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christmas cookies

  • An Old Fashioned Christmas | Sugar Cookies and Egg Nog

    The humble sugar cookie, surprisingly, has quite an impressive history. Called the "Nazareth Sugar Cookie", historical records date it clear back to the 1700's, and it somehow wiggled it's way all the way to the legislature in House Bill 1982. There it was decided that it'd become the official cookie of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Am I the only one giggling about this?!

    sugar cookiesI'm not much one for politics, but I find it impressive that this baked confection has endured for centuries and still occupies quite the distinguished place in the United States. You might think that it contains some special ingredient, but really, it's just a sugar cookie....sugar, flour, butter and eggs baked and finished only with your lovely and ever creative touch.

    This little confection has long been recognized as, really, the epitome of tradition at Christmas. Even if you don't eat these, baking them is still something you must not skip. And, gathering the kids, the grandkids and friends turns this tradition into quite the family affair. It's definitely old fashioned.

    egg nogHow about making the whole adventure a bit more fun {as if that were necessary or even possible} by adding in a tried and true recipe for Egg Nog? Whether or not you choose to spike it or leave it el naturel, there is just something about that nutmeg-y yummy-ness  that'll warm your heart. I happen to love both the taste and texture of a slightly warm cup of eggnog. I think it just begs to be accompanied by your favorite shaped Christmas sugar cookie.

    I know, I've got the warm fuzzies now too, even in April.

     

    Photo courtesy:  Cookies, Egg Nog

  • Christmas Morning Pancakes

    christmas pancakesIf you told your kids (okay, your husband too) that there would be cookie-like fare for Christmas morning breakfast, what do you think they'd say?

    "Mom, we can't have cookies for breakfast, it's just not right."

    "Are you sick?"

    "You mean we don't have to eat eggs?"

    Yeah, right!! They may think it, but they aren't going to be saying anything that might make mom come to her senses!

    Now you can surprise your family with regular ol' pancakes, even healthy ones, and make them look like Christmas Coookies by using your cookie cutters. Just prepare your batter as you normally would, place your cookie cutters in the skillet and fill. The trick is to cook them on a lower heat so they have more time to set before removing the cookie cutter to flip.

    Decorate with mini chocolate chips, and serve sausage on the side. Yummy. Your kids will think, no, they will KNOW you are the best mom on the block. Cookies, er, pancake cookies for Christmas morning breakfast. Genius.

     

    Photo courtesy:  http://pinterest.hus.lv/

  • Red Velvet Snowball Cookies

    red velvet cookiesThis week we're focusing on all things snow! For those of us that live in the northern parts, we are bracing ourselves. And, for the rest of you who regularly dream of snow at least once a year, feel free to enjoy your snow(ball cookies) as you sit out in the sun. We are jealous, yes. :)

    Oh, the drama of it all! Who doesn't love Red Velvet Cake with it's brilliant pop of color and familiar hint of cocoa? There is simply nothing to not like. There are rumors that making red velvet cake requires much skill, but I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to. These cookies replace the ubiquitous buttermilk with butter to make a deliciously easy cookie that still delivers on all the drama. You will be the rock star at the cookie exchange with this one. And, for the record, you can never go wrong with any cookie that has chocolate.

    Another thing I love about these cookies is that they aren't too sweet. True, the confectioners' sugar that they are covered in is, well, sweet, but the dough itself is just delightful. Let's get started.

    • 1 1/2 cups butter
    • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon (or more if you want them REALLY dramatic) red food coloring
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup almond flour/meal
    • extra confectioners’ sugar, for rolling 'em around
    1. Preheat your over to 375, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Beat together butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until creamy.
    3. Beat in cocoa powder and red food coloring until you have a solidly bright red batter.
    4. Gradually add the flour and almond meal until thoroughly combined.
    5. Shape the batter/dough into 1 inch balls and bake until lightly browned, about 10--12 minutes.
    6. Cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
    7. When cookies are completely cooked, roll 'em in the powdered sugar. Do it more than once if you have to. They are snowballs. :)
    8. These girls (red velvet cannot be a boy, no way) store well when in an airtight container or bag.

    This will make about 4 dozen snowballs! Red Velvet Snowballs!!!

     

    Photo and recipe courtesy of: bakingbites.com

  • Kiss Pies, O My!

    Kiss-Pies-6There is a cookie exchange party running through my brain, I'm even dreaming about it at night! I know lots of people have heirloom cookie recipes that have been passed down through the generations, secret recipes for the most delectable goodies. I love doing the cookie exchange thing, one where there's about 6 people participating. That way I end up with 6 different varieties while only contributing the work of 1. I think they call that leveraging your friends, but shhh, don't tell anyone I said that. :)

    These cute little Kiss Pies will be a huge hit this year. Best part? You don't have to make the dough yourself! Using the ready-made pie crust from the refrigerated section of your grocery store, you're going to truly love this unique but super easy cookie, err pie, recipe!

