped and then frozen.  Each guest needs to include a little card with the name of the cookie with the portioning and baking instructions. This way each guest can bake the cookies as they need them.

3. Have a Decorating Party
When gathering your cookie group together, have a little fun by including a decorating session. Have gingerbread or sugar cookies ready with frosting and decor in ample supply. Let everyone dress up a few cookies to eat then or take home.  My theme last year was Christmas sweater cookies!

Looking for more holiday cookie inspiration? Check out our collection of 50 Classic Christmas Cookie Recipes.

Make-Ahead Christmas Morning Strata

Strata, a savoury bread pudding, is the perfect way to pack everything you could ever want for breakfast into one tasty dish. This all-in-one breakfast bake will make Christmas morning a breeze; you can prep the entire dish the night before and bake while everyone is opening up their presents. It’s an easy way to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with family!

Prep Time: 25 min
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8

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Ingredients:
6 bacon slices, diced
4 breakfast sausages, casings removed and meat crumbled
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 cups spinach
8 eggs
3 cups milk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese
1/2 Italian bread loaf, sliced into 2” cubes, about 4 cups (200 g)
Butter, for pan

Directions:
1. Grease a large baking dish (9 x 13”) with butter.
2. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add chopped bacon and crumbled sausage pieces. Cook until bacon is crisp, and sausage is cooked through and is starting to turn golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Once cooked, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Drain all but 1 Tbsp of fat from pan.
4. In the same pan, cook onion until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes and spinach and cook until tomatoes start to soften and spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
6. In a large bowl, beat eggs with milk, Dijon, salt and pepper. Mix in cheese, bread, bacon, sausages and spinach mixture. Pour into prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap.
7. Place in the fridge for two hours, overnight or bake right away.
8. When ready to bake your strata, preheat oven to 350°F. While your oven is preheating, remove strata from the fridge. Bake for 1 hour.

John Catucci on Where You Gotta Eat During the Holidays

You Gotta Eat Here host John Catucci has sampled food across Canada, so when he offers his suggestions for our nation’s best spots to grab a holiday meal, we just have one question: Where?

John is full of recommendations, so put on your stretchy pants and get your Santa bellies ready, Canada, because there’s plenty of homegrown deliciousness to enjoy this holiday season.

Scandilicious (Vancouver, BC)

Mother-daughter team Anita and Kristina offer a menu of traditional Norwegian family recipes at this Vancouver hotspot, including gluten-free options.  John’s favourite is the ‘Applepieffle,’ a liege waffle topped with spiced poached apples and a gingerbread cookie spread. “It took me a while to be able to say ‘applepieffle’ without getting tongue tied,” says John, but it was worth the effort. “Apple pie + waffle = SO GOOD!”

That Little Place by the Lights

That Little Place By The Lights (Huntsville, ON)

Lasagna is a must-try at this cottage country favourite. Chef Annie’s masterpiece features of layers of succulent homemade pasta, laced with her signature Bolognese sauce and stuffed with a cheese and béchamel filling. John says it’s the best lasagna you’ll ever taste.  “Please don’t tell my Zia Felicetta, or she won’t ever make me lasagna again.”

Saturday Dinette (Toronto, ON)

Grab a seat at the counter, enjoy the rocking tunes and tuck into chef Suzanne’s massive soy-braised beef ribs, served with a hearty walnut dip. Then get back out there and finish your shopping! “Suzanne is an incredible chef and an amazing woman,” says John. “When you walk into her place, she makes you feel like you’re part of the family.”

Yellow Belly Brewery

Yellowbelly Brewery (St. John’s, NFLD)

Can’t decide between cheese pizza and chicken Caesar salad? Then just order John’s favourite, the four-cheese and chicken Caesar pizza, and you won’t have to. “I love being able to pick up my salad, in case I need to go somewhere,” says John. “I’m not going anywhere, I’m just saying it’s a nice option.”

The Satay Brothers (Montreal, QC)

Add some Singaporean spice to your season with the street food favourites at this Montreal establishment. John especially loves the pork belly buns, two steamed buns stuffed with braised pork belly, hoisin sauce, fresh cucumber, and cilantro; they’re the perfect combination of soft and crunchy textures and sweet and salty flavours. “If you’ve never had a steamed bun, do it,” says John. “Chewy, soft clouds of deliciousness stuffed with the most succulent pork belly.  Leave one out for Santa.  I’m sure he’s getting tired of all those cookies”

Still hungry? Check out the You Gotta Eat Here! map for more delicious options.

Pie Thumbprint Cookies

Easy-as-Pie Thumbprint Cookies

The holidays are full of indulgence, celebration and endless choices. Eggnog or hot chocolate? Shortbread or gingerbread? Pumpkin or pecan? For those of us who just can’t decide, or just need to try them all, these delightful little cookies are for you. A simple thumbprint cookie is all you need to make these tasty treats that pack all the flavours of your favourite holiday pies.

