Tag Archives: holiday

Make-Ahead Baked Stuffing

By Amy Bronee

I learned from a very young age that it’s not a proper turkey dinner without bread stuffing on the table. Forget the cranberry sauce and you might be forgiven. Do roasted potatoes instead of mashed and my dad would probably thank you (he never liked mashed anyway). But don’t make stuffing and you’ll suffer the sad, empty eyes of everyone around the table. After all, what exactly is the point of a turkey dinner without stuffing?

When I made my first turkey dinner, I learned pretty quickly that the turkey cavity is just not big enough for the amount of cubed bread, diced veggies and spices that can be consumed in one sitting. I saw the empty eyes that year. I have been making stuffing outside the bird with my own recipe ever since.

This moist, delicious stuffing can be made ahead of time to free up oven space for that great big side dish – the turkey. The best part is that doing the stuffing outside the bird means I can make a whole lot of it. That way my holiday table is always surrounded by people with satisfied bellies and happy eyes.

Simple Oven-Baked Stuffing

Courtesy of Amy Bronee, familyfeedbag.com, Victoria

Make this stuffing the day before Thanksgiving to save yourself some precious time – and sanity!

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Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 40 minutes
Yields: 8-10 servings

Ingredients
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
2 cups (500 mL) diced yellow onions
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced carrots
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) diced celery
2 tbsp (30 mL) poultry seasoning
2 tsp (10 mL) dried rosemary (or 2 tbsp/30 mL chopped fresh rosemary)
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper
18 cups (4.5 L) white or brown sandwich bread, cubed (no need to dry it out first)
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) chicken or turkey stock

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180° C).
2. Melt butter in large soup pot or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until beginning to soften.
3. Stir in poultry seasoning, rosemary, salt and pepper. Continue cooking 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
4. In two batches, add bread cubes to pot, stirring to evenly distribute seasonings and veggies. Pour in stock and stir. Transfer to large baking dish, such as lasagna pan. Cover with foil.
5. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes. Serve immediately or, if making ahead, cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat before serving.

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Family Feedbag
Amy Bronee is the writer and photographer behind the award-winning home cooking blog FamilyFeedbag.com. Amy has earned several awards and recognitions, including a Jamie Oliver blog of the month award, and being named one of Canada’s “Top 40 Foodies Under 40” by Western Living magazine. Amy’s first cookbook, The Canning Kitchen: 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes, was published by Penguin Canada in June.

Alton Brown's Turkey with Stuffing

The Ultimate Guide to Turkey Cooking Times

The main event during the holidays is serving a perfectly juicy and succulent roast turkey to the ones you love. The last thing you want to do is serve an overcooked (or worse, undercooked) bird. Even if this ain’t your first gobbler, it’s good to have a cheat sheet on hand to ensure you’re on track for dinner time. Follow the chart below for a foolproof way to roast a perfect bird for your holiday feast.

Alton Brown's Turkey with Stuffing

How to Roast a Basic Turkey

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large roasting pan, place thawed turkey, breast side up and tent with a piece of aluminium foil. Bake turkey using the chart below. Remove foil during last hour of cook time. Cook until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 170°F.

Size of Turkey Unstuffed Stuffed
10-12lbs 3 – 3 ¼ hours 3 ½–3 ¾ hours
12-16bs 3 ¼ – 3 ¾ hours 3 ¾ – 4 ¼ hours
16-20lbs 3 ¾ – 4 ¼ hours 4 ¼ – 4 ¾ hours
20-24lbs 4 ¼ – 4 ¾ hours 4 ¾ – 5 ¼ hours

 

Top Turkey Cooking Tips

1. If using a frozen bird, ensure it is fully defrosted if before roasting.
2. Take your bird out of the fridge while the oven preheats.
Juices will run clear when the turkey is done. Look at the juices running from the meat around the thigh bone.
3. If you are using a convection oven, your bird will cook in 25 per cent less time. Take 15 minutes off each hour on the recommended times above.
4. After the turkey is removed from the oven, let it rest for minimum 30 minutes. The juices need to resettle into the meat.

Looking for some delicious inspiration? Try Our Best Thanksgiving Turkey 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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Family Style Holiday Poutine

Leftover Turkey? Make This Family-Style Poutine

You’ve made turkey soup and endless turkey sandwiches, but there’s one more deliciously Canadian way to use up those last bits of leftover holiday turkey.

All of the best parts of a festive turkey dinner combine to make a cheesy, gravy-filled poutine. Roast sweet potatoes make a festive, crispy and colourful base for leftover or quick homemade gravy, cranberry sauce, turkey and squeaky cheese curds. Just set in the middle of the table with lots of forks, and enjoy!

Family Style Holiday Poutine

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves: 10 to 15

Ingredients:

Sweet Potato Fries
2 large sweet potatoes, skin intact, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips or wedges
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Cranberry Sauce (or 1/2 cup prepared cranberry sauce)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp maple syrup

For the Extra Toppings
200g cheese curds
8 oz cooked smoked or roasted turkey meat (not deli meat), shredded
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus whole fresh rosemary twigs to garnish

Family Style Holiday Poutine

Directions:

Sweet Potato Fries
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
2. On a large baking sheet, toss all sweet potato ingredients until sweet potatoes are evenly coated.
3. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork and beginning to brown on the bottom.

