Tag Archives: Christmas

10 TastyTips to a Tantalizing, Tasty (and less stressful) Holiday Meal

Ten Top Tasty Tips to create an awesome Turkey/Holiday Meal

  1. Plan Ahead.  If you can make mashed potatoes ahead of time – do so,  then keep them in the crock pot to stay hot until serving. Keep some potato water for the gravy thou! (Gramma G – that’s for you).
  2. Try adding a veggie casserole to the menu, so you just have to heat and serve rather than cook them up ahead of time. (see recipe for Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole below).
  3. Be Aware.  Check if any guests have allergies or food intolerances.  If you have guests coming that are gluten intolerant then either use Gluten Free bread for stuffing, cook the stuffing(dressing) outside of the bird or use a rice or quinoa based stuffing.
  4. Serving crackers? Include some rice crackers (in a separate dish) for those that are Gluten Free.
  5. Tetra packs of chicken broth (sometimes used in addition to drippings for gravy) usually contain gluten and MSG, however there are some new ones available (in Canada anyway) that are gluten and MSG and preservative free. (I believe one is called Cooks Choice or Kitchen Basics).
  6. turkeyYou don’t need to baste a turkey unless you see it getting dry! I use butter, minced garlic and kosher or sea salt rubbed into skin and roast. Add a bit of water in the bottom of the pan. I don’t cover it at all.   Gorgeous bird.
  7. Remember that birds that are over 10 LB, will cook from the inside out as well.  So you need to adjust cooking time for that (see below).
  8. I have personally found that roasting birds at high heat (400 degrees) guarantees a moist bird, (count stuffing as 1 additional LB if stuffing the actual bird).  Calculate as follows:  15 min per LB up to first 10 LB, after that reduce cooking time to 7 min per LB (see #7).  Plus an additional 15 min.
  • Therefore for a 10 LB Bird = 15(min) *10(LB)=150 Min + 15=165 minutes (2 hr 45 min)
  • An 18 LB bird however is (15*10) + (8 *7min) + additional 15 min = 221 min. (3 hr 40 minutes).

Let the bird rest for 15-20 minutes after removing from oven to absorb juices…..

  1. Need a second meat? Try Maple Syrup Salmon! So easy – when you pull the bird out of the oven, drizzle salmon with maple syrup (buy local!!), and bake with turkey sits for 20 minutes.  Very yummy and how easy is that!!

Broccoli – Cauliflower Casserole

This is a fave with little and big kids alike! Also a great make ahead dish for holiday meals and potlucks.

Time saver tip – If you don’t want to make the white sauce from scratch – substitute in a can of cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup instead.

  • 1/2-1 head broccoli crowns – washed and trimmed to small bite sized pieces & cooked under tender
  • 1/2 – 1 head cauliflower – washed and trimmed to small-sized pieces & cooked until tender
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (your fave – we like old cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

White Sauce (or substitute a can of condensed cream of mushroom, cheese or celery soup)

  • In a saucepan over med heat add:
  • about a 1/4 cup butter & melt
  • slowly add in about 1/4 c flour and stir
  • slowly pour in about 1 cup of milk stirring constantly
  • add: salt, pepper and mustard powder to taste. Cook, stirring until thickened (about 5 minutes.

Cook veggies. Saute onion until soft, with broccoli & cauliflower. While onion is sauteing, make  white sauce.  Drain veggies, put in bowl add spices, white sauce (or soup) and cheese to drained veggies & onions. Stir until combined.  Place in lasagna pan and (if you are making ahead – assemble to pan then stop until its time to serve) cover with tinfoil, and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until heated to 65 degrees C. enJOY

As always – I love reading your feedback and comments – let me know what you think and if you’ve tried any of my recipes or tips!  Follow me on Facebook (Joy In Your Kitchen) or Twitter (joyskitchen) or Pinterest (Joy Vogel-Lahti). Visit my biz website  Cheers!




Twas the week after Christmas (the kids were driving me batty…)

This is a short post dedicated to all parents of kids out of school, and bored.  I know my kids are enjoying their time at home but we also seem to be hosting a couple of other kids that weren’t invite – namely “I didn’t do it” who is a close relation of “Not Me” and “Leea/Benny did it”.  For all of you out there looking for a laugh here is my little ditty for today – not my greatest literary work but hey o well!

Wishing everyone a Happy & Healthy New Year.

The Week After Christmas

Twas the week after Christmas,
and all through the house
there was chaos and madness
small fires to douse

When up from the basement
I heard from the den
the call “Maw-me”
from my children once again.

A big sigh and  What now?
I said with a grimace
Got up off my chair and
thought I might need a  Guinness

I descended downstairs
to find all over the floor
toys, movies, mittens, a cup with no lid
1/2 a sandwich, a carrot and bread crumbs galore

What is going on?
I heartily shout!

We’re bored Mom!
the kids vehemently tout!

Seriously – what?
I had to roll my eyes
when does school start again
not for a week I surmise

OK Kids, time for a new game!
Woo Hoo they cry
Happy to start something new
Up they jumped-my Princess & Spy

We’re playing tidy up!
I said with a grin
come on now – don’t groan
Lets see who can win?

Come on! Leea yells- this sucks
Wait- an idea says Ben
for  this you should pay us a couple of bucks!

