Tips and Recipes for a Homemade Holiday

There’s something meaningful about taking time during the holidays to create items with your own hands. Whether it’s a bowl of cookie dough, a fancy drink, charcuterie board or a unique decoration, add some homemade festive cheer with these tips, recipes and inspiration.

The holidays are a great time to bring out the flour and bake some homemade treats. We asked Allison Sides, Owner of COBS Bread University District & Kingsland for her best tips and tricks for baking this season.

3 Baking Tips

  1. Give yourself time! Many treats can be made ahead of time and frozen, which takes some pressure off of you, and ensures you have access to delicious baked goods and holiday spirit all season long. A quick defrost and holiday plate will have you entertaining ready.
  2. Preheat your oven. Preheat your oven at the temperature you are planning on baking at for a minimum of 15 minutes. If you are baking multiple pans, consider preheating your oven 10-15 degrees hotter than your bake temperature to allow for the drop in temperature from opening the oven door while you load your baked goods. Be sure to keep an eye on your baking so it doesn’t burn!
  3. Leave perfection to the professionals. Have fun, have some laughs and don’t sweat the perfect outcome. Not all recipes are foolproof, so give yourself some holiday grace if your treats are less than magazine cover worth. We bet they’ll still taste amazing!

3 Baking Best Practices

  1. Follow the recipe. Baking is a science and cooking is art. Every ingredient plays a very specific role in baking. Let the ingredients do their jobs in the correct ratios so that science can create delicious magic!
  2. Be prepared! Set out all of your tools before you start. Think of your tools as part of your recipe. This includes everything you might need like mixing spoons, bowls, pans, parchment paper, etc. No one wants to be digging for a spatula when your hands are covered with raw dough.
  3. Clean as you go. There is nothing more deflating than staring at your gorgeous creations while out of the corner of your eye you see a mountain of mess that you have to conquer. Start with a sink full of warm soapy water and drop your used tools in as you go.

Bonus Tip:

If you want to maximize your holiday treat offerings without maxing out the bank or the clock, consider an exchange with friends. Gather your crew equipped with their own baking and do a swap! This is a great way to have a variety of treats over the holidays and connect with family and friends. 

If you still don’t feel ready to take on baking at home, stop by COBS Bread in U/D to take home their freshly made breads and pastries.

DIY Gift Wrappings

Wrapping and unwrapping gifts is a big part of the fun over the holidays! Instead of traditional patterned paper and bows, try some of these unique DIY gift wrapping options.

  1. Find reusable options. Go green! Use a tote bag, scarf, burlap or other items that can be reused. Think of the gift wrapping as an extra little present!
  2. Decorate your own wrapping paper. This wrapping option is a fun way to get the whole family involved, and make your gift even more personalized. Pick up some white or brown paper and some markers, stamps, tape, and other stationery and get creative. Find all the materials you need from the Staples on Retail Main Street in U/D.

Add a natural touch. Use dehydrated fruit slices, a berry branch, or wooden tags as part of your gift wrapping – they look beautiful and can easily be displayed as holiday decor, composted or reused.

Delectable Dessert and Fireside Sipper Recipes from Borough Bar + Grill

The holidays are the perfect time to cozy up inside with a delicious snack and a toasty beverage. Alejandro, the Chef de Cuisine of Borough Bar and Grill in U/D, has shared a trifecta of easy to make recipes that can be enjoyed on their own, or all together! 

Alejandro explained, “For a delectable dessert and fireside sipper (cold or hot!) we put together a classic crème brulee recipe with our spiced cookie, and our mulled red wine, which we are currently featuring at our bar.”

Levente Sarkozi’s Mulled Wine

2 x 750 ml fruity, young, inexpensive red wine

1 x 500ml orange Juice (or squeeze your own! We do!)

2 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise pods

1 tsp of allspice

1 tsp nutmeg

4 whole cloves

75g sugar

Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel pot, and bring up to a simmer, turn off and let the spices infuse for an hour, strain and serve either warm or chilled over ice.

Classic Crème Brulee

800g whipping cream

200g whole milk

1 vanilla bean

240g sugar

12 egg yolks

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk and cream in a stainless steel pot. Bring to scald over medium heat, remove vanilla bean. Mix together sugar and egg yolks, and gently temper in the milk and cream by pouring in a little at a time into the yolk mixture and mixing completely before adding more until it is all mixed in. Divide evenly into ramekins about ¾ full, and place into a deep baking dish. Fill the baking dish with hot water ½ way up the ramekins and place into a preheated 325 F oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the center is barely set and jiggles like jello. Place in a fridge for a minimum of 6 hours, top with extra sugar, and brulee with a small butane torch. Let the sugar fully cool before digging in!

Mini Cardamom Prinz

Step 1

219g sugar

288g soft butter

Step 2

75g egg yolks

½ tsp Vanilla extract

Step 3

350g flour

5g cardamom

2g salt

Cream together ingredients under step 1, add ingredients under step 2 to mixture, fold ingredients under step 3 in slowly to make a soft dough. Do not overwork. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll out ½ an inch thick and punch out into little 2 inch rounds. Bake at 350F for 8-10 min or until just brown on the edges.

For more culinary delights from Borough Bar + Grill, visit their restaurant along Retail Mail Street in U/D and experience their full menu. Enjoy half priced bottles of wine on Wednesdays (under $100), and a list of rotating seasonal features.

Decoration Inspiration at the U/D Discovery Centre

If you’re looking for some inspiration for your holiday decor, stop by the Discovery Centre in U/D to explore the Aly Velji tree installation. This Calgary designer has curated three unique tree decorating designs: Modern Moody, Floral Fantasy and Natural Nordic. Let us know which one is your favourite. 

This installation can be visited until December 21 at the Discovery Centre: 

4410 University Ave NW

Tue-Fri: 1-7 PM

Sat-Sun: 12-5M

We hope these tips and recipes inspire you during your time at home this holiday season! You can find all the ingredients you need on Retail Main Street in U/D, as well as plenty of shopping and dining options to get you holiday ready.

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