Christmas and holiday recipes

This IS my new Holiday Cake and it is beautiful and oh so delicious!

This cake is a must.

The cranberries are simply AMAZING!

Make the cake days ahead of time and place in your freezer. You will be shocked at how this makes a cake so moist.

And a real helpful tip? Double the cranberries. People eat them like candy!

Happy Holidays my friends!



Red Velvet Cake:
• 1 package cake mix white
• 2 packages (4 serving size) vanilla
flavored instant pudding
• 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil
• 4 large eggs
• 3 teaspoons cocoa
• 3 teaspoons vanilla
• 1 ounce bottle red food coloring
( In high altitude I use another egg and
another ½ cup flour.)
Combine cake mix, pudding mix, water, buttermilk eggs and oil
and coco in large mixer bowl. Blend; beat at medium speed for 4
minutes. Stir in vanilla
Pour into greased and floured 8 or 9 inch.
Bake cake rounds. Bake at 325 degrees for 35‐40 minutes. Cool
15 minutes in pan.
Remove from pan. Fully cool on rack.


Cream Cheese Frosting:
Cream 1/3 cup butter; blend in 2 pkg. of 3 oz cream cheese, Add
1 box (16 oz) confectioners’ sugar, alternately with 4 teaspoons
milk, beating well after each addition. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla or
almond extract. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Top
with Sugared Cranberries (recipe on next page). Garnish on the
side with Fresh Rosemary


Sugar Cranberries
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 1/3 cup water
• 2 cups fresh cranberries, room
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (for rolling)
Place sugar and water in shallow pan and heat until simmering
(not boiling) and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Place cranberries in pan and submerge. Make sure cranberries
are well coated. Using a slotted spoon transfer coated to
cranberries to a wire rack to dry for an hour. Separate cranberries
as much as possible to avoid clumps of simple syrup that will
lead to clumps of sugar.
Place granulated sugar in a shallow pan or bowl and working
in small batches, roll cranberries through sugar to coat. Transfer
coated cranberries to a clean surface for furthering drying, about
1hour. Makes about 2 cups.
A few notes:
• Do not use frozen cranberries. I tried, it doesn’t coat evenly
since some parts of the cranberry can end up slightly shriveled
when brought to room temperature.
• I used regular granulated sugar for the coating.
• Make sure the simple syrup is dried to a sticky touch or you will
end up with clumps of sugar rather than an even coating



More wonderful holiday favorites at Start Simply Cooking Cookbook. Order yours today! ORDER HERE :


The Christmas Kitchen on the table at the Pinery_n

Christmas Kitchen


Even in today’s busy times, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Author Tammy Maltby believes the true meaning of Christmas is realized when families gather to share activities that make Christmas “the most wonderful time of the year.” More than any other holiday, Christmas is when family and friends gather for a cup of hot chocolate, fresh-baked cookies, and lots of laughter.


Look inside this holiday treasure for: Easy-to-do holiday recipes – Hints for new traditions – Personal gift ideas – Kid-friendly activities – Simple decorating tips. The Christmas Kitchen is more than a recipe book, it’s a book designed to help you enjoy the  holiday season, not be burdened by it. Take a few minutes each day to  browse these pages for the help you’ve been looking for.


Merry Christmas and may your kitchen be filled, first, with the sweet aroma of love, and then with the spices of the season.

ORDER HERE: http://




I am getting ready for Christmas Brunch!

I love Christmas morning but I don’t want to be making breakfast in the kitchen, I want to be drinking coffee by the fire!

That is why I have tweaked recipe after recipe to find a great morning egg bake that you can make 24 hours before and it comes out divine.  You are going to love this recipe.

What makes this so special is the hash browns. The difference between using hash browns and cubed bread is huge. I have also use the seasoned hash browns and they are so good.

I serve this with the Cinnamon Bread Wreath and the Hot Sherry Fruit Soup (which I have yet to post)! It makes for the most delicious make ahead Christmas morning breakfast.

Merry Christmas Friends!

Hospitality is a message you give others about their value. It’s not about impressing people but bringing comfort and care. [click to continue…]


December 12th is National Cocoa Day!

Did you know that?

It doesn’t get any better than this! Homemade hot chocolate with marshmallows. It’s old fashioned, it’s comforting and it’s good for the soul.

Christmas isn’t  just about presents. Yet Christmas is a festive celebration of giving—and the Christmas Kitchen is one of your best resources. It can be both an inspiration and a workshop for creating gifts that delight the heart and the soul . . . not to mention the taste buds.

And giving from your kitchen is its own reward.

What can be more satisfying than to whip up something beautiful and delicious, wrap it beautifully and imaginatively, and place it in someone else’s eager hands?

If your heart is telling you to dedicate a day or days to making gifts from the kitchen, I think you should listen. Much joy can be found putting a little more time and talent into your gifting than you can easily afford. It’s Christmas, after all! So put on some holiday music, maybe invite someone to help you, and go for it! You can even make extras of whatever you’re giving and keep them on hand for spur-of-the-moment gifting opportunities.

