Wednesday 12 December 2018

Christmas Gum Drops and How I Do Christmas Baking

     I think I approach Christmas baking a little differently from others. Christmas was a huge family event growing up and involved large extended families on both my parents' sides. As such, all bakers in the family would throw all of their baking magic into the week before Christmas where they would power bake as many of the best Christmas recipes they could think of. My mom has not attended Christmas without her sugar cookies, shortbread, or butter tarts. 

     I both loved and hated this approach as I got older. There's nothing better then staring at a dessert table full of beautiful baked goods. However, after a large Christmas dinner, you're lucky if you are still hungry enough to enjoy one or two of those Christmas goodies. All those treats sit out, then go in to tupperware, are given away to a dozen different relatives on their way out the door, and usually spend the next week or so going stale as we all plot our new health plans for the new year. SO SAD for the cookies.

So instead I have a general rule that I bake one type of Christmas cookie/treat starting late November or early December. Once its gone then I bake another. It takes away that glutinous feeling at Christmas when your eyes get as large as those apple pies, because you've been slowly snacking on Christmas treats for the past month. Restraint is still totally key in this plan. I'm a 'have one or two to satisfy the craving' type. I usually don't go back for more because I've filled the void and I genuinely don't want anymore. My husband on the other hand is the reason I'm able to bake more than one Christmas treat during December....he just keeps eating them. If you fall into this camp and are avoiding sweets this probably isn't a good Christmas baking strategy for you. What I have found though is that this allows me to enjoy ALL the Christmas treats in some capacity without trying to trick my body into believing its not actually that full on Christmas day in front of that treat table.

So far this month we've had brownies (I just had a serious craving), sugar cookies, and now these beauties. CHRISTMAS GUM DROPS! They are actually pretty good. Definitely a jellyish consistency and I think my heart was set on like a swedish berry texture....definitely not what you get in this recipe, but still pretty delicious.

This is a new recipe this year for me and when I found it on Pinterest (link to recipe below) I was intrigued by the whole 'make these with kids' idea. As a new mom I'm already anticipating all the great baking and crafts I'll get to do with my kids. Its not at all weird that I'm test-running a few ideas years before Eli is old enough to be in the kitchen with me right?

Here was the process (specific directions in the recipe link below):

Two boxes of jello, two packs of gelatin, a whole lot of sugar and applesauce, with a little lemon juice. Mix and bring to a boil on the stove stirring the whole time. The foaminess on top had no effect on the finished product. I totally screwed up and didn't buy enough jello (one pack lime and one pack strawberry, obviously for two batches in Christmas colours) so I ended up mixing the two jello packs. Thus, I ended up with a strawberry-lime flavour red gum drops. Not at all complaining about the flavour....would definitely do it again the same way.

As soon as it boils it gets poured into a 9x13 baking dish or pyrex (grease it first with baking spray). Refrigerate for minimum 3 hours. I ended up leaving it over night to let the gelatin really set. Then you peel it out of the pyrex and flip it over onto a sugared piece of parchment paper.

Then the obvious kids part! You find the cutest mini cookie cutters you can and set your children to work cutting out your gum drops.

Here's some cute mini cookie cutters I found. I ended up using a few that I already had.

They are pretty sticky so naturally you roll them in sugar!!! Also the kids part!


Be sure to play Christmas music for these parts. Once they are sugared they don't stick to anything anymore so they can be stored all together in a pretty tin and brought to your next holiday event to share around.

Here's the link to the original recipe (at least the one I used). She also recommends letting the gumdrops sit out at room temperature for 8 hours before rolling them in sugar....I didn't do this and still found them good, but will definitely be doing this for the next batch.

- Katie


Thursday 6 December 2018

Cinnamon Clementine Sugar Cookies

Thought I would share my favourite sugar cookie recipe today. There are so many sugar cookie recipes out there and let's be honest, the base is pretty similar from one recipe to the next. I tried a couple of different icings this year to switch things up and ended up with a pomegranate icing and a cinnamon clementine icing. OMG! Are these good! Especially the cinnamon clementine icing. It keeps these sugar cookies humble, but also noticeable enough that you totally go back for seconds just to get that spicy cinnamon taste mixed with the tangy clementine and sweet sweet cookie.

Here's my recipe (it belonged to one of the great grandma's on mine or chad's side - I don't actually remember):

3/4 cup shortening (at room temperature)      Directions:
1 cup sugar                                                     Preheat oven to 350 F.
2 eggs                                                             Mix everything in the order given. Cover and chill the 
1 tsp vanilla                                                    dough for 1 hour. Roll the dough out to 1/4 " thick on a 
2 1/2 cups flour                                              well floured surface. 
1 tsp baking powder                                      Cut out cookies with your favourite cookie cutters and 
1 tsp salt                                                         bake on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 6-8 
                                                                       min. Move to a cooling rack before decorating.

What your dough should look like after mixing your ingredients.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour in the fridge before rolling out.

I split my dough in half so it's easier to work with when rolling it out to 1/4" thick.

I found these little cutters at the end of last season, but here are some similar ones.

I tried cutting out the little stars on some of the angels to see how it would turn out. 

I tried out a couple different icing combinations to see how they would turn out. The flavours I tried were clementine and cinnamon, pomegranate, and mint. I ended up not using the mint because the flavour didn't go well with the sugar cookies.

