Tag Archives: holiday baking

Sista Felicia’s Favorite Holiday Baking Must Have!





Today I’m spending a few hours catching up on Holiday Baking using Reynolds Cookie Non-Stick Parchment Paper Baking Sheets, an item I picked up at Walmart back in early October for my annual Family & Friends Holiday Baking Day, that was cancelled due to our daughter Amanda’s recent ear issues. I instantly fell in love with these super handy pre-cut non-stick baking sheets. They are the greatest invention for at home baking! I Love not having to fold under or cut excess paper from the traditional parchment paper roll most commonly sold at the grocery store. For years I’ve wished for pre-cut parchment sheets to fit my bake-wear especially during the busy holiday seasons. When I spotted this item at Walmart, I bought all 10 boxes on the shelf without even doing a price comparison for its quantity compared to the roll, because sometimes your time and frustration is worth the extra money! In the end they were a little more expensive but I prefer parchment paper over Silpat baking mat, and feel this product is well worth every penny! Their simply fantastic!





“Little House” Cookies

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies -6 ©Ki Smith 2013 .Don’t these cookies remind you of the Virginia Lee Burton children’s story The Little House?

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies ©Ki Smith 2013

My friend Briar made this gorgeous gift of fabulously delicious baked treats for my family. The bursting-full-of-yumminess box contained gingerbread cookies, Willowdale signature cookies, pumpkin bread, and apple cake (her Italian grandmother’s recipe), which Briar enhanced to include cranberries.

Imagine, as the prorpietor of Willowdale (she employs over 100 local people), Briar still makes time to bake and hand decorate cookies and treats for her friends and family. Very fortunately for we, her friends, she bakes throughout the year, not just at Christmastime!Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies  -4©Ki Smith 2013 .

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies -2 ©Ki Smith 2013 .

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies -3 ©Ki Smith 2013 .Briar has perfected her gingerbread cookie recipe. The “Little House” cookies not only look amazing, they are actually super delicious as well (which isn’t always the case with gingerbread house dough).


Several years ago, I took Briar to the Cape Ann Museum to show her the wonderful Virginia Lee Burton exhibit. I love Briar’s gingerbread house cookies and they remind me greatly of Burton’s extraordinarily beautiful children’s book The Little House. What do you think?

I imagine that if a local baker wanted to make the connection between Virginia Lee Burton, Gloucester, and Little House cookies, it would fill a terrific niche and they would have a ready made market!

IMG_3175What The Little House would look like on a snowy day just like today!

sun The Llittle HouseVirginia Lee Burton daisy sun detail.

The Little House images are courtesy of a google image search.

Bonus Recipe! Holiday Fresh Fig and Spiced Apple Pie


I wanted to share this one with you to offer a bit of an alternative to traditional Thanksgiving pies.  Fresh figs are in the grocery stores right now and this combo of apples, figs and dried cranberries is terrific!

There will be a new episode of Inspired Cooking airing on Cape Ann TV tonight at 8:30–thought it was airing last week but it didn’t so I hope you will tune in.  The recipes for tonight’s show were posted last week and can be found here.  Make sure to check out my adorable prep cook!:


Holiday Fresh Fig & Spiced Apple Pie

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup butter flavored shortening
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water

1 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca
16-18 fresh figs, stems removed and sliced horizontally into 1/8″ circles
5 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest, finely chopped
3 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries
2 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 egg yolk (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Make crust using your favorite method and place one crust into a glass pie pan. Trim any overhanging crust to re-roll later, if desired, to decorate the top of the pie. Sprinkle tapioca on to bottom of crust and spread some of the sliced figs in a single layer covering the bottom of the crust.

In a large bowl, combine apples, flour, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, vanilla extract, orange zest and 2 tablespoons heavy cream and stir gently until apples are coated.

Over the figs, layer ½ of the apples into the pan. Cover apple layer with the dried cranberries. Layer the remaining apples over the figs and top apples with remaining figs. Scatter butter on top of fig layer and top with remaining pie crust. Trim, seal and flute edge.  Cut slits or shapes in several places in top crust. If desired roll out reserved crust and cut decorative shapes to enhance the pies appearance. Use egg yolk as “glue” to adhere decorations to top crust. Brush top crust with remaining heavy cream, sprinkle with granulated sugar and place pie in preheated oven.

Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. After 40 minutes of baking time, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least ½ hour before slicing. Enjoy with ice cream, whipped cream or just by itself. Enjoy!

Another helpful piece of information about baking cookies

I just came across this and though it might be helpful now that we are running in to the holiday baking season.  This is from http://www.cooksillustrated.com:

We think most cookies are best when they are chewy. This means taking them out of the oven when they are slightly underdone—in fact, the cookies are often so soft they will droop over the end of a spatula. Bake cookies on parchment and cool on baking sheet for a few minutes; after they have set up slightly, slide the parchment onto a cooling rack. if the cookies have crevices, the crevices should appear moist. When baking smooth cookies, look at the edges, which should be lightly browned; the center should be set but not fully dry.

I  also find that when you can smell them, time to check the oven as they are done or just about done.