Cranberry Sauce
1. In a medium skillet or small saucepan, bring all cranberry sauce ingredients to a boil. Reduce to medium low. Cook, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes, until liquid has reduced and cranberries are burst.
2. Remove from heat, mash cranberries with a fork until desired texture is reached. Set aside.

Assembly
1. On a warm platter or in a warmed cast-iron skillet (for presentation only), add a bed of fries. Top with cheese curds and turkey. Ladle over gravy (use as much as you prefer; there may be extra), followed by cranberry sauce and chopped rosemary. Garnish with a rosemary twig and serve immediately.

Looking for more tasty leftover ideas? Try our 14 Ways to Enjoy Holiday Leftovers.

Dulce de leche rugelach

Irresistible Dulce de Leche Rugelach

The recipe for rugelach is an heirloom in many Jewish families. Passed down from one generation to the next, it’s made year after year as a holiday treat. Classic versions are often filled with chocolate or rolled with sticky-sweet strawberry and apricot jam.

This version oozes smooth, creamy dulce de leche, rolled in plump cream cheese-filled dough, with toffee bits for extra crunch. We’re hoping this recipe will start a new tradition for every family looking to make a tasty treat. It’s similar enough to the classic for your grandmother to enjoy, and decadent enough for all your foodie friends to gush over.

Dulce de leche rugelach

Prep: 40 minutes
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes
Makes: 32 rugelach

Ingredients:

Dough:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
4 oz cold cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla

Filling:
1/3 cup dulce de leche
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp toffee bits (such as Skor)
1 egg yolk

rugelach

Directions:

1. Whirl flour and salt in a food processor. Add in butter and cream cheese, and pulse until mixture is evenly blended and crumbly. Add in egg yolk, vanilla and cinnamon, pulsing until a ball of dough forms in the food processor. Remove dough from food processor and divide into 2 equal portions. Form portions into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill dough in refrigerator for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Remove 1 disc of dough from refrigerator. Roll out into a circle about 12-inches wide and about 1/8-inch thick. With a paring knife, cut the dough along the centre into 16 equal triangles as if you were slicing a pizza. Spread 1/2 the dulce de leche over the dough and sprinkle with 1/2 the toffee bits. Separate 1 piece of dough from the circle. Beginning at the wider end of the triangle, roll toward the tip to form a tight roll. Repeat with remaining disc of dough. Arrange on prepared baking sheet about and 1 inch apart from each other.

3. Mix egg yolk with 1 Tbsp of water. Brush mixture over rugelach. Sprinkle remaining toffee bits over rugelach. Bake until rugelach are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Looking for more dulce de leche? Try our 15 Sticky-Sweet Desserts with Dulce de Leche.

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 like The Fish Counter (Vancouver), Billingsgate MKT (Calgary), Hooked (Toronto) or Fisherman’s Market (Halifax).

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 Malpeque oysters
24 large cooked prawns
1 2lb cooked lobster (claws, arms and tail separated)
2/3 cup seafood sauce
1 lemon (halved and cut into thin wedges)

Spicy Lemon Aioli:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp sambal oelek
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 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, 1/2 of the mussels and 1/2 of the oysters.
3. On the perimetre 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.

spicy lemon aioli

Spicy Lemon Aioli:
1. Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve with seafood.

Ready? Learn How to Shuck an Oyster Like  a Pro.

Yule-Log-Buche-De-Noel-recipe

Chuck Hughes’ French-Canadian Holiday Menu

This holiday season, think outside the traditional menu and look to our food-loving and French-speaking neighbours for ideas and inspiration. Québec has a mixed bag of edible holiday traditions that’ll make your mouth water — some imported to the New World from France, while others are influenced by the (chilly) outdoor elements or British, American and Indigenous cultural traditions. Chuck Hughes, host of Chuck’s Day Off and Montreal chef extraordinaire, shares some French Canadian holiday traditions, as well as delicious menu items to add to your Christmas dinner.

Start with a Midnight Feast

In the 1600s, Québecois settlers traditionally gathered on Christmas Eve for midnight mass, and celebrated afterwards with réveillon — a festive feast fit for a king. Traditionally eaten in Europe, the table would be overflowing with seafood, meat dishes, wine and luxurious sweets, consumed late into the evening. Four centuries later, this dining ritual continues in many French-Canadian homes.

“When I was a kid, the real tradition is on December 24,” says Chef Hughes. “We would go to church at midnight and then after that, you come home and have a big feast. That was really our main meal.”

ragout-and-pickles

Put Out the “Pig Foot Stew” and Pickled Beets

Although réveillon originates from Europe, Québecois have added their own French Canadian additions to the table. For instance, the centrepiece isn’t usually turkey — it’s a hearty pig foot stew simmered in spices for half a day.

“[The menu] revolves more around pork than turkey,” says Chef Hughes. “Our tradition here is Ragoût de pattes de cochon, which means ‘pig foot stew.’ My grandmother used to serve it with potatoes and bow-tie pasta.”

