Browsing the archives for the Christmas tag.

Merry Christmas!!!


I am pausing mid-Christmas vacation to announce fantastic news! My delightful husband got me a shiny (and more importantly fast) new laptop for Christmas so I can edit photos and blog and actually get stuff done without having to use his laptop or desktop. Hooray!

There has been so much Christmas crafting and baking going on around here, so many fun things in the works for the coming weeks and months and some exciting news in the near(ish) future (no, I’m not pregnant).

In the meantime, here’s a parade of photos from our Christmas celebrations so far!


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Sugary Citrus Twists

Domestic, Kids, Marriage

9 more sleeps till Christmas!! Which means there is about to be a serious baking explosion going down in my kitchen over the next week during the day, and a whole lot of knitting every night. Thank goodness for online shopping or I’d not have any actual gifts to give out!

I have a soft spot for the Robin Hood flour characters, Elizabeth and Andrew. They’re adorable and remind me, in reverse, of my Wee One #1 and Wee One #2. So I do a lot of their recipes and recently, Robin Hood came out with a new recipe booklet, The Love of Baking. Elizabeth and Andrew are painfully absent from the collection of recipes, but I can forgive them because there are a lot of fun recipes in here.

Citrus fruit and Christmas never really went together in my mind until I married into a family that always puts clementines in the stockings. I will openly admit my parents tucked a ridiculous amount of toys in our stockings as kids, sometimes candy but never clementines – or nuts or anything else like that. I mean, we always had that stuff out on trays and in bowls around the house – but it wasn’t a Christmas thing. So, since we’ve been married (11 years in the spring!), I have developed a connection between Christmas and citrus fruits (my mother-in-law puts clementines in my stocking too!) and my husband now eats clementines year round, though he still calls them Christmas oranges!

In the spirit of adopting this citurs = festive feeling, I made these for my husband and my in laws. Hopefully, they love them. If they do, I’ll make them every year!

Sugary Citrus Twists – from The Love of Baking

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 tbsp freshly grated lemon rind
2 eggs
+ sugar for sprinkling
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt

Beat sugar with butter and rind until fluffy, beat in the eggs, yolks and vanilla until well mixed. Add the flour and salt. Beat until blended.


Flour your counter a bit and knead the dough – but don’t over handle it! Shape the dough into two 10″ long logs. Mine were so long I couldn’t get a decent photo. Slice these into 12 pieces each and I found it worked best to roll each of those pieces into a little ball and set them aside till I was ready for them.

Then, working with one dough ball at a time cut it in half and roll each half into little ropes, about 4″. The Robin Hood recipe says to roll the whole thing into an 8″ rope and cut that in half, but I found this to be a lot easier.


Then make an X with the two ropes and twist them around each other! Simple and cute! Set it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and do the rest!


Sprinkle with sugar before you pop them in the oven – 8 minutes or so at 350.

*This recipe is great to make the day before decorating sugar or butter cookies, because you have 4 egg whites for the royal icing.*

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m off to bake gingerbread cupcakes, craft with the kids and knit my little fingers off. <3

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Oh my goodness more ginger cookies! I know! I can’t help it – it’s December. This is the third ginger-themed cookie this week and I could not possibly be happier. Don’t worry, I’ll let up after Christmas. 😛

It depends entirely on who you learn the recipe from, or which way you prefer them yourself, but gingersnaps tend to fall into one of two categories; so hard they’re essentially a dunking cookie or so soft they’re totally meant for Santa and a glass of milk. (On that note, can we leave Santa a mug of Starbucks coffee, btw? Is that socially acceptable?) This recipe can be either. That’s less magic and more in baking time and dough placement.

Gingersnaps – from Christmas Cookies Magazine (Better Homes And Gardens, 2009)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening*
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1/4 cup coarse white or coloured sugar

Beat butter and shortening (if you even use both, lol, I just sub Becel for both and it always turns out just fine), till combined. Add both sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of your bowl!


Beat in the egg and molasses. If you’ve got a stand up mixer you can probably add all of the flour, if not add as much as you can and then move on to mixing the rest by hand with a wooden spoon. Pop this into some tupperware and let it chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Use a spoon to scoop out the dough and shape into balls, then roll the balls in sugar. Crisper, dunking-style gingersnaps should be rolled into (heaping) teaspoon sized balls and mashed down with a glass. Softer, chewier gingersnaps should be more like tablespoon, and not squished as much as the small ones. To be on the safe side, put them about 2″ apart on your parchment paper lined baking sheet.


