Cooking Up A Storm For Christmas!!! - TheBritishBaker Blog at - 258778


Cooking up a storm for Christmas!!! 
Nov. 29, 2011 1:20 am 
Updated: Jan. 10, 2012 9:12 am

Cooking up a storm for Christmas…

“Did you just say, only 4 weeks until Christmas”?  Oh my goodness, its time to panic.  All that cooking and preparation and I have just 4 weeks to get organized!
So I am trying my best not to panic, we all want Christmas to be perfect, to go without a glitch.  This year Christmas is going to be that little bit more extra special, and I will tell you why.  I have not spent a single Christmas with my parents for the last 16 years.  Yes, that’s right 16 years (my parents have always been on vacation somewhere around the world) but this year their vacation is going to be coming out to stay with my family in Illinois for 2 weeks over the holidays!  Also I have not actually seen my parents in over 18 months, so I am so excited for their arrival.  I want everything to be perfect.  I would like us to have a wonderful array of food to eat, I want my parents to go back to England and tell family and friends just how good the food was but then on the other hand I want to spend as much time with my parents as I can without being chained to the kitchen.
So I came up with a plan, I was going to “Cook up a storm for Christmas”.  For the next 4 weeks I plan on cooking more than ever.  I took myself off to Sam’s Club and brought a chest freezer.  Plan 1 was put into operation.  Plan 2 is to fill it!!!
So the cooking has begun.  I hope to fill the freezer with enough meals and desserts to get me through the holidays, not forgetting of course the cookies and candy!!!
I brought myself lots of pretty paper bakery wrappers from Sur la Table, so that I could bake my cakes and loaves direct in those.  A mountain of glass storage containers. Freezer bags and my latest love Reynolds freezer wrap and tape.
Freezing Cookies.  I am simply freezing the dough (I have done this many times in the past always with great success).  I follow the cookie recipe exactly, but then shape the dough into balls and place of a cookie sheet.  I then put the cookie sheet in the freezer for approx 1 hour.  Once the dough is frozen I then transfer the balls into a zip lock bag for easy storage.  Baking the cookies could not be any easier, no need to defrost.  I place the dough balls straight from the freezer onto a cookie sheet and bake in a warm 300 degree oven for approx 25-30 minutes.  They really do come out perfect every time!
So far in the freezer I have batches of:
Peppermint Cookies
Beth’s Spicy Oatmeal Raison Cookies
Pumpkin Spiced and Iced Cookies
Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies
Freezing Homemade fudge ~ you simply can’t beat homemade fudge at Christmas and this year I plan on making a huge variety of flavors.  One of the other cooks on AR (Roxanne J.R) had a great idea and made her fudge in small mini muffin liners in a muffin pan.  The perfect bite size piece of fudge, so I have done the same.  I made my fudge following the recipe, but filled the muffin liners.  Once the fudge was cooled I removed the fudge from the paper cases and stored in a glass freezer container with wax paper in between the layers.  Fudge can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months (as a rule denser freezes better than lighter fudge recipes). Defrosting could not be similar ~ just defrost the fudge in the refrigerator with their wrappings in place.  The moisture that forms during defrosting will then form on the wrapper and not the fudge.  Once thawed, allow to stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving.
So far in the freezer I have batches of:
Candy Cane Fudge
Anyone who knows me, know desserts are my thing.  I just love, love, love desserts.  Of course I am going to need two weeks worth of desserts but so far I have baked the following and added them to the freezer…
Spiced Plum Crumble (Personal Recipe)
Pumpkin Swirl Bread

Orange Raisin Cake

Momma’s Wine Cake

Apple Streusel Crumb Pie (Personal Recipe)<

Not forgetting Breakfasts…

Some days I plan on just having a light breakfast, but I did want a few breakfast items to fall back on , here are a few items already made it to the freezer:
Pumpkin Pancakes
Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes
Oatmeal and Raisin pancakes
Broccoli and Mozerella Quiche x 2
Sausage and Onion Quiche x 3


As I have been making dinner, where possible I have been making two of everything and popping an extra one in the freezer. 
