Holiday Treats

This week we shared out latest favourite cookie recipe for the Holidays - 3 Ingredient Short Bread Cookies and a fun family idea - Chocolate Dipped Treats.  Now here's a round up of some of our favourite treats from the past, all simple, but many must haves!



1 - Oreo Balls
2 - Butter Tarts
3 - Santa Hats
4 - Chocolate Chip Cookies
5 - Sleds in Snow
6 - Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

What have you been baking?


Pepperkakor Cookies

My sister makes these cookies every year at Christmas. They are a part of her annual traditional holiday baking. One Saturday, a couple of weekends ago, we were both busy baking and sending each other photos of our before, during and after. It was so much fun, it was almost as though we had a virtual baking date. In hind sight, perhaps we should have just gotten together and baked! Next year, that sounds like a plan to me.
Pepperkakor Cookies

The recipe for these cookies comes from my sister's sister-in-law
(that is a mouthful!) in BC, Margaux

Shared By

A delicious, easy spiced cookie!

11 Traditional Christmas Baking Recipes

For those of you who bake for the holidays, I am sure that you have your typical list of recipes that you bake every year. This year, I challenge you to try one or two new recipes. You never know, one of them just might make it to your annual list.

My standard baking list has taken me a good 10 years to create, but I finally have it.

Amanda's Holiday Baking List


Chocolate Mint Cookies


Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese



No Bake Oatmeal Cookies


Traditional Shortbread Cookies


Traditional Sugar Cookies

Thanks to The Cocoa Cakery for teaching me how to make these!


White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread



Super EASY Cookies 'n Cream Fudge



Almond Bars


Christmas Cherry Squares

Chocolate Mint Squares


Marachino Cherry Squares




Chocolate dipped treats!

Chocolate dipped treats are fun to do for festive snacks, a project to do as a family or with a group of friends over.

As simple as melting chocolate in a double boiler or microwave, dip in the chocolate, let it drip off - then coat in treats.  It's simple, easy, TASTY and fun!



We did some pretzel sticks and marshmallows, you can also pop the marshmallows on a skewer and dip the entire thing.  Then coat in any number of treats, here we did..
  • chocolate chops
  • mini m&ms
  • peanut butter chips
  • skor bits
  • and left some plain

Other ideas include sprinkles, drizzling in other coloured melted chocolates, candy cane pieces - so many possibilities!

FAST Candy Cane Vase Centrepiece

All you need is a vase, some large candy canes and a large candle and you have got yourself a beautiful, simple centrepiece idea.


If you would prefer to use fresh flowers in the vase, you can use an elastic to secure the candy canes on the outside of the vase and hide the elastic with a fancy ribbon.

Fast.Easy.Inexpensive.

3 Ingredient Short Bread Cookies

I have to be honest, I thought Short Bread cookies were really hard to make, it was something you really had to have the knack for, but I'll let you in on a secret - they are so easy!!!

Recipe - 3 Ingredient Short Bread Cookies

Ingredients
  • 1C butter
  • 1/2C icing sugar
  • 2C flour

Step 1
This is wear the magic happens, use room temperature butter and you have to cream it to the max - I have the butter mixing in my kitchen aid for a good 5 minutes

Step 2
Blend in the icing sugar and flour until dough forms

Step 3
You can either roll out the dough and cut with cookie cutters or I just form a ball and flatten with my hand

Step 4
Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, cool on a rack

Take it a step further
Top with sprinkles or cherries, butter icing or powdered sugar, lots of options to make your cookies unique - plain taste great too!

Family Thoughts



When I first made these I waited to get approval from my Mom that this was the *right* recipe for short bread and she loved them!  Said the texture was absolutely perfect.  A simple (who knew!) cookie to share with friends and family this Holiday Season.

Black Diamond Cheese Spread #spreadyourflavour

Just in time for the holidays, Parmalat Canada has launched Black Diamond Cheese Spread, a new spreadable cheese that is perfect for appetizers, dips, spreads and more.

All the delicious taste of Black Diamond Cheese is now available in a spreadable format, available in four different flavours; Original, Original Light, Sharp and White Original.

So far I've tried to recipes incorporating Black Diamond Cheese Spread and you can find many more at http://spreaditdipit.ca.

