Visions of Sugarplums



When it looks like this outside…

When the weather outside is frightful...

It’s time for some festivities! If I could set a tray of holiday treats out for all of you, I’d do it – but the next best thing is to offer a collection of how-to for some fairly easy DIY seasonal cheer, with links to more recipes.

Being vegetarian, I’ve experienced the letdown of ‘all that food and nothing I can eat,’ and I hate to do that to my friends, so this list has “reciepts” for a vegan cookie, a gluten-free cookie, and even a dog cookie… and, of course, a no-bake cookie with a kick:

Erastes? Why has the rum gone? Again?


2 c ground vanilla wafers (or toasted cake or graham crackers)
2 T cocoa
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped nutmeats (pecans are good!)
1½ T corn syrup or honey
¼ cup RUM (or brandy)

Mix dry ingredients.

Combine syrup & rum and add slowly to the dry mixture.

When the mixture sticks together, stop adding rum and roll into 1” balls. Roll balls in granulated sugar, allow to sit at least one hour to ripen. Your patience will be rewarded.

These take a little more work, and personally I’d call them candy, but they do go in the oven, so…

Gluten-free Nut Cookies 2-3 dozen

2 egg whites (room temp.)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans or 1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup gluten-free chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F
Beat egg whites and salt until stiff, slowly adding sugar; add vanilla. Gently fold in nuts and chips. if they look like they don’t have enough “dough” in between the nuts and chips then you’ve made it right. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet Place into oven and immediately turn oven off. Leave cookies in oven all night, without opening oven door. Use a metal cookie sheet.

Gluten-free sugar cookies (2-3 dozen)

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup butter
1 cup rice flour
Total Time: 40 mins
1 Sift cornstarch, rice flour, and sugar together in a bowl.
2 Add butter and mix all the ingredients together until you form a soft dough.
3 Refrigerate for approximately 1 hour.
4 Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and lay out on greased cookie sheet.
5 Flatten cookies slightly with a fork.
6 Roll in red and green sprinkles or a cinnamon and sugar mixture.
7 Bake at 300 for 20-25 minute or until golden.

My wife swears chocolate chip cookies are a Christmas cookie. I think they’re too good to wait until December. But here are some that will make anyone happy, even vegans:

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies Yield: 36

2 1/3 cups oats
1 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup chocolate chips
2 bananas, mashed In a mixing bowl stir together sugar, banana and butter.
Stir in oats followed by all of the dry ingredients.
Finally, add chocolate chips.
Spoon golf ball sized rounds on a greased baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

And to wash the crumbs down, when you come back from caroling—or shoveling snow—a bowl of Wassail would be just the thing.

There seem to be about a million recipes out there calling themselves “Wassail” punch. All of them involve red wine, sherry, or Madiera, some include ale, most call for allspice, cloves, and cinnamon (with a varying use of more exotic fruit such as cranberries and pineapple.) The really fancy version—Alton Brown’s—even requires egg whites beaten to a foam and folded in before adding the apples. Many of them start with having you bake half a dozen apples, cored and filled with brown sugar, and when the brew is done, float them in the bowl. (I wonder if that’s where ‘bobbing for apples’ comes from?)

So I’m going to put a basic list of ingredients here, and bid you have at it:

Mulled Wine

One bottle of wine
Two quarts of ale
Water or apple juice or cranberry juice or pineapple juice
A teaspoon of nutmeg, allspice, ginger, a few cloves and/or a cinnamon stick or two (put the hard bits in a muslin bag—same if you use allspice berries)

Put all these in a big saucepan or crockpot and let it simmer for an hour while you bake your apples at 350F/175C degrees… and when those are soft and yummy, slide the liquid into the punchbowl and float the apples on top.


We can’t leave out the non-human members of the family. The birds and squirrels outside get peanut-studded suet along with their usual ration of seed.

The cats who watch through the window are unimpressed with most ‘kitty toys’—they tend to go for the ribbons, so for them I usually wrap up some dried catnip in a scrap of muslin and tie it off with plain cotton twine.

For the Faithful Hound… there are also cookies. Peanut butter Pupcookies!

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour

2 eggs

½ cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons peanut butter
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).

Whisk together flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, & salt. Add water as needed to help make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff. Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick roll. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Bake in preheated oven until hard, about 40 minutes, and taste if you dare—and if you have really strong teeth. I think these would do as Battle Biscuits for the Wee Free Men.

Are they ready now? Are they ready NOW?


And to all a good night!

Advent Calendar Giveaway!

Lee will giving away a Canadian $1 “goldish” coin, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Navy, PLUS reader’s choice of one of my books.

The BONUS BUMPER PRIZE QUESTION (don’t answer this – just save them up for Christmas Eve.)

21. In The Grinch who stole Christmas – what was two sizes too small?

12 Responses

  1. I’m up at my mom’s and we always bake a bazillion cookies around the holidays. The dog gets his share of these, of course, but now we have a recipe for cookies just for him. Awesome. [grin] Thanks!


  2. PS — not the doggie in my icon. 😦 Obie was two dogs ago; he died of cancer. He was the best dog in the world, though, and I love that pic of him.


    • I understand–my LJ pic is still of my best-dog-ever, gone two years now but still a little bit here as long as I have her icon. The little gal in the Santa hat is Cassie, the first dog I’ve ever had patient enough to dress up. I tried to put the hat on Watson, our shepherd-lab pup, but he would have eated it…

  3. You can’t beat mulled wine on a cold Christmas Eve.

  4. It’s a lovely surprise when I see the rum cookie recipe and think “darn, have to go buy some rum” and then find I have a bottle in my kitchen. Thanks for sharing these!

  5. Must try those rum cookies (we don’t have that in the house, but there’s sure to be some brandy about. Hic!

    Thanks for posting these.


  6. Brilliant stuff! I’m a veggie too, so I was thrilled by this.

  7. Oh, those rum balls sound delicious! There’s something lovely and warming about rum, isn’t there? 😉

  8. Thanks for sharing all the great recipes. I know some people, and pets, who will probably really enjoy them.

  9. Hey, alll those wintry, Chrissy yummies sound sooooo good. Even we hot climate folk in the Antipodes can smack our gums at the delicious offerings, Lee. Now let’s start with the mulled wine ….

  10. Wow. Those recipes look amazing — and I have some friends who need the gluten-free stuff, so I shall definitely be trying these out!

    Thanks for sharing them.

    BTW, I think it was Lucius who drank all the rum, Captain Jack kitty!

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