Christmas Cookies

Christmascookies_main The bird isn't even brined or basted for Thanksgiving.  But, I'm already thinking about Christmas cookies now. 

Right now one of those glittering lemon sandwich cookies would be a sparkly, yummy treat!

Feast your eyes on this!  Twenty-five days of Christmas cookies from


A Crystal Springs Resort Christmas & New Year's

Crystal Springs Resort's winter wonderland

Light the Yule log and drink up the nog with Christmas at Crystal Springs Resort.

The Grand Cascades Lodge, 3 Wild Turkey Way , Hardyston, has three options for Christmas Eve and Day. Dine at Restaurant Latour, which will serve its regular menu as well as holiday additions. The Crystal Tavern will have its regular and a special prix-fixe menus And the Springs Bistro will feature its regular menu plus holiday additions.

Kites Restaurant, located at Minerals Resort & Spa, 2 Chamonix Dr, Vernon, will be open both Christmas Eve & Day and serving a special Christmas menu on Christmas Day.

For more information and reservations call 973-827-1587 ext 3 or visit  their website.

Out with the old and in with the new - year that is.

Crystal Springs Resort offers 9 different options for New Year’s Eve ranging from romantic dinners to family buffets to a one-of-a-kind tropical party in the Biosphere Pool Complex.

Celebrate with dinner at Restaurant Latour, Crystal Tavern, Springs Bistro or party all night at the amazing tropical Biosphere Party and/or an overnight stay at the Grand Cascades Lodge.  For a family focus, with a little for Mom & Dad in the mix, try Minerals Resort & Spa. The family-focused resort offers a family party, dinner at Kites restaurant, late night parties and tons of children’s events.

A New Year’s Day brunch will be available at both hotels.

For information visit the website or call 973-827-5996 ext 3. 

Italian Notebook brings the best of Italy for holidays

We at Eat. Drink. Memory. love Italian Notebook, the daily scoop on all things fabulously Italian for the holidays and every day.

Get the Italian insider's information direct to your inbox with a subscription.

Meanwhile, check out what Italian Notebook has to say about the tradition of the Christkindlmarkt.

Bolzano/Bozen, Alto-Adige - It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Bolzano/Bozen as tourists arrive from all over Italy for our traditional Christmas market, the Christkindlmarkt, a German-style Christmas market that isn’t typical elsewhere in Italy.

Towering above the market stalls is a giant Christmas tree with plenty of twinkling lights. There's a diverse selection of holiday ornaments to buy, including stars, gnomes and even some skiing reindeer as a little reminder that we’re in the Alps.

And then there are the sweets. There’s plenty to munch: cookies, lebkuchen (chocolate-covered gingerbread), Christmas stollen, and the local Bozner cake, dark and moist with nuts and candied fruit. Additional flavors of the local strudel make an appearance, too — try some tasty apricot along with the always-reliable apple.

To keep warm when the snow starts falling, sample the glühwein (mulled wine) or the Tyrolean hot orange punch (a personal favorite!), with or without added rum. The festivities run until December 23rd.

Buon Natale and Fröhliche Weihnachten from Bolzano/Bozen!

-- Contributed by Lee McIntyre (see bio), Freelance writer and photographer. Author of the book A Year of One a Days.

Host a holiday cookie exchange party

Find more cookie recipes at Allrecipes Secret Santa is so over-rated.

I'd much rather go to a party where cookies are the main event and everyone goes home with great goodies to enjoy.

Hosting a cookie exchange is as easy as whipping up a batch of your very best cookie bars. 

The rules are easy. Invite a dozen or more friends over. Provide some simple snacks - nuts, fruit and cheese, a crusty French bread with an olive tapenade and some wine. Or serve some egg nog (spiked if you like).

Ask each guest to bring 4 dozen homemade cookies to swap with other guests. Since most cookie recipes make 4 to 5 dozen cookies, this is easier than it sounds. If you like, you can allow busy guests to bring bakery bought cookies.

Some cookie exchanges factor in some sort of contest or ornament exchange as well. This adds to the fun and really isn't very complicated.

If participants are exchanging ornaments, every guest brings one special ornament to swap with another guest. (Note: The host might consider having a few extra ornaments on hand so no one gets left out if someone forgets to bring an ornament.)

Prizes can be given for Best Cookie Overall, based on taste, texture, presentation, Most Creative, Outstanding Presentation, or Most Original Recipe, etc. 

Be sure to have guests bring a container or plastic Ziploc bags to take home their cookies. The host may want to have extra takeaway bozes on hand in case someone forgets theirs.

Possibilities are endless

Not a big fan of cookies? Have a cupcake exchange instead. Instead of 4 dozen cookies, bring 2 dozen cupcakes to swap. Don't like cupcakes?  Have guests make two cakes to exchange. Cakes to heavy? Guests can bring homemade candies.

Magic Cookie Bars

(recipe from Eagle Brand)

Makes 3 dozen


  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees for glass dish). Coat 13x9-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut and nuts. Press down firmly with a fork.
  3. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars or diamonds. Store covered at room temperature.

Easy and delicious Fruit Cake Bars recipe for Christmas

For more yummy bar cookie recipesfrom Eagle Brand click here

I love Fruit Cake - not the hard as a brick stuff you could use for a door stop, but moist, rum-soaked, candied fruit and nut rich cake. 

My early experiences with fruit cake were less than stellar - waxy, indigestible stuff bought from the store.

I really appreciated my Mom's dense and rich cakes, chock full of candied fruits. I know it comes as a big surprise that I loved the cherries best.

Fruit cake ought to be made a few weeks out from Christmas to allow for a good dousing with rum, but I usually wait until the ninth hour.

Fortunately, I have this really good fruit cake bar recipe adapted from Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk which makes up for my procrastinating ways.  It makes a moist, rummy Fruit Cake Bar - perfect for parties or for shipping to your beloveds near and far.

Old Fashioned Fruit Cake Bars

makes about 4 dozen bars

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (27 oz.) jar Mincemeat
  • 1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk>
  • 2 cups (1 lb.) mixed candied fruit (1/2 cup coconut optional)
  • 1 cup pecans halves
  • 2 tablespoons spiced rum

HEAT oven to 300ºF.

1. Stir together flour and baking soda. Combine eggs, mincement, sweetened condensed milk, candied fruit, nuts and spiced rum in large bowl. Blend in dry ingredients. 

2. Coat 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan with no-stick cooking spray. Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes.

3. Cool. Glaze if desired with heated pureed apricot preserves.

Note: This recipe can be used to make a cake using a 10-cup fluted bundt-type pan and baking for 1 hour and 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You can also make cookies using the drop method (a rounded teaspoon full approximately 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets) or even cookies and baking for 15 to 18 minutes.

World's tallest Christmas tree in Idaho

Everyone knows Idaho is famous for fantastic winter sports  and gorgeous wilderness landscapes, and of course. the good-for-you potato, but who knew the Gem State was home to the world's tallest living Christmas tree, itself a sparkling jewel every holiday season.

The website, Digital City, reports on this glittering holiday record-breaker:

If you're really looking to cement your status as a holiday fanatic, start making your travel plans now to visit the world's tallest living Christmas tree in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

You can find it at the Coeur d'Alene Resort, which adds an extra special touch to the holiday tree by offering a spectacular Holiday Light Show, featuring 1.5 million lights and a guaranteed snow shower.