Category Archives: Holiday Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Holiday basket 2015
Holiday basket 2015

The holidays are almost here again and I can’t believe how fast this year has flown. I look back and can’t believe how incredibly busy and crazy it has been. No matter how crazy life gets, I take time out once a year to bake for my loved ones. This year I added this new cookie to the mix and it was a hit. Soft and airy, with a bit of sour and spice that melds together so well. Enjoy!

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Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread

I took a couple of days off from work and hunkered down in my tiny apartment kitchen to bake my annual holiday basket. This is my seventh year baking this basket and as can be imagined, the basket has evolved and grown (some may say, it has grown into a crazy endeavor.)

This year, I made sixteen treats over the course of four days. Even though it was well thought out with spreadsheets and I knew I would be excited to send off the goodies to my family and friends; halfway through, I was feeling the craziness of it all! But the beat goes on and so did my baking.

For my sixth treat for my annual holiday basket was a cranberry pistachio shortbread lightly scented with orange.

Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread

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Snickerdoodles

These are my family’s recipe for snickerdoodles that has been passed down from generation to generation. They are my absolute favorite cookie.  Simple and sweet but not crazy sweet, it makes it into my holiday basket every year. The subtle flavors of cinnamon mix with the butter to make anyone feel like they came home.

Now, the secret to these cookies is the cream of tarter. For whatever reason, you mix int the cream of tarter and the cookies come out with a crispy outside and creamy inside. I have made them without the cream of tarter and while still delicious and edible, you get a coarser more crumbly cookie, similar in texture to shortbread.

Enjoy everyone!

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles
Snickerdoodles

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Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs remind me of the holidays. One of my cousins had to have a tray of deviled eggs just to himself.  He wouldn’t eat anything else, just those eggs.

He was the only one of us that was tall and lanky, definitely an odd man out in a family of shorties. Actually, now that I think of it,  he was the only one of us that didn’t talk that much. I’d ask him questions and he would give one word answers and continue to stare at his food. Not like the rest of us “young’uns”  who were frenzied with activity and possibly ready for a food fight at any moment.

At the time, I thought he was kind of weird, stooping over his plate at the too small children’s table, not talking, completely focused on chasing each egg, one by one, while they slid across his plate and eventually into his grasp. Quietly, he sat slowly chewing and eventually swallowing in one big gulp, only to accent his large protruding adam’s apple on his long neck. You could tell, he savored every bite.

Now I know he wasn’t weird, he just had a more elevated understanding of his food. He knew what he wanted and he practiced mindful eating before it was cool. This is for my cousin, the trendsetter, our family’s deviled eggs. Enjoy!

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs
Deviled Eggs

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Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, be it made from scratch or one of those blue boxed quick versions. I grew up, for the most part, only eating mac and cheese for special occasions, such as family reunions or the holidays. Always it would be a baked casserole in a glass rectangular pyrex, that one of the Aunts would bring over. Such sweet memories. Of course this would be my favorite version of mac and cheese, with its almost cheesy souffle texture, because of the addition of an egg to the mix.

My husband, on the other hand, was raised on the boxed stuff. The powdered cheese and milk concoction is his nostalgia. He didn’t mind the idea of homemade mac and cheese, but he wanted it creamy, something with a little more resemblance to his stove top version. Here it is, the perfect middle ground for me and my husband. Creamy from working the mixture on the stove top, no egg, but finished in the oven with breadcrumbs to get that nice browning that I feel is an absolute must. In addition, we have found together as a couple, we adore the flavor of rosemary in our mac and cheese; so there we have it, the perfect combination for our marriage. Enjoy!

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Smoked Chicken with Steamed Broccoli and Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
Smoked Chicken with Steamed Broccoli and Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

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Frosted Sugar Cookies

Okay, y’all, I love cookies. You know from my past posts that I make a holiday basket for my family and these were included in this year’s basket. A frosted sugar cookie is not only a very fun cookie, but it can take on different incarnations depending on the family. The cookie can be big and soft or thin and crispy, the frosting can be big and fluffy or thin icing or just a hint, barely a smear lightly coating the cookie.

My cookie is a sugar cookie recipe that has been in my family for more than thirty years and maybe even longer, not sure. It is my favorite, full of butter flavor. The frosting has a secret ingredient that I discovered in a bakery a few years ago that serves the best decorated sugar cookies that I have ever tasted, hands down. As I crooked my neck, as I do at all my favorite eating joints, to watch the lady in the back feverishly whipping together some frosting, I saw it, the golden key to what my frosting was missing… butter extract. I know, it sounds weird, but it is crazy good.

Anyway, if you are feeling in a festive mood, these cookies are a winner!

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Frosted Sugar Cookies
Frosted Sugar Cookies

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Ranch Oyster Crackers

Ranch oyster crackers, how I love thee, let me count the ways! You are crunchy and salty… and ranch-ee… okay, I went a bit too far. These are one of those treats that my mom made for me as a little girl, so they are very nostalgic. I can still remember sitting in my pink tights on the living room floor fresh from ballet class watching Heman and She-Ra bounding around on the back of a green and orange striped cat, all the while I am munching on these little nuggets of joy and through spit stuttered sentences yelling things like, “by the power of greyskull…I have the power!”  Oh yeah, I loved She-Ra. What was not to like? She-Ra was a friggin’ bad ass, had a super cute outfit AND she owned a Pegasus/Unicorn, the coolest hybrid animal ever to grace animation. But I digress…

As I have grown older, I continue to make these oyster crackers for snacks every once and a while and everyone I give them to feel the addictive powers of the crackers tugging them in for more and more. This is one of those definites for my yearly holiday basket, as everyone loves them, even my husband’s family has asked that I make more to put in the basket, because they wait all year in anticipation of these crackers. SO if you are in need of a snacky snack, this is a winner!

Ranch Oyster Crackers

Ranch Oyster Crackers
Ranch Oyster Crackers

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Magic Middles Peanut Butter Cookies

Every cookie that I make for my yearly holiday basket is normally made for someone in mind. I am feeding about 20-25 people’s different tastes, so it goes to accept that every cookie that is sent out isn’t going to be everyone’s favorite, but someone will appreciate it. I try to keep tabs on which family likes what so that I can send them more of an item while lessening that item for another family that may prefer more of a different item, but everyone gets a little of everything.

My side of the family likes caramel and vanilla flavors, while my other side of the family is more into richer flavors of coffee and chocolate, my cousins family loves spicy flavors such as cinnamon and ginger, while I also also have a couple that enjoy fruity flavors. My husband’s sister really enjoys nutty flavors, especially peanut butter. This past year, I started making these peanut butter cookies that will be a perfect inclusion into the holiday basket. The creamy center of peanut butter makes it just different enough that it is elevates the cookie above the normal cross hatched peanut butter cookie, making it the perfect present. If you are allergic to peanuts, you could get creative and use a different nut butter to suit your taste. Enjoy!

Magic Middles Peanut Butter Cookies

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Hidden Mint Cookies

This recipe was born out of a happy mistake. I was preparing food for the very first holiday basket and I was following a Paula Dean recipe that called for thin mints. What she meant was the girl scout cookies, but I thought she meant Andes Thin Mints. Not knowing any better I made these. It has turned out to be a keeper and is my nieces and nephews’ favorite holiday cookie. Just a simple sugar cookie dough wrapped around an Andes Thin Mint. And OMG, don’t even get me started on these suckers straight out of the oven. Warm, gooey chocolate mint oozing out of a fresh baked cookie. Need I say more….

Hidden Mint Cookies

Hidden Mint Cookies
Hidden Mint Cookies

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