Slow Down: Celebrate With My Favorite Holiday Gift Recipes

Are belated holiday wishes a thing? They should be.

I’m still over here celebrating, wishing you lots of love & magic throughout the New Year.

Are you the sort of person who skips right to the recipes? I’m one of you.

We’ve got cranberry sauce and molasses cookies on the menu today. I’ve clearly marked their sections below. Enjoy!

For those of you who are willing to slow down and indulge in some holiday reminiscing, stick with me here for a few minutes…

This holiday season, I’ve been taking it slow quite a bit.

I’ve been taking my sweet time all season.

As many people moved past Thanksgiving and onto the next thing, we stuffed & roasted a turkey the following Sunday.

We cooked all of our favorite side dishes throughout the following week and enjoyed a delicious turkey noodle soup with the bone broth & the leftover turkey.

We brought out our Christmas tree maybe 5 days before Christmas, and it’s still sitting there, comfortably glowing but mostly un-decorated.

slow down

I’ve allowed the present moment to sweep me away from things like social media much more often, spending a lot more time journaling and sewing parked on the couch.

The only thing done early this year was my holiday shopping. I had more to give this year than in recent years and that was a huge blessing I know not everybody had.

My slow lazy-river approach to this holiday season has felt incredible.

In Conscious Wholeness, we practice intentional slow downs as a step towards making our thoughts work for us. We also recognize going slow as an essential part of sinking deeper and deeper into our own skin.

This tactic gives a lot of bang for your buck. It’s key for me in maximizing productivity and efficiency with everything I do.

Plus, I find myself needing way more time & space than usual this year anyway. Living through a pandemic has made this year’s holidays exhausting and weird in so many ways. It has been different for sure.

During this slow-for-me holiday season that’s been different than any other, I found more time to notice what I truly, deeply value in every holiday season.

The collective magic of the holidays is irreplaceable, as generosity, traditions, rituals, creativity, togetherness, innocence, and imagination fill the air.

This year I’ve noticed not only how magic is an important part of the holidays; I’ve recognized on a new level that everyday magic exists all around us when we’re willing to be an active part of the process.

While riding in the slow lane, endless synchronicity and happy accidents let me know everything is working out for me, when I’m willing to let it.

slow down
Like when I brought home this beautiful amaryllis, bonked the flower off on the doorway walking it inside, and let it become my favorite kitchen decoration while the rest of the plant lives in the living room.

That’s the sort of magic that can come alive this time of year, every year, as the world gathers to celebrate.

The deep love of the season is unlike any other too, as we feel gratitude for what we have, long for what we’ve lost, and sit with what we want for ourselves in the future.

Even though this year was complicated, and my late-to-the-game slow approach might seem lackadaisical to outsiders, my winter slow down hasn’t lacked at all in magic or love, so it’s felt more perfect than I could ever imagine.

It’s reminded me that magic, loving vibes like this are available to us all the time, simply by deciding on what’s meant for us in life, and intentionally believing that we will have it, so we’ll do whatever we need to do to bring those desires to life.

I know not everyone feels this way during the holiday season, even on a normal year. Many people feel immense grief, sadness, pain, and loneliness too. I’ve been there, and fully believe we can experience the whole range of human emotions all at once.

I suspect that’s why this year felt so good – because I allowed myself to slow down and lean into ALL of it, without rushing it along.

My Conscious Wholeness practice constantly reminds me that these emotions are all facets of love, as long as they’re sincere.

As I allow myself to drag it all out, taking everything in until I’m overflowing with the nourishment each experience provides, it’s giving me the time & space I need to replenish myself from the shit show of 2020, and I’m walking into next year feeling so full.

I hope you’ll consider lingering in the spirit with me this year by trying a couple of my favorite holiday recipes.

Speaking of recipes, one more thing before we dive in…

Something you should know about me is that I’m *always* going to encourage you to do things your way.

Whether it’s inside of Conscious Wholeness, during a New Year tarot spread, or a trying recipe for something delicious, the key ingredients for more magic & love in your life all live within YOU. They depend on your own unique flair, your personal spin on things.

So, please…

Play with substitutions especially when it helps you avoid a trip to the grocery store or uses up something that needs to be used up.

Don’t be afraid of getting creative while you cook. Follow where the spirit takes you.

Do what feels right. If you want to try something different, do it. Come back and let me know how it goes!

Creative cooking is one of my favorite parts of life. It’s one of my favorite outcomes & practices of Conscious Wholeness.

Cooking feels like a way to love myself & my people. It has become a practice of communion for myself & my body. The people around me always benefit too!

The two recipes I have for you today come straight from my heart to you, and I hope you’ll receive them as a gift from me this holiday season.

When you slow down and infuse your own love & magic into every step of the process, your loved ones are sure to rave about the end result!

Crave-worthy Cranberry Sauce

For the past 7 years or so I’ve enjoyed cranberry sauce all winter long.

cranberry sauce recipe

That year, I had a hankering for some *real* cranberry sauce.

