Friday, December 9, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Traditions~Cranberry Citrus Shortbread Icebox Cookies

Welcome Christmas friends to Day 9 of my 12 Days of Christmas Traditions series!

I'm so glad you have stopped by to share in some Christmas cheer! If you weren't able to visit yesterday, please click here to read  all about Christmas around the world!

Today's post is all about food!

Since we have already talked about Christmas traditions around the world I thought it might be fun to share some Christmas recipes from around the world! I am so honoured to welcome some very special guest bloggers to Keeping the Christmas Spirit Alive, 365 today to share their favourite Christmas recipes for today's special foodie post!

Christmas is traditionally a time where families get together to share in the Christmas spirit by exchanging gifts and sharing a meal. We have started preparing for Christmas at our place by doing a bit of baking.

This week we made some spiced muffins and some Cranberry Citrus Shortbread cookies which were totally scrumptious!

This is the first time I have made them with lemon instead of orange and I really loved that flavour combination. They are so buttery and rich and they taste like Christmas!

Cranberry Citrus Shortbread Icebox Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Add vanilla, almond extract, orange zest and dried cranberries and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter beating at a low speed until blended.
Form dough into 2 logs, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter; wrap in parchment, and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

When ready to bake these little Christmas jewels, preheat the oven to 350F/175C. If  the logs are frozen, let the logs stand at room temp for 10 minutes. Remove parchment. Slice logs into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, and space about 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment.

Bake until pale golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week...that is if they last that long!

As I said earlier, I have asked a few blogging friends to help me by sharing some of their favourite Christmas recipes and I am ever so grateful that they have kindly helped me out!
Bon Appetit

First we will hear from Debbie from A Debbie-Dabble Christmas who will be sharing her story about her Polish Christmas.

Both Joe and I are of Polish descent. One of the polish traditions that we both grew up with was "Holy Supper" which is served on Christmas Eve. It is a meatless meal. Some serve a bean soup first. My parents did not. Fish is usually the mainstay of the meal. As a child, we had whiting ( my Dad loved it) and Herring (my Mom loved this), haddock and scallops. But the entree' that I could not wait to taste on Christmas Eve was my Mom's home-made Pierogies!

Polish Pierogies Recipe and Video

Pierogies were ALWAYS served on Christmas Eve. Joe also had pierogies as part of his Christmas Eve Holy Supper. He also had whole potatoes, boiled but with no butter. Why they did not use butter, I have no idea. I use butter now!

I used to help my Mom make the pierogies, which are dough pockets filled with mashed potatoes with onion. They are boiled and then served with butter and sauteed onions! I LOVE them.... I miss my Mom's and to be honest they are very time consuming to make. It would take a whole day for us to make them for Christmas Eve Holy Supper.

There is a church near Joe's parents where the older women of the parish make pierogies weekly. They are already cooked with the butter and onions and packaged nicely in clear take out container which can be frozen. They are a mere $6.00 a dozen . We usually buy 10 dozen at a time and pop them in the microwave when we want to taste a bit of 'heaven"!! LOL

Picture of Mushroom-Apple Pierogies Recipe


Wow, those Pierogies sound delicious Deb! I am going to have to find some of them somehow!

Next up to take us on a culinary Christmas journey is Pernilla over from Swedish Corner - Down Under to share her recipe for pickled herrings!


Pernilla is a Swede who is living here in Australia. Pernilla's blog showcases all sorts of wonderful Scandinavian crafts and décor. I'm so honoured that she could join in and share her pickled herring recipe with us today-thank you Pernilla!

We eat lots of fish in Sweden and especially around Christmas we eat different styles of herring. Pickled herring is my favourite Christmas dish -I've loved it since I was able to eat real food :-)  

Swedish Pickled Herring recipe:

200ml of sugar
200ml white vinegar
0,5 teaspoon of crushed white peppercorns
2 teaspoons of crushed pimentos/allspice berries
1 bayleaf
5 cloves

Let mixture come to a boil and make sure the sugar disolve.
Leave to cool on the stove.