For one tasty rendition, try this satisfying and savoury Pig’s Feet Meatball Ragout, packed with meaty morsels of pork. In other versions, beef, pork, or veal meatballs (or all three) swim in the stew, each seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and rolled in flour to help thicken the broth.

Want to try a Chef Hughes’ family tradition? Fill each bowl with cooked potatoes, a heaping spoonful of stew and meatballs, and then dash with pickled beets — a staple ingredient at his table.

“In the fall, my grandmother pickles her beets,” he says. “Pickled beets are the side dish, served in the centre of the table.”

If you’re tickled by pickled foods, try making some other preserved veggies to accompany the stew. From carrots to cauliflower, dazzle your diners with an array of pickled vegetables using this recipe from Chef Hughes.

Easy-Buche-De-Noel-recipe

Tourtiere and Bûche de Noël

No French Canadian-inspired festive feast would be complete without tourtière, the famed double-crusted meat pie that originates from Québec. Although every family recipe varies, the basic ingredients are the same: a pastry shell is filled with spiced, minced meat, and then baked until the crust is golden and flaky.

“Obviously, this traditional Québec meat pie is a big part of [holiday eating],” says Chef Hughes.

This delicious dish dates back to 17th century Québec, when the pie played a starring role at réveillon and was often stuffed with wild game (rabbit, pheasant, or moose). For a less rustic rendition, try Chuck’s Tourtiere, a crust teeming with ground pork and veal seasoned in onions, cloves, and spices.

Once your guests are ready to burst, bring out the pièce de résistance — a Bûche de Noël, a one-of-a-kind Québecois dessert. It’s a classic Christmas jelly roll cake, layered with sweet flavours and fillings, such as cream, cherries, and caramel. Rolled up and decorated like a log, just slice it along the end to feature the rings.

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Pancakes, Maple Syrup, and Caribou

After such an indulgent midnight feast, what should be on the menu for Christmas morning? Chef Hughes suggests adding a little Québec maple syrup to your holiday brunch.

“Christmastime revolves less around maple syrup, but it’s a big part of celebrating,” he says. “We’ll make pancakes it’s messy, fun, and easy. You have your pancakes with Québec maple syrup and then you open gifts.”

For something stronger to fight the wintery weather, pour yourself a glass of Caribou a sweet beverage made of red wine, liquor and maple sugar that’s served warm in the wintertime.

“Back in the day, you’d be outside, playing hockey on the rink, and you’d have a sleigh ride,” says Chef Hughes. “And that’s the thing you’d drink Caribou. It’s a Québecois alcohol that you drink to warm up.”

Caribou juice aside, Christmas traditions are ever-evolving with the times in Québec. But no matter what’s at your table, Chef Hughes encourages getting playful with festive recipes and ingredients, and adding French Canadian twists to your menu that will delight family and friends. After all, it’s the best way to “keep the tradition alive.”

Looking for more delicious recipe? Try our 10 Delicious French-Canadian Dishes.

Coffee Fudge

How to Make Two Types of Canadian Fudge

Full of classic Canadian flavours, these easy fudge recipes taste like the real deal, with very little effort. Inspired by the popular Canadian coffee order, the “double double,” drive-through lovers will adore this delectable dessert. Every bite tastes like a sweet and creamy sip of coffee! We also have a sweet and simple maple fudge, which can be made with or without a little crunch by adding chopped walnuts or pecans.

To package them as gifts from the holidays, simply wrap each square using parchment paper, twist the ends, and tie each side with a pretty ribbon.

Canadian Coffee Fudge

Canadian Coffee Fudge

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 3-1/2 hours
Makes: 36 pieces

Ingredients:
2 tsp instant coffee powder
2 tsp boiling water
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
350 g good-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract

Canadian Coffee Fudge

Directions:
1. In small bowl, whisk together instant coffee powder and water until coffee is dissolved.
2. In large heatproof bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, white chocolate, vanilla extract and coffee.
3. Place bowl over saucepan of hot water, making sure the water isn’t boiling. Heat chocolate mixture, stirring often, until smooth.
4. Scrape into 8 x 8-inch baking dish lined with parchment paper. Using offset spatula, smooth top. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
5. Cut into 36 squares.

Easy Maple Fudge

Easy Maple Fudge

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 3-1/2 hours
Makes: 32 pieces

Ingredients:
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
300 g good-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
4 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp maple extract

Directions:
1. In large heatproof bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, white chocolate, maple syrup and maple extract.
2. Place bowl over saucepan of hot water, making sure the water isn’t boiling. Heat chocolate mixture, stirring often, until smooth.
3. Scrape into 8 x 8-inch baking dish lined with parchment paper. Using offset spatula, smooth top. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
4. Cut into 16 squares. Cut each square in half, diagonally, to form triangles.

Looking for more fantastic treats? Try our 12 Melt-In-Your-Mouth Fudge Recipes.

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!”

Fun and Festive Cranberry Brie Empanadas

Instead of the usual cranberry and Brie in puff pastry,  these holiday stars are enclosed in a flaky, spiced empanada dough. Sweetened with a touch of honey, these tart, creamy and impossibly flaky empanada-style hand pies will become a new, classic holiday staple.

