It’s that time of year again, the red, green, and white time of year called Christmas! Where everything glistens and sparkles, and the smell of cinnamon, chocolate, orange, and peppermint waltz through the air. For many of us it is one of the most blessed days of the year celebrated with family and friends. A time to give thanks, to reflect on what we have and what we could do better. A time for peace and goodwill, gift-giving and good food. Christmas season with all its many traditions is also one of the busiest times of the year and no wonder, the to-do list is endless. Families with young children are particularly hurried with homework, school activities, concerts, trips to see Santa, shopping, baking, cleaning and cooking. Would we have it any other way? Never! Could we pare it down some, enough to smell the mistletoe? Absolutely or should I say I hope so!
This year I decided to give it my best shot paring down the list. First I had to make a few choices, like do I really need to spend a gazillion dollars to have a great Christmas? Will Aunt Ida really care that I baked one less dessert or that my usual formal dinner is buffet style this year? Do I really need to iron ALL the linens, clean every nook and cranny? Will my benefactors appreciate a less than glitzy store bought gift? I don’t know but I will soon find out. If they love me ha, ha,then they had better love my gifts!
So here it goes, I’m going to list them as I make them or when time permits. Remember I’m going for nice, easy and stress-free while reducing my carbon foot print this holiday season so please be patient with me. Like ‘somebody’ once said “there’s always next year”. Seriously though most of these recipes, gifts, and projects can be applied and/or adapted to suit any time of year.
Chocolate Crackle Cookies
Preheat oven to 190’C (375’F)
Makes 4.5 dozen cookies
- 1 package Devil’s Food Cake Mix
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 15ml. (1 Tsp.) water
- 75ml. (1/2 cup) Crisco
- Icing sugar
Blend together dry cake mix, eggs, water, and Crisco with a spoon. Drop batter by 4 ml. (1 tsp.) into icing sugar. Coat well and roll into balls Put onto greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool.
I like to add vanilla, chocolate chips and coconut to the second batch for an extra rich taste. Replace the chocolate with chocolate mint chips for a whole other flavour! I picked up some inexpensive cookie tins from the dollar store to add a festive touch. The great thing about tins is that they are so easy to reuse or recycle once the goodies are gone. Next year I may rethink my containers to incorporate a more natural look or maybe hand-paint recycled cardboard boxes. This year I’m sticking with the tins, they fit my theme and will look cheery and colourful in my gift baskets. Plus I hadn’t planned to make my own gifts this year until a few weeks ago so I’m sort of in a time crunch before Rudolph comes calling!
Peanut-Free Granola Bars
1/2 cup peanut butter or sunbutter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil (or another oil of your choice)
1 cup oats
1 cup of any combination of: sesame seeds, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds,dried fruit, mini chocolate chips
- In a medium sized saucepan, melt together peanut butter/sunbutter, honey and coconut oil.
- Remove from heat and add one cup of oats.
- Choose your favorite combination of coconut flakes, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, dried fruit and mini chocolate chips, to equal a total of ONE CUP. Pour into oat mixture and stir well.
- Spread mixture into an 8×8 or 9×4 pan.
- Chill for two hours, cut into bars. For quick snacks on the go, wrap each bar separately in plastic wrap.