Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cookie Recipes for your Holiday Preparation

Many years ago I would knock myself out the last two weeks of November and into December making all kinds of cookies, candies and baked items to fill platters for presents.  I LOVED IT!  It took a lot of planning, starting the end of October or before, to start stock piling the ingredients so I wouldn't break my budget.  At the time I had an extended family that was huge on my then, husband's side.  These food platters were the simplest way to give a gift to the aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews without breaking the bank on gifts.  And I had hairdressers, gas station, mechanics and paper carriers that I like to give a gift to and this was the best way for me to do it.

I think those days have come and gone, at least to the extent they were then.  With the easily found gift cards from in stores, restaurants or interests of any person on your list, you can find one for everyone.

Still there a few people in my close family and friends that miss my baking efforts so I try to do some each year. Today I would like to share with you one of the cookies from my long ago childhood. It has a funny story, they were a hit and it became a tradition for many years.  The first time my mom, brother & I made these cookies I was in probably 3 or 4th grade.  It was early in the Christmas vacation and we had a very prolific cookie making day.  The one recipe yields 4 dozen and I think my mom made a double batch along with a couple of other kind of cookies.  When my dad came home from work, there were cookies covering the top of the washer & dryer, most all the kitchen counters and I think were starting into the dining room.  He couldn't stop laughing, he thought it was hilarious.  He thought he had Lucy, Ethel and Fred making a mess in our kitchen.

I'm going to share this recipe with you today and again a few recipes I've picked up from Pinterest that look fantastic but have a minimum of prep work and ingredients.

My Mom’s Pumpkin Cookies – yield appx. 4 dozen

1 ½  cups Pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup walnuts, chopped (or pecans) if you like raisins you may add ¾ cup of them also
½ cup oleo (use softened margarine)
1 egg
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour, UNSIFTED
1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
Cooking spray

Combine the egg, margarine, sugar and pumpkin until well mixed.  Add the salt, vanilla, and soda, mix again.  Add the pumpkin, then the flour and nuts and/or raisins.  Beat by hand gently until all is combined.  This is a moist dough that is served best by using a ice cream scoop to drop onto the greased cookie sheet. Use the smaller scoop to get a higher yield of cookies.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes, they will start to brown around the edges.  DO NOT overcook in order for them to keep their moist texture.  They are ready to serve or store when cooled completely.

I have made these both plain or iced with your favorite Cream Cheese Frosting. They are a moist not overly rich cookie and very easy to make.

Here are some of my favorite cookie finds from Pinterest.  I have a Cookies board with over 500 Pins, so you may find others you are looking for there. The board contains some candy/fudge recipes too.

The Best Snickerdoodle Cookies - Lil' Luna These truly are the best and very simple to make.  Visit Lil' Luna's Blog for the recipe, she has some of the best!

The Best Sugar Cookies - Creative Culinary As with all sugar cookies they can be complicated as you want them, by rolling out & cutting, then icing. I have always been in the easy sugar cookie camp and these fit the bill. You can make them with the kids using icing and sprinkles, etc or you can dress them up for a sophisticated girls night out like the ones shown above.  Visit the blog to see the easy recipe and options for decorating.

Packaging Hints:

  • Don't go overboard with 10 different kinds of cookies.  You'll drive yourself crazy and break your budget too.
  • The dollar stores are excellent places to get inexpensive glass plates, containers, ribbon, tissue paper, any of the items you'd like to wrap your gift of cookies. If you use glass platters be sure to include plastic wrap on your list to cover them for delivery.
  • They also have cheap paper gift bags that you can use along with tissue paper to make an easy gift.  Just put the cookies in zipper bags, into the gift bag along with color or patterned tissue paper and the gift is ready.
  • The last several years cookie exchanges have become quite popular in some communities.  Maybe those you work with or go to church with would like to help plan this.  Usually you come together with X amount of one kind of cookies made and exchange them with others so each leaves with a variety.  I like this idea for cookies you may want to serve at your home throughout the holidays.  This would give you a nice variety without having to make 6-8 different kinds of cookies.
  • For gifts of cookies, deliver EARLY!  You don't have to wait until the few days before Christmas to share a present.  And the person you give them to will probably appreciate it more at that time.
Whether you're trying for memories with your family or to make gifts for friends be sure to enjoy the process by shopping early. Sales are already out on most baking ingredients, so buy weekly a little at a time, up to the date of the baking day.  Also, I am a paper artist, love scrapbooking, so remember to take those pictures to cherish!

Again if you have any questions on specifics of anything I've suggested please email me and I'll get back to you. Or leave questions in the comments below. I would love if you would follow this blog as I am just getting it started.

Stay warm tonight,