Why slave in a hot kitchen? There is absolutely nothing wrong with breaking out the slow cooker when guests come to visit. These are my favourite guest-worthy slow cooker recipes and my top tips for using your slow cooker.
Everybody loves tacos, and this Three Ingredient Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos recipe can even be made with frozen chicken breasts. Make them guest worthy by serving with an array of toppings like grated cheese, chopped up veggies, lettuce and of course guacamole and sour cream. Toss a salad (or pick one up from the store) and voila dinner is served.
In case you were wondering, it is possible to make an entire roast beef dinner in the slow cooker. So for the nights you want to impress but don't want to be chained to the kitchen, this is the recipe for you! Another beef option, if you're not feeling like the entire roast beef dinner is this restaurant-favourite Beef Dip recipe.
Speaking of restaurant favourites, this Slow Cooker French Onion Soup takes just a few minutes to prep but is completely worth it at dinner time!
If you're looking for something else you can put on a bun, I make this Slow Cooker Pulled Pork all the time for guests and friends in need of a little extra help with meals. Serve with coleslaw (either for a crunchy topping or on the side) or my Three Ingredient Asian Crunch Salad and mashed potatoes.
For the evenings when everyone is tired of heavy meat dishes, this Slow Cooker Vodka Cream Sauce is perfect over your favourite pasta.
When you've hit our limit of heavy meals but still want some comfort food, my favourite recipe to make guests is this Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup. It is so very easy and especially yummy when served with my Beer Rosemary Cheddar Bread.
Finally, if you decide to order pizza (which is totally okay too!) but want to serve something homemade for dessert, give this slow cooker Apple Crisp recipe a try or this slow cooker Strawberry Cobbler recipe which can be made with your favourite frozen berries.
While I absolutely love the Christmas Morning Breakfast tradition, I do not love having to step away from the festivities and head to the kitchen to make a feast for breakfast, which is why I’ve perfected this completely make-ahead Christmas Morning Breakfast menu.
My love of a special Christmas morning breakfast is definitely because of the many Christmases I spent at my grandparents’ house in Northern Ontario. While my cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, and whomever else landed on the doorstep Christmas Day were looking forward to my grandmother’s turkey dinner, I always loved Christmas morning breakfast. But honestly who has time to slave over a stove on Christmas morning with all the mayhem of the holidays happening around you?
So here’s what I do instead….
The night before I prepare my Grandma’s Christmas Morning Strata (part of the tradition of course!) and this Overnight Baked Egg Nog French Toast. Both sit in the fridge overnight so you can prepare the night before and simply pop in the oven the next morning.
As a bonus, they both cook at the exact same temperature so start with the Strata and add the French Toast for the last half hour. When you put everything out on the table serve with maple syrup, butter, and icing sugar.
This year, our Christmas Morning cookie platter will include my Grandma’s Whipped Shortbread, Disney Frozen’s Sven (turned Rudolph) cookies, Gingerbread Cookie Strips and Oreo Biscotti to dunk in coffee.
Speaking of coffee… I will also whip up a batch of Homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream for those who are so inclined to add a drop to their Christmas Morning coffee.
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous and can handle mixing a few ingredients on Christmas morning (this is not make-ahead but if you’ve had at least one cup of coffee you can definitely handle it!) you can mix up a pitcher of Christmas Morning Mimosas.
Add a platter of watermelon you’ve sliced up the night before or easier yet a pre-packaged fruit tray and voila! A spectacular Christmas Morning Breakfast and all you really had to do was pop a few things in the oven and put it all out on the table for people to help themselves.
Let’s consider this completely make-ahead Christmas morning breakfast menu my present to all of you.
Your holiday shopping list is probably divided into two parts—one for store-bought gifts, and one with the names of people you'd like to gift something small, thoughtful, and homemade—just to let them know you’re thinking of them over the holiday season.
My go-to homemade gifts for friends, co-workers, and hostesses always involve my favourite recipes and when I started seeing these cheerful Christmas coloured Ziploc brand storage containers in stores, I got super excited about starting my holiday baking. The colourful boxes made it feel like the holidays were finally here.