This past weekend we served Crispy Bacon Cheddar Puff Pinwheels and Cheddar Chickpea Hummus at a family get together.

 blackdiamond 

blackdiamondhummus

The cheese was a great base for the pinwheels, from there you can add all sorts of things, and the hummus can be dressed up even more with chopped red peppers or grape tomatoes on top

 blackdiamondprize 

I know you want to try it for yourself too!  Enter below for your chance to win this beautiful gift basket, $150 value, Good Luck Canada! 

Inexpensive Festive DIY Wine Charms

Are you in need of some festive wine charms?

Here is an inexpensive and festive wine charms made with hair elastics with a little bobble attached:

What kind of wine (if any) do you prefer?

oogaa Mealtime Set

I have a 10 month old and with 2 older brothers that already passed down plenty of toys, I've been looking at more needs for his gifts this year.  One thing I've been looking at is feeding - my little guy loves to eat and I didn't keep any feeding gear from his older brothers so I've been enjoying learning what's new out there.


One fun product I've found is the oogaa Mealtime Set.  This cute silicone feeding dish and spoon set comes with a 9 oz bowl and two spoons in a fun plane and train design.  Why silicone?  Many reasons - it won't break, doesn't support the growth of mold or bacteria and is microwave and dishwasher safe, perfect!


I was wondering if the spoons being chunkier would be awkward to hold but it's comfortable and we've all been having fun making train and plane noises when we feed the baby. ;-)

I love that oogaa's mission is to eliminate unsafe products in your home by providing durable, affordable wares that surpass the strictest health criteria while reducing the amount we throw away.

A great gift idea for little ones in your life, coming in great colours and the spoons can even be purchased separately - perfect for a stocking!

Stay up to date with 2 blue ducks on Twitter and Facebook for news on the latest products for little ones!

Air miles and Groceries

Most people love travelling, with its access to foreign cuisine and new food, but it is seldom cheap. One of the major costs is the flights, which can be a small fortune in and of themselves, depending on
your destination.

Wouldn't it be better then, if there was a way to earn your flights while doing your usual activities such as buying the weekly food? This is something done on a regular basis, so a little reward here and there could go a long way given enough time.

Fortunately, such a programme does exist in Canada, if you know how to make the most out of it.

Air Miles
Air miles are an old concept, originally brought into Canada in the early 1990s. Yet they are still available, so one can easily make advantage of them.

The process is simple: by collecting miles, you can earn discounted or free flights with providers participating in the scheme. Traditionally, this was done through flying itself, making them a frequent flyer scheme which did nothing to help those who can't always afford to fly regularly.

Fortunately, however, things quickly changed.

How to get them
There are many ways to get these points now, but the best method is through shopping. If you get the best air miles credit card you can, these will simply be added up as you shop. It makes no difference to your regular life but adds a small reward for your efforts.

While food and weekly shopping is an easy example, these cards can also be taken to clothing stores and other retail departments. In fact, if you're spending money you can likely collect points, spreading these little bonus miles into various areas of your life.

Given enough time, this can build up to whatever you need. This could take you to Europe, to experience the cultural melting point of cuisine or to Asia with its exotic flavours. In fact, wherever you go, there is something unique waiting to inspire you and, with air miles, this can be done in line with a budget much more easily.

Super EASY Cookies 'n Cream FUDGE

Do you have a favourite goodie that you like to make or eat (or both) during the holidays? For my hubby, it is my Cookies 'n Cream FUDGE! He starts talking about it in October and he doesn't stop talking about it until it is all gone. The great thing about this fudge is just how easy it is to make.

Cookies 'n Cream FUDGE

By

Super easy fudge!

Wonton Cups

It's Appy Season!  Time to scour the internet to find the best appetizer treats to share with friends, families and guests!

I wanted to share a fun way to serve wonton filled snacks this year, I find this way nice to serve to guests as filled and folded wontons can sometimes spray out the end and be a bit greasy from frying (but still delish too!)

Using this method you can have a really great presentation too..



Use a wonton wrapper and fit them into a cupcake tin, it won't completely go up the sides, but that's fine, it will hold it's shape, just don't fill it too much.  Then fill with well, just about anything!  In my case I used Epicure's Extraordinary Cheese Dip, here's a copycat recipe to try.  Then topped with cheese, baked at 350 for approx. 20 minutes and serve!  Would look great with a sprig of fresh parsly or chopped chives too!

