Easy Like Christmas Morning

Grab a cozy cup of hot cocoa with mini gingerbread houses hanging on the rim, and let’s dive into this handmade holiday.

The holidays might look different this year, but we’re still celebrating the season in style. This Christmas, wake up to a candy-colored table set with bacon and cheddar muffins, homemade granola yogurt cups, a festive smoked salmon bar, and mimosas. Grab a cozy cup of hot cocoa with mini gingerbread houses hanging on the rim, and let’s dive into this handmade holiday. We invited KING-5’s Evening to tape a segment for its show — check TV listings to see the episode, or check it out anytime online.

Set the Scene

It starts with wispy handmade wreaths and welcoming baskets at the front door. Line large baskets with plastic containers then pile in yew, juniper, cyclamen, mercury glass, glittery ornaments, and real pinecones. Potted paperwhite flowers swaddled in torn remnants of linen line the ledges, and candle holders made out of ice add holiday glow.

Inside, a pair of fresh and fragrant alpine trees sets a holiday mood.

In the entry, there’s a towering 17-foot alpine that nearly brushes the ceiling, dripping with thousands of twinkling lights and hundreds of sparkling ornaments. The kitchen tree is a handsome alpine in a woven basket decorated simply with star lights, a smattering of ornaments, and homemade Swedish gingerbread cookies I’ve been baking for Santa for 24 years.

Grand Marnier and Sour Cream French Toast

Ingredients

  • 5 organic eggs, separated
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Butter
  • 6 slices brioche bread
  • Syrup
  • Powdered sugar

Method

Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer, and beat until stiff. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yolks, sour cream, Grand Marnier, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Fold the egg whites into the batter. Heat a stovetop pan, and grease with butter. Dip bread slices into egg mixture to coat both sides. Put a single layer of bread into a heated pan, and cook until golden brown on both sides. Place on a baking sheet, and bake at 300 degrees for 5 minutes. Serve with syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Mini Gingerbread Cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup Lyles golden syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla bean sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted softened butter

Method

Combine the flour, ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir these dry ingredients, and set aside. In another small bowl, whisk together golden syrup and egg, and set aside. In a bowl of an electric mixer, whip the sugars and butter until light brown. Slowly add the golden syrup and egg until combined. Finally, add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet ingredients until a dough forms. Divide the dough in half, and flatten into two disks. Wrap and refrigerate each for several hours or overnight. After chilled, roll out the dough, and punch out cookies in any shape you’d like. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

TIP: I found the gingerbread cookie cutters on Amazon. The Tomte cookie cutters have been in the family for more than 25 years.

Stove-Top Granola

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced or chopped nuts (I used a combo of sliced almonds and chopped pecans)
  • 1 cup extra-thick rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons salted honey
  • 1 tablespoon real maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dried cherries, dried cranberries, dried apricots, white raisins (any combination you wish)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger

Method

Toast the nuts, oats, and coconut flakes in a dry stove-top skillet, stirring constantly until the ingredients begin to turn golden brown. Spread out on a baking sheet to cool. Set aside. Next, in the same skillet, melt butter and add in the honey and maple syrup. Add the toasted dry ingredients to the pan, and cook on medium-low heat until the butter, honey, and syrup are absorbed. Pour mixture onto the baking sheet again. Toss in the chopped dried ingredients and candied ginger. Mix, cool, and store in an airtight jar. Use the granola to layer with your favorite yogurt and fresh fruit for a tasty Christmas morning breakfast or even a healthy dessert.

DECK THE HOLIDAY TABLE

Giant glass jugs and fresh boughs create light and airy centerpieces with small vintage ornaments dangling from branches of blue ice cypress. Mint and mauve napkins are fashioned into elf hats, and paper crowns are hidden inside for the kids. Tomte cookies are placed at each place setting, and silverware is tucked into mini Christmas stockings made of glittery sequins.

Smoked Salmon Bar

It’s easy to build. Just buy some really good smoked salmon and add pickled goodness and a good dressing, and decorate and add taste with fresh dill, watercress, caper berries, and cornichons. Radicchio and small pots of crème fraiche for the win.

PICKLED CUCUMBERS AND RED ONIONS

1 English cucumber, peel left on and sliced thinly

1 small red onion, sliced thinly

BRINE

  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorn1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • Sprigs of fresh dill

Method

Bring the cider, vinegar, and water to a boil in a stove-top pan. Simmer for 5 minutes, then cool completely. Pack the sliced cucumbers and red onions in separate Mason jars. Pour in the brine. Add a bay leaf and sprig of dill to each jar. Cover and refrigerate. Keeps in the fridge for 1 week.

TIP: For extra-crunchy cucumbers, slice them, place them in a colander, and cover with ice cubes for 15 minutes. Drain, then pack in jars.

THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Method

Mix together the ingredients, and serve.

Cheddar, Bacon, and Leek Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup small cubes of cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1 small leek, washed and finely sliced, white part only
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sweet hot mustard
  • 1/2 stick unsalted Irish butter, melted

Method

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and pepper. Fold in the cheese cubes, bacon, and leeks. Whisk together the egg, milk, mustard, and melted butter, and fold into the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Grease a large muffin tin with 6 cup holders. Spoon batter into cups. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until muffins are golden but still moist.

MIMOSA BAR

Put the Champagne and/or prosecco on ice. Then set out blood orange, pomegranate, and grapefruit juice in individual carafes — offer pots of fresh berries and pomegranate seeds; pop the bubbles; and serve in candy-colored, hand-blown glassybaby holders.

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