Happy New Year!

I hope you had a fantastic holiday season and rung in the new year in style. If you were lucky, your stocking was full of all sorts of items to help you entertain all year round.

One such item I was pleased to receive was the Cuisipro Ice Cream Scoop and Stack. This kitchen tool cuts cylinder shape blocks of ice cream that can be stacked on a cone or used for creative dessert presentation. Just think how fabulous you could make a scoop of coffee ice cream look adorned with three chocolate covered espresso beans on a small white plate. Simple, delicious and so easy.

Available in green and pink, it's dishwasher safe and can be found under $20 at most kitchen shops.

It Was The Night Before Christmas

Between shopping and wrapping, baking and decorating, you have completely forgot about prepping Christmas morning breakfast. Not to worry, Best of Bridge's Christmas Wife Saver Recipe to the rescue. This delicious recipe always puts a smile on everyone's face Christmas morning and I love the ease of popping it in the oven and returning to the festivities.

Wishing you a bright and happy holiday season!


• 16 slices of Bread
• 16 slices Black Forest Ham
• 6 Eggs
• 2 tbsp Cornflakes (crushed)
• 2 cups Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
• 1/2 cup Margarine
• 1/4 cup Onions and green peppers
• 3 cups Milk
• 1-2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
• 1/2 tsp Salt

How to make Christmas Wife Saver:
• Put 8 bread slices in a large roaster or cake pan.
• Put cheddar and ham slices to cover.
• Top again with 8 slices of bread.
• Mix remaining ingredients except margarine and cornflakes.
• Beat the mixture well and pour it over bread.
• Let it stand overnight in refrigerator. Remove in the morning.
• Melt the margarine and pour over all.
• Sprinkle with cornflakes.
• Now bake it at 350 degrees F for about 50 minutes.
• Christmas Wife Saver is ready

A Last Minute Foodie Gift

Looking for a last minute gift? I received a fabulous present from a great friend of mine at our annual open house last week. It was a Make Your Own Vanilla Extract Kit. Produced by Vancouver’s own Maison Cote (www.maisoncote.com), it was a glass bottle with five whole organic vanilla beans and a recipe for the extract ($10). Add a small bottle of vodka and your gift recipient is ready to make the extract plus have extras for mixing a couple of martinis! So simple and unique.

Available at Edible British Columbia in Granville Island. Or for those who would like to create their own kits, here is the recipe below:

How to Make Vanilla Extract

Commercial vanilla extract usually has simple syrup (sugar water) added to the extract to give it a sweet aftertaste. You can do this if you want, but if you are using the vanilla for baking, there really is no need.


5 vanilla beans
200 ml. vodka


Use clean kitchen scissors or a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end connected.

Put vanilla beans in a bottle with a cork. Cover completely with the vodka.

Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer.

Lasts for years. You can keep topping it off with vodka once in a while as you use it, just remember to give it a good shake.

Stained Glass Cookies

One of my favourite baked goods to make over the holiday season is the stained glass cookie. These beautiful cookies are very simple and look absolutely beautiful on a platter or hanging on a Christmas tree.

Simply, make a batch of sugar cookies. One of the best recipes I have is from "Company Is Coming" (See recipe below). Purchase a couple sets of cookie cutters – I like using a big star and little star or a big tree and little tree, although you could use any number of shapes. Cut out the first cookie with the big cutter and then make a second cut, mirroring the image with the little cutter. Remove the cut made from the little cutter.

Purchase two rolls of lifesavers and separate by color. Crush up the lifesavers and sprinkle about 1/2 of a lifesaver into the opening made by the small cutter. Bake cookies as per the recipe. When they come out of the oven, the lifesaver has melted and made a small stained glass centre in every cookie.

A beautiful and tasty treat!

Jean Pare of Company’s Coming

1 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter and sugar together well. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add
vanilla. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt. Roll out thickness of pie
crust on lightly floured surface. Cut into 3 inch cookies. Bake in 350F
oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen.

And In The Morning, I'm Making Waffles

For those looking to make breakfast time a little more special over the holiday season, look no further than a waffle maker. I bought one a year ago for under $35 and it has remained front and centre in our kitchen cupboard. Nothing is easier than whipping up some batter, pouring it into the maker and waiting a few minutes for the perfect waffle.

The trick to good waffles is all in the batter. Well, Williams-Sonoma (www.williams-sonoma.ca) has made it foolproof with their Bellegem Waffle Mix. At $12, it feels a little pricey but it will make four breakfasts for two and is worth every penny. The waffles are crisp on the outside, moist on the inside and absolutely delicious.