Momma’s Chicken Pot Pie
4 Cheese Vegetable Lasagna 
Cottage Pie 
Sausage Stuffed Jalapenos
Yes, I still have a long way to go ~ But I feel I have made an excellent start in just over a week!  I would be so interested to hear how you will be spending your Christmas and what preparations you have already made?
Winter Spiced Plum Crumble
Photo Detail
Pumpkin Swirl Bread
Photo Detail
Pumpkin Spiced and Iced Cookies
Photo Detail
Candy Cane Fudge
Photo Detail
Sausage Stuffed Jalapenos
Photo Detail
Momma's Wine Cake
Photo Detail
Beth's Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Photo Detail
Orange Raisin Cake
Photo Detail
Nov. 29, 2011 1:26 am
Happy Holidays !! ~ Can't wait to hear all about your Christmas preperations and how you are spending your holiday.
Nov. 29, 2011 3:32 am
Good morning, Apple! I am so impressed with your planning and organization. You are going to have a wonderful visit & easy serving. This is a special Christmas for us also. My daughter is expecting her first child Dec. 13. I started shopping to have things on hand for dinners. Meal ideas so far: Pot Roast, Chili, Meat Loaf, Pasta/Shrimp, Chicken Salad, Pea Soup...I am already sending meals because they are in the midst of a kitchen renovation!! It's been fun. This is going to be a busy month for everybody. Enjoy!
Nov. 29, 2011 3:47 am
Apple what a great menu plan...I don't even have my Thanksgiving put impress me. Your photos are always so beautiful and magazine worthy. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your they can't get food like yours anywhere on that long vacation. :D
Nov. 29, 2011 4:32 am
You've got a lot done! SO far I've just made Gitano's Pinwheel Cookie recipe. Baked them last night and they're in the freezer now. I need to start getting more done but I don't have a ton of freezer space, so it's a bit difficult trying to plan when I'm going to do everything!
Nov. 29, 2011 4:38 am
Oh my! I could not believe you've already cooked and froze meals and desserts. I love the recipes you've chosen. Infact, I planning on making the cranberry cookies too! I know your parents will enjoy the food you'll have. Hope you and your family will have a good visit
Nov. 29, 2011 5:28 am
WOW! You have got it together!! I will freeze some desserts, but most of my cooking will be done with family, we see them on a regular basis so cooking together is always fun. Got some very good tips from your blog..thanks. Happy Holidays!
Nov. 29, 2011 5:44 am
Hi Christmas is relatively low key this year. I have to "Bake ....aagh) mince pies for christmas eve etc. then on the day....Breakfast is Scrambled egg with shredded smoked salmon through it with bacon and toast on side. Drink Bucks Fizz (Champagne with Orange Juice.) Then for big meal around 4pm with friends.----- Starter------ Prawns in a Marie Rose Sauce (spicy, picante sauce) (mayo/tomato ketchup/Worcestershire sauce / Tabasco saucel/brandy)with shredded lettuce, then for main------- It has to be Roast Lamb, pure, with Roast and mashed Potatoes, Roast Parsnips, Sprouts with butter through them, Peas and Pancetta sides with homemade Gravy and Homemade fresh Mint sauce. With a good bottle (or two of a good deep red wine). Postre ------Trifle or Apple pie with whatever. Later.!!! It's a mystery but Cheese and Port will figure somewhere. Simple and delicious. Cheers.
Nov. 29, 2011 5:48 am; &#10; &#10;
Nov. 29, 2011 6:47 am
Way to GO!!! I have two cream cheese bourbon pecan pound cakes in the freezer and one sock it to me cake. Trying to bake when I have time and then not stress at the last minute. I may have to start earlier next year ;)
Nov. 29, 2011 7:31 am
Looks oh so good! I love all your beautiful photos. I marvel at all the items you have in the freezer--I never froze cookie dough before. Your pearls of wisdom are now rattling around in my brain--you have inspired me to bake! My favorite cookie is Almond Crescent Cookies. Do you have any go to freezer books are suggestions for the --freezer novice?
Nov. 29, 2011 8:15 am
Beautiful pics! You are an organized person... and I can "hear" the excitement of having your parents visit in your words. LOVE trying to stay ahead of the rush. The house is now all decorated, so next week (or maybe the end of this week) I will start baking. The only "good thing" I can think of about living in the north is being able to use the garage and breezeway as extra freezer/fridge room for baked cookies in airtight tins and rubbermaid. Hope your Christmas is all you dream.
