Dec 23

Ginger-Molasses Reindeer Cookies

Ginger-Molasses Reindeer Cookies

Whether you’re participating in a cookie exchange with friends or making a treat for St. Nick, add these adorable reindeer cookies to your holiday baking this year.

As sweet to look at as they are to eat, the salty pretzel antlers complement the season’s favourite flavours of ginger, cinnamon cloves and sweet molasses. These homemade treats won’t break the bank either. Costing $0.25 each, buying all ingredients at Walmart can help stretch your holiday dollars further.

Ginger-Molasses Reindeer Cookies

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Makes: 35 cookies


  • 1-3/4 cups (425 mL) flour
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) cloves
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) fancy molasses
  • 70 mini pretzel twists
  • 1 package (200 g) prepared red cookie icing
  • 70 candy eyeballs


  1. Heat oven to 325F (160C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt and cloves.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy; about 2 minutes. Add egg and molasses, mixing until fully combined. In 2 equal parts, add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
  4. Roll dough into 1 tbsp. (15 mL) balls and place on prepared baking sheets 1 1/2 inches apart, pressing down lightly with palm. Place two pretzels next to one another 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) inside the edge of each cookie to resemble antlers; press pretzels lightly to adhere to cookie dough.
  5. Bake in batches until just set; about 12 minutes. Let cool 4 minutes on sheets before cooling completely on racks. Once cooled, use cookie icing to adhere candy eyeballs to cookies and draw noses. Allow to set completely.

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Dec 23

Two-Way Holiday Canapes

Puff Pastry Canapes

Tender puff pastry is prepared with two different toppings to whet the appetites of your Christmas party guests. In one hand, they’ll have tart pears topped with walnuts and sweet honey, and in the other, a salty prosciutto and sundried tomato with bitter arugula. Both are layered on a creamy ricotta cheese base. Everything needed to make this budget-friendly, delicious decadence can be found at Walmart for less than $1.70 a serving.

Puff Pastry Canapes

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 8 (4 canapes each)


  • 1 450 g package butter puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (250 mL) ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 pear, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup (125 mL) toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. (45 mL) honey
  • 1 cup (250 mL) arugula
  • 8 slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) sundried tomatoes, chopped


  1. Heat oven to 400F (200C). Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
  2. Unroll one sheet of puff pastry. Cut pastry evenly into 4 strips. Cut each strip evenly into 4 parts to make 16 squares. Place on prepared pan, score 2 or 3 times with a fork and brush with egg wash. Bake until golden and puffed; about 14 minutes. Repeat with remaining sheet. Cool 5 minutes.
  3. Spread each square with 1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) ricotta cheese. Top 16 squares with pear slices, walnuts and a drizzle of honey. Top remaining 16 squares with arugula, prosciutto and sundried tomatoes.

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Dec 23

Raspberry Linzer Thumbprint Cookies

Holiday recipes ready in 20 minutes or less

Raspberry Linzer Thumbprint Cookies

Holiday baking shouldn’t feel like an obligation, but when you’re trying to tackle a complicated recipe, the stress starts to stack up. Ready in 20 minutes or less, recipes like the one below will take the ache out of baking and get you feeling festive. Start with the Anything Goes Cookie Dough base, then add flavours and mix-ins to create unique yummy treats.

Raspberry Linzer Thumbprint Cookies


Anything Goes Cookie Dough Base:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp of your favourite Becel margarine1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Mix margarine with sugars in large bowl. Mix in eggs and vanilla until blended. Gradually add in flour mixture; mix just until blended. Stir in almonds and lemon peel. Drop by tablespoonfuls on ungreased baking sheets, 2 inches (5 cm) apart.
  3. Bake 7 minutes or until edges are golden. Immediately make an indentation in centres of cookies with the back of a round measuring spoon. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 minutes on a wire rack; remove cookies from sheets and cool completely.
  4. Sprinkle with icing sugar, then fill indentations evenly with jam; about a half teaspoon each.

