The Daring Bakers' Challenge - December 2010 - Christmas Stollen!

Okay, Okay, I have been a very bad blogger. :( I didn't finish my 12 days of Christmas series and I have barely posted during the month of December. Thank you to all of you who still faithfully visit my blog when I do update it! My New Years' resolution is to be a better blogger - more consistent and lots of different types of recipes!

Now, on to the December Daring Bakers' challenge! The 2010 December Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie's Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make Stollen. She adapted a friend's family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart's book.... and Martha Stewart's demonstration.

My stollen was not very traditional (at all!!). I was inspired to make a tropical stollen because my sister was going to Maui for Christmas, so I thought something tropical was in order. Yes, tropical stollen sounds a little, odd, but it was delicious. I made candied lime peel following the instructions here. And used the recipe Audax recommended for home-made marzipan. I made a macadamia marzipan using ground macadamia nuts and Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum (a couple of tsp). I only needed 1/2 of the marzipan recipe for the stollen. The stollen was wonderfully moist and flavourful. Please see below for the recipe I adapted.

Tropical Christmas Stollen


  • ¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup (240 ml) coconut milk
  • 10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
  • 5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first - then sift- plus extra for dusting)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) ground cardamom
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Grated zest of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) coconut extract
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) candied lime peel
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed mixed, dried tropical fruit (I used pineapple, cantaloupe, crystallized ginger, and papaya)
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) chopped macadamia nuts
  • unsalted butter for coating the wreath
  • Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath
  • 1/2 batch macadamia nut marzipan candy

  1. In a small bowl, soak the dried fruit in the spiced rum. Set aside.
  2. Pour 1/4 cup of water into small bowl. Sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely. In small saucepan, combine 1 cup coconut milk and 10 tbsp butter over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm (about 5 minutes).
  3. Lightly beat eggs in separate bowl. Add vanilla and coconut extract. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, and lime zest. Then stir in the yeast/ water mixture, the coconut milk/ butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. The mixture should be soft but not sticky. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the lime peel, mixed fruit, and macadamia nuts. Mix until incorporated.
  5. Turn dough out onto floured work surface. Knead dough, adding extra flour as necessary. Knead for approximately 8 minutes. When some dried fruit starts to fall out of the dough while it is being kneaded, you will know it has been kneaded enough. The dough will not be sticky enough to hold the outer dried fruit inside.
  6. Lightly oil a large bowl and place dough in bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Place in fridge overnight.
Making & Shaping the Dough
  1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours at room temperature after removing from the fridge. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Punch dough down, and roll into a rectangle about 16x24 inches, 1/4 inch thick. Roll your marzipan into 4 logs that cover the length of the rectangle (see above picture). And place logs evenly on the dough.
  2. Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder. Transfer cylinder to sheet pan and join ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger. Pinch the seam to make it stick and form a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.
  3. Using kitchen shears, make cuts at 2 inch intervals around the circle, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward forming a wreath shape. Mist dough with spray oil and cover with a tea towel. Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature until dough has increased to about 1 1/2 times its original size.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake stollen in preheated over for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake another 20 -30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 190F when placed into middle of bread.
  5. Transfer to cooling rack then brush with melted butter while it is still warm. Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar onto bread. Wait one minute then tap another layer of sugar onto the first. Repeat layers of sugar until the butter no longer soaks through the sugar. Let cool at least one hour before serving.

This was a really great challenge and it made a whole lot of stollen! I think if I made it again I would make it into 4 smaller wreaths. The size would be far more manageable and would also make a great gift to give. Thank you Penny for encouraging us all to try something new and for providing us with such a delicious recipe. It was a lot of fun to try it and the taste and texture were very rewarding.

Happy Baking my Friends!


On the Ninth Day of Christmas... Gingerbread Biscotti!

I've mentioned her blog before and I'm going to mention it again because its pretty awesome. I came across this recipe for Gingerbread Biscotti on Jen's blog Food & Whine. It intrigued me right away and I knew I had to make it and soon! I whipped up a batch last night and in no time at all, my house smelled absolutely heavenly. The biscotti were delicious on their own, but I glazed them with an icing sugar glaze to give them a finished look. Boy was that a good call - as my sister put it, they taste like a gingerbread latte! So thanks Jen for sharing such a delicious recipe at the perfect time of year!