Ziploc brand containers with One Press Seal are perfect for packaging and gifting your homemade goodies especially because they now come with the innovative feature of being nestable and stackable! This makes storing and organizing your container collection a whole lot easier, because when they’re empty you simply nest them, and when they’re full of yummy homemade baked goods you stack them! The limited edition Holiday collection in red and green makes your gifts festive even if you don’t have time to wrap and decorate.
So if you’re looking for a little gift-giving inspiration, here’s the list of food gifts I’ll be gifting this year—there’s something for everyone!
With three school-aged kids, teacher gifts are at the top of my must-remember list! Especially this year, because we have lucked out with some amazing teachers. Try baking a classic favourite with a twist: Gingerbread Cookie Strips. Gift them in a container, along with another container of stickers, colourful pens, and stamps all chosen by your kids (because teachers spend far too much of their own money on these little things).
I love leaving little surprises on my favourite coworkers’ desks just before the holidays and cookie-cutters filled with homemade fudge are a treat and a gift in one! For some of your extra favourite people you could also include a container full of “emergency desk items” like bandages, greeting cards (birthday, sympathy, thank you), protein bars, mini mouthwash, mini hand sanitizer, mini hand cream, a gift card to their favourite coffee place, etc…
I love gifting Homemade Vanilla Extract to those who share my love of baking, especially because it looks fancy but is so easy to make. Combine your vanilla with a Ziploc brand container full of pretty muffin liners and sprinkles for decorating and you’ll have a gift they'll use all year.
While it's lovely to gift hosts and hostesses with a bottle of wine, if you’re looking for something a bit more personal and homemade, why not try this festive Cranberry Lime Infused Vodka? It's easy to make and delicious when combined with club soda. Package with a container full of fun and fancy cocktail napkins and your host will think of you every time they’re in need of a party napkin.
My kids are at the ages where they have a few close friends and neighbours they'd like to gift something to over the holidays. For girls as Disney Frozen obsessed as many now are, package up some Olaf inspired cupcakes and Sven Cookies (which can be Rudolph cookies too if you use red Smarties or M&M’s instead of brown).
For my Star Wars loving friends, “bake ” Storm Trooper Cupcakes (if you can even call this baking because they are that easy!).
After the holidays, the kids can use the containers for all the little toys and accessories parents seems to step on in the middle of the night, like Lego pieces, all the tiny light sabres, pieces that come with character toys, and the play crowns and jewels that always go missing at the bottom of my daughter’s toy bin.
Technically “coffee lover” could define almost everyone on my list which is a good thing for them because I like to gift my favourite coffee lovers with Homemade Irish Cream and yummy Oreo Biscotti. When the Biscotti are all gone, coffee lovers can use their containers for air-tight storage of their favourite coffee beans.
One of the best and most appreciated things to gift is bread. Why not gift the foodies in your life with Beer Rosemary Cheese Bread or this even easier Four Ingredient No-Knead Bread? Package along with a bottle of Rosemary Lemon Infused Olive Oil. Be sure to store your bread in the perfect container to keep it from getting mushed and after the holidays, the foodies in your life can use their container to store spices and cooking supplies.
Haven't made an infused oil before? Here's an easy recipe:
Rosemary Lemon Infused Olive Oil
Heat 1 cup olive oil, 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and peel from 1/2 lemon (I use a vegetable peeler to peel in strips) in a sauce pan over low heat for approx. 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature (approx. 30 minutes).
Remove lemon and rosemary and place in glass jar then using a funnel pour olive oil into jar. Infused olive oil can be refrigerated for about 1 month and used in salad dressings, marinades or even just for dipping your homemade bread.
Note: Sometimes the lemon peels don't hold their colour when heated, so just toss the heated ones out and peel some fresh lemon peel strips for inside the jar.
Happy Holiday Baking Everyone!
PS: When you pick up your favourite red and green Ziploc brand containers, be sure to pick up these festive snowflake covered freezer bags too (that way you can bake in advance and freeze until you need your baked goods!).