Thursday, November 30, 2006

Gma's Candy Cane Cookies

When I was a kid, my mom used to go all out at Christmas. There was lots of baking and decorating.

This recipe was one of my favorites, and my daughter has always enjoyed it too. Its a lot of fun to do without being difficult, so as soon as your kids have a long enough attention span to work with you in the kitchen, this one is great.

The recipe makes about 4 dozen, and it doubles well.

Candy Cane Cookies

1 cup soft shortening (can't beat butter flavored Crisco sticks here!)
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 egg (or use egg substitute)
1 1/2 tsp almond
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red food color (or more if you want really red looking canes)

Candy sprinkle: 1/2 cup crushed peppermint stick candy (a good use for broken canes from the decorating!) mixed well with 1/2 cup sugar

Cream shortening, sugar, eggs, almond and vanilla until smooth.

Sift flour and salt together. Add to creamed ingredients and mix well.

Divide dough in half. Mix the red food color with half of the dough.

To make cookies:
Roll 1 tsp of each color dough into a strip (remember clay "snakes") about 4 inches long. Lay a strip of each color side by side, press together lightly and twist like a candy cane. On an ungreased cookie sheet (parchment paper is wonderful), shape twist like a cane. (Note: do these one at a time. If you try to roll all the strips first and then form, the dough dries out too much and breaks.)

Bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes or until lightly browned (don't over brown!).

Remove from pan and sprinkle with peppermint and sugar mixture while still warm.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Amma's Gingerbread Cookies

Today's recipe comes with a neat family story.

First off, who's Amma? When my daughter was a baby, this wonderful woman took care of her, and this is the name that my daughter gave her. Along the way, our two families sort of "adopted" each other, giving us more sisters/brothers/cousins and a lot of fun and love along the way.

And so, about the cookies. When Amma and her husband were raising their kids, there wasn't a lot of extra money for Christmas ornaments, so she made gingerbread cookies, decorated them with frosting and hung them on the tree. This was such a hit that she continued to do them every year and has added "family members" far and wide, not only by her children getting married and having their own families, but a lot of other "adopted" family too.

Each year we look forward to the box that arrives at our door step now that we live far away from Amma. We hang gingerbread cookies on our tree too! This year's box was extra special....Amma even included a cookie for our daughter's new fiance!

And so, here is the recipe for the cookies, and one for frosting to decorate them with. (Note: this recipe makes about 6 dozen 2 1/2 inch cookies, but it doubles quite well)

Amma's Gingerbread Cookies

1 cup molasses
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp soda
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ginger

Heat molasses to just boiling, remove from heat to mixing bowl.

Stir in shortening and soda and mix well.

Shift together the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger. Add gradually to molasses mixture and blend until it forms a stiff dough.

Chill for 30 minutes (not longer than this or its too hard to roll these out). Roll very thin -- about 1/16 of a inch thick. Cut out cookies into desired shapes.

Place on lightly greased (using cooking spray is easiest way) baking sheet.

Back at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, until set. DO NOT OVERBAKE (they will taste bitter if you do).

Cool on racks, decorate as desired.

Easy Icing

1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp cream OR 3/4 tbsp water

Mix well, divide into seperate bowls for different colors and add food colors of choice.

To make piping bags to decorate with, put frostings in zip top sandwich bags and snip off a tiny corner to make an opening to squeeze the frosting through.

I'd love to see some pictures of your version!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Lori's Sugar Cookies

these are some of the best sugar cookies I have ever fact, they are so good I can eat about a dozen of them in one sitting, which is probably WAY too many!!

There's something special about sugar cookies and milk.....yummy, and they can be cut into shapes to fit any occasion during the year. Cookie cutters are something that have been handed down from generation to generation in our family (my daughter is eagerly awaiting her chance to use the ones that were my grandmother's!).

If you have a good mixer with a large bowl, this recipe can be doubled. To help you with this process, I have included those measurements along with the recipe.

Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup soft shortening (1 1/2 cup) (I prefer butter flavored Crisco sticks)
1 cup sugar (2 cups)
2 eggs (4 ) (using egg substitute works well here)
1/2 tsp vanilla (1 tsp)
2 1/2 cups sifted flour (5 cups)
1 tsp baking powder (2 tsp)
1 tsp salt (2 tsp)

Cream together shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, add to creamed mixture a little at a time and combine well.

Chill dough for at least 1 hour.

Roll out 1/8 inch thick and cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheets. (I use a silpat or parchment paper).

Sprinkle with sugar or other cookie decorations if desired (leave off sugar if you are going to frost these).

Bake at 400 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes. Cool on racks (or like grandma did, on brown paper bags cut and laid out flat).

The nice thing about this dough too is that if you don't have a cookie cutter that is the shape you want to make, you can lay a paper outline on top of the dough and cut around it with the tip of a small knife to get whatever shap you want.

These are great with decorated with colored frostings (sort of like gingerbread men).

Friday, November 24, 2006

Nick's Cranberry Pear Pie

Believe it or not, this is a recipe!

Written on the back of an envelope with purple ink, it is basically a list of ingredients and the baking times and temperatures.

The day this recipe was being discussed on the radio, Nick was in traffic on the highway to work, which explains the odd writing surface, but it has come to be a holiday favorite.