Looking for a new dessert idea, "wow" your guests with freshly baked waffles topped with ice cream and fresh fruit or caramel sauce. Plus, any extras can be frozen and toasted at a later date.

Bellegem Waffle Mix is available through Williams-Sonoma and is priced at $12 CAN for one 20 oz container.

A Seussical Inspired Centrepiece

Looking for a whimsical centerpiece for your holiday table this year? Look no further than Yaletown’s Divine Vines. For the second year running, they are the official home of the “Grinch Tree.” These adorable trees are fully decked out with colored bobbles, bows and seasonal foliage.

Available in an assortment of color combinations (I went for the red and silver!), they would also make a fabulous hostess gift. Trees start at $29.99 for the mini version. Order online at www.divinevines.ca.

My Favourite Find of the Season: The Brie Baker

I was recently at the Hycroft Christmas Sale and came across a brie baker at one of the local potter's stalls. These beautiful dishes are designed to go from oven to table and fit a small brie wheel perfectly. They help maintain the brie wheel shape while its being baked, making the presentation all the more beautiful while ensuring you get a healthy scoop of brie with each cracker. Say good-bye to flattened brie wheels brought on by baking dishes that are just too big.

Priced anywhere between $22 and $32, you can find them at Granville Island pottery shops or for those who like to shop online, check out Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?ref=cat2_galley_4&listing_id=16690698).

For an easy baked brie recipe, top wheel with one tablespoon of brown sugar, one tablespoon of chopped dried apricots or dried cranberries along with one tablespoon of slivered almonds. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. A crowd pleaser every time!

Three Book Ideas for The Entertainer On Your Holiday List

With Christmas comes new releases - games, dvds, cds and books. Perfectly timed to make gift giving that much easier. Every year, I especially look forward to the cookbooks that emerge and these three are definitely on my list.

Nigella Lawson, England's vivacious chef, entertainer and hostess releases her first Christmas themed book. Packed full of traditional recipes and modern twists on old classics, this book is described as minimizing stress around holiday entertaining and maximizing entertainment. I'm sold.

West: The Cookbook by Warren Geraghty

For anyone who has had the opportunity to dine in Vancouver at this South Granville gem, you will appreciate the opportunity to recreate the food at home with one hundred of their best recipes. There is an emphasis on fresh and local ingredients, so this book is good for those interested in sustainable cooking.

Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook by Martha Stewart

Good for all levels of home cooks, this book is sorted by cooking technique and features over 500 step-by-step color pictures. The book has over 200 new recipes and goes beyond the basics by discussing equipment and ingredients in detail. It is a beautiful book and should make every budding Martha Stewart in your family very, very, happy.

All three books may be purchased online through http://www.amazon.ca/ and range between $30 and $35 each with amazon's discounted pricing.

A winter dinner party for cheese lovers

As November draws to a close, Christmas decor and entertaining moves in full swing. For many of us, the holiday season is one of the busiest when it comes to entertaining. Instead of throwing your usual open house, why not try hosting a couple smaller dinner parties and spend quality time with your guests.

To ensure you don't spend all your time in the kitchen, prepare a meal where everyone can participate. One of my favs for the winter season is a fondue party. For those of you who don't own a fondue pot and live in the Vancouver area, visit Les Amis Du Fromage in Vancouver (http://www.buycheese.com/). If you purchase cheese from their shop, they will loan you a fondue pot for the evening. Excellent cheese fondue recipes can also be found on their site and the staff are incredibly helpful. Looking for a twist on the fondue party, have everyone over for raclette. Les Amis Du fromage will lend raclette machines too.

Cut up some crusty bread, toss a side salad, offer a selection of sliced meats with a crisp white wine and enjoy!

Perfect Fall Hostess Gift

My favourite hostess gift for fall or a great way to dress up your dining table is to use a mini-pumpkin as a vase. I usually pick a pumpkin about 5 to 6 inches in diameter and hollow it out. Fill the pumpkin halfway up with water and arrange an assortment of orange and yellow Gerber daisies - sunflowers will also work well. Add some greenery in between the flowers. I promise your guests will ooh and aah plus the arrangement will only cost you about $10 total with the pumpkin and take ten minutes to complete.



After years of event planning both personally and professionally, I want to share my favourite tips, recipes and products with fellow event divas who share my passion for hosting fabulous events. I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of entertaining and am always seeking new ways to wow my guests. Planning an event? Need a new recipe for a dinner party? Feel free to contact me.

Happy planning!

Amber Orchard