Bake them for about 8 minutes at 350. More for crispier cookies and less for softer ones, naturally.

I love the crackle on the top of these cookies and as you’re so painfully aware this week, I adore the smell too!!

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Parade of Frosted Sugar Cookies

Domestic, Kids

In this post, I’m participating in Foodie Friday, Friday Potluck, and Food on Fridays

Sugar cookies are amazing because they have got to be the most versatile treat when it comes to being festive with themes. You can cut them into any shape you can imagine and then decorate them however you want. The only trouble is, unlike tasty drop cookies, you can’t just mix them, bake them and walk away!

I’m repeating this recipe for the eleventy billionth time here, but at least it’s organized, right? Really, this post is all about the dramatic photos.


Basic Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup + 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. DO NOT OVERMIX. Beat in egg till well combined and not a second longer. 😛

Add flour and mix till a sticky dough forms. Kneed into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 balls. Roll out each ball between two sheets of parchment paper for about half an hour. Preheat to 350, then take it out, peel off the first layer or parchment paper and slice it into strips like french fries!

Basic Royal Icing
2 tsp lemon juice
2 egg whites
3 cups icing sugar

Beat your lemon juice and egg whites together for a little bit before adding your icing sugar. You’ll want to thin it out a little for spreading (add drops of water till it’s the consistency you’re after), or add a little more icing sugar to make it that seriously thick stuff you typically find on gignerbread people in bakeries. I find this recipe just needs the smallest little touch of water and it’s perfect for spreading. It hardens just right and has a lovely shine.


The fun thing about this icing really is the colours! I used paste food colouring for vibrant colours (and because it’s all I know – I grew up with a cake decorator)!

I first made these trees about a week ago, and tucked them away in tupperware for my massive decorating weekend. That weekend turned into another sugar cookie extravaganza so by Tuesday I had over 200 cookies to frost. Thankfully, frosting the cookies is one of my fave cookie activities!

Grand total sugar cookies to package up with the others; 22 stars, 22 trees, 44 small stars, 33 small trees and 11 mittens. Honestly? I loved every second of them. There were even more, but every time one broke, I had to give the kids the broken one – and the rest of the set lol!



More Christmas Cookies – Chocolate Gingerbread Drops


So I mentioned yesterday that I’m all about the gingerbread, and I meant it. It just makes the house smell so Christmasy and, at least to me, it takes like Christmas – second only to peppermint. What smells and tastes like Christmas in your house?

After rolling out and cutting about 50 gingerbread men and reindeer and over 150 sugar cookie shapes this weekend (post coming after I’ve decorated them at some point this week) it was a great relief to make some drop cookies. Just mix, drop and bake? Yes please!

Chocolate-Gingerbread Drops – from Christmas Cookies Magazine (Better Homes And Gardens, 2009)

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped


Beat the butter for about 30 seconds, then add the brown sugar, baking soda, ginger, allspice and salt. Mix until this is well combined before adding in the molasses and egg.


Now if you have a serious stand up mixer (thanks Mom!), you can add all of the flour, but if not use your mixer for as much of the flour as you can before you mix the rest of it by hand. Then stir in the chocolate chunks. The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of dried cherries to be added now, but I’m not big on dried fruit in cookies.

Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes at 350. Make sure to cool them on a wire rack before you try to move them because the chocolate chunks are going to be melty.


To avoid eating them, I wrap them in tin foil, tuck that in a freezer bag and pop them in the deep freeze till just before Christmas. I only leave enough out for my husband and the kids. 😛

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It’s Gingerbread Time!

Domestic, Kids

In this post, I’m participating in Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, Tuesdays at the Table, Tuesday Night Supper Club, and Hearth ‘n Soul

Christmas in our kitchen means a lot of things, it means sugar cookies and almond crescents, and my mother’s truffles and white chocolate snowmen. Above all else though, it means gingerbread! I love making classic gingerbread, and as you’ll see in recipes over this week, I love making other forms of gingerbread-style cookies and treats because of the way it makes the house smell. I also feel like a serious baker when I use this many spices in a single recipe!

