It's the most wonderful time of the year
Katelyn Sander

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Spice of Life

Happy Holidays! We know this year’s holiday celebrations are going to be different, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be great. Whether you have your holiday meal delivered, try a new recipe, or find new (and safe!) ways to spend time with your family, we hope you have an incredible holiday season.

Holiday Meals Delivered to Your Door

This holiday season, everything feels different, including our holiday dinners. For many of us there will be fewer people around the table and we may even be faced with having to cook our first holiday feasts. Instead of spending this week stressing, why not plan to order your holiday meals from local restaurants and markets?

We've researched a number of great businesses that are offering everything you could want, from delectable brunches to picture perfect holiday dinners. And there are both traditional and non-traditional restaurants featured, so there's something for everyone.

Sources:

https://www.torontonicity.com/2020/11/30/where-to-order-christmas-dinner-in-toronto-in-2020/
https://dailyhive.com/toronto/toronto-restaurants-festive-meals-christmas-2020

Holiday Events for the Family

At this time of year, there’s nothing we love more than walking around and enjoying the beautiful Christmas light displays. With the city’s restrictions, it can be a little more challenging to find activities to do as a family, but these drive through and drive in events are perfect for the entire family (and completely safe and distanced)!

Sources:

https://www.todocanada.ca/places-see-magical-christmas-lights-ontario/
https://www.todocanada.ca/drive-through-and-drive-in-events-and-activities-in-ontario/
https://www.seetorontonow.com/open-your-curiosity/drive-in-activities-toronto/

Cranberry and Almond Muffins

Packed full of seasonal produce, these cranberry and almond muffins are guaranteed to get you in the mood for Christmas. The perfect mix of sweet and sour, they make a great on-the-go breakfast idea for this last week!

Ingredients:
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 175mL Greek yogurt
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g fresh or frozen cranberries, defrosted first if frozen
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
Instructions:
  • Heat the oven to 180C/fan or 160C/gas. Line one or two muffin tins with 10 muffin cups.
  • Whisk the sugar, egg, butter, yogurt, and orange zest together.
  • Put the flour, baking powder, and ground almonds in a bowl and mix in the cranberries. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and mix quickly to a thick batter (don’t worry if it’s a bit lumpy).
  • Divide the mixture between the muffin cups and sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden.

Amazingly Good Eggnog

This recipe uses cooked eggs for safety, and you can use more or less rum to taste. It’s a bit of work to make, but well worth it. You’ll never buy store-bought eggnog again! Enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups milk
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups light rum
  • 4 cups light cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Instructions:
  • Combine milk, cloves, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan, and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil.
  • In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs. Pour mixture into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, or until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil. Strain to remove cloves, and let cool for about 1 hour.
  • Stir in rum, cream, 2 tsp vanilla, and nutmeg. Refrigerate for 8 hours, or overnight, before serving.

Sweet Potato Salad

A mighty Sweet Potato Salad with a fabulous honey lemon dressing. Terrific combo of textures and flavours, serve this as a meal or an impressive side to your holiday dinner!

Ingredients:

Sweet Potato:

  • 2 lb sweet potato, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper

Salad:

  • 7 oz baby spinach (or rocket/arugula)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 3/4 cup sliced almond, toasted
  • 3 oz feta, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice, warm

Honey Lemon Mustard Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp extra olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, small, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 390F.
  • Shake dressing ingredients in a jar.
  • Toss sweet potato with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread onto tray.
  • Roast potatoes for 20 minutes. Flip, then roast for a further 5 minutes, until golden on edges.
  • Place baby spinach, onion, and half almonds in a bowl. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of dressing, toss.
  • Drizzle warm rice with 1 tbsp of dressing, toss.
  • Spread spinach on serving platter. Top with rice, sweet potato, and cranberries.
  • Drizzle with remaining dressing, then top with feta and remaining almonds. Serve!
Notes:
  • Sweet potato alternatives: pumpkin or butternut squash would be amazing!
  • Wild rice: feel free to sub with any other rice or grains.
    • To cook wild rice, bring large saucepan with plenty of water to a boil. Add 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice, adjust heat so its simmering. Simmer for 35 minutes or until rice “bursts” (to reveal light brown insides) and are cooked through (wild rice is firmer than normal rice, uncooked wild rice is hard like normal rice. You will know when it’s cooked by tasting it.)
  • Make the dressing ahead of time in a jar. Dress the rice while warm so it soaks up the flavour, then it can be served at room temperature. Dress everything else closer to serving time. Make sure potato is at room temperature, not cold!
  • Baby spinach does hold up better once dressed compared to other leafy greens, so leftovers will be okay the next day (e.g. taking it to work the next day, especially because you’ve got so much other “stuff” in this salad, it will distract from slightly wilted spinach).

Chocolate Mint Nanaimo Bars

These delectable, no-bake Chocolate Mint Nanaimo Bars are a holiday twist on a classic Canadian treat that originated in its namesake town in British Columbia.

Ingredients:

For the base layer:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup fine or medium unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

For the mint frosting filling:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tsp pure mint extract
  • 2 cups icing sugar (i.e. powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar)

For the chocolate topping:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp pure mint extract
Instructions:

To prepare the base layer:

  • Melt together the butter, sugar, and cocoa over low heat.
  • Add the eggs continue to cook, stirring constantly to fully cook the egg to a soft scrambled texture.
  • Add the graham crumbs, coconut, and walnuts.
  • Mix together until well combined then, press into the bottom of a parchment paper lined 9x9 inch baking pan.

To prepare the mint frosting filling:

  • With an electric mixer, neat together the butter, mint extract, and icing sugar until smooth.
  • This frosting should be very stiff but spreadable. Much thicker than you would use to frost a cake, for example. If you think it’s too thick, you may add a few drops of milk at a time to bring it to the right consistency.
  • Spread evenly over the bottom layer. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before adding the chocolate topping.

To prepare the chocolate topping:

  • Melt together the chocolate chips, mint extract, and butter over low heat, just until the chocolate is melted, don’t overheat it.
  • Spread quickly over the chilled frosted layer. Return to the fridge until the chocolate sets. Cut into squares or bars. These freeze very well.
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