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Archive for the 'holidays' Category

Holiday Countdown #12: Gingerbread People

Holiday Cookies (Photo by Mark DuFrene/Bay Area News Group) Mmmm, cookies! We talked about Toffee Bars the other day, but even gingerbread got a major makeover this fall, thanks to the latest pile of cookie cookbooks. Take a cue from Joanna Farrow’s new “Dress Your Gingerbread” (Octopus Books, 128 pp., $14.99), and you’ll be dressing your cookie people as swashbuckling pirates, adorable mermaids and striped bumblebees, too. Here, to get you started, is Joanna’s recipe for the gingerbread people. The recipe doubles easily and spreads very little on the pan, making it ideal for shaped cookies.

Gingerbread People
3 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons corn syrup
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½-1 teaspoon ground ginger, or to taste Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
Under: Cuisine, holidays | No Comments »

Holiday Countdown #11: DIY Snowman

DIY Snowman Card (Courtesy Family Fun Magazine) Got those holiday cards in the mail yet? Nope? Then check out these DIY snowmen cards – another great idea from the Family Fun elves and particularly well-suited for recipients who live in warmer climes.

You’ll need card stock or heavy paper in white, black and orange, some red felt, black seed beads and a snack-size plastic bag. The how-tos are here. The magical silk hat that makes snowmen spring to life is up to you.

Posted on Monday, December 20th, 2010
Under: Crafts, holidays | No Comments »

Holiday Countdown #10: Tabletop Topiaries

Topiaries for the Holidays (Courtesy Looking for a cute way to dress up that mantel or your holiday table? These tabletop topiaries are a perfect mom-kid project – plus they look so snazzy. You can go whole hog with foam balls and moss, or pick up a ready-made version at the craft store and put your decorating talents to good use on the pots. This version of the project – get the how-tos over at – uses bright scarlet paint and stick-on gems, but you can customize it to suit your family’s tastes. Cute, huh?

Posted on Friday, December 17th, 2010
Under: holidays | 1 Comment »

Holiday Countdown #9: Toffee Bars

Holiday Cookies (Photo by Mark DuFrene/Bay Area News Group) From gingerbread elves to crunchy biscotti and toffee bars, there’s no doubt that cookies make holidays merrier. It’s not just the sweet, chocolaty goodness of it all. What makes cookies such an integral part of the holidays, says Berkeley’s doyenne of sweets, Alice Medrich, is the whole process — the sifting, the rolling, the aromas and the sense of warm, familial togetherness.
“It’s something that women and children have always done together in the kitchen,” she says in this week’s food section. “It’s a wonderful tradition.”

Read more about Alice and holiday cookies here. Then dip into her wonderful recipes, including these Toffee Bars from her book “Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies,” (Workman Publishing, 384 pp., $25.95). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
Under: Christmas, Cuisine, holidays | No Comments »

Holiday Countdown #8: Stocking Stuffers

Looking for awesome stocking stuffer and small gift ideas? Here’s a round-up of things that caught our attention…

Pirate Bath Set For tots:

For kids:
Temporary Hand Tattoos

  • You know those cute face painting techniques people sometimes use to turn their hands into puppets? Yeah, messy. Plus, you need a certain level of artistry. Ah, but then there are these temporary hand tattoos.
  • Two words: Desktop Dodgeball.
  • More kids’ stocking stuffer ideas from Stephanie, the queen of kids cuisine, including chocolate-covered Cheerios (wait, they make those??).

For teens:

Posted on Friday, December 10th, 2010
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Holiday Countdown #7: Time Capsule Ornament

Time Capsule Ornament (Courtesy Family Fun Magazine) Too. Cute. A time capsule ornament that captures all the excitement and joy of baby’s first Christmas, and every holiday afterward too. The idea, say our friends over at Family Fun Magazine, is to use those snap-together plastic ball ornaments as a holder for mementos. Here, they’ve put in a photo of baby, plus family recollections and loving notes scrawled onto color-coordinated, fortune cookie-sized slips of paper. Snap it shut and hang it. The balls can be opened every Christmas and their contents enjoyed all over again. Get the instructions here, along with loads of other fun holiday ideas.

Posted on Thursday, December 9th, 2010
Under: Crafts, holidays | No Comments »

Holiday Countdown #6: More Challah

Challah (Chicago Tribune/MCT There’s no such thing as too much challah, right? So here are a couple of recipes from Joan Nathan, as we promised the other day.

The first is for an anise-flavored bread -if your kids are licorice lovers, they’ll love this; if that’s not their fave flave, you might want to substitute something else, like sesame seeds. But the great thing about this recipe is that it’s unbelievably speedy. Joan says one hour, start to finish – and as she mentioned before, challah-making is a great activity to do with kids.

The second recipe is a Jewish take on Tarte Flambee, which is kind of a French take on pizza. Tell your kids that, anyway! It’s an Alsatian dish made with thinly rolled bread dough and topped with creme fraiche, onions and lardons. Joan’s reinvention uses challah dough for the base, gruyere cheese and, of course, no bacon. It’s an infinitely forgiving recipe though, so feel free to customize it to your family’s tastes.

Makes 4 challahs

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, divided
½ cup peanut or vegetable oil
7-8 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 heaping teaspoons anise seeds
1 tablespoon water
1½ tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
Under: Cuisine, holidays | No Comments »

Holiday Countdown #5: Apricot Butter Cookies

nonna_tell_me_a_story Last week, we tempted you with a book giveaway of Lidia Bastianich’s wonderful “Nonna Tell Me a Story” – and were just dastardly enough to tell you about those awesome little apricot butter cookies, but not provide the recipe. I know, I know, so mean. So here you go… Lidia’s cookies. (And if you still want to get your hands on that book, the giveaway has a few more days on it.)

Makes 4 dozen

2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, December 6th, 2010
Under: Cuisine, holidays | No Comments »

Holiday Countdown #4: North Pole Ornaments

North Pole Ornament (Courtesy Family Fun Magazine) Ah, Santa, the North Pole… and Christmas trees. Why not combine all three with this adorable easy-to-make holiday ornament? Our buddies over at Family Fun Magazine were kind enough to share the how-tos (and cute pic) for this candy cane-striped marker, pointing the way to the workshop.

You’ll need a popsicle stick, paint, a Sharpie marker, glue, green felt and mini-poms for the holly berries. Find the assembly instructions (and a zillion other great ideas) here.

Related posts:

Posted on Saturday, December 4th, 2010
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Holiday Countdown #3: Hanukkah Song

Too irresistible not to share…

Posted on Friday, December 3rd, 2010
Under: holidays | No Comments »