Cranberry-Brie-Empanadas2

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 12 minutes
Serves: 12 to 15

Ingredients:

Spiced Crust
1 large egg
8 Tbsp ice water
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
1 Tbsp milk, for brushing

Filling
1 wheel Brie, chilled, cut into thin strips
1 cup fresh or frozen (do not defrost) cranberries
2 Tbsp honey, plus more for serving

Cranberry-Brie-Empanadas1

Directions:

Spiced Crust
1. In a small bowl, beat egg with 4 Tbsp water and vinegar.
2. In a food processor or in a large bowl, combine flour, salt, cloves and nutmeg. Pulse or cut in butter until a fine meal forms.
3. Using the food processor, add egg mixture to flour mixture until a shaggy but manageable dough has formed. Add additional water if mixture looks too dry.
4. Transfer dough onto counter and knead until it all comes together. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until firm.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 3- to 4-inch cookie cutter or rim of a glass, cut rounds. Roll scraps and cut additional rounds. Arrange rounds evenly onto two large baking sheets.

Filling and Assembly
1. In the centre of each dough circle, add a slice of brie, a few cranberries, and drizzle of honey. Do not overstuff. Repeat with remaining circles.
2. Brush the top half of the dough circle with milk. Fold circles in half and crimp to seal with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
4. Brush chilled empanadas with milk. Bake for 10 minutes, until dough has puffed and is beginning to brown around the edges.
5. Transfer empanadas to a serving plates, slice in half (optional) and drizzle with additional honey. Serve warm or room temperature.

Looking for more tasty holiday bites? We’ve got 75 Party Appetizers Your Guests Will Love.

Latkes

How to Throw a Crowd-Pleasing Latke Party

It’s time to celebrate the season, and what better way to gather friends and family than throwing a party dedicated to one of the most-loved Hanukkah snacks: latkes!

Like all great parties, a latke get-together takes a little planning ahead, and we’ve got five fantastic tips to make sure your party goes off without a hitch.

888_classic-potato-latkes

Make ’em Ahead of Time
As delicious as they are, latkes can be quite time consuming to make. You have to grate the potatoes and the onions, drain, add the flour or matzoh meal, and then fry them in small batches. You don’t want to be entertaining guests while sweating by your box grater. Unfortunately, you can’t make your potato mixture too far in advance or your spuds will oxidize, turning an unappetizing brown colour.

My advice is to make the majority of your latkes hours before your guests arrive and keep them warm in the oven. Place your fried latkes on baking trays in single layers in an oven set to 325° F. As your guests arrive, have enough potato mixture to fry up the last couple of batches. The kitchen is a great place to start the party. When guests come in, they will be welcomed by the delicious smell of crispy latkes being fried. Once you have finished frying the last few latkes, whip off your apron, grab a latke and a drink and settle into the party.

Spiced Apple-Pear Sauce

It is All About the Sauces
No one will argue that half the fun of eating latkes is loading them up with your favourite toppings. Classically paired with apple sauce and sour cream, latkes can really be served with lots of different dippers, so get creative! My bubbie served homemade strawberry apple sauce and now I can’t imagine eating my latkes without it. I recreate this sweet, chunky family tradition every holiday season to share with my friends. Passing on family secrets and stories is a special part of the season, but if you can always create your own traditions. Apple chutney is a great alternative to apple sauce. Think about switching out sour cream for thick Greek yogurt or tzatziki sauce. The possibilities are truly endless.

Don’t Forget the Sides
It’s a good idea to serve latkes with some fresh crudites or salads. Your guests will appreciate having something on the lighter side to eat alongside greasy latkes. Make a cucumber salad with lots of fresh dill and yogurt, or a roasted beet salad with mint. If you want to stick to finger foods, prepare some veggies and hummus or eggplant dip.

Serve Sippers that Pair Well with Latkes
It isn’t a party without drinks. Wines with high acidity and tart drinks are perfect for cutting through greasy latkes. Serve them with a cool, dry Riesling or dry sparkling wine. Cold, crisp lagers are another great option. Have some iced tea or tart lemonade on hand for non-alcoholic options.

strawberry cheesecake Sufganiyots

Don’t Forget Dessert
Latkes are the hero of the party, so you don’t want to outshine them with any big extravagant desserts. Typically, jelly filled doughnuts called sufganiyot are served at Hanukkah, but any little sweets will do the trick. If you are sticking to a Hanukkah theme, make some rugelach or serve some Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins).

Looking for more delicious recipes? Try our 15 Deep Fried Hanukkah Desserts.

3 Fun and Festive Cranberry Cocktails

It wouldn’t be the holidays without bright, tart cranberries, and the same goes for cocktails. Celebrate the season in style with these three fruity drinks fit for any holiday party.

