Christmas Menu 2022

Now that my mom has moved to New York, I hosted my family for Christmas for the first time this year. We cut down two Christmas trees to make our home extra-festive! We also all had matching pajamas, of course.

We celebrated Christmas Eve with a (modified) traditional Ukrainian vegetarian feast from my husband’s family’s tradition and Christmas morning crĂȘpes from my family’s tradition. It was great.

We had a crowd. I made two gluten-free quick breads in advance, Orange Glazed Cranberry-Pecan Bread and Banana Bread, to serve for breakfast. We also had bagels, panettone, Danish Almond Kringle, yogurt, oats, and cereal. Fresh fruit too.

My nieces and I made applesauce with over fifteen pounds of apples! We incorporated our fabulous, naturally-sweet sauce into more than one meal. 🙂 I also made Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup, Classic Split Pea Soup, and Lentil-Kielbasa Soup to serve throughout the week for lunch.

I served my mom’s traditional pork roast Christmas dinner after Christmas- I may modify the order of these meals in the future. My sister-in-law also brought wonderful Austrian pastry crisps and cookies from Demel that we nibbled on every day.

I had also planned to make our favorite chili and butter chicken, but my family treated us out to dinner in New York City one evening and for take-out on another evening- Perfect. 🙂

Selfishly, I am posting my menus to help with planning in the future. Hopefully others may benefit in some way! Happy New Year!

Christmas Eve Eve:

Christmas Eve:

  • Challah Cubes drizzled with Honey
  • Vodka Shots or Sparkling Apple Cider
  • Borscht with Vushka (mushroom-onion dumplings) garnished with Dill & Sour Cream, as desired
  • Potato-Onion Pierogies with Applesauce & Sour Cream
  • Panko-Crusted Mustard Salmon with Basmati Brown Rice, Roasted Broccoli & Cauliflower
  • Apple Strudel or Brown Sugar Baked Apple (gluten-free) with Vanilla Ice Cream

Christmas Day Breakfast:

  • CrĂȘpes (classic & gluten-free) filled with sugar or Applesauce
  • fresh Pineapple, Cantaloupe & Bananas
  • Orange & Guava (long story) Juice
  • Hot Chocolate

Christmas Day Dinner:

Post-Christmas Dinner:

  • Beecher’s Flagship Handmade Cheese and Brie with Raisin-Rosemary Crisps and Multi-Grain Crunchmaster crackers
  • green grapes, cashews, & Trader Joe’s Step up to the Bar Snack Mix
  • Glazed Spicy Pork Roast
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Rainbow Carrots, Butternut Squash, & Gold Potatoes
  • assorted Christmas Cookies

Soft Stamped Gingerbread Cookies with Glaze

These soft gingerbread cookies were my daughter’s favorite in the assortment! I bought Nordic Ware snowflake cookie stamps after seeing them on the beautiful blog The View from Great Island.

The recipe was adapted from Ottolenghi’s dessert cookbook, Sweet, via theviewfromgreatisland.com. I modified the method using another post on the same blog that used cookie stamps.

I also used a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop instead of a 2 tablespoon scoop, resulting in less of the snowflake imprint being transferred. (I need a 2 tablespoon scoop!) I would also thin the glaze even more next time so that it would be more transparent, revealing more of the pattern of the stamp.

Alternatively, instead of the glaze, each cookie could be sprinkled with additional granulated sugar prior to baking.

Yield: 18 cookies (using 1 1/2 T scoop) (6 of each design)

For the Cookies:

  • 6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 packed cup plus 2 T (7 T) dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (5 T) molasses (do not use blackstrap, which is bitter)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 T Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To Roll and Stamp:

  • small bowl of granulated sugar

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 T warm water, plus more for thinning
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Put your cookie stamps in the freezer to chill.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugar, and molasses in a stand mixer (or with a hand held mixer).
  3. Beat in the egg yolk.
  4. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, beating on low until the dough comes together.
  6. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until all the floury crumbles are incorporated. Flatten the dough into a disk. I did not have to chill my dough before rolling, but if yours is very soft, you may want to.
  7. Use a medium (1 1/2 or 2 tablespoon) cookie scoop to portion out the dough.
  8. Roll the dough into balls and coat in granulated sugar.
  9. Stamp the balls of dough with your cookie stamp. Gently pry it off the cookie stamp by just nudging one corner. The cookie should come right off the stamp. (at this point, you can sprinkle the top with additional sugar if not making the glaze)
  10. Place the stamped cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes. (I placed them on a parchment paper-lined cutting board.)
  11. Place the cold cookies onto fresh parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
  12. Bake for 8-10 minutes. You don’t want to over bake these cookies, so do a test cookie or two to figure out the best timing for your oven. The cookies will be soft when you remove them from the oven, but will firm up as they cool.
  13. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the pan before carefully transferring to a rack to cool completely.
  14. When the cookies are cool, whisk the glaze ingredients together until they become a smooth thin glaze. Add more water if the glaze is too thick, it should have the consistency of maple syrup or a thin honey.
  15. Brush the cooled cookies with the glaze. You want the glaze to be thick enough to settle into the design for a beautiful emphasis. It will become more translucent as it dries.
  16. Let the glaze set up fully before serving or storing.

