Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Our Family Tree

Our Christmas tree holds some of my most prized possessions: ornaments. Over the years, Christopher and I have picked out a special ornament for every year we've been married. We bought our first ornament while on our honeymoon at Disney World, and our second on a trip to Bronners Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, MI (it's a family portrait with our kitty, Ulia, of course.)

These ornaments aren't expensive or fancy by any means, but they each hold a special memory, a moment shared between the two of us. They make me smile every time I look at them, nestled in our tree, surrounded by glowing lights and glittery bulbs.

This year, we added a very special ornament to our tree, and I have a very special announcement to go along with it. Our family tree is growing -- we're having a baby!! We are over the moon with happiness over this little one and so thrilled to be starting this new adventure together. Little Baby Ross, due May 2013.

So, from our growing family to yours, Merry Christmas. I hope you spend it surrounded by love and happiness. See you in 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Spiced "Cupboard" Cookies

Happy Friday and happy first day of winter! After a full week of gray skies and rain here in Michigan, I was beginning to think that we weren't going to have any Christmas snow this year... but today we've had a dumping of snow and we may have that white Christmas after all. Hooray!

Today's delicious cookie post comes from my dear friend Kate of the wonderful blog Diapers and Skinny Jeans. Kate was one of the my first "blog friends" and it goes without saying, her blog has always been a favorite of mine. Her writing style is genuine and full of so much love. Not to mention she is an incredible photographer (as you can obviously see in her guest post below) and such an inspiration as a mama. If you don't already read DASJ, I highly recommend adding it to your reader!

When I was growing up, my mom had always packed up me and my sisters and we would drive to my Aunt's house to make rolled sugar cookies. Complete with cookie cutter reindeer with cinnamon red-hot noses, I just haven't been able to duplicate that recipe ever since - even after getting it from my mom. I decided to not try and ruin a good thing, and instead chose a new recipe that was a little less traditional. I've been craving something warm, hearty and full of spice, so Sofia and I got our hands sticky creating a new christmas cookie tradition with a little bit of everything from our cupboard.

Spiced Cupboard Cookies with Cinnamon Glaze
  • 1/2 c softened butter 
  • 1 room temperature large brown egg 
  • 1 c raw turbinado cane sugar 
  • 1 c light brown sugar 
  • 2 large tablespoons vanilla extract - (you can always use more) 
  • 1 1/2 c flour 
  • 2 tsp baking powder 
  • 2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg 
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger 
  • 1/2 c mini chocolate chips 
  • 1/2 c old fashioned oats 
  • 1/4 c sweetened coconut flakes
Cinnamon Glaze
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 tsp cinnamon 3-4 tablespoons of milk until glaze has thickened enough to drizzle 

Preheat oven to 350º. Begin by creaming together your softened butter, two sugars, egg and vanilla. Mix with a electric beater for around 2-3 minutes until well combined.

Add your flour about a 1/2 c at a time until dough begins to thicken. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Once flour and spices are well combined, add your fixings: chocolate chips, oats, and coconut.

Chill dough for an hour if you want a bit of an easier time rolling it out - in all honesty, I skipped this step but will definitely try that next time. Roll dough between a piece of parchment or wax paper into a log, then cut around 1/2 inch thick pieces and place on a lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 16-18 minutes (for big cookies) or 8-10 minutes (for smaller cookies) just until you get a golden and crispy color on the edges. These will harden when cooled, so aim for the slightly undercooked side so they'll still remain chewy and gooey - all that is great for cookieness.

Once cookies have cooled, drizzle with cinnamon glaze if desired. Enjoy!

I wasn't sure how this recipe was going to turn out, but considering I'm sitting down writing this story with a plate of extra cookies to myself and a giant cup of milk-- I am pleasantly surprised at how delicious and chewy these really are! Success! :)

How beautiful are these cookies (and photos)?! Thanks so much for sharing, Kate!
See more 12 Days of Christmas Cookies.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Candied Ginger Cinnamon Cookies

The countdown to Christmas continues... with less than a week away now, I'm finding it very difficult to be motivated at work, what with a nine day vacation looming. I'm happy to hear that you all are enjoying the cookie posts. If anyone tries one of the recipes, let me know... I'd love to hear how it turned out!