Not on your life
little lady answers Mom
this is my Christmas too
Quit sitting on your bum!

Its not my mess
nor is it my stuff
 face it kids
enough is enough!

And so as I now sit
in my chair once again,
all order restored
and no more complaints by Leea and Ben.

Happy Christmas to everyone
and  a great New Year too
May your floors be clear
and not filled with sparkly glue!

New Years Eve Baked Brie

1 package of puff pastry – thawed for about 40 min
1 wheel of Brie
Preserves (we use peach)
sliced almonds (or we use chopped pecans)

Roll the pastry out to a square shape.  trim the corners to be rounded.
On the pastry spread the preserves and the nuts.  Cut the rind off of the top of Brie.  Place Brie (rind side down) in centre. Fold up and pinch edges together so it is closed.
Wipe away any excess preserves.  Bake in 425 degree oven for 20 min or until pastry is browned.  Let cool for 20 min before serving.  Slice into to serve. AWESOME.  (pic will be posted later).

From my kitchen to yours – happy & healthy eating 🙂

My Top 5 Favorite Christmas Traditions & Christmas Treat

Merry Christmas all!  Did you grow up with any Christmas traditions?  In our house at Christmas it wasn’t so much about the sweet treats – although we did Christmas baking.  It was about the memories that were created from our own Christmas traditions ( and funnily enough none of them cost anything – says something for the simple things in life doesn’t it?).

Here is my list of my fave traditions in our family- what are yours?  I’ve also included my step by step instructions of how to make bacon wrapped water chestnuts below.

My Top 5 Fave Traditions Growing Up (in random order)

  1. Attending Christmas Eve mass complete with Christmas Pageant.  I grew up in the country, so every year for Christmas Eve, my parents would bundle my sister and I in our Christmas dresses, and load us up with snowsuits in the car (because you had to be prepared in case you ran off the country roads in the ice/snow(which we did one year) – no cell phones back then!!)  and we would go to mass and watch the Christmas story unfold. When we were young my sister and I participated in the pageant and I can remember all the buzz at the back of the church with all the kids getting ready to come out to do their parts.  Shepherds, Wise Men, Joesph, Mary, Angels, Sheep & other misc animals.  Once we got older it was still delightful to watch the younger kids in the parish participate in the pageant – it makes me smile even now.
  2. Christmas Pajama’s!  Christmas Eve, once we got back to the house from church, we would be allowed to open our one Christmas Eve gift – which was always new PJs – to be worn that night.  Somewhere my parents have years of my sister and I in front of the tree wearing matching PJs (in different colours) smiling in anticipation of the big guy coming.
  3.  Listening for Santa sitings on the radio.  My parents always found the station that was broadcasting Santa & reindeer sitings around the world.  As a child I can remember being glued to the radio listening to where Santa had just been sited.
  4.  Oranges in the fire.  We always had wood burning fireplaces in our houses.  So Christmas morning, we would burn the wrapping paper in the fire while we were unwrapping presents.  Santa always put a mandarin orange in each persons stocking and Mom always had extras out (along with the box of turtles yum!) out to munch on while we unwrapped presents. The orange peels all got thrown in the fire so it made a nice orange smell – funny this was the only time of year we did that!
  5. Christmas Appy’s/Munchies – I blame my love of tapas and appy’s 100% on my Mom!  Our family always grazed through the day on shrimp rings, cheese balls, dips, crackers, cheese & pickles and everyone’s fave – Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts!  – I mean come on – whats not to like about bacon???   Because I know a lot of you just said Oh, yum!  I want those!  Here is my recipe – taken from my Mothers origional and Joy-ified a bit.

Mouthwatering Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

What you need:

          • 1 LB bacon – cut in half – try to get the low sodium type and less fat
          • 1 large can whole water chestnuts (or two smaller cans)
          • 1/2 c soy sauce – sodium reduced
          • 2 TB  brown sugar
          • about 4 dozen tooth picks

     Step One:

          1. Mix the brown sugar and soy sauce together until sugar is dissolved – set aside
          2. Lay the bacon out on your hand and place a water chestnut on it, then roll it up tucking the ends in
          3. Use a toothpick to secure the bacon wrapped chestnut together
          4. Place in tupperware or glass lasagna type pan & pour marinate over
          5. Place in fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

  Step Two

          1. Remove from marinate, place bacon wrapped chestnuts on a cookie sheet or stoneware
          2. **hint you will need one with edges to keep the grease and excess marinate on the pan and not all over your oven
          3. Bake slightly higher than the middle rack, at 425 degrees for 20 mins. – you may need to drain off fat/excess marniade part way thru cooking, and then continue to cook until bacon is cooked – EnJOY

  optional  hints:

          • While marinating, flip the bacon over and reinsert the toothpicks to get the flavour all the way thru
          •  If you don’t want to pour off the fat all the way thru (or think you may lose all the pieces in the sink :), you can place a oven safe rack (like one for a turkey) sprayed with cooking spray on the cookie sheet and place bacon wrapped chestnuts on top – the fat/grease/marinate will drip onto the bottom of the pan and you will be saved a step – note this may shorten cooking time – keep your eyes on them!

What do ya think?  Going out to buy some bacon yet?  From my kitchen to yours – happy holidays!

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