The Third Day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas, some candy I did make

And from cooking & cleaning got a break!

The third day of Christmas was spent helping Hubby out at the motel. With how many hours he is away from home, it was nice to spend an entire day with him, even if it had to spent at work. At the end of the day though, Hubby surprised me and took us out to dinner. We don’t go out to dinner very often, probably two or three times a year at most, so an evening without cooking is quite a treat.

Once we were home however, I took advantage of the time I didn’t have to spend cleaning up the kitchen from dinner and made a few candies that I’d not gotten to during the holidays. I made Old-Fashioned Butter Mints and No-Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Drops (both recipes can be found on Simply Grateful Housewife). The peanut butter oatmeal drops could be considered a cookie, but they are so rich and chocolatey, some might consider them a candy.

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Life doesn’t always give us the time we want with those we love, so being able to spend an entire day with Hubby is very special, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

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The Sugar Cookie Quest – Variation #1: Soft Drop Cookies

Sugar Cookies are one of those cookies that pretty much every loves.  What’s not to love?  They are tasty, full of sugar, and typically have icing, decorations, or sprinkles on them.  Does it get any better than that?

The only thing that would make them even better would be to have a recipe that comes together quickly, as many recipes for sugar cookies are quite labor intensive. Although there is a time and place for rolling out cookie dough, cutting it into wonderful shapes, and hand frosting each one intricately — that time and place has yet to reveal itself in my home.  Typically when it comes to baking I want to get in and get out so I can begin my next project.  Not that I don’t enjoy baking — don’t get me wrong I love it.  It’s just that there aren’t enough hours in the day to stop and indulge in long-winded baking projects as often as I want to, so an alternative is required.

Of all the cookies I bake, sugar cookies are the ones that have caused me the most distress. Growing up my father always made the sugar cookie dough used in a cookie press.  I love these cookies and to this day they are my favorite, trouble is I have no luck when it comes to using a cookie press.  I have had no less than six of these gadgets, all different models, types, and makers, and each one I have either broken or not been able to get it to work.  Incompetent?  I suppose so, but there are just some things, such as mechanical inclination, that evade me most of the time.

In order to enjoy the sugar cookies I grew up with, I have been reduced to making the dough, flattening it on the counter, and cutting out shapes.  Sure this is a viable option, but it just isn’t the same, and is certainly not a quick project.

Being that sugar cookie dough is so versatile and able to be used in so many recipes other than just cookies (there really is not such thing as “just cookies” but you get what I mean), I decided it was time to start a quest for sugar cookie recipes that were quick, easy, convenient, and heck, why not even see if I could come up with one I could pop most of the ingredients in a jar.

The first recipe I tried turned out excellent.  It was a soft sugar cookie that took very little time to make, as it is a drop cookie, and even less time for the family to devour. There is still some tweaking to be done, but for now, this one remains in the running for a potential place in my permanent cookie recipe binder.

Soft Drop Sugar Cookies

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Yes, those are Christmas sprinkles! I had some leftover and rather than open a new container…

1/2 Cup Butter, softened

1/2 Cup Vegetable or Peanut Oil

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 Egg

1 tsp. Vanilla

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar

1/4 tsp. Salt

2 1/4 Cups Flour

  • Cream butter, oil, and sugars in large mixing bowl until smooth.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  • Add baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
  • Add flour slowly with mixer on low.
  • Place heaping teaspoons of dough on parchment lined cookie sheet and top with sprinkles. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes, just until edges start to brown.
  • Remove from oven and let cookies cool on sheet for 3 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

I prepared this recipe using a mixer, as originally instructed, but would prefer not to have to drag out the mixer if I don’t have to.  Next time I make this dough I will not only experiment with combining all the dry ingredients as would be in a jar, but also I will try hand mixing the cookies to see how they turn out.  If this works, I will definitely be putting jars of this cookie mix on the pantry shelf.

For now, I am glad these wonderfully soft and flavorful sugar cookies turned out and I am on my way to finding the perfect sugar cookie recipe, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Small Successes – Rice Krispie Caramel Chip Cookies

I have been in a bit of a funk lately.  Well, more than a bit really.  To be honest, it has been a rather upsetting couple of weeks and although nothing has been solved or resolved, I am pushing myself to move forward and stop allowing my entire life to be affected by other people’s actions.

I don’t know about you, but when one aspect of my life is in upheaval, every aspect of my life follows suit.  This is exactly what has been happening around here for the better part of more than two weeks.  It started with some issues with my parents, then infiltrated my time in the kitchen, and finally took a toll on the gardens.  It is time to regain the control that I relinquished and start gluing the pieces of what feels like a crumbling world back in place.

