Seasonal Sundays (Week 49 Early December)

A quick read! Easy December recipes plus a seasonal showcase of cut-out cookie recipes plus ideas for home and life and seeking out joy in the season...
Seasonal Sundays ♥, easy December recipes plus a showcase of cut-out cookie recipes plus holiday ideas for the home and life.

Welcome to Seasonal Sundays!

I hope your Thanksgiving was ... just peachy? almost all you hoped for? what is it, that we wish for? That's how I like to think of our collective Thanksgivings!

Ours plans came together at the very last minute. Food-wise, whew, I nailed it in under 48 hours, from "go" to shopping lists to 13 at the table.

But my favorite Thanksgiving memory was the call that came on the Monday from my nephew, age 28, while he was brining the family turkey. He was so pleased with himself, all confident and YouTube-educated. From all accounts, his turkey turned out excellent ... as did mine, did anyone give the dry-brine roast turkey a try? I'm thinking so, given the traffic that page received on Thanksgiving. Do tell!

You guys know that I go on and on about the World's Best Green Bean Casserole, right? True dat, as they say. But there's a personal reason, a life-changing reason ... I shared the story on A Veggie Venture on Thanksgiving Day, see Happy Thanksgiving from the Green Bean Casserole Lady ♥ A Love Story.

But now, shall we take a collective deep breath and move into the fast-paced weeks before Christmas?


Pick One is for those of us who are overwhelmed by life's choices. If that resonates, then check out this one recipe and then call it a day. It's one that I think could make the most difference, the one I hope will become a regular in your kitchen, as it is in mine.

Christmas Cauliflower ♥, healthy and pretty for the holidays but concept works year round. Low Carb. Vegan. Weight Watchers friendly.

People really do turn to healthy choices at family gatherings and holiday parties: if something healthy is present and easy to eat, well, dig in! Roasted vegetables aren't usually a good choice for a party dish, either at home or for carrying elsewhere: they really need to be eaten straight from the oven. But this salad doctors up barely roasted cauliflower in ways that are easy and rely on on-hand ingredients. It's especially pretty at Christmas but in my kitchen, it makes year-round appearances.

Something For the Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Chicken, Chickpea & Kale Stew ♥, chicken and vegetables in the slow cooker, a hearty, satisfying mix of color and texture and flavor. Weight Watchers Friendly. High Protein.

Regular readers know that I'm no fan of slow cookers, how their performance varies, how the flavors all muddle together. So when you see a slow cooker recipe from me, you know it's been held to high standards ...

Soups & Salads Especially for December

Seasonal Soups & Salads for December, a monthly feature ♥ A Veggie Venture

Something to Listen To

Fellow podcast listeners out there? Share your favorites!

Here's one I've wanted to recommend for along while, The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman. But this is the week!

That's because last week I mused about the preparations for Thanksgiving being a sort of sacred work. Two days later, Emily's podcast called sharing a table with others its own sacred act. And besides, she recommended cooking soup!

Here's how each episode begins.

"This is a podcast all about making decisions. It's also a podcast about making a life. If you're in the middle of a major life transition or simply need a few minutes away from the low-grade hum of anxiety that daily life can some times bring, you're in the right place."

Most episodes, there's a nugget of thinking that stays with me ...

Seasonal Showcase: I ♥ Cut-Out Cookies

I love cut-out cookies so much, they appear year-round! So no surprise, over the years, I've collected several recipes, all different. Some don't even require rolling!

One day I hope to be famous for cut-out birthday cookies, 4s and 3s for someone who's turning 43, say, or 1s and 0s for twins turning 10, say.

At Christmas, I love the sweet, sticky chaos of the "cookie decorating party" around our kitchen table, grandkids and honorary grandkids and even the occasional grown-up who doesn't need to steal away for last-minute shopping. Prizes? Of course!

True story: two years ago, we threw away all the just-decorated cookies when one of the small-hand decorators came down with the flu. We couldn't risk passing that around the extended family! And ... of course, somebody learned the lesson that it was the fun and tradition of the party, not eating the cookies. Nobody missed them!

Cut-out cookies are just so pretty! They add color and shape to cookie plates but ut you'll see, my cut-out cookie collection isn't just about good looks but also good taste. I really amp up the flavors ...

Frosty Christmas Trees

Frosty Christmas Trees ♥, my long-time favorite cut-out cookie, with an easy-to-handle dough, lovely gingerbread flavor and just a touch of chocolate.

This first recipe is my very oldest! The dough is so easy to handle and the combination of gingerbread spices and chocolate is amazing. You might have already have fixed on your go-to sugar cookie recipe but this one's completely different. The cookies stay fresh for weeks and freeze well too. The frosty trees are really pretty but obviously, choose any shape you like.

No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies

No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies ♥, just mix and roll, no need to wait. Mix and bake in under an hour.

This is my go-to recipe for cut-out sugar cookies, I can mix and bake a batch in under an hour. This dough is super easy to handle, too and this is the recipe I'd recommend if you're baking with kids.

In my experience, some sugar cookies are all about the frosting. Not these, they are rich with vanilla or some times I use lemon extract too, then repeat that same flavor in the icing.