Through it all, remember that the best gifts, after all, are simply messengers. They’re concrete ways of saying, “I see you,” “I’m thinking about you,” “I care about you,” “I want to share this wonderful season with you.” And there are many ways to send that message. A shared cup of coffee and a cookie can be a gift. A phone call or a note can be a treasured gift. A meal for your family is a gift of love. There’s a gift in the stories that are told by the sink and stove, the memories that are made around the table.

All gifts from the Christmas Kitchen.

All fitting tributes to the One who is the greatest gift of all.

Cohen my first grandson making Gourmet Hot Cocoa with me for his teachers!

Gourmet Hot Cocoa Mix

This fancy version of a traditional hot cocoa mix is a perfect and yummy gift for teachers and neighbors—but keep some at home, too, for your family and for impromptu hospitality. (I love to add a little to my coffee.)

4 cups instant nonfat dry milk

2 cups sifted powdered sugar

2 cups powdered French vanilla nondairy coffee creamer

2 cups powdered chocolate milk mix (the store brand works just fine)

1 5-ounce package cook-and-serve (not instant) chocolate pudding mix

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups miniature marshmallows and/or miniature chocolate chips

Crushed candy canes.

Combine all ingredients and stir well.

Store in air tight container. Makes 8 cups mix, or 32 servings.

To serve, place ¼ cup mix in mug or cup. Add ¾ cup boiling water or hot milk and stir well.

To give as a gift, put mix in a pretty, covered glass container. Use ribbon to tie on two decorative mugs. You could also attach miniature bottles of liquid flavoring (cherry, amaretto, Irish crème, etc.) from a coffee shop, peppermint or cinnamon sticks for stirring, a lovely ornament . . . use your imagination. Be sure to attach the recipe or you will be getting calls for it!
Simple Variations

• Minted Hot Cocoa Mix: Omit marshmallows and add 1 cup mint chocolate morsels.

• Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix: Omit marshmallows and add 2 tsp. cinnamon. If you’re brave, stir in a little cayenne pepper too.

• Rich Mocha Mix: Use mocha-flavored creamer and add 1 cup instant-coffee granules to mix.

• Guiltless Indulgence: Combine 3 cups nonfat dry milk, 1 cup artificial sweetener (such as Splenda), ½ cup unsweetened cocoa, and 1 small (.8 ounce) package fat-free, sugar-free vanilla pudding mix.
Simple Idea

Always include recipes with any gift from your Christmas Kitchen. That way the recipients won’t be calling up at inconvenient times to ask for it, they’ll be forewarned of any ingredients they may be allergic to, and the recipe itself will be a bonus gift.
Simple Idea

I always bring food instead of flowers as a hostess gift. Wrapping it beautifully will give the message that you don’t expect her to serve it immediately to the guests.

The Christmas Kitchen makes a wonderful Christmas and hostess gift. Bring some of this amazing cocoa mix with the cookbook!

Recipe from The Christmas Kitchen by Tammy Maltby with Anne Christian Buchanan. All rights reserved.


“To be a good host don’t pretend to be other than what you are.” Emily Post 1922

I would say that would be true of being a guest as well.

I think one of the most important parts of hospitality is learning to find your own style and feeling good in your own skin both as a host and as a guest. Learning to walk out lifegiving with comfort and care. Making room for yourself and others to just be.

No pretending. No performing.

Isn’t that what we all want anyway? A place we can go and just be our true authentic selves? No matter what the season.

I was talking to a friend this week who shared how difficult Christmas was for her last year. Her family has experienced a tragic loss and there was only energy to get though each day. She was feeling stress thinking she needed to get her act together but truthfully didn’t have any desire to put up a tree or wrap one gift. She said, “I still just need time. I feel like a foreigner to this season and what I really crave is comfort and quiet. A few close friends who get it and can handle my pain. A few friends that I can share a meal with and feel okay about both laughing…and crying. I just need to be.”

Lifegiving Hospitality is just that. “Lifegiving”…giving true life. For yourself or someone that sits at your table.

This season I encourage you to make room for yourself and others to be their true authentic selves.

In my opinion it is the best gift of all.

A Christmas Tea for Friends


Start simply.  But simply start. Remember hospitality is giving others a message about their value. So sometimes just a great sandwich filling for an afternoon tea is just about the most comforting thing around.  Finger sandwiches are classic fare—and these fillings are to die for! You will love the hot tea recipe. And your home will smell simply divine!

Salmon and Lemon-Caper Cream Sandwiches

½ cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. drained capers

½ tsp. finely shredded lemon

½ tsp. Dijon mustard

1/8 tsp. white pepper

Butter or mayonnaise

32 slices bread (your choice)

Curly endive or lettuce leaves

8 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon (lox) or smoked turkey

In a small mixing bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients. Spread 32 slices of bread with butter or mayonnaise. Top 16 slices with greens and divide salmon or turkey on lettuce. Top with 1 tsp. mayonnaise mixture per sandwich and finish sandwich with remaining bread slices. If desired, garnish with fresh dill. Serve at once. Makes 1/3 cup dressing, or 16 servings.

Curried Chicken-Cashew Sandwiches

Here’s another amazing tea sandwich that’s great for luncheon as well.

