Thursday, December 20, 2012

More Easy Holiday Recipes

Barbara: Last year, I shared a few of my favourite holiday recipes—known for their super-simple prep times (and rave reviews from the revellers), here and here.

First up this year is a great nibbly treat, on its own or added to a cheese plate, slightly sweet, slightly salty, a bit spicy, mmmm. Best part? It's vegan-friendly AND it makes a perfect homemade hostess gift.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans

2 cups pecans (or any nut)
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

Put the almonds in a glass pie plate and douse with water, mixing well. Combine the rest and mix it with the nuts.

Microwave (uncovered) on high for 2 min, then stir, then follow with another 1 min and, if necessary, another 1 min, until glazed and syrupy (I've made it where it doesn't end up "glazed" and they're just as good). But be careful not to burn (very easy...)

Spread out on parchment paper to cool, breaking apart occasionally. And voila!

Then we have a classic recipe ‘round these parts: melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. My sister sent me this recipe about 25 years ago and I have no idea where she got it, but it is divine. It’s only super-easy if you have one of those stand-alone mixers where you can leave the batter mixing for 10 minutes and go do something else. That said, there were many many years when I did not have the stand-alone and just stood there for 10 minutes with a handheld. Do-able, just boring.

Melt in your mouth Shortbread Cookies

These are more soft puff-balls than elegant flat biscuits. Delicious!

1 cup softened butter
½ cup icing sugar
2 ¼ cups flour

Cream butter and sugar thoroughly. Add flour ¼ cup at a time.  Then blend for 10 minutes (on a Kitchen Aid-type mixer, blend at setting 6).

Drop onto greased sheets (or parchment) and put in 325 oven for 15-20 minutes or until just short of golden.

I bought this $4.00 scoop last year and, man, it makes the cookie dough doling that much easier. Last year, I kept the balls round (as is), but this year, I used a silicone spatula to very gently flatten the cookies before baking. 


  1. YA know what I'm thinking????

    "How far is Barb's house from Oakville.??? Hmmm Maybe next year I can visit her and get myself a few of these!!"

    You know me. I despise cooking. Love to watch people cook though.
    The only reason I get in the kitchen for is to ask ...
    "Whats cooking?" or say
    "I'm hungry feed me!"
    I always say, I'm two traits away from being a cat! I dont cough up fur balls and I can use the toilet!

    And... IF you want any Indian sweet recipe. Feel free to ask, I'll send a few easy ones! *Looks smug* Dont worry they'll be my mom's recommendations :P

    1. Yes, I am NOT a baker. Quite hate it actually. I do it because I gotta have 'em. I do love cooking, but that's a whole other world. So that's why these shares -- if I can do these, anyone can!

    2. Yeah...baking does sound kinda boring. But CAKES sound delicious. If you want a cake you gotta bake.....THAT RHYMED!?!!?!

  2. Looks delicious even for us non cooks.

  3. Do you need my address to send me those goodies, Barb? : )

  4. 1 loaf bread, thin sliced
    1/2 lob cheddar cheese, shredded
    6 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
    1 4oz package of slivered almonds
    1 onion chopped
    1 cup mayo
    salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat oven to 400. Remove crusts from bread and spread each slice with a mixture of all other ingredients, Cut into strips or any desired shape. If desired, freeze on a baking sheet, place in plastic bags and store in freezer. To serve, bake for 10 mins or until brown.

    These are called Mary Vickers and are a favorite in our family and with our friends.

    1. Mmmmmm, also super-easy sounding. Thanks, Jo!

  5. Souzan Rezai from Vancouver, BCDecember 20, 2012 at 2:32 PM


    I don't hate baking, I'm just very much a "cook". I still do it and enjoy it, but it just never turns out quite as nice as my 'girlfriends who bake's do... (*cough* they can't cook though, *cough*)
    For the past, hmm, 4-5 years now, though, I actually "do" Christmas dinner. It's at my parents, and we all host it, but I cook it, and end it with Tiramisu which is now our traditional Christmas dinner dessert... Seems like an intense choice for a weak baker? That's because Tiramisu is NOT baking, it's COOKING. If you would like, I could wax on about WHY Tiramisu is cooking and not baking for hours and hours. But I won't...
    I can't call the recipe simple, but it is tasty, and if anyone wanted it totally let me know!

    1. I love cooking the big turkey dinner too. Have quite a few amazing recipes -- but not for a dessert (we just serve the sweets we've baked). Tiramisu is a favourite. I'd take the recipe for sure!

  6. All so yummy sounding! Love sharing recipies <3

  7. That looks really good. I have promised my sister to bake some cookies and black currant cheese cake for Christmas. I might do your cookies as well as they seem easy enough to do when there are children running around :)

    1. They really are, Kasku. You can also let them decorate them if you want with a few sprinkles or nuts pushed into the top.

  8. Thanks for the easy holiday recipe ideas. It is always nice when you can keep things simple.

  9. I love, love, love to bake! Even now, our house is full of cookies and brownies and cake and fudge, all waiting to be given away as lovely, edible Christmas presents. Your recipes sound delicious, Barb, and I can't wait to try them! :-)

  10. Thanks for these, darling girls. I'm going to try them.

    Here's the super easy fudge I make my neighbors every year. It's a huge hit and takes no baking talent at all.

    2 c. (12 oz. pkg.) Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips or mini chips
    1-1/3 c. (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk in can
    1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)
    1 tsp. vanilla

    Combine sweetened condensed milk and chips in glass mixing bowl. Microwave on High (full power) about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, until mixture is smooth when stirred. Add chopped nuts, if desired, and vanilla. Spread in greased 8-inch square pan. Cover; chill until firm. Cut into squares.


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