Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

A Huge Holiday Hit: Cranberry Salsa

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

From Janet Kelly at Chinaberry from our cookbook Eat, Drink & Be Chinaberry (sorry, now out-of-print):

1 package fresh cranberries
½ cup sugar
3 large oranges
A handful of chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup finely chopped chives

Put ½ package cranberries in saucepan over low heat. Add sugar, cook slightly, crushing the cranberries. Let cool.

Slightly chop the remaining half package of cranberries. Add to the cooled mixture above.

Add small chunks of fresh orange (remove the pith, otherwise known as the “white stuff”). Then add cilantro and chives.

Chill, then serve with chips

The Gift of Self

Monday, December 15th, 2008

When it is time for gift-giving on any occasion, consider making and giving coupons to your children. The sky is the limit. “This coupon good for one breakfast out with Dad.” “This coupon good for staying up late on one weekend night.” “This coupon good for one bike-riding afternoon with Mom.” What is so wonderful about coupons is that they can so easily translate into time spent together with loved ones, rather than just another thing to accumulate. We started this tradition early in our family and it wasn’t too long before we parents started getting lovingly scrawled coupons from the children. It is a sweet way to teach that gifts of self are often so much more meaningful and fun than gifts that originate in the wallet.

Gingerbread People

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Here is a recipe for Gingerbread People from the Chinaberry book Christmas Cookies by Sharon O’Connor. This set would make a great gift (even for yourself!); it contains recipe cards and a CD with music from The Nutcracker Ballet–a perfect combination of “ingredients.”

From the author: A spicy dough that bakes into delicious, semisoft gingerbread figures. This is the cookie I most look forward to baking every December.

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Powdered Sugar Icing (recipes follows)
  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and molasses until blended.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice and stir until combined. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until blended. On a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling out.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into gingerbread people or other fun shapes. Transfer the figures to a baking sheet, placing them about 1 inch apart.
  4. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until set. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. If you wish, drizzle or spread the cookies with powdered sugar icing. Or, use a pastry bag to pipe designs onto the cookies and make faces and buttons with raisins and cinnamon red hots. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
    Makes about 40 cookies.

Cook’s Tips: While the cookies are still hot and slightly soft, you can press raisins, cinnamon red hots, and other candy into the dough.

Powdered Sugar Icing: A shiny, easy-to-make icing.
1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, pinch of salt, drops of food coloring (optional)
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir until smooth and thick enough to spread.

Tips for Decorating Cookies with Kids

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

The following tips for decorating cookies with kids comes from the Chinaberry book Christmas Family Gatherings by Donata Maggipinto.

Photo by France Ruffenach

Photo by France Ruffenach

  • Clear a large work space for decorating, and another space for holding the finished cookies.
  • Protect clothes with aprons; have plenty of clean kitchen towels on hand.
  • Display the “naked” cookies on a counter and invite kids to choose the cookies they’d like to decorate.
  • Divide icing, sugars, candies, confetti, and other decorations among small bowls. Depending on the number of children participating, you may want to form cookie decorating teams and fill bowls with decorations for each team to share.
  • Plastic knives and spoons are helpful for spreading frosting and sprinkling sugar. Little ones will need supervision.
  • Have pitchers of drinking water and bowls of apple wedges and tangerine segments on hand for snacking; decorating is hard work!
  • Don’t forget to corral a few adults to assist you with the supervision.
  • Let children work at their own pace and according to their skill level. Remember, it’s the process that’s fulfilling and fun.