Gingerbread Biscotti
Recipe from Food & Whine

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Line two small baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In bowl of your mixer, cream butter, sugars and molasses until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add to egg mixture and mix until blended. Spoon dough into two even piles - one on each prepared baking sheet. Shape into two 9 inch by 2 inch logs.
  4. Bake in 350F oven for 25-30 minutes until browned around edges and firm. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 300F.
  5. Let loaves stand on baking sheets for about 5 minutes until cool enough to handle. Remove to cutting board and slice into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick biscotti. Place slices on baking sheets with cut side down. Return to oven at 300F and bake 2-3 minutes then flip and bake 2-3 minutes on the other side.
  6. Remove from oven and transfer biscotti to cooling rack.
  7. Mix 3/4 cup icing sugar with enough liquid (i.e. milk, whipping cream, lemon juice, etc) to make the icing the consistency you like. Dip tops of biscotti into the icing. Leave out on cooling trays until icing has set. Store biscotti in air tight containers for up to a month or freeze for longer.

This recipe is already on my list to make next year for my Christmas baking gifts. I can't get enough of them (I must confess, I ate three of them for breakfast with my coffee)... Perhaps I shouldn't make them... who am I kidding! Of course I'll make them again - strategy for next year - give them away as quickly as possible so my friends can enjoy them a much as I did this year!

Happy Baking my Friends & thanks Jen for sharing this delicious recipe!

On the Eighth Day of Christmas... Easy Oreo Truffles!

Alright, get ready for a show stopper recipe! These Oreo truffles look beautiful and they look impressive. People will think they took you a long time to make, when in reality they require minimal effort. The most difficult part of making them is dipping them in the chocolate and making sure they're evenly coated.

I brought a bunch to work for my co-workers to try today and the verdict was good! They eagerly devoured them and I received many compliments on the truffles. I also received many comments regarding how much time I must have spent in the kitchen to whip up all these beautiful baked goods. I'm not going to lie - they take a lot less time than you would think!

Easy Oreo Truffles
Recipe from Kraft Canada.ca


  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pkg oreo cookies
  • 16 oz semi sweet chocolate
  • more oreo crumbs for sprinkling


  1. Get out your food processor! It is going to save you lots of time and effort. Throw the whole package of oreos into the processor and whirl until you have coarse crumbs. Toss in the cream cheese and whirl until just combined.
  2. Shape into 48 1-inch balls. Put the balls into the fridge for about 1/2 an hour to firm up (you don't have to do this, but it makes dipping them a lot easier and they will come out looking nicer).
  3. Melt the chocolate. Dip balls in chocolate, tossing to coat. Place on waxed paper covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining oreo crumbs. Chill 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in the fridge.

Thats it! Kraft is so great for providing quick and delicious recipes. I think this is one of my favorite recipes I've tried off their website. And with so few ingredients, whats not to love? Add these to your goodie list this Holiday Season and enjoy a little decadence.

Happy Baking my Friends!


On the Seventh Day of Christmas... Eggnog Pudding!

*Update: This post now contains my own photos! This was a delicious recipe that was so well received by my family and friends. Plus, you can make cute individual desserts that would be so perfect for a dinner party.

Despite the lack of photos, this recipe is a real winner and I would encourage you to try it out. I tested it out on my family and a couple of friends and it received very good feedback, do so give it a shot. It is festive and looks so pretty layered in nice glass dishes.

Eggnog Pudding
Minimally Adapted from Country Living Magazine, December 2009


  • 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 1/3 cup captain morgan's spiced rum
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 25 small gingersnap cookies (about 1 1/2 inch diameter)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp confectioners' sugar


