OOOHHHH the weather, shopping malls, highways and grocery stores are all frightful….but don’t despair…the holidays can still be delightful!

Listed below are a couple quick tricks, tips and short cuts to ensure that you get to enjoy your holiday and are not stuck in line at the mall or slaving away at the stove.  Hope they help!

Last Minute Gift Shopping: Whether you are shopping for actual Christmas gifts or hostess presents, I would recommend avoiding the malls and head to some of the amazing stores the Hamilton Halton & Niagara region has to offer.  If you are looking for:

Wine or Beer: Head out to wine country!  It’s right outside your backdoor! Not only will the drive through the scenic and breath taking wine route totally relax you, you will also find some amazing and unusual gifts to surprise your friends and family!  There are simply too many wineries to count, but check out  www.winesofontario.ca for a complete wine country map.  If you are really strapped for time, head to the LCBO.  Some of my favourites right now are Fat Bastard Shiraz, Liberty Schoolhouse, Grey Fox, Creemore Springs, The Oatmeal Stout or Green Apple Beer from Nickelbrook Beers…the list is endless

Hostess Gifts/Stocking Stuffers: What better things to give someone who loves food than a delicious treat for them to indulge or a new ingredient or utensil for them to play with in the kitchen!  Head out to Denningers, Greensville Gourmet or Dyment’s Fruit Market (just to name a few) to pick up a really funky sauce, preserve or yummy morsel.  My favourites from Dyment’s are their Butter tarts!  Even though they are famous for their pies, it’s their butter tarts that just make my mouth water.  A pack of 6 with a great bottle of wine would be a fabulous hostess gift!

Last Minute Shopping for Your Holiday Dinner: Head to the Farmer’s Market! Your entire meal can be purchased at a Farmer’s Market, saving you from the hassle of the too crazy and cramped grocery stores.  There is tons of parking available at the Farmers Market, and the cheeriest people to help you plan out the meal for the entire family (a stressful feat as we all know!)  Here are the hours for Hamilton’s Farmers Market http://www.hamilton.ca/CultureandRecreation/HamiltonFarmersMarket/

Quick Fix Appetizers: Two of my go-to favs are:

Sweet & Smoky Pecans: they are quick, cost effective and easy to make at home.  They are also a unique item, not usually seen on the average appetizer list, especially if you serve them as single portions in red & green cupcake paper liners. The protein the nuts also keeps your guest satisfied in case dinner runs a bit late.  Please check out the recipe here http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/quick-recipes/dinner/guilt-free-holiday-recipes/

Saigon Soul Fine Foods: This store on James ST South, Hamilton has some of the most amazing spring rolls I have ever tasted!  You can pre order a batch from them (sauce and all) and have them all ready cooked or fresh and ready to be popped in the oven!  The Spring Rolls are full of natural flavours, they add an authentic and eclectic taste to your traditional holiday menu and aid in satisfying both the meat eaters and vegetarians in the crowd!

Quick Dessert for Dozens: Dads Cookies (If dad’s making them, you know there are not a ton of steps)  All you need in a couple of boxes of Mr. Christies chocolate wafers, a quart of whipping cream, a pinch of sugar and a splash of vanilla.  Whip the whipping cream with sugar and vanilla until it is light and fluffy.  Then dollop the whip cream on the wafers and continue to layer with another dollop of whip cream and wafer (I usually do about 3 or 4 layers in total).  You can top them with festive sprinkles or chocolate shavings.  Throw the tray of cookies in the fridge for an hour or two while everyone is enjoying dinner.  That’s it! You’re done! They take 10 minutes to make, but are always a HUGE hit with kids and adults alike.  Not only are they delicious, they are so much fun to eat because the whip cream oozes out!  It also cuts down on your pile of dirty dishes because no dessert plates are necessary…just big napkins!  I can’t wait to indulge tonight

Happy Holidays to you and yours!  Hope your festivities are filled with great company and event better Food & Drink!

Cheers

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