Friday, December 13, 2013

'Tis the Season (with a cookie recipe!)

The mailman came to help decorate our tree :)

Well, it's that time of year again. Time for all the hustle and bustle, getting a million little (and big) things done, and enjoying the holiday festivities that only come around this time of year. I love it, but I'm always ready for a break from the busyness of the holiday. I do enjoy all of our holiday traditions, and also doing new things each year to make it fun and different. Some of our yearly traditions include doing our advent calendar with candy for each day, making cookie plates to give to our neighbors and friends, decorating Christmas cookies with the kids, Christmas coloring books, decorating the tree as a family, watching Christmas movies, having Christmas pictures taken to go in our Christmas card, and having biscuits and gravy on Christmas day with Tad's family. There are lots
 of other things we do different each year that make it different and fun for us and the kids. It makes it so much more fun to have kids and to see their excitement over all the fun facets of the holiday season. We have chosen not to do Santa with the kids, but they know who he is and still enjoy watching movies about Santa and me teasing them about Santa bringing them gifts. We have just chosen not to tell them that Santa is real.

This year, we also have a cookie exchange at our church. While I have heard of these, I don't remember ever being a part of them so it will be fun. We actually have to make 6 dozen cookies for ours - 5 dozen to be shared with others (to take home) and one dozen to put out to enjoy at our women's Christmas party. And I am so proud of myself that I got all my cookies made almost a week in advance!! So I am going to give you the recipe for the cookies I made out of's new magazine!! I am so excited that they have a magazine since that is my favorite website to get recipes off of! So the recipe might seem a little confusing, because they take one of their top-rated recipes and then they test it in their own kitchen and make extra suggestions next to the original posted recipe. So I will post it that way, and then, after all that, I will give some of my own suggestions.

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup margarine, softened (from Allrecipes kitchen: Use butter, not margarine, for the best flavor)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt, and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together margarine and 1 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, then stir in water and molasses. Gradually stir sifted ingredients into molasses mixture. Shape dough into walnut-sized balls and roll them in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. (From Allrecipes kitchen: We got a yield of thirty 2 3/4 inch cookies.) Place cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

143 calories per cookie

So these cookies turned out pretty good, and taste pretty much like a gingerbread cookie, so if you like cookies with all those strong flavors, you will like these. I will say, the dough was really hard to work with, so what I found is that if you refrigerate the dough for at least 10 minutes or so, you can work with it and get it shaped into a ball and rolled in the sugar without it being all stuck to your hands and really messy. Once I figured that out (like on the last batch!!), it was much easier. It really was a great cookie to make for a cookie exchange too, because it was fairly easy and a tasty, popular option to give out. I think I will also make this one as one to put on our cookie plates for friends and neighbors. Or I might just do gingerbread men so the kids can decorate them. We'll see!
So, as I love this time of year, I also am stressed out with all there is to do. But after these next few days, of scheduled events every night, we are almost totally free, so that will be nice, and less stressful.
Maddy helping to decorate the tree at church!
Another highlight from this year is that we got a chance to perform at our annual homeschool group Christmas talent show. Usually, Maddy would display something she had made, but this year she wanted to play the piano (like one of the first songs she has learned!) and she did great! Also, our family sang "Jesus loves me" while I played the guitar and sang. It was so precious to this momma's heart! I have always wanted a singing family, so this is just the beginning!
I hope you all have such a wonderful year of making Christmas memories and starting or continuing beautiful traditions with your families. Here are some links to some previous Christmas posts I have done in past years, with an advent reading schedule if you are interested!!

Cookie Plates
Loving Christmas Break
Coconut Snowballs and Coffee Filter Snowflakes
Homemade Gifts: Christmas Sweets in a Jar
Time for Christmas (with Advent Readings)
Christmas Festivities

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