What are some other fillings we can use for wonton cups?

Get Ready for the #CutcoCooks Twitter Party Dec 11, 2013

Recently, we received a couple of Cutco products to review and we are MORE than impressed with their quality! Would you like to learn more about Cutco and have your chance at winning a Cutco product to try out for yourself?



What: #CutcoCooks Twitter Party
When: December 11, 2013 - 9pm EST
RSVP: Head over to Journeys of the Zoo to RSVP.
Follow the Hosts: @cookwithcutco @mommyoutside @zoojourneys

Be Prepared & Organized for Holiday Baking with @OliversLabels {#GIVEAWAY} US/CAN

It is that time of year again when I begin my Holiday Baking! The first step is to ensure that my kitchen is all organized and stocked up.
Click on the image to download and print.

For a more detailed Pantry List, feel free to check out SimpleBites.net

Once I have purchased all of my "pantry necessities", it is time to organize them and make them easily accessible. I did this with some help from Oliver's Labels. This year, I finally decided to label all of my containers. My daughter is starting to learn how to bake on her own and while I know which container the flour is in, I want her to be independent and I can't expect her to memorize it all.

Before:

After:


I used Oliver's Labels Pantry Labels to label all of my staples. This way, I can stay organized and my daughter now knows what is what without a guess! When my 5 year old son helps me bake, I can also use baking as a tool to teach literacy. It's a win-win situation!


Did you know that Oliver's Labels also carries Date Labels? It is always great to be prepared for marking the date on your left overs after your big Christmas meal!
Date Labels:
  • waterproof
  • weather-proof
  • scuff-proof
  • tear-resistant
  • high-performance vinyl
  • super-strong adhesive
  • high quality full-color printing
  • includes write-on, wipe-off pencil

IT'S GIVEAWAY TIME!

Prize: A set of the pantry labels AND a set of date labels from Oliver's Labels
Open to: Canadian and US Residents (must be age of majority in place of residence)
Giveaway Starts: November 28, 2013, 11:30am EST
Giveaway Ends: December 6, 2013, 11:59pm EST

If you are carving a roast, ham or turkey this holiday, be sure to check out our Tuesday Tip for Mess Free Carving!

I am an Oliver's Labels agent

No Slip, Mess Free Tip for Carving a Roast {Tuesday Tip}

On the weekend, my Mom had the family over to her place for a delicious roast beef dinner. She was excited to try making a roast with her new convection oven.

Part of my birthday gift from her this year was her old oven. That may seem like an odd gift, but for me, it was perfect! I finally have a glass top stove - and let me tell you, this is exciting!

I digres....

When you carve a roast, do you end up having a mess all over your counter top?

I don't know about you, but when I carve a roast (ok, I don't do that often, but when I do...), the cutting board slips all over the counter.

My Mom shared with me her tip for carving a roast beef in order to avoid a mess and to prevent slippage.....

First, put a layer of "rug hug" (you know the sticky padded material that prevents your throw rug from slipping around) on the counter.


Next, put a cookie sheet down to catch all of the spills.


Then, line the cookie sheet with a layer of paper towel and if you like, a tea towel (I honetly think my Mom does this to make it look prettier!).


Finally, you are ready to carve your roast!


Thank you Mom, for a delicious birthday prime-rib dinner and thank you for my "new" oven! What a treat!

What kind of cut of beef is your favourite for making a roast beef dinner?






Get Out Your Crockpots!


Crockpots are a great tool to use year round to make meals.


All it takes is a bit of planning, a small amount of food preparation and you can have a meal on your table within minutes of being home for the day!

My favourite Crock Pot recipes are the ones where you dump a bunch of ingredients into the pot, perhaps consider giving it a stir, put the lid on, turn the Crock Pot on and walk away! I have made everything from breakfast to dinner to dessert in my Crock Pot and it truly does make meal prep so much easier and it removes the stress at the end of the day.

It's time to get out your Crock Pot!


This is our FAVOURITE Crock Pot - the 6 Quart oval shape! It can fit a 6 lb roast!