From a fizzy champagne cocktail featuring a homemade spiced cranberry orange simple syrup, to vanilla vodka-spiked cranberry mule, to the cinnamon infused cran-apple white wine sangria, we’ve got a drink to suit everyone’s taste this season.

festive-cranberry-cocktails

Holiday Fizz

Prep Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

For the Spiced Cranberry Orange Simple Syrup
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp orange zest
1 whole star anise
1 whole cinnamon stick

For the Drinks
12 fresh cranberries
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 bottle Canadian sparkling wine or champagne, chilled
1 recipe Spiced Cranberry Orange Simple Syrup, from above, chilled

Directions:

Spiced Cranberry Orange Simple Syrup
1. In a medium saucepan, bring all simple syrup ingredients to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until sugar has dissolved and cranberries have started to pop, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, strain into a glass jar; discard solids. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until chilled. Store simple syrup in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Assembly
1. Skewer 2 cranberries on each rosemary sprig. Set aside.
2. In each of 6 cocktail or wine glasses, add a few slices of orange, 1 Tbsp prepared simple syrup and 1/2 cup sparkling wine or champagne. Serve chilled.

Vanilla-Cran Mule

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 cups ice
1/2 cup vanilla vodka
1/2 cup ginger ale
1 Tbsp cranberry juice
12 fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to defrost if using frozen)
1 lime cut into thin rounds, to garnish
Evergreen twigs, to garnish

Directions:
1. In a cocktail shaker or pitcher, per mule, gently stir 1/4 cup vodka, 1/2 cup ginger ale and 1 Tbsp cranberry juice.
2. Add 1/2 cup ice, 3 cranberries and a couple lime slices to each glass (use traditional copper mule mugs or regular cocktail glasses).
3. Pour prepared cocktail into each ice-filled glass. Garnish with evergreen twigs. Serve.

Cran-Apple Sangria

Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to defrost if using frozen)
1 gala apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brandy
1 bottle white wine

Directions:
1. In a large pitcher or punch bowl, stir together cranberries, apple slices, apple cider, cinnamon, brandy and white wine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
2. Pour or ladle sangria into glasses, being sure to include the wine-soaked apples and cranberries. Serve chilled.

Snowflake Cookie Cutter Devilled Eggs

Devilled eggs can be fussy, but with this bake-and-decorate method, they’re made party-friendly. Use whatever cookie cutter shape that you love, changing with the season.

In this festive version, we used snowflake cookie cutters to create the perfect party appetizer for any holiday celebration. Feel free to use other add-ins or toppings such as pickled beets, Sriracha, smoked salmon, olives… the options are endless!

snowflake-devilled-eggs

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:
12 eggs
Oil, for greasing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh dill

Directions:
1. Preheat oven 350°F. Line a 9×13-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on the sides. Lightly grease parchment.
2. Separate egg whites into a large bowl and beat until foamy. Pour into prepared dish, cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until egg whites are set to the touch. Cool completely in pan. Remove from pan using parchment overhang or flip out; place on a cutting board.
3. Meanwhile, cook egg yolks in a large non-stick skillet over low heat until firm. Transfer to a food processor, pulse and cool for 5 minutes. To yolks, add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, curry powder and salt. Puree until smooth and transfer yolk mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
4. Using a cookie cutter, cut shapes of egg whites and place on serving plate. Pipe egg yolk mixture on top of whites and garnish with a sprig of dill and/or egg white shape scraps. Serve immediately.

Note: Egg whites and yolks can be made-ahead, kept separately, well-covered in refrigerator for up to two days.

How to Make a Snowman Cheese Ball

Building a snowman cheese ball is a fun project for kids (and adults) of all ages, especially when you’re snowed in. This recipe is simple, relatively quick to prepare and can be made-ahead and frozen, which means you can get a jump-start on your holiday food prep.

Combining sharp cheddar, tangy feta and decadent cream cheese, it’s an adaptable recipe that you’ll have a hard time resisting with a few crunchy crackers. Flurries or clear skies, you can turn your stash of cheese into a charming, cultured (no pun intended) masterpiece that would make Frozen’s Olaf proud.

Snowman-Cheeseball1

Snowman Cheese Ball

Ingredients:
185 g feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
100 g aged white cheddar, crumbled
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese, more for serving
Whole black peppercorns (“eyes” and “buttons”)
Sliver of carrot (“eyes”)
Zucchini top (“hat”)
Shaved zucchini (“scarf”)

Snowman-Cheeseball5

Directions:
1. In a food processor, pulse feta, cream cheese, cheddar and garlic powder until combined; scrape down sides and pulse again. Blend for 10 seconds, scrape down sides and blend until creamy.

Snowman-Cheeseball4

2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and dollop 3 rounds into small, medium and large sizes (about 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup and 1 cup portions of cheese). Roughly form into balls and dust with Parmesan. Freeze for 45 minutes until firm but still pliable.

Snowman-Cheeseball3

3. Remove from freezer. Add largest ball to serving plate; insert a toothpick in centre. Secure second (middle, medium) ball on top with toothpick. To the middle, add another toothpick in the centre and secure head (top, small) ball.

Snowman-Cheeseball2

4. Insert a toothpick in the centre of the head (top, small). Decorate snowman with peppercorn eyes and buttons, and carrot nose. Wrap zucchini around snowman’s “neck” and insert 1 to 2 toothpicks to secure. Dust with additional Parmesan for a snowed-in effect. Serve with crackers.

