I’ve mentioned before that Christmas Eve is a big tradition for Italians. In many ways Christmas Eve was more important that Christmas growing up.
For one thing, we opened up all of our gifts on Christmas eve. My brother and I were the first grandchildren on my Father’s side of the family – and we were for a few years until our other cousins came along. So on Christmas Eve Nick and I would have to stay up until midnight before we could open our presents i.e. we would be falling asleep on our Nonna’s couch. ‘Santa’ a.k.a my Nonno or Zio would dress up as Santa and come to my Nonna’s house at midnight to deliver presents.
Earlier in the evening we would eat our Feast of Seven Fishes dinner – Italians do not eat meat on Christmas Eve, only seafood. My brother and I were incredibly lucky to grow up with such amazing food and traditions. It was truly a feast to remember. We would begin with a seafood pasta course (usually tuna sauce my dad or nonna would make), followed by fish, prawns, mussels, clams, baccalà (salted cod), homemade calamari and other amazing dishes. It has always been my favourite memory of Christmas with my dads family.
As a child I remember stealing Pizzelles from the counter before dinner, when Nonna or Nonno weren’t looking. Pizzelles are incredibly thin, delicate waffle like cookies that are crisp and slightly sweet. You can eat about 6 in a minute flat. They were always the elusive holiday cookie that you would only get at Christmas or maybe Easter. Pizzelle makers were not popular so only my Nonna would have one therefore making it an even more treasured dessert that I looked forward to.
Now, I have my very own Pizzelle maker by a complete mishap that happened this summer. Long story short, the company Chef’s Choice sent me an e-mail on a completely different subject that lead me to respond and receive a response from a woman in their marketing department. After a few back and forth conversations about her daughter, myself and my family she offered to send me one of their products to make up for the mishap. Of course I chose the Pizzelle maker, as it meant I would not longer have to borrow my Nonnas. Also – that I could now make Pizzelle’s whenever I wanted.
I am also excited to be hosting my very first Christmas Eve dinner at our house this year. In honour of my Dad I hope everything turns out – though Christmas Eve has never quite been the same since he passed. Christmas makes me feel incredibly nostalgic. Nevertheless I am looking forward to having all of my family over to share a delicious seafood meal together – and Pizzelle’s will definitely be on the dessert counter. This time, I won’t have to sneak them.
Thin crisp waffle cookies
- 3 Eggs
- 1 3/4 cups Flour
- 1/2 tsp. Anise seeds (optional)
- 1/2 cup Butter or oil, melted
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1. Turn on Pizzelle Maker. In a medium sized bowl beat together the eggs and sugar until frothy.
- 2. Add the cooled melted butter or oil, vanilla and anise seeds (optional) and beat again.
- 3. In small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add to the egg mixture stirring with wooden spoon.
- 4. Stir batter until well combined, it will be slightly stiff and dough-like. The dough should be stiff enough to drop by rounded spoonfuls.
- 5. Drop by spoonfuls in the centre of the Pizzelle maker. Be careful not to place too much dough, otherwise it will spill out over the sides. You want them to have delicate 'fingers' like lace.
- 6. Bake according to your Pizzelle Maker's instructions, usually only 20-30 seconds per batch. Carefully lift off using a fork. Place on cooling rack to crisp.
- Special Equipment Needed: Pizzelle Maker
- Pizzelle cookies last quite well. Place in airtight container (my nonna would always place paper towel over them) and store on counter for up to 2 weeks. You can also easily freeze them for ice cream sundaes, or ice cream sandwiches.
b a k e a h o l i c http://www.bakeaholic.ca/
There’s a revolution happening among friends.
It’s called Friendsgiving.
While most holidays are centred around family or loved ones (Christmas, Valentine’s Day etc.), there is one holiday where you can be thankful for the people in your life you have chosen to be a part of your life – your friends.
I am truly thankful to have the wonderful friends I have. Friends since kindergarten, high school, and friends I’ve met at university and beyond – they mean a lot to me and I am so thankful to have them all in my life.
The concept of Friendsgiving is simple: the host makes the turkey while the guests each bring a potluck of side dishes to accompany the feast.
We began planning back in October and soon enough Friendsgiving had arrived. Having it in November is a great mid-holiday between Thanksgiving/Halloween and Christmas.
If you’re wanting to partake in the American Thanksgiving happening next weekend I suggest hosting your own Friendsgiving.
Unlike Thanksgiving, you are the ones doing all the work and planning for it. It was only the second time I have cooked a turkey on my own – and I am thrilled to say it turned out so delicious.
Here are a few tips for hosting your first Friendsgiving:
Plan in Advance: Make sure everyone has RSVP’d to know how many mouths you have to feed.
Make Sure You Have Enough Room: While it would be lovely to invite all my friends over, we just don’t have the space. So we had a lovely number of 12 guests.
Turkey: The host makes the turkey. It only makes sense that the person who is hosting makes the turkey because of the prep work and cooking time needed. Be sure to have a large enough turkey for the amount of people coming (about a lb. per person) and maybe leftovers. Be sure to thaw it well in advance, about 3 days in the fridge. Also, the host should do the gravy and possibly stuffing – though you can definitely make stuffing without the turkey.