  1. Fill large bowl with ice water and set aside. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup of the half-and-half, nutmeg, molasses, rum, and salt in a medium saucepan. Stirring occasionally to prevent burning, bring to a simmer over medium heat, then remove from stove.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, 1/4 cup half and half in medium saucepan until combined. Slowly add in 1/4 cup of the hot mixture to the eggs while continuing to whisk. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the cornstarch and remaining half and half together in medium bowl. Quickly whisk the cornstarch mixture into the hot milk mixture. Place the pan back on the heat, increase to medium-high, and whisk constantly until it just boils. Remove from the heat and add the egg mixture to the hot milk mixture stirring vigorously.
  4. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid just begins to simmer. Immediately remove from the heat and strain into a medium bowl.
  5. Cover wth plastic wrap, placing the film directly on the hot pudding, and set in the ice bath to cool. Refrigerate.
  6. Crush one gingersnap and set aside. Combine the heavy cream and icing sugar in large bowl and beat to soft peaks. Alternate layers of cooled pudding, gingersnaps, and cream in six 6-oz individual custard cups. Chill for at least one hour. Top with crushed gingersnap and serve.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and can get past the serious lack of photos... I have one more place I can possibly look tomorrow while I'm at work, but my hopes are not high. Will keep you posted.

*UPDATE: I found my pictures! I've updated the post with my own photos. Hope you enjoy!!!

Only a few days til Christmas - hope you've just about finished your preparations. :) Happy Baking my Friends!


On the Sixth Day of Christmas... "the best stuffing recipe ever"

I have a bit of a problem with cooking stuffing inside of a turkey. I know it tastes good and I grew up with my mom doing it every single year, but I just can't bring myself to do it. All I can think of is I'm going to make my guests sick and someone is going to get food poisoning. Salmonella scares me... Irrational I know, but still.

I am also of the opinion that cooking a turkey with stuffing is a lot harder than cooking it without - you have to be very careful that the stuffing is cooked enough on the inside, but that the turkey meat is not overcooked. So I make my stuffing in a casserole dish every year and most years people have told me that it was good, but this year, this new recipe I used, I received rave reviews. In fact, I was told by my sister that she thinks it was the BEST stuffing she has EVER tasted. Period. So try it out for yourself - you won't be disappointed.

Herbed Stuffing
Recipe adapted from Canadian Living Everyday Favorites

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 4 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp each salt, dried savory, marjoram and pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 14 cups cubed white bread
  • 1/2 package bacon, chopped


  1. Brown the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, but leave bacon fat in pan. Melt in the butter over medium heat. Fry onions, celery and seasonings until vegetables are tender. About 10 - 15 minutes. Transfer to a very large bowl. Add bread and bacon. Toss to combine.
  2. Spoon into a greased casserole dish. Cover and bake at about 350F to 375F for 20-40 minutes. Remove the cover for the last 10 minutes or so to let the outside crisp up a bit if you like that. Otherwise leave it covered til its nice and hot.

This is a truly delicious recipe. The herb combination is absolutely amazing - don't cut back because it sounds like a lot of herbs - the flavours combine so nicely and just give the stuffing the most amazing flavour.

Happy Cooking My Friends!

On the Fifth Day of Christmas... Delicious Turkey

Turkey... for most people Christmas dinner is not complete without it. If the turkey is dry or lacking flavour, dinner is not usually considered a success. Turkey causes the most stress for most people taking on the huge task of cooking Christmas dinner - whether its for your immediate family members or for your extended family plus all of your "closest friends". So its important to start with a great recipe and some awesome tips! Hopefully this post will give you a good start.

And, lets not forget the gravy - it is equally important and can cover a multitude of culinary sins when poured over a plate! It can moisten dry turkey and give flavour to not-so-perfect mashed potatoes! So I've got a great gravy recipe to share with you! It got rave reviews at our Thanksgiving dinner and I know it will be a hit at your Christmas dinner too.

Roast Turkey
Recipe adapted from Canadian Living Everyday Favorites


  • 15 lb turkey (preferably a fresh, never frozen turkey)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp each dried sage and thyme
  • 1 tsp coarse salt & freshly ground pepper
  • bacon (about 1/2 a package, but buy a nice big package because you'll want the other half of the bacon to go in your stuffing!)
  • fresh thyme, rosemary and sage sprigs
  • whole head garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 1/4 of a large onion, chopped into coarse chunks
  • 1/4 of an apple, coarsely chopped
  • a few bottles of dark beer (approximately 1/2 a bottle for each 1/2 hour of cooking)