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Dec 03

Sparkling Pomegranate Citrus Berry Punch

This season’s must-try festive holiday punch

Sparkling Pomegranate Citrus Berry Punch

Greet guests with a beautiful and fragrant holiday cocktail. This punch can be prepared in advance, allowing for easy serving during celebrations. It’s the perfect way to entertain your guests when you are busy preparing the food for your dinner or party.

The punch looks magazine-ready with sliced orange rounds, fresh green mint and bright red pomegranate seeds. Tom Filippou, executive chef for President’s Choice Cooking School, shares more tips on how to elevate this recipe.

“It’s best to rub the mint gently with your fingers to release the oils of the herb. By bruising the mint, you’ll bring this punch to life with flavour.”

Sparkling Pomegranate Citrus Berry Punch

Prep time: 5 minutes

Serves: 10


  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 1 bottle (750 mL) Sicilian Lemon Italian Soda
  • 1 bottle (750 mL) Blood Orange Italian Soda
  • 2 cans (250 mL each) PC pomegranate cranberry 100% sparkling fruit juice
  • 1/2 cup frozen PC pomegranate arils
  • Half orange, thinly sliced into rounds
  • Fresh mint, for garnish


1. Place ice in a 3-litre (12 cup) pitcher or punch bowl. Add lemon soda, orange soda, juice and frozen pomegranate arils; stir to combine.

2. Add orange slices and mint.

Chef’s tip: Swap out one of the bottles of Italian soda for a 750-mL bottle of sparkling wine.

Nutritional information per serving (about 3/4 cup): Calories 110, fat 0 g, sodium 30 mg, carbohydrates 29 g, fibre 0 g, sugars 26 g, protein 0 g.

Dec 03

Chocolate Orange Brioche Bread Pudding

The showstopper dessert of the holiday season

Chocolate Orange Brioche Bread Pudding

Every year, there is always one hero recipe that leaves your guests craving for more. This holiday, whip up this rich and delicious brioche pudding that features a soft and buttery sweet loaf made in France that is hand-braided before baking for European-style flavour and flair.

“Toasting the brioche in the oven is a key step to the recipe. It helps to dry out the bread, which makes it even better at soaking up the custard for a moist, cake-like texture,” shares Tom Filippou, executive chef for President’s Choice Cooking School. “To make this more indulgent, serve it with vanilla bean ice cream or freshly whipped cream and garnish with a sprinkling of dark chocolate shavings.”

Chocolate Orange Brioche Bread Pudding

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Cool time: 20 minutes

Serves: 12


  • 1 loaf PC brioche loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups homogenized milk
  • 1 cup 35% whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp orange-flavoured liqueur
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg PC dark chocolate with candied orange peel, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp PC pure orange marmalade
  • 1 1/2 tsp water


1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spread brioche in single layer on parchment paper-lined large baking sheet. Bake, stirring once, until golden; about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, liqueur, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in large bowl until well combined.

3. Spread a third of the brioche in bottom of a 9-cup (2.25 litre) casserole dish and sprinkle with a third of the chocolate. Repeat layers twice with remaining brioche and chocolate. Pour egg mixture over top, gently pressing down on brioche mixture to moisten.

4. Cover with foil; bake 35 minutes. Uncover, bake until puffed, golden brown and set in centre, about 30 to 35 minutes, covering with foil if top begins to overbrown.

5. Stir together marmalade and water in small bowl; brush on bread pudding. Let cool 20 minutes.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 270, fat 15 g (8 g of which is saturated), sodium 190 mg, carbohydrates 27 g, fibre 1 g, sugars 21 g, protein 7 g.

Dec 15

Celebrate Christmas – Scandinavian Style

Scandinavia, which includes the countries of Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, has a variety of beautiful and unique Christmas traditions.

