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5 low-carb Christmas recipe ideas

Christmas foods may offer temptation and delight, but if you’re interested in a more low-carb Christmas, maybe for personal of health reasons, Women’s Post has got you covered. Here are five low carb christmas recipe ideas to enjoy over the holidays.

Parmesan Spinach Bake

If you’re thinking about replacing the side order of mac and cheese at the dinner table, this creamy parmesan spinach bake will leave you wanting more. It simply a combination of spinach, cream cheese, and parmesan

Thyme and Honey Roasted Carrots

This can be such an elegant dish once prepared the right way, You can choose to keep the carrots whole or cut them lengthwise while baking and sprinkle with thyme and honey.

Studded Peppers with Bacon and Blue Cheese

It doesn’t get more delicious than mixing blue cheese with bacon. These stuffed peppers can be cut in quarters to offer up as an appetizer.

Baked Cajun Shrimp with Lemon

The perfect combination of spices and zing will make your shrimp burst with juicy flavour as you slowly let it bake in a bed of lemon cajun juice. Talk about adding some heat to your holidays.

Low Carb Coconut Chocolate Mousse

This easy to make chocolate treat will be the perfect finish to your holiday meals. It’s also dairy free and egg free. Simply combine coconut cream, cocoa powder and chocolate to whip up the most creamy and chocolatey dessert.

What will you be making for Christmas dinner? Let us know in the comments below!

Best of Britain on the Great Canadian Baking Show

It was the “Best of Britain” on the Great Canadian Baking Show, an homage to the Great British Bake Off no doubt. There was lots of tea…and lots of booze in this week’s show — and that made for an excellent combination.

The first challenge was a “majestic trifle”, something I have never made but now really want to. A trifle is an English dessert with layers of alcohol-soaked sponge, fruit, jelly, and custard. It is often served in a glass bowl so that the layers are visible to guests. This also means it is very easy to see all of your baking flaws. As judge Bruno Feldeisen said, “Trifles are like window shopping.” You know exactly what you are going to get.

The bakers rose to the challenge though, each one creating a nearly perfect looking trifle. I have to say the women really showcased their talents. Sabrina’s swirling sponge on the bottom of her trifle wowed the judges, and Vandana’s mango and tapioca pearls was truly creative.

One of my favourite moments was when Linda made her custard in the microwave. The judges were skeptical, assuming that without the constant whisking on low heat the item would curdle. Linda confidently said this was how she baked bustard at home and went about her business. When it came time to test her trifle, the judges were surprised at how nice the custard tasted. This wasn’t just a win for Linda, but a win for many of us who use things like microwaves, toaster ovens, and substitutions in our baking.

The baker’s technical challenge was to make 20 brandy snaps in one and a half hours. At first I thought a brandy snap was a cookie, but it’s actually a tubular brittle wafer filled with brandy-flavoured whipped cream. The hard part? You can only make three brandy snaps at a time. The batter expands and creates very thin doily-like wafer that you have to roll into a tube as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Even James, who is from the U.K., said he would never make these at home. Almost no one got these perfect.

The final show-stopping challenge was, of course, to bake treats for a British high tea. The bakers were asked to create three treats, with at least one savoury. The key was to create small, elegant items that were tied together with a theme.  Vandana surprised the judges yet again with an Indian-inspired collection of treats, beautifully decorated with flowers and gold accents. Sabrina’s peach-themed tea was also incredibly elegant.

The women were incredibly impressive this week, which meant the two boys were in danger of going home. At the end of the day, James was saved thanks to his “ugly but delicious” baking. Julian D’Entremont from halifax was sent home after a few missteps with his desserts.

Vandana, obviously, was named star baker this week!

It’s getting harder and harder to predict who is going home each week. Every single baker is ridiculously talented. I fell in love with Julian’s rustic-inspired bakes and his East Coast flare, but with only five bakers left, the competition is bound to get a bit more intense!

What did you think of this week’s episode?

5 places to dine in Toronto this winter

Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean the fun has to end. A friend of mine said that her favourite thing to do is dress up and go out for dinner, a casual lunch or even an early morning breakfast. So here are five recommended spots by Women’s Post to dine this winter in Toronto.

Copacabana Brazilian Rodizio

You don’t have to go all they way to Brazil to experience an authentic way of cooking grilled Brazilian foods. Copacabana has four locations in Canada and two are based in downtown Toronto. This unique style of serving food is similar to many rodizio’s around the world. Rodizio refers to an all you can eat style Brazilian steakhouse, where servers bring large skewers of meats and grilled vegetables ( but mostly meat) around to your table and they carve off slices. The servers keep coming until you over indicate with a card you wish not to be served. Copacabana Toronto also adds lively Brazilian flair to their atmosphere by having samba dancers performing on Fridays and Saturdays as well as an aerial silk performer.