Nov. 29, 2011 8:39 am
You exhaust me. I'm laying down for a nap ;0 Looks beautiful and so well planned out. Great job. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Nov. 29, 2011 10:04 am
There are lots of great ideas here, thanks. I just popped online; thinking where could I find a Christmas plan for making ahead dishes. Thanks, looking forward to trying some of your dishes.
Nov. 29, 2011 12:05 pm
Apple, you amaze me with your ability to plan and organize! Hoping you enjoy your holidays with your parents and keep on baking! Stop and have a cup tea and be sure to relax in between recipes! All the best.
Nov. 29, 2011 1:29 pm
dragonfly22 ~ its always good to hear from you, its time for a cup of tea now. Just can't beat allrecipes and a cup of English tea!! DENISE ~ thank you for your comments, glad I helped, hope you like the recipes. CHRIS K ~ enjoy your holiday baking, now you are in front of me with the decorating. We have the 12 foot tree in the hall up and decorated, just have the rest of the house o decorate now, hopefully we will get more finished this weekend!
Nov. 29, 2011 1:34 pm
JENA ~Merry Christmas to you and your family too, thank you for stopping by. Lela ~ not just freezer books but I have a fantastic Christmas book by Nigella Lawson, she is my ultimate favorite chef. Her Christmas book includes way on how to freeze her recipes as well as how to store them out of the freezer usually for a couple of weeks. Its one of those fantastic books that you just can't putdown, full of stories about the recipes and stunning photographs. You will find it for sale on both amazon and ebay.
Nov. 29, 2011 1:37 pm
goodfood4ursoul ~ oh my goodness my dad will love those pound cakes, I am going to have to look in your recipe box later today for that recipe. Thank you for that idea! DON ~ sounds like you will be having a great christmas, I have my mince pies yet to bake. At Christmas they are a must for my family! Cliff G ~ that sounds a wonderful idea to bake with your family, have fun!
Nov. 29, 2011 1:39 pm
luv2cook ~ Its so good to hear from you, I love those Cranberry cookies, in fact anything with white chocolate is always a hit with me! ALEX ~ Just think this will be your first Christmas in your new How, how exciting! *Sherri* ~ Thank you so much for your comments on my photos, thats so kind of you. Merry Christmas to your and your family to.
Nov. 29, 2011 1:41 pm
MAGGI ~ its good to hear from you as always, oh how exciting your first Grandchild and in time for Christmas to, a double celebration. CONGRATULATIONS, you must post some pictures when he or she is born.
Nov. 29, 2011 8:45 pm
apple.strudel - I'm tired just reading about all of your hard work. You'll have a fantastic time with your folks and they'll enjoy your bounty. I'd be willing to come taste test!
Nov. 30, 2011 6:45 am
Apple Strudel, it's not "my" pound cake recipe, so it's not in my box, but it's the only one I use:&#10;;In 2004 Southern Living did a primer on pound cakes which included some of the science behind the cake, and this recipe was a part of that article.
Nov. 30, 2011 7:16 am
Saw the blog yesterday but I have learned the hard way not to visit your's before breakfast LOL! As usual everything looks great! I liked how you did your fudge. I will remember that trick with the cookies. I hope you have a lovely visit with your parents!
Nov. 30, 2011 7:17 am
goodfood4ursoul ~ That explain's why I could not find it. Thank you for the link, I will take a look at it later today. In the middle of baking 2 more batches of Dog Biscuits, a chocolate cake and some apple cup crisps. So its a busy day for me! MAGNOLIA BLOSSOM ~ you are welcome to stop by and taste test at any time. I have apple cup crisps in the oven as we speak, smell delicious!
Nov. 30, 2011 7:18 am
CAT HILL ~ its so good to hear from you again, glad you enjoyed the blog.
Nov. 30, 2011 7:33 pm
Sniff, sniff - I though I smelled apples and cinnamon. I'm not too far away, you know...
