30 Dec

Chicken Appetizers for New Years

It’s hard to believe, but another year has gone by.  Time seems to be flying, 2014 is just around the corner.  The baby is already 1 and the oldest has started school.  They say time goes by fast once you have children and while I’m not 100% sure who “they” are, “they” certainly know what they’re talking about.

New Years Eve is all about reflection on the year gone by and excitement for the year to come.  It’s a comforting time, spent with friends, loved ones and of course revolves around food.  Is there a holiday that doesn’t revolve around food?

For last years New Years Eve Party, I made Chicken and Brie Crostini, an easy appetizer that can also be served as a meal.  Very little fuss and easier to make than pie.  (I’ve made pie before, it can be really hard).  It was a huge success.  Yeah me!


New Years Eve snuck up on me this year, I can’t believe it’s already December 30th.  While we do have a place to go to celebrate I haven’t even thought of what I want to bring as a snack.  Once again, I find myself not overly creative and, to be honest not much of a cooker, thankfully the Chicken.ca website is built for people like me.  Ideas that are outside of the ordinary and look much more impressive than what effort it takes to make.

The drool worthy choice this year? How about Chicken Rumaki w/ Maple Syrup Tamari.  Sounds like a lot of trouble, but here the simple name: Chicken Wrapped in Bacon with a Maple Sauce.  Yummy!

Chicken Rumaki-W-Maple-Tamari

Here’s what you need:

  • 12 slices bacon, low-sodium
  • 3/4 lb (0.4 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breast(s), cubed
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) light tamari sauce
  • or
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) ketchup
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil, smoked
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) sesame seeds, (optional garnish)
  • 2 green onion(s), medium, sliced for garnish

Check out the Chicken.ca website for the instructions. Nothing too complicated, even I can make them.

If bacon isn’t your thing, there is also a chicken quiche  recipe and a stuffed chicken mushroom cap recipe that look like they are worth making.

Chicken Quiche-tart

Chicken Stuffed-mushrooms









What are your go to appetizers for New Years Eve?

Where ever and whatever the New Year brings you, I wish you all good things for 2014.




18 Dec

Save Money, Buy with Points

Christmas is by far the best time of the year.  I love being with family and friends and I also love eating – there is always a lot of good food during the holidays.  But the holidays can also be stressful for many, mostly for financial reasons.  There is a lot of pressure on parents to make it the best Christmas ever for their children.  If you dread January because you have went way over budget for the perfect Christmas, I’d  say please stop and take a minute to think of other ways to make the Christmas Season Merry and Bright.

In a recent survey from President’s Choice Financial®, over 40% of respondents list budget as their top holiday stressor.  If you ask me, that is a terrible way to spend the holidays.  And paying those holiday bills is the top source of stress for 30% of respondents.  It’s awful to be thinking about money at a time when you should be thinking about good times with family and having good eats. On that note, eating too much is a stressor for only 25% of people.

Christmas TreeAs much as I would love to be a Grinch or old Scrooge and tell you, “absolutely no gifts (or chocolate cake) at Christmas,” the reality is, that’s not going to happen.  But there are ways to help lighten the financial load.

With 81 % of Canadians participating in loyalty programs (you know, earning points for buying things), Christmas is a great time to be thinking about cashing them in, and they will most likely be racking up quickly as there is a lot to purchase during the holidays.  I was pleased to see that Atlantic Canadians are the wisest when it comes to using their points for free things.  More than half (57%) of us in God’s Country are cashing in points for our Christmas spending.  I have used points to lighten the Christmas financial load and am always pleased to think of the money I’m saving. As Christmas just around the corner, I will be spending copious amounts on food anyway, so I may as well be getting free things (including more food, toys and clothes) while I’m at it.

Christmas is the best time of year and using your points during the holidays is an easy way to have less financial stress and more family joy.

**Disclosure: I am a brand ambassador for President’s Choice Financial® and receive compensation for my participation in the program. The opinions on this blog are my own.


16 Dec

Cookie Exchange Made Extra Special

Since I’m not really giving many presents this year, (you can read all about it here) and am focusing on what really counts, I was thinking baking for people is a great way to show how much I love them.  There is one problem with this plan however… I’m a terrible baker.  Well, not terrible, but certainly not the best.  While I have aspirations of making all these marvelous things I find on Pinterest, the truth is, I need easy and fool proof.

Here’s what I’ve done to make some otherwise kind of plain cookies, into something a little more special.

