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: Orange Crunch Cookies

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Although I live in Canada and there is nary an orange tree in sight, I still manage to think of Christmas when I think of orange-y flavors. Maybe it’s because there’s always a clementine in the toe of my stocking. Or maybe it’s because it’s been a long-standing joke in my family that we give my dad a Terry’s Chocolate Orange from a “mystery person” every year. Or maybe I just like orange because it pairs so nicely with all those Christmas spices. And chocolate. Man, does it ever taste good with chocolate.

Orange Crunch Cookies (makes approximately 24 cookies)

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. butter, diced

1/3 c. soft dark brown sugar

1/2 egg yolk, beaten

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp orange zest

Icing:

1 c. icing sugar

3 tbsp orange juice

Sift flour in a bowl and rub diced butter into it until it forms a bread crumb-like texture. Using a table knife, stir rest of ingredients in the flour until mix forms clumps. Working with your hands, work dough into a small ball. Roll into log and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 1/2 hours or until firm.

Preheat your oven to 350F. Slice log of dough into thin discs and place on a parchment-lined or lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes and allow cookies to set a bit on the pan before transferring them to a cooling rack.

While the cookies are baking, you can make the icing. Beat sugar and orange juice together to form smooth paste. Pour into a piping bag and drizzle over cooled cookies.

B’s Tip: To create orange zest you can use a zester or you can grate the orange lightly on either a tabletop or hand-held cheese grater. Just make sure you don’t start grating what’s called the “pith”- the stringy white stuff that’s underneath when you peel an orange. Including that in your recipe will diminish the sweet orange flavour that’s coming from the peel and instead just make it bitter.

Instead of drizzling with orange icing, why not try dipping cooled cookies into melted chocolate or drizzling with a chocolate ganache? Better still, leave cookies as-is so they can act as the perfect dippers in a mug of your favourite hot chocolate.

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.