This way, you can sample all the best seasonal tastes in just a few bites, leaving you lots of room for more delicious sweets. This easy recipe will help you make a batch of decadent lemon, pecan and cranberry pie cookies, but feel free to get creative with more pie-fect fillings like banana cream or apple!

Pie Cookies

Pie Thumbprint Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: About 35 cookies

Ingredients:
Thumbprint cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Pie Cookies

Directions:
1. In bowl of stand mixer, beat butter, icing sugar, brown sugar and almond extract until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With mixer on medium-low, beat in flour and salt until just combined.
2. Scoop out 1 Tbsp at a time and roll into balls. Arrange about 1-inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Using the tip of your thumb, create deep well into centre of each ball of dough, pinching any cracks that form around the well. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
3. Bake in 350ºF oven until light golden on the bottom and no longer shiny, about 12 minutes. If necessary re-shape well with the back of a wooden spoon. Remove to cooling rack; let cool completely.

Lemon Cream Filling

Ingredients:
1/4 cup lemon curd
1/4 cup whipping cream (35%), whipped

Directions:
1. Spoon lemon curd into the centre of the thumbprint cookies.
2. Using piping bag fitted with small star-tipped shape, pipe a small amount of whipped cream on top of lemon curd.

Pecan Pie Filling

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
2 Tbsp liquid honey

Directions:
1.In small nonstick skillet over medium heat, combine brown sugar and butter, stirring until butter has melted. Stir in pecans, stirring until coated. Stir in honey. Cook, stirring, until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
2. Spoon pecan filling into the centre of the thumbprint cookies.

Thumbprint-Cookies-pies

Cranberry Pie Filling

Ingredients:
1 cup frozen cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 rosemary sprig, and extra to garnish

Directions:
1. In small saucepan, bring cranberries, sugar, water and rosemary sprig to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have popped and mixture is chunky, about 10 minutes. Discard rosemary sprig. Let cool.
2. Spoon cranberry filling into the centre of the thumbprint cookies. Garnish with rosemary.

Make the Cutest Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies

Ugly Christmas sweaters used to be the curse of the holiday season. Yet, the tacky, colourful jumpers have somehow become the hottest holiday fashion statement. Holiday parties are planned around who can wear the most hideous sweater, and it’s always surprising to see who can find the most ironic and hilarious cardigan.

Meet the coolest holiday cookies around, wearing…you guessed it: ugly Christmas sweaters. Sure, you can always make gingerbread men, but we love how cute these iconic Canadian animals look dressed up for the season. You’ll have as much fun designing them as you do wearing them. Bring these to your next ugly sweater party and put everyone in a festive mood.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies

Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours
Makes: 26 cookies

Ingredients:

Cookies
2-2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

Royal Icing
2 large egg whites
1 tsp lemon juice
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
Red food gel
Green food gel
Sprinkles
Sanding sugar

Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add molasses, vanilla and egg and beat until combined.
4. Gradually add in dry ingredients and stir until combined.
5. Divide the dough into 2 portions. Wrap them in plastic and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
6. Remove 1 dough portion from refrigerator and roll out on a floured surface into a 1/4-inch thick sheet. Dust rolling pin and surface of the dough with flour to avoid sticking.
7. Using desired cookie cutters, cut various shapes out of the dough and place them on prepared baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough portion.
8. Bake cookies until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely before decorating, about 30 min.
9. To make royal icing, whisk egg whites with lemon juice. Gradually add in icing sugar and whisk until smooth. The consistency should be thick enough that when you pull the whisk out of the mixture, the ribbon that runs off stays visible on the surface for a few seconds. You can add more icing sugar to achieve a thicker consistency or conversely, add small amounts of water to thin.
10. Divide the royal icing into 3 separate bowls. Dip the tip of a paring knife into red food gel and add colour to one bowl of icing and stir. Continue to add more gel until desired colour forms. Repeat with green food gel and one of the remaining bowls of royal icing. Leave remaining icing white. Transfer various icing colours to small piping bags. Pipe ugly sweaters onto your cookies using various colours, patterns, sprinkles and sanding sugar. Let dry for minimum 1 hour before serving.

brunch ideas for kids

10 Ideas for a Kid-Friendly Brunch

Make weekend mornings more fun with these 10 scrumptious brunch ideas that kids will adore.

Pancake Snowman

1. Snowmen Pancakes
When making pancakes drop three small circles of batter in your pan so each one touches. When you flip it over you will have a snowman pancake ready to be decorated. Serve with bacon strips (to use as a scarf), berries for decorating the face, chocolate chips for the jacket and marshmallows to look like snow.

