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Greek Roast Chicken

This recipe is one of my most requested in real life and I just realized I have never out it up on the blog. I did post in on my other blog, NoReEats , a few years ago but it's time to repost it here. I don't always do it with a spatchcocked chicken and it works the same with skin on, bone in chicken pieces. Today I am making it with a couple lbs of thighs, for instance but if you are using a whole bird, spatchcock it. The olive oil really gives he lemony sauce a silky texture that is worth the effort just on its own but thankfully the potatoes and the chicken are equally addictive. 

One word about about the amount of water added- I have heard from many people that the amount needed varies due to different cooking vessels, oven temps etc so I would suggest starting with 1/2 cup the first time you make it. Just keep an eye on it and if it looks like it starts drying out , add more, 1/4 cup at a time to ensure that there is always a bit of water in the pan. You should end up with a silky sauce that naps the potatoes and coats the bottom of the pan.

These are very clear video Directions on spatchcocking a chicken and they are kind of funny so have a look. It's really quite simple as long as you use the right tools and don't try to do it with a butter knife and a soup spoon.

naked chicken

cut up one side of the back bone

the spine is now detached on one side

cut up the other side of the back bone

no more back bone and ready to be flattened

cut in half , washed and dried

freeze the bones and scraps for future stock!

Here is the recipe:
adapted from a recipe by Nancy Gaifyllia

*1 chicken, about 3 1/2 to 4 lbs, spatchcocked
*a large potato per person , peeled and quartered (more if you really love potatoes and your pan can accommodate more - the potatoes are the best part
the juice of two lemons
*kosher salt or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
*6 to 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
* at least 2 tlbs greek oregano
*1/4 cup of olive oil
*1 1/4 cups of water

Preheat oven to 425F

Season the chicken and potatoes with salt and pepper and arrange in a heavy baking dish, or like me, in a large, heavy cast iron skillet. Pour the olive oil and the lemon juice over everything and mix the potatoes thoroughly before scattering the garlic cloves over them along with oregano. You can either leave it skin side up the whole time, or start it off skin side down and then flip it halfway through.

Pour the water in carefully at the side of the pan, being careful not to pour it over the chicken at all.

Roast it like that for about 20 minutes to half an hour and then flip the chicken skin side up and roast for another half an hour or until the temp in the deepest part of the thigh registers about 165F. It will rise more after you take it out of the oven and nobody is going to die.

flip chicken skin side up halfway through 

The lemon, olive oil and chicken juices make the most wonderful sauce that mops the potatoes - a little sinful, yes,  but sinful is a good thing now and then, no?

Chocolate Chocolate Spiced Rum Cookies

As we all know, we are knee deep into holiday baking season and I wanted to make all new cookies this year and I get sick of making lime meltaways and gingersnaps year after year, even if that disappoints some of my people. I had great success with  Chai Tea Cookies, Cardamom Quince Layer Cookies and Chocolate Dipped Gingery Pecan Shortbread and wanted one last cookie to round things out. I guess it's because my kid is no longer little that I am gravitating towards more grown up flavours and away from just sweet and easy. After a wine fueled pinning frenzy, I found these cookies on Rock Recipes and couldn't get them out of my mind. The basic cookie dough looked great but I detest chocolate mint chips with a white hot passion. Actually, I only like fresh mint and have never found any sort of food item that contains any sort of mint extract that I would want to eat. I also really prefer chocolate to anything else so I used his basic cookie recipe and then changed it to suit my desires, subbing the mint chocolate chips and adding some spiced rum for good measure. The chocolate drizzle is a nice touch but not necessary because these babies are plenty chocolately even without it.

Chocolate Chocolate Spiced Rum Cookies

adapted from Double Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies from Barry Parson

1 1/4 cup butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbls spiced rum
3/4 cup cocoa ( I use the PC Black Label stuff - very intense chocolate flavour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
150 g chopped dark 70% chocolate
*optional chocolate drizzle - 50g dark chocolate and 1 tbls butter

