Christmas is only a month away!

Our Thanksgiving was great, as it always is at my son’s home; their home was decorated beautifully, the food was plentiful as well as delicious, and the company was truly a blessing. We were a smaller crowd than we have been on Thanksgiving in other years, but it was still great. Somehow, through the blessing of God, there were five of my ten grandchildren there with their spouses and six of my thirteen great-grandchildren. My son’s two children and the one spouse were there, of course; my granddaughter’s husband didn’t have classes over the holidays and she got lucky and had off Thanksgiving Day. However, they had to go back to Austin later that evening, as she had to work on Friday.
My oldest granddaughter had to work on Thanksgiving, but her children were able to be with us as they were staying with my oldest daughter for the holidays. My two oldest grandsons were both there with their children also. My second daughter, her husband and a grandchild were with us as well, and we enjoyed visiting and catching up on her children and the grandchildren, that couldn’t be there, in part, due to distance. My youngest daughter had just been at my home the previous weekend, so she didn’t try to come back, in part because there were commitments in her husband’s family and partly because of the distance involved. They were missed, as were the rest of the grandchildren who couldn’t be with us.
That evening, I went to the home of my son-in-laws brother and his wife, for a second great feast and the company of that side of the family. Since I’ve known almost all of them since they were very small children, they feel pretty much like a second family to me. The food and the company were all great, and we finished the evening with many of us sitting outside around a bonfire and visiting! Thanks to all of these wonderful relatives and ‘almost’ relatives for giving me a truly blessed Thanksgiving to remember.
On Wednesday, the two great-granddaughters that were at my daughter’s home and I baked cookies. We had a great time decorating ready to bake cookie dough. One batch was supposed to be confetti cookies, but didn’t seem to have anywhere near enough confetti in them, so we raided the pantry and got into the sprinkles that we would usually use on cookies and prettied them up a little. The girls had a great time dipping the tops of the balls of dough into the sprinkles and then standing near the oven to watch them bake. We also did two different types of chocolate chip cookies and then a large batch of peanut butter cookies.
While I lived in Devine and my grandchildren were small, we got together and made and decorated cookies at my house during the Christmas holidays. It’s been more difficult to do since I now live farther away, so we do it at any time of the year we get the chance to.
It is time to begin thinking about getting treats ready for Christmas! Cookies have a way of brightening any day, especially around the holidays, when they offer many delicious opportunities to make memories, and sometimes have a little fun with other cousins as we play in the kitchen. We always have a “Nana”, or “Grams”, as well as “Granny” to supervise, (and I think sometimes “Granny” needs the most supervision) just saying. We started doing this not too long after I came across the recipe that used evaporated milk, tinted with food coloring to brush on the cut-out cookies before baking and we’ve even done that at Easter as well as at Christmas. (Next week we’ll try to have that recipe in the column.)
Cookies make an appetizing gift, a thoughtful way to show you care and a one-of-a-kind creation to give during the holidays or for special occasions. Sharing homemade cookies is a wonderful way to thank friends and families, a much-appreciated gift for a hostess or a delicious treat for a church, school or work function.
Some of these cookies are made with Argo® Corn Starch and Karo® Syrup, products that have been classic staples for bakers for many years. Did you know that cornstarch is the secret ingredient for softer shortbread cookies? The rich color and flavor of dark corn syrup is an essential of moist, chewy Oatmeal Hermits, an old-fashioned cookie favorite. These recipes came across my desk many years ago and many times a reader has told me how much their family enjoyed them.
Peppermint Candy Shortbread Cookies
Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 25 to 30 minutes
Makes 3½ dozen
1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup crushed peppermint candy
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
¼ cup Argo® Corn Starch
Parchment Paper
Frosting (optional):
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons crushed peppermint candy
Preheat oven to 300ºF.
Mix butter, sugar, crushed candy and vanilla thoroughly using an electric mixer. Gradually blend in flour and cornstarch.
Form into 1-inch balls and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Gently press down on each cookie to flatten using fingers or a flat-bottomed drinking glass (dipped in sugar to prevent sticking).*
Bake in a preheated 300ºF oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until bottoms begin to brown, remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet; then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and mix until frosting is smooth. Drizzle cookies with frosting and sprinkle with crushed candy.*Spray bottom of glass with non-stick spray and you should be able to flatten all the cookies without re-spraying.
Oatmeal Hermits
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes per batch
Makes 3 dozen cookies
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal, (not instant oatmeal)
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1½ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup Karo® Dark Corn Syrup
½ cup cooking oil
2 eggs
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Mix oatmeal, sugar and raisins in large bowl; add flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon and mix well. Whisk together corn syrup, oil and eggs in a small bowl. Add to dry ingredients. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons 2-inches apart on greased baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes at 375ºF until lightly browned around the edges. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool.
Here is a recipe to have some fun with, it is not edible so don’t nibble on it!
Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ cups cinnamon
1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon oil
Mix together in bowl with hands. Knead and roll out to about ½-inch thickness. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. (Gingerbread boy shapes are cute with this.) Poke hole on top with drinking straw. Dry flat for 2 days, turning 3 to 4 times. Makes about 25 ornaments (3-inch diameter).
Next week, we will talk about making gifts-in-a-jar, that can be done at any time to have ready for gift giving, as well as beginning our regular tried and true cookie recipes.