holiday cooking


Rotisserie Chicken Empanadas (Grab and Go)

This post has been sponsored by Loblaws. Although they have provided me with financial compensation and products, my opinions and words are all my own. I am in partnership with Loblaws and will be bringing blog posts and recipes throughout the rest of the year, and all partnered posts will be marked as sponsored.

There is nothing better to me than being able to head into the kitchen and unwind, put some music on, and cook up a storm. Cooking is very therapeutic for me, and not something I view as a stress, but rather something I look forward to. I often get teased by friends and acquaintances for the fact that at any given time I have hundreds of pages of magazines and cookbooks dog eared with notes about how I want to make them or make them to my liking.

That being said, even people like me who live to be in the kitchen, have days where they just don’t have the time or the energy to whip up a delicious meal. This is where the ready-made section of the grocery store comes in.

Loblaws ready-made foods have been a favourite of mine ever since I’ve lived on my own. The packaged salads, baked goods, soups and more have always made the perfect addition to my grocery lists each week, making sure I always have something fresh and ready for the days I’m feeling tired. They’re also great for the days when I don’t have any food in the fridge and can walk down to the Maple Leaf Gardens location and pick something up that’s just as good as if I made it myself.

My absolute go-to favourite though is Loblaws Rotisserie Chicken- in particular, the barbeque one. It is such an old faithful, and there hasn’t been a time I’ve picked one up that I’ve been disappointed. So, when for this month’s #FoodLoversUnite I was challenged to develop a recipe using one of the Grab and Go items, I knew exactly what I wanted to use.

Knowing that the rotisserie chicken already had a ton of flavour, I wanted to develop a recipe that could piggyback off of some of those flavours, helping to complement them and build off of them. Since the weather in Toronto has already started to get cold and snowy, I also wanted something that would be comforting and warm, plus make you feel good as soon as you ate it. That’s how I ended up making rotisserie chicken empanadas! 


  1. 250g Shredded Rotisserie Chicken (a mix of the breast meat and dark meats works well)
  2. ½ Cup cream cheese (softened)
  3. 1 Package of Taco Seasoning Mix
  4. ⅓ Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese 
  5. ¼ Cup Sour cream 
  6. ¼ Cup chopped chives
    1 Package of Refrigerated Pizza Dough (or readymade pizza dough from the grab and go section)
  7. 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine chicken, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, sour cream and mix until well combined. Add taco seasoning and chives, stirring to combine. Set aside
  3. Roll the pizza dough until ½” thick and cut out 2 ½” rounds (a lid from a can works nicely for this). Discard the scraps
  4. Place a small spoonful of the chicken mixture (about 1.5-2 Tsp) in the center of each round, and fold the dough over, crimping the edges with a fork. Repeat until you are out of chicken
  5. Beat the egg in a small bowl, and using a brush, brush each empanada with egg (this will help them brown nicely in the oven)
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown 
  7. Serve with guacamole and sour cream and enjoy!

If you want to make this and have any questions, feel free to DM me @JackDHarding on Instagram, and if you make it, please tag me and show me your creation.

Holiday Vegetarian Menu for Hosting Guests

The way I like to see it, there’s two types of people in life. Those who like to cook, and those who don’t. Growing up, I was one of the people who definitely did not like to cook. It was only after moving out that I started to venture into the kitchen.Over the last few years I have started hosting more and more dinner parties. These dinners have been for everything from “Let’s just have a dinner,” to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the like. My favourite meals to cook and my favourite dinners to host are holiday meals however. Why? Well, there is something about people gathering for a holiday in your home, celebrating over food that you’ve made for them that is really rewarding. It brings you closer together and leaves you with memories that will last a lifetime.

I have a lot of foodie friends who love cooking (and like me, are in love with the new Black Stainless Steel appliances which make your kitchen look so much more refined) and they’re pretty divided between vegetarian and not. Now, this isn’t the most difficult thing to deal with when hosting but it is definitely something you need to be aware of when putting together your menu, how you keep your dishes (making sure nothing mixes) and how you serve. What I’ve come to do, is host two separate dinners- one totally vegetarian, and one not. This way there’s no chances of mistakes, of one side being served more than the other. Everyone gets the meals they love in the way they like them! I’m going to share with you the two menus I’m planning on making this year- my vegetarian menu, and my other menu!

*Note* I like to keep my menus fairly simple, because not only do you have to make multiple courses, but there is nothing worse than finding a recipe, and not having, or not being able to easily find the ingredients. All of my recipes are pretty straightforward with ingredients you can get year round at the local grocery store.

