Erin Phillips and Korey Kealey, authors of the recently published The Ultimate Cookbook for Hockey Families, are very familiar with the juggling act it takes to maintain balance and keep everyone fuelled. Leveraging their expertise as nutritionists, Erin, wife of Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, and Korey, foodpreneur and creator of the popular enerjive SKINNY quinoa crackers, collaborated to collect a book full of healthy, satisfying recipes from a host of hockey superstars. Both Erin and Korey will be carefully scheduling family gatherings and festive meals around training, practices and games this Christmas; Ottawa At Home asked them to share some of their tips, traditions and indulgences for the holiday season.
What activities are your children involved in?
Erin: Ben is 11 and enjoys hockey, baseball and wake boarding; 10-year-old ZoŽ likes hockey, wakesurfing and piano; Niomi, our youngest, is seven and is into figure skating, wakesurfing and piano.
Korey: Alexander, 17, and Adam, 15, are into hockey and golf; 11-year-old Rebecca is an avid reader and enjoys hockey and horseback riding.
?How do holiday preparations fit into your hectic schedule?
Korey: My planning gets started in November when holiday promotions are happening and I am either setting up shows for others or demonstrating them myself.
Erin: I go to Syracuse with my girlfriends every November and shop like crazy to get most of it done. ?
What are some of your favourite Christmas culinary traditions?
Erin: I love our family tradition of fondue on Christmas Eve as well as having the whole family together for turkey dinner on Christmas Day; my inspirational ?95-year-old grandma still makes the family date squares and apple pies.
Korey: On Christmas Eve, we always host an open house, featuring potluck appetizers. I always make pork dumplings and a few other nibbles, my sister-in-law makes her mexican layer dip, Gramma Elva brings crab puffs and Mila Dingcong makes her famous spring rolls. These are guaranteed traditions.
?In what ways are your family members involved in preparing for the holidays?
Korey: My husband always panics last minute about his shopping so I take advantage of him being out in the madness and constantly text him with never ending eleventh-hour needs. Rebecca takes charge of the decorating, right down to the Hershey's Kiss and marshmallow garnish on the bŻche de NoŽl, which the boys all take an active part in preparing.
Erin: Chris is in charge of putting up the Christmas lights and we all decorate the tree together, spending the entire evening listening to Christmas carols and reminiscing about all of our ornaments from years past. The kids and I also spend time baking, often using really old family recipes. And Chris always cooks a yummy Christmas morning breakfast.?
How will you spend downtime this holiday season?
Erin: This holiday is actually one of Chris's longest breaks and I believe he has three days off. The following days we usually spend at the Bell Cup tournament and if schedule allows I sneak up to Tremblant to ski with the kids.
Korey: Hugging my kids! Our eldest is home for only five days - he's playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this year - so I plan to be home and catering to his and his friends' every whim. I will likely read a book or two; I'm looking at Hockey Confidential right now.??
What are some of your make-ahead tips to take the pressure off hosting Christmas gatherings?
Korey: Make triple batches of your appetizers and stock your fridge, freezer and pantry with staples like pickles, shrimp, cheeses, quinoa crackers, wine, etc. Invest in a SodaStream machine so you always have bubbly water and pop on hand.
Erin: I tend to bake and make lots of appetizers that I can freeze in small batches, making them easy to pull out at a moment's notice. Korey's website Kitchen Konnected is my frequent go-to source for great appetizer ideas. ??
What are your indulgences over the holidays?
Erin: I indulge myself by having the hockey wives' Christmas party, which lets me keep up with the times thanks to a group of beautiful young ladies! On Christmas Day, we spend as long as we can in our PJs and then spend the afternoon at our farm relaxing by the fire pit. Given our hectic schedule, these times feel like indulgences.
Korey: I buy frivolous entertaining accessories; every year I stock up on new items. Once Dec. 25 hits, I nest. I stay home and do pretty much nothing until the kids go back to school, indulging my need to refuel and spend time with my family.