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 #5

There are hundreds of great Christmas traditions to choose from. Just the act of gift giving consists of more traditions than a single family could incorporate into their Christmas celebration. Some people let their children make huge lists and attempt to give them everything on it. Others choose the three gift method. One gift they need, one gift they want, and one gift to read or wear. Some open one gift on Christmas Eve, and some families open all their gifts that night. There is also the tradition of secret siblings enjoyed by many families.

Each of these traditions is wonderful. They bring their own special twist to the Christmas season. But the tradition that works for my family may not fit your family. That’s okay. We have to incorporate the things that work without allowing ourselves to feel guilty for leaving the ones that don’t to other families. Our celebrations don’t have to be just like everyone else’s.

It’s with this in mind that I chose today’s recipe. It’s a traditional gingerbread cookie recipe. I used to make it every year, but I found my family didn’t enjoy them. The ones I left for my own family would go stale before they could be eaten. It’s a great recipe, and they always turned out like they were supposed to. My family just didn’t like gingerbread. Maybe yours does.gingerbread

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 #2

recipe2I started collecting the yearly holiday baking books in the mid to late nineties. I would occasionally buy the regular magazine type, but my favorites have always been the little ones that feel more like paper back books. They don’t take up much room, and they’re sturdy.

At first these were put out by Land O Lands, Pillsbury, and Gold Medal Flour. Then, as cooking magazines gained popularity Taste of Home added to the yearly offerings. I’ve weeded out a few magazines through the years, but only the ones I didn’t use as many recipes from.

Today’s recipe comes from a book I no longer have, but the cookie has remained on my yearly baking list since the first year I made it in the late nineties or early 2000s. I’ve had people request these many times, and one did so even after she got the recipe from me. She said she couldn’t get hers to turn out like mine. I think, maybe, she just didn’t want to put the work into it when someone else could do it!

I hope you enjoy this one as much as I have! Happy Baking!

recipe3

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