“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening…” AGH!!! “Do you hear what I hear…” DOH!!!! How is it December already??? Somehow I let December sneak up on me. Maybe I didn’t really notice what month it was since the holiday decorations went up the moment we finished stuffing our faces with Halloween candy…or was that turkey and stuffing? Ah well, It’s December! Time to be festive, feast and get your fill of framily (friend + family).

With that said and the initial shock behind me, I am all about it. We have our tickets to Charlotte’s 62-year-old holiday tradition of the Singing Christmas Tree, we will be dressed in our PJs in the North pole ready to journey on the Polar Express (In IMAX of course) and strolling through Gingerbread Lane. I am ready to feast and to be festive. I have confirmed my attendance to two holiday parties – the kind with spiked eggnog AND got the girls Christmas craft already planned. BUT what I am not ready for is the amount of time I will be spending in the kitchen.

bird-and-cookiesDecember should be known as the “Sparkling Bake-a-palooza” of the year. Currently there are 5 invitations in my inbox for cookie exchanges.  Not saying this is a bad thing but I am always overwhelmed with the idea that someone is wanting me to bake like 7 dozen cookies…in my kitchen. Let’s be real about this whole thing – there is no way I can make it to 5 cookie exchanges. While I would love to attend them all and just show up with a box of Nilla wafers and a bottle of wine to a few of them, I am pretty sure that would be greeted with many frowns from many brown sugar dusted women…soooo 3 it is. My goal is to make it to 3 cookie exchanges and put in a little more effort than a box of Nillas and CVS Moscato.  I have dug deep into the pile of cookbooks that decorate my kitchen shelf and I have scoured the internet far and wide (also known as perusing Pinterest) to find recipes that will work for me. Today I will share with you my three cookie recipes.

First let me give you my disclaimer. Baking is one of my favorite things to do. It’s a lot like science – well it is science. I love it, However, I will NOT be partaking in ANY recipes that have a long list of ingredients or require me to use a double boiler or wait for things to rise or that will be in danger of falling.I’m saving all those recipes for my retirement. After all, I have to make 7 dozen of these things 3 times this month after I have worked all day and finagled through my afternoon with an eight-year-old and a five-year-old. An eight-year-old and a five-year-old who will want to help no doubt. So for this reason – simple, delicious and uncomplicated is the name of the game. I have recipes that fall into one of these categories: The Tried and True, Something Seasonal and Something New.

THE TRIED AND TRUE: Old Fashioned Soft Sugar Cookies

Source Inspiration: Americanheritagecooking.com and Cookies (Good Housekeeping Favorite Recipes)

One of the first recipes I really became comfortable with is the sugar cut-out cookie recipe.  I make them at least 3 or 4 times a year. The basic recipe I use is the one in the Good Housekeeping Cookie cookbook that my mom gave me when I first moved into my home.  It’s a good recipe! However, what I have learned over the years is that I really appreciate a good soft fluffy sugar cookie so I have been searching for a new recipe. I stumbled upon the blog American Heritage Cooking.  The blogs author, Lindsey, prides herself on cooking food that reflects classic American cuisine. Here recipe for Grandma’s Old Fashioned Soft Sugar cookies seem to be exactly what I’m looking for.

Grandmas Old Fashioned Soft Sugar Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 40 minutes | Total Time: 10 hours

My Grandmas Old Fashioned Soft Sugar Cookies are pillowy soft and delightfully chewy without even a hint of crunch!  The cookies themselves aren’t overly sweet but they are begging, demanding even, to be iced! click HERE to get the full recipe!!

SOMETHING SEASONAL: Five Minute Holiday Cookies

Source Inspiration: Picky-Palate.com

I have high hopes of donning my apron and moving about my kitchen in clouds of confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder to make dozens and dozens of perfectly decorated holiday cookies.  But listen, I’m a realist and I always need a plan B in my pocket. You know how I said I would love to show up to a few of those cookie exchanges with a box of Nilla Wafers and a bottle of wine; I may actually be able to use that box of Nillas.  Jenny at the Picky Palate blog has a recipe for five-minute holiday cookies that takes a box Nilla Wafer cookies and turns them into a holiday celebration on a plate! And the best part is that you can make a dozen in 5 MINUTES!!!

5 Minute Holiday Cookie

Prep time: 5 min | Cook time: 0 min | Total time: 5 min

Melt chocolate melts according to package direction. Dip Nilla Wafer Cookies into melted chocolate and lay onto a sheet of parchment paper. While chocolate is still warm, sprinkle tops of cookies with toppings of your choice. I used mini chocolate chips, crushed candy cane pieces and mini M and M candies. Use whatever small candy or sprinkle you have in the pantry! Place cookies in the freezer for 2 minutes to set chocolate. Serve room temperature. Click HERE to get more details!!


SOMETHING NEW: Cinnamon Bun Cookie

Source Inspiration: Wannacomewith.com or  Picky-Palate.com

So one of my favorite dessert indulgences is the Cinnamon Bun. Can’t you just smell it??  SOOOO thie idea of a cinnamon bun cookie seems like a great idea.  It sounds like something I would like to try. As I scoured and drooled through the many many delicious cookie recipes that live in the internet, I found two that seemed doable to me. One from a blog called Wanna Come With and one that I am leaning towards a little more from my old pal Jenny at Picky Palate’s online Kitchen. Jenny’s recipe is a variation on a sugar cookie, while the other one is a roll-out cookie which seem a bit more labor intensive. I’m looking forward to trying out this new recipe!

Cinnamon Bun Cookies

Adapted from Cookies at Home with The Culinary Institute of America by Todd Knaster. If you roll your dough out exactly 12″, and slice your cookies exactly 1/4″, you’ll get 48 cookies out of this recipe.Click HERE to get the full recipe and all the gooey details.

So I have three recipes to work with,  I have my online shopping cart at Harris Teeter loaded with granulated sugar, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, butter and eggs.  I am read to put on my apron and whisk ahead full on into the Sparkling Bake-a-palooza. How do you prepare for cookie exchanges? What are your go to cookie recipes?