The holidays are undoubtedly a busy time for most people. Whether you’re entertaining a house full of guests, travelling out of town to visit relatives or volunteering in your community, making something homemade — cookies, candies or breads — may seem implausible. Even seeing friends during the busy holiday season can be a juggle.
That’s why we combine the two and encourage friends to make holiday baking something they do together. It’s an opportunity to start long- lasting traditions, while creating freshly baked holiday foods.
Nothing beats the gift of home baked food, whether it’s a batch of candied almonds, festively decorated sugar cookies, biscotti or hand-glazed scones. Many of these delicious treats can be frozen, or made ahead of time and packed in storage containers, without losing their freshness. And, it’s actually quite simple to accomplish when you have a friend to do it with you.
Sam’s Club is an ideal place to find everything you’ll need for your baking dates, making the time spent with friends enjoyable, productive and economically feasible. Sam’s sells such a tremendous number of bulk items for holiday baking that it’s almost as if they picture us baking together while stocking their shelves. You’ll find large bags of sugar, flour, dried fruits and chocolate chips; big crates of eggs, butter and milk; and costlier items like pure vanilla extract and large bags of nuts — all at great prices.
Here’s how we recommend Getting Started Baking with a Friend during the holidays.
1) Invite a friend to join you. Think of someone who you enjoy spending time with, maybe someone you don’t get to see often enough, someone who might like to start a holiday baking tradition.
2) Decide together for whom you’d like to bake. It can be for your own family, a neighbor, a teacher or for your local food bank. Decide what you would like to make (see our Top Ten below) and then figure out how much time you’ll need.
3) Set a few dates and pencil them in. (We find that writing your baking dates down in a calendar will make it happen!)
4) Figure out the logistical details.
”¢Whose house will you bake in? (Don’t let the size of the kitchen matter. Often times, we spread out into the dining room for prep work and decorating). But if you’re doing a lot of baking, you might want to choose the kitchen with a double oven. ”¢Can any of the work be done in advance? (If you are decorating festive cookies together, as a time saver, we usually will have the cookies already baked and ready-to-go.)
”¢Who is doing the shopping? You can either shop together (which we think is fun!), divide the shopping listy, or choose one of you to do the shopping. Just make sure to even out the costs.
”¢What baking supplies will you need? Check with your friend to see what kind of baking sheets, bowls and measuring materials she has. Pack a bag with your favorite tools and necessary items and bring them along to your baking date.
”¢What kind of packing materials will you need? Will you be freezing your cookies and breads? (You may need aluminum foil, large freezer friendly storage containers, or freezer bags). Will you be packing them as festive gifts together? (You’ll want some ribbon and cellophane).
Our Top Ten Favorite Holiday Foods to Bake with Friends
Year after year, we’ve baked mini loaves, pies, cakes, cookies, candies and breakfast treats with friends, getting the utmost satisfaction out of giving (and eating) the fruits of our labor.
1) Cherry Almond Granola
2) Chocolate Chip Biscotti
3) Gingerbread Cookies
4) Candied Almonds
5) Chocolate Peanut Brittle
6) Festive Sugar Cookies
7) Pumpkin Bread
8) Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
9) Chocolate Pecan Pie
10) Chocolate Truffles
We hope you’ll give baking together a try this holiday season and use Sam’s Club as your shopping resource. You may find that you’ve discovered a whole new way to spend time with your friends, while beginning a delightful tradition.
To help you get started with a bang, Sam’s Club has given us a fabulous giveaway””A white 11-cup Commercial KitchenAid Stand Mixer! ! You can see it at: http://www.kitchenaid.com/flash.cmd?/#/product/KM25G0XWH/
Here’s how you can win: Send us your most amazing story about learning something new while cooking with a friend or family member. Stories are due Wednesday, Dec. 9, and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll pick the most compelling, feature it in our community with your name, and send you the mixer! We can’t wait to read about your cooking adventures.
Alison & Shannon
*All stories, once submitted, become property of Cooking With Friends, LLC