Snowman-Cheeseball6

Notes:
– Make the 3 cheese balls in advance (without decoration), and store wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight container, up to 1 month. Defrost in refrigerator overnight before decorating and serving.
– To add texture but keep the snowy-white appearance, mix in 1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds after blending cheese. If you’re not concerned about the appearance, dried cranberries and walnuts, and/or fresh herbs work well here.

Biscotti

1 Easy Biscotti Recipe, 6 Tasty Holiday Cookies

Biscotti is a classic Italian cookie that’s double baked to make a dunk-able coffee treat. While the classic flavours are delicious, we decided to try something new with six seasonal variations. From a crunchy version jam-packed with pretzels and hazelnut spread, to refined flavours like lemon, rosemary and cranberry, there’s a variation that everyone will enjoy. No matter what your sweet tooth is asking for, it can be found in one of these recipes.

Whip up a batch or two for your holiday hosting, and serve alongside your favourite hot beverage for a delightful after-dinner treat.

Italian Biscotti

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
2. Stir flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar. Beat until mixture is pale, light and fluffy. Add in eggs 1 at a time and then vanilla. Add in dry ingredients in 2 parts while mixing on low speed just until combined.
3. Divide dough in 2 equal portions. Roll into 2 logs, then flatten the top to resemble long rectangles, 2 inches wide and 12 inches long.
4. Bake logs 2 inches apart on baking in the centre rack of oven until logs are firm to touch and bottoms are beginning to golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
5. Once logs are cool enough to handle, place them on a cutting board. Slice each log into 1-inch thick pieces on a slight bias. Lay the cut side down on prepared baking sheet and bake until cookies are firm, about 20 minutes.

Biscotti

Variations:

Cranberry, Lemon and Rosemary
Complete steps 1 and 2. Fold in 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries, zest of 1 lemon and 2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped. Proceed with recipe.

Nut and Seed
Complete steps 1 and 2. Fold in 1/2 cup poppy seeds, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 almonds, 1/2 cup sesame seeds, 1/2 pistachios (any combination of nuts and seeds is good). Proceed with recipe.

Hazelnut, Coconut and Pretzel
Stir 1/4 cup of hazelnut spread into dough just until marbled. Add in 3/4 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut and 3/4 cup roughly chopped pretzels. Proceed with recipe.

Mocha Latte
Omit 1/4 cup of flour and replace with 2 tsp espresso powder and 1/4 cocoa powder. Proceed with recipe. After steps 1 and 2, add 1 1/2 cups of white chocolate wafers. Proceed as per recipe.

Matcha Green Tea and White Chocolate
Add 1 Tbsp of matcha green tea powder with flour, baking soda and salt. After steps 1 and 2, stir in 1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips. Proceed with recipe.

Cinnamon Roll
Mix 3 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts in a bowl. Divide dough into 2 portions. Roll one dough portion into a 10×10-inch square. Sprinkle 1/2 the cinnamon mixture over the dough and roll. Form roll into 2×12-inch log and place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough portion. Bake as per recipe.

Festive Maple Eggnog Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée looks like a million bucks, with its smooth, creamy interior and crispy, sugary top, but don’t be intimidated by this posh dessert, it’s actually super simple to prepare.

This holiday variation is infused with pure maple syrup and the familiar flavours of eggnog. Crack into this crunchy-and-custardy delight at your next festive gathering.

Maple-Eggnog-Creme-Brulee1

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 cups 35% Cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp rum extract or 1 tsp rum
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup demerara sugar or granulated sugar

Maple-Eggnog-Creme-Brulee2

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300ºF. Place 4 (4-oz) ramekins in a baking dish.
2. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat cream, maple syrup, vanilla, rum and salt until steaming and small bubbles appear around the edges. Add egg yolks to a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in cream mixture to yolks. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher with a pour spout. Divide mixture between ramekins.
3. Add 1/2 an inch of hot water to the base of the baking dish so it surrounds the ramekins.
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until mixture wobbles when tapped and is just set. Cool for 30 minutes at room temperature then for 3 hours in the refrigerator.
5. To serve, evenly divide 1/4 cup of sugar between the ramekins. Using a blowtorch or rotating under a medium-high broiler, caramelize sugar. Rest for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Easy, Cheesy Cherry-Pistachio Brie En Croute

Want to be a holiday party hero? Make this recipe that’s quick, easy and delivers huge in the yummy department. Impress your guests with beautifully decorated puff pastry, then shock them when you cut through and soft, gooey cheese oozes out. Finally, send them to heaven with this sweet and salty combination of tart cherry preserves, crunchy pistachios and rich double cream Brie.

cherry-pistachio-brie-en-croute2

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1 10-inch x 10-inch sheet puff pastry
1 200 g wheel double cream Brie
1/2 sour cherry preserves (or jam/jelly of your choice)
1/2 cup chopped pistachios (nut of your choice)
1 egg yolk

cherry-pistachio-brie-en-croute

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll out puff pastry on a floured surface. Place Brie in centre of pastry. Place preserves on brie and then place nuts over preserves. Bring the corners of the pastry into the centre of the Brie, then bring the side up to meet the corners. Trim excess pastry from the centre. Form decorative detailing with excess pastry to help seal the pastry. Chill in freezer for 30 minutes.
2. While chilling, preheat oven to 400°F.
3. Mix egg yolk with 1 Tbsp water and brush over pastry. Bake in centre of oven until pastry is golden, about 30 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Do not bake in advance.