Cream together the butter and sugar. I like to cream for at least four or five minutesAdd the eggs, vanilla and spiced rum and beat for another 20 seconds or so.Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt (i just dump it all in a big bowl and use a whisk)Add the dry to the creamed butter mixture and and mix on the slowest speed until it forms into a dough. I had to scrape down the sides a few times. Add the chopped chocolate and let it take another few turns at the lowest speed until the chocolate is just incorporated into the dough.Cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least a few hours or overnight to make sure the dough is nice and cold when you bake them off.When it's time to bake Preheat the oven to 375FRoll the cold dough into 1" balls and put them a couple of inches apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten them a little bit and bake them for 9 or 10 minutes.Let them cool for a few minutes on the pan before you remove them to a wire rack.*I reheated the chocolate glaze from my Chocolate Dipped Pecan Shortbread and drizzled that over the top. If you want to do that but didn't make the pecan shortbread (which you should do) just melt about 50 g dark chocolate with 1 tbls of butter in a small bowl over a small pot of simmering water , stirring constantly until its all melted and glossy. Use the spatula or a small spoon to dip into the melted chocolate and then whip it around over the cooled cookies while they sit on the rack over a parchment lined tray to catch the mess. Let them sit at least an hour until the glaze hardens.The original recipe says that the cookies and/or the dough freeze well for several weeks, so keep that in mind.

Cranberry Glazed Meatloaf With All The Trimmings

Not into making a huge turkey dinner this year but still want all the flavours and kind of feel like you had turkey dinner?

This blast from the past was posted on my other blog, NoReEats back in 2011 and it's something I make when we are craving turkey dinner at other times of the year. Making a huge turkey for just the three of us is kind of ridiculous even though if we could, we would have a big turkey dinner once a  month all year round. If you think about it, I should have had five more kids just to justify more turkey  but it's too late now. I have to make do with this tasty turkey meatloaf and one, measly kid.

I alway freeze some turkey stock after christmas and thanksgiving dinner so I use that to make this but chicken gravy works fine in a pinch. I think you can buy turkey stock from Kitchen Basics if you really want to use turkey broth and don't have any handy.  Just make sure you use all the same herbs and spices that you would use in your stuffing, serve with  mashed potatoes or whatever you would normally make to go with your roast turkey and you will be be amazed by how much Christmas dinner you can pack into this easy little meal.

Cranberry Glazed Turkey Meatloaf With All The Trimmings

serves 4

1 stalk celery, chopped finely
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 small clove garlic, chopped finely
2 tbls butter
1 piece of 12 grain bread, whizzed in the food processor
1 tbls each: fresh rosemary, thyme , parsley and sage, chopped (or more to taste if you really like herbs)
1 to 2 tbls chicken or turkey stock to moisten
500g or 1 lb ground turkey
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper

1/3 cup mashed cranberry sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
chipotle in adobo to taste

Turkey Veloute:
2 turkey necks
veggie scraps from the meatloaf- celery, onion, parsely, garlic
4 tbls butter
4 tbls flour
2 cups stock

As far as timing goes, I would start the stock and let it start simmering about half an hour or so before I get everything ready for the meatloaf. I would then make the veloute as soon as the meatloaf goes into the oven since they both take about the same time to cook.

Heat a pan over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the chopped celery, onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes until softened. When they seem cooked, add the fresh herbs and the fresh bread crumbs, combine thoroughly, taste and add some salt and pepper and then add a bit of chicken stock to moisten the mixture so that it's not wet, but not dry.

Heat the oven to 375F.

Set the onion/bread crumb aside to cool to room temperature. When it's cooled, combine the ground turkey, the bread crumb mixture and the beaten egg - don't over mix or your meatloaf will be dry.
Divide the meat mixture into four portions. You can either make four individual little loaves or pack them into large sized muffin tins. I used the tins but next time I will not bother but it's up to you. If you shape four little loaves make sure to cook them on a rack placed on a cookie tray lined with foil or parchment if you can so that the fat drips off. If you don't have a rack, just lay them out on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet.
Mix the glaze ingredients and brush the tops with it. Cook the tray in the oven for about 25 to 35 minutes until the internal temperature is about 165 F

Turkey Veloute:
To make the turkey veloute, you put the necks and veggie scraps into a pot and cover with cold water or some chicken stock (or in my case, turkey stock) and you let that simmer away while you make everything else for at least an hour.

Strain your stock and taste. If it doesn't taste strong enough, you can bring it to a boil and reduce it a bit or you can add more chicken/turkey stock. In the end you want to be left with about 2 cups of stock
Heat a sauce pan over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the flour and quickly stir it i, making a paste and then cook, stirring frequently for a few minutes until it starts to get to be a straw colour.
Take it off the heat and whisk in half the stock, making sure that you have no lumps. Return the pot to the heat, add the rest of the stock and whisk well, bring the stock to a gentle simmer, lower the heat and let simmer gently for about 25 minutes. Skim any skin that forms off the top from time to time.
When it's time to serve, I still pass it through a strainer to make sure that there are absolutely no lumps in it at all if I am at all in doubt. Serve in a gravy boat and cover your mashed potatoes in it.

