The Annual Holiday Baking Extravaganza


Some of my family’s holiday recipes are cherished and they have been around for as long as I can remember. With the exception of a few, I have no idea where most of them came from. I simply remember making them with my mom when I was growing up. Every year my mom and I would make Christmas “goodies”, as we called them, to give as gifts and for US to eat.

Some of this stuff was old school like fruitcake and nut logs but we also managed to throw in homemade Chex mix, oatmeal cookies, rice krispie treats, buckeyes, chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered coconut balls. The tradition of holiday baking has made its way into my own house, but I can assure you, this chick won’t be making any fruitcake! Candied fruit is just not my thing.

One of my very favorite traditions during the holidays is to bake with my daughter. As a matter of fact, this is such a special time in our house that it has its own name. The Annual Holiday Baking Extravaganza takes place every year in our home. This is when Sydney and I stay in the kitchen for an entire day (and sometimes entire weekend, depending on the menu) and we make all the family favorites for the holidays. This menu consists of a list that spans an entire mini-chalkboard that I keep hanging in my kitchen to help us prepare and stay on task. We start creating this list of favorite treats in early November so we are well equipped for the “extravaganza”.

Some items on our menu are yearly traditions like the sugar cookie cutouts and Russian tea cakes. Other “new” treats are added each year simply because we just want to give them a try to see how we like them. No matter what we decide to bake, this day is strategically planned out well in advance and executed with great precision! Oh yeah, nothing much comes between us and this yearly tradition either, just ask my husband! This year, he just decided to get out of the house all together while we were baking, but he did manage to show back up just in time to have a few cookies and watch a college football game.

As for this year’s menu, it did not disappoint! Sugar cookie cutouts, elf crunch, chocolate-peanut butter pretzels, rustic cheese planks, Russian tea cakes and chewy Snickerdoodles. What are we going to do with all this stuff? Well, eat it, of course! Sydney also has a full basket of goodies prepared for each of her college roommates just in time for exam week. As for packaging these treats, I will be sharing some simple ways in which to wrap these as gifts on the design page later this week.

My favorite part? I love it all! We are in the kitchen together making memories and most years my mom, niece and sister-in-law join in on all the fun. Decorating the sugar cookie cutouts is definitely the most challenging. I am not very good with the icing part, but give me a container of sprinkles and I can compete with the pros! I have a small fortune tied up in sprinkles. It is an addiction that extends way back to my cupcake baking days! The real joy, however, comes from seeing my own child take a break from technology and use her hands to create something awesome! Sydney is much better at it than I am because she is much more creative….but I can make a mean Santa hat!

Let the baking begin!

Christmas Cookie Cutouts

Russian Tea Cakes

Chewy Snickerdoodles

Elf Crunch

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzels

Rustic Cheese Planks

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