That said, today's cookie recipe comes from Kirstin of Kalanag. I stumbled upon Kristin's blog one day via Carrie and instantly fell in love with her posts. Kristin shares snippets of life, handmade gift inspiration and thoughts on motherhood (read one of my favorite posts here), making her blog a favorite read of mine. She also shares a lot of tasty recipes on her blog (I mean, would you look at this pie?!) so I was excited when she sent over this sweet and spicy cookie recipe to share with us. Enjoy!

When Katherine asked me to share a favorite cookie recipe for the holidays I was flattered! Then I panicked a little bit because I realized that our family has never really had a "Christmas cookie". When I really thought about it, all I could remember my Mom making around the holidays when I was growing up were these infamous "cheesecake bars" which were neither cheesecake nor bars, but a mix of jiffy cake mix and who knows what else, and sometimes (not every time) had some sort of cookie like crust. They were delicious, I will have to give her that, but not exactly my idea of a holiday cookie! Then I remembered that when I was about five, I made these fragrant cinnamon Christmas tree ornaments. I think one was a little reindeer and the other was a gingerbread house. Every year my Mom would bring the box of Christmas ornaments up from storage and you could smell the ornaments before she even opened the box. Putting those spicy sweet smelling ornaments on the tree every year always made me hungry, and I'm sure if I didn't put the craft glue in to the mix myself, I would probably try to eat them. 

Reminiscing sniffing the christmas tree as a child brought me to the idea for these cookies, not exactly ginger bread cookies, but the edible version of what I remember of those cookie ornaments, minus the glue and with a little more pizazz. I had a hard time not eating the batter, and sort of reverted into my tiny baby Kirstin self while making these cookies, which delighted my own tiny baby two year old Julian. I hope when someone asks him when he grows up what sort of cookie reminds him of Christmas he will remember his mother bouncing around the kitchen covered in spices and butter. These cookies turn out nice and soft, a tiny bit of crisp to the outer edge and the spicy kicks of candied ginger really kick you in the mouth in a great way.

The highlight is definitely the "Cake Spice" spice mix I got from an amazing spice shop here in Chicago, it seriously made all the difference. The turbanado sugar adds a little sparkle too, perfect for holiday festivities. They go fast, so save some for yourself. Now, I must preface the recipe, I don't call for so many different things for the sake of being finicky, I have a serious pantry of flours, sugars, spices, dried fruits and nuts and I love sharing the combinations with my own readers, so I want to share them with you too! So here you have it, I hope you enjoy it! (GH note: see Kirstin's explination of special ingredients listed at the bottom of the post.)

Candied Ginger Cinnamon Cookies
  • 1 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 inch piece of fresh ginger, skin peeled
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Cake Spice*
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 1 pinch of salt 
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar 
  • 1/2 c cane sugar 
  • 3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 unsulphured molasses
  • 1/2 c candied ginger* chopped into tiny pieces
  • 1 egg 

Sugary topping:
  • 2 tablespoons turbanado sugar (or any large grain sugar)
  • 1 pinch of sea salt flakes 
  • The remaining sugar from the candied ginger*
  • Parchment paper 

Preheat oven to 350. Sift and mix together the flours, spices, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream together the sugars and butter, then use a fine grater ( I use a micro plane) to grate the fresh ginger into the mixture, add the molasses and the egg. Fold in the candied ginger pieces, and then add the dry ingredients. Stick the dough into the refrigerator for about thirty minutes (or enough time to clean up your mess) so that it hardens up a bit, and is easier to roll. 

Roll the dough into as big or small cookies as you'd like, I like mine small, so I made them about an inch in diameter. Dip, roll or top the dough ball into the salt/sugar mixture and place them on to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for about ten minutes. The bigger you make the cookies the longer you should leave them in the oven, but if you want them to be soft take them out a little before they look "done" and leave them on the baking sheet for a few more minutes. I got about three and a half dozen cookies out of this batch, more than enough to share!

