The five finalists in the sixth Times Holiday Cookie Bake-Off. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Congratulations, fellow cooks. We’ve made it to the homestretch that is the holiday marathon. Christmas Eve and the start of Hanukkah fall on Saturday this year, and Kwanzaa begins on Monday here in the United States. If you’re anything like me, you’re still mulling over last-minute menu ideas and recipes to prepare. (This year, we will be celebrating “Chrismukkah” at my sister’s with her family, and we’re still figuring out dishes, along with a final head count.)

If you’re still looking for last-minute gift ideas, we have the recipes for our five favorite cookies from our latest Holiday Cookie Bake-Off. And if you’re still piecing together a dinner menu, we check in at Windrose Farm for a real farm-to-table holiday celebration. We also give you a primer on latkes, and Jonathan Gold shares his favorite tamaleros in and around Los Angeles.

SWEET RESULTS FROM OUR SIXTH HOLIDAY COOKIE BAKE-OFF

With 130 entries and close to 20,000 votes cast, it certainly wasn’t easy coming up with our favorites for this year’s L.A. Times Holiday Cookie Bake-Off. There were so many wonderful entries, from traditional to novel, homey to ornate. Our five finalists this year are recipes for Mexican chocolate Christmas cookies; salted caramel snickerdoodles; rose, cardamom and pistachio snowballs; vegan Linzer cookies and holiday kids sugar cookies. Whether you’re looking for a last-minute homemade gift or are thinking about creating a new holiday cookie tradition, we think you’ll love these recipes.

A HOLIDAY MEAL AT WINDROSE FARM IN PASO ROBLES

For Barbara and Bill Spencer, inspiration for a holiday meal can be found just steps away from the kitchen. The Spencers own and operate Windrose Farm, a small family farm in San Louis Obispo County, and much of the food that graces their table comes freshly harvested from the land. A holiday meal might include a simple salad as well as a potato and squash gratin served alongside grilled lamb chops, followed by a rustic apple crisp. Simple, and perfect.

LATKES 101, WITH RECIPES

Are you feeling a little rusty when it comes to making latkes? Whether you are new to them or only fix them once a year, this video is a handy refresher. And check out some of our favorite latke recipes from our Recipe Database.

WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THE MANDARIN ORANGES IN SEASON

Known for their loose, easy-peeling skins, mandarin oranges are one of the sweetest offerings of winter, lending sweet-tangy notes to a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. We share tips for choosing, as well as some of our favorite mandarin recipes.

WHERE TO GET YOUR HOLIDAY TAMALE FIX

For many of us, tamales are the taste of the holidays. Restaurant critic Jonathan Gold recently attempted a tamale crawl and shares his top picks for the best tamales in Los Angeles.

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