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First Annual Friendsgiving & Tips to Host Your Own

November 24, 2013

friends giving friends ivingfriendsgiving1 friendsgiving2There’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. 


Bars & Squares, Berries, Wheat Free

Blueberry Crumb Bars

August 14, 2013

Day three of Vegan eats! I am feeling great – and have zero cravings for meat! It’s not really that huge of a difference for me, since I usually don’t eat any meat or animal by-products before dinner anyways. Although, I think Adam would approve of the amazingly delicious dinners I’ve made so far. I’ll have to make them again next week for Meatless Monday when Adam gets home from Ontario.

It really isn’t hard to avoid animal products. I’ve shared before I already have a dairy and egg allergy so no worry there. I made the switch to Almond milk about four years ago and have never gone back. I think one of my next ‘firsts’ will be making my own homemade almond milk! I have a large bag of almonds in the cupboard that are just asking to be made into delicious milk.

I’ll post a recap next week along with some recipes. Adam’s sister came over yesterday with our little niece Molly for a visit. I made an amazing zucchini lasagne for lunch (I’ll post the recipe soon) and we had blueberry smoothies for dessert. Molly was a fan of the smoothie, I think she just really loves using straws right now. We also went for a short walk in the sun and picked some blackberries along the way. There are so many – it’s a running joke with our neighbours that we’re going to pick all the blackberries before they can along the side of our houses. I love summer fruit when it’s in season, there is such an abundance and it is so much cheaper than the off season sales!

We have a ton, and I mean a TON of frozen blueberries in the freezer. I had to move a load from our fridge freezer to our deep freeze in the garage yesterday because I couldn’t fit the ice cube tray in the freezer. I’ve begun chopping up some nectarines and cantaloupe and freezing them along with the blackberries and blueberries. Freezing fruit is perfect for the fall/winter – they’ll be great for crumbles, baking and my new favourite obsessions, smoothies! I think I bought one too many zucchinis on our way home from Osoyoos last weekend, they were 3 / $1. So I bought six – three green zucchini and three yellow zucchini. This week has been a zucchini-heavy week.

On the last day of my Language Arts course this semester we had a ‘literary luncheon.’ A literary luncheon is when each person brings in a food-themed children’s book and bakes/cooks a dish that goes along with it. I had seen the idea before online for baby showers and thought it would be perfect, the new-mom gets to keep the children’s book to begin the baby’s library, and the food dishes are endless! As a new teacher I already have plans for food-themed books and lesson plans to go with them… along with baking or cooking as a class.

I was obviously excited to make something but needed to get a book first. I actually found this one on sale for 4$ at my local bookstore and decided to make something with blueberries since they are in season for the book Blueberries for Sal.


blueberry crumb bars

The luncheon was a great way to end our semester and there were so many great book+dish pairings.

If you want to hold a literary luncheon, or a book-themed baby shower here are some book and food ideas:

  • Blueberries for Sal, blueberry dish/baked good
  • The Vey Hungry Caterpillar, each of the foods he eats along the way
  • Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden, a variety of fruits and veggies
  • Apple Pie ABC, apple pie
  • If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, chocolate chip cookies
  • If You Give a Moose a Muffin, muffins
  • Catcher in the Rye, rye bread with antipasto
  • Life of Pi, pie
  • Cookies: Bite Size Life Lessons, cookies
  • Little Pea, pasta salad with peas
  • Strega Nonna, Pasta
  • Sam’s Sandwich, mini sandwiches
  • Eating the Alphabet or Fruit, fruit salad
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, mini meatballs
  • Green Eggs and Ham, green devilled eggs
  • Dim Sum for Everyone, dumplings

blueberry crumb bar bakeaholic

I’ve made these bars a few times before. The first time was with Blackberries, the second with Cranberries. All are delicious. I used wheat-free and gluten-free flours this time and it was just as good.

Blueberry Crumb Bars
adapted from and Smitten Kitchen
*Wheat Free*Gluten Free*


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 4-5 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9×13″ pan.

2. In a food processor, add 1 cup sugar, flour, and baking powder. Add in lemon zest, and butter and egg. Pulse until well blended, dough will be crumbly and resemble small pea-sized pieces. Pat half of this dough into the pan gently.