First, mix these ingredients in a big bowl:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
Then mix these separately:
1 egg
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup dark molasses
6 tbsp butter


Add the dry to the wet and voila! The original recipe says to cover the dough and refrigerate it for an hour. I learned from a Daring Baker challenge in September (sugar cookie recipe) to roll out portions of the dough between pieces of parchment paper and refrigerate that – it takes not even a quarter of the time, so by the time you’ve rolled out the last of it, the first is ready to come out.

People are the most traditional shapes to make, but I also adore the reindeer shapes. This batch was made for the kids to decorate and eat, for the next batch I’ll also make some Santa boots and teddy bears. Painfully cute. I’ll post more pics as I bake them.


Royal icing is the best for decorating these, of course! Mix 2 egg whites with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 2 1/2 to 3 cups of icing sugar. The more icing sugar you add, the thicker it’ll be, and I have found that to get those childhood memories of the serious gingerbread cookies you’ll want a thick batch of icing. If you find it too thick, just add a touch of water – tiny drops at a time.

More festive recipes this week! Chocolate-Gingerbread Drops, Milk Chocolate Fudge Crinkles, Sugary Citrus Twists, Sugar Cookies and Gingersnaps!


Peace on Earth – December Challenge

Churchy, Domestic, Kids, Marriage

Wow. When I skip a few days or a week of blogging for real life, I tend to totally ignore it and carry on like it never happened, bu I’ve been absent for two whole weeks. It’s not life, it’s Christmas! I’ve been very dedicated to staying on task with my to do this year and it’s been going well, but I’m knitting every night, not blogging. So here I am, on track for my favorite holiday ever and back on track for blogging as well.

When I sat down to write this I was afraid that I was a week behind for Courtney’s December challenge – thankfully, I am right on time for the first in the series! The one thing she mentioned to do last week was light an extra large candle everyday and to make a note on the calendar that says ‘I Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’ This passage has actually helped me quite a bit over the past couple of years so it’s familiar to me! As for the candle, I mentioned a few weeks ago that after the Making Your Home a Haven challenge was over, I kept on lighting my candle. I honestly feel that it has changed my attitude because I’m in the kitchen or in areas off the kitchen so much of the day and night that it catches my eye all the time, and at this point even when it’s not lit I still stop and take a moment.

The challenge for this week is to schedule a bubble bath. I’m not a bath sort of gal, but I will schedule an extra long pamper session for myself. My dear friend Lindsay, who I met in kindergarten and my still fairly new friend Jade who I met in January, always look their best and have really encouraged me to make the time to make that a priority if that’s important to me – and it really, really is. So far, so good. It is time consuming though, especially with my lifestyle (read: changing diapers, doing dishes, scrubbing corners, baking, etc) so time has to be taken every night to fix or change nail polish, take off make up, moisturize like you’d never think is necessary (‘your skin is thirsty May!’) and all that stuff. I have found that forcing myself to make time to ‘get pretty’ as I playfully call it, has helped me center myself too! I’m not really in that bathroom focusing on taking off my eyeliner or sugar scrubbing my knees and elbows – because really, what is there to think about? I’m in there letting my mind wander, thinking about the sort of things I’d never allow myself time to think about otherwise. You all know I’m a pretty thankful person as it is, but as I was changing my nail polish a few days ago, I thought about how amazing it is that I get to wake up everyday here in Canada and not in Haiti or Burma or somewhere I have never heard of that has equally scary situations going on. I think about how amazing it is that we have the cash for me to even have this ridiculous collection of nail polish or that I can somehow get away with wearing plastic jewelry at 30. I think about my babies and how none of them are technically babies at all anymore – about how healthy they all are!! Most of all though, I think about my husband and our marriage and I sigh. Not only are we still friends, but ever since we moved to the woods he’s gone above and beyond to make me fee happy here because he knows how much I miss Toronto.

Anyhoo, the second part of this challenge is to read about the birth of Jesus. You know, the whole reason December is a big deal in the first place? 😉 Matthew 1, 2 and Luke 1,2 are on my list to read and re-read this week. I am feeling much more churchy than usual, and I don’t know if it’s because of Christmas or if it’s just that He is using this time of year to make my heart feel three sizes too big for my chest, but it does. It really, really does.