Christmas Cookies 2022

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday! These are the cookies that we shared with our family and friends this Christmas season.

My list of favorite cookies continues to grow- at some point I will have to edit myself. 😉 I tried a new glazed gingerbread cookie using snowflake cookie stamps. I also made spritz cookies with almonds and almond extract using my grandmother’s cookie press. Festive and fun.

Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2023!

Cookies Clockwise from Top:

Cookies in Center:

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

I am almost out of time to post these festive fall cookies! :/ It is technically still fall until December 21st…

I made these cookies along with Vanilla Halloween Cupcakes for my kids and their friends on Halloween… yes- that was quite a while ago! I doubled the recipe below and it was perfect for a crowd, making 37 cookies.

The recipe was adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I used an entire 15 ounce can of pumpkin purĂ©e for the double batch. I blotted it on (MANY MANY) paper towels prior to weighing it.

Yield: 18 cookies

For the Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 Tablespoons (86g) blotted/dried pumpkin purĂ©e (see below)
  • 1 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating (you will have extra):

  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Blot the pumpkin purée on paper towels, or squeeze in paper towels, changing the towels frequently, until it is quite dry. Set aside. (Squeeze as much of the moisture out of the pumpkin puree as you can before adding it to the cookie dough. This will help produce a less cakey cookie. Less moisture is a good thing here! Weigh (or measure 6 T) AFTER the pumpkin has been squeezed/blotted. Do not use pumpkin pie filling.)
  2. Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl until no brown sugar lumps remain.
  3. Whisk in the vanilla and blotted pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and remaining spices together in a large bowl.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be very soft.
  6. Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes or up to 3 days. Chilling the dough is a must for this recipe. (If doubling the recipe, chill the dough for 45 minutes.)
  7. Remove dough from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). (I set my oven to true convection.) Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  8. Using a cookie scoop, ration the dough, about 1.5 Tablespoons of dough per cookie, and roll each into balls.
  9. Mix the coating ingredients together, and then roll each cookie dough ball generously in the cinnamon-sugar coating.
  10. Arrange cookie dough balls 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using the back of a spoon or the bottom of a cup/measuring cup, slightly flatten the tops of the dough balls. (Without doing so, the cookies may not spread.)
  11. Bake for 10 minutes on convection, or up to 11–12 minutes in a standard oven, or until the edges appear set. The cookies will look very soft in the center.
  12. Remove from the oven. If you find that your cookies didn’t spread much at all, flatten them out gently with the back of a spoon when you take them out of the oven.
  13. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The longer the cookies cool, the better they taste! The flavor gets stronger and the texture becomes chewier. (The original recipe notes that she usually lets them sit, uncovered, for several hours before serving.) Chewiness and pumpkin flavor are even stronger on day 2.
  14. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

To Make Ahead (& Freeze):

You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Baked cookies freeze well up to 3 months. You can also freeze the cookie dough balls for up to 3 months before baking. It’s best to freeze them without the cinnamon-sugar coating. When you are ready to bake, remove the dough balls from the freezer, let sit for 30 minutes, preheat the oven, and then roll in the cinnamon-sugar topping.

Roasted Rutabaga & Pears with Browned Butter, Honey & Rosemary

I considered making this side dish as part of our Thanksgiving feast but was unsure if the bag of root vegetables I received in my CSA share contained rutabagas or turnips! I didn’t want to take the risk. 😉

The interior of a rutabaga is a creamy yellowish-orange versus a turnip which is very white inside. Rutabagas are also much more mild and sweet in flavor compared to a turnip which can be spicy like a radish.

This recipe was adapted from 177MilkStreet.com, contributed by Rose Hattabaugh. I modified the method and proportions. I loved the combination of the starchy caramelized roasted rutabagas with the sweet pears and browned butter. Very nice.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 6 T salted butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 T minced fresh rosemary, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/4 pounds rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 ripe but firm Bosc pears (about 1 pound), unpeeled, quartered, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 T honey
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar OR cider vinegar OR white wine vinegar
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position. (I set my oven to convection roast.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium, melt the butter; remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon of rosemary, 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and 3 tablespoons of melted butter.
  4. Add the rutabaga and toss to coat, then distribute in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet; reserve the bowl.
  5. Roast the rutabaga for 15 minutes on convection or up to 20 minutes in a standard oven.
  6. Meanwhile, in the same bowl, toss the pears with 1 tablespoon of the remaining melted butter; set aside.
  7. Set the pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter over medium and cook the butter, occasionally swirling the pan, until the milk solids at the bottom are golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, about 1 minute.
  8. Off heat, whisk in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon chopped rosemary, the honey, vinegar and generous 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper; transfer to a heat proof bowl, cover and set aside.
  9. When the rutabaga has roasted for 20 minutes, add the pears to the baking sheet and toss to combine with the rutabaga. Roast until a skewer inserted into the rutabaga and pears meets no resistance and the rutabaga is well browned, 10 to 12 minutes; stir once about halfway through.
  10. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, immediately drizzle the rutabaga and pears with the browned butter mixture and toss to coat.
  11. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish. (I sprinkled fine sea salt over the top of the dish.)

