A Simple Bites Holiday Menu (recipe: Cranberry-Orange Sauce)

We enjoyed this menu so much for our recent Thanksgiving dinner, that I’ve been recreating dishes from it all month long and incorporating them into our weeknight dinners. There’s also a pretty good chance that Christmas dinner is going to look very similar to the plate above. After all, why mess with a good thing?

This suggested holiday menu is designed for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but is simple enough to prepare for Sunday dinner. To pare it down in to a more manageable meal, ask friends to bring dessert and rolls, while you roast a turkey breast and prepare mashed potatoes, stuffing and a vegetable. Round off with a jar (or can) of your favorite cranberry relish or sauce and dig in!

[Read more…]

Weekend Links

There’s been so much turkey and pumpkin pie talk going around the web this week, that I get hungry just logging on to Twitter! Although we’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada, I jumped at the chance to contribute to a Virtual Progressive Thanksgiving Dinner hosted by Liz of Hoosier Homemade.

For the progressive dinner, six food bloggers shared their favorite additions to the holiday meal, and in doing so, a wonderful menu came together. Today I’m skipping the usual weekend links and instead, sharing our feast and recipes.

[Read more…]

2010 Holiday Gift Guide: My Top 10 Cookbook Picks

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved cookbooks. As children, my sister and I would nestle on the sofa, The Encyclopedia of French Cooking opened between us, and we would turn it carefully, page by page, scrunching up our noses over the sautéed chicken livers and sighing over the Raspberry Charlotte and Grand Marnier soufflé. I didn’t know what Grand Marnier was, but I knew I wanted some.

My parents gave me my first cookbook when I was eleven. Pies. I think I made every pie in the book. It was the beginning of what has become a carefully chosen and beloved collection. I never tire of cookbooks. Even though digital recipes from blogs and websites are a huge inspiration and now a normal part of everyday life, I still love to flip through cookbooks, be they old favorites or new acquisitions.

Cookbooks make a fantastic gift for anyone who finds cooking a muse instead of a chore, but with so much selection out there, how does one choose a cookbook that will be used for years?

This following is a list of some of my absolute favorite and most useful cookbooks. I say ‘some’ with all honesty, as it was very hard to narrow the list down to ten, while keeping it diversified. Diversity is key, however, as the dear ones on our Christmas lists are all so different.

For the eco-conscious to the romantic recipient, here are my top ten cookbook recommendations to gift this year. A few are hot off the press and others have been around a tad longer, but are just too good to leave out.

[Read more…]

How to Host a Pizza Party


1. Decide to throw a party. If it happens to be your little sister’s twenty-fifth birthday, so be it.

2. Invite friends who like pizza. (Warning: pretty much everyone does, so plan for a houseful.)


3. Make a big bowl of Honey Pizza Dough. OK, make that a GINORMOUS bowl. Don’t worry, you can always freeze the leftovers. (I think I did 8 batches)

4. Roast a several pounds of Roma tomatoes for Roasted Tomato & Garlic Pizza Sauce. This stuff is so good, you almost don’t need any pizza toppings. Almost.

5. Rock as many or as few pizza toppings as you like. (See suggestions below. I went with ‘many’, as you’ll see.)


6. Set up a station for roll/tossing/stretching pizza dough. Find all the pie pans in the house. Provide parchment paper, scissors, olive oil and a rolling pin or two.


7. Preheat the oven to crazy-hot. Like 450 degrees. Invite guests to shape their pizzas.

8. Snap some photos. Sigh. Wish you were twenty-five again. Pour a glass of wine.


9. Set out the prepared pizza toppings. Pictured above: diced sauteed bacon, sliced grilled chicken breast, baby shrimp, broccoli, pepperoni.

Toppings II: sauteed zucchini, diced feta, sauteed leeks, cherry tomatoes, sliced Vidalia onions.
And more toppings…diced colored peppers, Capicola, diced tomatoes, artichoke hearts, black olives, mushrooms, apples, pears, Gouda, oven-roasted tomatoes.


10. Encourage guests to create their own pizzas.


11. Get creative. Half pesto, half roasted tomato sauce…


…finished with shrimp, red onion, mozzarella and colored peppers on the pesto, and sauteed leeks, apples and Gouda on the tomato sauce. A.Ma.Zing.


12. Do not laugh at ‘stuffed crust’ attempts. Even if you think that looks like a lot of crust.


13. OK, go ahead and laugh.


14. Eat pizza, pour more wine. Laugh a lot.


15. Berate your friends for not eating more. Attempt to make up for it with another slice or three.

A Virtual Thanksgiving (Recipe: Bread Stuffing with Seasonal Fruits & Herbs)

The very best holiday meals are those where friends and family gather together and everyone brings a dish. These lovingly-prepared contributions compose a complete meal that would otherwise be a lot of work for one poor soul, and represent a community effort where all can benefit, i.e. feast!

This week, a few of my food blogging friends and I are doing just that: we’re throwing a virtual Thanksgiving dinner party and you’re invited. The talented Liz brought us together and we promise to make you hungry each and every day as this progressive meal unfolds all week long. Of course, we hope to inspire you as well.
(Aren’t I lucky? Although we’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada, I couldn’t turn down this dinner invitation from such a fun bunch of girls, so I’m helping myself to seconds on dressing as we speak.)

Shaina and I are collaborating today to bring you the main feature: the turkey and stuffing. Although we’re both theoretically attending the dinner, we’re cooking our contributions separately because we both feel pretty strongly about how the bird and the dressing go together. Ideally, not at all.
[Read more…]