  1. Remove giblets and neck from turkey. Place in large saucepan and set aside.
  2. Rinse turkey inside and outside and then pat dry inside and out. Loosely fill cavity with fresh herb sprigs, garlic, onion, and apple chunks. Don't over stuff it. You just want those yummy ingredients in there to give it some delicious flavour. Lift wings and twist under back. Tuck legs under band of skin or tie together with kitchen twine.
  3. Immediately place turkey, breast side up, on rack in roasting pan. In small bowl, mix together butter, sage and thyme. Rub over turkey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay strips of bacon over turkey until most of the outside is covered in bacon. Tent with foil, dull side out, leaving sides open.
  4. Roast in 325F oven, basting with 1/2 bottle of dark beer every 30 minutes, for 4 hours. Remove foil; roast until meat thermometer inserted in thigh registers 185F, about 1 hour longer. Transfer to cutting board; tent with foil and let stand for 20 minutes before carving.

*Note: This cooking time is for a 15lb stuffed turkey. For details on how long to cook your turkey (based on size and whether or not it is stuffed), please check out the JD farms website. Cooking time makes a big difference in the taste of your turkey, so be sure to keep a close eye on your turkey while it cooks and makes your house smell so delicious!

Recipe adapted from Canadian Living Everyday Favorites

  • 4 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • half a bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup each sliced carrot and celery
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour (you might need a bit more)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. While the turkey is cooking, to saucepan with turkey parts, add stock, wine, onion, carrot and celery; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and skim off the fat. Simmer for three hours. Strain into a measuring cup, adding enough wine to make 3 cups.
  2. When turkey is done, skim fat off roasting pan. Stir flour into pan; cook over medium heat, stirring for 1 minute. Whisk in stock and bring to boil, stirring to scrape up brown bits; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk in butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Strain if desired.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do! They are delicious and have become a part of our holiday traditions. I'm sure you are almost ready for Christmas by now... I however am not! I still have much Christmas shopping to do... its on my to-do list for tomorrow. I did get my Christmas cards out today (finally!) though! They may be a day or two late though.

Happy Cooking my Friends!


On the Fourth Day of Christmas... Two Fabulous Sides!!

For most people turkey is the focal point of Christmas dinner - they look forward to it all year and they are very excited to heap a bunch of turkey on their plate. I like turkey too, but my favorite part about Christmas dinner is the side dishes. These are two of my absolute favorite side dishes and they go so great with a perfectly roasted turkey. The first recipe I am going to share with you is one for a golden mashed potatoe casserole. It is a delicious spin on the traditional mashed potatoe side dish. Second I'm going to share a recipe for Vegetable Gratin which my mother in law shared with me. It is my husband's favorite side dish and this is the one time each year I see him heap his plate full of veggies (even though they're smothered in a delicious cheese sauce, they're still veggies!!!).

Golden Mashed Potatoe Casserole
Recipe from Everyday Favorites (Canadian Living) p. 156

  • 10 yukon gold potatoes (about 3.5 lbs)
  • 1/2 cup choped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup milk, heated
  • 1/2 cup herbed cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded old cheddar cheese


  1. Peel and cut potatoes into chunks. In large pot of boiling salted water, cover and cook potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes; drain and return to pot. Add 1/3 cup of the chives, the milk, cream cheese, butter, egg, salt & pepper; mash together until smooth.
  2. Spoon into greased 8-inch square glass baking dish. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese for remaining chives. (You can also make this dish ahead at this point: let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Uncover. Increased baking time to 55 minutes).
  3. Bake in 375F oven until knife inserted in centre comes out hot, about 40 minutes (mine took less than this).

This really was a delicious recipe and adds some great flavour to mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoe lovers will still love it and people who don't really like mashed potatoes will like it too!!