While there are a number of similarities, like the use of candles and a combination of red and white decorative elements, there are also many traditions that are unique to each of the Scandinavian countries. The length of the Christmas season also differs, ranging from an eight day celebration in Norway to twelve full days in Sweden.

Finnish Christmas Traditions:

Finnish Cinnamon Biscuits

The Christmas season begins after the first weekend of Advent. Advent, which means “coming,” refers to the coming of the Christ.

With Advent comes a multitude of Christmas decorations and a number of pre-Christmas gatherings. After Advent, the next important holiday is Independence Day, which coincides with the feast day of St. Nicholas on December 6th. As is common with other Scandinavian countries, the main Christmas celebration and meal takes place on Christmas Eve. The meal frequently includes: pickled herring, roe, raw salmon, carrots, potato casseroles, ham, and a vegetable salad called rosolli.

For dessert, the Finns frequently serve cinnamon biscuits and a cold dish made of pureed plums.

One tradition, which seems to be unique to the Finns, is the honoring of the dead. Finnish families visit cemeteries and place lit candles on the graves of their loved ones. The flickering of candlelight grows throughout the day, creating a beautiful and unforgettable site beneath the dark blue sky.

Danish Christmas Traditions:

Roasted Duck – a Traditional Danish Christmas Eve Meal

Danes main celebration is on Christmas Eve but continue their celebration through December 26th. The family gathers to decorate the tree with lit candles, paper decorations, fruits, sweets and small Danish flags. The families dance around the tree, sing traditional songs and exchange gifts. One of the gifts includes month-long “calendar candy” which is still given in Denmark today.

The Christmas Eve meal is traditionally either roast duck or goose stuffed with apples and de-stoned prunes. Side dishes include sweet and sour red cabbage and potatoes covered in rich brown gravy made from the juice of the roast duck or goose.

Norwegian Christmas Traditions:

Christmas Nisse

Most Norwegian homes have a pine or spruce tree decorated with tinsel, white lights, small Norwegian flags and a variety of other ornaments. The children make Christmas baskets of colored paper and fill them with candy and nuts. A typical Norwegian Christmas meal includes “pinnekjott” – a rib of lamb which has been salted and dried and is sometimes smoked. It is frequently served with sausages, mashed turnip or rutabaga, boiled potatoes, mustard and a cold Christmas beer.

As with other Scandinavian countries, the Norwegians giver of gifts is called the “Nisse.” The Nisse, which is an elf (or gnome) usually dresses in gray and likes to play little tricks. The children leave porridge about so that the Nisse will find favor with them and will bring them fine gifts.

Swedish Christmas Traditions:

Swedish “Merry Christmas”

In Sweden, the Christmas season begins with St. Lucia Day on the 13th of December and continues through to the end of Christmas Day.

St. Lucia Day (aka the Swedish Festival of Lights) starts first thing in the morning. The eldest daughter in the household dresses in a beautiful white dress and wears a crown adorned with candles. She serves saffron rolls, ginger biscuits and coffee on a tray to her family and sings the traditional Lucia carols.

The Swedish Christmas dinner is served on Christmas Eve and frequently includes a smorgasbord of meats such as pork, ham, sausage, meatballs and all sorts of herring. Sweets include cakes, pies and pepparkakor, which are Swedish ginger cookies.

Christmas day marks the beginning of a period of rest as most Swedes have another one to two weeks off work. Gatherings and celebrations continue during this resting period and the Christmas tree is normally left up for about three weeks after Christmas. While each of the Scandinavian countries has its own unique traditions, one thing remains the same… It’s a joyous time filled with light, love and the giving of gifts.


Holly Hallberg studied French and Art History at the Sorbonne and graduated from the American University of Paris. As a lover of modern Scandinavian design and architecture, Holly travels each year to find new Scandinavian Designers and the products they create.