Last night, while I sat for yet another evening staring at the computer screen unable to put words to my feelings, Hubby noticed my continuing spiral downward teetering between depression and exasperation.  He isn’t one to attack my moods head-on.  He’s learned from experience that when I’m upset, it’s best to use stealth techniques. So while we were sitting on the couch, scanning the television guide for something to watch, he told me he was having terrible cravings for sugar.

Now Hubby, although he loves sweets, tries to keep his intake to a minimum and will quite often ask me NOT to make desserts.  Having sweets around continually is too much of a temptation while he is trying to maintain his “girlish figure” as he puts it. Of course the fact that he mentioned he wanted something sugary, immediately set my mind to racing with the possibilities.

It just so happened that I had pulled out several recipes for a new cookie I wanted to try, but just couldn’t find the motivation to drag myself out to the kitchen for fear of another failure. For the past two weeks it seems as though every new recipe I’ve tried has been a complete failure. One was so utterly awful that I literally dumped the meat into a strainer, rinsed it with hot water to remove all the seasoning, oil, and other ingredients and then buried the meat under chili for chili burgers, thus concealing any lingering hint of the horrid taste that had come from the recipe.  Either I just don’t like Korean Beef or the recipe I used was not any good, but it will be a long time before I ever consider trying that again.

Anyway, Hubby’s request for something made me forget completely about the prior weeks mishaps and I quickly combined a few recipes and whipped up a batch of new cookies.  I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate (which says a lot about my state of mind when even chocolate isn’t appealing) so I opted for caramel. The result was a huge success.  Hubby ate five cookies straight from the cooling rack and then insisted on taking a few to work tonight.

Rice Krispie Caramel Chip Cookies

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1 1/4 Cups Flour

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar

1/4 Cup Sugar

1 Stick Softened Butter

1 Large Egg

2 tsp. Hot Water

1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

1 1/2 Cups Rice Krispies

3/4 – 1 Cup Caramel Chips

  • Combine flour, powder, soda, and salt in large bowl.
  • In small bowl, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, hot water, and vanilla and beat until combined.
  • Pour sugar mixture into dry ingredients and stir until combined with wooden spoon.
  • Fold in Rice Krispies and caramel chips.
  • Scoop tablespoons of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 8 – 9 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet before moving to cooling rack.  These cookies stick terribly if you do not allow to cool before attempting to move to cooling racks.

It might not seem like much to most people, but Hubby’s little push for me to get back to something he knows I love was just what I needed.  A kick in the pants, if you will. This morning, although my heart was still heavy from pain and anger, I was comforted by the small success I experienced in the kitchen last night, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Mixes In Jars #5 – Dried Cranberry Vanilla Chip Cookie

Who doesn’t love cookies?  Here at our house cookies are probably the most requested treat.  It surpasses ice cream, cake, candy, even brownies.  So when it comes to finding new recipes to keep the troops from getting bored, I am always on the lookout.

A few nights ago the kids wanted something sweet to eat.  I took advantage of the opportunity to try a new mix in jars recipe.  These recipes allow me to whip up a batch of cookies quickly and doesn’t leave us with six dozen cookies.  We had 2 1/2 dozen cookies to enjoy, which means in a day or two I can try another kind.

Dried Cranberry Vanilla Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Cup Craisins/Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 Cup Vanilla Chips
  • 1 3/4 Cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Softened Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla

Combine dry ingredients, chips, and cranberries.  Mix thoroughly.  Add softened butter, egg, and vanilla.  Mix until completely blended, I did this with my hands. Shape into walnut size balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 for 10 – 12 minutes until lightly browned.  Cool on sheet 1 minute.

To assemble mix in jar, layer dry ingredients in above order and attach tag:

Empty mix into large bowl.  Mix to combine.  Add 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Mix until completely blended. Shape into walnut size balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 10 – 12 minutes until lightly browned.  Cool on sheet 1 minute.

These are a new family favorite.  The bulk of the cookies were gone the night I made them and the remainder the next day.  Definitely a keeper.  Now I can experiment with another cookie in a day or two, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Simple Things/Great Comfort – Mixes-In-Jars #4 Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Organizing and maintaining the pantry in our basement is one of my favorite and most rewarding tasks.  Last year I finally arranged our canning shelves so all five of them were in the same area and the shelves for bulk purchases were grouped together just a few feet away.  Being able to fit everything in one area helps me better keep track of everything I stock so I don’t run out of anything or buy things I already have on hand.