Despite what you might think with me growing up until age 12 in Massachusetts, always loving tart cranberry juice, and indulging in cranberry pancakes quite often during my college days in Boston, I never had real cranberry sauce at the holiday table until I started making it myself.

I’d tried the canned stuff a bunch of times – and if you’re a lover of the can cran, I hear you. I will not try to sway you. Other than to say that if any homemade cranberry sauce can make a believer out of you, this is it.

I’ve seen it happen time & time again.

I started bringing cranberry sauce to Thanksgiving because I wanted it myself, and my people also loved it. I refined & experimented every year, and a few years in, people started asking for it.

My younger step brother is a huge fan. It’s always a hit at a party as an appetizer served with cream cheese and crackers. My sweetheart who hates cranberry sauce of all varieties has actually tried it and said it’s not bad.

Believe it or not, this cranberry sauce is a crowd-pleaser.

At this point you might be asking… “does she load it with extra sugar?”. I don’t!

Here’s my “big secret” that I tell anyone who’ll listen – maple syrup.

slow drip maple syrup

Using maple syrup instead of sugar gives my cranberry sauce this nice, subtle, earthy sweetness that feels like a big hug from the spirit of winter itself.

You might be surprised to find it’s exactly what your body craves this time of year.

I constantly make this stuff to keep it in the fridge all winter long. For the first time this year, I gave a few batches out as gifts for the people who really love it.

I hear debates have started over the leftover cranberry sauce and how it should be portioned out to each member of the household.

At this point it might sound suspicious. Is it even possible for people to fight over cranberry sauce like Rachel & Chandler fought over cheesecake? I don’t know, I guess you’ll just have to try it out & see for yourself!

Get those cranberries ready! Rinse them off.

In a saucepan, combine equal amounts of water and your sugar of choice.

Again, I love maple syrup here, but you can use regular sugar if you prefer, or a combination of the two. When I’m making this for a group, I usually do a combination of maple syrup and raw cane sugar.

It’s very easy to cut down on the sugar without compromising on the taste; I tend to use about 1/2 or 3/4 the amount of sugar, especially when I’m making it just for myself.

Heat the sugar water saucepan over medium-high heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Once the water is steaming it’s time to add your fresh cranberries, along with a pureed orange and all the spices you’d like to use.

(I love ordering organic produce & spices from Misfits Market – this link will give you 50% your first box, and I’ll get 50% off my next box, too!)

I typically use cinnamon & cloves. This year I had some fresh ginger on hand so I zested some of that into the mix too.

Do you like spicy? Chop up some jalapenos & add them! Here’s a strawberry jalapeno cranberry sauce I made last year. It was delicious.

Give it a good stir and let everything heat back up.

Within a few minutes you’ll start to hear the cranberries popping as the liquid starts to boil.

That’s when you cover that red pot of vibrant berry goodness and turn the heat way down to low. Let it simmer for a while until it reaches the consistency you’d like.

Then…. voila. You’re done!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar of choice (I like to use maple syrup or a combination of maple syrup and raw cane sugar)
  • 12 oz package of cranberries
  • 1 medium orange, peeled & pureed
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • optional to taste – ground cloves, ginger, orange zest, dried fruit, apple, jalapenos… get creative!

Directions:

  • Rinse & quality check your cranberries; toss anything that’s too soft or way off in color
  • Combine water and sugar in medium saucepan
  • Heat until steaming over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar
  • Add cranberries, orange, spices, and additions of choice, stir well to incorporate
  • Continue stirring nice and slow while the berries heat up, until you start to hear them popping
  • Turn heat down as low as possible & cover.
  • Simmer stirring occasionally until the cranberries have broken down to your desired consistency, bearing in mind that they will continue to break down a bit while they cool. Keep your eye on your stove to make sure you don’t overflow!

Let cool and enjoy however floats your boat! I love eating this like jelly on toast, mixed with applesauce, with ice cream, with cream cheese & crackers, or by the spoonful. Store in the fridge! I hear it freezes into individual servings well, too.

Next up…

Molten Molasses Cookies

It all started years ago with a desire to bake molasses cookies and this recipe from Just A Pinch.

molasses cookies

I still mostly follow the same recipe, with one main difference – now I substitute oat flour for some of the all-purpose flour, and I bake at a higher temperature.

The oat flour substitution was a happy accident last year when I didn’t have enough all-purpose flour mid-cookie-baking. Upon this realization, I raided the pantry, threw some rolled oats into my food processor and used those instead. The results were delicious so I did the same thing this year!

These have become a holiday season necessity. They’re the only thing my step-dad asks for every year.

I usually make a huge batch and rarely have any left for myself after rationing out as many gift jars as possible. During this strange lonely year we actually have some leftover cookies! They’re destined to become ice cream sandwiches tonight. We’ll see how that goes.

