Holiday Recipe Roundup, and what the holidays look like from here

Despite not being together as a family this Christmas season, I’ve decided to make the best of the holiday spirit.  This will be the kiddo’s first Christmas where she really understands what’s going on.  Before having kids I actually wondered if I would want to do the Santa thing.  Well, it seems the season is a bit undeniable, and my little girl had been well apprised of the ins and outs of the whole affair long before I had a chance to weigh in.  But it doesn’t matter:  also undeniable were the squeals of excitement at the lights!  Santa!  reindeer!  (more lights!) sparkles!  Christmas trees!  (ligggghhhhhttts!)

And then, when I was grumbling my way through Toys R’ Us a few weeks ago (“grrr….commercialization….grrr….no gender neutral toy options….grrrr…..$100 for a tricycle…..a whole freakin’ section of electronics for toddlers….argggghh”), I found the Cabbage Patch doll section, and was hit by a double whammy of nostalgia and the anticipation of my wee one’s thrilled little face upon receiving her first “real” baby for Christmas.  

(make that a triple whammy, when I realized that my little girl’s nature is to nurture, and that after three years of buying mostly blocks, play-dough, books, and art supplies, buying her a doll didn’t necessarily have to be about pandering to cultural norms, but rather allowing her to build on skills and strengths that she had already begun to show on her own.  The kid snuggles dish cloths and puts them to bed.  It was time….)

So here we are, preparing for a perfect imperfect Christmas, brimming with excitement, and at least, while A is mostly just excited about sparkles and the possibility of a new pair of underwear (as opposed to, like, a pony), gratefully indulging in what the season should really be about.

Speaking of indulging…I’ve pulled a few recipes out of the archives that you might find useful this season – for entertaining, gifting, or just hunkering down at home.  Enjoy!

First up, the recently published Icebox Cookies.  Though these are traditionally a holiday-time treat in our home, it’s always handy to have some in the freezer, ready at a moment’s notice.  They make a great gift too!

Dad's Icebox Cookies |

If you’re looking for a super simple hostess gift, or a Secret Santa surprise, why not infuse some maple syrup with some fun flavours (here I used vanilla bean and star anise)?  Seriously, this could not be easier, and it’s a really special treat.

Vanilla and Star Anise Infused Maple Syrup |

Holiday entertaining made simple:  meatballs, chili sauce and grape jelly.  It will have people hovering around your slow-cooker at your next gathering.

Grape Jelly Meatballs |

Every Christmas morning for well over a decade, I’ve eaten a breakfast strata.  In the good old days, growing up, it was made with simple ham and cheese.  As I grew up, started a family of my own and became more knowledgeable about food and flavour, our strata morphed into this prosciutto, onion and spinach version.

Christmas Breakfast Strata |

Last but not least, you just have to make homemade egg nog.  Seriously:  once you have this, the grocery store variety will not hold the same appeal.  It’s the one thing I’m truly missing this year – apparently, when you’re pregnant, you’re supposed to avoid things like raw eggs and brandy.  It just means that I’m going to be drinking eggnog in April, once this wee one has arrived, to make up for lost time.

Homemade Egg Nog |


Enjoy the holiday season, everyone! 

Star Anise and Vanilla Infused Maple Syrup

Vanilla and Star Anise Infused Maple Syrup |

This summer is going to be the summer of 





This summer my hubby and partner in crime will be leaving on his first big deployment of his military career.

We’ve been lucky, really, to have him home.  He was there to hear Ada’s little heart beat for the first time, and to meet my tearful eyes with his from across the doctor’s office as the reality of our growing family sunk in.  He was able to wrap his arms around me as my belly grew, and to stand strong as I pulled and pushed and hugged (and bit) my way through a powerful labour.

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Drop Dead Amazing Maple Syrup

What did you get up to this weekend?

Did you cook anything?  Bake anything?


I had the pleasure of enjoying some food that wasn’t cooked by me this weekend:  I was honoured to be a judge in a local Iron Chef competition.  As a part of my gig as a Taste of Nova Scotia blogger, I got to dig in to not one but two chef-prepared meals, comparing the two to determine a winner.

It’s hard to be really discerning when everything tastes like “oh my god, I’m so happy to be here!!!!”


Anyways.  This competition took place at the Saltscapes Expo, which is a huge celebration of all things maritime, including FOOD.

So picture me.  I’m wandering around with a paper bag full of goodies that I’ve bought at the various vendors, happily snapping pictures and taking notes for the blogs I am to write for Taste, when I see it.


Pure Infused Maple Syrup.  Seeing flavours like lavender and chai, vanilla, cinnamon and star anise, I know I must have some.  I was led through a tasting of five varieties of infused maple syrup, finishing with a chipotle lemongrass one that sent a kick of sweet and hot down the back of my tongue and screamed “marinate bacon in me!!!!”

I did the only thing a girl could do in my situation.  I brought home a bottle of vanilla, cinnamon and star anise maple syrup and made some mid-afternoon pancakes.


Regular readers will note that while I rarely promote specific products on this blog, I am a huge supporter of local awesomeness:  awesome chefs, awesome cafes, awesome food bloggers and now:  awesome maple syrup.


If you want to taste it for yourself, you can buy it off of their website.


To my beloved readers:  this blog post is not a paid endorsement.  It’s just me absolutely lovin’ this product!