Parsnip and Apple Soup

Roasted Cauliflower with Wow This is So Good Sauce

Orange Cranberry Loaf


Parsnip and Apple Soup
(This is one of my favourite soups, and is a breeze to make. The Frigidaire Induction stovetops make cooking this really easy. Everything heats up and cooks that much faster, it’s easy to control the temperature so you don’t overheat or burn anything, and it’s a breeze to clean if you spill anything).

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp green cardamom seeds (from 3-4 pods)
40g butter
2 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 medium onion, chopped
700g  parsnips
3 garlic clove, crushed
5 cm fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
150g peeled and chopped Golden Delicious apple (about 1 medium-size apple)
1.2L fresh vegetable stock
2 tbsp crème fraîche
1 tsp chopped chives to garnish

  1. Heat a small, dry frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the cumin, coriander and cardamom seeds and shake them around for a few seconds until they begin to get a bit darker (you’ll also smell them toasting). Put these into a mortar and pestle or a pepper grinder and turn them into a powder.
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a medium-size pan. Add the onion and cover. Cook for 10 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Meanwhile, peel the parsnips and cut them into 2.5cm pieces. (Peeling is important or your soup won’t have a nice consistency).
  3. Uncover the pan, add the garlic, grated ginger and all the spices, then cook for 1 minute more. Add the parsnips, chopped apple and stock, then bring to the boil, cover and simmer. Simmer for 45-60 minutes or until the parsnips are tender when you poke them with a knife.
  4. Remove soup from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Using either an immersion blender, or blender, blend.. Pour it through a sieve into a clean pan, using a wooden spoon to push it through. Season to taste.
  5. To serve, stir in the crème fraîche. Pour into heated bowls and top with chives.

Apple parsnip soup


Roasted Cauliflower with “Wow This Sauce is So Good” Sauce

This has been one of my go-tos for a while after being taught it by a friend last year. It is really beautiful when brought to the table, and the sauce, if you couldn’t tell by the title, is one that will leave people talking.You’ll love having the induction stove top for the sauce because you need to watch it somewhat closely to keep it from burning and having better control over the heat than a gas stove top is really helpful.

1 large cauliflower head, trimmed (Get as big and pretty of one as possible, fresh)
300ml dry white wine (pinot grigio preferred)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
Garlic bulb, halved horizontally (This is the whole bunch of garlic, not just a clove)
1 large egg, lightly beaten and seasoned well
Sharp cheese that you can sprinkle over the top (this is optional)

For the sauce:
Olive oil for frying
1 shallot, very finely chopped
50ml dry white wine (a pinot grigio works for this)
300g vintage or extra-mature cheddar, grated
125ml whipping cream (35% cream)
1 jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped (I keep the seeds in because I like the spice)
2 green onions, finely sliced

  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Put the cauliflower in a large pan with the 300ml wine, bay leaves, peppercorns and garlic halves. Pour over boiling water from the kettle to just cover the cauliflower – there’s no need to worry if your cauliflower floats, it likely will – and simmer for 20 minutes, turning it halfway through.
  3. Lift the cauliflower out of the poaching liquid into a colander and leave for 10 minutes to steam dry. (Be careful when lifting- it will be hot, and you don’t want to be rough with it, you want to keep its shape).
  4. Put the cauliflower in a roasting pan (anything that is deep enough), brush all over with the egg, then grate over a generous amount of cheese so it covers all of the top and on the sides.
  5. Roast in the top third of the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden (watch this closely after the 15 minute mark, it can go from perfect to burnt pretty quickly)
  6. To make the sauce, heat a splash of olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan (cast iron or nonstick is fine), add the shallot and cook for 5-6 minutes until translucent and soft.
  7. Add the 50ml wine and bring to a bubble (not a rapid boil) until evaporated by two thirds. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting, then add the cheese and cream. Stir constantly until the cheese melts to a smooth sauce. Stir through the chilli and spring onions, season, then pour into a warmed container. Put a piece of cling film directly onto the surface of the sauce and keep somewhere warm (I will put a stool in front of the oven and put it there so it gets the warmth off of the oven).
  8. When the cauliflower is roasted, remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Take it to the table, then pour over two thirds of the sauce before carving. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Orange Cranberry Loaf

I was taught how to make this by a friend of mine who recently launched a bakery, and I never would have thought to make it. When I did, it was strange, apparently it was a dessert that a lot of my friends families made for them growing up. It was great to be able to bring back those memories for them. This is a breeze to make, and lasts in the fridge for up to two days after.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in orange zest, and cranberries. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in orange juice. Beat in flour mixture until just moistened. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched. Let stand 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Orange cranberry loaf slice

This post was sponsored by Frigidaire Canada