*I just read this post over at Inspired to Action and stopped in my tracks because it’s exactly why I get up so early every morning for alone time. Some days I actually get all the way out of bed and read my Bible with a coffee. Some days I just read in bed, and some days I just lay there and think and steal an extra snuggle with my husband – always thankful for this life.*

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Peanut Butter Bon Bons

Domestic, Marriage

I recently mentioned that this year for my Christmas baking, I am only going to use recipes from all the cookbooks and food magazines I’ve collected over the years. All foodies have stacks of Martha Stewart Living books and magazines, piles of Gourmet magazine, Everyday Food, maybe even Bon Appetit, Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle (and if you live in Ontario you’ve got a collection of Food & Drink magazines as well!)

This recipe is no different, and comes from one of my all time favorite cookbooks – Betty Crocker’s Best Christmas Cookbook, this one is an oldie but goodie. It came out in 1999 and was one of the first gifts my husband gave me. I knew he ‘got’ me when he gave it to me, I have used it all year long for 11 years now, but there are some extra Christmasy recipes in it that I tend to use just at Christmas.

Peanut Butter Bon Bons – from Betty Crocker’s Best Christmas Cookbook (p.262)

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix the icing sugar and the graham cracker crumbs together. Then in a small pot, melt the butter with the peanut butter – and pour that onto the crumb mixture!

Rolling them into balls requires wet hands and a little time. I have three kids and a stack of Christmas knitting taller than my third child. Soooooo, I used a deep tablespoon and scooped out perfect little balls without any mess or issue – I saved a whole lot of time too I’d imagine.

Next, naturally, you melt down some chocolate and dip! Easiest and neatest way to do this also makes them look as pro as possible. Put your peanut butter ball on a fork, hold it over your bowl of melted chocolate and use a big spoon to pour the chocolate over it. Give it a second to drip off, slide the excess off the bottom of your fork with a butter knife and then slide the bon bon off the fork.

Then, eat eleventy billion of them because ps, they’re only about 95 calories each!

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Ooey Gooey Chewy Smore Bars and Wickerware Socks

Crafty, Domestic

Next up on the list of Christmas baking was Ooey Gooey Chewy S’more Bars from the same magazine as the treats I posted about yesterday. There is a batch of these babies in the basement freezer right now, though I think I may take them out before Christmas to see how they froze (the recipe says they’re good in the freezer for 3 months). I had a tiny nibble of a piece that broke off and man these are so good. Essentially, you bake a spongey cake-like loaf with oatmeal and graham crackers. After it’s baked you add the marshmallows and chocolate on top and pop it back in the oven for those to melt!


Ooey, Gooey, Chewy S’more Bars – from Christmas Cookies Magazine (Better Homes And Gardens, 2009)

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 cups tiny marshmallows
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate baking chunks

Preheat to 350, line your pan (13×9 was called for, but I used one more like 12×10) with aluminum foil and lightly grease the foil. I thought I was smart in using a silicone pan and skipped the foil – and my bottoms burned! Use foil, and butter it!

Beat butter on high for 30 seconds, add the brown sugar until combined scraping the sides of the bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined, then beat in the flour. Now stir in your oats and graham cracker crumbs.

Set aside 1 cup of the mixture, and spread the rest of it in the pan (using the back of a wet spoon makes this eleventy billion times easier). Bake this for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned (mine was more like 10 minutes).

Now for the fun part! When you take it out, sprinkle the marshmallows and chocolate chunks over the top of it! Then take the 1 cup of the mixture you set aside and dot that over top of the marshmallows and chocolate. Now pop it back in the oven for another 15 minutes or so – just till the marshmallows are browned campfire-style.

You’ll have to let them cool completely on a wire rack before you cut them or you’ll have a seriously gooey mess on your hands (ask me how I know lol). According to the recipe store them at room temp for up to 3 days or freeze for up to three months.

I was going to post my list of Christmas baking, but it’s a little insane and full of surprises for other people. I’ll post recipes as I bake them and do a recap as I thaw and package them all.

Switching gears, but keeping with the Christmas to do, are these men’s socks. Men’s socks are tricky because if there’s too much detail in the pattern they end up looking too feminine but if there’s not enough you’re just knitting a plain tube and I literally fall asleep while knitting when I knit patterns like that.


