Advent . . . a time of waiting and a time of preparing. If we gave sufficient time to the spiritual aspect as well as the holiday/baking/gift given perspective, one should now be with a sense of peace and excitement about what tomorrow will bring.
My husband decided to spend Christmas Eve (AFTER he helps with the housecleaning!), creating a Panettone with my daughter. They have been glued to the bread book all week reading and rereading the directions and lining up ingredients. The recipe calls for a ‘starter’. To those uninitiated in the ins and outs of breadmaking, there are times when a recipe calls for nurturing a mixture of water and yeast into a gentle rise which will be the leavening ingredient in the final outcome. My daughter is 28 years old but decided that the starter needed a name so they have been periodically checking on Hector. He is doing fine, by the way.
Earlier in the month, my daughter and I spent her day off from work icing cut out cookies and the four hours it took were amazingly fun as we talked about things, admired each other’s handiwork and overindulged in edible glitter and sparkles for the cookies.
We plan to attend Mass on Christmas Day and then my job will be preparing a beef roast along with two vegan dishes for my son who went vegan a couple of years ago. After that, presents and another set of memories until, God Willing, we make some more memories throughout 2019 culminating in another Christmas together.
My daughter and I finished off making the last of the Christmas cookies yesterday. We have been watching way too many baking shows so attempted, with a bit of success, to make some better than average versions of the experts’ cookies. We put on Christmas music and spent four hours noting that the first six or seven cookies we decorated were not all that great while one could see our expertise grow with the middle group. The last twenty or so ended up much simpler as we got tired of all the sticky frosting joy. Anyway, this batch along with the 15 other kinds I baked during the week will easily fill up our cookies gift plates for our friends.
HOWEVER, when I say I’m done, I’m talking about the ‘normal’ cookies. My younger son in adamantly vegan so I still have five cookie recipes to bake for his Christmas treats. I asked him once if his three roommates were vegan, too, and he said, “Only when I’m doing the cooking!” I guess that will be the same situation if they want one of his Christmas cookies!
I love to bake and enjoy fussing over presentation but there are times when I need something from the oven with limited time in which to get it into the oven. These very basic cookies work well, feed a reasonable crowd. Works well with a scoop of ice cream for a dessert night treat.
One-Baking Pan Cookies
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg yolk (reserve white)
1-2 teaspoons almond flavoring
2 cups flour
Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and flavoring. Add flour to form dough. Pat dough evenly on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush top of dough with slightly beaten egg white.
Combine ¼ cup granulated sugar and two teaspoons cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over dough. Sprinkle finely chopped nuts over it all. (almonds, walnuts or pecans.)
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until very lightly browned. Cool and cut into serving portions.
*I like to double the recipe and press it out in one of my large, rimmed baking pans. Don’t forget the parchment paper lining to minimize clean up and insure nothing sticks. For some holiday drama, you could scatter on some gold candy glitter along with the chopped nuts.
**Gluten-free? Although I haven’t tried it with this recipe YET, I think that one of the cup-for-cup gluten free flour blends would work well with this.
Crispy Coconut Chews
My husband doesn’t like coconut but, for some reason, he likes these cookies! They are easy to make and a nice contrast to all the chocolate and spice cookies that show up at Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against chocolate and spice cookies but don’t mind chomping down on an extra coconut cookie in addition to the rest! Sometimes, I use bran flakes for the called-for crushed flake cereal in the ingredients. I’m always sneaking in extra vitamins and fiber even with treats.
½ cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup crushed flake cereal
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coconut
½ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy. Stir in egg, extract, and lemon zest. Add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder to the butter mixture. Add the oatmeal, cereal, coconut, and walnuts. Mix gently until well combined.
Drop dough by tablespoons onto greased baking sheet, keeping them about 2 inches apart to allow for spreading. Bake for approximately ten minutes or until cookies are lightly browned at the edges. Cool on wire racks. Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies depending on size.
Zucchini-Carrot Oatmeal Cookies
Every year, the further we advance into summer, the more abundant the zucchini and carrots seem to be. I’ve known some years when gardens produced so many zucchinis that people almost shuttered their windows when they see anyone coming up the walk with produce from their garden! Anyway, this is a simple, chewy sort of plain cookie that makes a good snack with a cold glass of milk or afternoon cup of hot tea.
½ cup butter
3/4 cup honey
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
grated zest of one orange
½ cup finely grated zucchini
½ cup finely grated carrots
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup of one or a combination of the following: chopped dates, raisins, dried cranberries, or dried apricots.
Preat oven to 375 degrees. Use vegetable oil spray or parchment to prepare baking sheets.
Cream together the butter and honey. Blend in the egg and beat well. Combine the dry ingredients and mix in alternately with the zucchini-carrot mixture. Stir in the oats and chosen dried fruits.
Drop by teaspoonsful on prepared baking sheets. Bake for approximately 10 minutes depending on your oven. Makes about four dozen cookies.
For an added treat either dip tops in melted chocolate or glaze with lemon icing. Your children might not even guess about the vegetables and fiber you are sneaking into the cookies.