Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Baking Our Way To Christmas - Day 1

Happy December, friends. I know I've been gone. Haven't felt like blogging but it's time to get busy and start thinking about gearing up to Christmas and share some joy with my cyber friends through some recipes and my in-person friends with the ensuing treats! With my mom's cancer at the very end stages, I have to really find motivation somehow to both blog and to gear up for Christmas.

I decided on 2 things. One is to start my Advent meditation book along with a Bible reading from the start of Advent which was last Sunday through Epiphany and gets me focused on why we make such a hullaballoo over this time of year, Jesus and his birth, right? It's a good focus of course AND.....you know, I love to bake, so it was a perfect fit when I was looking through a Country Living magazine and here was a link to a cookie recipe a day for the month of December, 25 recipes in all. They have some nice recipes although there is not nearly enough chocolate involved, so I am improvising and here on my blog I'm giving you 25 recipes for now until Christmas. I put the link for the Country Living recipes if you want to take a look but trust me....the recipes I will share are proven by the baker/goodiemaker in our family...ME! So live a little and give them a try. Maybe it's just what you need to help you get into the spirit too. I am SO NOT INTO SHOPPING except for ingredients! Remember...my first word as a baby was "cookie" so that says something, right?
But as a disclaimer, I'm not sticking to just cookies as I like to make caramels, peanut butter balls and some quick breads that are yummy too and festive to share. So, get some containers ready for the freezer as we are going to share these goodies with our friends throughout the Season.

First day recipe Vanilla Cookies

You will need a cookie press or at the very least a rolling pin and some cookie cutters for shapes.

16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In electric mixer bowl or with a hand-held mixer cream butter and sugar for a couple of minutes until very fluffy and light in color at medium speed. Scrape bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, salt and beat some more. On low speed mix in flour a bit at a time until well blended.

Pack the dough into a cookie press with Christmas shaped disks and press onto an ungreased cookie sheet spacing cookies 1 inch apart. If rolling and cutting, you know what to do. Roll to about 3/8" thick and cut and put on the sheet, etc.

Bake until light golden around edges although I like my cookies slightly underbaked so they remain soft. The recipe says 10 minutes but I use convection bake on my oven and it takes about 8 minutes to get them firm enough to remove but still soft enough to enjoy. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on a rack.

Of course, you can add in food coloring paste to make colored cookies or top before baking with colored sugars but I am putting my baked cooled cookies into the freezer to decorate with icing later. I thought we'd make an afternoon of decorating later in the month as we get closer to Christmas.

Tomorrow is another day, my friends. Get your pantry stocked for baking cause you never quite know what I'm going to throw out there! Sugary hugs to you!

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