Chocolate Dipped Gingery Pecan Shortbread

It's Christmas in nine days. NINE DAYS. Clearly I am now baking so there is no need for a long story about these cookies. I saw them. I pinned them. I wanted to make them. I changed the type of nut used and added some crystallized ginger and fleur de sel to the nut coating. They are ridiculously delicious.
The end.

Chocolate Dipped Gingery Pecan  Shortbread

adapted from Food52 

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup raw pecans, coarsely chopped
1 tsp vanilla
approx 100 grams dark chocolate (I used 70%)
2 tbls butter
another 1/4 to 1/3 cup pecans, more finely chopped than the first 1/2 cup
2 tbls finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 tsp fleur de sel

Preheat the oven to 325F
Whisk the flour, baking powder in salt together in a bowl and set aside. Cream your butter and sugar together with the paddle attachment until nice and creamy - I like to do this for a good five minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the vanilla and stir another few seconds before turning the speed to low and adding the 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. Let it take a few turns to stir the nuts in before adding the flour and let it stir, on low speed, until just combined.

Form a tbls of dough into little logs and put them an inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I found the dough to be very crumbly so it helped to kind of work each cookie a bit in my fist into a torpedo shape to soften it up a bit and get it to stick together. When all the cookies were formed, I went back and tried to gently gather the crumbs back into the cookies. Bake until brown around the edges, about 18 minutes.
Let them cool a couple of minutes on the pan before removing them to a rack to cool completely.

Put your chopped chocolate and butter into a double boiler over simmering water and melt, stirring the whole time. Remove from heat and put the second batch of 1/3 cup pecans, fleur de sel and the chopped ginger in a shallow bowl. Dip one end of each cookie into the chocolate (about 1/3 of the cookie), letting the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl before gentle rolling that coated end of the cookie in the nuts and ginger. Repeat with all of the cookies and let them sit on a wire rack set over a parchment lined sheet to catch the drips. I like to just use the cooled down baking sheet for this so I don't have to waste another sheet of parchment. It will take at least an hour for the chocolate to harden and they stay fresh in an airtight container for about a week.

Rum and Eggnog Tres Leches Trifle

For the last couple of years, I have been in charge of making dessert for The Neighbour's annual Xmas dinner. They throw a big dinner party for out of town friends and their in town sister with other people added to the guest list each year. We are fortunate enough to be included because it is always an impressive feast and tons of fun. Every guest gets a stocking filled with homemade cookies and a beautiful, hand painted ornament. Last year I made two desserts because it is always a crowd of at least 11 or 12 people but they were both a lot of work and both required slicing and plating and felt too formal for this type of gathering.  This year I wanted to make one dessert that would be substantial enough to feed a big crowd, easy to serve and not require pretty plating. Since this is basically three desserts in one, big bowl and requires nothing more than a big spoon and a shallow bowl, it fit the bill.

At first, I was going to just make my Rum and Eggnog Tres Leches Cake , which is already very festive but I felt the need to ramp it up a notch. Since the cake is already soaked, why not throw together a trifle? It's like it was invented for trifle, to be honest. The only change to the actual cake was to replace the dark rum with spiced rum, but, otherwise, the cake remained unchanged. Some crushed up spekulas was thrown in for crunch and texture and a ring of berries in the middle just for a pop of colour. You can make your own pudding, from scratch, if you like but I used a box of jello vanilla pudding made with eggnog instead of milk and it was perfect and I will do it again, dammit. I honestly think that this is THE ultimate Christmas dessert. It is a bowl full of Christmas.

I had cake and a bit of pudding etc leftover so I made a couple little individual trifles for The Kid and I think I might even serve them like that the next time because they were pretty adorable. As much as I think the whole "dessert in a jar" thing is probably getting tired, how cute would a dozen of these in a small jar be? 

The sugared berries was just me totally showing off.

