Saturday, December 03, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

That's probably the most overused blog post title in December, but since this quick update is really just a handful of iPhone photos strung together, it IS all about the visuals of the season.

Above is our buffet, with a few Pinterest-inspired centerpieces that were easy and affordable. How awesome is Pinterest for party planning and inspiration?!

And I love our simple twig tree, bare except for a few felt ornaments courtesy of Ikea.

Tourtiere happened this week, many of them. I even turned some of the pie crust and filling into hand pies for party appetizers. They also work pretty great for Noah's school lunches.

I got my Christmas present early. Ahh. A fantastic new Le Creuset flagship store opened at my local shopping mall. It's the first of its kind in Quebec and I was fortunate enough to be invited to the press opening.

Thanks to a gift certificate, I choose a new kettle - the 1.7L Whistling Tea Kettle in Cherry red, to leave with me. It already looks right at home in my kitchen. Then again, most anything from that store would...

Homemade mincemeat also was chopped, simmered, and jarred this week. Tarts soon followed and it finally feels like Christmas.

This year my annual cookie swap may have topped all proceeding events, with sponsors, press, a successful fundraiser, and, of course, stacks of beautiful homemade cookies. Here's the recap on Simple Bites, and if you're in the Montreal area, watch CTV news at 6 on Sunday, December 11 for the story.

The first snow came and went, and hasn't been seen since. If feels a little odd as we're December already, but getting into the winter coat and boots isn't so easy with a six-month-pregnant belly, so I'm not wishing for snow just yet.

One of the most fun holiday treats this year has to be these Peppermint Marshmallow Kisses. We've been popping them into hot cocoa and our mouths! Come to think of it, there isn't a single one left.

To make them for yourself, take my basic marshmallow recipe and replace the vanilla with 1 teaspoon peppermint extract. Add a few drops of red food coloring but do not mix it in. Fill a pipping bag with a #12 tip (or your favorite) and pipe kisses onto a greased parchment paper. Sprinkle with crushed candy cane and allow to set for at least 6 hours. Dust with powdered sugar and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

It just wouldn't be Christmas without gingerbread. We devoted a recent PED day of Noah's to making, rolling and baking nearly 10 dozen cookies. It was epic fun and they did a great job.

Noah (now 6) and Mateo (4 in Feb) are both such pros in the kitchen now. I actually really relied on them for cutting and rolling the dough while I took care of baking and cooling the cookies.

The next day we worked on frosting, that sweet, sticky task. My basic recipe for both dough and royal icing can be found here. Shaina's also just posed a fun tutorial on the many variations of the gingerbread cookie.

Snow falling on trees; these won't last long.

Stockings have been hung, and my current obsession with cardinals leaked onto our personalized felt Christmas stockings. Notice the pink one for Baby Girl?

Lastly, Pumpkin Challah has been made and frozen for toasting on Christmas morning or perhaps lending itself to French Toast.

What is Christmas looking like in your home?


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