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: Maple Butter Cookies

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If you’re too worn out from all of the holiday excitement, may I suggest making these super simple cookies to add to your Christmas cookie platter? I came up with this recipe after wanting to be creative with my basic butter cookie recipe that I make every year. I already had the maple flavoring in my baking box and it adds a subtle element to the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture of the cookie. Tinker around with the flavor to see what suits you the best.

Maple Butter Cookies (makes approximately 36 cookies)

3/4 c. butter, softened
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
about 1 tbsp maple extract or 2 tbsp maple syrup (to taste)

In a mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar. Add flour a little bit at a time as the dough gets quite thick and difficult to manipulate. You may want to use a food processor. Add maple extract to taste. Knead until a large ball starts forming, then flatten the ball into a disc. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to make your cookies, preheat the oven to 350F. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll into small balls. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Before placing them in the cover, press down on the top of each ball of dough lightly with a fork. Bake for about 10 minutes.

B’s Tip: To make sure all of your cookies are in uniform shape, use a small dessert spoon (or I like to use a coffee spoon) to scoop the same amount of dough. Roll into a ball using the palm of your hands.

Let cookies cool on a cooling rack for about ten minutes before serving to let the shape of the cookie set. You may wish to drizzle an icing glaze over the top for a sweeter cookie, and if you really love that maple flavor you may wish to add a drop of maple extract to your icing as well. I pressed chopped walnuts into the top and that tasted great too!

If you can’t find maple extract in the aisle where vanilla extract is sold, you may want to try experimenting with maple syrup. Just remember to add a little bit at a time so the dough doesn’t become too sticky.

This cookie pairs perfectly with a cup of Christmas tea.

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.