The Crock Pot Smart-Pot features:
  • ONE TOUCH Control allowing you to cook on high for 4 or 6 hours or on low for 8 or 10 hours
  • removable stoneware
  • shifts to "warm setting" automatically
  • dishwasher safe stoneware and lid
  • uses less energy than conventional oven

We've tested out a few Crock Pot recipes so far on Canadian Moms Cook:


Crock Pot Roast
EASY Chocolate Cake
Mac 'n Cheese
Pork Tenderloin
Pizza
Broccoli and Cheese Soup
Salsa Chicken

What is your favourite meal to make in the Crock Pot?

The Gluten-free Cookbook from @DKCanada

Living a gluten-free lifestyle has been a huge culinary change. Not only do I avidly search labels and symbols for hidden sources of gluten, but I am more conscious about what I put into my body. The way I shop, where I eat, and how I cook has drastically changed as well. Pre-made foods are a thing of the past and now I am constantly on the search for new recipes to recreate the classic foods I once loved. I look for recipes that keep gluten at bay, but still provides the taste, comfort and flavours I'm accustom too.

Fiona Hunter is a food writer and nutritionist with over 25 years of experience. With a degree in Nutrition and a postgraduate diploma in Dietetics, she began her career as a dietition in the NHS before going on to write for magazines including BBC Good Food, Good Housekeeping, and Health and Fitness.

The Gluten-Free Cookbook is a great resource for people with celiac disease or learning to live a gluten-free lifestyle. Not only are there 230 delicious recipes to cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, but it is nutritionally broken down to provide you with all the information you need to create a healthy and balanced gluten-free diet.

The book begins describing life on a gluten-free diet. It overviews the struggles and emotions that a person may feel when they are initially diagnosed or introduced to this type of diet. It reassures the reader that just because they have to live gluten-free doesn't mean that they have to eat foods high in fats or calories or low in taste. Living a gluten-free lifestyle can be easy and 'normal' as long as you know what you are doing and you have the right tools to do so.


The book continues on to review the foods that contain obvious signs of gluten and what to look for on labels when searching for hidden sources of gluten. Not only do you have to be aware of what to remove from your diet, but you also need to understand the consequences of not removing gluten from your diet. The book goes on to tackle other problems like nutrient deficiencies from a gluten-free diet, how to set up a gluten-free kitchen, substitutes to be used in a gluten-free kitchen (i.e. from different flour types to raising agents) and how to plan a well-balanced diet.

My favourite section of the book is the technique section. This section teaches you how to recreate the basic foods (i.e.breads, pasta, cake, pastry) so that you can incorporate them into more complex recipes later on. With step by step pictures and directions, these complex recipes become easy and less daunting. No longer does cutting out wheat, rye and barley mean that you need to go without bread, pasta, pastries and food cooked in batter. It brings back a freedom I thought was lost forever (or at least too complex for my culinary skills).

At the end of the day, I think the Gluten-Free Cookbook is a great resource for people living or cooking for a gluten-free lifestyle. Those just learning their way around the kitchen, newly diagnosed with Celiac disease, or looking to expand their gluten-free culinary experience would all find the information between its pages useful and inspiring. I look forward to exploring many more recipes and creating tasty, nutritious recipes for my family.

Here is a sample recipe I recreated! Simple, easy and delicious!

Creamy Chicken Crumble

The Gluten-Free Cookbook can be found at DK Canada and all Food and Drink Books at DK Canada are now 30% off until December 15th, 2013!

You can find Jenn and her crazy crew over on her blog 1Heart1Family, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Jenn is a working mom to two amazing boys and one Princess. 1Heart1Family is a blog about raising children, life with celiac disease and helpful product reviews so you can find the product that’s just right for you!

Hummus Holiday Dip

I have the dip right here that will make you famous this Holiday Season! Everyone will love the look of the dish, ask you what's in it, the dish will be empty in minutes and it will be the most talked about dish of the night! Here's how to make Hummus Holiday Dip:

Recipe - Hummus Holiday Dip

Ingredients
  • container of plain hummus
  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 large roasted red pepper, chopped
  • approx 1/4C sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1T extra virgin olive oil
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1t minced garlic
  • 1/2t oregano
  • 1/2t parsley

Step 1
Scoop hummus into your serving dish

Step 2
Mix together the rest of the ingredients, place on top of the hummus and serve with sliced baguette, crackers, or bite sized sour dough bread



Alternative: make it your own - leave out the roasted red pepper, or add halved grape tomatoes, try a flavoured hummus, lots of possibilities!



