Santa's Little Helper Cookies

The schnapps will make these mom and dad's favourites!

Santa's Little Helper Cookies

These spiked cookies are an excellent way to indulge over the holidays! With extra time at home I'm busy experimenting in the kitchen and whipped up a batch of some custom crafted booze-enhanced cookies. People love trying different flavour combinations. I tried vanilla cookies with Kahlua cream centres and chocolate cookies with Creme de Cacao cream. Mix and match your favourite cookies and schnapps to see what your favourite is! 

Santa will definitely be taking some of these home for Mrs. Claus.


12 double-stuffed cream sandwich cookies 
1/2 oz of your favourite booze

 Carefully open each cookie and scrape the cream from all of the cookies into a small bowl. 

 Pour in your schnapps of choice and mix together to combine.

 Using a knife place a small dollop of cream on a cookie, smooth over and top with another cookie. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk! 




Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia

Mmm.. Moments in Time

Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia

Special moments in time. But truth be told, special doesn’t even do these justice. They are moments when you sit back and realize that you are IN IT, a place where you are in perfect sync with the universe, simply because you are sitting, standing, lying right there at this exact place and time. You can call it a Zen moment, the stars aligning, or any other term to describe your soul being fulfilled at its current state.
For me, it was the first time I stepped out on the ice with a hockey stick in my hand. Twenty years and three hand surgeries later, and I cannot even imagine 48 hours going by without lacing up my skates, putting on my gear and moving that puck down the ice. I live and breathe hockey.
It was the first time I sat down at my Commodore 64 and wrote a program that made an ascii bird fly across the screen. My children would laugh now at the simplicity of what I was doing, but at the time it was such an incredible eye-opener for me. I was changing things, building things, making things with a machine. I knew then that I was going to do this for the rest of my life. And I was right. 
It was the first time I laid eyes on my (now) wife. We were just babies then, not expecting that a chance encounter between a Canadian and American at summer camp in Wisconsin would end in over 15 years of marriage, three children, and a dog. But I did know—from the first conversation we had. 
Those are some of my moments. 
As a foodie, I am lucky enough to experience another kind of special life moment. Foodies have these distinct moments where culinary experiences suddenly connect with their inner being. The first time I cooked dinner for my family, the first time I sampled a truly great wine that I could feel from my mouth all the way down to my toes, the first time I met a chef I admired, the first time I paired cheese with beer, the first time one of my recipe blog posts went viral. Special moments that revolve around food and are cherished. It's what makes us foodies. And that’s the unique thing about my recent visit to Jade Mountain Resort in St. Lucia. I was able to experience both. 
It didn’t take me long to look out at the view from my private sanctuary to realize I was IN IT, it was one of those life moments. Owners Nick and Karolin Troubetzkoy spent years building a true architectural wonder into the side of a cliff-face, where each unique room offers its very own Majordomo butler—complete with personal pager—an in-room infinity pool, and an open fourth wall that looks out onto the Piton Mountains and the Caribbean Sea below. To be in a stunning natural setting and have my wife Ali there to share it with me — truly special.
And as a foodie, it took me almost no time to realize that this luxury life experience came intertwined with a very exciting culinary experience. In terms of dining options at the resort you have your pick—you can eat beach side, or at the Treehouse Restaurant (literally in the trees among the birds) or at the exclusive Jade Mountain Club. You can eat at the vegetarian restaurant or have a great Indian experience by the water. And you can even choose to eat in the comfort of your own sanctuary. Each meal was a delicious delight, always highlighting fresh and local ingredients. What they like to call "Jade Cuisine".
But it should really come as no surprise that I ate well at high-end resort restaurants. The beauty of Jade Mountain, though, is that you aren’t just there to eat, you are there to experience food to its essence. 
For top-end travel, the palette has pushed its way to the front of the priority queue. Culinary pursuits now take an equal footing to excellent service, beautiful rooms, amenities and activities. Vacationers are looking for food experiences such as in-room dining options and food-based excursions. This message has been received loud and clear at Jade Mountain where a deluxe vacation resort has stepped up to the plate in all things culinary. Chefs are top-notch, menus are vast and varied. And with several food festivals a year—including Cooking In Paradise, Mango Madness, Spices of the Caribbean, and Discover Chocolate—food is not just something to eat at Jade Mountain, it’s something to immerse yourself in. 
During our visit to Jade Mountain during this year's Discover Chocolate event we took a day trip with a number of guests to the resort’s dual property: Emerald Estate Cacao Plantation and Organic Farm. Along with James Beard Award winner, Chef Allen Susser and Executive Chef Jonathan Dearden we learned the ins-and-outs of where Jade Mountains and sister-resort Anse Chastanet’s delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners originate. We got to walk through the rows of microgreens, to taste and smell the intense flavors of the lush produce they have at their fingertips. We got to sample the fruit straight off of the trees that filled the lush hillsides. Mangos, lime, oranges, cinnamon bark... And we got to pick and crack open a cocoa pod — the star of that week's culinary show. Bright yellow, strong smelling, with an inside that is fleshy and sticky — the fruit is nearly unrecognizable from the finished product we are used to. We listened and watched the process of how a cocoa plant becomes a delicious piece of chocolate—from the flesh-covered seeds of the cocoa fruit to the fermenting process to the sun drying and crushing to create unsweetened cocoa nibs. And then we also got to do it ourselves. We got our hands down and dirty inside bowls of melted chocolate to make our very own truffles.
Throughout the days long event the celebration of chocolate was felt everywhere on the resort. From chocolate inspired menu items, drinks and snacks to tastings of various types and quality of chocolate to chocoalte and wine pairings. Even the most ardent cocoa fan was sure to get their fill. I could see on the faces of all of the chocolate enthusiasts who attended the multiple workshops, classes and tastings that they too were having a 'moment.' Talking with skilled chefs and chocolatiers; cooking and creating with fresh, locally made produce. When you are immersed in something you absolutely love, and share that passion with others around you for a period of time. It is truly magical. 
The scientific name for cocoa is Theobroma Cacao. Theo meaning 'gods' and broma 'foods.' The level to which Jade Mountain elevated our experience in all things chocolate truly made it a food of the gods. And for that time, in that place and for that moment we were treated like the gods of chocolate. One of those special moments I will carry and treasure in my pocket of memories forever.
What are YOUR moments?