    Here's what you'll need:
    1 refrigerated pie crust, thawed
    14 Hershey Kisses of choice, Mint Truffle is pictured
    1 egg white whisked with 1 Tbsp water
    Powdered sugar for dusting

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Unroll pie dough onto a lightly floured counter top, and let set for about 20 minutes to allow the dough to come to room temperature.
    3. Place 10 kisses around the edges of pie dough, about 2 1/2-3"  apart
    4. Cut out the dough with a juice glass around each kiss.
    5. Fold half of the circle around top of the kiss and seal by pinching closed.
    6. Now fold up the other sides to the tip of the kiss, and press the edges together, forming an x.
    7. Brush the cookie pies with egg white, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.
    8. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.
    9. DONE!

    Talk about the perfect cookie exchange recipe, this one is fun and festive and easy. These would also be great served at a Christmas party or as dessert for Christmas dinner. The possibilities are endless. :) What's your favorite cookie exchange recipe?

    Merry cookie baking!

     

    Photo and recipe source:  picky-palate.com

  • Just a Bite of Sweet

    choc soft serveI seem to have developed an insatiable affinity for chocolate soft serve ice cream. You may be wondering what took me so long. I like ice cream, I don't think I know anyone who doesn't. But, it's never been a food that I dream about while on a strict diet, crave or have trouble saying no to. That is, until recently.

    When I go to work, I drive right past the joint. Or, I should say joints ~ two fast food national chains right next door to each other, both known for these frozen delights.  Anyway, long story short here, there are mini versions of these treats that I have discovered work just fine to satisfy a sweet tooth without causing too much caloric damage.

    chocolate dipped marshmallowToday's little treat is along the same line....look at these cute li'l dipped marshmallows! You've just spent a long day at work, and arrive home just as the kiddos are coming through the door after school. Christmas is upon us and as such there are a million and one things on your list to do this evening. The cookies you baked the last couple of nights are reserved for the cookie exchange with  your girlfriends tomorrow night, but the kids are eyeing them. Heck, you are eyeing them. What to do. Well, here's an idea:

    Grab:

    1. a bag of large marshmallows,
    2. a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips,
    3. and a package of sprinkles on your way home.
    • Over a double boiler (or, who am I kidding, in a microwaveable bowl) melt the chocolate chips, stirring.
    • Dip one end of the marshmallow in the melted chocolate.
    • Immediately press the chocolafied marshmallow into a flat bowl with the sprinkles.
    • Place upright on a plate.
    • Watch them disappear.

    Now, you can enjoy your evening. :)

    Photo courtesy:  food.lohublogs.com

  • Triple Ginger Sandwich Cookies ~ Gluten Free!

    Triple Ginger Sandwich CookiesIt is no secret to my family and friends that I love everything there is about the fall season. It may or may not be because my birthday falls somewhere in there, hehee. But, seriously, one of the treats I look forward to all year long is the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte that the coffee shops seem to have perfected over the last couple of years. Sipping on one of those, whipped cream coating my upper lip, mmm, yes, that is nothing short of flavor heaven in my book.

    So imagine me, this lover of all things pumpkin and cinnamon and ginger, learning that gluten was not my friend. There are a lot of things that us gluten free folks must forgo, but letting go of my gingerbread cookies in the fall was one of the harder ones. That is, until I found a quite amazing recipe for Triple Ginger Sandwich Cookies! Oh, wow, these guys are fabulous, so full of flavor and warmth and even the white stuff in the middle is tempting and scrumptious. And, the fact that they are gluten free AND taste divine had my little heart beating a little faster. :-)

    I will warn you, tho . . . most things we talk about here on Merry Stockings are of the simple variety. This recipe, mostly because of the mixture of different kinds of flours, is a bit more complicated. If you've been navigating the gluten free world for awhile now, this recipe, what with the potato starch and brown rice flour, etc., won't rattle you. For the newbies, it may be a bit more work to combine these flours, but the alternative is to never have sweet treats again. And, for most of us, that just isn't going to happen, right? Right.

    The other really really great thing about this recipe is that it uses THREE forms of ginger: ground, fresh grated and candied. The flavor is deep and complex, so soo good. Your friends are going to be asking you how you made these, I promise. They are delightfully ginger-y through and through.

    I wouldn't change a thing to this recipe, as so often when you are combining flours to mimic the gluten in all purpose flour, the quantities have to be exact. A big thanks to Gluten Free Canteen for going to all the trouble to kitchen-test this recipe so we can all look like master cookie chefs. I encourage you, if you are traveling this gluten free lifestyle with me, to check out her blog. She's got some other really tummy-happy pumpkin recipes that you are going to fall in love with, guaranteed.

    So, Merry Gingerbread season!

    P.S. Speaking of cookies, we just got the Bucilla Christmas Cookies Felt Applique Stocking Kit back in stock! Supplies are limited, so hurry over to the Merry Stockings website and order today. Price is currently listed at 17% off.

  • Creating What We Love

    Over the past many weeks, I've been sharing with you lots of  creative Christmas ideas. We've gathered stacks of things for our Christmas Notebooks, haven't we?