Looking for more tasty hor d’ouvre inspiration? Try our 75 Holiday Party Appetizers Your Guests Will Love.

The Ultimate Vegan Cooking Cheat Sheet

When it comes to the holiday season, you want everyone to feel like they’re in on the fun; asking grandma to boogie down to a festive tune, putting reindeer antlers on your dog and, most importantly, making sure all of your friends and family enjoy delicious food and drink.

“We vegans appreciate any dish that you have taken the time to make for us, it is better than not getting invited to the holiday party at all,” jokes Halifax chef Lauren Marshall. “I love going to a friend’s house over the holidays and being able to eat all the vegetable side dishes and smothering them all with mushroom gravy. Hold the turkey!”

lauren-marshall-kitchen

As the only vegan chef to compete on the hit series, Top Chef Canada, it goes without saying Marshall has got some serious chops when it comes to cooking for special diets. Here, the Halifax chef shares some fantastic tips and pantry staples to help you confidently cook some indulgent vegan dishes everyone can enjoy this holiday season.

Don’t be intimidated when cooking for vegan guests:
Remember that we’re just happy if you include us in on your dinner party — nobody likes to feel left out. If there are a few options you’ve taken the time to cook for us, we will feel satisfied!

Know which vegan milk to use:
Every dairy milk substitute has its place depending on the recipe. I believe that a homemade nut or seed milk always tastes better, and only takes seconds to make.

Coconut milk: Great for Indian curries instead of regular cream and also a great substitute in buttercream icing recipes.
Soy milk: Fantastic as a replacement for cream-based sauces as the flavour is quite mild.
Nut milk (almond, cashew, etc.): Ideal for morning cereals or smoothies, as the flavours pair well with the strong taste of granola or greens.

Shopping for quality tofu at the grocery store:
Find a product that is 100 per cent GMO free and organic. Also, see if you can find a local product. On the East Coast, you can find a locally made tofu by Acadiana Soy Products that’s organic and GMO free.

Serving a group with several dietary restrictions:
Only a few of my close friends are vegan, so it’s natural that I end up cooking for a mix of diets. In these cases, I love to serve tacos. I set up a table and create a buffet with fresh salsa, slow cooked chipotle beans, roasted portobello mushrooms, guacamole, smoked tempeh, cilantro cashew cream and shaved lettuce. Ask your meat-eating friends to bring sides like pulled pork or roast chicken and shredded cheese, and then everybody is happy!

vegan-gravy
Lauren Marshall’s Vegan Gravy

The ultimate vegan comfort food:
It’s so easy to make vegan mac and cheese. For a delicious “cheese” sauce, just roast some butternut squash, garlic and onions, and blend with nut milk, cashews and nutritional yeast until creamy. Season with salt and pepper, then mix the sauce with cooked pasta. Even meat eaters will be impressed!

How to veganize holiday classics:
During the holidays, just replace regular butter for coconut oil and a bit of nutritional yeast in your roasted vegetables, or try making a vegetable-based gravy with cashews instead of using the standard turkey drippings.

How to veganize holiday baking:
These days, with the influx of vegan egg and butter substitutes available at grocery stores, it’s easy to convert everyday recipes to vegan ones. Instead of regular pie crust, pulse dates and ground almonds in a food processor, and slowly add coconut oil until it all comes together. It only takes minutes and bakes off well.

Great ingredients for easy vegan cooking:

Ground flax and good quality vinegar: This makes a great substitution for eggs when baking.
Agar agar: This is a vegan thickener, comparable to gelatin. It can work to firm up jams and other preserves. It also works for custards and curds.
Nutritional yeast: This has a really cheesy flavour, so try it anywhere you’d normally have shaved Parmesan and it’s especially great when tossed with freshly made popcorn instead of butter.
Tempeh (fermented soybean cakes): I always have some in my freezer, It’s my mainstay “meat” substitute because of its hearty texture.
Nuts/seeds, grains and legumes: Pumpkin seeds are great to throw into a smoothie in the morning. I love buckwheat for a protein boost, especially in baking bread or biscuits and I love lentils. Making a traditional Indian dahl with lentils is really easy and very filling.

laurenmarshall-blueberry-grunt
Lauren Marshall’s Lavender Blueberry Grunt

Lavender Blueberry Grunt Recipe

Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1 Tbsp for pan
3/4 cup maple syrup
5 cups frozen wild blueberries
3 cups large flaked dried unsweetened coconut
1 1/4 cup whole spelt flour, divided
1 Tbsp lavender
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup almond meal
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds, preferable golden flax
1/4 cup water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Spread 1 Tbsp olive oil over the bottom of the cast iron pan.
3. Arrange blueberries on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
4. Add coconut to food processor and add a handful of the spelt flour. Blend until coarsely ground and set aside. Sift remaining spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda and lavender into a medium bowl. Add almond meal and ground coconut, stir to combine and set aside.
5. In another bowl, whisk together flax seeds and water. Add maple syrup, oil, vanilla, vinegar and salt, and whisk again. Pour into dry mixture and stir until just combined.
6. Scoop out round biscuit-like shapes onto the frozen blueberries. Place on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Looking for more delicious ideas? 25 Vegan Desserts Even Non-Vegans Will Love.