So, just in case you can't decifer the photo (yeah, right!), here is the recipe:

Cranberry Pear Pie

1 recipe pie crust for 2 crust pie (we have very successfully used the premade pie dough that you just roll out and put in the pan)

1 cup sugar
3 heaping tablespoons instant tapioca
5 small or 3 medium Bosc pears
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup walnut pieces (optional, we usually leave these out)

Peel, core and slice the pears.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients and coat fruit with sugar and tapioca.

Spread fruit mixture evenly in pie crust, top with second crust and crimp.

Place in oven preheated to 425 degrees and bake for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additonal 20 minutes. (I usually put a piece of foil on the shelf below the shelf the pie is on just in case it bubbles over the crust)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The shopping list

As promised, I have compiled a list of the needed ingredients for an assortment of the Christmas baking projects. I may have missed an item or two, but this gives you a good start, and you may want to break up the shopping if you get paid more than once a month!

The following are items you may already have on hand:

baking soda
almond flavoring
cream of tarter
corn syrup (light)
red food color
green food color
canola oil
baking powder
ground cloves
ground ginger
ground allspice
rolled oats (NOT instant oatmeal)

Shopping list:

thick preserves in a flavor of your choice
1 box vanilla wafers
1 can sweetened condensed milk
crystallized ginger
2 dozen eggs
5 pounds granulated sugar
1 pound brown sugar (light or dark)
10 pounds all purpose flour
5 1/2 pounds shelled pecans
2 pounds dark chocolate chips (or milk chocolate if you don't like dark)
2 packages butter flavored Crisco stick shortening (NO transfat in this!!)
1 pound powdered sugar
1 pound butter (some recipes won't tolerate substituting the shortening)
8 ounces cream cheese
1 pound cottage cheese
12 ounces milk chocolate chips
10 ounces white chocolate chips
1 pound fruit flavored gum drops (NO black ones!)
1 pound whole candied cherries
1 pound shelled walnuts
1 pound candied pineapple
2 pounds dates

I promise, even the odd sounding ingredients (cottage cheese??) will be needed in the next few days worth of recipes!

Now go check out your cupboards and get ready to shop and bake.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Mammy's Swedish Tea Cakes

Over the next week or two I'm going to try to get a lot of the family favorite Christmas cookie and candy recipes out here.

We used to do a lot of baking between Thanksgiving and Christmas to give away to friends and family. In fact, Thanksgiving Day was usually the day we would pull out the recipe tin and make the shopping list of the special ingredients that would be needed to get us through the "baking season". So, I will try to come up with that list for tomorrow's blog, but meantime, this recipe to get you started thinking about the project.

I remember my grandmother making these. She always call them Swedish Tea Cakes, but I've also heard them called Mexican Wedding Cakes, so you can take your choice of which ethnicity you want to use!

This is a really easy recipe, just requires a few ingredients, and a little time for the baking.

I've not found any real good way to make these "healthy", but since they are small, if you can exercise some self-control, you can still enjoy them!

Mammy's Swedish Tea Cakes

1 cup butter at room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar plus more for rolling cookies in
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cups flour
1 cup ground pecans

Cream butter and sugar until smooth.

Add vanilla and mix well.

Add flour a little at a time and blend well.

Fold in nuts with a spatula.

Roll small balls of dough (about 1 tablespoon each) and place on parchment paper or silpat about 1 inch apart.

Bake at 275 degrees for 45 minutes (be careful not to let them brown very much).

As soon as they come out of the oven, roll them in powdered sugar.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


The holidays are coming which has set me thinking about the traditions that families create just by repeating something they like.

When I was a kid, there was a local grocery store that made a sweet roll that we only got rarely, and usually for some special occasion, like breakfast for a holiday morning.

Many years ago, when the store went out of business, my mom was given the recipe by the gal in the bakery.

The exact recipe follows with my suggestions for making it healthier.


2 sticks soft oleo (butter flavored Crisco has no transfat)
6 oz cream cheese (try the low fat kind)
2 cups flour
jam of your choice for centers

Cream together the oleo and cream cheese until well blended and smooth.

Add flour 1/2 cup at a time and blend well.

Cover dough and chill for 1 hour.

Roll dough out 1/4 inch thick and cut in rounds. In half of the rounds cut a circle out of the center (like a donut).

Place on ungreased baking sheet (use a silpat or parchment). Put donut shaped piece on top of each round. Put 1 teaspoon jam of choice in the center of each hole.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes until bottoms are lightly browned.

Cool on a rack.


Hope you enjoy these

Note added: I made a batch of these, and got 17 ... probably should have gotten 18, but my rolling was a bit uneven. I used my "low fat/cholesterol" ingredient suggestions as given.

For those interested in this information, here is the nutritional "label" for each one (arrived at by adding up the information for each ingredient and dividing by 17):
Calories 193, Fat 14 g, Cholesterol 7 mg, Carbs 16 g

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mammy's Spiced Tea

Spending 2 days at a recent craft show reminded me of a lovely beverage that my grandmother used to mix up for us.

Since I always enjoyed this stuff in the cold weather, I thought I'd share it.

While the recipe gives specific cup measurements, I clearly remember her just sort of dumping in the whole container if the measurement was close....

Mammy's Spiced Tea

1 1/2 cups instant tea powder
2 cups orange Tang
1 (3-ounce) package lemonade mix
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine all ingredients until well blended. Store mix in an airtight container.

To make 1 cup of spiced tea: Place 2 teaspoons tea mix in a cup, add boiling water, stir and enjoy!