For modern Scandinavian design objects, furniture, clothing and toys, visit her online store at:

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Dec 15

Swedish Christmas Cookies – A Recipe To Make Pepparkakor

Pepparkakor (Swedish Gingerbread Cookies)

Christmas is a special time in Scandinavia and Sweden in particular. Tradition and Heritage are extremely important to Swedish culture and there are many traditions which are widely upheld. In most traditional Swedish homes, the smell of home baked foods and desserts fill the air at Christmas time. The Swedes really love to cook and for many, the holiday season and the Christmas Eve celebration is the highlight of their year.

One recipe, which is very popular in Sweden, is for a cookie called the Pepparkakor.

Pepparkakor, literally translated, means “pepper cookies” but I’ve yet to see a recipe that included any pepper. They are similar to the American gingersnap cookie but they are generally thinner, crisper and smoother in texture.

Many refer to this cookie as a “ginger thin” and they are commonly called “gingernuts” in the United Kingdom. Besides their great taste, pepparkakor cookies are used as Christmas decorations as well. They are frequently shaped like little men or women, pigs, hearts or goats. If left round, they are decorated with frosting to give them more character.

Using a drinking straw, you can create a small hole in the pepparkakor cookie prior to baking. After the cookie has cooled, tie the cookie to the Christmas tree with a beautiful white or red colored ribbon.

Swedish Christmas Cookies or Pepparkakor

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies (depending on shape/size)


  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 8 ounces butter
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon light (or dark) corn syrup
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda


The dough should be well-chilled before baking. You can either start a day early and chill overnight, or start preparing 1-2 hours before the cookies will be needed.

In a heavy pot, combine the molasses, sugars, spices and water. Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring frequently.

Add the butter to the mixture (in pads or chunks) and remove the pot from the heat. Continue stirring the mixture until the butter has melted and the mixture is uniform in consistency. Pour the hot mixture into a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, combine the flour, corn syrup, egg and baking soda and whisk until well-blended. Combine with the hot mixture and stir until the dough has formed. Place the dough on a lightly floured board and knead for 1-2 minutes. Wrap the dough in waxed paper and chill until the dough is firm (1-2 hours or overnight).

On a lightly floured board, roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch in thickness (the thinner, the crisper) and either cut into shapes or make round cookies about 2 inches in diameter. Put the cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and bake for 8-10 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool.

About the only thing left to do is to enjoy these fabulous Swedish Christmas cookies with the ones you love… Enjoy!


Holly Hallberg studied French and Art History at the Sorbonne and graduated from the American University of Paris. As a lover of modern Scandinavian design and architecture, Holly travels each year to find new Scandinavian Designers and the products they create.

For modern Scandinavian design objects, furniture, clothing and toys, visit her online store at:

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Dec 14

How to Make Christmas Decorations From Nature

Making Pomanders

Making Christmas decorations from nature is a very old tradition. The very first holiday decorations were garlands made from tree branches, live Christmas trees, and evergreen wreaths. Natural materials have always been and will always be part of decorating for the holidays. You can decorate your home with items gotten from nature and not only be both modern and traditional, but save a lot of money at the same time. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Natural Wreaths

Evergreen Wreath

Natural wreaths are available at almost every store, but you can make your own and save money.

  • You can make a small or large wreath from English Ivy. English Ivy is easy to grow and it does grow pretty quickly. Once your plant has some length to it, wrap the ivy around a frame that you have inserted into your pot. You can add lights or just about any kind of decorations you like such as berries or other natural decorations.
  • Another great way to make a wreath is to make one from cut greens. Use a round wire frame that you can make from a coat hanger or you can purchase one at any craft store. Take some of your evergreen bunches and tie them together at the base with wire. Then, wind the evergreen branches around the wire frame or take a coat hanger apart and weaver the coat hanger wire around the branches from beginning to end and then form it into a circle.  You can decorate the evergreen bunches with natural fruits and berries and put a bow at the top.
  • For Christmas tree wreaths, take some small twigs and make them into wreaths to hang them on your Christmas tree.
  • You can use a craft Styrofoam circle and add leaf bunches, berries and pine cones with some fresh bay leaves stuck in for scent.  You can also use a glue gun to glue everything to the craft circle instead.