Eggs Benedict Casserole

Crowd-Pleasing Overnight Eggs Benedict Casserole

Thanksgiving weekend can be one of the most hectic times, especially with a house full of visitors. Make your life easier with a simple, make-ahead breakfast casserole. Enjoy everyone’s favourite brunch dish with no need to poach, toast or fry. Just wake up and bake.

The rich, buttery hollandaise sauce whips up in a snap and is drizzled over a dish filled with soft baked eggs, toasty English muffins and smoky Canadian bacon. It’s a dish that delivers bold flavour and gives you that extra time with your family and friends.

Eggs Benedict Casserole

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour plus overnight
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

Casserole:
6 English muffins, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 slices of Canadian bacon, sliced into 1-inch strips
10 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Hollandaise Sauce:
3 egg yolks
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2/3 cup melted butter
1/4 chopped parsley
2 Tbsp chopped chives

Directions:
1. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Place English muffin cubes and bacon slices into the baking dish. Whisk eggs with milk and onion powder, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into baking dish covering the bacon and bread cubes.
2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove plastic wrap from dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake casserole for 30 minutes.
4. Remove foil and bake until eggs are set and and top is beginning to turn golden, about 15 minutes.
5. While casserole is baking, make the hollandaise sauce. Place egg yolks, lemon juice and mustard in a heat-proof glass bowl and whisk to combine.
6. Place bowl over a pot of simmering water to form a double boiler. Slowly pour in a few tablespoons of melted butter while whisking vigorously. Continue to whisk while gradually adding melted butter. If mixture looks like it is about to split, whisk in a few drops of ice water and then proceed adding butter.
7. Drizzle hollandaise sauce over casserole and garnish with chopped parsley and chives. Serve immediately.

9 Essential Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving for the First Time

Hosting your very first Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be stressful. Thanks to a few tricks, a little planning and a game-day strategy, you’ll be able to keep your cool on the big day. Here are nine essential tips for hosting a holiday party without ever breaking a sweat.

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1. Have a Pre-Party Shopping Spree
Don’t save your Thanksgiving shopping list for the day of the party. Whether it’s groceries, wine, flowers, a new tablecloth or a few ornamental gourds, these are the party items that can be ticked off your to-do list well ahead of Turkey Day so that you’re not rushing around snipping stems and washing vases when you should be basting your bird.

2. Make Ahead
From gravy to potatoes to homemade croutons, there are many dishes that will hold up and, in some cases, will actually taste better if you make them in advance! Try: Jamie Oliver’s make-ahead gravy and creamy scalloped potatoes.

3. Get Chopping
Never underestimate the power of a pre-party prep to ensure smooth sailing come game day. Professional chefs call this mise en place, the technique of ‘putting in place’ certain foods to ensure maximum efficiency. By chopping, measuring and washing ingredients for your side dishes the day before, you’ll save valuable time.

4. Hit the Bakery
It would be nice to wow guests with a stunning dessert for this special family occasion, however, sometimes big events aren’t the time to stretch limitations — particularly if you’re a novice baker. When you’re shouldering the entire dinner, cut yourself some slack and buy a few pies or desserts instead and shift your attention to displaying it on your best serving platters.

5. Enlist Help
Attention Thanksgiving newbies: there is no shame in calling on family members to help out with easy tasks, such as making the salad dressing, setting the table and serving drinks. Or take away the pressure of preparing a full menu entirely and get family members to participate in a good old fashioned potluck.

6. Clean Strategically
You wouldn’t dream of hosting Thanksgiving without a sufficient house cleaning, but don’t stress too much about giving the entire place a deep clean. Instead, focus on areas your guests are most likely to take notice like the front entrance and bathroom. Polish the glasses, iron the tablecloth and track down all your best-matching cutlery the night before. And if you have extra time, add those special details such as handwritten place cards, clusters of candles and flower arrangements which will really make your dinner party pop.

7. Stock the Bar Lightly
Don’t bother dusting off that bottle of gin from last Christmas or stocking up on pricey mixers. Keep it simple by serving red and white wine, sparkling grape juice, some local craft beer and have slices of lemon or lime to jazz up chilled water.

8. Make a Cooking Schedule
Most of us only have one stove, so you have to be strategic about what goes in the oven and when. A good rule of thumb is to cook the turkey first and tent it with aluminum foil to rest while you prep the gravy, pop the vegetables in for a roast or reheat mashed potatoes.

9. Don’t Go Rogue
Your fist Thanksgiving hosting gig isn’t the time to test out that new recipe you screen-grabbed on Instagram. The key to pulling off a successful holiday dinner is to stick with what you know. So whether it’s an out-of-this-world salad dressing, a dreamy mac and cheese, or your secret to mashed potato bliss, Thanksgiving is where you want to let your best dishes shine.