These socks are the cure for that! A very simple 6 row repeat that keeps you focused on the knitting, but lets you carry on a conversation and are clearly GUY socks. 🙂

Back to knitting now, the countdown to Christmas is only 42 days and stay tuned for preparations for my sister’s birthday weekend!


Christmas Freezer Baking


I have missed three posting days after not missing for over a month! The horror!! I will wait till next Monday to catch up on my Marriage Monday posts, and will resume my regular posting schedule next week. For now though, I’ve got some fun recipes to get you in the mood for Christmas!

Just a little note for future reference, mostly to myself. All recipes made for the 2010 Christmas season will come from magazines and books I have fallen in love with, bought, and left to sit alone (well, alone with each other) in my kitchen. I have about eleventy billion of them, time to actually use them!

I’ve been gearing up for Christmas baking, mostly icebox cookies that are made for freezing. Some doughs make for great slice and bake logs and some cookies freeze excellently after they’ve been baked and cooled. So I’m doing a bit of everything and as I make things for the freezer, I’ll post recipes and next month let you know how well they froze. I can’t possibly explain to you how hard I am hoping that next month I’ll say that all the recipes I chose to freeze worked out perfectly! The whole point to doing this is to cut back on my December baking time and to make as many different kinds of cookies and bars and wee treats to package up and send out as possible!

So far, I have made White Chocolate Dipped Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies, Peanut Butter Brownie Biscotti and Ooey Gooey Chewy Smore Bars. Yes, I sampled – but just one of each! They were all pretty straightforward and turned out well. Today I’ll give you the shortbread and the biscotti – stay tuned tomorrow for these gooey bars. Mmmmm.

The red velvet shortbread was pretty much what you’d expect – a fairly standard shortbread with a general addition of red food colouring, once they were baked and cooled, I dipped them all in white chocolate. I got two dozen cookies out of the recipe, half of them I left the white chocolate alone, and the other half got a dash of red and green sprinkles.


Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies – from Christmas Cookies ’09 (a Better Homes & Gardens magazine)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cut up
1 tablespoon red food colouring
3 ounces white chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons shortening


Preheat to 325. Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Use a pastry cutter to cut in butter and food colouring until mixture is crumbly and starts to cling together. Form into a ball, knead till smooth.

Now flour your counter, knead your dough on it and roll out to about 1/2″ thick, cut your dough in whatever shape you like, just keep in mind the baking times will be off. Put them on your parchment paper lined baking sheet, mush the scraps up, re roll them and do it again.

The recipe said to bake for 20 minutes and mine burnt at the 10 minute mark. In my supernova oven they were ready in 6 minutes, so test your oven!!

As the cookies were cooling on a wire rack, I melted the white chocolate in a ceramic bowl set in a pan of hot water. Then I coated half the cookie, and put it on a piece of parchment paper on a tray. If they got a shot of sprinkles, they got it here before they were popped in the freezer till the chocolate had set so I could put them in freezer containers.


Even though I had never made biscotti before, making four different kinds of it to give away at Christmas is on my list of things to do this week. I’d show you my list but I don’t want to frighten you. 😉


Peanut Butter Brownie Bsicotti – from Christmas Cookies ’09 (a Better Homes & Gardens magazine)

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate (about 6 ounces)

Preheat to 375. Cream the peanut butter and the butter, beat for 30 seconds and add the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder. Scrap down the sides of the bowl, beat in the eggs and vanilla until well mixed, now beat in the flour and once it’s all combined, stir in the chocolate chunks with a spoon.

Knead the dough on your floured countertop and form it into a 9″ x 2″ roll. Usually, when recipes tell me to do something like that, I can never get it to be the right shape but this recipe actually works and 9″ x 2″ is totally doable. Bake this loaf on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 20 minutes (according to the recipe, my crazy oven had both rolls fully cooked in half the time).

Once they’re out, you can turn off your oven – for now. Let them sit for an hour, then cut them into 16 pieces each and bake them again, for another 10 minutes (5 for me), then flip them over and bake for another 10 (or 5 lol).


This month is full of Christmas baking and knitting and serious prep for my sister’s 22nd birthday party in 2 weeks. I’m so excited I want to post all about it, but I don’t want to unleash any surprises in case she’s reading. Hi Nikki!

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