Vegetable Gratin
Recipe adapted from my mother in law's Cauliflower & Carrot Gratin

  • 2.5 lbs mixed veggies (I do cauliflower, carrots and broccoli) (enough to fill a 9x13" pan)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 2.5 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste and pinch nutmeg
  • 1 cup shredded old cheddar
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup shredded old cheddar (for topping)
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs (for topping)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (for topping)


  1. Cook veggies in salt water until tender crisp (don't overcook them because they will cook more in the oven). Drain & set aside.
  2. For the sauce: Melt butter, stir in flour and cook stirring constantly a few minutes. Don't brown the mixture. Whisk in milk and broth, stirring until thickened and smooth. Stir in seasonings. Blend in cheese. Place veggies in greased 9x13" baking dish. Spoon sauce over veggies.
  3. For the topping: combine cheese, crumbs & butter. Sprinkle over casserole.
  4. Bake at 375F 15 minutes (if warm) 20-25 minutes if room temperature. Broil 2-3 minutes to crisp topping.

Both of these recipes will be a hit with your families and friends. I have been making the recipe for vegetable gratin since my husband and I got married and it never fails to impress everyone who eats it. :) I know you are all busy with your holiday preparations, so I won't ramble on and on... I am off to find a Christmas tree! Finally get to decorate my house for Christmas.

Happy Cooking my Friends!


On the Third Day of Christmas... QDA

First off - what is QDA?! QDA is short for quick and dirty artichoke dip - at least in the world of the Girl Can't Cook cookbook by Cinda Chavich. For anyone who likes artichoke dip, you will love this dip - it is easy to make, and calls for down-to-earth ingredients! And that is definitely what you need this busy holiday season. Make this to tide your guests over while they wait for you to finish making Christmas dinner. Serve it with tortilla chips, pita chips, crackers, or baguette slices.

QDA (Quick & Dirty Artichoke Dip)
Recipe from The Girl Can't Cook by Cinda Chavich

  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained well and chopped
  • sweet hungarian paprika or cayenne for sprinkling


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine garlic, mayo, cayenne and cheese. Stir in the artichokes. Pile into a small,ovenproof dish and sprinkle with paprika or extra cayenne. Bake 15-20 minutes until it's bubbly and starting to brown on top. Place the hot dip on a platter, surrounded by sliced bread or pita chips. Makes approximately 2 cups of dip.

Well, thats that! Simple and delicious! I hope you enjoy this one and try it out over the holiday season. Happy Cooking My Friends!!!


On the 2nd Day of Christmas... Chutney Baked Brie

No holiday dinner is complete without a delicious appetizer; something hot, rich and delicious to nibble on while waiting for the turkey to come out of the oven and the gravy to be made. I found this fantastic recipe for baked brie that is quick and tastes amazing. Serve this baked brie with fresh baguette slices or some yummy crackers and you're set. Your guests will love how beautiful the brie looks when its plated and you will love how quickly it comes together.

For best results on this recipe, use a high quality curry powder that packs a bit of spice to it. I used some fabulous curry powder given to me by a wonderful woman who toasts and grinds her own amazing spice blends! It really does make all the difference to use good quality curry powder though - it actually smells and tastes different than the stuff you buy in the grocery store.

Chutney Baked Brie
Recipe from Allrecipes.com

  • 1 - 2.2lb wheel of double creme brie
  • 2 tsp good quality curry powder
  • 1 - 12oz jar mango chutney
  • 1 cup chopped cashews
  • 1 french baguette, sliced
  • assorted crackers


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Sprinkle curry powder over top and sides of brie and massage into rind to thoroughly coat the cheese. Place brie wheel in a large pie plate or other oven-proof dish. Spread a generous layer of chutney on top of the cheese wheel. Evenly sprinkle with cashews.
  3. Bake 15 minutes in preheated oven, or until cashews are golden brown and cheese is melty. Serve with baguette slices and crackers.

I hope this recipe inspires you to try something new for your Christmas menu this year! Your guests will enjoy it and you will love that this appetizer doesn't take hours in the kitchen or oodles of patience - it is not a finicky recipe (because who has time for that at Christmas-time right?!).

Stay tuned for the 3rd day of Christmas recipe - you can look forward to a second appetizer recipe for your family and friends to nibble on while you finish making dinner! You might be thinking: "I have enough to do already, why make an appetizer?". Well I'll tell you why you want to throw together a couple of easy appy's for your guests. When you have easy, low-stress appetizer recipes, you can toss them together and serve them to your guests about 1-2 hours before dinner is ready. This will keep them occupied and satisfied while you put the finishing touches on dinner - without your "starving" guests hovering around asking when dinner will be ready!! ;)

Happy Cooking my Friends!


