Christmas at our house is usually a sprint — we decorate mid-December, get the tree a few days before the 25th and tear around the grocery store hours before it closes for the holiday. But this year I’m approaching it more like a marathon: slow and steady wins the race. I’ve got a leg up on the shopping, brought in a few bits of greenery to make the house festive and tried some new recipes that made the kitchen smell like Christmas. Including a couple from Yvette Van Boven’s wonderful new cookbook, Home Made Christmas. The prolific writer, editor, illustrator and television host (the Dutch cooking show Koken met van Boven is filmed in her kitchen) shares more than 100 recipes, a variety of menus, and many helpful tips to help relieve some of the stresses that come with holiday entertaining. (And just entertaining in general, really.)
I received October’s OatBox for free in exchange for an honest review. This post also appears on A Year of Boxes.
OatBox is a monthly breakfast subscription box from Montreal, Canada. It includes two sizeable bags of handcrafted granola blends that are 100% natural and preservative-free, plus two recipes that use or complement the granola. Gluten-free boxes are available and subscriptions can be delayed or cancelled free of charge.
Gourmet Trading sent me a selection of products to try in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
If you follow me on social media (and if you don’t HELLO, PRIORITIES PEOPLE!!) you know that I’ve been trying some more products from Gourmet Trading over the past couple of weeks. The Canadian specialty foods importer and distributor first reached out last year and got in touch again recently when they launched their new online store. Now everything I’ve tried — and more than 800 other products — can be shipped to your door. Which is a godsend for those of us who prefer not to wear pants. #pajamasarelife Read on to see what we loved, get a discount, and enter to win some of my favourites.
Abrams Books sent me a copy of What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
Ottawa summers are like Zac Ephron: short and hot. California hot. Too hot to think about what to have for dinner, but too short not to make the most of all of the fresh fruits and veggies in season. Luckily people like Gaby Dalkin have done the thinking for us. The LA recipe blogger from What’s Gaby Cooking just released a cookbook with the same name, and it’s full of everyday dishes designed to be made and enjoyed in an easy, carefree, Cali state of mind. The 125+ recipes use fresh seasonal produce and readily available pantry staples for dishes for any occasion, from a day at the beach or a picnic at the park, to a Mexi-Cali fiesta and outdoor pizza party. Nourishing smoothies and salads and veg-and-grain-packed bowls are balanced with indulgent treats like Strawberry Shortcakes, Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares (sooooo deelish!) and a Summer Fruit Galette. Here’s a look inside the book and a recipe to try (we did!), the Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart.
Abrams Books sent me a copy of Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat, and Entertain the West Coast Way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
Although Nathan Turner didn’t get as much air time as the other stars of Million Dollar Decorators (probably because he stayed pretty clear of the drama), I always wished we’d seen more of his California Casual style. “To me, it means a laid-back room, a friendly host, and a beautiful table with simple recipes and fresh ingredients,” the decorator/author/entertainer and California native says in the introduction to his new book (and my wish come true), Nathan Turner’s I Love California: Live, Eat and Entertain the West Coast Way.
Thomas Allen & Son sent me The Pesto Cookbook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
Although I’m rather pitiful with houseplants, we’ve had a few times when our herb garden has done so well that we didn’t know what to do with it all. But now I’ve got all kinds of ideas, thanks to The Pesto Cookbook: 116 Recipes for Creative Herb Combinations and Dishes Bursting with Flavor by Olwen Woodier. Her new book (she also wrote The Apple Cookbook) combines herbs, oils, garlic and other ingredients in a wide variety of pestos, pastes and purées, plus an additional 75 recipes to incorporate pestos in dishes both savoury and sweet. Today I’ve got a peek inside and one of Olwen’s recipes we really enjoyed, the Olive, Thyme and Parsley Pesto.
Two Oceans sent me some wine to facilitate this post, but all opinions are mine and from the heart.
St. Patrick’s Day is usually a slap-dash affair over here with a last-minute run to the dollar store for green hats and sunglasses and whatever else we can find because for some reason not one of us has a single green tee in our closets. The overall effect is as tacky as it gets, but it doesn’t have to be. With this easy Green Sangria you can be quick like a leprechaun and classy too, with layers of jewelled green fruits like the rolling hills of Ireland. Invite your lads and lasses and raise a glass to the emerald isle (and St. Patrick too). May your troubles be less and your blessings be more and nothing but happiness come through your door.
Two Oceans sent me some wine and craft supplies to facilitate this post. All opinions are mine and from the heart.
With Easter just around the corner I’ve got a fun craft for you today that would make a cheap and cheerful addition to any Easter table and a quick and easy activity to do with family and friends. Let’s make some DIY marbled eggs! Handmade Jungle‘s Victoria Stacey developed this clever craft for Two Oceans Wines and I’ll show you eggs-actly how to do it, plus share some of Victoria’s entertaining tips and a giveaway to get you started. Let’s hop to it!
Penguin Random House Canada sent me a copy of Tanya Bakes in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and from the heart.
It’s a grey and drizzly day here in Ottawa, much like I imagine it to be in UK lifestyle blogger and YouTube star Tanya Burr’s corner of the world, only hers probably smells like fresh-baked cinnamon buns or lemon drizzle loaf or any of the other homey puddings, pastries, cookies and cakes in her lovely book, Tanya Bakes. It’s her first cookbook and her second book (Love, Tanya was released in 2015) and she’s got a third coming this September called Tanya’s Christmas: Make, Bake and Celebrate (which I’ve already got, thanks to my magical unicorn friend Maria). Inside this one are page after page of comfort foods — mostly desserts, but also some breakfast dishes and a pizza — accompanied by a brief bit about where or when they were first enjoyed or a tip on how to serve them. Many are family favourites, some a tribute to friends, and a few borrowed from the kitchens of beloved Brits Nigella Lawson, Mary Berry and Jamie Oliver.