    You've probably picked up on this by now, but I am such a stickler for simplicity that there isn't a single idea I've shared that is even remotely hard! I don't do hard....do you? I didn't think so. :)

    I like to make my life simple too. But as we know, simple amid our fast-paced western culture doesn't just happen by itself. It must be intentional. Over the last many years I have been moving closer and closer to the "less is more" philosophy, and I'm finding it so satisfying. That doesn't mean I live like a monk, it just means that I choose more carefully what I fill my home with, how I spend my time and money, and who I hang out with. It's all with the goal in mind of creating a good, good life.

    a good life

    So, today's post is just that.....a step back from all of our baking and creating and imagining on behalf of others in order to make sure the lives we are creating for ourselves are exactly what we want and need. And, if we find that they aren't? Decide on just one small step we can take in the next month that will begin inching our way toward that. Then when we give, whether at Christmas or any other time, it will be from a well that is full to overflowing!

    Cheers to creating our best life ever!

     

    Photo courtesy

  • Christmas Mice Cookies

    Christmas MiceOreo cookies. Completely, utterly addictive! We had a thing for oreo cookies at work, and were some of the first to hop right on board for all the variations by bringing a bag into the office to share. The bag didn't last long for sure!

    Today's post gives you yet another "use" for this classic, irresistible store-bought cookie; what could be better than another excuse to buy Oreo's?

    These little guys are so cute, aren't they?! See the bottom half of the oreo in the picture? So clever. So SUPER simple too!

    You can practically see everything you'll need from the picture,  but here is a list of the ingredients:

    • Oreo cookies (make sure you save some for later!)
    • Hershey's kisses
    • Chocolate covered cherries with stem
    • Slivered almonds
    • Icing

    The icing is the glue that holds these guys together as well as gives them their ridiculous charm! If you are concerned about a nut allergy, replace the slivered almonds with banana chips. These are perfect for the kids to help with, to bring to a party or even as part of a cookie exchange. So fun.

    I'm a little squeamish when it comes to mice, but not these merry mice! Enjoy!

    Photo courtesy

  • Cafe Mocha Cookies | Crunchy Christmas Treat

    cafe mocha cookiesI think it's weird that my husband doesn't like gingerbread cookies. I have tried different recipes to change his mind; some are crunchy, others are more chewy and his response is just "eh." Seriously, is that normal?

    So, in the interest of providing a tasty alternative to this strange gingerbread aversion, I found a recipe that includes coffee! He's a coffee lover (as am I), and so I think we may just have a winner here.

    These delectable little treats are the perfect dipping cookie....into your coffee, tea or even hot cocoa. They would be a wonderful sweet to bring to the office to share or as a part of a cookie exchange. And, really, they aren't just for Christmas. The flavor pop of these crispy goodies are a definite go for anytime of year. Does it get any better than that?

    Here's what you'll need:

    • 2 cups flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • 2 tablespoon instant espresso or coffee powder (I just ground my coffee beans extra fine)
    • 1/2 cup melted butter
    • 1/2 cup molasses
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup milk (any kind, I used almond milk)
    • egg whites
    • turbinado sugar
    • powdered sugar
    • 1 star cookie cutter

    Instructions:

    1. Sift together the first 5 (dry) ingredients and set aside.
    2. Stir together the next 3 (wet) ingredients.
    3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet along with the vanilla and milk.
    4. Mix thoroughly until you have a soft dough.
    5. Refrigerate for a couple hours.
    6. Roll out on a flour dusted board to 1/8" and cut with the star cookie cutter.
    7. Place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet, brush with egg white and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
    8. Dust with sifted powdered sugar and bake for 13-15 minutes in a 350* oven.
    9. Cool completely and enjoy.

    Serve these to anyone who loves or doesn't love gingerbread cookies!

     

    Photo courtesy and recipe adaptation

  • Frosty the Snowman Treats | Easy and Fun!

    FrostyYou know how it is at Christmas time. We spend loads of time shopping for our littles, wanting them to have the latest and greatest cool toy. With overflowing love in our hearts, we usually spend way too much money, and we know we're spending way too much money but we do it anyway. Then Christmas morning comes, and what happens? They are simply fascinated with the box!

    It's true, kids can entertain themselves for hours with a cardboard box, and this tells us something about how they see the world.....simply! Let's transfer that information into the Christmas treats we make for them, too. I can remember spending countless hours making adorable sugar cookies, icing them, decorating them, and I'm definitely not saying this tradition should be abandoned. But, I present to you today a very simple and yet classic treat that the kids are going to love.

    I found this idea, dubbed as Frosty the S'more-Man (isn't that clever?!), at a very fun and crafty website. These make perfect little packages for all the littles in your world . . . classmates gift, neighborhood friends, and any other place that your littles gather in their little worlds! Here's what you'll need to do these up right, and you're going to be surprised at how simple and affordable it is. You know, kinda like the cardboard box every kid loves to love.

    For each little package you'll need:

    • 2 graham cracker squares
    • 1 mini Hershey bar
    • 1 snowman peep
    • 1 - 4" x 6" cello bag (available at Michaels)
    • 1 free printable bag topper (available here)
    • stapler

    Load up the goodies in the bag, print your topper, fold it in half around the top of the bag and staple. I told you it was easy!

    Happy S'more-Man making!

     

    Photo courtesy

     

     

     

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