My Christmas Cookie Swap: a Recap

Christmas comes but once a year, and so does my annual holiday cookie swap, so I like to make it as memorable and fun as possible. It’s my absolute favorite party of the season. I get to connect with friends from all over, sample mountains of cookies of all varieties and sizes while sipping hot spiced apple cider and exceptionally tasty homemade eggnog. What’s not to love?

Last weekend was the Big Event and it was a smashing success! Twelve girls, a few guys, and ten excited children braved a snowstorm and gathered in my home to swap over a thousand homemade cookies. Here’s the recap.

[Read more…]

A Classic Homemade Eggnog Recipe

Written by Elizabeth Nyland of Guilty Kitchen.

Fresh farm eggs: there’s nothing quite like them. What they offer more than anything else though, is food safety. Knowing where your eggs come from, what the chickens eat and how they live offers you great insight into their health status. Plus, the quality of farm fresh eggs just can’t be beat, and are a dream to work with, as my homemade mayonnaise demonstrates so well.

Eating raw eggs can be dangerous as they can become contaminated with salmonella and you would never know it. Mostly this is dangerous for immune compromised people, such as young children and the elderly or ill, but they can be dangerous for anyone.

Having fresher-than-fresh eggs that come from your own backyard chickens can reduce the risk of contamination as you are the one who has handled them from nest to kitchen, but it does not eliminate the possibility of contamination, it merely reduces the risk.

Not everyone has the opportunity to keep chickens, but it is easy to buy farm fresh eggs from roadside stands. An even better method would be to talk to the farmer and find out just how fresh those eggs are. Read more on ways to procure local fresh foods here.

All photos by Elizabeth Nyland

When making recipes that call for raw eggs, such as the eggnog recipe below, be sure to use the freshest eggs possible. Wash the shells before cracking to ensure nothing gets into the egg once they are removed from the shell.

Holiday Eggnog

Having eggnog during the holidays has become a tradition dating back to when I was in high school. The first time I tried, I made four quarts and the only ones drinking it were my father and me. Good thing we liked it so much. Ever since then I’ve tried to make it every year when we have people over.

This recipe is more than simple to make and keeps well as there is alcohol present (caution: don’t save it for more than a couple of days without alcohol).

Try this recipe out and make eggnog an annual tradition in your house! We find it pairs beautifully with Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, but you can be the judge of that!

[Read more…]

Simple Shortbread: One Recipe, Four Cookies

Christmas cookies are everywhere you look these days. This month, magazines have devoted entire issues to them, bloggers and bakers just wrapped a #cookieweek theme on Twitter.

Cookbooks such as the brand new Gourmet Cookie Book are inundating us with endless options for sweet, buttery goodness.

Every year there is some new trend, some riff on a classic or old favourite, but it is rare that I am swayed. Sure, I try a few new cookie recipes every holiday season, but one variety that I am eternally devoted to are shortbread.

No matter how busy I am during the weeks leading up to the holidays, I always make time for classic homemade shortbread. This simple combination of just a few ingredients claims to be the best cookie ever and I tend to agree.

If you are bored with the classic recipe, the good news for you is that there are many variations that you can make on the standard, as this type of cookie lends itself well to flavourings.

Here are directions for making four different varieties of shortbread using the same dough. All are simple to make and don’t require the extra step of rolling dough and cutting shapes (although that is a fine option and the dough works well for that method too).

[Read more…]

A Simple Bites Holiday Menu (recipe: Cranberry-Orange Sauce)

We enjoyed this menu so much for our recent Thanksgiving dinner, that I’ve been recreating dishes from it all month long and incorporating them into our weeknight dinners. There’s also a pretty good chance that Christmas dinner is going to look very similar to the plate above. After all, why mess with a good thing?

This suggested holiday menu is designed for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but is simple enough to prepare for Sunday dinner. To pare it down in to a more manageable meal, ask friends to bring dessert and rolls, while you roast a turkey breast and prepare mashed potatoes, stuffing and a vegetable. Round off with a jar (or can) of your favorite cranberry relish or sauce and dig in!

[Read more…]