Make the most of your vacation to a sunny destination by planning ahead. Don’t miss these other articles that will help you and your family have the holiday you deserve.


Ricotta Gnudi Recipe

Your kids' new favourite pasta will be the one you make them at home!

Ricotta Gnudi Recipe

Be careful how you word it when you ask your friends if they'd like to check out your gnudis (with a silent 'g' it's pronounced "nudey.") However, they'll all fall in love with this ricotta-based football-shaped pasta that's as fluffy as clouds. Gnudi is similar to gnocchi — it's a soft, thick pasta made with flour and egg but is lighter because it's main ingredient is ricotta cheese. The consistency can almost be compared to a matzoh ball — but oh-so-much-more delicious! When I learned that this year's Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Champion cheese—and award sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada—hailed from my own city of Vaughan I figured that it would only be fitting to do a recipe as an homage to Vaughan's Quality Cheese Ricotta (the first fresh cheese to ever win the award). Congrats!

I adapted the recipe to use whole grain flour and the results are just as delicious. My kids LOVED it! The recipe takes a little bit of work up front but once you get the hang of it you'll be cranking out gnudis like a real pro. Serve with your favourite pasta sauce and some freshly grated Grana Padano over top. Delicious! 


800g/25oz ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2/3 cup grated Grana Padano cheese, plus more for serving
2/3 cup whole meal flour

4 cups pasta sauce, for serving

 Mix the ricotta, egg, egg yolk, salt, pepper and Grana Padano in a large bowl until combined. Add flour and mix until mixture forms into a 'dough.' Do not over-mix, there should be visible ricotta remaining.

 Dust a baking sheet with white flour and using two large spoons form heaping tablespoons of dough into football shapes. Dust over top of the formed gnudi with more flour.

 Cook gnudi in a large pot of salted boiling water, until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon divide gmudi among bowls, top with pasta sauce and more Grana Padano cheese. Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings

Adapted from Bon Appetit