Family Thoughts


Everyone loves this, it's family friendly but looks like a high class dish - bring it to potlucks, family dinners, cocktail parties and more!

Tuesday Tip: Opening a stuck jar lid

The other day I got a big (Costco size) jar of roasted red peppers and I could NOT get it open. The problem was the jar lid was too big for my hand size, even with a gripper (I also tried other tricks like running it under hot water, tapping the lid with a spoon, and you know, yelling at it).

So here is a great tip if you simply can not get a new jar open. Grab a bottle opener, insert the point under the lid, use just a little pressure to pull the lid away from the jar and you will break the vacuum seal - this will make it easy to open the jar!

Libre Tea Glasses

Canadian company Libre Tea makes glass'n'poly glasses for taking loose leaf tea on the go!



How it works is the stainless steel filter keeps the tea leaves away from your mouth and is easy to remove for quick access and easy cleaning when adding or emptying loose leaf tea. Coming in 3 great sizes - Original (9 oz), Large (14 oz) or Mug (10 oz) – there’s a glass for every one and every need and everyone on your list!

Learn more at Did you know Canada? and enter below for your chance to win a Libre Tea Glass - size Large!

Slightly Sweet Biscuits with @ThreeFarmers Oil

My 8 year old daughter and I came up with this recipe when we were having my parents over for tea one weekend. She wanted to bake them a special treat, so we put this recipe together.

"Blueberrilicious" Sweet Biscuits

My daughter added the "Blueberrilicious" part to the title - I LOVED it, so I had to share it here with you!
By

Slightly Sweet biscuits with a light and fluffly consistency!

Holiday Cards with Minted!

The time is here for Holiday parties - whether it be a sit down dinner, a get together with drinks and appys, a cookie exchange or potluck, why not start it out right by sending out invitations!




Minted.com has a fantastic collection of not only holiday cards, but also party invitations!  I really love Minted's website as they not only give you tons of fun options like card shapes and colours, but with just a single click you can see exactly what the style will look like!



You can then edit every piece of text and move it around, making your cards and invites completely unique to you!  The personalization doesn't stop there either, you can also grab the right size envelopes, print your return address on the back flap AND even have recipients addresses printed on the front!  Spend a bit of time online one night before the Holiday rush and you are completely set, how nice is that?  No more cards arriving the week after the Holidays!

While you are ordering your Holiday cards and invites, be sure to check out the gift section before you check out, I know my guys would love to receive a personalize journal, the room signs, art and calenders would all make beautiful gifts!



One more sweet idea from Minted - a personalized printed MENU!  Take your holiday dinner up a notch with a printed menu, fun for display and in the moment, it would be a sweet memory of a great night to keep as well (the scrapbooker in your life will grab a few extra too!).

How to Clean Your Oven Racks {Tuesday Tip}

Before the Holiday Season gets into full swing, we recommend you take some time to clean out your oven!

No one wants to smell burning oven when you are trying to bake delicious holiday treats or preparing a turkey, do they?

Step 1:
Put each rack in its own garbage bag. Set it on a level surface. Hold the bag open and spray away. Fold the top under and let it sit for 20-30 minutes. Using damp paper towels, hold the bag open with one hand and wipe with the other hand. You will need several wads of damp paper towels. Have a garbage pail handy to toss the dirty ones. Turn the bag over to wipe the other side in the same manor.
Clean Your Oven Racks

Carefully carry the racks in the bags over to the laundry tub. Put them into the tub, turning the bag upside down as you place them in, gently lift and roll each bag off.
Caution: There will be a lot of drippy, dirty cleaner! Have that garbage pail ready again! Give the racks a final thorough rinse with an old cloth.
Clean Your Oven Racks

Stand back and admire your "like new" racks.

Clean Your Oven Racks

Tip: When using a SELF CLEAN cycle on your oven, NEVER leave your oven racks in the oven. If you do, they will never slide properly again!
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