Rum and Eggnog Tres Leches Trifle

serves 10-12

1 box vanilla pudding mix (I KNOW I KNOW)
2 cups eggnog
2 cups whipped cream in total

250g crushed up spekulas cookies (also called speculaas, spekulatius, or speculoos)
about  125g blueberries

sugared berries:
1 egg white and a tiny splash of lemon or lime juice
125g raspberries
about 100 grams of blueberries
sugar (up to you. I used a mix of blue sanding sugar and plain white sugar)

So, click that link up there and go and make the cake and soak it overnight (or at least all day if you wait to make it the day of)

At least a few hours before serving, make the vanilla pudding mix (I KNOW ALREADY) but sub in eggnog for the milk (the kind of I used called for 2 cups of milk which I think will be pretty standard).
Set the pudding aside and whip up 1 cup of heavy cream until you get stiff peaks. Fold that whipped cream into the eggnog pudding and set aside.

Put the spekulas in a plastic freezer bag and smash them up. You don't want them totally crushed because they are providing a bit of crunch. Set aside

Make your sugared fruit by whisking the egg white with a tiny splash of the citrus juice until frothy. Using a clean, small paint brush, brush a little bit of egg white on each berry and then roll it around in a little bowl of sugar. I like the mix of the blueberries half in plain white sugar and the other half in the coarse blue sanding sugar.
Set them aside on a parchment lined baking sheet to dry - it takes about 4-6 hours to dry completely.

To assemble, either the night before or earlier in the day on serving day:

Use a big, glass bowl of some kind. It must be clear glass so your guests can ooh and ahh over the beautiful layers.
Cut your soaked cakes into chunks and line the bottom of the bowl with a layer of cake. Make sure you fill the gaps with chunks of cake - it doesn't have to be neat.  Next, spoon on half of the pudding mixture and use a spatula to spread that evenly over the cake. Now, sprinkle 1/2 of your crushed spekulas cookies evenly over the pudding, making sure that you get them right up to the edges of the glass so they will show in the finished trifle. Make a second layer of cake chunks, then pudding and now sprinkle all of your blueberries over the pudding, again being sure that you ring the layer with them so they will show through the glass. Scatter the rest of the crushed cookies and then top with a final layer of cake chunks. At this point, you cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for the rest of the day.

Make your sugared fruit now because it has to sit and dry for at least a few hours. To make them you need to whip up the egg white with a splash of lemon or lime juice till frothy. Put your sanding sugar and your regular sugar into small, shallow bowls. Using a small paintbrush, brush each berry, individually, with a bit of egg white and then roll in the desired sugar. Set aside on a parchment lined baking sheet and when they are all done (I know, it's tedious work but look at how pretty it is!) set that aside for the rest of the day to dry.

Okay, time to serve this baby up!
Whip the second cup of heavy cream  and when it reaches nice, stiff peaks, spread that over the top of the trifle (i don't sweeten the whipped cream because the dessert is plenty sweet already but that is up to you). Artfully arrange your sparkling, sugared fruit over the top and dig in.

Gingerbread House 2013 - Rumble in The Beach

Come in the back door

and exit through the front! Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

It really is the most wonderful time of the year. It's the time where we all gather with our loved ones to enjoy each other's company, share good food and drink, spreading good will to one and all in the spirit of Christmas. The one day where we cast all of that aside is the day of Dianne's Annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party. On this day, a group of us gather to try to one up one another and create the most fabulous gingerbread house of the year and be crowned Queen of the Beach. Actually, some of us are basically self proclaimed Queens of the Beach, but no matter. If you're not first, you're last.

Don't get too close. He bites.

I came dangerously close to missing this year's festivities as I was booked to work on that very day but, as luck would have it, a Christmas miracle occurred, my job was cancelled and I was free to attend. Okay, seeing that my job was cancelled, it also meant that I wasn't going to make any money that week but who's counting money at a time like this? Not me.

My gingersnap pathway invites you in
only to be stopped by the snowflake covered metal detectors at the door. You'll have to leave those scissors outside ma'am

Because I was not really planning on attending, I had not only NOT bought any decorations for my house, I had not really given it much thought at all. I had pissed a few houses that I liked but only half heartedly since I was pretty sad that I was going to miss the fun. On the morning of, I ventured out into the frigid cold to my usual spots, Dollarama and Bulk Barn but this time, there was a new game in town as well. I bought those shimmering glitter balls that I transformed into my disco fence at Target. Target is a game changer, people.

