Traditions and Recipes #7

Sometimes you have to take a little bit of what’s worked in the past and blend it together with something new to get the results you’re looking for. And while I think the message is true in our daily lives, I think it takes on unique importance during the Christmas season. There are times when the old traditions we’ve enjoyed with our families and friends simply don’t produce the desired results anymore. But there are still parts of these familiar traditions we can salvage. And when we marry those to new traditions, we can find ourselves with new traditions to treasure for years to come.

It’s a lesson I was reminded of this week through my love of Christmas baking. I was given a bag of Hot Cocoa Flavored Hershey’s Kisses for my birthday. Milk chocolate filled with marshmallow cream is always a good thing, right? But I wanted to do something with them other than eat them by themselves. Why not make a Hot Cocoa Cookie? I make a cherry cookie every year that’s topped with a Hershey Kiss. Everyone enjoys them. And I’ve made Chocolate Snowball Cookies rolled in powdered sugar before baking. Those are fun and festive. I just needed a chocolate cookie dough for the base. Thumbprint cookies would offer the right consistency. I scoured my cookbooks for a chocolate thumbprint cookie that looked good. Finally, I found one in the Taste of Home Christmas Cookies and Candies book from 2008. They were called Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints.

I wouldn’t need the nuts to coat the cookie with or the caramel sauce for the topping. Although, I have to admit both of those sound amazing, and I may have to try them at some point. But for this recipe, I needed the base. I blended the new recipe base with the familiar elements of a couple of my traditional recipes and the results were exactly what I wanted. The finished cookies were reminiscent of a cup of homemade hot cocoa, and they were a big hit. I hope you enjoy them.

Happy Baking!

hot cocoa cookieshot cocoa

Traditions and Recipes #6

Sometimes you look at a recipe in a book or online and know it’s one you want to try. Other times you get the chance to try something at a get together and have to have the recipe to add to your collection. But there are times when a great recipe finds you out of necessity. Today’s recipe is like that.

My co-workers have always gotten to benefit from my love of baking. I can’t have all those cookies and sweets in my house. So, I bake them and take them to work with me. Then, people started requesting special orders and my baking hobby became a hobby business.

While hosting a shower for her sister, my co-worker Autumn made one such request. Snickerdoodles are a favorite of hers, and she wanted them made to look like sand dollars. I agreed, but I didn’t make Snickerdoodles. I didn’t have a tried and true recipe to use even though Snickerdoodles have always been a popular Christmas cookie.

With no recipe and a deadline looming, I hit the internet. I scoured site after site reading reviews to determine my best option. That’s when I found this recipe. It really is the best. Try it. I think you’ll agree. snickerdoodles

Traditions and Recipes #4

Where I work food preferences are serious business. No, I do not work in a bakery or restaurant. I work in a doctor’s office. But bring a plate of sweets into the break room, and everyone suddenly turns into top rated food critics!

So far I’ve learned my team leader likes brownies but just the edge pieces. Everyone seems to like chewy chocolate chip cookies that are crispy around the edge. One of our nurse practitioners likes oatmeal raisin cookies, only she doesn’t like the raisins. So, I guess it’s really an oatmeal cookie. One lady in the billing office doesn’t like cake. She prefers pie. And one of the first things I learned was Rice Krispie treats are best when made the traditional way, no chocolate cereal or fun add-ins are wanted.

It’s these individual preferences that have inspired today’s recipe. Last week I shared the first sugar cookie recipe I ever used. Today I’m sharing an alternate recipe. These cookies are for those who like chewy sugar cookies. I’ve never tried to roll them out and cut them. So, I don’t know how or if they will work for that. I usually use a cookie scoop for a nice, round cookie. They can be frosted after cooling or sprinkled with festive colored sugar before they go in the oven.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. And if you don’t, you may prefer the one I posted last week!

cookies

Traditions and Recipes #3

recipe2From the time I was in fifth grade I was responsible to get dinner started for our family each night. I didn’t mind this task, but I didn’t love it either. It wasn’t until my freshman year in high school that I realized I could love being in the kitchen. And it was a home economics class that awakened that enjoyment in me.

I remember Mrs. Foster. She is still one of my favorite teachers. She taught us to make poppy seed chicken, taco salad, and baked Alaska that year. She impressed on us the importance of knowing how to properly carry out the instructions in each recipe. And she unknowingly introduced me to the recipe that helped start my tradition of Christmas baking.