Put in layers of herring and sliced Spanish red onion in a preferred jar.
Pour cool mixture into the jar and let it stay in the fridge for at least 1-2 days to set.


God Jul - Merry Christmas
Happy Holidays from Australia

Thank you, for sharing this amazing recipe Pernilla!

Now we are heading to Germany to find out about a typical German Christmas Dinner! Thank you so very much to the very sweet Johanna from the beautiful blog for sharing this delicious post!


What do the Germans eat on Christmas? There is no typical German Christmas dinner at all. The priority of Christmas is in Germany on the evening of 24. December. Actually the Christ Child was born at midnight and in former times the gifts were given after the midnight mass. Today we unwrap our gifts earlier, on the late evening of 24. Because the day of 24th is a normal working day, something easy will be served for dinner. A favourite is something that can be prepared in advance, like potato salad and sausages or something easy like that. On 25th we have a big feast dinner.

There are several special dinner traditions for each region in Germany. In former times, meat was a special for Sundays and holidays, like Christmas For example a goose, filled with apples, sweet chestnuts and spiced with sweet sagewort and majoram will be roasted and served with red cabbage and potato dumplings.

In Swabia they serve instead dumplings of homemade Spätzle. Many family's love poached carp with potatoes and hot butter for Christmas dinner. Families with ancestors from Silesia made in former times to the carp a brown gravy, thickened with special gingerbread. This gingerbread for gravy contains almost no sugar but the usual spices. Since the 60's the turkey has captured the hearts of many German at their Christmas dinner tables. With the turkey one can either serve the filling from white bread, bacon and celery or one can eat it with rice and fine buttered vegetable. In this day and age every family follows their own preferences. Today many Germans eat for Christmas Dinner Swiss raclette or fondue. In every case a rich meal with festive decoration is usual, according to the own financial opportunities and taste.

Thank you so much Johanna for telling us all about Christmas dinner in Germany!
Next up on our trip around the world we are going to visit Karan from Cozy Christmas Corner

Every year December brings many expectations for the coming of Christmas Day. As counting down days and planning for the big day of celebration , we seem to incorporate a lot of different old Christmas traditions that make our season so meaningful. But where have these traditions come from? For example, where does the tradition of The Yule Log some from?

The custom of burning a yule log was a tradition borrowed from the early Solstice Festival called Julle. Large bonfires were lit to honor the Sun God, Thor. It was done to entice the sun to return , despite having many long dark days of midwinter.After the Norman invasion of England in the year 1066 the yule log tradition was passed on to the British. The British adopted it as a part of thier Christmas celebration. Traditionally a large log was brought into the house on Christmas and placed on the hearth with celebration. Songs were sung, stories told.and children danced. Offerings of food and wine and decorations were placed upon the log. It would be lite from the pieces saved from the Yule log which had been saved from the previous years log. This log would be kept burning from Christmas Eve right though Christmas Day .Celebrating Yule means no work as long as the log burns.One beleif was that the ashes if left in the fireplace would protect the house for the next year from any natural disasters. A few ashes were sprinkled into the well to keep the water good. Some ashes were also sprinkled around fruit trees and vines for a good harvest.

Some now make a Yule Log Cake as an important part of a Holiday Meal.

Yule chocolate log

5 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup baking cocoa
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brewed coffee
2 tablespoons milk

Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper; grease the paper. Place egg whites in a small mixing bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks on high until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Combine flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to egg yolk mixture until blended.
Beat egg whites on medium until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Stir a fourth into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites until no streaks remain.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until cake springs back (do not overbake). Cool for 5 minutes; invert onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar. Peel off parchment paper. Roll up in the towel, starting with a short side. Cool on a wire rack. In a mixing bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and coffee granules. Beat until stiff peaks form; chill. Unroll cooled cake; spread filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place on serving platter; chill.
In a mixing bowl, beat frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost cake. Using a fork, make lines resembling tree bark.

Thank you for sharing this great post about the tradition of the Yule log and this yummy recipe Karan!

