Simplifying Your Traditions

It’s easy to get caught up in the too muchness that comes with this time of year. Regardless of your personal holiday traditions, there are gifts for teachers, cards to be mailed, travel planning, parties and concerts. Once you get caught up in the whole winter season it can be hard to find that bit of space to relax.

In the past, my husband and I found our bit of space by dividing up the children’s concerts (one year we had five concerts in a span of two weeks). We’ve likewise juggled our party invitations. And last year we bought absolutely everyone the same gift (coffee shop gift cards work for teachers and grandparents)!

Here are three recipes that are designed for both comfort and relaxation. They are simple, healthy and delicious. Perfect for adding a bit of serenity to the season.

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Light & Frothy 5-Minute Eggnog (Time: 5 minutes)

Whether you love store-bought eggnog or not, this recipe is for you. While the ingredients and flavours are similar to a carton of eggnog, this frothy drink is pretty different from the custard-based eggnog you are probably used to. Best of all, it only takes 5 minutes to prepare! It’s sure to be a new holiday favourite.

4 eggs (separated into yolks and whites)

1⁄3 cup of powdered sugar, to taste

2 cups milk

1 cup whipping cream

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1. Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a large bowl, and the whites in a container for whipping. (My stand mixer has a bowl, but a tall sided measuring cup works as well).

2. Beat egg yolks with a whisk until the colour starts to lighten (about 1 minute).

3. Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved.

4. Stir in milk, cream, and nutmeg.

5. Whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Don’t over mix or the foam will collapse. This is much quicker using an electric eggbeater or stand mixer. Just make sure your bowl has tall sides or it may splash as you whip.

6. When the egg whites are a nice thick foam, gently fold them into the egg yolk mixture. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within 3 hours. This recipe uses a lot less sugar than traditional eggnog, so if it’s not sweet enough, feel free to add a dusting of icing sugar.

7. This recipe contains raw eggs, so it is not recommended for pregnant women, children under the age of 1 year, or anyone who may be immunocompromised.

Cheesy Green Pancakes

Vegetable and cheese pancakes for dinner? Yes please! This easy meal packs all the food groups into a form that kids love. If you think your kids might balk at the onion and garlic, then feel free to skip it. But it really adds a lot of flavour to these pancakes.

Pancakes

1 bunch of greens

3 Tbsp of diced onion (chard, kale or spinach)

1 clove of garlic

3 eggs

1 cup of ricotta or cottage cheese

2 Tbsp oil

1⁄2 cup flour

1⁄2 tsp salt

Toppings

Cheddar cheese

Sliced tomato

Scrambled eggs

Sour cream

Bacon bits

Diced green onion

1. Wash and trim the greens, removing the stems. You want about 3 cups of loosely packed greens.

2. Place the greens in a blender with the onion and garlic. Add the eggs, cheese and oil. Blend until the greens are fully pureed. Add the flour and salt. Pulse a few more times to fully mix.

3. Warm a frying pan on medium heat.

4. Pour in 1⁄4 cup of batter.

5. The pancake is ready to flip when it is bubbling in the middle and dry around the edges. Flip, then cook the other side for about 1 minute.

6. Serve immediately or keep warm in a 300°F oven until all the pancakes are ready to serve.

7. We enjoy eating these pancakes like open-faced sandwiches with cheese, tomato and egg. They’re also delicious with baked potato toppings.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup (Time: 30 minutes)

I first encountered this particular red lentil soup when cycling through northern Turkey. It was the only thing available for dinner at the local bar/restaurant/cafe that was the only place to eat in the small town where we were staying. At the time, it felt the most amazing dish I had ever enjoyed. Likely a healthy dose of hunger was one of the main ingredients. Regardless, it is still one of my favourite comfort meals.

A simple, one-pot dish that is warmly flavoured (without being too spicy). The red paprika oil isn’t necessary, but it does add a bit of seasonality to this otherwise very easy dish.

Soup:

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 large onions

2 large carrots

1 can of tomato paste

1 Tbsp cumin

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried mint

1⁄2 tsp thyme

1⁄2 tsp oregano

1⁄2 tsp black pepper

2 cups red lentils

4 cups water

4 cups broth

1 tsp salt, to taste

Red paprika oil:

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp paprika (sweet or hot)

1⁄2 tsp red pepper flakes

1. Chop the onion and carrots. They don’t need to be finely diced as the soup is pureed before serving.

2. Saute the vegetables in olive oil until the onions are sweating, about 3 minutes.

3. Add in the herbs and spices and toss to coat the vegetables. Then add in the tomato paste, stir and cook for 1 minute.

4. Add in the lentils, water, broth and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pot halfway with the lid and leave it to simmer until the lentils have fallen apart, about 15 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, make the paprika oil by mixing the oil, paprika and red pepper flakes together in a small pot. Warm the oil on medium until you see the paprika just starting to bubble, immediately remove from the heat and set aside.

6. When the lentils are cooked, puree the soup with a stick blender or traditional blender. Taste and add more salt if necessary. The exact amount will depend on the saltiness of the broth.

7. Serve with a drizzle of paprika oil.

Emillie Parrish
Emillie Parrishhttp://emillieparrish.com/
Emillie Parrish loves having adventures with her two busy children. She lives in Victoria and is the author of the fermentation-based blog fermentingforfoodies.com.