Monthly Archives: December 2009

Goodbye 2009

To be honest, I’m not really a big fan of making (or keeping) new year’s resolutions. I find the association of January 1st with the start of diet restrictions, general life impediments, and the overall denial of anything even remotely fun to be…well…a total bummer. That being said, I have decided to compile a list of food related resolutions for 2010 with the understanding that each goal be fun and/or educational. So here it goes:

  • Include Michael Pollan’s idea of Meatless Mondays into my family’s eating habits. As Michael points out, you can do the planet and yourself a huge favour by skipping meat just one day a week.
  • Make the monthly cover recipe of Bon Appettit Magazine for the entire year (and blog about my experiences). This resolution is inspired by a New York restaurant owner, who has been making the magazine’s cover recipes each month for 25 years!
  • Review Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. I’m embarrased to admit that I have never attempted any of this culinary icon’s recipes. Let 2010 be the year that I overcome my intimidation…
  • Attempt to make ice cream for the first time ever!
  • Go on a cooking vacation
  • Interview Jamie Oliver
  • Find the PERFECT chocolate chip cookie recipe
  • Beat my friend Crystal in our family’s annual crepe off!
  • Update my family cookbook and print one hard copy to keep on my VIP kitchen shelf
  • Shop more frequently at our local farmers markets

Are you making any new year’s resolutions? Feel free to send me an email at with your goals…I’d love to hear what’s on your list!

Happy New Year!

Christmas with the Stay-At-Home-Chef

I have a confession to make: I’m a Capricorn. A perfectionist Capricorn to boot. This personality trait combined with my love for the holidays results in a significant amount of stress that stems from me having too many (impossibly high) expectations. This desire to have everything absolutely flawless goes beyond Christmas Day…it includes all of December! I want every day in the entire month to be this perfect holiday utopia where my house and family are full of Christmas cheer, peace, love, and happiness. In a nutshell? I want to have the epitome of the holiday spirit coming out of our every pore.

So when my fellow mommy friends and I started planning the month’s festivities waaaaay back in the month of September, I thought this would be the year everything on my list would be achieved in the most stress-free way imaginable. As busy parents with kids all under the age of twelve, experience has taught us that in order to keep our sanity we must be organized in order to be prepared in order to achieve our lofty goals in order to prevent melt-downs, fights with our husbands, last minute trips to grocery stores whose shelves have been previously raped and pillaged by mobs of stressed out shoppers.

We had a plan. I was excited.

But when the emails started circulating and we began booking our calendars with specific times for weekly advent sing-alongs, neighbourhood and work parties, a girls appetizer evening, rides on the Christmas train, carol ship nights, photos with Santa, Christmas cookie sessions with the kids, Christmas shopping and wrapping, u-cut Christmas tree expeditions, gingerbread house decorating, holiday movie nights with popcorn and homemade marshmallows, wreath making sessions…we all began to think we might have bitten off more than any human other than Martha Stewart could possibly chew. (Now believe me when I say that I could have gone on and on with my wish list for the holidays, but I figured by this point Mr. Spock would have garnered enough sympathetic supporters!)

Needless to say, my friends and I didn’t achieve half of what we initially planned. We realized that the biggest mistake we made was forgetting to schedule ‘life’ into the mix. So when the reality of time constraints, bills, back-to-back winter colds, work, and other mundane yet unavoidable responsibilities reared their heads we had to relinquish our lists.

As for Christmas dinner – my big piece de resistance for the holiday season – Mr. Spock will be the first to tell you that historically I have a tendency to get a little stressed over this event. My love of so many different holiday dishes usually means I end up with a menu that is a mile long, and as a result I find myself stuck in the kitchen for the entire day. Although the food turns out delicious, somehow the hour and a half that we sit and overindulge our taste buds doesn’t seem to satisfy all of my efforts. That is why traditionally by the end of the day you will find me dejectedly slouched at the table with the top button of my pants undone and a stack of seemingly never ending dishes, my kitchen completely destroyed. Every year I swear I’ll do things differently the next time around; be more organized, prepare as much as possible ahead of time, delegate more, and ensure there’s room in my day to enjoy the festivities of the 25th instead of slaving away for hours in the kitchen.