Fat Rascals

Fat Rascals ♥, the classic English biscuit cookie with the funny name. The dough is mixed by hand, no mixer required! It rolls easily, try star shapes for Christmas, rounds for year-round treats.

Cookies for grown-ups! During the year, I use a serrated biscuit cutter for small round biscuits but at Christmas, I break out a star shape cookie cutter for Fat Rascals. These are buttery and barely sweet! They're mixed by hand, no need to break out the mixer.

  • Fat Rascals, the classic English biscuit with the funny name, no mixer required.

Colored Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

Colored Roll-Out Sugar Cookies ♥, an easy-to-work-with recipe for roll-out sugar cookies, here in Christmas Stars. No icing!

And now for a few tricks. You see how these cookies are bright and pretty and "look" decorated with icing but actually aren't? Cool, eh?

No-Roll Christmas Sugar Cookies

No-Roll Christmas Sugar Cookies ♥, quick and easy, chewy and buttery, colorful and festive. Tastes just like the very best sugar cookies, without the fuss and mess of rolling.

And here again, these bright and pretty cookies don't even need rolling, just colored sugar for the tops.

Meet Luka

Luka at 9 months

Any dog people out there?! You'll get this next bit.

Two years ago yesterday, this feisty, funny pup came to live with us. His name is Luka, a Finnish name. He's a full-blooded pointer. Since a breeder brought him to the Humane Society, we figure he might have flunked out of bird dog school. Ooops.

We adore this guy! He's a joy to live with!

  • Luka was born the day we lost my first dog, Lady. Lovely synchronicity, yes?
  • He's not a trained therapy dog but residents where my 93- and 3/4-year old father lives all know him and he makes the rounds, some times into rooms and from person to person at the afternoon music hour. And lucky, a medium-size dog (Luka weighs 50 pounds) is the perfect petting height for people in chairs and wheelchairs.
  • He has favorite residents. Last year, Luka did a beeline into the room of a brand-new resident, even though he hadn't been invited and was heavily sedated. We soon learned that Mr. G is quite young (60s) had just had three strokes on top of twenty years of Parkinsons. He's much improved and still has difficulty speaking but he and Luka right up in each other's faces and just l-o-v-e on one another. And then there's Mrs. C, whose mood goes from super-cheery to super-worried throughout the day: Luka distracts and calms her.
  • Luka l-i-v-e-s to play catch with dog toys. At first, he'd bug me incessantly to go out to play but now we have an "arrangement". And it works! My phone has an alarm with a special ring tone. When he begs me to play, he sees and hears me set the timer and understands that soon, we'll play. And when the timer goes off a few minutes later? He gathers toys at the door and out we go for a good hard play.
  • Funny thing, Luka cleaned the Thanksgiving serving dishes so well, if I hadn't stacked them up by the sink for a real cleaning, they might have been put away!

Holiday Matters

Heaven knows, the holidays add a layer of expectations and stress that can be life-sucking. Some time later today, I'll break out the Christmas playlists and begin putting up Christmas touches all around the house. But all the bits and bobbles and Christmas lovelies are only the veneer. So tonight I plan to sit by the fire and take stock of the season that exists beneath all the twinkly lights.

How do you guys do it, managing the holidays? Asking for a friend!

But here are a couple of communication/coping techniques that work for us.

  • HARD TOPICS In the Kellogg family, we use the code words "Dogs Are Great" as the subject line in emails or letters, forewarning the recipient that the contents might be difficult to read and might best be read in private.
  • COMMISERATION My dear brother[-in-law] started something and oh! it sings volumes. When something goes awry, or somebody loses it, or plans break down, we intone under our breath, "Happy Holidayyyyz". It's a way for a couple of people to acknowledge, commisserate and then shrug it all off.


  • "... it was delicious. I was going to take the whole thing to work tomorrow but my husband insisted we taste test it first."
    Thanks, Anonymous! I'm so glad you love the Estonian Apple Cake

  • "... my bridge club loved it! It's a keeper ..."
    Thanks, Carole! You too are a fan of Estonian Apple Cake!

  • "... made these again, and yes, they are STILL quite perfect ..."
    Thanks, Deretta! So glad to hear that Perfect Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins work for you! Me too! And so many other Kitchen Parade readers!

  • "Thank you! So many favorites seniors had to give up as cannot cut squashes, now we can cook them whole, so great."
    Thanks, Anonymous! It's so good to know that something so simple as How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash can make your life better! I roasted three big ones just on Wednesday! Two went into a double batch of Squash Puff, the third is TBD!

  • "I loved this ... could easily have eaten the whole dish, it is so delicious."
    Thanks, Dejadru! Julia Child's Soubise (Onion & Rice Casserole) is indeed something special!

  • "I made this for Thanksgiving dinner. It was wonderful and a hit."
    Thanks, Anonymous! I'm so glad that the Green Beans with Browned Butter & Pine Nuts worked so well for you!

Text Me Back!

That's all I've got for today!

But I'd love to hear from you. Comment, send me a quick e-mail via, dot-dash in Morse code, build a fire for smoke signals, whatever.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2019

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.