Our final recipe today comes from America from Jonquil who blogs at! Thank you for joining in with my 12 Days of Christmas Traditions series Jonquil and for sharing your yummy pie recipe.

A Whimsical Christmas

One of my favorite holiday foods is homemade apple pie! I don’t bake very often so when I do I thoroughly enjoy it. Of course, I make this pie every year for our Thanksgiving feast, but it is also a great dessert or mid-day snack ;-) on Christmas day.
My recipe comes from the Betty Crocker cookbook that is old and taggered and has been in my family for years, but this is the best recipe I have ever found for apple pie and it amazes our guests every year! It’s pretty simple and straight forward, especially for how amazing it turns out.
Betty Crocker Apple Pie Recipe:

Here is a picture of my pie this year…looks amazing doesn’t it!!!! I could live off of these pies! ;-)

Thanks Jonquil-that pie looks like heaven on a plate!

Thank you so much to everyone who shared 
such wonderful recipes today!

So, have you started cooking and baking for Christmas? What types of special foods do you eat at Christmas time? Are you willing to share your recipes with your favourite bloggy friends?! If you would like to share your Christmas recipes with us today, please link up below. Like I have mentioned before, there is no requirement to link back to me but if you would like spread some Christmas cheer, I would be so happy!

Thank you for linking up today!

I can't believe that we are near the end of the 12 Days of Christmas Traditions Series-how exciting! I hope will be able to join me again tomorrow as I am welcoming another guest poster who will be telling us all about Christmas music!

See you tomorrow.

Best Christmas wishes,


Please join me each weekend for the Say G'day Saturday Linky Party!
You can also visit me at PINTERESTTWITTER, GOOGLE+


  1. Natasha thank you so much for featuring my post . I do so appreciate it.

    Today I start my German Lebkucken cookies. Mix today and let the dough set a few days before baking. Recipe handed down for several years. Dads says Christmas is not Christmas with out them and my hard candies.

    So this next week is going to be a busy week for me.

    Again thank you for featuring my Yule Log post.

  2. Natasha, My stomach is now officially growling for those shortbread cranberry cookies!!! I am LOVING your blog!!!

    XO, Aimee from ItsOverflowing!

    PS I'm having my first linky party on Tuesday, 12/13. It will be "Christmas Scape" themed, tablescape ~ landscape or anywhere else in you home that you've added a touch of Christmas! I'd LOVE for you to link up! My blog is

  3. Hi! I love everything in your blog!!Ilove the cookies!!

  4. What a great idea to feature all the different Christmas cooking ideas, really enjoyed viewing!!

  5. Natasha,
    I am so honored that you featured my story of Polish Holy Supper!!
    Thanks so much and I am truly flattered!!
    I loved reading about the other traditions from various other bloggers!!

    What a great idea!!


  6. I love baking with cranberries too. Such an interesting post, with so many great traditions shared.

  7. This post makes me so hungry!
    I have to try a few recipes for Christmas!
    Best whishes....
    Cri from Italy!

  8. Hi lovely lady.
    I love your post for a German Christmas dinner. I also love your recipes sweet lady.
    I will be having Roast Duck with red cabbage, potato ball's and for dessert apple pie with vanilla Ice cream or Cranberry scones, let's not forget the Eggnog.
    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family.
    XXOO Diane

  9. The combo of cranberry and citrus sounds SOO good!! Definitely a keeper! Thanks so much for linking up today!! :)

  10. Wow, everything you featured sound so good! Love the sound of the icebox shortbread cookies.

    Have a Merry Christmas Natasha!

  11. Glad I found this on Foodie Fridays - thanks. These cookies look good - for any time of year!

  12. These cookies look delicious! What a great cookie for the holiday season...thanks for sharing! Just stopped by #FoodieFriday!

  13. Natasha, we have featured your Cranberry Citrus Shortbread Icebox cookies in a special "Christmas Cookies" post! Thank you for sharing so many wonderful things with us at Treasure Box Tuesday! Merry Christmas! ♥


Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself...
Norman Wesley Brooks, "Let Every Day Be Christmas," 1976

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