Christmas cookies

It’s that special, magical, yummy time of the year…. Christmas cookie time!  

As Christmas approaches I’m getting my recipes in order and stocking up on flour and chocolate and eggs. During this time of year I like to make lots of cookies and put a few of each on festive trays to distribute to neighbors and friends and teachers.

I don’t make all the cookies on the same day. Instead I freeze some, such as the gingersnaps and butter cookies, as described here.

frozen balls of cookie dough

These are the cookies I’m planning on making for this cookie-giving season:

cocoa cookies

cocoa cookies 6

butter cookies

butter cookies (4)

shortbread cookies

shortbread cookies

chocolate kiss cookies

kiss cookies (6)

hidden kiss cookies

cookie close up

gingersnaps 

gingersnaps

And a non-cookie as well:

candy cane bark

candy cane bark

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Okay, your turn…. What kind of cookies are you planning on making this holiday season? What’s your favorite cookie?

whole wheat dinner rolls

whole wheat dinner rolls

Happy Easter!

For our Easter meal today I cooked a ham and served it with orange mustard sauce, asparagus, sweet potatoes and sliced baked potatoes. Dessert will be a bunny cake.

I posted a slightly different version of these rolls last year. You can find that recipe here.  These are done the same, though the ingredients are slightly different. Delicious with the ham and veggies!

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Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Put ingredients into the bread machine in the following order:

3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon warm water

1 1/2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dry milk

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

whole wheat rolls (6)

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Set the bread machine to the DOUGH cycle.

When complete, remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface.

Heat oven to 350F.

Cut the dough into 12 pieces.

Put a small amount of butter into each compartment of a 12-count muffin tin.

whole wheat rolls (4)

Place one piece of dough into each compartment.

whole wheat rolls (3)

Cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm area for about 15 minutes. (The top of the oven was warm, so I put mine there.)

Remove the towel and bake at 350F for about 15-20 minutes.

whole wheat rolls (2)

whole wheat dinner roll

frozen cookies

frozen balls of cookie dough

No, this isn’t a recipe for frozen cookies. Instead it’s a time-saving hint for making cookies during this busy time of the year (or anytime you need/want lots of cookies).

Last week I made gingersnaps and butter cookies, twice. For one of the batches I made them according to the recipe, then took about two dozen or so of the prepared dough balls and put them in plastic zipper baggies. For the butter cookies I did not roll them out, as directed in the recipe, but instead made them into 1-inch balls and rolled each in colored sugars. Then into the freezer the two bags went. Today I took them out of the freezer and let them thaw on the counter (though they could be placed in the refrigerator for a few hours instead).

cookie dough to freeze

Now I’m heating the oven, and putting the dough balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Because the cookie temperatures are different, I’ve started at 375F and am baking the tray of gingersnaps first. Then when they are out of the oven, I’ll increase the temperature to 400F and bake the sheet of butter cookies.

thawed cookie dough

Yum! Fresh hot delicious cookies without having to start all over again!

butter cookies

 

 

 

 

 

foodwithpictures butter cookies

 

*April 2014: Updated this post to include a new photo of the cookies. When it’s not Christmas time, we make these in simple circles or other shapes. They are excellent as is, but super excellent with cream cheese frosting, too!

 

butter cookies (4)

Christmas for me doesn’t get started when the tree is up, or when the outside lights are put around the door, and that’s good because those things usually happen very late in the season in my house! So when does the Christmas spirit and all the happy that it brings start for me? When I make Christmas cookies.

Sure, cookies can be made any time of the year, but I only make butter cookies in December. They could be made in April or September or whenever, if I wanted to, but I don’t. I save this recipe for when I am ready to start celebrating Christmas. In the next two weeks I will make other cookies as well, but this recipe is the start of all my holiday baking.

What I love about this recipe is how simple it is, and delicious. It is from Land O Lakes, and they know butter, therefore using their butter cookies recipe was sure to be a winner. And for the past decade or so, it has been a winner in my house … in December.

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Butter Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

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In mixer, combine butter, sugar and egg. Mix until creamy.

Add orange juice and vanilla. Mix until combined.

Add flour and baking powder. Continue to mix until a nice dough forms.