3. In another bowl, stir together the rest of the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the berries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

These tasted even better once refrigerated, but feel free to dig in while their still warm! Best if kept in the fridge, or freeze. I would suggest making these the day before the event, and keeping in the fridge. Best if eaten cold.


{In Season} Strawberry-Rhubarb Galette’s

May 29, 2012

The warmer temperature lately has been a lovely welcome to June. It seems like May literally flew by. I can’t even remember what has happened this month. A long weekend getaway, we listed our house, I’ve been out of school for about a month now. Maybe the fact that I don’t have to keep track of what day it is helped the month slip by.

Speaking of our house, we officially accepted an offer. We listed it at the beginning of May, and last weekend we accepted an offer. We were really happy with the price we’ve set it at, and we’re happy to get very close to it. At first they wanted to move in, in two weeks! Um, hello, not happening. First of all, it’s a very important week coming up, well day really. My birthday, it’s next Tuesday. And then, the week after that is my official grad ceremony, and of course graduation party. So, there was no way I was moving and packing up our condo in two weeks while all that was happening as well. When we countered we extended the date for the end of the month, June 25th. That was better situated for us. So, as of Wednesday next week we will know for sure if we have sold, once the subjects are removed. We are both quite happy that it went so fast, only four showings, so we can rest assured we (read: Adam) won’t be stuck with two mortgages come November 😉 . For the interim we will be staying at my Moms, thankfully they have a big house with lots of room, and Adam’s parents for the 5 months before we officially move into the new house.

The day we accepted the offer, I also went for my graduation photos. It didn’t seem real until I placed the cap on my head, and donned the official gown. It brought me back to my grade 12 graduation, as the photos were taken at the same photography studio. But, it’s real! I’ve confirmed my attendance at my convocation ceremony, and rented my gown. As if I haven’t paid the university enough money, I had to pay to rent a gown for a couple hours, on a time limit, to attend my grad ceremony. Oh well, it will only happen once! I’m not sure if there is a grad ceremony for when I finish my teaching program next year or not. My mom has also planned a party to celebrate with our friends and family that I’m looking forward to. I think 6 years of university deserves some acknowledgement, and a few drinks.

Something that has also been happening this month, the appearance of fruit. It’s the cusp of the fruit season and everything is growing bursting through the ground. A few weeks ago I posted a photo of a giant rhubarb plant at Adam’s parent’s home. Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but it is more often found in sweet dessert recipes than savoury. His mom needed to pick the very large, towing plant and gave me some to bring home, as long as I baked her something with it of course 😉 One of my favourite combinations is strawberry-rhubarb. Delicious in a pie, hand pie, or as individual galette’s like I’ve done here. We had Adam’s family over for dinner, his mom and dad, sister, brother-in-law, and our sweet little niece, so I thought I would made a small galette for each person.

You can really sub any fruit for the filling, blackberry, blueberry, apple, peach, peach-blackberry, apple-strawberry, etc etc. So many fruit combinations.

Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Galettes
Adapted from: Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts

Pâte Brisée

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

1. Pulse flour and sugar in a food processor (or whisk together by hand in bowl). Add butter, and pulse, or use pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some larger pieces remaining. Drizzle 1/4 cup water over mixture, pulse (or mix with fork), until the mixture begins to hold together. If it seems too dry, add another 1/4 cup of water, 1 tbs. at a time and pulse again.

2. Turn out onto counter, and wrap in plastic wrap tightly, chilling for about one hour, or overnight.


  • Chilled Pâte Brisée
  • 1 1/2 pounds trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (about 5 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

1. Divide dough evenly into 8 pieces ( I made 6 slightly larger ones ). On a lightly floured surface roll out each piece into a 7 inch round, 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets. arranging several inches apart.

2. In large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, cornstarch and sugar.

3. Cover each round of dough with a heaping 1/2 cup mixture, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the edges over the filing, leaving the opening in the center. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or until firm.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush edges with egg wash, one egg beaten, and sprinkle with sanding sugar. bake until crusts are golden brown about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees, and bake until juices start to bubble and run from center, about 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven, let cool and transfer to wire rack.

These are also delicious warm from the oven, topped with ice cream. Maybe with the Honey Ice Cream from last week!