Ready, Set, Celebrate!

Now that Halloween has passed we’ve all inevitably started talking about the holiday season. (Here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving a little earlier, so there’s really nothing else to look forward to during the month of November.)

This is the time of year when everyone’s schedules start filling up with celebrations and social events. Unfortunately, each of those events come with its own set of tasks that make people start feeling frantic instead of festive. There’s just so much to do. A friend of mine put it very eloquently: “I love Christmas, but there’s just so much s@&! to do!”

Planning is kind of my thing, so I often share how I organize my holidays on the blog: here’s how I get a head start on Christmas cards, how I plan my gift shopping and my Boxing Day strategy. If you really have the drive to plan far ahead, you may find this post on cleaning up after the holidays useful.

For the past couple of years I’ve carried out the Swedish tradition of baking seven different cookies at Christmas time. Here’s what’s been in my arsenal so far: Traditional Swedish Gingersnaps, Maple Butter Cookies, Jam Slices, Vanilla Horns, Rugulahs, Orange Crunch Cookies, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Midnight Mints, Butterscotch Confetti, Date Pecan Bars, Chocolate Roll, Pineapple Log, Marshmallow Roll, Butterscotch Bars etc. (Stay tuned- in the month of December I’ve got seven brand new cookie recipes for you I think you’re going to love.)

I love writing about the holidays and all the kindness it brings out in people, but I realize for some there can be a dark side of the season. A couple of years back I had a very difficult Christmas so I channeled that energy into writing a blog post about being alone during the holidays– and how you’re really not alone if you feel that way. (You may also want to check out this post if you’re feeling down.)

And if that isn’t enough holiday goodies for y’all then you’re in for a treat- for the next six weeks or so I’ll be sharing more of my favourite holiday recipes, some fantastic Christmas gift ideas and some of my secrets for staying sane during this busy time of year.

Don’t worry if even reading this post is giving you the shakes; this holiday season, we’re all in this together!

Holiday celebrations can be fun, but only if you can ensure that things go smoothly. While there are never any guarantees when it comes to social gatherings, there are still plenty of ways to get your holiday game on. Click here to read more of them, or click here or here to read about some of the other best practices I’ve been trying to put into my place in my life.

Do you have any tips on how to survive the holidays? Save us by commenting below or email your suggestions to keepingbusyb@gmail.com

Baking with B: 7 Days of Christmas Cookies: Jam Slices

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My mom used to make these pretty little cookies all the time when I was little, but I don’t ever remember appreciating them as much as I do now. They look really fancy, but they’re much easier to make than you think. Include these cookies on your Christmas platter and you are guaranteed to please even the biggest sweet tooth in the crowd. I should know, because these are my dad’s favourites.

Jam Slices (makes approximately 36 cookies)

1 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3-4 tbsp any red jam

Glaze:

3/4 c. icing sugar

1 1/2 tbsp water

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder together and add to wet ingredients, mixing well.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Divide dough into four pieces. Roll each section of dough into four logs that are abut 16 inches in length (almost the whole length of the cookie sheet, with ample room on either side). Using two fingers, make an indentation down the middle of each log so it almost looks like a moat. Fill each “moat” with your jam. Bake on the center oven rack for about 15 minutes.

While they’re baking, mix together the glaze, adding a little bit of water at a time so the icing sugar becomes runny, but not clear. Remove jam logs from oven. Leave the pan to let them cool down a bit, then drizzle the glaze over each log while still warm. Slice diagonally to make cookies that are approximately 3/4 wide (measuring a little over half of the span of your finger).

B’s Tip: Make sure you use a good quality jam for this recipe as the thicker the jam is, the better it will turn out. You may want to mash jam with a fork beforehand to ensure there are no giant pieces of fruit around to interfere with the aesthetic of the cookie.

Strawberry or raspberry jam works best with this recipe, but you may want to experiment with different flavors (apricot is one of my favorites.) Make sure you slice cookies when they are still warm to avoid them breaking. Store separately from other harder cookies to make sure the moist jam doesn’t interfere with the texture.

I love having one or two (or four!) of these cookies with a strong cup of coffee for a mid-morning break. I may just go have one right now!

Happy baking!

B

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I’m counting down Christmas by sharing some of my favourite holiday cookie recipes with you! I’ll be posting a different Christmas cookie recipe every day for the next seven days so you can follow along in my family’s baking tradition, and have more cookies to add to your Christmas baking arsenal! For more inspiration, you can check out more of my baking here. For even more recipe inspiration check out my Pinterest full of food eye candy that will have you licking your computer. Promise.