Once the grunt of my canning for 2014 was done, I began researching all the types of mixes-in-jars I could make and store in the pantry.  My research yielded me hundreds of mixes to try, but without a test run, I did not want to just start filling jars with mixes the family might not like or I wouldn’t use.  So began my venture into mixes-in-jars test kitchen trials.

By the time I had tried seven mix recipes I found five of them “shelf-worthy.”  The other two were okay, but not something I would necessarily want to make again or want to waste shelf space on.  Being a fairly high percentage, and with many more to try, I figured I’d better decide where these mixes were going to be stored.

The canning shelves are full from last summer and fall’s canning.  Although we go through a minimum of six to 12 jars a week, I have been restocking the shelves with the winter canning I’ve been busy doing.  This leaves no room for mixes on these shelves. The bulk storage area of the pantry is also over-flowing, as I continually restock as I use up the inventory.  This meant finding a new area and shelving unit to dedicate to mixes-in-jars.  Granted an entire shelving unit dedicated to mixes-in-jars might be in excess, but this would be a good area to also store the flour, sugars, rice, and other staples that I have been sealing in 1/2 gallon canning jars.

Happiness is…an excuse to get a new canning shelving unit and stocking it full of jars!

The last time I ordered a metal canning shelving unit, it was a quick and easy process.  One of the home improvement stores nearby had it in stock.  Unfortunately when I began looking for these shelving units again a couple of months ago, there were no shelving units to be found locally and the shipping charges nearly doubled the cost.  Definitely not something I could afford.

Last night, I once again decided to check with the local home improvement stores in our area for the canning shelving unit I wanted.  To my surprise, I found one.  It wasn’t at the store, but they did offer free shipping to the store.  I ordered it and should have it in a week or two.  Christmas is coming early this year!

Isn’t it funny how something like a metal shelving unit can make one’s day.  I remember when I was a child, it seemed like I had unlimited wants.  I always wanted more toys, more clothes, more friends, more everything.  As I’ve gotten older, my wants have become simpler, fewer, and far less frivolous.  Having a place to call home, food on the table, my family with me, and our health are more important than any material things.  Still, on occasion there are those things that bring added comfort and something as simple as another shelving unit to store the food for me to prepare for my family is one of those things. It absolutely made my day when I hit that “Place Order” button.

Knowing a shelving unit is on the way, I was thrilled to try yet another mixes-in-jars recipe this afternoon.  Today’s choice was a chocolate peanut butter cookie.  The recipe as written produced a dry dough and the cookies turned out crumbly and not very chocolatey.  Thankfully, I only  baked a dozen like that.  In order to remedy the dough, I tweaked the recipe and ended up with a crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, chocolatey cookie — a keeper.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

The cookie on the left was the original recipe - dry and brittle.  The cookie on the right was after I tweaked the recipe -- much better.

The cookie on the left was the original recipe – dry and brittle. The cookie on the right was after I tweaked the recipe — much better.

  • 1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Espresso Powder or Instant Coffee
  • 1/2 Cup Butter Softened
  • 1/4 Cup Butter Melted
  • 1/2 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 Egg, Slightly Beaten
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix to combine leaving a well in the center. Add softened butter, peanut butter, beaten egg, and vanilla to dry ingredients.  Blend with pastry blender, dough will be crumbly.  Add melted butter and chocolate chips and mix until dough is smooth.  This might be easiest done by hand as the dough is rather stiff.

Shape dough into walnut size balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Press balls down with fork.  Bake in 350 oven for 9 to 11 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet one minute then cool on wire rack.

This recipe yielded 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

To prepare mix for jars, layer dry ingredients in order listed above, packing down firmly as you go.  Vacuum seal and attach label that reads:

Empty contents of jar into mixing bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Add 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, beaten egg, and 1 tsp. vanilla to dry ingredients.  Blend with pastry blender.  Add 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/2 – 3/4 cup chocolate chips and mix until dough is smooth.  Shape dough into walnut size balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Press balls down with fork.  Bake in 350 oven for 9 to 11 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet one minute then cool on wire rack.

Another mix to get ready for the new shelving unit, another recipe trial success, another thing that’s makes me — Simply Grateful.

Homemade White Cheddar Thumbprint Crackers/Cookies

Last summer the two jalapeno pepper plants I planted yielded more than 300 peppers.  After canning more jars than I would need in a single year, using some in daily meals, gifting some to the neighbors and family, and freezing some just in case I found another use for them, I still had more peppers than I knew what to do with.  As usual, this brought me to the internet to search for uses for these wonderfully hot peppers.