Nov. 30, 2011 7:38 pm
Of course, I did! After I had breakfast, I felt safe enought to take a peek at what you were cooking! Maybe when I get to see my son (Great Lakes bootcamp) I can swing by and see you and MB :)
Nov. 30, 2011 8:42 pm
You bakers just amaze me, you really do! I couldn't bake my way out of a doughnut hole. We're so excited about this year because for the very first time we live in the same place as our son's family, including our 4 delicious grandsons. The oldest is 10 and we've always lived on opposite coasts so I know what you're feeling this year. What fun we'll all have. No cooking in advance for me, as we just gave our extra fridge and our huge upright freezer to our son and his wife. With all those boys, plus a MIL and BIL living with them, they REALLY need the extra food storage. No worries, though, our son can do the extra cooking. :)
Dec. 1, 2011 4:54 am
Magnolia Blossom & Cat Hill ~ we really will have to try and get together. Maybe I need to host a Traditional English Afternoon tea, what do you think? LUCYLOVE ~ good to hear from you, sounds like you are going to have a wonderful Christmas. Your son's family certainly will get use out of that freezer! Have fun...
Dec. 1, 2011 6:38 am
I just love reading your post!! You're so full of energy and going to have the most wonderful Christmas! I LOVE freezing my cookies! I made four kinds the other day and froze them: Candied Christmas Cookies (which I jazzed up with some extracts and orange zest - DELICIOUS!) A couple sugar cookie recipes, one of which is my grandmother's - hope that turns out! That's what I want to duplicate! Cream Cheese meltaways - a very unique texture, no eggs. They're slightly rich in texture, so I made them small, I'll bake them and top with an orange glaze. We always make confections and I bake for Christmas gifts, here's what's on our list this year: Old fashioned PB/Choc. fudge Peppermint patties Cordial Cherries (delish!) PB Cups (Best I've ever had!) Crockpot candy Date balls Fruit & nut balls It's going to be so much fun!! :) Have a wonderful holiday!
Dec. 1, 2011 7:38 am
Kate ~ oh my goodness you have been incredibly busy too. Yesterday I made a batch of apple crisp cups for the freezer and also two pots of Brandy butter, Today planning on baking some chocolate cake cups (planning on filling those when I pull the out of the freezer with some type of fruit and maybe a caramel sauce and also a Golden Christmas cake. Have a wonderful holiday too!
Dec. 1, 2011 10:13 am
All I can say is are amazing. I'm still at the planning stages here...and you already have a freezer full of goodies. Have a great Christmas with your loved ones :))))))))))
Dec. 1, 2011 12:34 pm
How exciting to have your mom and dad with you for the holidays!! I am so impressed with how much you have accomplished already and how absolutely beautiful everything looks! The attention to detail is stunning! Have fun with it and treasure every moment with your family this year!!! Merry Christmas!!
Dec. 1, 2011 1:26 pm
MICKDEE ~ Thank you so much for your kind words, Merry Christmas to you too! HEIDID ~ good to hear from you, this is the first time I have ever been so organized, although I usually fly home to England for the holidays!. Hope you and your family have a great Christmas!
Dec. 1, 2011 7:56 pm
Are your apple crisps in regular sized muffin tins or the miniature size? Thanks!
Dec. 1, 2011 10:32 pm
Thanks Apple Strudel for the info on the book. Happy Holidays!
Dec. 2, 2011 4:01 am
I wish I could have a few of those cookies :) Looks great!
Dec. 2, 2011 4:35 am
Magnolia Blossom ~ Mini Muffin tins, they are nice but a lot of prep time! LELA ~ Welcome back, that book really is the best. I can sit there for hours just looking at the pictures. H.orseD.reamer ~ I can bake you a fresh batch when you arrive here!
Dec. 2, 2011 5:24 am
Oh my do I sign up for this blog? Great recipes and interesting conversations.
Dec. 2, 2011 5:25 am
Oh my do I sign up for this blog? Great recipes and interesting conversations.
Dec. 2, 2011 6:46 am
Very impressive! that fudge is beautiful!
Dec. 2, 2011 8:00 am
PAMMYPIEMAKER ~ thank you so much for your kind words, towards the top of the page is an orange button that says "subscribe to this blog" click on that and it will subscribe you. The only thing is you don't get notified when I write a new blog but it does say the date the last blog was posted so its a little easier to keep track.