As far as this year’s dinner was concerned, I am pleased to report that all went well! I was not stuck all day in the kitchen, I had lots of help from Mr. Spock and my Mom, as much prep as possible was all done beforehand, and the most important part…it tasted delicious!

Here’s what was served at my table on Christmas Day:

Christmas Morning Wife Saver (click here for the recipe)

Light Lunch
Assortment of appys…including Wrapped Brie with Caramelized Onions (click here for the recipe)

Belfast Ham (click here for the recipe)
Smoked Turkey Breast Roll (click here for the recipe)
Mr. Spock’s Sinful Scalloped Potatoes (click here for the recipe)
Nana’s Famous Cranberry Sauce (click here for the recipe)
Stay-At-Home-Chef’s Holiday Cornbread Stuffing (click here for the recipe)
Brussels Sprout Slaw…this is the greatest Brussels Sprouts recipe for people who hate Brussels Sprouts! (click here for the recipe)

Mini Mincemeat Pies
Vanilla Ice Cream

Entertaining With Pampered Chef

The Pampered Chef and its sales force of independent Pampered Chef Consultants offer multipurpose kitchen tools, easy recipes with great results, and simple mealtime preparation techniques to make home cooking quick, easy and fun. Founded by Doris Christopher in 1996, their kitchen tools are brought to life during in-home cooking shows where guests learn time-saving cooking techniques and sample great-tasting, easy-to-prepare recipes — all in a relaxed atmosphere with good friends, plenty of laughter and lots of fun! With consultants available all over the globe including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany and Mexico, the company has been gaining popularity for years. Especially during a time when more people are looking to cut back on the expenses of dinning out, Pampered Chef parties are a great way to bring family and friends together in your own home! Last year we threw a wonderful cookie exchange party with Simone as our host, and everyone had a great time. She gave us some incredibly yummy recipes and showed us some fun gadgets to help with our holiday baking.

For more information on booking a party or to view Pampered Chef products online, please visit Simone Davidson’s website

Simone’s Top Five Gift Ideas for the Holidays

1. The Stoneware Bar Pans Great for all of your holiday entertaining! Stoneware is a natural, organic way of cooking. Nothing burns and everything bakes evenly. Comes in three sizes.

2. The Food Chopper – Our most popular kitchen tool! Durable, stainless rotating blades uniformly chop veggies, nuts, and cooked meats in seconds! Handy and easy to clean! $40

3. Apple Wedger – Core and cut apples, pears and even potatoes into 10 wedges simultaneously! $18

4. Mini Serving Spatula – It’s the perfect size for serving appetizers! $7

5. Pampered Chef Stocking Stuffers – Over 100 items at $20 or less!

Here are Simone’s favourite recipes for entertaining this holiday season – I can’t wait to try these appys!

Baked Mediterranean Cheese Spread
Elegant Artichoke Cups

Interview – Chef Michael Smith

Chef Michael Smith is one of Canada’s most prominent culinary figures. He is an award-winning chef, host of Food Network Canada’s Chef at Home and Chef Abroad, and is the official Food Ambassador for Prince Edward Island.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Michael Smith has been a professional chef for over 20 years. He is dedicated to supporting young Canadian chefs and the culinary education of our youth, and is continuously encouraging families to return to their kitchens and rediscover the joy of cooking. Michael’s style of cooking embraces the idea of simple, practical, and nutritious meals along with the exploration of “freestyle” cooking (using recipes merely as a guide for creating your own culinary masterpieces).

I was recently able to have a chat with Michael Smith while he was in town promoting his new cookbook, “The Best of Chef at Home”. Our conversation was truly inspiring, and his passion for food, cooking, and family is completely contagious.

To read the entire interview with Chef Michael Smith, click here.