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holiday party food – part 2

At this point, the rush of the holiday season is in full swing.  On my previous post, I suggested three, easy-to-make party food treats and the three I have chosen today are just as easy.  Chocolate is a crowd-pleaser and lovely to have on hand when your friends and family pop over.  Making your own is easier than you may think.  Continue Reading →

holiday party food

holiday-party-food-collageTwelve days to Christmas! Yikes! Why is it with the best-laid plans things slip? I finally got around to making my first ever Christmas cracker snaps even though I had the materials 2-weeks ago.  They were a cinch to make and took half an hour to assemble.  I think the same goes with party food.  We create lists of what we plan to make and yet as the date draws closer, it’s as if we never had a plan and we’re scrambling to pull it off.  Continue Reading →

chocolate fudge

chcolate fudge - homemade holiday giftI cannot recall the last time I made fudge.  It was a family favourite growing up and around the Christmas holidays, there was always some to be had.  My mom always had the pantry and freezer full of cooked goodies.  The laundry room became the storage area for fruit cake, plum puddings, cookies, squares not to mention tins of Ganong chocolates.  It was an out-in-the-open treasure chest that as a kid I could not ignore (a few times caught with my hand in the cookie jar).  Continue Reading →

linguine with clams (linguine alle vongole)

linguine with clamsThis is a busy time of the year with most of us running around doing last minute errands in preparation for the holidays.  When I’m short for time, pasta is my savior and the time it takes to cook it I can have dinner on the table in 30 minutes!  Toss in some clams and you’re experiencing a Venetian staple that started off as peasant food.  Clams have roughly the same protein and fat content as chicken but contain more vitamins and minerals.  Serve this delicious and light dinner with a side of salad, sit back, and relax. Continue Reading →

hot cocoa mix – a cinch to make!

hot cocoa mixAh, the annual holiday gift giving is upon us.  Our brains go into overdrive thinking of things to buy and our bank accounts take a beating.  I sometimes think we’re much too over-the-top with our purchases; the needs vs. wants dilemma.  In the past few years I’ve adopted gift giving from the heart which means homemade.  For the kid in us, making your own cocoa mix is not only a cinch to prepare, you also get the added benefit of knowing what’s inside.  This hot chocolate recipe is so good you’ll wonder why you hadn’t made it before. Continue Reading →

Merry Christmas!

 Merry Christmas

Bye for now folks.  Enjoy the holiday season and I hope to see you back to visit my blog in 2015.   xo

Mincemeat Tarts

mincemeat tartsEveryone has their traditional list of sweets to enjoy over the Christmas season.  Mine is loosely based on the Victorian era with some tried and tested recipes that have been handed down to me.  Mince pie originally contained minced meat (usually a combination of chopped meats), suet (beef fat), dried fruits, and spices.  Mom used to make her own mincemeat.  It seems odd that something with meat could taste sweet.  These days, one can easily find commercial jars of mincemeat, however, you’ll be hard pressed to find any with meat in it.  As far back as the 16th century, mince pies were considered part of a traditional British Christmas.  Continue Reading →

Christmas Bark

Christmas BarkIf you make your own candies then I applaud you for your dedication and patience.  Years ago, a friend of my mom’s would stop by to drop off her annual Christmas gift of handmade candy.  Mrs. Scarborough would spend hours on her candies and they looked so delicate and professional.  She would tenderly explain to mom what each one was and any that might have given her grief in the making.  My siblings and I would eye the candy and savour each mouthful…there weren’t that many to go around but boy were they delicious! I like candy/desserts that don’t require much finesse or fuss but deliver that wow factor via visual presentation and taste.  Continue Reading →

Top 5 Favorite Recipes for Christmas

top 5 CollageThe celebration of Christmas in our house begins with breakfast which consists of ham and eggs, toast and freshly brewed coffee.  Of course the presents are opened pre breakfast…that would be just cruel to make you wait!  Around lunchtime I head back into the kitchen to prep the turkey and the stuffing.  Some people believe that cooking the stuffing inside the turkey can lead to food poison but I’ve never cooked it separate from the turkey and have never been sick.  Next, I’ll make pastry for the apple and lemon meringue pies.   Christmas music is playing in the background and I’ll be singing (out of tune, of course!) to our old-time favorites, dancing a bit in the kitchen and planning in my head the next steps to make the dinner special.  Trying to select which top 5 favorite recipes for Christmas was a difficult one for me as it’s akin to trying to choose which child you love more.  The 5 I’ve chosen might not seem typical but boy are they tasty!  The tourtière (French-Canadian meat pie) is a Christmas eve family tradition that my mom started many years ago.  She would serve this along with Mediterranean soup.  I make the tourtière as well but usually serve it with a side salad.  If you don’t want to cook a whole turkey, the Peking turkey makes for a nice change especially if you’re not cooking for a large group.

xmas 1989I found this photo taken in 1989 – yours truly at the stove, mom in the middle and beside mom is my sister Kris.  We used to get dressed up for Christmas dinner but these days it’s more relaxed.

Apple Pie in a Jar – perfect for those who are gluten intolerant or if you just want a change from making a traditional apple pie.
Mince Pie Cookies – don’t like mincemeat? Try these soft, chewy cookies and fall in love with mincemeat.
Peking Turkey – mandarin and cranberry stuffing with hoisin roasting sauce – a delightful Asian twist on a North American tradition.
Tourtière – this meat pie has a few variations but I prefer my mom’s.
Lemon Squares – don’t want to make lemon meringue pie? This is the perfect lemon fix without the fuss.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  See you next year!

photo credit: www.hdwallpapersinn.com

photo credit: www.hdwallpapersinn.com

Pretzels Dipped in White Chocolate and Crushed Candy Cane

prezels in white chocolate candy cane by The Culinary ChaseI’m in the holiday bake mode!  This is ‘the most wonderful time of the year‘ for me.  I am in my element as I bake, cook, and roast all leading up to the 25th.  Forgive me if I sound mawkish but I love Christmas.  I love how people seem a bit kinder, smile more and generally are in the Christmas spirit of rejoicing.  Out of all the entertaining we do throughout the year, the days leading up to Christmas are the most special for us.  I am always fine tuning the party menu and looking for ways to shorten my time in the kitchen so as to enjoy the company of our guests.  When I saw that Shutterbean posted white chocolate peppermint pretzels I knew this would have to make a debut in The Culinary Chase’s kitchen!  I have to admit I’m not a big fan of pretzels and while they aren’t high on my list of party foods, dressed up like this, how can I resist?

white chocolate, melted
pretzel sticks
candy canes

Use a rolling pin or tin can to gently crush the candy cane in a large zip-lock bag.  Once this is done you’re ready for the assembly line. Dip pretzel stick in melted chocolate and let drip off. You may want to shake gently to remove excess chocolate. Roll in crushed candy cane until coated then lay on top of waxed paper. Repeat process. The chocolate doesn’t take long to harden.

pretzels by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note:  Make sure the candy cane isn’t crushed too finely as the chunky mint bits are lovely with the chocolate and saltiness from the pretzel. Perfect for a school party, gifts for the person who has everything, or for your paper boy.  Enjoy!