Clementine cinnamon icing:                                 Pomegranate icing:                 Mint icing:
2 clementines juiced                                             1/2 a pomegranate juiced        2-3 drops mint extract
1 tbsp or more cinnamon (depending on taste)     Icing sugar                              Icing sugar
Icing sugar                                                                                                            Water 

Add as much icing sugar to the clementine or pomegranate juice as you'd like until the icing reaches a thick, but still somewhat runny consistency for easy decorating. The trick is that you want it to go on the cookies easy and then harden up before it runs off the side of the cookie onto the tray. Add a little water if you feel that the icing is getting too thick.

I also had some shimmery decorating powder that I dusted onto the iced cookies while the icing was still wet. 

If you have a particularly good sugar cookie recipe please feel free to share it with us. I always love trying new cookie recipes.


Wednesday 5 December 2018

Things We're Loving This Christmas

Christmas is about so much more than just Christmas day with all the presents and Santa coming. For me Christmas is an entire month-long season of good cheer and merry making. For those of us who fully embrace the season, December has set itself up to be the best self-help month there is. Think about it. When else are you going to allow yourself to cozy up in front of the tv with hot chocolate, a cozy blanket, and a feel good movie? When else are you going to bake all those indulgent treats and allow yourself some goodies? Another thing all this self care does for us throughout December is get us motivated for all those best intentions we have for the New Year. No other month is more refreshing, family-oriented, or full of good cozy food (in my humble opinion).

Here's a few of the things I love in December to keep that focus on the holiday season.

Christmas Sweaters

I'm not talking about the popular 'ugly' Christmas sweaters and maybe a 'Christmas' themed sweater is just not for you, but there are so many seasonal sweaters out there. These are two that I wear throughout December. The purple fair isle sweater is from Old Navy last season. This is the one they are selling this year. I love that winter look to their sweaters without being overly 'Christmas' themed. The red and white sweater is several seasons ago from Mod Cloth. There holiday sweater collection this year is serious business. 

I also love this one and this one.

Holiday Dishes and Candles

Hot chocolate just tastes way better when drank out of Christmas mugs that get tucked away each year with the Christmas decorations. It makes everything extra special since it doesn't hang out in the usual rotation of everyday mugs. I've slowly been collecting Christmas mugs that I absolutely love. This mug was a gift from my mother last year. 

I also love this one and these are super cute if you want a set.

I've also been slowly hunting down Christmas pottery. Not very common. This plate was done by a local potter and has an imprint of a snowflake on it. 

I'm also always hunting down Christmas serve ware. Like this cute tea pot. I actually have this tea pot, but in a skiing theme. Or these plates to go with the current garden gnome trend.

Cozy Blankets

You can't go wrong with a cozy throw in your living room. Switching it out in December for something super warm and seasonal is a no brainer. This one was also a gift last Christmas, but here is one that is almost exactly the same.

I also love this one or this one.

Christmas Lights

Both last season and this season I've been really loving different styles of twinkle lights. Usually twinkle lights like these come on short strands so I've been finding ways to hang them in the house. These right now are swagged along the top of a quilt that hangs in our kitchen. And they are short enough that they give that little pop of light that we all love at Christmas without covering your whole living room or kitchen in Christmas lights. Quality, not quantity right? I found these at Winners last year, but these ones are similar. 

These ones would be so great with Christmas cards!!!
And the child in me loves these.

Christmas Pyjamas

Christmas pyjamas make those couple of hours after dinner and before bed into an event. Its just another self care December thing where, instead of flying around like an idiot after dinner trying to get things done, you instead slip into the bedroom and put on your Christmas pyjamas a) because they are more comfortable and b) because you know it creates every excuse for you to stop achieving for the day and sit with your Christmas mug and cozy blanket while you flip through the Netflix Christmas specials. The Christmas pyjamas are the biggest key in my opinion to the slower pace of the holiday season. 

The Merry Everything pyjamas are last season from Old Navy, but their current Christmas pyjamas are pretty great too. The striped set is from Marks Work Wearhouse. I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised because they are the highest quality and coziest pyjamas I own.

December Daily

December Daily has easily been my favourite thing about December over the past 3 years. It's a scrapbooking project with the general idea being to document one photo for each day in December. The point is to document all the holiday memories and traditions that your family participates in. If I'm being honest my December albums are the only ones that are actually completed and I pull them out every Christmas as part of my decor. They sit on our coffee table and get flipped through by family and friends visiting. More importantly to me, they document that time in our lives. Where we were, what we were doing, what our family looked like, what we were interested in, etc. These albums also have some pretty big life changes documented in them which I'm sure we will cherish forever.

This is totally a passion project for me and something I've been debating sharing on the blog here. So let me know if your interested in seeing my December Daily projects from previous years. There are also some great youtubers out there that have videos of their December Daily process which is a huge help when trying to come up with 25-30 scrapbooked pages of seasonal memories each year.

All the albums, and products to complete your album can be found here.

Ali Edwards
Amy Gretchen

Always love sharing and hearing what your favourites are at Christmas time. Always looking for new ideas or ways to make the season merry and bright, so let me know what your December looks like.
- Katie
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