Soooo….it’s -43 celsius here in Winnipeg. How are you?! Yeah, it’s cold. I know I talk about the weather a lot, but how can’t you with these temperatures? And…it’s not even officially winter yet. To chase away the winter blues, I decided to book a flight to Arizona again this year to visit Claudia and my Dad in February. I figured with this snow and cold, I will be needing warmth and sunshine by then. Here’s hoping I don’t get the flu this time around!
I also cannot believe that Christmas is 2 weeks away. I am really enjoying all the holiday recipes that are floating around out there. A couple weeks ago when I asked what everyone was baking for the holidays on our Facebook Page, I had a request (I love requests!) from a loyal follower (Hi Bon!) for a recipe for Poppycock. I had never made it before, but soon learned that my Cousin Linda had one that she was famous for. She was kind enough to share the recipe with me and I tried it immediately. I can see why it’s so popular in her house – her granddaughter actually sneaks some into her room at night to munch on. This recipe is delicious!
One thing I am absolutely sure of – I love Claudia’s Butter Tarts at Christmas time! They are seriously delicious. She always makes the dough from scratch, and it’s always flaky and buttery. The filling is sweet and syrupy. I didn’t realize how easy they were to make until Claudia came over a couple weeks ago to show me. I am so glad she did.
I don’t know if it’s the snow on the ground, the cold temperatures or Target having the cutest holiday items in the entire world in their stores right now, but I am super excited for Christmas this year. I’ve been doing my best not to put on the Christmas tunes, put up my Christmas tree, and watch my favourite Christmas movies like Elf and Home Alone. After all, it’s still only November. I’ve always been a firm traditionalist and start these activities no earlier than December 1. I may have to break my rules this year – starting with featuring my first holiday baking item – these delicious Gingersnap Cookies!
Claudia came over this week to teach me how to make more of her holiday baking family favourites. These Gingersnap Cookies were high on her list to share with me. She actually adapted the recipe from her coworker (Linda), as they were a total hit at their workplace not too long ago. When I told Claudia that I wasn’t a huge Gingersnap cookie fan, she reassured me that these cookies would be worthy of my daily caloric intake. I have to admit Claudia was right (but really, when isn’t she?). These, my friends, are the perfect combination of all my Gingersnap Cookie wishes – chewy, soft, and not too heavy on the ginger or molasses flavour. I highly recommend these delicious beauties for your holiday baking line up.
Ah, November. It’s a time where I find myself “getting real”. Summer is long gone, Thanksgiving is over (at least here in Canada), and the excitement of Halloween and candy everywhere is slowly fading like my sugar coma. I now start to pay attention to all those Christmas displays that have been slowly popping up since September. Now they are in full force – the holiday season is only a mere 52 days away you know. I get more used to the task of warming up my car and scraping the frost off my windshield every morning, wearing mitts, a scarf, and reluctantly, a winter coat. I find the older I get, the less patient and tolerant I am with winter here. To tell you the truth, it’s a pain in the ass. Shovelling, plugging in my car (for real, we do that here), and layering my clothing so much that at times I feel like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Winter can be very unattractive and depressing to a lot of people – myself included.
I recall as a kid absolutely loving winter. There was no day too cold, no snow bank too high to climb and no ice rink without kids on it to play a game of hockey. Claudia would spend her days pulling me and my brother in a sled down our back lane to the park on the corner of our street. She would bundle us both up in our ski pants, parka, toque, mitts, scarf and boots – probably a 30 minute ordeal in itself. She would then bundle herself up and pull us both in one sled. We absolutely loved it! It was such a short trek to the park, probably a block in distance. But it felt like forever because it was such an adventure to us. I look back and have no idea how Claudia did it…trek two hyper kids in the freezing cold to go jump into snow piles. She actually probably just wanted us to wear ourselves out so we could crash in the afternoon and she’d have some well-deserved “me” time. But no matter how cold it was outside, I never felt it as a kid. My home was always filled with such warmth and wonder.
I try to recreate that feeling of comfort and warmth that my parents gave to me when I was a kid in a couple different ways. In the plush blankets that I keep close to the couch, to the mugs of hot tea I drink on a nightly basis, to the savoury scented candles I light, and to the comfort food I cook in my kitchen (like this delicious Lasagne dish!). All these things help me get through those tough cold days and allow me to feel more like an adventurous, protected (and spoiled) kid.
How do you create comfort and warmth in your house?
I can’t believe it’s already the end of October. Where did this year go? I don’t think I’m ready for winter. Where I live, winter lasts about 6 months and is brutally cold. Today, I see the leaves all on the ground right and breathe in the damp cold air and I long for the days a mere 2 months ago of hot sun, warm wind and drinks on the patio. We are actually pretty lucky right now as we still do not have snow on the ground. I recall when I was a kid in the 80′s that every single year that I went Trick-Or-Treating on Halloween I had to trudge through knee deep snow! I have photographic evidence. My brother and I had to squeeze our costumes over our large parkas and ski pants. It wasn’t a very good look, but it did the job and kept us warm when we were out yelling at houses for candy for hours on end. My Dad always escorted us around the neighbourhood, while Claudia stayed at home in our warm house and handed out candy. It was either chivalry on my Dad’s part or he was terrible at coin tosses. I honestly don’t feel sorry for kids these days when all they have to do is jump through a pile of leaves.