I used President’s Choice Shortbread cookies prepacked mix, and just added butter.  This was super easy to make, but the planning started well before the cookies themselves.

Cookie container

Rather than just handing over a bunch of cookies, it was the presentation that I was most excited about.  Here’s what you need to make these adorable cookie “Jars”

  • Small Pringles can (or anything else that is round, small and comes with a lid… peanuts would work too)
  • Wrapping paper and or Christmas material
  • Scissors
  • Take or glue
  • Ribbon and/or bow

Wrap up the Pringles can, and taped it in place.  Cut out a circle bigger than the lid and put it back on.  Top it with a bow and maybe some ribbon and there you have it, a beautiful way to display some otherwise non overly exciting Christmas cookies.

Shortbread cookies stars

As for the cookies themselves?  I use a round (or star) cutter that would ensure the cookies would fit into the can, and I just used green icing to make them into stars.  Simple.  You can’t go wrong with shortbread cookies, they are so yummy.  With this simple added touch of icing and the adorable packaging, I think your family and friends will enjoy them even more.

Happy Simple Gift Giving this year.  Enjoy getting creative with cookies and the packaging.

I’m certainly going to.

15 Dec

A Non Commercial Christmas

You may have noticed the lack of a gift guide this year on my blog this year.  It’s not due to a lack of pr pitches, but a personal choice of my own.  Years past, I had huge gift guides and while I would like to think consumerism didn’t take over, it most certainly did.  I tried to keep things still focused on what mattered most during this special time of year, but Christmas became a little too materialistic for me.  This year, I made the effort for it to stop.

Family, friends and of course the true meaning of Christmas are what matter most.  With the recent death of a very close family member during the Christmas season, it makes what is truly important even more obvious.  It’s not toys, or diamonds.  Those items only bring temporary happiness, if it’s really happiness at all.

So this Christmas, I’ve really toned things down, although I haven’t gone completely “Grinch”.  For my own kids, I’ve focused on a few (trust me 3 or 4 quality things Max) for my girls.

The baby will be getting some classic Fisher Price Toys this year. Including the classic Fisher Price telephone and the “Farmer Says” toys.  I remember these when I was a kid, as well as playing with them with younger kids. These toys are true classics, and I am very happy to give them as a gift to my daughter.  I don’t feel as if they are gifts “just to give”, but are true gifts, that she will enjoy for years to come.  That is what makes these toys classics, they have survived generations.The Farmer Says
Fisher Price Telephone

While these will certainly bring her a few hours of enjoyment as she grows up, I want her to mostly remember the good times she had being with others while playing with these toys, not just the toys themselves.

This Christmas season, I am truly keeping things low key to focus on what matters most, and I am extremely excited about it.


05 Dec

A Joy to Share

The old saying “it’s better to give than to receive” isn’t just merely words, there is a true and deep meaning to this simple phrase. For anyone who has had the opportunity to “make someone’s Christmas”, you know what I’m talking about. There is no tangible item that you could buy yourself that could give you as much joy. It’s a real joy to share, straight from the heart that makes a person feel like nothing else.

While she would never admit it, my Mother is a giver of all things, always… time, money, love, whatever she has, she will give it. She would never boast about her givings, as a child I watched with bright eyes as she prepared a magical Christmas for other families. The generosity still happens today, I’m sure of it, but her humbleness is beyond measure and therefore she will never speak a word of her good deeds.

Her good deeds extend beyond what she does for others, because she has instilled them in me, the Joy of Sharing, just as I hope to do the same with my daughters. This year I have many presents ready for children in need. I will be bringing my own kids with me while we drop off these gifts. Like my Mother, I will not make a big deal, but go in quietly with our packages to ensure smiley faces on both the kids and parents faces on Christmas day. As an adult, I know Christmas is not about presents, but I also know the delight we get while watching our kids on Christmas morning as they are in awe with the gifts Santa has brought. And that is what the Joy of Sharing is all about.


While we all would certainly like to be able to give a little more, it can be stressful on the pocket book. If you want to make a small donation of your time, Kinder is donating $1 to the Children’s Miracle Network for every Christmas card created on their Facebook Page. It’s very simple, and only takes a small moment. Kinder will be donating $25,000. For my local Halifax readers, the IWK is part of the Children’s Miracle Network. As you can see, we made a French card above. Princess Sharer liked picking out her own options to create her own card.

Make this Christmas extra special for someone else, but in the end it will be you, that gets the greatest gift of all.