Jalepeno Peppers

Jalapeno Peppers

One recipe I found was for Jalapeno Jelly.  Thrilled with this new recipe, I made a full batch and put it on the pantry shelf, hoping to find a use for it sometime in the future.  To be honest, I was sort of afraid to even try it.  I like hot things, but jalapeno’s are so very hot, that even testing this jelly was not something I could bring myself to do.

Last week, after I made my Cranberry-Tangerine Spread, I bought some water crackers to eat it on.  Remembering seeing an advertisement where someone used jalapeno jelly over cream cheese and served it with water crackers, I decided to finally test the jelly.  I fixed two crackers.  First I spread a thin layer of cream cheese on each cracker and then a thin layer of jalapeno jelly.  Not wanting to go through this experiment alone, I took the crackers to Hubby and we ate them together.  What a surprise!  I was expecting the jelly to be hot — not sweet. It was both hot and sweet which was a total shock.  Why, I’m not really sure as the recipe called for lots of sugar, but I guess I never thought beyond the hotness.

Hubby absolutely loved it and proceeded to follow me back out to the kitchen and make himself a plate full of crackers.  Totally thrilled, my mind began to race with the possibilities.  I remembered printing off a recipe for a thumbprint cookie that called for hot pepper jelly as the center.  Perfect.  Not only would I have another use for all the jalapeno jelly, but hopefully have a new appetizer worthy of serving to guests.

The recipe I printed off used several ingredients that Hubby doesn’t like — nuts for one.  He isn’t fond of having nuts in any cookie or dip I make.  So, I tweaked the recipe a bit and came up with the following:

White Cheddar Thumbprint Cookies

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  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Sharp White Cheddar Cheese (I used Cracker Barrel)
  • 1/2 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Butter Softened
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper
  • 1 Cup Flour

Toppings (optional):

  • Hot Pepper Jelly
  • Cream Cheese
  1. In a food processor, pulse together cheeses and butter until smooth.
  2. Add egg yolk and pepper.  Pulse until blended.
  3. Add flour to food processor and pulse until dough forms.
  4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. At this point you can make an indentation in the center of each ball with your thumb if you wish or use a meat tenderizer as I did to press the cookies flat.
  6. Place cookie tray in fridge for 15 minutes.
  7. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, until lightly golden.  Cool on baking sheet.
  8. If you want to top, place a small amount of hot pepper jelly in the center of each cookie or a small amount of cream cheese and top with hot pepper jelly.

Hubby loved these cookies with and without the jalapeno jelly.  I made the first tray of cookies with thumb indentations and the second pressed flat.

This recipe can be tweaked in many ways.  I can’t wait to try them using different cheeses and possibly some cayenne pepper.  The white cheddar made the flavor of these cookies very similar to that of a Cheez-It, but the texture was far superior and the flavor more pronounced. A definite keeper for my recipe box.

I’m not as open-minded as I’d like to be when it comes to trying new foods, but I’m getting better.  Having Hubby around as a willing guinea pig is a big help in this department, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

Christmas Cookie #9 – Cookie Candy Cups

Although Christmas is over, I am still playing catch-up when it comes to updating my blog with the Christmas cookies I managed to make this year.  My goal was 12.  I’ve got a few more to post, but I’m not sure I quite made it to 12.  Still, I made lots of other desserts this year, so certainly no regrets.

This recipe starts with my all-time favorite cookie base – Nestle Toll House Cookies.  As much as I love chocolate chip cookies, I love the Nestle Toll House cookie batter baked without morsels as much as I love it with, sometimes even more.  Because of this, I decided to use it as the base for these very versatile cookies.  Versatile in that you can add practically any chocolate-type candy you like.  I used Rolo’s, Peanut Butter Cups, and Hershey Kisses, but you could easily use miniature Snicker’s, Milky Ways, Nestle’s Crunch, or any other’s you can come up with.

Cookie Candy Cups

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Original Toll House Cookie Dough:

  • 2 1/4 Cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Butter, softened
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 2 Eggs

Candy:

  • Rolo
  • Peanut Butter Cups
  • Hershey Kisses

Preheat oven to 375.  In large bowl combine butter, sugars, and vanilla, beat until creamy.  Beat in eggs.  Gradually add dry ingredients.

Roll teaspoons full of dough into balls and place in mini muffin tin lined with paper liners.  Bake 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately press unwrapped chocolates into center of each muffin cup.

These were a big hit with the kids as well as the adults that visited our home this holiday season. Definitely a cookie I’ll be making again throughout the year, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Christmas Cookie #8 – No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

This cookie is really a cheat cookie if you ask me.  It is too easy to make to be considered cooking.  To me, this tastes more like candy than a cookie, thus why it ended up being made today — the day I spent making Christmas candy.