Place dough in a bowl and cover dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

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Heat oven to 400F.

Remove dough from refrigerator.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out about 1/3 of the dough at a time. The desired thickness should be either 1/8-inch or 1/4-inch. Just make sure to keep the thickness of the cookies consistent on each cookie sheet.

Use cookie cutters to cut out the dough. At this point I place the cutout shapes onto a piece of parchment paper. Then I used colored sugars to decorate the cookies. By doing this on parchment paper, any excess sugars won’t end up on the cookie sheet. Once decorated, transfer cookies to a cookie sheet lined with additional parchment paper (or use an ungreased cookie sheet).

Bake for 6-10 minutes, until edges are lightly browned.

Let stand on cookie sheet for about one minute, then transfer to cooling racks. *Note: If baked on the parchment paper, it’s easily transferred over to the cooling racks, without needing to transfer each cookie individually.

butter cookies (1)

butter cookies (2)

butter cookies 6

butter cookies (3)

butter cookies (5)

*Update: In 2013 we had just made cream cheese frosting for a batch of cupcakes and had some left over. We put it on a few of the cookies. Yum! Pictures below.

christmas cookies

 

dinner rolls

My family likes bread. We do. A lot. And especially when the bread is warm, right out of the oven … oh my … it’s heavenly.

Here’s our favorite recipe that my daughter makes often. In the recipe below it lists both regular flour and whole wheat flour, and we’ve always made them this way, but last week, on Thanksgiving, she thought we were out of wheat flour because I had put it in the wrong cabinet, so the rolls were made all with unbleached white flour. Either way, they taste wonderful!

*Note: The original recipe came from the cookbook that accompanied our bread machine. It listed the brown sugar, though we use honey 99.9% of the time. In the original instructions they say to put the rolls onto a greased cookie sheet, which works well, but we prefer the uniform shape we get by using the muffin tins.

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Dinner Rolls

1 1/2 cups warm water (about 80 degrees F)

2 tablespoons oil

1/4 cup honey (or brown sugar)

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons dry milk

2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

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In the bread machine, place all the ingredients in the order listed above.

Set the machine to the dough cycle and start.

When completed, remove the dough and place on a lightly floured surface.

Using a sharp knife, divide the dough into 18 pieces.

Shape the pieces into balls or twists or blobs or whatever.

Place each piece into greased muffin tins.

Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes (they should double in size).

Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes, or until golden.

quick pizza dough

We make homemade pizza weekly. And for years we’ve made our pizza dough in the bread machine. You can find our recipe here. Over the weekend, my daughter asked if we could make homemade pizza for dinner, only an hour before dinner time. No way. Not enough time. But wait … she had found a recipe online for quick pizza dough and wanted to give it a try. How could I say no to that!

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It really was quick. Start to finish — dough to slicing the pizza — less than one hour. And the dough was fluffy and light and perfect! A new favorite pizza dough, perfect for last minute pizza cravings!

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*Recipe source here: Everybody Likes Sandwiches  (In that version, there is an added ingredient of 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary, which we did not include. If you haven’t clicked that link yet, what are you waiting for???? Excellent site … go … now! But then come back here, okay? Thanks!)

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Quick Pizza Dough

1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

1 cup warm water

2 1/2 cups flour (we used unbleached all-purpose flour)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons olive oil

cornmeal

pizza toppings of your choice (we used a tomato sauce we had on hand, mozzarella cheese, and finished it off with dried basil and oregano)

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Heat oven to 400F.

In a large bowl, add in the yeast and warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves.

Add the flour, salt, honey, and olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon or similar utensil vigorously until combined.

The photos below illustrate how vigorously my daughter stirred this:

Let dough rest for 10 minutes. (*Note: You can allow this to sit a little longer, if you’re busy or the phone rings or whatever, but we’ve found that the closer to 10 minutes, the better!)

Sprinkle cornmeal onto a baking sheet, pizza pan or similar baking pan and press dough until your desired thinness. (*Note: Dough may still be a bit sticky, but don’t worry, it will be okay.)

Add toppings of your choice.

Bake until pizza crust is golden and cheese is bubbly — ours took about 17 minutes.

Ready for the oven.

Out of the oven.