Religious or no, the winter holiday season is chock full of a zillion different traditions. Some of mine are a continuation of what my parents did for me as a kid, others have slowly developed over the years.
Buying Mark a new ornament every year (ever since we started dating).
Designing and printing my own holiday cards.
Pretending I actually try to wait until after Thanksgiving to play Christmas music (I usually stop sometime in February and start up again in July).
I’ve learned that my Christmas food traditions are pretty casual compared to some families. There’s no Christmas eve or Christmas day dinner of note. However, Christmas morning breakfast has to be just so. Otherwise the holiday feels incomplete.
It’s not complicated — just scrambled eggs and little smokies sausages (apparently that’s a carryover from my time in Montana). Brie tends to add hot chocolate and Mark requests biscuits and gravy. It’s a hearty meal to start the day with, but it’s really wonderful after dragging myself out of bed early to see what Santa has been up to.
What kinds of Christmas food traditions do you have? What makes your holiday?
Sure, I can eat a handful of honey roasted peanuts now and then, salted cashews are starting to grow on me, and I like my peanut-butter crunchy, but I despise Jordan almonds and think that nuts ruin perfectly good fudge. I hate nuts in stuffing, I hate nuts in trail mix. They’re usually bitter and make my teeth feel weird.
But these Candied Pecans might as well be some illicit drug with how addicted to them I am.
I would go as far as to say that besides for the allergic, these would convert even the most ferocious of nut-haters.
They’re so easy to make and perfect to have on hand for the holidays. I’ve served them for our last three holiday movie parties, and several years ago I even made festive little baggies of them as gifts.
Preheat to 300 degrees and line a large baking tray with wax paper.
Whisk the egg white, vanilla, and water together in a large bowl until its thicker and frothier.
Add in the sugars, cinnamon, and salt, and then mix thoroughly until the pecans are well covered.
Spread evenly over the wax paper-lined baking tray and place in oven for 45 minutes.
Stir the pecans every 15 minutes.
Cool for at least 10 minutes before eating.
Stores well in cookie tins.
You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t give them a chance.
Our humble party spread featuring the candied pecans, kettle corn, movie-theater popcorn, hummus and veggies, hot cocoa and fresh whipped cream, eggnog, pomegranate punch, salted caramel cookies, various candies, and a delicious cabbage salad courtesy of my brother and his girlfriend.
Holiday shorts and cartoons before our main feature during our Holiday Movie Party
Here’s some of my favorite Qwerty recipes that I think would be great for any Halloween party you may attend or host this year. Or, you know, make them for yourself Halloween night, shut off all your lights, turn on a movie, and ignore anyone who comes to your door.
I made this cake for the first time about four years ago.
My boyfriend at the time was working in a managerial position for Claire’s corporate, and I had somehow ended up as the official cake baker for his employees birthdays. They quickly caught wind that I enjoyed turning alcoholic drinks into baked goods so besides for this Strawberry Margarita cake, I also made a White Russian cake and my classic Irish Carbomb cake.
When it showed up on my Timehop, I knew without a doubt I had to make it again. Fortunately I had the perfect excuse, it was my mothers birthday on the 2nd and she had requested a Mexican theme for the food. So, along with our Crock-Pot Enchiladas (for which I made my own red enchilada sauce), we had a taco bar, margaritas, chips and guacamole with the most perfect avocados I’ve seen all season, Cream Cheese Things, Tomato Basil Mozzarella apps, Coconut Macaroons, and this cake.
As you can see from the photos, the frosting looks a little suspect. Not only was it very warm in the house which exasperated the situation, but I had somehow run out of powdered sugar and it was just too late to get any more. I experimented with using a little corn starch to try to thicken it up, but it didn’t work like I had hoped.
If you use as much sugar as you’re supposed to, you’ll have a nice fluffy frosting on your hands like my picture from four years ago.
2 sticks room temperature (or hurriedly microwaved) unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons lime zest (about 4 limes worth)
¼ cup milk
¼ cup non-alcoholic margarita mix
2 Tablespoons tequila
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon water
2 Tablespoon Tequila
8 oz room temperature Cream Cheese
½ cup room temperature salted butter
1 cup fresh strawberries, blended
3 Tablespoons lime juice (about 2 limes)
2 Tablespoons non-alcoholic margarita mix
6 cups powdered sugar
2, 9" Cake pans
reheat the oven to 325 and butter and flour the inside of two 9" round cake pans.
In a small bowl sift together the flour salt and baking powder.
In the bowl of stand mixer with a paddle attachment, blend the butter and granulated sugar on medium low until light and fluffy.
Scrape down the sides and one at a time add the eggs.
Scrape down the sides slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined. Do not over mix.
Scrape down the sides and add the lime zest, milk, margarita mix and tequila. Mix until combined. If you feel your batter is too thick, add more margarita mix.
Divide and pour equally into the prepared pans and place in the oven for about 35-40 minutes until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean from the center. Rotate the pans once halfway through baking.
When they're done, remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
Remove the cakes from their pans as carefully as possible and set flat side up on some cooling racks. Brush the tops of the cakes each with a quarter of the tequila glaze.
When your frosting is ready, cut the first cake in half and place the glazed half down onto your plate or tray. Frost this layer generously.
Place the second half of the cut cake, cut side up on top of the frosting. Brush with ¼ of the remaining glaze and allow it to soak in for a couple of minutes.
Frost this layer generously.
Approach the second cake in the same way, cut in half, put the cut half on top of the frosting, frost, place the last half on top, glaze, and then frost.
At this point you're ready to frost the rest of the cake. Be generous with your delicious frosting.
Decorate with freshly sliced strawberries and a twisted lime slice right on top.
When you cakes are about ready, prepare the glaze by mixing the sugar, water, and tequila in a small bowl with a fork or a whisk until fully combined and smooth. Set aside until needed.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, place the butter and cream cheese and whisk on medium until blended and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Add the lime juice, blended strawberries, and margarita mix, whisk for another 2 minutes.
Add the powdered sugar slowly, scraping the sides of the bowl every now and then, until the frosting is at your desired thickness.
The frosting is a little week, but still delicious. However, the cake itself is amazing; super moist and tangy and delightful. You could forgo any alcohol or even margarita mix, and just use it as a zesty lime cake!
We created this space in 2013 as a home for recipes, reviews, and entertaining tips for those on the nerdier end of the spectrum. We're on vacation at the moment, but there are usually new posts every Thursday. Sometimes more, if you're lucky.
With our powers combined, we represent a culinary school grad, an aspiring astronaut, a culinary school dropout, social nerds, gamers, cinephiles, bibliophiles, laqueristas, food fanatics, social anxiety disorders, and more. It’s fun stuff. Oh! And Brandie is wife to Adam who is brother to Brie who is cousin to Cat! Clearly nerdiness runs in this family.
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