Back about eight years ago I was working in a fruit market and took the kids with me to work every day — yes, my boss completely supported my choice to home school my children.  Anyway, the employees at the market were all very nice and truly loved my kids and chatting with them.  One morning one of the cashiers came into the office and brought the kids a big plate of these cookies.  Needless to say they were devoured before lunch.  She gave me the recipe and for years it sat in my recipe box with my continued claims of intentions to make them.  It never happened — not until today.

Why I waited so long I’ll never know, but these were so quick and easy and delicious that I can’t wait to make another batch tomorrow after I pick up some more peanut butter.

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

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  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 3 -4 Cups Quick Oats
  • 3 Tbsp. Coco
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla

Combine sugar, coco, milk and butter in pan over medium heat.  Bring to a light boil and then add peanut butter. Cook until melted.  Take off heat, add vanilla and oatmeal.  Drop rounded teaspoon fulls on wax paper.

That’s it!  Quick, easy, and with ingredients I typically have in the pantry — except around Christmas when everything gets low, no matter how much planning I do.

These cookies can pass for candy in my book, or cookies in a pinch.  Today Zeb and I made these, licked the pot clean, and ate nearly half of them already, not a bad way to spend the afternoon, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Christmas Cookie #6 – Soft & Chewy Molasses

So many cookies that are made during the holidays tend to be heavy and sweet.  This particular recipe is neither of those and because of that are one Hubby’s go-to cookies after a day of feasting on holiday treats.

Molasses Cookies

Molasses

  • 3/4 Cup Melted Butter
  • 1 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/3 Cup Molasses
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar for rolling

In mixing bowl combine melted butter, 1 cup sugar, and egg.  Beat until smooth

Stir in molasses.

Combine dry ingredients and spices and blend into molasses mixture.

Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375.  Roll dough into walnut size balls and roll in sugar.  Place cookies 2″ apart on parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.

This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.  I like to bake a dozen at a time, and freeze the remaining balls for later in the season.

The deep flavor of molasses makes these cookies an excellent topper to a heavy meal — not too sweet, soft and chewy.

Half-way done with my goal of 12 different cookies for the holidays, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Christmas Cookie #5 – This is what Christmas smells like – Mincemeat Cookies

Most of the cookies I bake during the holidays, I also make throughout the year.  The one I do not make at any other time of year is mincemeat.  For me, mincemeat is a Christmas tradition, one started long ago when my family still lived in England.

Sometime in the early 1900’s my great-grandmother from my mother’s mother’s side immigrated to New York from England.  With her she brought only a few belongings, among them her recipes and traditions for Christmas.  These included recipes for mincemeat, mince pies, mince cookies, and a very old recipe and bowl set for plum pudding. These traditions and recipes were handed down to my grandmother and then to me.

Yes, there is an obvious skip in generations there.  My mother, although she loves the traditions, had no interest in doing the work.  I on the other hand had no intention of allowing these traditions to be lost.  At the age of 18, when I moved out on my own, I began playing with these recipes, the heart of what epitomizes Christmas for me.

It is rather ironic that I would want to make any of these recipes, because growing up I hated mincemeat and plum pudding.  (Okay, if I used ironic incorrectly here, feel free to correct me.  I never seem to get it right.) Even knowing that eating one bite of plum pudding would guarantee me good luck throughout the coming year, I wouldn’t touch it. Not until after I began making my own mincemeat and plum puddings, did I come to appreciate the wonderfully, deep flavors that take years to develop.

Both mincemeat and plum pudding are recipes that need to be made well in advance of the holidays, we’re talking years here.  The longer these things age, the better they get.  In fact, I would not suggest eating or using either of these things until they are at least a year old.

Of the recipes I use mincemeat for, mincemeat cookies is the only one that I will make days or weeks before Christmas.  Mince pies and plum pudding are saved exclusively for Christmas eve and Christmas day.  I will admit that for many, mincemeat is an acquired taste, along the lines of fruitcake.  Once you get a taste for it, however, it is a taste you will crave all year-long.

Mincemeat Cookies

Mincemeat

  • 10 Tbsp. Butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups Aged Mincemeat
  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 3/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 Cup Walnuts (optional)

Cream shortening and sugar till creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions.  Add mincemeat. Stir in dry ingredients.

Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 for 15 minutes.

I do warn you these cookies are best if eaten within three days, as they do tend to become dry after that point.

Cracking open a jar of homemade, aged mincemeat every December is one thing that screams CHRISTMAS for me. The smell is something that stirs memories of Christmas’s past, family get-togethers, and traditions holding fast through the generations, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.