Blu Ristorante

As the name may suggest, this restaurant is self-proclaimed as the number one Italian restaurant in Toronto. It has actually been the recipient of Open Table’s Diner’s Choice for the past seven years in a row. This Yorkville-based restaurant offers an intimate and formal dining space with the ambiance of live music. Expect menu choices such as braised octopus with black kale pesto and fettuccine with Nova Scotia lobster tail, calamari and tiger prawn. Blu is the place to enjoy great Italian food and a wide selection of wine in a warm and inviting space.

Cactus Club Cafe

This trendy Adelaide West restaurant,located in the heart of the financial district is a personal favourite, no matter the season, Cactus Club Cafe will give you a lively and upbeat atmosphere even on a dreary Monday night. There are three levels to choose from, and a heated rooftop for those milder winter nights featuring a live DJ. With prompt and friendly service, you will certainly enjoy this restaurant as you dine on the creations of culinary masters and specially crafted cocktails for each season. This winter, bar operations manager Kris Jensen introduced two new seasonal creations, the Whiskey Ginger Smash and the LateHarvest Daiquiri with hints of Saskatoon berry and elderflower.

La Banane

Voted as one of the best new restaurants of 2017 by Toronto Life, La Banane offers eclectic french cuisine to the streets of Toronto. Located on Ossington Avenue, this stunning spot offers a fresh raw bar with mussels, oysters, shrimp, crab, lobster, and scallops. Obviously, all that seafood pairs will the abundance of wine that this french bistro has to offer. La Banane is led by Chef Brandon Olsen, who has curated the menu consisting of his personal french inspired food passions.

Cacao 70

One of the key points of going out to eat in the winter is that you want to feel comfortable and cozy. Cacao 70 is located in the Distillery District and offers a Queen W. location as well. This popular chocolate drinking bar, originated in Montreal, but has slowly spread all over Canada. It is not just all about their speciality of Chocolate, but the restaurant offers the experience of using Chocolate in different flavour adventures. Enjoy drinks like Black Sesame hot cocoa and Champurrado, which features  hot chocolate with spicy cinnamon and whipped cream.

What’s your favourite Toronto restaurant?

The true origins of the Lord of the Dead. Read if you dare!

When most people talk about the history of Halloween, their mind turns to Spain and Mexico, and the Day of the Dead. It’s a commonly known holiday in which the people honour those who have passed away by visiting them at their graves and leaving behind gifts or possessions.

But, the history and culture of Halloween goes back even further.

The American version of Halloween today draws a very real resemblance to the European gaelic festival called Samhain. When we think of Halloween today, we think of costumes, a chance to be something or someone different, candy, carved pumpkins, and sinister things that lurk in the night. But, in reality this version of Halloween, or All’ Hallows Eve is mostly manufactured by corporations and candy companies — and no, this isn’t some conspiracy theory.

The festival of Samhain is is celebrated on October 31st in the pagan celtic calendar and marks the beginning of the long winter months. The traditions of this festival can be traced back all the way to the 10th century, where it was named after Samhain, Lord of the Dead. The festival is supposed to give people time to take stock of their lives and prepare for the coming of the colder months. Dead crops are stripped from the land.

The festival also represented a period in time where the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest.

The celtic people of Ireland long celebrated Samhain before the arrival of Christianity. The celtic people were migrants of the Roman Empire across Europe and often travelled with tales of mystery and myth, sharing folklore in various communities and speaking in direct opposition to the teachings of early Christianity. Spirituality, magic and superstition were all beliefs held in the Celtic culture. The people  believed in the connection of the land with the universe and that life continues after death. During the time of Samhain, when the darkness of winter arrived, so did unwanted spirits. They held bonfires, dressing in dead animal skins and praying to the Gods to ward off evil spirits. It was a festival of gathering and community.

Another reason the Celtic people dressed in dead animal skins or disguised themselves as ghoulish figures was to protect themselves from wandering evil spirits. The spirits would recognize them as one of their own and leave the celtic people alone.

The Lord of the Dead was not only feared, but revered. The people appealed to him in order to ensure that lost souls could be reborn. During Samhain, there are similar traditions and links to Halloween we see today — the dressing up as ghoulish figures, and the presentation of gifts, often something sweet to the Lord of the Dead. The Celtic people were even known to carve turnips to mark ancestors.

The traditions and myths of  the Celtics have been reconditioned under Christianity and has changed the way we see Halloween. Samhain was the original event to which Halloween was marketed, and similar traditions can even be seen in other cultures, for instance the Day of the Dead celebrated in Mexico to mark the memory of past ancestors.

Traditionally, Samhain is celebrated by the Irish, Scottish and even those that practice wicca. Wiccans often see the holiday as the beginning of the spiritual new year. While Samhain has not been replaced by Christianity, the Christian calendar instead celebrates All Soul’s Day on November 1st to pay tribute to Pope Gregory III.  To celebrate All Soul’s Day, people and members of the Christian church were encouraged to pay tribute to the saints by making little soul cakes or bread that represented a blessed Christian soul.

Leave a comment below on what makes Halloween creepy for you!