2. Natural Garland

Natural Garland

Instead of buying garland at the store for your stairwells or for on your mantle, make them out of cut evergreen branches. Wire the evergreen branches and wind them around your handrails or place them on your mantle. They also look nice over a doorway in a swag design.

When you make your garland, add some bay leaves for a wonderful scent. If you have a bay laurel shrub, the leaves cut from the shrub would be perfect. If you don’t have a bay laurel shrub, you can also purchase bay leaves in bulk in some markets. Secure the bay leaves with twine until you have the length that you need and then intermingle them with the evergreen branches. Then, add dried fruit, pine cones and berries.

3. Clove-Studded Oranges or Apples


Clove-studded oranges or apples are a wonderful traditional decoration and many years ago, they were given as gifts. They were called pomanders and some of these still exist in museums. Oranges, apples and lemons are typically used to make pomanders. They are very easy to make and they smell wonderful! Here are easy instructions for you to make your own pomanders.

  • First, with a small knitting needed, skewer or fork, pierce the fruit all over, making each hole about ½” apart. Then, put dried cloves into all of the wholes.
  • In a small paper bag, mix 2 teaspoons each of ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add ½ teaspoon of ground orris root if you can find it. The orris root helps to dry and preserve the fruit.
  • Put the clove-studded fruit in the paper bag and shake to completely coat the fruit. Then, place the fruit in a cool, dry place for two weeks. Shake the pomander once a day. Pomanders also look good in a bowl or displayed on a mantle.

These are just a few ideas for decorating your home this holiday season with nature. Have fun!

Decorate your home with items from nature. Be environmentally friendly and save money at the same time. Go to for more ideas for the holidays.

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Dec 11

Christmas in Dairyville!

Christmas in Dairyville!

Last weekend my family and I had the pleasure of visiting Alpenrose Dairy in Portland, Oregon.  We were looking for something fun and Christmas-y to do and Christmas in Dairyville fit the bill!

Read “Christmas in Dairyville!” after the jump…

Dec 04

Holiday Turkey With a Southern Kick

Cajun Spice Roast Turkey

Cajun Spice Roast Turkey

The pressure to ‘not overspend’ is on for half of Canadians during the holiday season, according to a survey commissioned by Walmart Canada. This year, you can stick to your budget with this delicious Cajun-inspired turkey recipe offers a not-too-spicy kick that uses pantry essentials to serve eight people for just $16.54 or $2.07 per person.

Cajun Spice Roast Turkey

Serves: 8


• 5-7 kg frozen turkey, thawed

• 1 tsp (5 ml) each, cayenne pepper (optional), garlic powder, salt

• 1/2 tsp (2 ml) each, onion powder, oregano, pepper, paprika, thyme

• 1/2 cup (125 ml) butter, at room temperature


1. Heat oven to 325°F (160°C). Place a rack in a large, deep roasting pan. Dry turkey well with paper towels. Mix all seasonings together in a small bowl. Reserve 1 tsp (5ml) of spice mix. Add butter to remaining mixture and combine. Rub under and on skin of turkey. Place turkey on rack in prepared pan.

2. Roast until thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 170°F (75°C), leg moves easily when twisted, and juices run clear; about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Remove from oven, tent loosely with foil, and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving.

Tip: For an extra boost of flavour, add a halved lemon, 4 unpeeled garlic cloves, and a handful of parsley to turkey cavity before roasting.

Optional Easy Gravy: Heat 1/4 cup turkey pan drippings in a skillet. Whisk in 1/4 cup flour and reserved 1 tsp Cajun spice and cook 1 min. Gradually whisk in 2 cups (500 mL) chicken broth and stir until thickened, about 5 minutes.

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