December December

Another December coming to an end, leaving memories of great food, Christmas traditions, and the promise of the New Year to come. Here’s a few December goodies that helped get my through the holidays:

This shortbread recipe is greatly inspired by my childhood. My dad used to make me chocolate sprinkle and butter sandwiches as a kid, or sugar and butter sandwiches. He’d always bring home almond cookies and try to get us to eat them. We, of course, wanted more butter and sugar. Almond be damned.

This cookie recipe brings those memories together. Brings those memories of my father together. I think this cookie will be a cherished new addition to my Christmas holidays!

Dutchy Almond Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 to 1 jar of chocolate sprinkles (between 1/4 and 1/2 cup)

2 cups almond flour

1 cup flour

In a large bowl, cream the butter and extract. Add the sugar and cream. Stir in the sprinkles. Mix well. Add flour 1 cup at a time.

Pour into a buttered cake pan and spread out using a spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and smooth out carefully with your hands. You can also use a same size cake pan to help press the batter down.

Cover once again with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Remove plastic wrap and use a knife to outline your cookie shapes, making wedges.

Bake in a 300F oven for about 1 hour.

Remove from heat and pan, and carefully cut out the cookies using your marks as your guide.

Vegan Spilt Pea and Quinoa Soup

2 diced onions

2 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of diced carrots

1 cup of diced celery

4 cups of soaked and washed green or yellow split peas (if using green split peas, these must be soaked overnight)

2 cups of chopped zucchini

1 to 2 cups of chopped kale

2 to 2 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa

Place 4 cups of yellow peas in some water and soak for 2 hours. Rinse well. If using green peas, these must be soaked overnight and then rinsed well.

In a large stock pot, sauté onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add carrots and celery. Sprinkle with thyme.

Add soaked and washed split peas and cover with vegetable stock. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about 30/45 minutes or until peas are cooked

Add kale and zucchini and cook for another five to six minutes before transferring to a high speed blender and pureeing.

Return to pot and stir in cooked quinoa and a bay leaf

A Note on Split Peas

Split peas are awesome little dudes. They’re packed with protein and fiber and make a fantastic meat replacement in tacos, curry dishes, meatloaves, and burgers.

Studies have found that split pea consumers have a lower risk of certain cancers (including breast cancer), better heart health, and may reduce the risk of diabetes and also help to maintain diabetes.

Melt in Your Mouth Shortbread
1 cup of butter or vegan butter
1 cup of icing sugar
2 cups of rice flour
In a large bowl, cream butter. Cream in the sugar. Add flour one cup at a time. Pour into a buttered cake pan and spread out using a spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and smooth out carefully with your hands. You can also use a same size cake pan to help press the batter down.
Cover once again with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Remove plastic wrap and use a knife to outline your cookie shapes, making wedges.
Bake in a 300 oven for 25 to 35 minutes.
Remove from heat. Once cool, remove from pan and carefully cut out the cookies using your marks as your guide.

White Christmas Chocolate Bark
4 to 5 cups of white chocolate chips
3 to 4 cups of shortbread bits
1 cup of shredded coconut for topping
Melt the white chocolate in a double broiler or in a steel or glass bowl over a pot of just simmering water (water and steam effects the quality of chocolate and can damage it). In a large bowl, pour in the shortbread pieces. Add the melted chocolate and stir to cover. Pour mixture onto a lined cookie sheet and spread out as much as can. Generously sprinkle on the shredded coconut. Place in the refrigerator to set. Once set, break into pieces. Freeze for future snacking cravings.

Happy Holiday Chocolate Bark
4 cups of milk chocolate
2 cups of crushed pretzels
2 cups of white chocolate
Crushed peppermint candy canes
Melt the milk chocolate. In a large bowl add the pretzels and melted chocolate. Mix together and then pour onto a lined baking sheet and spread out as much as you can. Place in the refrigerator to set. Once set, melt the white chocolate. Spread over the first mixture and then top with crushed candy cane bits. Return to the refrigerator to set. Once hard, break into pieces. Return to the refrigerator or freeze for future snacking cravings!

Dipped Snow Birds
Melt 5 cups of white chocolate
Remove from heat and add 3 tablespoons of white wine, 3 tablespoons of canola oil and 1 1/2 cups of sweetened shredded coconut.
Mix and roll into small round balls with your hands.
Dip balls in melted milk chocolate.
Refrigerate until set.

Christmas Gingerbread Chocolate Bark

4 to 5 cups of milk chocolate

3 to 4 cups of gingerbread bits

Melt the chocolate in a double broiler or in a steel or glass bowl over a pot of just simmering water (water and steam effects the quality of chocolate and can damage it). In a large bowl, pour in the gingerbread cookie pieces. Add the melted chocolate and stir to cover. Pour mixture onto a lined cookie sheet and spread out as much as can. Place in the refrigerator to set. Once set, break into pieces. Freeze for future snacking cravings.

Candy Cane Stud Muffins (Holiday Horse and Goat Treats!)
1/4 cup of xanthan gum
2 cups of bran
4 cups of oats
1 cup of vegetable oil
2 cups of molasses
Peppermint candy cane bits
In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients together. Add the oil and mix well. Then mix in the molasses 1 cup at a time. If you want plain Homemade Stud Muffins this would be the time to roll them from the mix. Otherwise, stir in about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of candy cane bits. Using your hands, roll into balls and place in muffin trays (you’ll be removing them from the trays using a tablespoon). Don’t make the muffins too big, else they won’t dry well and are more likely to fall apart.
Bake muffins in a 200 oven for 20 minutes. Remove from tray and set to dry before transferring to an airtight container or gift wrapping for gifts for your equine friends!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 can black beans

1 red pepper

1 cup of cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup of corn

Garlic

Sprinkle on salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon chili pepper

1/2 teaspoon of cumin

Cook quinoa according to direction

In a casserole dish, add sweet potatoes and corn and about 1/2 cup of vegetable broth. Sprinkle on olive oil and spices. Top with black beans, tomatoes, and peppers. Cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until a fork easily goes through the potatoes. Stir half way through baking.

Place your wrap on a plate and layer cooked quinoa, mashed avocado, some steamed spinach, and the sweet potato mixture. You can also decide if you want to add your favourite chili sauce, salsa, or cheese. Wrap up and enjoy!

How to Baked Trout

If using frozen fish, thaw completely before cooking.

Arrange fillets on a foiled baking sheet. Dress with desired spices and sauces. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until fillet is fully cooked through.

Today I seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic and topped with a touch of bread crumbs before baking. Also good with lemon or a lemon or citrus salt.

A Note on Trout

Rainbow trout is one of the healthiest fishes you can include in your diet. It is a member of the salmon family and is classed as a low-mercury fish.

Lemon Salt

Zest one lemon

1 cup of sea salt or pink salt

Zest one large lemon and spread zest on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven, preheated to 125 degrees. Dehydrate the zest until it has completely dried through (for 7 to 8 hours). If your oven doesn’t go low enough, can try opening the oven door to let a bit of the hot air out.

Once dry, mix with sea salt until the two are combined and pour into a sealed jar.

Citrus Salt

The zest of 1 lemon

The zest of 1 lime

The zest of one orange

2 cups of sea or pink salt

Zest the fruit and spread zest on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven, preheated to 125 degrees. Dehydrate the zest until it has completely dried through (for 7 to 8 hours). If your oven doesn’t go low enough, can try opening the oven door to let a bit of the hot air out.

Once dry, mix with sea salt until the two are combined and pour into a sealed jar.

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