What's Cookin' Wednesday: The Perfect Christmas Cookies

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is baking and decorating sugar cookies. Every year my mom and I would make the cookie dough, roll it out, and then choose from a myriad of festive Christmas shapes to cut our cookies out with. My favorite were always the snowman and the candy canes! Then I would wait patiently somewhat patiently for them to bake while we prepared the icing. Decorating them with frosting, sprinkles, chocolate chips, candies, etc. was always my favorite part!

One year when we were teenagers my brother decided to help my mom and I with the decorating. After a while we noticed that he was not producing as many finished cookies as my mom and I were. I remember looking over as he stuffed a freshly-decorated cookie into his mouth. No wonder his cookies were not making it to the plate :) Suffice it to say our cookie production was slightly less numerous that year!

Here is a delicious recipe I found on Pinterest - these cookies are famous for being "no spread" so you won't have the blobby snowman or misshapen angels anymore. 

No Spread Christmas Sugar Cookies Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cups butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

No Spread Christmas Sugar Cookies Directions

Cream sugar and butter until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and add to butter mixture, mix well. Put a handful of the freshly made dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to desired thickness. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Put the rolled dough including the parchment paper, on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes or longer. Your dough will be chilled and ready to cut and bake. Repeat with scraps after cutting cookies. Bake at 325° F for 10 -15 minutes. Let cool.

Ready for the icing?

Royal Icing Recipe Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 pound confectioners sugar sifted
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/4 cup of water, and more if needed
  • a drop (or more) clear vanilla extract 

Royal Icing Recipe Directions

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until smooth and creamy, about 8 to 10 minutes. If icing is too thick, add more water. If too thin, beat icing 2 to 3 minutes more. Add a clear extract to make your frosting take on different flavors. Color icing with desired food colors by blending a drop of coloring into the icing. Gradually blend additional drops until you achieve the desired color. For decorating sugar cookies you will want your icing consistency to be somewhere between heavy cream and ketchup. Not too thick that it won’t come out of your pastry bag or squeeze bottle and not too thin that it rolls over the sides of your cookies.
Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition? Maybe one that you did with your family growing up? Or a new tradition you've started with your family? I'd love to hear about - leave a comment below :)

Holiday Gift Ideas for Grandparents

Happy December, friends!
The holiday season is upon us - and while Christmas brings with it so many wonderful things (family time, delicious treats, 
heart-warming Hallmark movies, etc.), it can also be a busy and stressful time as you try to juggle everything being thrown at you.

One thing that, though wonderful, can also prove to be time-consuming and stressful is gift-buying. The malls are crowded and the thought of standing in endless lines with a whiny toddler in tow would make even the bravest mom dread this time of year. Sure you can shop online - but if you're just browsing, then Amazon's suggestions of the 13,542 of the world's must-have gift ideas can be overwhelming to say the least.

And what do you do for those on your list who have everything? For the grandparents who don't need any more stuff in their homes? I have found that grandparents will always choose homemade, heartfelt gifts over new gadgets and gizmos. 

But the thought of thinking of and creating something unique and homemade can be disheartening when you're trying to keep up with all of the other demands of the season.

Well, fear not, my fellow busy mamas - I have scoured the Internet and found 10 fun, easy, and inexpensive holiday gift ideas that any grandparent would love to receive:
1. Photo Gifts
With great companies like Shutterfly, Snapfish, and Costco, photo gifts are easier than ever to create and print. From mugs to calendars, from ornaments to fleece blankets - the options are endless!

2. Fingerprint Family Tree
Source: Pop Sugar
What a cute idea - this would be such a special thing to do at a family reunion or large Christmas get-together. My grandparents would love to have this visual representation of their family.

3. Handprint Calendar
This themed calendar uses your kids' handprints to create themed pictures for each month.

4. Homemade Christmas Card
When in doubt, send a homemade card - grandparents go nuts for them! These cute cards incorporate your child's finger or handprints, making them extra special.

5. Word Art/Decor
Source: Dalloway Place
This cute and decorative artwork epitomizes the best qualities of a special grandmother - helping to make her feel cherished all year long.

6. Map Art
Source: Eat Pray Create
What a sweet sentiment for families that are spread across the country (or world!).

7. Counting Our Blessings
Source: Craft Surfing
This easy-to-create wall decor is a great numerical representation of a family - and the numbers can change as the family grows!

8. Send a Hug!
Ok, this idea is too cute.
Who wouldn't want to receive a "hug" in the mail? :)

9. Silhouette Art
Source: Life As Mama
This page gives an awesome tutorial for making silhouette artwork out of a photograph. Grandparents would love this sweet, unique, and old-fashioned-looking keepsake.

10. Hooked on Pa Pa
This cute etsy shop will take your baby's handprint (or footprint) and turn it into gift-able art or other products. I'll bet a grandpa-fisher extraordinaire would love this special mug!

I hope you've found some gift inspiration from this post - if you have any other ideas or gifts you've given to grandparents in the past that were a big hit, please leave a comment below! 

What's Cookin' Wednesdays: Christmas Peppermint Patties

Happy December, friends!
I am a lover of all things Christmas, so please forgive me if fun and festive activities, recipes, decor, and holiday traditions take over my little corner of the blogosphere for the next month.

Today I want to share with you a quick and easy recipe that is sure to be a hit at any holiday get-together!

Christmas Peppermint Patties
This recipe was PINspired - I found this idea from 
Check out Trish's blog for TONS of homemade awesomeness.
Here's what you need for the peppermint patties:
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ⅓ cup light corn syrup
  • 3 - 4 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 - 2 tsp peppermint extract or mint extract OR any other extract you want
  • food coloring - preferably gel or paste
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (to roll balls in)

  1. Combine butter and corn syrup together in a small bowl.
  2. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and your choice of extract and mix until well combined. Add extract ½ teaspoon at a time until the mixture reaches your desired flavor.
  3. Stir in an additional cup of powdered sugar.
  4. Turn bowl onto a cutting board sprinkled with another half a cup of powdered sugar.
  5. Knead the mixture until sugar is absorbed and is completely smooth, adding additional powdered sugar if needed.
  6. Divide dough into three portions.
  7. Tint one portion red with the red food color/gel and one green. Leave one portion white.
  8. Shape into ¾ inch balls and roll in granulated sugar.
  9. Flatten gently with a fork.
  10. Let candies stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 1 day.
  11. Store in an airtight container.

Next time I make them (which will probably be tomorrow!) I am going to try dipping them in melted chocolate - like a mock York Peppermint Patty. I'll let you know how it turns out :)

These peppermint patties are the perfect gifts for neighbors, coworkers, or teachers. Small and deliciously flavored, they're the perfect treat for Christmas! 


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