Dec. 2, 2011 8:01 am
Mauigirl ~ thank you for your comments, hoping to make more fudge in the next few days. My mother just adores fudge!
Dec. 2, 2011 8:38 am
wonderful that you are going to spend christmas w/your parents. Much of the fun is the planning and prep. I love your organization. I too have had great success in making my cookie doughs ahead and putting in freezer. Although I've never made it, this recipe I recall year after year folks make for Christmas breakfast. It is made ahead of time and always gets good reviews.
Dec. 2, 2011 10:47 am
TUNISIANSWIFE ~ Thank you. I have just added that to my recipe box. I wonder if I can make and freeze this, will have to give it a try.
Dec. 2, 2011 6:45 pm
Thank you for the lemony potato recipe! It went awesomely with the fish which had tomatoes on it that the DH picked off. Deep sigh..too late to fix him but I will keep trying :)(:
Dec. 2, 2011 6:52 pm
OMG!!!! i'm exhausted just reading your blog! LOL Good job being so organized and what a great idea. i don't think anyone will go hungry or unsatisfied. i'm glad that you are getting to spend christmas with your folks. i lost mine five yrs ago. feels like 5 days ago. it gets real hard this time of yr. but it makes me feel better when i hear and/or read of others getting the opportunity. happy times for sure! :)
Dec. 2, 2011 8:59 pm
Great start! You make me have a panic attack! Cookies will come soon! :-D
Dec. 3, 2011 4:52 am
Apple ~ Great idea(s)! Wish I'd found something like this before all 3 of my kids and their families converged on our home for 2 weeks last summer...half of which we spent in cabins on a lake in Ontario. My better half doesn't cook. She has many other redeeming qualities, but if I don't cook, we don't eat anything but boxed or fast food. Consequently, meals were up to me. Fortunately, I love to cook, and I was also able to get the kids involved chopping, slicing and dicing and we enjoyed many hours together in the kitchen. Here's what I did: 1) Made daily menus which were not meant to be in any specific order because I knew we'd be on the go as much as possible. 2) Shopped and had everything on hand. 3) Cooked like a galley slave. Yes, we ate well, but I was so totally exhausted by the time they left I needed a vacation. Quite by accident, Thanksgiving got me started thinking like you. I got a great deal on a turkey 2 weeks before the big day and decided to store it on our enclosed front porch. What the heck, it's always cold in Northern Michigan this time of year, right? WRONG! My bird thawed out a week before it was needed. I abhor wasting food, so I decided to can that turkey and buy another. While the turkey meat was in the pressure caner, I made broth for future use and then had a novel idea ~ I'll make the gravy now so I'm not rushing like crazy before meal time. Then it occurred to me that I could make a cranberry-walnut streusel pie and freeze it. While the pie was baking, I mixed together all the dry ingredients for the stuffing and stored that in a Zip-Lock. Mashed potatoes have always been another one of those last minute hurry-ups at big meals. I found a recipe for slow cooker mashed potatoes and them all set to go the day before. I brined the (second) turkey, so all I had to do was rinse, rub a few spices under the skin, chop the vegies & mix with the stuffing, and pop it in the oven. I'm pretty anal about my green bean casserole though. It has to be made from all fresh ingredients. Not a big problem though. That whipped up in no time while the turkey was roasting. Our guests brought an awesome spinach-strawberry salad with feta and toasted almonds. Altogether, I doubt I spent much over an hour in the kitchen, and was able to enjoy the day WITH friends and family. The next time the kids come I'll be much more prepared thanks to this blog, Apple!
Dec. 3, 2011 7:00 am
Ahhh Christmas. My family divides the holidays and since I cook Thanksgiving dinner, I get to sit back and watch them fuss over the details for Christmas dinner. This does not mean that I am completely off the hook. I am in charge of dessert for both Christmas eve and Christmas day. Since we will have essentailly the same cast of characters for both events, with the exception of one family missing on Christmas day, I feel that baking the same things for both days would be wrong. For Christmas eve, I am baking Martha Stewarts Pumpkin bundt cake as well as a Pumpkin Cheesecake. For Christmas day, I am focusing on pies. I will be baking our family tradional pumpkin and apple pies. These are my plans. I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday!!!!
