by guest blogger Kelly Madey,
Every year I dream of a stress-free Christmas as seen on a Hallmark holiday special;
Starring the mom who effortlessly balances work and family, yet still manages
To squeeze in a yoga class, trim the tree, and wrap perfect presents with more skill
Than an elf in the North Pole;
But there is the stark realization that I have yet to order the Christmas cards because I can’t find a recent family photo that doesn’t include a squint, frown or duck face;
Not to mention that this year’s most anticipated gift
Has been backordered until January;
And after sipping way too much eggnog at a recent holiday party,
I am much more comfortable in an oversized sweater, than form fitting workout clothes;
And just when I thought that our holiday was doomed to the same old fate,
There was snow on Tuesday; an unexpected gift from Mother Nature.
And on that day, as the children and I stayed in our pajamas until noon,
Baking cookies and enjoying the half decorated house,
I was liberated from the madness of holiday preparations.
I will not be sending out Christmas cards this year, nor will I string one more light. You will not see me in line at the midnight madness sale on Saturday.
Our life will never be a made-for-television movie;
No, it is classic Dr. Seuss.
It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
May you experience the simple joys of family and baking cookies this holiday season. Please enjoy a few of our family favorites. The recipes are short and sweet, no stress required.
Bittersweet Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
A no-bake recipe with just three ingredients: crackers, chocolate, and peppermint oil.
This recipe was adapted from the original, created by my mother’s friend, Sarah DiMaggio. She appeared on the Martha Stewart Show in 2007 to demonstrate her awesomely easy and delicious recipe. The chocolate and peppermint oil is available at The Larder in Doylestown.
1/8 – ¼ tsp. peppermint oil (not extract)
40 round butter crackers (such as Ritz)
Crushed candy cane (optional)
- Melt chocolate in a bowl set over simmering water or in the microwave.
- Stir in peppermint oil.
- Dip each cracker into melted chocolate using a fork until fully coated. Let excess chocolate drip off the cracker, then place on baking sheets lined with parchment.
- Garnish with crushed candy cane (optional). Let stand until chocolate is set.
Yields approximately 40 cookies
*Be sure to use pure peppermint oil and not extract. Extract contains water which will make the melted chocolate clump.
Flourless Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
An updated version of the classic, with just five ingredients it is quick to put together. You will not miss the flour and your gluten-free friends will be thrilled!
(adapted from Dee Davis, Taste of Home magazine)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar, plus ½ cup
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
24 milk chocolate kisses
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Cream the peanut butter and 1 cup of sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended.
- Roll dough into tablespoon-size balls with your hands. Place remaining ½ cup sugar in a small bowl. Coat the balls of cookie dough in the sugar and place on cookie sheets approximately 2 inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes or until cookie tops are slightly cracked and bottoms are browned.
- Immediately press one chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Let cool.
Yields 24 cookies
Coconut Orange Macaroons
Another naturally gluten-free favorite, perfect for those who are crazy for coconut. This version gets a hint of citrus with fresh orange zest and orange extract.
Be sure that your mixer bowl and whisk are free of grease or oily residue before you whip the egg whites.
(adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style)
14 oz sweetened, shredded coconut (5 1/3 cups)
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
½ tsp pure orange extract
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Combine coconut, condensed milk, orange extract, and zest in a large bowl.
- Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks.
- Fold egg whites into the coconut mixture.
- Drop heaping tablespoon-sized mounds of batter onto two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. You can use damp fingers to shape the batter into neat domes. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes approximately 26
Kelly Madey writes the delicious and beautiful blog, A Bucks County Kitchen.