My Holiday Kitchen Tips (that you can totally steal)

Last week I spent the better part of a morning in my pajamas and slippers, leaning on the kitchen counter, where a sprawl of cookbooks, notebooks and post-it notes were scattered. I’ve learned that when a planning mood strikes, I need to ignore everything else and jot down my flow of ideas as they tumble out:

“–make & freeze pie crusts.

–set up a photo booth for cookie swap fun.

–order copies of Desserts in Jars for B, A & M.

–new shortbread flavor???

–check on homemade vanilla.

–stock up on baking supplies…”

My coffee grew cold, and the kids tore apart the playroom in the meantime, but when I looked up an hour or so later, I was better organized for the next two months of kitchen planning. Yep, right through New Year’s Eve and into 2013. Teacher’s gifts, holiday baking, Christmas dinner, a cookie swap, freezer meals and more were more or less sketched out on paper.

Not every detail was planned in that blitz, mind you; I’ll still spend hours on Pinterest adding to boards such as My Christmas Party and Holiday Baking, but the quick brainstorm was helpful to set the holiday planning in motion. Once I gathered my notes and did a quick cross-check with a calendar, it was plain to see I had my work cut out for me, but with planning, everything was doable.

Why plan ahead? Many of our favorite holiday foods – like Tourtière or mincemeat – can easily be made 6 weeks in advance, and some, like the mincemeat, actually improve with age. Guess what? 6 weeks before Christmas is today.

It’s not too early to send out those cookie swap invites, stash a few meals or rounds of gingerbread dough in the freezer, or make those edible gifts for the school teachers.

Here’s what else is on my agenda for the next few weeks; grab a pen and paper and make your ‘To-Do’ list while you read.

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Eat Well, Spend Less: One Turkey, Four Meals

Perhaps you head to your parents’ or the in-laws’ for Thanksgiving and other holiday meals, where someone else cooks and carves the turkey. Maybe you’d also like to cook a whole turkey at home (and have a few leftovers to play with), but it’s way too much meat for your little family.

Here’s my proposed solution: go ahead and purchase a fresh turkey and then make four or five recipes with it.  When properly sourced from a reliable butcher (and not shot up with strange chemicals and salty brine) turkey is a delicious, lean meat, and should definitely be taken advantage of in its season.

We’re talking turkey and holiday meals for our Eat Well, Spend Less series this month and my method for serving one turkey for four (or more) meals is one way to get the most bang for your buck. Fresh turkey isn’t cheap, but by following two key rules to savvy shopping: buying in season and buying bulk (in this case, a whole bird), as well as using every scrap of your purchase, you’ve got yourself a frugal way to eat this holiday season.

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Canadian Thanksgiving Menu Ideas: A Round-Up

Thanksgiving for us Canadians is just one week away; this is good news for me as I’ve been craving a full-on turkey dinner since June – or about the onset of this pregnancy. However, regardless that the baby has been ordering turkey for prenatal take-out, it’s obviously the season to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Fall comes a little sooner here in the north and already signs of its arrival are showing on the forest floor, in the country markets, and around my front door. Gone are the flip-flops and Frisbees in the entrance; instead boots, hats and scarves are mushrooming like a seasonal fungus. There’s also excited talk of snow by the boys.

Planning a complete Thanksgiving (or any holiday menu) is half the fun, especially now that we have such fun online tools such as Pinterest. In preparation for the holidays, I’ve got several boards dedicated to Thanksgiving & Christmas Dinner, Holiday Baking, Pies & Tarts, and if you want to get really organized for the holidays, Edible Gifts.

Here’s a sneak peek:

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Your Thanksgiving Menu and What You Have to be Thankful For

We are home for Thanksgiving. Home as in I’m here in my house and not in the hospital with my six-year-old son, Kjell, which is a blessing in and of itself. Holidays in the hospital are never ideal. That said, this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for doctors who react quickly and carefully, ensuring that my son is happy and whole this holiday season.

I’m also thankful for all of the people in this wonderful online community, the friends I’ve made, the people who prayed and sent well wishes, kind words and so much more. I’m thankful for all of you for being there for us in spirit, even when you couldn’t be physically. We are amazed and touched and grateful. We are humbled this Thanksgiving for all the love that has been poured out on us.

And because no day would be complete without food to nourish the body, I’m thankful for all the aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings who are bringing food to our family Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Here is what I am looking forward to. [Read more…]