Coordinate the Food: Plan the event online or somewhere where you can share who is bringing what. You can have a variety of dishes – that way you don’t end up with 5 sweet potato casseroles. Although sweet potato casserole is delicious.
Speaking of Potatoes: There should always be mashed potatoes. A must.
Accommodate: If you have a guest coming with a food allergy or special diet make sure there are dishes for them to eat too. Otherwise they will be hangry.
Skip the Hors D’oeuvres: Turkey dinner means bringing out the stretchy pants. There is no need to stuff your face with mini quiches before a massive turkey feast. Plus it just means more work for everyone.
Vegetables: There should be an assortment of healthy vegetable dishes that aren’t smothered in cream sauces or cheese. Leave that for the stuffing and potatoes. Green beans, brussels sprouts, carrots and broccoli are all great sides – even just boiled.
Salad: Never underestimate a good salad with turkey dinner.
Cranberry Sauce: Homemade is best – and easy! – but canned stuff will do the trick. Have 2-3 small dishes of it on the table.
Dessert: Oh yes – there should be pie. While there can also be a variety of desserts, no turkey dinner is complete without a slice of pie. Preferably pumpkin.
Table etiquette The host should set a visually appealing table with gourds and other orange hued pretties. Name tags are also great for making sure everyone has a spot.
BYOB: Each person should bring their own drink for the evening, though the host should have some non-alcholic options.
Post-Dinner Games: The best way to digest after a feast is to play games. Some great games to play with friends are charades, catch phrase, apples to apples. All can be played at the dinner table while finishing off dessert.
Most of all – enjoy the food and company of your friends.
Today is supposed to be a silent day in honour of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary school incident last Friday in Connecticut. However, as a student becoming a Teacher I felt I needed to say something. I cannot begin to imagine the grief the small town of Newtown is feeling in the aftermath. As a practicing teacher I have come to care for each and every one of my grade two students and I could not imagine anything happening to them. My heart goes out to the families affected, and to the heroic teachers who gave their own lives to save those of their students. As I flew home from Prince George last night I watch the Presidents speech, many of the topics he spoke of can resonate around the world.
“I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope that it helps for you to know, that you’re not alone in your grief. That our world, too, has been torn apart.” Obama
I hope everyone takes a moment to remember those teachers who lost their lives, and to appreciate and thank those teachers in their lives today.
This weekend I went to Prince George to visit family with my brother Nick. It was especially nice to be able to spend the weekend with my brother, and made me treasure it even more after learning about the loss other families endured that day.
My brother and I were like any other typical brother/sister combo growing up. We had days we loved each other, and days we fought. Over the years as we grew up we developed a more mature relationship as siblings.However since I’ve moved on and out from the house and he has began his career we don’t see each other as much. Adam actually works with my brother (both Electricians) as well as Adam’s brother in law (his sister’s husband) so Adam probably, if not definitely, sees my brother more often than I do. Our family is a very close family and we try to get together as often as possible but it gets hard to figure out everyone’s schedule.Nick is pretty busy at work organizing, developing and planning for his company so it was nice to get away together for the first time in a long time. It was probably only the second time we had ever been on a plane together. We took a family vacation, which turned out to be our last family vacation just before our dad passed away, flying to San Francisco and a cruise in 2004. We were a camping family, not a flying around family. Our summer vacations would always be a week long camping trip to Cultas Lake each year. My brother and I probably haven’t really gone away together just the two of us for a while so it was a really great weekend with him.
It was a weekend in the winter wonderland that is Prince George at this time of year. I love a white Christmas, and I’m not sure we will get one here in Vancouver this year, although on the way home last night we actually had some snow and it was sticking to the ground. But of course it is all rained away this morning.
I made these Almond Butter blossoms/thumbprints before we left so I could bring some baking up with me. I love these cookies at Christmas but with my peanut allergy I don’t make them often. So I though why not make them with Almond butter instead, and then I can still enjoy them. They are just as delicious as the peanut butter version.
I bought these mini kisses from chipits -they are perfect for making smaller blossoms for your dessert tray, plus you don’t have to unwrap them and there are tons in a bag. I made 5-6 dozen cookies and still have half a bag left.
Almond Butter Blossoms
1 cup butter
1 cup almond butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 bag Chipits Mini Kisses
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
2. In stand mixer, cream together butter, almond butter, brown sugar, and sugar until smooth.
Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Mix in a couple splashes of Almond milk and 2 tsp vanilla.
3. On low speed add in flour one cup at a time, and baking soda. Mix until incorporated. Dough should come together, and be a little bit sticky but easily able to shape. Add more flour a tablespoon at a time if too thin.
4. Shape teaspoonfuls of dough into balls in the palm of your hand. Place cookies 1 inches apart on un-greased cookie sheet.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to12 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately press a chocolate kiss into each cookie. Allow to cool completely, so the chocolate hardens before storing.
Dough should come together and be sticky, but not thin.
I made these about a tsp. size so I can add them to my dessert tray. I love cookies but I can’t eat too many full size ones. This way guests can try a bit of everything and the mini kisses are perfect.
Press a mini kiss into them once out of the oven.
Allow to cool completely before storing.
Share with those you love this Christmas.