Thank you Target for you shimmery disco balls , festive snowflake bits and bobs and polka dot paper straws

Last year, one of the regular front runners told me that she thought that everything used should be edible, despite the fact that almost every house that year, including mine, contained flashing lights, little statues, cut outs and tiny trees from Dollarama. This year, in a panic enduced fugue because this was so last minute, I decided that in her honour, I would attempt to make a house with as few edible bits as possible!
Don't eat the hedge!

I got there and settled in beside Ms Everything must be edible and we both got a jump on things since we were the only ones to arrive on time. Choosing where you are going to sit is very strategic in these situations. You want to sit next to someone who will challenge you but not next to someone who will steal your candy, your ideas and your scissors. One year I sat next to someone who was ten times messier than I am (if you can even imagine what that looks like) and it messed me up because, by the halfway point, both of our stations were covered in icing and candy shards and her stuff got all over my board. Luckily, she was also very lovely and fun so it all evened out at the end of the day but you have to weigh all of this stuff out in advance. If you grew up playing Risk, you will be at an advantage.

This beauty sat to my right. I think she was trying to blind me with those street lamps.

By the time the majority of the ladies got settled, I was almost done but, because it is how I work, I like to sit there and take a break, look again and then add more stuff. It wasn't until the very last moment that I added the bordering hedge and greenery under the windows. If you give me an hour, I will take an hour. If you give me four hours, I will just keep going until you pull the plug.

This party would be a cultural anthropologist's wet dream. We have everything from the lovely southern bell over here to your left who's actual real life house is immaculate and tastefully decorated but each year she fashions her gingerbread houses like Jackson Pollock hopped up on pills. Nuts, seeds and sprinkles are flying through the air, icing is being glopped on willy nilly, all in a flurry of artistic abandon. I think that a glass or two of wine might be involved in the making of these particular houses. It's just an educated guess. She is generally the big draw of the evening and everyone wanders over to cheer her on at some point.

We have a couple of other people who we just refer to as


These women start out with good intentions and will manage to make one side of the roof perfect but they get bored by the time they are midway through the other side and they just start gluing on the biggest candy they can find to make it end faster. I must give a shout out to our friend, Halloween, who managed to ignore that damned squirrel this year and made a fine looking little cottage that was very symmetrical and charming.

what squirrel??

Does that picnic table look edible to you?

There are the anal pre planners who start drafting up designs mid August. These women come with additions they have fashioned themselves at home, turrets and carports, ponds made of melted blue jolly ranchers and pre-made fondant snowmen. I think I recall a house with actual moving pieces one year and perhaps even a musical element a time or two. Okay, full disclosure- one year I made windows and doors out of decorated graham crackers and brought them in. I am not immune to the pressure.

house of 2011 with graham cracker doors and windows.

This year, for the first time ever, there was a prize for the best house because, who are we kidding, this is a total competition here. There were monitors making sure that nobody cheated - no voting for yourself- and Ms Everything must be edible won a well deserved first place. Her white/black and silver ice palace was a thing of beauty, with a silver pond, shimmering trees, cake eating snowmen and mirrored silver candy stones on the cottage walls and I absolutely voted for hers. Even though I love each and every house because they are all, in their own way, stunning  and full of character and whimsy, we are all whiner- I mean winners, blah, blah, blah.
As expected, there were grumblings of voter fraud but relax. You have a whole year to plan for

all nestled in their cello beds, ready to make the journey home

The Week in Yum Dec 6-12

The Neighbours always set a festive table

Holy crap, the holiday season is upon me. The week started off with a bang when I joined a big group of friends for wings at our favourite neighbourhood pub, Mike's Place, on Queen St. Saturday night, The Neighbours threw their annual Xmas dinner for the same group and we feasted on two types of lasagna (a classic bolognese and another Michael Smith rig that was filled with little meatballs, lobster and a bechamel sauce) and maybe a bottle or 8 or prosecco. Even the penguin enjoyed a flute, as you can plainly see. They always throw a great dinner complete with stockings for everyone filled with treats, a reading of a classic christmas book, carolling and general merry making.
Sat annual xmas dinner at the bonds

my contribution to the dinner was this Rum and Eggnog  Tres Leches Trifle- recipe coming soon

beef with white bean stew to stick to our shivering ribs
On Sunday we went to Kensington Market for the third time to attempt to get The Kid in for a haircut at The Crow's Nest and this time we were there when the doors opened and he was the first walk in. While he got a hair cut, I wandered about and bought the ingredients for a Beef with White Bean Stew since it was still ridiculously cold outside. That sustained us through to Tuesday and on Wednesday I made the final run of a Spanish meatloaf I have been working on (recipe coming very soon) that is full of chorizo and smoked paprika and a quince glaze. I have been tweaking it for a while and was very exited that this one was going to be "the one". I decided to grind up the chorizo using my meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid. Now, I don't have the super powerful pro version mixer so I don't know what I was thinking, trying to grind up a rock hard, cured sausage in there. All I will say is that getting the grinder attachment apart again involved a hand towel and this:

