I have been loving this Christmas playlist on Songza. No offence to Mariah’s Merry Christmas but her playlist let me down. Nothing beats singing All I Want for Christmas is You in the car though!
My housies had our Secret Santa exchange and I got this awesome tea infuser and Forever Nuts tea from David’s Tea (thank you Joey!!) Highly recommend this one-cup tea infuser that comes with a sturdy lid and coaster and this tea is AMAZING. "…Within seconds, this tempting jumble of almond slices and chunks, apple bits and cinnamon bark starts turning a crazy shade of pink. Why? Because it contains a hint of beetroot. That’s what gives this rich almond tea its earthy depth and its all-natural signature colour." Need I say anymore?
Now onto the Christmas Gift Guide (belly edition).
December is always an expensive month, and one money-saver solution is to bake. Not a baker? You’re bound to attend at least one potluck this season so rather than buying frozen appetizers or volunteering to bring “water” to a potluck (…) I’ve included a brand new potluck pleaser recipe that’s simple, healthy, festive, and sure to impress! (Michael and I already made it twice and quite possibly onto our third time for the next potluck…).
The other Christmas recipes are tried and true and great gifts to give to your special someone! Seriously, put it in a Christmas looking tin box or a mason jar, tie some ribbon and you are good to go! $5. Bam.
Quinoa, Butternut, Kale and Chicken Pilaf (an original 55 Essex recipe!)
Yields ~6 servings
1 small butternut squash
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups quinoa
1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped finely
1 onion, diced
2 chicken breasts (or ground chicken) brined*
1/2 cup cranberries
1/4 cup pinenuts or sunflower seeds
salt and pepper
**How to brine chicken:Place chicken breasts (thawed or frozen is fine) in a Freezer ziploc. Fill with 2 cups water, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar). Give it a good shake! Leave in fridge overnight. This is an awesome trick to do with any meats that tend to get dry or tough when you cook it (i.e pork chops, chicken breast).
1. Preheat oven 375 degrees F.
2. Cut off the two ends of the butternut squash. Cut widthwise in half. Cut in half again but lengthwise. Place squash facing down so you have a sturdy base and slice 1” slices.
3. On a foiled baking sheet, coat squash with olive oil and cinnamon (such a nice touch!). Bake for 20-30 minutes. Do not cook through! It should be soft enough to slice a knife through but firm enough where it’s difficult to take the knife out.
4. Cook quinoa using my rice cooker technique! Feel free to substitute half the water for chicken broth.
5. Slice chicken into strips and fry in a large frying pan. Once browned but not fully cooked, remove from pan. Add kale and onions until softened. You may need to add some water to deglaze the pan. Add chicken back in with cranberries and pinenuts and season with salt and pepper.
6. Chop the squash into cubes, and add to pan. Add quinoa and mix well.
Christmas Gift Goodies Guide:
- double chocolate candy cane cookies: my #1 christmas cookie!!
- cookie dough bars with pretzel topping: for the cookie dough lover.
- pb & j thumbprint cookies: for every season. And it’s me in a cookie.
- pumpkin ginger cookies: for those who can’t decide whether they’re a pumpkin spice latte or gingerbread latte kind of person.
- healthy cranberry orange coffee cake: a great coffee cake for Christmas morning.
There you have it! Lots of recipes to get you geared up for the Christmas season. Happy eating!