Recipes to make your holiday season more festive!
By Kourtney Meldrum, Food Columnist
The Christmas season brings me so much joy, and the memories that I have made with my family and friends always makes this a special time of year for me. Even though I hate the snow, there’s something about skating around for hours at Olympic Plaza and then coming home for hot chocolate next to a nice fire as Bing Crosby serenades you in the background.
But would it be Christmas without Christmas cookies? For me it wouldn’t. Every year, I gather with my family to decorate sugar cookies (sometimes there is more eating than decorating), and this is the ultimate signal that my favourite holiday is just around the corner.
This year I tried a new sugar cookie recipe and it was the best one I’ve used yet. To make the cookies you’ll need:
- 1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 cups all purpose flour.
To begin, preheat your oven to 350° F. Next, in the bowl of your mixer you can combine the butter and sugar until it is smooth and then add in the extracts and the egg.
In a different bowl combine the baking powder and sugar and then slowly add it into the mixing bowl. The dough should be stiff and not very sticky once everything is mixed together. With this is recipe, you do not need to chill the dough. The recipe says it should make three dozen, but I ended up with a lot more than that.
Now we get to the fun part! Take sections of the dough and on a floured countertop roll out the dough and cut out our seasonal cookies! When rolled out, the cookies should be about 1/4 of an inch think. These can be placed onto a baking pan and into the oven for six to eight minutes. Let your cookies cool and become firm before you transfer them off of the baking pan — at this point you should also taste a few just to make sure they’re okay.
The best thing about sugar cookies — other than the fact that they’re delicious — is that they’re so easy to decorate! I usually pick up a few tubes of pre-made icing because they’re good for details, but when it comes to the base coats, my go to is always royal icing.
To make royal icing all you’ll need is:
- 2 tbsp meringue powder
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
In a bowl, mix together the meringue powder and water and then add in the powdered sugar and vanilla until the icing is light and airy. Add more water if the mixture is too thick, and use food colouring in order to colour the icing for beautifully decorated cookies.
Once you’re icing is made, let the fun begin and get creative. Call over your friends and family to help you decorate — make a fun festive night out of it. Since baking can be exhausting, and you’re really wanting to let loose with your friends and family coming over you might want to try out a new Christmas sangria.
To make this seasonal white wine drink you’ll need:
- 3 granny smith apples
- 1 large orange
- 1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries (I used frozen and it worked fine)
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 2 bottles dry white wine (I used Bodacious Smooth White)
- 1 cup white cranberry juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 16 ounces ginger ale or club soda
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary.
To make this you’ll chop up the apples and orange, and add them plus the rest of the fruit into the pitcher or bowl. Next pour in the white cranberry juice, sugar and wine. Let the mixture sit for about half an hour and then when you’re ready to serve it add in the ginger ale and fresh rosemary!
This sangria is very festive, and you can always substitute in your own favourite fruits to personalize it. It’s a perfect holiday cocktail that is a great pick-me-up for long hours of gift wrapping and lovely to sip on Christmas day.
So you’ve got the cookies, you’ve got the icing, you’re sipping on a glass of festive sangria, your favourite Christmas song is playing, all of your friends and family are around and the snow is hopefully lightly falling outside your window as you read this. Isn’t Christmas the most magical time of the year?