By the time my leftovers have been bagged and my turkey carcass simmered for broth, I’m on to the next holiday. Our Christmas tree (a real beauty this year) is half decorated, with ornament boxes still scattered throughout the living room. But by the end of this week, the tree will be dressed, the wreath hung, the house made holiday-ready, and my recipes gathered for upcoming December events.
I must have about 500 cookbooks that I can turn to for culinary inspiration and I save December issues of national magazines from year to year, for further ideas. But of course, when it comes to timesaving, my go-to source is our Special Fork recipe database with its 30-minute prep requirement (cooking time may be extra).
Here’s what’s on tap at our house and some of the recipes I’ve downloaded, that you might like to try, too.
Baking Cookies for a Cause
This year, we’re baking cookies for At the Crossroads, an organization dedicated to supporting homeless youth and young adults, and working with them to build healthy and fulfilling lives. The organization needs cookies for its holiday event. I’m baking:
- Lori Powell’s Simple Shortbread Cookies. In her recipe, Lori had cut them into shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day; I’ll be using my Christmas cookie cutters instead.
- My Macadamia Nut Refrigerator Cookies is a timesaver because you can make the dough ahead; then slice and bake for fresh cookies on demand. I’m thinking of dipping them halfway into melted chocolate and adding Christmas-themed sprinkles to dress them up.
A Small Holiday Gathering
Steve and I forswore doing huge holiday parties with nearly a hundred guests, but this year, I’m thinking of a small Sunday affair with a few friends and a few nibbles. These are some menu ideas I’m considering:
- Poached Shrimp with Aioli, a recipe by Jennifer Knapp, is quick, easy and festive.
- Pomegranate Yogurt Dip offers an interesting flavor combination for crudités.
- Smoked Salmon Crostini can be prepped ahead of time and assembled at the last minute.
- Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Cashel Blue Cheese is a winning combination – sweet, salty, and rich with bacon and blue cheese.
- Herb Garlic Cheese Spread is a recipe by Holly Chute, who was Executive Chef to the governor of Georgia when she shared this super-simple recipe with me.
- Roasted Grapes, a recipe by Lori Powell, adds flair to a cheese platter.
In addition to a bottle of wine, I like to make something simple to take as a host/hostess gift, such as:
- Katie Barreira’s Peppermint Truffles look like they require a lot of work but all it takes is a zap in the microwave, some time to chill and a quick shaping.
- Cardamom spices up these extraordinary Cardamom Shortbread Cookies, by Ben Mims.
- Rich Espresso Brownies, another recipe by Lori Powell, is sinfully delicious; I just cut mine in squares, rather than using a cookie cutter.
- San Francisco Fudge, a recipe from Ghirardelli, is easy enough for beginners.
- Your host will love artisan marshmallows. Try this recipe for Homemade Marshmallows by Katie Barreira.
December is off to a good start. Now to do the Christmas shopping, write the cards, plan the Christmas table setting….
Rich Espresso Brownies photo by Lori Powell.
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