Dec. 4, 2011 5:12 am
Wow! You are my hero! The only thing I make ahead for Christmas is twice baked potatoes for Christmas dinner. You have inspired me, though, and I may try to put up some cookie doughs and Christmas Eve appetizers. Thanks for the hints!
Dec. 4, 2011 1:02 pm
NURSEGIRL ~ Thank you for stopping by to read my blog, I would not make cookies now without freezing the dough first. I just love how the cookies have more shape to them without coming out of the oven flat! DEANNABROWN ~ oh my goodness that desserts all sound heavenly, I just love desserts! CARSON ~ Thank you for your comments, sounds like you are very organized too. CINDYLEPP ~ Thank you for comments, look forward to seeing the photos of your cookies! WEEBLE ~ I'm sorry to hear about your folks, so many members of my family are also no longer with us to celerbrate the holidays, but we will certainly be thinking of them too this Christmas
Dec. 5, 2011 2:50 pm
I have just discovered your blog Apple. You are so thorough and put so much thought and effort into everything you do! I love all your cake pans and your presentation when giving food as gifts! very creative and personal. For the second year in a row I will be mailing food treats and cookies. I am sending a Cappuccino mix in glass jars, wrapped in Christmasy tea towels to protect, make beautiful and also so they can be part of the gift! To go along with the coffee I am sending Cherry Almond biscotti from Martha Stewart, oreo truffles, chocolate covered peanut butter balls, white velvet cookie cutouts, and chocolate maccaroons, and cranberry pistachio white chocolate bark. I love all the prep. even though it is stressful, it definately gets you in the spirit! Thank you for all your contributions to the site. It's people like you who keep the site fresh!
Dec. 5, 2011 4:08 pm
Shannon O'K ~ Thank you so much for your kind words, they were so nice to hear. I love the idea of wrapping gifts in tea towels. I have seen that done in magazines, so pretty. I have often thought about it but never got around to doing it. All my gifts are wrapped now so may be it will have to wait until next year. The Cherry Almond biscotti sounds delicious (I just love Biscotti). Have a wonderful Christmas!
Dec. 5, 2011 4:58 pm
Wow! You are so organized! Your menu sounds amazing!
Dec. 5, 2011 5:15 pm
You are my new hero! I have been trying to figure out how to make my desserts in time! With your tips on freezing, my life will be a little simpler! THANK U!
Dec. 6, 2011 3:34 pm
JOJO ~ thank you for your comments, have fun. Jason F ~ thank you for arranging the Christmas card exchange, its so much fun.
Jan. 10, 2012 9:12 am
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About Me
A little about me, I am a wife and Mum of two gorgeous boys aged 18 and 23, and now mummy to two adorable English Cocker Spaniel puppies named Brie and Henri. We have been living in the US now for 5 years. (You will also see me on - AR's UK site). I guess like most other European’s I don’t eat to live, but live to eat!!! One of my great passions in life is food. Good home cooked, fresh produce. Especially if it is sourced locally. I truly believe that it is so important at the end of the day for a family to sit down and eat a home cooked dinner together. I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen now, which always amuses my husband. A few years back we had a small public house and restaurant in the Derbyshire Countryside (England). Never once would I venture in the kitchen. With all those professionals there was certainly no need for an amateur! Should you wish you can contact me at
My favorite things to cook
More than anything I adore baking. Cakes, Cookies (or biscuits as they are known to me) and my latest love is baking bread.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Some of my earlier memories are sitting at my Grandma’s kitchen table in England, watching her bake. She insisted on having to bake a fresh cake everyday. My Grandad was a big cake fan, and a cake always had to be kept in the pantry just in case a visitor should call. Not that you could move in the pantry for more sugar, flour and butter then any village store. (Just in case food rationing ever came back). Unfortunately my Grandma has recently passed away, but her passion for baking will always live on through me and I hope that in time my baking skill will do her justice.
My cooking triumphs
Anything that actually turns out how it is supposed too!!!
My cooking tragedies
Oh my goodness where do I start, like everyone I have had the usual tragedies, sponge cakes that have sunk in the middle, over cooked pie crusts, bread that has just failed to rise but I can thankfully say with a little patience and practice I am finaly getting better!!!
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