Holiday baking

Following what has been an unusually hectic December at work, I am officially off the clock and on holiday break. To celebrate, I pulled myself out of bed at 5 am and went to the store . . . but that’s mostly because I shirked responsibility last night, and we took the kids for frozen yogurt and a trip through the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. Time well spent, even if it did lead to a rather early morning.

I’m not anywhere close to being ready for the holiday, though the house is decorated and a majority of my baked good gifts are done. Last on my baking gift list is peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, which are cooling as I type and need to be on their way to Denver in about an hour.

Earlier in the week, I made three recipes to give as gifts. I started with a new recipe—Rosemary Roasted Cashews by Ina Garten—for my coworkers. Thanks to Melissa for the tip on this one; they were fast, easy and delicious.

Then, I made four pounds of chocolate truffles. I decided to do three bases–one cayenne cardamom, one  orange and one original. I used Martha Stewart’s incredibly simple, two-ingredient recipe, then rolled them in various toppings.

Finally, I tried something totally new this year, and made Irish Cream. It wasn’t a particularly inexpensive endeavor, but it was fast and easy (which seems to be the theme right now). Here’s my recipe:

Irish Cream

4 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz each)
4 cans of evaporated milk (12 oz each)
2 cups of Hershey’s syrup
5 cups milk (or cream)
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1.5 liters of Irish whiskey (I used Bushmill’s)

Mix together and pour into glass containers; label with instructions to keep chilled and shake before using.

Now, I have Italian Beef waiting for the oven, and I’m expecting a houseful of family by tomorrow afternoon. This will be the first time I’ve hosted Christmas Eve, and it will be the first time my girls will wake up in their own house on Christmas morning. There’s a lot left to do, but I am working to keep everything as simple and enjoyable as possible.

I am approaching everything in 24 hour chunks—doing just enough meal planning and grocery shopping and holiday-related tasks to make it through the following day successfully. It’s allowing a bit more sleep and a bit less stress.

I am very much looking forward to the coming week, and to spending time with our families. See you soon!





5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Laura on December 22, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Rebecca! This is all stunningly gorgeous, and delicious to boot, I’m sure. I love the packaging and the stamp especially–where did you find that cute thing?

    Have a wonderful Christmas Eve with your family, and we can’t wait to see you and the girls on Christmas!

  2. Posted by Jessica on December 23, 2010 at 8:04 am

    I’m so happy the girls get to have Christmas in their home!!! Can’t wait to see you on Xmas…great post!

  3. As usual, I am beyond impressed. How do I learn to be you?

  4. […] packaged the boxes into sacks, adding a little bottle of homemade Irish Cream with each […]

  5. […] dough one afternoon last week. Then, very early Tuesday morning, I mixed up a couple gallons of Irish cream, some of which may or may not be stirred into my coffee right […]

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