I absolutely love to bake, but it seems I never get to do it as much as I want because I don't have the time. Holiday baking is my favorite because I love taking some of our favorite treats to all our family gatherings.
This weekend I hosted the high school Madrigal singers after one of their performances and so I wanted to make a lot of cookies for them. So, as soon as I arrived home from church on Sunday, I got right to work.
Jessie Steele (featured in Sex and the City 2 and in many live-casts from Magnolia's Bakeries) is wanting people to get back to bringing families together over the holidays through family meals and sharing goodies. Jessie Steele is the market leader in fashionable aprons by focusing on celebrations, femininity, style, and happiness. Her aprons, bags, totes, and kitchen textiles would make the perfect gift this holiday season! She offers aprons for adults as well as children like this cute Gingerbread Man Apron!
I received this fun Paris Print Apron to wear during my holiday baking this season and I just love it. It's light and is fun to wear. I love the ruffles and the bow that set it off. This particular pattern has mini Eiffel Towers all over the apron. I can pretend I'm baking in Paris, right? What I like about this apron is that it is a heavier fabric, but NOT heavy. Does that make sense? I have another apron that I used to wear all the time but it is heavy. After wearing it for a couple hours, my neck gets sore from the weight around my neck. I wore this Jessie Steele apron for 4 hours and never even noticed.
When I am starting a baking marathon, I love getting everything out at once so I am not constantly going to the fridge or cabinets to get an item out again. I can't imagine baking without my KitchenAid Mixer. It is a necessary item for marathon baking!
The first recipe I knew I wanted to make are my Grandma Hazel's Spritz Cookies. They are a requirement at our family Christmas. Grandma Hazel is my mom's mom and she would have been 100 this year, but sadly passed away when my mom was just 17. But, mom always told me that she would make these every year for Christmas and I want to do the same. They are a delicate cookie that is bite size and gives just a bit of sweetness. The other fun part is you can change up the flavors so easily and really have fun with it.
You do need a cookie press for this recipe. I use this one from Pampered Chef, but you could also try THIS ONE from Kuhn Rikon which is very similar.
Your cookie press will come with various plates to insert that will create different patterns of cookies. My favorites are always the flower, the wreath, and the Christmas tree.
Once you press them onto the pan, you can add sprinkles or sugars before baking. Since they are such a small cookie, they only take a few minutes to bake up. I set my timer for 6 minutes and that was perfect. (Except for the batch I completely forgot about and didn't hear the timer and they were quite burnt!) You can add food coloring to the dough also. I like adding green to the dough when I make the trees.
I also love to make cut-out sugar cookies. I always get compliments on them and even though I am not talented at decorating, they are still delicious. I love using my mother-in-law's cookie cutters when we make our Christmas cookies. She has been in heaven for 10 years this week and we still miss her presence every day.
My secret to making the cut-out sugar cookies is I use the Betty Crocker mix. I know, I know...I should be making them from scratch, but this recipe is so easy and delicious why recreate the wheel. These whip up super fast and I can have sugar cookies in the oven in just minutes. Once they cool I can frost/decorate them up in no time.
Our kids even love to help decorate the cookies so it can really be a fun family time activity. Each child can choose their cookie cutter shape and decorate "their" cookies however they want. My tip for you though is to make sure you bake the same shape of cookies together in one pan. That way the cookies will all bake up at the same rate. For example, candy cane cookies are skinny and bake up quicker than these bell shaped cookies. You don't want your cookies to have brown edges.
Using my new Christmas plate from my dear friend, Becky makes the holidays even more special. Seeing all the kids in our home having fun and enjoying the cookies made my heart overflow with joy. If there would happen to be any leftovers, you can place both of these in a container between layers of wax paper and freeze them til your next gathering. They will stay fresh like you just baked them.
GRANDMA HAZEL'S SPRITZ COOKIES
3/4 Cup Butter
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
2 C Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
Cream Butter and Sugar until fluffy, beating well. Add egg and extract, then beat until fluffy. Gradually add dry ingredients. Beat well. Put dough into cookie press and press onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Decorate with colored sugars and sprinkles if desired. Bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes watching closely. Makes about 3 dozen cookies depending on your chosen shape.
Additional variations include:
Chocolate Cookies: Add 1 Tbsp cocoa with 1 tsp of water.
Add Peppermint or orange extract for a different flavored cookie
I hope your holidays are full of laughter, the joy of being with family, and delicious food. May you have the merriest of Christmases and a new year full of blessings.
To see all of Jessie Steeles products, check out her website, HERE.
I will be linking up this post on Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking. Every Saturday she offers a place for bloggers to share any kind of food-related posts such as book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. To see all the posts, click HERE.
Thanks to SheBlogs and Jessie Steele for sending me this apron and helping to promote #BringHappyHomefortheHolidays. This is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase a product through some of the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com.