If you need some cookies to round out your holiday season, look no further. These babies will do the trick and then some. Just be sure to bake enough to share!

Here’s how to make em…

I like to get all my ingredients out ahead of time, and put them away as I go. (You can find the ingredients all listed below). If you’re anything like me, your prep spread will almost always include a delicious stout.
slow molasses pour
First, put all the wet ingredients together in a large bowl.

Make sure to slow down and enjoy a sumptuous molasses pour!

Mix all of that together with a hand mixer. I use a hand-me-down hand mixer that must be from the 80’s, and I used a whisk for years so that’s also an option. If you have a fancy mixer, by all means, break it out!
If you use a mixer, you’ll have this lovely cloud of whipped sugar when your done.
Then, add the baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir them in.
You could also mix all the dry ingredients (including the flour) separately like the original recipe suggests, but I’m a sucker for one-bowl whenever possible – less dishes!

Now’s the time to mix in the flour bit by bit.

If you’re mixing by hand, you might want to give up around now, especially if you’ve made 3-5 times the recipe like I usually do. It’s a bit of a process and your arm might get tired. You can do it! Keep going! It’ll be so satisfying when you finally have no visible flour left, only soft, dark brown molasses dough (maybe with some oat chunks starring that molasses sky if you used oats or oat flour).

Look at your accomplishment with pride, snap a photo (please, because I never remember to), cover the bowl with some saran wrap, and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours while you go take a break.

After you’ve let your dough chill out for a bit in the fridge, it’s time to form your cookies.

You’ve probably done this before right? If this is your first time baking cookies… Yay!! Congratulations.

You’re gonna want to preheat your oven now.

For years, I’ve followed Just A Pinch’s recipe and baked at 375*. This year, I wanted to experiment. I wanted a crispy exterior and a molten soft just-barely-done ooey-gooey sort of center, so I cranked up my oven to 450* and shortened the bake time just a bit. They were delicious.

How do you like your cookies? Make them perfect for you.

Get out a couple of cookie sheets and line them with parchment.

You’re going to need a little bowl of sugar for dipping the tops of the cookies and a little bowl of water too. Get those ready and set them somewhere between your cookie sheets and wherever your bowl of dough will sit. Now grab that dough out of the fridge.

And we’re off to the races. You have officially transformed into a molasses cookie production line. Please be as slow, messy, and leisurely about the process as you’d like.

Shape your dough into balls, dip the tops into sugar, and set them on your baking sheet. Depending on the size of your cookies, you could have anywhere from 6-12 cookies. (My cookies have rarely been small enough to get 12)!

Right before you put the baking sheets into your preheated oven, dip your clean fingers into your water bowl and let a few drops of water fall onto the sugared tops of each cookie.

Bake 9-12 minutes. If you have multiple pans, rotate them in the oven (turn the sheets, switch racks) when you have a few minutes left.

For many years I rolled the dough into perfectly beautiful spheres, then cooked them at 375* (pictured above).
molasses cookie recipe
This year, I used an ice cream scoop, worked them together just slightly, and plopped em on the cookie sheet (after dipping the tops in sugar). Baked at 450*, they are crispy and darker on the outside, delightfully soft on the inside, and a little rough around the edges. Perfect for me!

What will make these cookies perfect for you? Don’t forget to add all your love (in the form of however you’re genuinely feeling) to make these magic!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup solid shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 1/4 cups flour of choice (I use about 2/3 all-purpose & 1/3 oat)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar for dipping the tops of the cookies

Directions:

  • In a large bowl mix wet ingredients (shortening, sugar, molasses, egg) with a hand mixer
  • Stir in baking soda, salt, and spices
  • Stir in flour until well combined
  • Chill dough
  • Preheat oven – 450* if you like a crispy outside & gooey inside like me, or 375* if you’d prefer a more uniform while still very moist and delicious cookie
  • Line baking sheets with parchment
  • Prepare two small bowls, one with sugar and one with water
  • Start forming the cookies; separate dough into balls, dip tops into sugar, and line em up on the parchment lined baking sheet
  • When the trays are full & ready to go in the oven, sprinkle a few drops of water on the top of each cookie
  • Pop them in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. In a 450* oven, your cookies will be dark toasty brown and borderline burnt on the bottom by the time the insides are cooked through. In a 375* oven, you’ll want to take the cookies out when they’re just set on the top & starting to brown on the bottom. Either way, start keeping a close eye on them around 8-10 minutes.

Let cool & enjoy!

I make 3x to 5x this recipe every year to fill up mason jars & give as gifts. They’re absolutely delicious enjoyed nice and slow, dipped into your morning coffee. Because, who doesn’t eat cookies for breakfast all winter long?

Nothing gets me craving vegetables for lunch like having cookies for breakfast.

slow down

So how about it? Will you slow down and celebrate with me?

If you try these recipes out, let me know how it goes! Leave me a comment or tag me @briannamcinerny on social media.

And as always, I so appreciate you being here. Until next time.

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