Holiday Baking Grand Finale

Ok, ok, I get it, the holidays are over….but that doesn’t mean our foray in the kitchen has to be! Without school & obligations we’ve finally got the time to spend in the kitchen and have taken full advantage of it. It started with baking for gifts and then spread into baking for the many Christmas parties we’d been invited to. Thankfully when it was all done there were plenty of leftovers for us to enjoy 🙂

Cookies are a staple this time of year. Whether your making snickerdoodles or gingerbread men, shortbread or sugar cookies, or just eating the cookies someone else has made. it seems that almost everyone’s Christmas traditions involve some type of cookie. Being too far away from my Mom this year I wasn’t able to take part in her holiday baking so I decided to branch out and try some new recipes on my own. Thanks to Amber from The Usual Bliss (an always blissful read!), I was armed and ready to take on new cookie #1 – Hootycreeks *neither her nor I know exactly what a ‘Hootycreek’ is but oh my they are goooood!!!  Check out the link for her step by step instructions and original recipe. They were simple enough for  me and delicious enough to please many!

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Cran-tastic Cookies

These little ditties baked into fantastic cookies that would be great ANY time of the year, they are by no means a Christmas cookie but made a great contribution to the platters of goodies I created for parties and gifts this year. Instead of using dried cranberries I used a package of dried mixed berries – blueberries, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, raspberries, oh my!

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Seeing them again makes me want to bake another batch – yum!

These turned out so fantastic I was motivated to try another new cookie recipe. Thanks to Once A Month Mom, cookie #2 was ready to be tackled – Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies! These my son was über excited about since they are his favourite! This made me extra excited because it meant I had a helper!!

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The best sugar roller I’ve ever baked with!

The best part about these cookies/the recipe was that they are perfect for freezing for later! We were able to make a double batch, bake half and roll the other half of the dough into a tube like shape for cutting & baking later – when it’s this easy it’s my kind of baking!

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The first batch turned out so delicious the next time around I had another surprise helper….

20121219-200611.jpg The big shocker with having Kate helping out is that she is NOT a baker. She seems to enjoy the eating more so than the baking. Once in a blue moon she’ll offer her assistance but generally it takes me begging and pleading for help before she’ll enter the kitchen. Sawyer is my go-to helper, always eager & excited to help out AND eat the goodies!

Round two of these cookies turned out so well that there was a round 3 for a family Christmas party and a round 4 just for us to eat!

I’ve had a lot of molasses spiced cookies but these were by far the best! Even better than the freshly baked molasses cookies made every Saturday at my favourite little cafe hut a few km’s away at the famous St. Jacob’s Market. A vanilla latte & molasses cookie is the BEST way to start a Saturday!

Back to the baking….

Christmas is a time to show our appreciation to those in our lives. Gifts are likely the most common form of showing our appreciation. With the holidays fast approaching I was wracking my brain for a meaningful, unique way of showing our appreciation to the kid’s teachers. They get so many mugs and gift cards that I like to try to think outside the box. You might recall last years end of term gifts for Kate’s teachers

“To Mrs. P thank you for the seeds you planted in me. Love Kate”

This is what we wanted, something homemade, unique, and thoughtful. Unfortunately my exams consumed my time we ran out of time and decided a proper fallback was food. Everyone loves food!  Credit must be once again given to Amber and her blissfully awesome blog because this recipe came from her – Cinnamon Granola! I’ve never made my own granola and couldn’t believe how easy it was! And how great it turned out! I doubt I’ll ever buy the boxed version considering the ingredients for this are things I generally have on hand at all times.

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Yes those are our Hootycreeks cooling in the background!

While mixing the ingredients I just knew this recipe was going to be a winner! Baking it made my entire house smell delicious – just another perk to making your own granola!

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It turned out perfect – perfect for eating with yogurt (Sawyer), perfect for eating all by itself by the handful (Kate), and perfect for wrapping up with a bow and giving as a gift (Me!). The granola didn’t last long enough to give to the teachers as we had planned AND as it turned out, one of the teachers has a nut allergy so I’m glad we didn’t save any for her! Instead we made a deliciously quick & easy trail mix I found on Pinterest (once again Pinterest saves the day!).

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The pin was never actually pinned and therefore I don’t have the original recipe to share. I made it as I make most of my recipes: a little of this a lot of that until it looks and tastes good! We popped some kernels first for the popcorn base then added the waffle pretzels & bbq O’s in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl we combined a large drop of oil with a powder ranch dressing package and mixed until all the powder was dissolved. Then drizzled the liquid on top of the mix. We microwaved for a minute and a half, stopping ever 30 seconds to stir and make sure the entire mix was evenly coated. It turned out delicious and was cute enough to give as a gift! If it wasn’t for someone with an allergy we would have added some nuts to the mix as well. Again, a snack that is perfect ANY time of the year. Perfect for a family movie night or a slumber party. We’ve since made batches with other powder dressing flavours as well but the best seller seems to be the ranch flavour.  

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This FINALLY concludes our holiday baking! I hope the holiday season was good to your and all your family & friends. I felt blessed to be surrounded with an abundance of everything I find important – family, friends, love, health, and food 🙂

May your troubles be less and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door!

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