Special Ingredients:
Whole wheat pastry flour: I get mine at trader joe's, great way to add whole wheat into something like cookies and cakes that call for refined flours.
Cake spice: I got mine at a local spice shop, you can oder it online or substitute something like pumpkin pie spice, or your favorite combo of fragrant spices. Or, consider scoping out a specialty spice shop in your area, and ask them for their suggestions. 
Candied ginger: whole foods bulk section, but be careful because it is addicting! 
Sugar from the candied ginger: when you chop up all that candied ginger, some of the big sugar granules will fall off, scoop them up and use them to sprinkle on your cookies, they are full of gingery flavor!

Thanks so much, Kirstin, for sharing this recipe with us!
See more 12 Days of Christmas Cookies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I hope you're not sick of seeing these cookie posts, because I'll be sharing a cookie a day until Christmas Eve to finish up the series. December has gotten the best of me (as most months do) and I can hardly believe that Christmas is one week away!

Today's post comes from my dear friend Abby. If you don't read her blog, you're seriously missing out. She's hilarious, totally real and always inspiring. PLUS this girl can bake. I mean, Earl Grey shortbread cookies? Plate sized lemon whoopie pies? Seriously, people even commission her for tasty treats. Asking Abby to share a cookie recipe was a no-brainer. And I love that she decided on a simple yet delicious recipe for everyone to try. If you're looking for a last-minute Christmas gift or party treat, why not bake up some of these six ingredient peanut butter cookies?

Every year my mom and I make about a billion (give or take a few thousand) cookies for Christmas. Shortbread of every variation, pecan bars, fruit bars, butter cookies (I almost shared this recipe!) and peanut butter blossoms. You know them, they're the iconic holiday peanut butter cookie with a chocolate Kiss in the middle. My job is usually solely the peanut butter blossoms and it involves too many steps, me forgetting the salt EVERY YEAR, chilling the dough, bleeding fingers from unwrapping Kisses, utter exhaustion and tears. Every. Year.

Then Real Simple magazine came to our rescue (as it often does - I mean the magazine is FLAWLESS) last December with their holiday issue. They published about 20 classic cookie recipes and added little variations. It ended up being something like 96 cookies you could make with their recipes. My mother promptly ripped all the recipes out and they are forever in our arsenal of recipes. One of those recipes is this one here: Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies. We've been making them ever since and they're a HUGE hit! Also if you can get your hands on the 2011 December issue of Real Simple you are doing yourself the biggest favor. Real life.

These cookies are basically the savior of the semi-bland, completely predictable, peanut butter cookie I've been making every year for SO LONG. And get this. THERE'S ONLY 6 INGREDIENTS. *cut to me crying tears of relief* They're the lightest peanut butter cookie I've ever had and they completely baffle my mother. There's no flour... there's no milk... there's no baking powder... WHAT IS THIS?! Magic.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • Chocolate chunks, crushed pretzels or additional add-ins (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350, throw all 6 ingredients in a bowl, mix, mix, mix and VOILA! A dough! I ended up splitting the dough and adding crushed pretzel sticks, dark (60% cacao) Ghirardelli chocolate chunks, and milk chocolate chunks to one half, while leaving the other half plain. Pinch off the dough and make them into little 1-1.5" balls about 2 inches apart on your baking sheet, which I lined with parchment paper. Make sure to keep them about 2 inches apart as they spread very nicely in the oven.

This is where your littles come in. My sole job as a kid (and I was SO proud of that job) was to make the crisscrossed pattern on the cookies. It's something they'll be happy to do and it doesn't involve them getting peanut butter up their nose. Not like that's ever happened to me in my lifetime. Nope. Never.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. It's the fastest 12 minutes of your life and before you know it your NOSE is yelling at you and trying to jump off your face into the oven. Yeah... your kitchen smells THAT good. I don't really exaggerate all that much. : ) The plain peanut butter is quite wonderful but the pretzel/chocolate variation adds that extra *something* to it. My family flipped OUT over them. So did my boss. What uuup!

