Happy Holidays and holiday baking!

I wish you all a very very happy holidays this year! Holidays to me is that treasured end of the year time to spend with family and friends, relaxing with good food, good books/movies and of-course a steaming hot cup of tea or coffee and something sweet to nibble along :)

The holiday week is not complete for us without loads of baking. Every year my daughter and I make dozens of cookies of various varieties and spend a couple of afternoons decorating them with personalized patterns and send them as gifts to her teachers, friends and neighbors. This year we chose sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies and almond snowball cookies

Of these, I must say the snowball cookies were our favorites - they were very nutty, melt in your mouth types with a distinct almond flavor enhanced with a good quality almond extract. We'll be making them more throughout the year for sure!

Now that my daughter is 11, she takes charge of decorating the cookies. She decorated most of ours this year with very interesting icing decorations - she made one with fraction equation for her math teacher, one with adverbs for English teacher and personalized a cell cycle diagram for her science teacher. I made some for work with Google logos. All in all we had a wonderful time baking and making lots and lots of cookies.

In addition to the cookies, we also made an apple tart when we had guests over. It's super simple and literally takes 15mins to prepare. Thinly slice 3 large apples, add 1/3C (or more!) brown sugar, vanilla extract, 1/4tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom powder, pinch of salt and mix well. Thaw store-bought puff pastry dough and cut in vertical stripes. Arrange apple slices leaving 1inch border on each side. Optionally add 1 Tbsp butter broken into small bits over the tart. Bake for 13-15mins at 400F. Remove from oven. Transfer to a platter. When it cools down, sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side!

Hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing holiday break and here is to a fantastic new year ahead!