We are in the fully swing of the holiday season, which still seems to blow my mind. I’m just not so sure where the time this year? You all know I got started on all my decorating and gift buying super early this year, so I had some extra time on my hands to do some things I never get a chance to do; like getting my hands into a little holiday baking. As the holiday season is a time to share love and best wishes with those around you, I decided that I also wanted to send out holiday cards for the first time ever. I guess having a baby and feeling a bit more domesticated will do that to you!
Here’s the honest truth…I am by no means super crafty and knew if I was going to tackle this whole holiday card idea, it needed to be simple and affordable or else it just wasn’t going to happen. For years Staples as been my one stop shop for all my home office needs and figured their dedicated print team would be the best place to go to help me get this done. Their state-of-the-art equipment and certified “Print Pros” guarantee that any personalized gift idea you can dream up (canvas prints, puzzles, paper invites, gift labels or even professional place settings – if calligraphy invite design isn’t your thing!), can come to life.
For our holiday cards I decided to keep it simple and use a photo of Maxie. I felt this was a much better option as our friends and family are always insisting I send them photos of her and just never get around to doing it. You can always go to your nearest Staples location to meet with a certified Print Pro if you feel like you need in person assistance, but seriously you can easily create just what you need online from the comfort of your home like I did on StaplesPrint.ca. There’s a dedicated “Holiday Solutions” section that displays all their service offerings from photo gifts to labels. In under just 10 minutes I was able to find a card template that fits my aesthetic, choose card stock, upload the photo, create a personalized greeting and place the order. This is a perfect solution for some of your holiday needs if you’re looking to avoid malls and crazy long lines this month. To make sure your personalized items from Staples make it in time for Christmas, orders need to be placed by December 10th. Head on over to StaplesPrint.ca for more information and gift ideas!
Hey guys, Kristen Vander Hoeven here…it’s been a while but I am back in the kitchen with Sasha and excited to share some of my favourite summer recipes that you can easily duplicate at home. During a recent afternoon hanging out we both discovered that during the warmer months we prefer “low maintenance meals” – grilled veggies and salads paired with protein or fish. But sometimes we can get into a salad rut, prepping the same version of the classic side, which eventually just gets boring. I’ve created a delicious Grilled Corn & Strawberry Radish Salad that has been a hit with my cottage guests and followers over on my website SpooningNForking.com. Not toosurprising because who doesn’t love summer corn and fresh strawberries?
PREP: 20 MIN COOKING: 5 MIN
3 cobs of corn 1 cup of sliced strawberries 4 radishes sliced (I used a mandolin) 1 handful of basil roughly chopped 2 tbsp of diced chives
DRESSING 3 tbsp of sherry vinegar 6 tbsp of Evoo 1/2 tbsp on maple syrup 1tsp of salt 1/2 tsp of ground pepper
Turn on your grill to medium heat. Remove your corn from the husk and place on grill rotating every 3-5 min. You want to char your corn but not kill it!! See note below if you do not have a grill.
While your corn is cooking (and you are keeping and eye on it) slice your strawberries, radish a prepare your herbs.
In a separate mixing bowl combine all of your dressing ingredients.
Once your corn is cooked, let cool slightly until you can handle it comfortably. Stand your corn on your cutting board, then with a sharp knife, slice down along the cob. Not going to lie…this is messy AF…but worth it…so don’t use canned corn!!!!!
Combine all your ingredients into your salad bowl, add dressing and toss.
Try not to eat all at once 😉
NOTE: If you do not have a grill of some sort, you can do this in a large skillet on high heat or directly on top of a gas burner.
Beans…turns out they are not just for burritos and salads like I once believed! I am always on the hunt for guilt free treats to satisfy my infamous sweet tooth and my friend Chef Adrian Forte thankfully introduced me to his Guilt-Free Chocolate Chickpea Brownie recipe, which I highly suggest you try making at home over the holidays. Never in my wildest dreams would I think garbanzo beans would yield some of the most fudgy, rich and healthy brownies I’ve ever had – and highly addicting may I add. And if you’re wondering if these brownies taste like beans, they most certainly do not.
What You’ll Need
1 1/2 cup of almond flour
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 large organic, free range eggs
5 cups of Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1 cup of unsweetened chocolate – melted
1 cup of shredded almonds (optional)
Pre-heat your oven and set it to 350 degrees. Start by placing the almond flour and brown sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. In your blender or Vitaminx, blend the chickpeas and coconut oil and puree until smooth. Combine the pureed chickpea to flour and brown sugar mixture, then add the eggs and whisk aggressively to mix. Once smooth, add in the melted raw chocolate and blend until the mixture is lump free. In a parchment lined baking pan or individual mini baking cups and bake for 15 mins. Remove brownies from the oven, drizzle 1/2 cup of melted unsweetened chocolate and top with shredded almonds.