½ cup plain yogurt

2 Tbsp. soft-style cream cheese (from a tub)

2 Tbsp. snipped chives or thinly sliced green onion

1 tsp. curry powder

¼ tsp. salt

1½ cups (8 ounces) cooked chicken or turkey, finely chopped

¼ cup cashews (or almonds), finely chopped

Butter or mayonnaise

24 slices bread (your choice)

Curly endive or lettuce

In a bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients, then add chicken and cashews and blend thoroughly. Spread 24 slices of bread with butter or mayonnaise. Top 12 slices with greens and 2 Tbsp. chicken mixture. Top with snipped chives or thinly sliced green onion and cover with remaining bread slices. Makes 1½ cups filling, or 12 servings.

Simple Tip

Use the bread of your choice to make tea sandwiches—regular white or wheat, pumpernickel or rye party slices, tiny croissants, or miniature bagels. If your bread has crusts, cut them off before filling. (You can stack 6 slices of bread at a time to cut off crusts.) Always spread bread slices thinly with butter or mayonnaise to keep the bread from becoming soggy.

Simple Tip

The best tea sandwiches are practically bite-sized. Use a serrated knife to cut large sandwiches into triangles or small squares. Or try cutting out simple shapes with a Christmas cookie cutter! If you do this after the sandwiches are filled, the cutter will seal the edges and help keep the filling from leaking out.

Simply Beautiful Tip

Hold sandwiches together with toothpicks stuck through a sprig of herbs or a slice of green stuffed olive—or sprinkle top of sandwich with chopped basil or dill. Arrange on a pretty platter topped with a paper doily.

Simple Tip

For a very simple, delicious, and beautiful tea sandwich, spread thin slices of your favorite fruit-nut bread with flavored cream-cheese spread from a bagel shop.

Christmas Tea


Sweet with a hint of spice – Great for parties, easy to make in large batches

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 to 12 whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 12 cups water
  • 12 individual tea bags
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice


  • Place cinnamon sticks, allspice and cloves on a double thickness of cheesecloth. Bring up corners of cloth; tie with a string to form a bag.
  • Place water and spice bag in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add tea bags; cover and steep for 5 minutes. Discard tea bags and spice bag. Stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Add juices; heat through. Serve warm. Yield: 3 quarts.

Russian Tea


I triple the recipe and add a 9.5 oz bag EACH of red hot candies and lemonheads into the mix-after mixing the rest of the ingredients. Then using a canning funnel, I pack the mix into 1/2 pint, pint and quart jars.  Try layering it is beautiful and makes a wonderful Christmas gift!

  • 3 cups instant tea with lemon-flavoring dry mix
  • 3 cups orange-flavored drink mix (e.g. Tang)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

The Christmas Kitchen Pinery 2

From The Christmas Kitchen a gathering place for making memories:

by Tammy Maltby with Anne Christian Buchanan. All rights reserved.

Purchase The Christmas Kitchen at for more wonderful holiday favorites!


Serving up Love.

Christmas Rice Pudding.

The top of this pudding is custard and the rice settles to the bottom…and the whole thing is amazingly yummy!

We lost this recipe for almost eight years and tried about twenty-five other rice-pudding recipes, but could never get it so creamy and yummy. While working on my cookbook I went though all my recipes and books–trust me, this was no small task!—and found it! My kids went crazy!! That very night we made two recipes and—can you believe it?—we ate it all!

(This wonderful pudding may be made with Almond Milk and turns out wonderful. Ck note below).


8 cups whole milk, divided

1 cup jasmine rice (regular rice works great too)

1 cup golden raisins

½ cup butter

4 cups whole milk

8 beaten eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

Ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice

Fresh whipped cream or half-and-half

Fresh raspberry’s in a sugar sauce

In a four-quart heavy sauce pan bring 4 cups of milk, rice, and raisins to a full boil, then quickly reduce heat. Cover and cook over very low heat until rice is tender, stirring several times. (Watch carefully to prevent boil-overs.)

When rice is fully cooked—approximately 15 minutes—remove from heat and stir in butter until melted. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine remaining 4 cups milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt, and gradually stir into the cooked rice mixture. Pour into a well-greased 3-quart baking dish. Bake uncovered at 325 for 30 minutes. Stir and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice (I generally use two of the three). Return to oven and bake another 25 minutes, until edges are set. The center will still be “wiggly.” Let sit 10 minutes. Serve with fresh whipped cream or half-and-half and a raspberry sugar sauce.

NOTE: My daughter and grandson can not eat diary. Thus we tried this recipe with almond milk and it was amazing. Almond milk is low in fat, despite originating from a high-fat nut, and the flavor is surprisingly mild.  Cooked down, it gives the pudding a very creamy taste and yummy mouth-feel.  You, your hips and your cholesterol count won’t miss the dairy at all.

Recipe from The Christmas Kitchen A Gathering Place for Making Memories by Tammy Maltby with Anne Christian Buchanan. All rights reserved.



The Christmas Kitchen and Chilled Cranberry Soup

October 12, 2011

This Cranberry Soup is simply divine! A perfect new recipe for this holiday season.

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