Nutmeg-Maple Custard Pie

Pie is the most important part of the Thanksgiving feast. I added this wonderful pie onto the menu in addition to our traditional apple and pumpkin pies. It may have to be a new tradition. 😉 Everyone tried a very small slice of each! Perfect.

The creamy nutmeg-maple filling was absolutely amazing. The crust was flaky and fabulous as well. We loved it!

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the pie crust. I made the par-baked crust two days in advance and baked the pie one day before Thanksgiving, refrigerating the pie overnight and bringing it to room temperature before serving.

Using extra pie crust from my apple pie, I cut out maple leaves and baked them to use as decoration on top of the finished pie. Nice.

Yield: One 9-inch pie, about 8 servings

For the Crust:

  • 150 g (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water, as needed
  1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt.
  2. Add butter and pulse until the mixture forms blueberry-sized pieces.
  3. Slowly add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough just comes together. It should be moist, but not wet.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk with the heel of your hand. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  6. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 13-inch round a scant 1/4 inch thick. (I rolled it out on a floured silicone pastry mat to about 1/8-inch thick.)
  7. Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie dish (I used a pottery pie dish). Fold the dough under itself and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate the pie shell for 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Crumple up a large sheet of parchment paper (this is a trick to allow it to fit more snugly in the pie dish). Line the pie shell with the parchment paper and then foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  9. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven until nearly set, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  10. Remove the foil and weights, discard the parchment, and bake until the crust is pale golden, about 10 minutes longer. Let cool completely. (I pre-baked the pie crust one day in advance.)

For the Pie Filling:

  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pre-baked 9-inch pie crust (recipe above)
  • whipped cream, for serving, optional
  • decorative pre-baked pie crust shapes, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. (I set my oven to true convection.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and egg. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. (It will boil vigorously- so use a tall pot and stir constantly.)
  4. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
  5. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs.
  6. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl with a pouring spout.
  7. Stir in salt, nutmeg and vanilla.
  8. Place pie dish on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet and pour filling into crust. Cover the edge of the pie crust with foil (or equivalent) to prevent over-browning.
  9. Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, 45 to 50 minutes on convection, or about 1 hour in a standard oven.
  10. Let cool to room temperature before serving. Store in the refrigerator if making ahead of time; bring to room temperature before serving.

To Make (Optional) Pie Crust Topping/Decorations:

  • extra pie crust, rolled 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Using extra 1/8-inch thick pie crust (I used some from my apple pie), cut into desired shapes. I cut mine into small maple leaves.
  2. Chill cut shapes on a piece of parchment paper for 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Remove from refrigerator and place the parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Brust the top of each shape with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350 oven, preferably on convection, for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Thanksgiving Menu 2022

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

For the first time, we didn’t have overnight guests for the holiday. My mom moved to New York! 🙂 Our family joined us for the day and we ate our feast in the early afternoon. Because of the time of day, we had to forgo a festive cocktail- I am planning to incorporate it into our Christmas feast!

I made many tried and true dishes. My son noted that we may almost have our perfect menu. ❀ I added a new Brussels sprouts dish (delicious) and an additional pie, Nutmeg-Maple Custard, which will most certainly be included in the menu next year.

I document our menu to help me in the future. I included the preparation timeline as well because it was relatively stress-free this year. I hope that some of this is helpful for others! 🙂

Menu:

Appetizers:

  • green grapes
  • sourdough baguette and brie
  • mixed nuts
  • Turkey Bread, photo below (from the ciabatta used to roast the turkey upside-down)

Dinner:

Leftover Dishes:

Schedule:

Four to Five Days Before:

  • list and grocery shopping

Three Days Before:

  • make Cranberry Relish
  • decorate and clean house

Two Days Before:

  • make, chill, roll, chill, and par-bake Pie Crusts
  • bake Skillet Cornbread for Stuffing
  • bake sweet potatoes for Spoon Bread & Biscuits

One Day Before:

  • plan serving pieces, china, and linens
  • prep Vegetables
  • bake Pies
  • assemble Stuffing
  • make Mashed Potatoes
  • purchase Sourdough Baguette

Thanksgiving Day:

  • set table
  • bake Stuffing
  • purĂ©e and bake Spoon Bread
  • Roast Turkey (we roasted a 14.5 lb turkey for a little over 2 hours- until thigh=165 degrees)
  • roast Vegetables (and make sauces)
  • re-heat Mashed Potatoes
  • make Gravy (we made half the recipe because we had a smaller turkey- mistake!)

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