Looking for other inspiring dishes to serve during the holidays? In case you missed it, check out this Tiger Shrimp Ceviche with Red Beet Hummus recipe also from Chef Adrian Forte. For more information on Chef Forte’s personal chef services, culinary consulting and catering, head to AdrianForte.com.
By no means would I call myself an amazing cook, but this year I’ve been dabbling in the kitchen a bit learning a thing or two about healthy cooking. Last week I joined a group of gals at Haute Pan, an intimate event in Toronto where women, like myself, can learn to make delicious meals at home rather than make “reservations” – which I used to do four nights a week. The event’s concept was created by my pals Chef Adrian Forte and Jennifer Lau Founder of Fit Squad Trainingand the focus of the evening was on three healthy dishes, which was prepared in front of us by Chef Forte, so we could learn how to easily replicate the dishes at home. The stand out of the evening was the tasty Tiger Shrimp Ceviche with homemade Red Beet Hummus served as an appetizer. It is incredible how easy it is to prepare, making it a perfect starter to share with your guests during the holiday season.
What You’ll Need
1 cup of tiger shrimp (raw, peeled and deveined)
2 fresh lemons (juiced)
3 fresh limes (juiced)
5 medium red beets (sliced)
2.5 cups of chickpeas
1 bunch of cilantro (finely chopped)
1 medium red onion (diced)
1/4 cup of coconut oil
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of cracked pepper
3 teaspoon of sea salt (for hummus) and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt (for ceviche)
micro greens (as a garnish, optional)
Start by removing the shrimp’s shells, rinse and chop each shrimp into quarter inch pieces. In a glass, stainless steel or enamel coated bowl add diced onions, shrimp, chopped cilantro followed by the citrus juice and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Mix well and refrigerate for 45 mins to an hour. *The citrus juice actually marinates the shrimp, so it’s crucial to not leave the mixture in the fridge for longer than 60 minutes or else you will end up with shrimp with a rubbery like texture. While the ceviche is chilling and marinating in the fridge, you can create the beet hummus. Take the chickpeas, beets, sea salt, pepper and garlic cloves, then add them to your blender, food processor or Vitamix and pulse while pouring in coconut oil. Add brown sugar and continue to pulse until mixture is lump free and smooth. Once complete, spread the hummus mixture on your choice of corn or rice based chip. Chef Forte is super fancy so he made homemade tostadas but store bought ones or tortilla chips also work fine and is definitely a faster alternative. Spread hummus mixture on the chip, add a spoonful of ceviche and top with micro greens to garnish and serve.
Photography by Nathalia Allen – AMillionMinds.ca (@amillionminds)
For more information on Fit Squad’s personal training services, nutritional consultation, food delivery service and future Haute Pan events, head to FitSquad.ca
When it comes to Summer entertaining, there is nothing I love more than a really well made guacamole. It’s super easy to make, a tasty guilt-free snack, can be prepared tons of different ways based on your taste preferences and is always sure to be a hit at any gathering. I am beyond obsessed with avocados and could live off guacamole every day if I needed to. From time to time I like to put a little spin on the classic “guac” during the Summertime and substitute diced tomatoes with pomegranate and mangoes, which is a little trick I picked up from Pinterest. The sweet smoothness of the mangos and crunchiness of the pomegranate seeds work extremely well with the spicy avocado blend. And the colourful dish is pretty easy on the eyes as well! So delicious it can be eaten entirely on it’s own but I love to pair it with Lundberg Sea Salt chips or multigrain scoops.
What You’ll Need
2 Serrano Chillies – stems removed, sliced into thin rings *I remove the seeds because I can’t handle the extra heat!
2 Cloves of Garlic – peeled and finely diced
1 Medium White Onion – peeled and finely diced
1/2 Cup of Chopped Cilantro Leaves
4 Ripe Avocados
3/4 Cup of Frozen or Fresh Mango – cut into small cubes
3/4 Cup of Pomegranate Seeds
1 Tsp. of Coarse Sea Salt
*Serves approximately 8-10
It is best if you keep the aromatics together when creating this recipe, so place the chillies, diced onion and garlic together and release the juices by pounding them in a motar and pestle. If you don’t have one at home, you can either use a food processor or simply toss the contents into a ziplock bag and beat with a rolling pin. Add in the cilantro and pound with the other aromatics.
Cut the avocados in half around the pit, remove the pit and scoop out the flesh. Place the flesh of two avocados into the motar and pestle and pound until smooth. Then cut the remaining two avocados into chunks 1/2 an inch big. Combine both the chunky and smooth avocados with the onion mix, stir in the mango cubes, pomegranate seeds and salt. Add more of the latter for taste if necessary and that’s it. Hope you enjoy!