Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Baking

Can you ever have too many Christmas cookies?  Some new favorites I've discovered in recent years include this yummy chocolate-coconut potato candy; orange snowball cookies; mocha truffle cookies; and frosted lemon ricotta cookies.  Yum.  Cookies.  Bring 'em on.

But if you find it a challenge to squeeze in all the holiday baking you'd like to in the weeks before Christmas, see if author and guest blogger Gina Conroy's tips, below, don't help.

Gina, by the way, has a brand new novella coming out in a month.  Called Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers collection, you can read all about it here.  Then bake yourself some nice warm cookies and cozy up to a delicious fire.  It's the recipe for a perfect chilly evening, if you ask me.

by Gina Conroy

I remember the time I took a plate of Christmas cookies to my daughter's preschool teacher and was surprised by her comment.

"Thank you.  Not many people give homemade Christmas cookies any more.  It seems to be a lost art."

That made me sad to hear that so many people forego this holiday tradition.  As I was growing up, my mom always filled shoeboxes of cookies for neighbors, relatives, and friends.  It was her gift to them.  And they'd come to expect it every year and cherish their favorite cookies.

I have to admit I don't bake nearly as much as she still does.  One of the reasons is that it's too stressful cooking with four kids' schedules and trying to do everything else for Christmas.  But if you still want to bake and give those holiday cookies without the stress, here are some great ideas that have helped me.

Pies, cookies, sweet breads all freeze great.  So don't be afraid to freeze them.  I usually freeze holiday cookies (and cookies throughout the year) for those unexpected guests.  Then I just pull them out and let them defrost.  Instant homemade treat.

This is the BEST way to do the least amount of work and get the most variety of cookies.  Invite your friends over to a cookie exchange party.  Then have everyone bring a couple dozen of one or two varieties of their favorite cookies.  On the day of the party, break out the Christmas eggnog and coffee, scented candles and music, and arrange all the cookies on the dining room table.  You can even have everyone bring their favorite snack to share at the party.

Make sure everyone brings an empty container to take home cookies.  Then after you visit for a while, start revolving around the table, grabbing three or four cookies of each variety.  If you brought three dozen cookies, you take home three dozen.  If you brought two dozen, then you leave with two dozen.

Then take them home and enjoy.  I usually share my goodies with teachers and friends.  They don't have to know you didn't bake them all.

This has been my standard teacher's gift for the last couple of years.  It's so easy to do, and everyone loves to make their own cookies without all the measuring and the mess.  You can assemble these ahead of time, so start saving those applesauce, mayo, and tomato sauce jars now.

Check to see if you have to cut the recipes in half for smaller jars, and don't forget to attach instructions.  Also, don't be afraid to change up the ingredients and get creative.

(Lynn's note:  Here's a recipe for chocolatey peanut butter cookie mix, and another for homemade brownie mix.)

Christmas cookie baking doesn't have to be stressful, especially if you plan ahead.  So resurrect this lost Christmas tradition and bless someone this holiday season.

Gina Conroy is founder of Writer . . . Interrupted, where she mentors busy writers.  Her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers collection, releases from Barbour Publishing in January, 2012.  Gina loves to connect with readers on Facebook and Twitter.



Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Welcome back, Lynn!!! Tis the season to break out those cookies recipes. GREAT tips!

Thanks for sharing...

P.S. I've seen a new dawn of cookie swaps online. Perhaps, there's hope for holiday baking after all:) And, Sunday is National Cookie Day!!!

December 1, 2011 at 5:32 AM  
Blogger Farm Girl said...

Very nice post. I love the sound of some of your recipes. I still bake though, How are you?
You asked about movies, I don't know why the Scrooge with George C. Scott is my favorite, but I like that one the best. I am kind of a Scrooge junky anyway. If you want to know my true favorite it is the one with Mr. Magoo, but I don't know where you would find that one. :)I am a fan of all things Charles Dickens.
Are you getting the wind? We still have fog. No wind either.

December 1, 2011 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Gina Conroy said...

Farm Girl, I LOVE Mister Magoo Christmas Carol and I have it. We watch it every year. Try amazon!!

December 1, 2011 at 6:41 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Yeah for National Cookie Day! You find out about the greatest holidays, Louise!

December 1, 2011 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Farm Girl, we are getting lots of wind -- so much so that I was worried if I went out this morning I might not be able to get back home (downed trees that block the road happens a lot where we live). But it seems to be settling down now. Must get some Christmas movies this year to watch! Thanks for the recommendations.

December 1, 2011 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Joanne said...

So many christmas cookies to make and so little time! thanks for these tips!

December 1, 2011 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger The Blonde Duck said...

I want to have a cookie party! But everyone here is on a diet!

December 2, 2011 at 6:13 AM  
Blogger Katie @ minivan diva said...

I make the same cookies every year. It is our tradition. I can't wait for my kids to start Christmas vacation so we can get baking!

December 2, 2011 at 6:29 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Blonde Duck, I know the feeling. I am pondering how I can do some yummy Christmas baking but still keep eating healthy. Maybe I will have to bake then immediately give most of it away ;)

December 2, 2011 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger The Blonde Duck said...

I just realized you wrote a book! DUH! Congrats!

December 2, 2011 at 8:12 PM  
Blogger Gina Conroy said...

You can all have a cookie party and still diet! Just don't eat ALL the cookies! LOL! Fill up on healthy snacks like veggies and real food, then allow yourself three of your favorite cookies. The key to dieting over the holidays is not to deny yourselves, but to be choosy in what you eat. Make sure it's your most favorite cookie, if not, pass it by!

December 3, 2011 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Good ideas, Gina!

December 4, 2011 at 1:33 AM  
Blogger teresa said...

great tips! i love christmas cookies!!

December 4, 2011 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Jodi said...

Hi Lynn, Nice to meet you,and thats for the comment you left at my place. Yummy looking place you have here!

December 8, 2011 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger Gina Conroy said...

Just wanted to let everyone know my debut books came in and I'm giving away a copy this weekend!!

December 16, 2011 at 6:23 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Congratulations, Gina!

December 16, 2011 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

HI Lynn! I just had to pop in to wish you a Merry Christmas!!! Marion is hovering over my shoulder only allowing me and my "broken" eye an hour to do some blogging visits. I hope you baked a bakers dozen of scrumptcious cookies this year. As for me, not so much so:(

Have a wonderful holiday, Lynn. The doctor tells me I may have my patch permanently off early January. (fingers crossed:) Have a Merry!!!

December 23, 2011 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger ~~louise~~ said...

Happy New Year to You and Yours Lynn!!! Stay safe...

December 31, 2011 at 5:45 PM  

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