2. Egg in a Star Toast
Toast a few slices of bread. Use a cookie cutter to cut out star shapes from the bread. Place the bread in a large frying pan with butter. Fry eggs in star holes. Serve with ketchup!

3. Christmas Morning Fruit Bowl
In a large bowl mix together a selection of green and red fruit – try strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, cherries, sliced kiwis, grapes, apples and pears. Mix orange and lime juice with citrus zest and toss with fruit.

4. Reindeer Waffles
Take a round waffle that has been toasted and cut a triangle into one end (this will be the chin of the reindeer). Use scrap pieces to place at the top of the waffle to look like antlers. Use blueberries for the reindeer eyes, strawberries for a Rudolph nose and maple syrup to serve!

5. Red & Green Fruit Muffins
Make your favourite muffin recipe and mix in ¼ cup Christmas sprinkles as well as a big handful of pomegranate seeds and one mashed banana. Once you scoop your muffin batter into the tins, top with a mixture of red and green sprinkles.

6. Festive Fruit Parfaits
In tall glasses layer up yogurt, berries and granola to create a healthy, festive breakfast. Start by adding a layer of vanilla yogurt, topped with a layer of granola, sprinkle in some raspberries and blueberries and top with a small handful of yogurt. Continue layering until the glasses are full.

7. Santa Claus Strawberry Hats
Use strawberries and whipped cream to make mini Santa Claus hats. Clean and hull your strawberries. Dip the hulled end of the strawberry in cream and place on a plate or on top of brownies, muffins or pancakes. Place another dollop of cream on the pointed end of the strawberry to complete the Santa hat.

8. Cookie Cutter Pancakes
Use your favourite cookie cutter to make pancakes. Simply butter your pan and place the cookie cutter in the melted butter. Pour batter into the cookie cutter and wait until one side has set. Push the pancake out of the cutter to flip. Continue with a variety of shapes and sizes. Serve with maple syrup and sprinkles!

9. Christmas Fruit Tree
Use a large platter or cutting board to spread out chopped fruit in the shape of a large Christmas tree. Use sliced kiwis, green grapes and apples to look like the tree. Use red berries like raspberries or strawberries to string across the tree like lights. Top with a pineapple star! Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

10. Red & Green Christmas Morning Smoothie
Make a layered smoothie by first making a red berry smoothie using milk, yogurt, raspberries, strawberries and a banana. Set aside and mix your green smoothie using milk, yogurt, celery, spinach and apples. Layer your red and green smoothies in tall glasses and serve with straws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Delicious Ways to Dress Up Mashed Potatoes

With that big holiday dinner fast approaching, ask yourself this: are you getting tired of serving the same, boring old mashed potatoes each year? If you answered in the affirmative, you won’t go wrong with these mouth-watering recipes for mashed potatoes that will raise the bar at any holiday feast.

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1. Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs
Giada De Laurentiis adds bread crumbs and plenty of salty, melted Parmesan cheese to top this baked mashed potato masterpiece.

2. French Potato Purée
Superbly sophisticated, Laura Calder’s recipe puts a sensational spin on mashed potatoes with this creamy purée that will dazzle adult taste buds with its subtle complexity of flavours.

3. Crème Fraiche Mashed Potatoes
Anna Olson adds green onions, garlic and thick crème fraiche to these chunky mashed potatoes that make an ideal accompaniment for just about any main.

4. Garlic and Parsley Mashed Potatoes
Fresh, aromatic garlic is lightly sautéed in butter or margarine, combining with fresh parsley for a flavour-packed variation on the comfort-food classic.

5. Grandma’s Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
A time-honoured recipe from his grandmother, Michael Smith serves up this mouth-watering version of mashed potatoes that boasts golden-brown butter as its key ingredient, with just a touch of nutmeg to enhance the rich flavour.

6. Lynn’s Lobster Mashed Potatoes
“Opulent” doesn’t even begin to describe Lynn Crawford’s sumptuous recipe, with sweet, tender chunks of lobster tail mixed into buttery mashed potatoes for a decadent side dish that’s practically a meal in itself.

7. Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
You’ll be amazed at how adding just a bit of horseradish to mashed potatoes can add a zesty zip that takes this reliable side dish to new heights.

8. Grainy Mustard Mashed Potatoes
Fresh thyme and spicy whole-grain mustard add some deliciously powerful flavour to this kicked-up mashed potato recipe from Tyler Florence.

9. Baked Mashed Potatoes with Pancetta, Parmesan Cheese and Breadcrumbs
Smoky pancetta bacon is the secret weapon in this unbelievably flavourful variation of mashed potatoes that’s certain to satisfy any crowd.

10. Cheddar Bacon Mashed Potatoes
Imagine a bacon cheeseburger combined with mashed potatoes and you get the idea behind this creative recipe that adds the unmistakable flavours of crispy bacon and sharp cheddar.