These are family tested, boss approved, fool proof and QUICK cookies that will make you a celebrity with your family and get you through your holidays with ease. Heck they get me through a Tuesday morning sometimes, let's be honest. And! Now they're my family's favorite cookie!

Merriest of Christmases to you!

Thanks for sharing this awesome cookie, Abby! I'm all about simplicity in the kitchen, so six ingredient cookies are pretty much the best thing ever. 
See more 12 Days of Christmas Cookies.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pumpkin Cookies

Today's cookie post comes from Michelle, artist and blogger at The Art of Michelle. If you've been reading Gathered Heart for long, you probably that know I love Michelle's artwork (see her GH artist interview here!) Michelle uses a combination of techniques, from watercolor to paper collage to details scrawled in pencil, resulting in beautiful pieces with a touch of whimsy. Be sure to check out her website and Etsy shop to see her work -- I adore her custom house portraits and butterfly prints.

When I asked Michelle to participate in 12 Days of Christmas Cookies, she asked if she could illustrate her cookie recipe. I thought it was a wonderful idea, and I'm so happy to feature Michelle's artwork yet again... this time in recipe form.

When my husband Seth moved out of his parent's house and into his own home, his mother sent a handwritten cookbook with him. At the time, Seth and I were just dating, and the notion of his mother going to all that trouble over a cookbook when the man obviously didn't know how to cook was, frankly, an overture toward me. I probably rolled my eyes a little at this obvious "you'll need this cookbook if you want to be a part of our family" gesture. Country women loooove their cookin.

Now almost two years into our marriage, I've learned to treasure that cookbook! I've never considered myself as "domesticated" (say that with a hillbilly twang) as most wives seem to be, but that cookbook has taught me a lot about what a little butter and sugar can do for a family. I'm nowhere near caught up with all the other country women around these parts, but I'm learning that the recipes these ladies share are like little precious family gems passed down from generation to generation. (The thought of them somehow landing in my lap must undoubtedly strike fear in those Foster hearts!)

One of those little gems is this Pumpkin Cookies recipe. There's a little note in my husband's cookbook next to this particular recipe which reads: Great Grandma Margaret Foster. So you can thank her and generations of Foster women for perfecting this recipe so we can enjoy it today! And perfect they are. Soft and spicy and sweet. Mix up a batch of powdered sugar icing to drizzle on top if you're like me and crave that little extra sweetness.

As a special gift to Gathered Heart readers, Michelle is offering this recipe illustration at a special price of $15 in her Etsy shop. You can purchase this print for your own kitchen! Thanks again, Michelle, for sharing this family cookie recipe with us!
See more 12 Days of Christmas Cookies

Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday Oatmeal Cookies

Our fourth installment of 12 Days of Christmas Cookies comes from Callie of Call Me Cal. I randomly stumbled upon Cal's blog while googling Warby Parker home try-ons (she did an adorable video try-on, by the way) and I've been following along ever since. Cal writes all about her adventures across the US and has a great series of Travelogues. She also has a fun What's Happening LA column and tons of great gift guides/wish lists.

Plus, Cal knows good food. She shares about all the restaurants she visits while traveling and I mentally make note to visit them myself. You know... if I ever find myself in someplace like Nova Scotia. So of course, I knew her cookie selection would not disappoint: warm, cinnamony, old fashion oatmeal cookies. The perfect thing to whip up on a cold December afternoon and dunk in your favorite mug of tea. Yes please!

I am so excited to be posting on Gathered Heart about a topic near and dear to my heart: Sweets! And not just any ole sweets, but my Mom's signature holiday oatmeal cookies. The second I finish Thanksgiving dinner, I instantly start looking forward to my Mom's annual cookie delivery. She has been sending me these cookies for years and I still get excited every time this scrumptious delivery arrives because it signals the start of my favorite time of year. My first instinct is always to squirrel these delicious deliverables away from my husband so I don't have to share, but in the end I always allow others to partake in the yuletide cookie joy.