If you make this delicious meatloaf, please just chop it up until you get as fine as mince as you can manage with a knife and learn from my mistakes.

After I finished the meatloaf, I set it aside for later and went out for lunch with Mrs MVP (most valuable peruvian) to Tabule, on Queen St East. I have been dying to eat here but Shack always says no when I throw it in the ring so I was pretty thrilled that Mrs MVP was happy to accompany me for a bit of middle eastern lunch. Apart from the odd beef shwarma, she was not really familiar with the cuisine so it was nice to eat with someone who was coming to it with a fresh opinion.
We were both totally won over with our mint tea, served in beautiful little silver tea pots and tiny little tea glasses. I have a real thing for tiny tea glasses and for small, individual serving vessels, in general, so this was totally up my alley.

We ordered the sample platter of apps with babaganoush, tabule and labni. The labni was the richest, smoothest labni I have ever had - it almost felt like I was eating a tangy, sugarless gelato. The portions were incredibly generous and could easily accommodate four people as a starter. We also shared a meze portion of falafel and mujaddara which is brown lentils, rice and fried onion. The only thing I wouldn't order again was the mujaddara, not because it was bad but it is just kind of plain and the portion was huge. Again, maybe if you were sharing it amongst four people it would have made more sense. Now, about the falafels. OH MY GOOD GOD, they were perfect. So crisp, so crunchy on the outside and then soft and delicate on the inside with just the right spicing that I didn't even need to dip them in the accompanying tahini dip. They were also very big and very filling.
Again, everything we ordered for the two of us would have been perfect, even with four people (maybe one or two other apps if it was four big eaters)
falafels the size of Great Dane testicles. For real.

The restaurant itself is bright and comfortable with a much hipper, downtown vibe than it's Yonge St outlet. Service was impeccable, the food was incredibly fresh, the portions were really big. All in all, I give Tabule ten thumbs up and cannot wait to go back and try more things since I realized after the fact that we didn't even try any meat.

a beguiling sign in the window of The Art Of Cheese on Kingston Rd. Remind me to start shopping here.

Then, if all of this wasn't enough for a Wednesday, that evening brought the annual gingerbread house smackdown that my good friend, Dianne, throws. It pretends to be a friendly neighbourhood gathering of Beaches moms so they can have a couple glasses of wine, socialize and decorate a gingerbread house. What it really is, is a candy fuelled cage fight to the death with people bringing tool boxes full of implements, things that light up, ridiculously expensive, hard to find candy, additions to their houses, their own base plates to accommodate elaborate landscaping.... it's really more like Chopped with wine. For the first time ever, there was a vote and a prize for 1st place. Of course, there had to be monitors to make sure that nobody voted for themselves. I was torn between the perfectly executed, well planned and thought out ice palace that took first prize and the free form, Jackson Pollock cottage that a lovely southern bell cranked out.  I will be posting the full story later tomorrow so stay tuned.
To say that some of these ladies might be a bit competitive is like saying that Rob Ford might like to party a bit.

Those were crushed bay leaves been thrown about as the finishing touch
look at that fire pit in the foreground. Looks like a fire hazard to me

oh, they all look harmless enough. In photos.

A roof made of diaphrams. Love the ingenuity.

Clearly, she stole my frosted mini wheats for her roof. Whatever

and best use of cotton candy goes to......

This fondant family were made at home. Keener. Hey, is that silver foiled box edible? Is it?

Oh yes, people bring little lamps with little battery packs hidden under the cone trees

yes, that is a christmas tree with actual lights

all packed up and ready to be taken home

a wonderful night was had by all. I came in second. Not that anyone is keeping score.

Thursday Movie Popcorn! Enough said!

Pin of the week:  who wouldn't want this in their kitchen??

Facebook share of the week: I am totally making these this weekend

Instagram of the week: not food but very festive

Tweet of the week:

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