Everyone has their favourite treats at the holidays. Certain foods that are enjoyed at just one particular time of year hold a special kind of nostalgia that somehow makes them tastier. Here’s a count down of our TMS Top 10 Treats for the holiday season!
10. Mulled Wine
It has counterparts all over the world – Nordic Gløgg, German & Austrian Glüewein, Brazilian Quentão – there are dozens of countries that love to spice wine and simmer it slowly on a dark winter’s night. If you have a slow cooker, a bottle of wine, and a few spices, you’ve got a fragrant holiday delight at your fingertips that has been around for centuries. Add a stick of cinnamon, a few cloves, a few cardamom pods, a teaspoon or so of orange zest, and an (optional) spoonful of brown sugar or 1/2 spoon of honey. Let this brew do it’s thing in your slow cooker for 2-4 hours, low, slow, and undisturbed. Then enjoy – ideally by a cracking fire on a snowy evening.
And for the kids…
9. Spiced Apple Cider
Same spice mix, same method, but instead of wine, try using some natural (not from concentrate) apple juice. Warm spiced cider is a great treat after a day outdoors – it’s warming and soothing, and tastes like dessert. You could add a few raisins, cranberries, or some vanilla for flavour – tie the spice and fruit mix into a cheesecloth package so you can retrieve it without having to strain the whole batch. What advantage does the cider have over the mulled wine? You can have it any time of day – try a cup of warm cider and some oatmeal at breakfast on a cold morning!
Our completely non-factual statistics show that you are more likely to encounter random acts of chocolate from November 25th until January 10th than the entire rest of the year combined. If chocolate is what you crave, you can probably find it within arms reach at work, at home, in the car, in the shower – well, maybe not in the shower. Unless your chocolate game is really that strong, In which case, we salute you.
7. Butternut Squash Soup
This is a perfect lunch on any winter day, and it’s a lovely boost for the body during a season of excess. This style of soup could actually use any combination of your favourite vegetables, and can be spiced in so many ways. We love to add cumin, allspice, and ginger to ours! Try this simple recipe, and enjoy it any time of year!
6. Spicy Pecans
Candied pecans are easy to make at home! Melt 2 tbsp of salted butter with a cup of brown sugar, a teaspoon of water, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a gentle bubble in a saucepan for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set your oven to 325. Add 2 cups of pecans in to the saucepan and stir to coat them completely with your spicy brown sugar caramel syrup. Pour this mixture out on to the cookie sheet, spread evenly, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the sugar is bubbling but not burnt. Remove from the oven, let them cool and harden, and then gently break them apart. Feel free to sprinkle a little more cayenne pepper on them before serving. Enjoy these highly addictive sweet & spicy delights!
5. Mandarin Oranges
These little darlings made the top 5 because every year, Santa would leave a juicy mandarin orange in the toe of our stocking, and they are always the best. Sweet, juicy little segments of sunshine in an otherwise chilly month (at least in the Northern hemisphere). You know it’s time for the holidays when the lovely little boxes filled with paper-wrapped oranges arrive in the market. We love you mandarins, even though you leave us with sticky fingers and a craving for more.
The “8 Crazy Nights” of the Festival of Lights may have come and gone for this year, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be Chanukah for you to enjoy crispy, golden latkes! If you’ve never had the pleasure of biting in to a bit of Chanukah Hashbrown, you don’t know what you’re missing. We like to put a bit of shredded apple in to ours, or you could enjoy a classic style latke with some cottage cheese or sour cream. They’re also an amazing midnight snack – perfect straight out of the fridge, dipped in a little apple sauce. Let’s hear it for latkes!
3. Christmas Dinner
Do we need to explain ourselves on this one? Gravy. Stuffing. Mashed Potatoes. Turkey, ham, or roast – it’s all part of the beautiful ballet that comes together on your plate at this time of year. But what could possibly beat a huge feast (again with gravy) like Chrimbo dinner?
2. Christmas Morning Breakfast
If it’s not already a tradition for you to make a great big family style breakfast for your holiday guests on the morning of December 25th, it should be! The only thing that could possibly beat gravy on the treat scale is breakfast, and making it can be a fun activity for the whole family to take part in together. Fact: Chimbo Breakfast tastes better if everyone gets to eat it in their pyjamas.
And our number one most favouritest and bestest holiday treat ever is…
1. A Good Ol’ Cheese Plate
Cheese is the world’s perfect food, full stop. A proper holiday season involves some kind of cheese & cracker plate, because let’s face it – no one’s mad at a cheese plate. Vegan or lactose averse individuals can enjoy some of the flavourful and unique non-dairy cheese products out there. For this author, a classic cheese plate involves a strong aged cheddar, a chèvre (soft fresh goats cheese, often rolled in herbs or pepper), some creamy brie, and a rich and delicious brick of chive & shallot Boursin. Cheese plates are like personalities – there are so many combinations you can make with all the delicious cheeses out there! Crackers are an art on their own, so you can’t go wrong with something unsalted and neutral, something salty and light, and some soft, fresh sliced baguette. Don’t forget the other appetizing accoutrements for your cheesy feast, like red pepper jelly, sliced cucumber, and sweet pickles.