Archive for Seasonal

Virtual Cookie Swap

If there’s one thing I love this time of the year, it’s making cookies. I know it’s just a silly little thing, but I think, in today’s world, people really like getting homemade cookies.

Normally, I’d make baking dates with friends, or I’d organize a cookie swap.

The idea of a cookie swap is you invite a bunch of friends over for an evening or an afternoon. Each friend brings a certain amount of cookies. I usually say 1 or 2 dozen–one dozen to swap, and 1 dozen to eat.

Then everyone puts out their cookies, and you take home the same amount of cookies you brought. You get to try different types of cookies, different recipes, and it’s always a fun, social event.

Clearly that’s not happening this year.

Virtual Xmas Cookie Exchange

But you can do a Virtual Cookie Swap.

There’s two different ways you can do it:

Cookie Swap: Each person in the swap bakes the required amount of cookies (1 doz, 2 doz, whatever you decide) and then wraps up that amount of cookies separately for each of the participants. Then you either mail or drop off the packages (safely–no contact). Then you organize a zoom call where you all open a bottle of wine, or even better, make a festive cocktail, and open and try your cookies all at once.

Virtual Cookie Swap (recipes): This will cost you less money in postage. Each person contributes a beloved favourite Christmas Cookie recipe, and the organizer puts them all together in an online “book.” You can use Evernote or OneNote for something like this (it even allows you to create chapters!). Then each of you can choose one or all of the recipes to make yourself. You can still have a zoom party.

Charity Component? One thing you might want to build into your virtual cookie swap is a charitable component. Maybe you’ll all donate to a specific cause, or agree to try to solicit donations for a specific cause. Many charities are suffering this year because of COVID, as they’ve been unable to do their normal fundraising campaigns and events. And this year, people are struggling more than ever. Or maybe you want to make extra cookies and donate them to your local homeless shelter.

You need music! You can create your own Spotify playlist (everyone can contribute their favourite songs) or use one that’s already been built.

Christmas Cocktails. If you wanna get real fancy, add the component of a Christmas Cocktail (for a few of my favourites, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page) to your party. You can either send out the recipe in advance so everyone can pick up the ingredients, or even make little cocktail kits. A bunch of Vancouver restaurants are also offering ready-made cocktail kits.

Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap

I wanted to share with you a few of my personal favourite Christmas Cookie Recipes.

Salted Dark Chocolate Shortbread: super easy to make, these employ the “lazy” method of making shortbread. Few ingredients, but maximum impact.

Easy Spiced Chocolate Christmas Cookies:  Again, not hard to make, beautiful result.

Amaretti Cookies (vegan): Amaretti are those meringue-like, crispy cookies you get with your coffee in an Italian restaurant. This is my vegan version, using Aquafaba. Very festive!

Miniature Brownies: This is a Christmas recipe I’ve been making for a minimum of 20 years. They’re so yummy and festive.

Matcha Shortbread Cookies: all the shortbread recipes pack and ship well, but this one incorporates the green colour of matcha, so is extra festive.

Ginger Cookies: These are the real deal. With three types of ginger, they pack a punch!

Vegan Eggnog Cookies: They taste like eggnog! How can you go wrong?

Citrus Caramel Apple Cider

It’s December, and that means it’s the season for twinkly lights, yummy food, gatherings and good drinks.

Obviously, a bunch of those things will not be happening this year, but I’d argue that this year, more than ever, we need some extra cheer.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this in your neighbourhood, but it seems like people are putting up Christmas lights and decorating earlier than ever. I get it. We all need some cheer, and more than that, something to look forward to.

Parties (unless they’re virtual) will be a thing of the past this year, but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to at least eat Christmas dinner with a small group of family. I’ve also booked a staycation on the Island for Michael and I, though we both know it’s very possible that may be cancelled.

Citrus Caramel Apple Cider

We are badly in need of Christmas cheer, and I have just the thing.

I recently attended a virtual workshop put on by Simply Bare Organics, where we made three different cider recipes. This one was my favourite, and Michael really loved it, too.

It’s a citrusy mulled cider with a sweet kick.

You could, by the way, make this more adult by adding booze. I would consider rum, bourbon, or something orangey like Grand Marnier to play off of the citrus notes in the cider.

It makes for a very pretty drink when you use a transparent glass to serve (I am loving these new double-walled glasses I recently bought), and drizzle the inside of the glass with the caramel before you pour in the cider.

For this recipe, we just melted down regular caramels over a double boiler, but you could also use a bottled caramel sauce or you could even make you own. You just want the consistency to be thick enough that it sticks to the walls of the glass, at least for a while, before dissolving.

One last thing: this would make a great virtual Christmas activity to do with family or friends. Just buy multiple ingredients, then put together boxes, one for each household, and drop them off. Then book a zoom date when all of you can make the cider and enjoy it together virtually.

Citrus Caramel Apple Cider

recipe courtesy of Travis Peterson for Simply Bare Organics

Makes one serving

Ingredients

  • 12 oz apple cider (I love Taves)
  • 4 oz orange juice
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 slice of lemon
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, split
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • caramel to drizzle

Method:

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, place the cider, sugar, orange juice, lemon and spices. Bring up to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.
  3. An alternate way to do this is to put all the ingredients into a slow cooker (in this case, quadruple the recipe and make multiple servings), and allow to cook on low for about an hour.
  4. Melt the caramel over a double boiler, if using solid caramel. Drizzle the inside of a pretty glass with the caramel drizzle/sauce.
  5. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the cider into the glass.
  6. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve.

 

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