I’ve been craving comfort food more and more these days. This Bruschetta Chicken Bake is one of my favourites. It’s super simple. Like 6-ingredient simple. I actually found it in one of my old Kraft Canada magazines about 8 years ago. I once brought some leftovers to work for lunch and my former corker, and now best friend Carly, smelt it and immediately had to try a sample. She fell in love with it too and made it for dinner the next week….and brought leftovers for lunch! What I also love about this dish is that it’s kind of like having breaded chicken, without the heavy breading. The Stove Top crumbs become incredibly moist when combined with the stewed tomatoes. Tons of flavour in this dish. Total comfort food.
If you were following our posts on our Facebook page last night you would already know that we are celebrating Thanksgiving here in Canada this weekend. Our family dinner was actually yesterday and I’m still full from all the delicious food that Claudia made. I mean, look at that turkey above! I’m excited for my lunches over the next few days which will consist of all the delicious leftovers.
It would not be Thanksgiving in our house without Cabbage Rolls. Claudia decided to make an entire roaster full! When I asked her why she made an entire roaster full when she was only cooking for 6 people, she replied “Well, why not?!”. I love my mother! You can find our delicious Cabbage Roll recipe by clicking here!
While Claudia and I were preparing dinner, I learned yet another valuable food lesson. She always uses potato water mixed in with the turkey drippings to make her gravy. It gives it a little added flavour rather than using just regular water. Brilliant, right? It blew my mind anyways.
We finished off the evening with the Claudia’s delicious Pumpkin Pie, and the standard family debate: whether pumpkin pie should be served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I take ice cream every single time. There is nothing better in my opinion.
Whether you are celebrating this weekend, or in a few weeks, Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!
The past few weeks have been super busy over here. As previously mentioned on the blog, I decided after a 10+ year hiatus to go back to playing hockey. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m slowly getting my hockey legs back (i.e. not looking like Bambi on the ice). We play mostly in the early evenings one to two times a week. It’s great exercise, even though I don’t consider sports exercise. It’s way too fun and enjoyable to be exercise in my opinion.
Since my games are in the early evening, I tend to eat my dinner a couple hours prior to my games and often come home not feeling like eating another full meal, especially at 8:30pm. That’s where this beauty of a smoothie comes in! Protein is very good to consume after exercise to repair muscle, so I figured this smoothie is not only delicious but healthy and full of protein and vitamin A. I also enjoy it as my dessert as well. It is also super simple to make. I made it with chocolate protein powder because that is all I had, but you can make it with vanilla, or none at all if you just want to enjoy it as a delicious treat on its own. I also love the richness of almond milk, but you can use any dairy or non-dairy milk you so desire. The possibilities are endless with this treat. I hope you try it soon!
Friends, I’m obsessed. And this time it’s not with pumpkin. I’m obsessed with making this delicious and simple tomato jam. I had an abundance of tomatoes last week in my garden since our temperatures flirted with dipping below the freezing mark for the first time in months. I decided I was too lazy to cover all my tomatoes and herbs with sheets, so I picked them instead. I easily had over 8 pounds of tomatoes. Insane considering I had 5 plants in total.
With this abundance of tomatoes and not being sure what to do with them, I polled my amazing followers on our Facebook Page to get some ideas. My dear friend Sarah gave me the awesome idea to make Tomato Jam! They serve a delicious tomato jam at my favourite restaurant in Winnipeg – Bistro 7-1/4 - and I wanted to try and replicate it. This jam is seriously awesome. Sweet tomato and cinnamon hints, with a bit of heat from the jalapeño, combined with the savoury fragrant smells of cumin make this jam irresistible for any cheese or charcuterie board. It even is fantastic on burgers. Not to mention, this recipe is so simple! The hardest part is chopping tomatoes…and that isn’t hard.
My pumpkin obsession continues on the blog. It was still +30 Celsius here in Winnipeg this week and there really isn’t any sign of autumn anywhere. Well, besides all the pumpkin baking I have been doing. I had an abundance of Maple Cream Sauce from our Peach Crisp recipe we posted last week and wanted to do something with it (besides drink it straight from the jar). I figured the pairing of creamy maple and pumpkin would be absolutely delicious. And it is! This loaf is extremely moist and full of rich flavours like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. This loaf is perfect with a mug of Chai Tea, a blanket, and a good book.
One of the only reasons I get excited for autumn is the abundance of pumpkin everywhere. Pumpkin desserts and pumpkin lattes… I honestly cannot get enough! I also live in Canada so I have to try to focus of something positive when the temperatures start to dip and winter is upon us, right? While I am currently perfecting my next pumpkin recipe for the blog (should be posted within the next few days!) I wanted to take the opportunity to compile our favourite pumpkin recipes!
Cheesecake-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes – These are probably one of the richest cupcakes I’ve ever tasted. And they are absolutely, positively delicious! If you want a substitute for pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake this Thanksgiving, these babies are by far your best bet.
Pumpkin Caramel Dream Cake - It’s simple, rich and full of caramel and pumpkin flavor. Perfect for the season and ooey, gooey good!
Pumpkin Creme Pies - These sandwich cookies are super simple to make and absolutely delicious. The perfect mix of warm spices and sweet cream cheese. They also freeze extremely well, which is good if you can’t manage to finish all 24 cookies this recipe makes! But I’m sure you can give it a good try
Pumpkin Pie – A classic. No introduction required. This pie is scrumptious, whether you prefer it with whipped cream or ice cream on top.
Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream - This ice cream is creamy, rich and decadent! It literally tastes like pumpkin pie. Absolutely delicious and perfect for holding onto the last bits of summer but embracing autumn flavours.
Pumpkin Scones – Move over Starbucks! These scones are dense and almost exactly like the pumpkin scones you will find at your neighbourhood coffeehouse. The icing is also very flavourful and decadent. I dare you to not lick the spoon!