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: Traditional Swedish Gingersnaps

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Do you find yourself scrambling to figure out what to make leading up to the Christmas holidays? Me too. It’s not so much a matter of not knowing what to serve- it’s having to pick and choose! There are so many tasty ideas for holiday foods out there- but what really gets me going is all that Christmas baking.

Part of my background is Swedish so holiday baking is a huge must in our family. It’s a tradition every year around Christmastime to bake seven different kinds of cookies. Why this is a tradition I have no idea but I can’t complain- I love to bake and I love to eat, so everybody wins as far as I’m concerned!

As we begin our countdown to Christmas, I’ll be sharing seven of some of my favorite cookie recipes so that you can get some ideas on what to bring- and what to eat- at your upcoming holiday dinner.

So to kick off our cookies we’re going to start with the traditional Swedish gingersnap, or pepparkakor. It’s much spicier and a little less sweet than its North American counterpart, but is still incredibly satisfying when paired with your favourite after-dinner holiday drink, a strong cup of coffee, or just an old-fashioned glass of milk.

Swedish Gingersnaps (makes approximately 48 cookies)

7 tbsp butter, softened

1 c. dark brown sugar

1/2 c. dark corn syrup (light works too)

1/2 c. whipping cream

2 tsp ginger

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ground cloves

3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the corn syrup and beat until light and fluffy. Pour in whipping cream and spices. In a separate bowl combine the flour and baking soda.  Add into the wet mixture and knead until smooth (you may want to use your hands). Roll dough into ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature overnight.

When you’re ready to bake your cookies preheat the oven to 350F. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface. Cut into shapes and place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake on the center oven rack for around 8 minutes.

B’s Tip: If you prefer your cookies to be chewier, don’t roll out the dough as thinly. Thinner dough leads to crispy cookie, so roll away if that’s what you prefer. You may want to shorten the baking time to avoid burning. Beware- getting a little too rolling-pin happy might mean your shapes won’t cut very well.

Don’t worry if the gingerbread cookies look puffy and soft when they come out of the oven. Place a cooling rack to let them cool and harden slightly before icing.

These gingerbread cookies look beautiful when iced with all-white icing but you may want to experiment with different colours to determine which you like best. Or why not go all out and add sprinkles, Smarties or mini gum drops to create that perfect candy-coated look?

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.