On the First Day of Christmas... Warm Mulled Cider

Welcome to the first day of Christmas on my blog! We'll start off with a Christmassy drink - warm mulled cider. The recipe is courtesy of Chef Michael Smith and it is really good! A little on the sweeter side though - I'm posting the recipe with reduced sugar so that it is not quite so sweet, but you can make it however sweet you like!

I'm sure most of you have started decorating for Christmas and likely started on your Christmas shopping too! I'm trying to avoid as much of that as possible! I find Christmas to be very distracting and all-encompassing and right now I have to focus on writing my exam on December 17th. Sooooo Christmas doesn't really officially start for me until then! I did sneak out front to put my wreath up yesterday evening though while on a "study-break"!! So you can imagine that I'm a little bit excited to be testing a few Christmassy recipes when I really don't get to acknowledge the holiday season yet! :)

Warm Mulled Cider
Recipe Adapted from Chef Michael Smith's Chef at Home

  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 8 cups fresh apple cider
  • 1 orange
  • handful of cloves
  • a few cinnamon sticks
  • several bay leaves
  • branch or two of fresh rosemary
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • bottle of great chardonnay


  1. Place sugar in a tight pile in the centre of a large saucepot - large enough to hold the cider and the wine. Pour the water around it and begin heating the works over high heat. Don't stir or shake the pot! The sugar mixture will quickly form a syrup and come to a boil. Continue simmering as the water boils away. When the syrup begins to brown around the edges, swirl it gently until the resulting caramel turns a beautiful golden brown.
  2. Working quickly, and carefully, add the cider to shock the caramel and prevent it from further browning. It will spatter, so e careful. Bring entire mixture to a simmer.
  3. Pierce the orange skil with the cloves, forming an even pattern, then add to the cider. Add cinnamon, bay leaves, rosemary and vanilla. Continue simmering for another 30 minutes or so, until the cider reduces by a third.
  4. Add the wine and bring the mixture back to a simmer. Serve immediately in a festive mug. Garnish each serving with a fresh rosemary sprig and a cinnamon stick.

Definitely a yummy and festive drink! I hope you have enjoyed the first day of Christmas here on my blog! Stay tuned as we progress through the 12 days of Christmas and through a delicious and festive holiday menu! Coming up next are some great starters to serve to your guests while you're putting dinner together.



Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Okay, I realize its been a while since I've posted. I have a confession to make - I have been very, very busy studying for a huge test I have to write on the 17th of December. Such a cruel time of the year to make people study and spend large amounts of time on homework and other lovely tasks. All you really want to do is turn on the Christmas music, pour a nice warm beverage and snuggle in front of the fireplace. Or in my case, turn on the Christmas music, write a blog post or two, get some baking done and decorate my house for Christmas!!! Unfortunately, I haven't had time for any of that lately. My point is, I may be posting a little less frequently over the next couple of weeks depending how the studying goes... but bear with me ok?!

Next up, is that of course I'm inspired about a lovely December theme for my blog - the 12 days of Christmas - a different Christmas recipe for each day with the end result being a fabulous Christmas feast - all posted in time to be incorporated into your Christmas menu planning. I had originally planned for these recipes to be posted between December 1 -12th, but that is not going to happen, so we are going to have the 12 days of Christmas theme for my blog, but the days will not be consecutive!!! I hope you enjoy. I am really looking forward to cooking/ baking for and writing these blog posts.

Now, on to my actual blog post right!! The other day I was browsing another blog I follow called Tracey's Culinary Adventures when I came across an intriguing recipe for flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I had never made flourless cookies, but I absolutely adore peanut butter cookies so I figured I would give them a shot. I mean, anything with chocolate chips and peanut butter chips in it must be delicious right? Of course I was right! The recipe was amazing!! I mean, absolutely and utterly amazing! The cookies were so perfect and delicate and the flavour was exquisite! So do, check out the recipe on Tracey's Culinary adventures by clicking here. Let me know what you think!

Oh, by the way, do stop by Tracey's blog and check out some of her other recipes! Everything, I mean everything looks just fantastic! :)
Happy Baking my Friends! Stay tuned for the 1st day of Christmas Recipes!!!