By: Mary Carver, P.H.Ec.
Adapted from a previous OHEA media release for the Ask a Professional Home Economists (P.H.Ec.) series.
A familiar tune reminds us that “chestnuts are roasting on an open fire”, yet most don't experience such an event as we scramble to write cards, wrap gifts, host parties, prepare food, and create our own memories. Despite all the preparations we make for the “perfect” holiday season, many times the best part really does begin in the kitchen.
Foods served at this festive time can become family favourites, creating wonderful traditions and warm memories to pass along to other generations. If you don’t have seasonal food traditions at your house, it’s never too late to start some. And a gift from the kitchen comes from the heart and is always in good taste!
Professional Home Economists (P.H.Ec.) were asked to share some of their favourite family recipes. Here are a few that we think you will enjoy, year after year. Much of the fun is sharing “family time” in the kitchen, so grab a partner and cook up some culinary memories this holiday season.
From: “The Ultimate Healthy Eating Plan that Still Leaves Room for Chocolate!” by Home Economist Mairlyn Smith and Liz Pearson, RD. (This cookbook makes a great gift!).
This wonderfully colourful salad is a cinch to make for Christmas Dinner. It’s also a powerhouse of nutrients, giving you 2 1/2 servings of fruits and vegetables per salad. It tastes so great – don’t tell them it’s good for them!
8 cups (2000 mL/2L) baby spinach
2 red peppers – julienne
1 large Granny Smith apple – chopped into 16 slices
1/2 cup (125 mL) walnuts – chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL) low-fat mayonnaise
2 tbsp (30 mL) low-fat plain yogurt
2 tbsp (30 mL) cider vinegar
1 tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
Makes about 25 squares.
From: Barb Holland, P.H.Ec., Professional Home Economist and food writer. A regular columnist for the Toronto Star’s Food Section, and Homemakers Magazine, Barb writes for other publications too and has done countless TV food demonstrations. She enjoys these delicious Macaroon Bars, which are drizzled with melted chocolate, both dark and white.
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
2 tbsp (30 mL) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup(60 mL) butter, softened
3/4 cup (190 mL) brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 mL) corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
2 tsp (10 mL) white vinegar
1 cup (250 mL) shredded coconut
1 square (30 g) semi-sweet chocolate
1 square (30 g) white chocolate
1 tsp (5 mL) vegetable shortening, divided
WINTER TRAIL MIX
Makes about 6 cups (1500 mL/1.5 L)
From: “Canada’s Best Slow Cooker Recipes” by Donna-Marie Pye, P.H.Ec. (Another great gift book!). A Professional Home Economist and cookbook author, Donna-Marie is also the mother of two.
Her Winter Trail Mix is made in a slow cooker with chunks of caramelized pecan crunch combined with dried apricots and cherries to make an irresistible snack, or hostess gift. Measuring ingredients is a fun way to involve the children.
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) melted butter or margarine
1 1/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) water
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) pecan halves
1 cup (250 mL) whole almonds
2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) sesame sticks or pretzel sticks 1 cup dried apricots
BRANDIED CRANBERRY CONSERVE
Makes 3 1/2 cups (875 mL).
From: Ellie Topp, P.H.Ec. is a Professional Home Economist working in Ottawa as a food consultant and writer.
This spirited conserve with the bright taste of cranberries, processed in decorative jars, makes an elegant holiday gift for family and friends.
1 small orange
1 cinnamon stick, about 4 inch (10 cm) long
3 whole cloves
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
3 cups (750 mL) cranberries, fresh or frozen (12 oz/340 g pkg.)
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (80 mL) brandy
1/4 cup (60 mL) slivered almonds
From: Diane O’Shea, P.H.Ec., Professional Home Economist, Family Studies teacher, mother of four, and partner in O’Shea’s Family Farm, Granton, Ontario.
Diane claims Christmas would not be Christmas without shortbread – made with butter, of course!
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 mL) cornstarch
1/2 cup (125 mL) icing sugar
1 cup (250 mL) butter