So without further ado, here is the recipe for my Mom's scrumptious seasonal sweets (adapted from the Vanishing Oatmeal Cookie recipe.)

Holiday Oatmeal Cookies
  • 1/2 cup softened butter 
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or pecans if you prefer) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 3/4 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Old-Fashioned Quaker oats 
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins 
  • 1 tsp orange rind zest (make sure to use a fine grater as to not go too deep into the rind) 

Directions (yields around 24 cookies) Heat oven to 350°F. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until mixed in. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, raisins and orange zest; mix well.

Place rounded tablespoonfuls of oat mix onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy! Happy cooking!

Thanks for sharing this tasty treat, Callie. I bet they smell amazing while baking!
See more 12 Days of Christmas Cookies.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thumbprint Cookies

Can you believe Christmas is only two weeks away?! I don't know about you, but I've been feeling extra festive lately. All the presents are wrapped and under the tree and A Very She & Him Christmas has been playing on repeat. Plus, I awoke this morning to find everything covered with a dusting of snow! I felt like a kid again. Sometimes I forget how beautiful the winter landscape is covered in blankets of white. We may just have a white Christmas after all!

So I find it very appropriate that today's cookie post is a charming batch of red and green Thumbprint Cookies from Jamie of A Pair of Pears. Jamie and her husband, Jake, run A Pair of Pears, a graphic design and paper goods company that specializes in branding and custom paper goods. Their blog is a constant source of inspiration -- DIY projects, cute puppy photos and a ton of great party printables! Be sure to check out their Etsy shop, too, which is full of letterpress goodness.

One of my favorite memories is baking Christmas Cookies with my mom. Every year we would pull out the old cook books and recipe cards and mix up the yummy treats that only came once a year. One of the recipes we would always make is Thumbprint Print Cookies. It's my favorite. To me it's the perfect Christmas cookie. If you've never had them, I hope you give them a try because they are delicious.

Thumbprint Cookies
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup shortening 
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 egg, separated 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (We usually use pecans) 
  • jelly or jam (I always use Red Currant and Mint)

Heat oven to 350ºF. Mix brown sugar, shortening, butter, vanilla and egg yolk in medium bowl. Stir in flour and salt until dough holds together. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.

Beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into egg white. Roll in nuts. (If you don't like nuts you can just just omit the egg white and nut steps. I make some with and some without since Jake is allergic to nuts.) Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb deeply in center of each.

Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Fill thumbprints with jelly.

The recipe is really easy to make and I always had fun as a kid being able to use my thumb to press down the center of each cookie. And if you have any reservations about the mint jelly my advice is be brave and give it a try. I love it! I wouldn't go spreading it on your morning toast though.

Tips: Use the end of a wooden spoon to re-press down the the center of each cookie after they come out of the oven. The recipe says to fill with jelly after the cookies have cooled, but I find it works nicely to fill them while they are still warm so the jelly has a chance to melt a little and fill the entire hole.

Aren't those cookies so cute? They would make a wonderful gift for coworkers or neighbors. Thanks so much for sharing with us Jamie!
See more 12 Days of Christmas Cookies.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Terrain Kitchenware

I have been loving everything Terrain has stocked their shelves with lately. If you're Christmas shopping for your mother or a dear foodie friend (and can afford to splurge) you might just find the perfect gift. I mean, have you ever seen such a beautiful whisk?!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Today I'm excited to share cookie no.2 in the series 12 Days of Christmas Cookies!

This recipe comes from Carrie, a dear blog friend and kindred spirit all the way from sunny Florida (jealous? Me too.) Carrie is a graphic designer, wife and mother of the most adorable little girl, Olive (with another baby on the way!!) I have really loved getting to know Carrie through her blog, which is full of inspiring bits, adorable Olive posts, updates on her new home and renovation process, and lots of little life reflections. It's one of my favorites -- you should definitely stop by and say hello!

One thing I love about Carrie's recipe, and this entire series, is the fact that Christmas traditions vary from family to family. Carrie typically leaves Santa a plate chocolate chip cookies, and in my family we always left him frosted sugar cookies. I actually haven't thought of Santa in so long, I forgot that Christmas cookies are traditionally treats for jolly old Saint Nick, not us! Haha. So thank you Carrie, for the reminder.