Sugar cookies are a staple on many Christmas cookie lists. There’s a local bakery that makes a chewy-type sugar cookie with granulated sugar as its base. People love those cookies. But when I was growing up, the original local bakery in our town had their own sugar cookies. Their recipe was for the more cake-type sugar cookie that uses powdered sugar as its base. These  were a favorite with the kids I grew up with, and I was thrilled to learn how to make them in food class that year.

Perfect for cutting into holiday shapes, this recipe is one I use every year. I don’t always get around to decorating them, but that’s okay. The almond extract in the recipe gives the cookies enough flavor without frosting.

Whether frosted or plain, every time I make these cookies I remember when I first fell in love with baking. And that memory is a special gift I’ll keep forever. I hope you enjoy the recipe and come back next Friday for the chewy sugar cookie recipe!Sugar Cookies

Traditions and Recipes

recipe2.jpgI love reading and writing. Those pursuits and how my faith affects them is what this blog is all about. But I have other hobbies too. In honor of the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I’d like to share one of them with you.

I hold many fond memories of these holidays. No other time of year focuses so heavily on things like family and tradition. And one of my favorite activities is enjoyed more at this time of year than any other.

I remember my grandma baking at Christmas. Every year she made divinity, peanut brittle, and lace cookies to share with friends and family. I picked up the hobby after my freshman year food and nutrition course in high school. Every year since then, I’ve collected holiday cookie recipe books and spent hours in the kitchen. Before kids it wasn’t unusual for me to make 120 dozen different cookies and candies. Now, I’m lucky to get 20 to 30 dozen, but that’s okay. One day I’ll be able to devote a week to baking like I used to.

I look forward to creating in the kitchen every year. This holiday season, as thanks for sticking with me and this blog, I’d like to share some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes. Come back every Friday for a new one, and if you get the chance take a look at some of my review and writing posts too. Today’s recipe was passed down to me by my grandma. It’s a staple of my cookie list every year, just like it was hers. I hope you enjoy it! recipe1

Taste and See

When I think of my family, I cannot help thinking about shared meals and the foods that have been part of those meals. I remember Sunday dinners at my grandparents’ house after church and the much larger meals we ate together every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I remember the food disasters like the time we had blue chicken for dinner. I can’t eat popcorn without thinking of Friday nights spent with my grandma. She would slice apples and pop popcorn the old-fashioned way on the stove for a late evening snack. It still tastes best that way. Of course, there are also the family recipes like the monster cookies my great-granny would make for church camp each year and the lace cookies my grandma made at Christmas. I still make those every year to add to my holiday cookie trays. Some of my best memories have happened around a kitchen table as we shared our lives with each other, and those are memories I wouldn’t trade for anything.

I think Beth Moore must understand the impact food can have on people, the power it has to make them a family. In The Undoing of Saint Silvanus, food isn’t the star, but it doesn’t fade into the background. Jillian Slater is a California girl with California tastes when she travels to New Orleans after the death of her father. Estranged from his side of the family since childhood, the reunion with her paternal grandmother is strained, and her relationship with the rest of the renters in her grandmother’s apartment house isn’t much better. Everything they do and how they live is strange to Jillian. Add a helping of mystery and murder to the mix, and Jillian is ready to head for home. Gradually, Jillian begins to connect with those around her. Love of a good cup of coffee gives her and her grandmother something to share. Jillian begins eating meals with the others in the house, though she is reluctant to try their foods. She even gets a job in a place where practically the only thing on the menu is beignets. Though there is plenty of drama going on in their lives, Moore uses food to draw people together much like it can in real life.

Even God understands the drawing power of food. Scripture speaks several times of meals that Jesus shared with others and the relationships that were nurtured during those meals. When the people were hungry on the hillside, Jesus didn’t send people away. Instead, he performed a miracle, shared a meal, and taught everyone an important lesson about faith and God’s provision. And remember, Psalm 34:8 doesn’t say take God out for a test spin and see if you like Him. It says “taste and see that the Lord is good”. We’ve all had the experience of biting into something that is so good, so refreshing, so unexpected that we can’t help but react to how wonderful it is. God wants us to experience Him in the same way. When we’re spiritually hungry, He wants us to come to Him, seek Him out for ourselves, and find out how awesome He is.

By the Book: Use the recipe below to make a sweet reminder to take time to reflect times when you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

Lace Cookies

1 cup oats                    1 cup sugar                  ¼ tsp salt                     ½ tsp baking powder

1 stick butter               1 tsp vanilla                 1 egg                           3 T flour

Mix dry ingredients. Melt butter and pour over dry ingredients. Add vanilla and egg. Mix well. Refrigerate until set. Roll dough into marble sized balls. Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Slide parchment paper off cookie sheet and let cookies cool completely before removing them from the paper.