December is always a crazy time of year, is it not? When I was working full-time I was busy wrapping up projects for the end of year then meeting with family, friends, acquaintances and friends-of-friends for the holiday. As a student I am scrambling with end of term tasks and exams while trying to keep my eyes peeled open and awake. And even now I am meeting up with more people in a week than I sometimes do in a whole month!

Needless to say, my dietary habits are not the healthiest nor regular these days. I try being frugal and eat a packed lunch or wait until I make food at home. Instead, in the past few weeks I indulged more often in purchased coffee because I was desperate for a caffeine pick me up, and paid money for sub par and overly priced sandwiches. Now that it is the weekend and my boyfriend and I can share meals together, I have made the point of preparing some quick and hearty dishes for plus one.

The recipes that follow are definitely far away from ramen noodles and Kraft dinner, and much more suitable for “adult” consumption — adult in that I feel less like a poor student without breaking the bank. They also use many common grocery items found in many Canadian households, and non-perishable products such as jarred olives and capers that you can have handy in your pantry for long periods. Using oven-proof skillets for both recipes cuts down one step and dishes to be washed, but you can also just transfer items from the frying pan to a baking dish. Both can also be made for the same meal since they both cook in the oven to be at 425°F and together uses a whole package of fresh basil so that none goes to waste.

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We already celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada last month, but it seems that the American turkey day is a much more serious matter down south. For those of you celebrating Thanksgiving Day today, here is The National covering “The Thanksgiving Song” from the animated sitcom, Bob’s Burgers.

Have I ever seen an episode of Bob’s Burgers? Nope. But I sure do enjoy this short, silly and purposefully morose song. Like cranberry sauce and stuffing, this will be the perfect accompaniment to your bird feast and days of turkey leftovers. And it also serves as a great way to tide us over until The National brings out another great album, which we hope is very soon.

So it is Thanksgiving this upcoming weekend here in Canada, which usually means turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie in many households. My sister and I used to make turkey dinners for the family each year, but now that I am based in la belle province, my Thanksgiving meals have been a much small endeavour. However, I still do have a few people dropping in this weekend so I went ahead and cooked up a Thanksgiving Dinner Lite which, in this case, means roasted chicken and a few sides, including an onion and olive tart.

I got this recipe from New York Times’ Mark Bittman, though I tweaked it to make it a speedier and a bit more colourful than his original version. This tart is so well received I have already made it a couple of times for both dinner parties and civilized eating at home. (Eating home alone for me usually entails cracking open a can of beans and dumping it into a pot of frozen vegetables and Campbell’s soup.) I also like to use a roasted bulb of garlic instead of just using raw, minced garlic for the recipe. Today, I made two tarts, as it is so easy to just double the recipe and give one away. See? Very easy to give thanks.

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