My family doesn't have many Christmas baking traditions except for leaving chocolate chip cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately I don't come from much of a cookie-baking family. Pies -- that's a different story, we can bake some pretty delicious pies, in my humble opinion. I can following a recipe so I wanted to give cookie baking another try. Only after my first attempt did I remember why I gave in to pre-made cookie dough. Flat cookies.

I always make flat cookies. I wish I could give you tips about how to keep your cookies thick and chewy but I still haven't figured it out. I initially thought I had mis-measured the baking soda but the second time turned out just as flat. My apologies.

I love chocolate chip cookies just as much as Santa and my intentions were to make some pretty delicious chocolate chip cookies to tempt my co-workers with in the break room. But cookies should be tempting, not embarrassing.

Since my attempts at making individual cookies was a complete flop I poured the rest of the batter into a cookie sheet and made one giant cookie that I cut into bars.

I've only learned two things about baking cookies and I'm not really sure if they are helpful, but one is to use real butter when baking and two, add extra vanilla.

The following is the recipe I used. I hope you have better luck if you decide to try it.

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (optional)

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Mix butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixing bowl. Add eggs, one at a time and gradually mix in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto un-greased cookie sheets. Bake for 9-11 min. or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for two minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thanks for sharing your cookie recipe, Carrie, even though it didn't turn out as expected. Way to keep it real... I know I've had my fair share of baking disasters! 
Anyone have any tips to prevent flat cookies?
See more 12 Days of Christmas Cookies

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Snaps

I know not everyone feels the same, but I love Christmas. I really do... twinkle lights, family time, sweet baby Jesus. In my mind, it really is the most wonderful time of the year. To help spread my holiday cheer, I thought it would be fun to do a series on Gathered Heart called 12 Days of Christmas Cookies, where I've asked 12 of my favorite bloggers to share their favorite Christmas cookie recipe.

I thought I'd kick off this yummy series with a classic gingerbread cookie recipe from Emily, a dietitian and fellow Michigander. Both her tumblr and blog are full of healthy foodspiration and tons of simple recipes for tasty things like homemade Greek yogurt and ice cream sandwiches. Emily's posts always inspire me to be mindful about what I eat, and not in a "oh man I can never eat cookies again" way. I was actually thrilled that her cookie selection included lots of butter and sugar and not something like pureed beans. Emily's philosophy is balance and moderation, and I'm behind that 100%.

When Katherine asked me to do a post about my favorite Christmas cookies, she originally asked for a healthy cookie recipe. I think she was pleasantly surprised to learn that I don’t really believe in “healthy cookies.” I think all foods can be enjoyed in moderation, and to me, cookies just don’t taste the same unless full of delicious butter and sugar.

Ginger cookies definitely bring all the smells of the holidays together (cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, etc) in one delicious treat. They also mix up in a hurry for a last minute party or house full of hungry family members.

Some tips: stick the dough in the freezer for 10-15 min instead of 2 hrs in the refrigerator to cut down on chill time. Also, ice cream scoops are great for making uniform cookies.

Christmas Snaps (adapted from My Kitchen Addiction
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened 
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses 
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom 
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar 
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips 
  • sprinkles 

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add molasses. Add dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated (side note: the proper method would be mixing dry ingredients together first and then adding to wet ingredients, but I like shortcuts). Chill dough for 2 hrs. Roll dough into balls and through raw sugar before placing on baking sheet. Bake for 11-12 minutes at 375 F.

While cookies are cooling, melt chocolate chips in microwave for 30s-1 minute, stirring often. Dip cooled cookies into melted chocolate and add festive sprinkles if desired.

Try not to eat them all at once! They are wonderful dipped in milk. You could also try using white chocolate instead of dark chocolate for an interesting twist.

Happy Holidays, and enjoy!

Don't they look delicious? Special thanks to Emily for participating. 
Check back soon for more 12 Days of Christmas Cookies!