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Story and photos by Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

As I sit here on a Sunday morning with coffee in hand and warm fuzzy blanket tucked around me, I’m reflecting upon recent activities. A few days with family gathered, fantastic food and great conversations warm my heart with memories.

Somewhere in there though was the kick-off craziness of the Christmas shopping season. Long lines assembled to make a mad dash to merchandise amassed in the aisles and any available open space at retailers big and small. Jam-packed carts rolled with TVs, gaming systems and the latest hot toys. Crazed expressions were on the faces of most as they scanned the choices and grabbed. I noticed one lady was smiling profusely. Being nosey, I asked her if she got everything she came for. She excitedly explained she was buying gifts for a few underprivileged families as part of a giving tree at her office.

My favorite buy is the plastic storage containers. Yep, buying them just for me. However, the smiling lady inspired me. I whipped out my cell phone and pulled up the email from the office which detailed the family we had adopted. Off and running I grabbed a few things from the family’s list. It reminded me of how good giving to others can make you feel.

Giving is not hard. A plate of cookies and fruit for an elderly person, a few cans of vegetables for the local food pantry, a toy to put under a single mother’s Christmas tree or simply a holiday card sent to a soldier overseas can bring the reason for the season to someone else. Share the warmth this month. Get the kids or the grandkids involved. It’s an amazing feeling for both the giver and the receiver.

The ladies group at my church is having a cookie exchange. We each bring a few dozen cookies then swap and plate a variety. Sure, we taste test a few of the “broken ones.” We break into teams and deliver the plates to folks in the community who need a lift in their spirits. It’s an amazing feeling for all involved.

Here are a few of the cookie recipes we use to make a bright and tasty plate.


Soft Glazed Pumpkin Spiced Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup pure pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets or use parchment paper. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Use a cookie scoop to drop about a tablespoon size dollop onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on cookie sheets for about 2 minutes and remove with thin spatula placing onto wire racks. Cool completely and drizzle with glaze.

Glaze: Combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or orange extract) in a small bowl until smooth. Place paper towels under racks before drizzling to make clean up easier. Yield: 36 cookies.


Barb’s Super Sugar Cookies

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 c. flour

Cream butter, shortening and sugar together. Add beaten egg and vanilla. In another bowl, sift dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture. Roll dough into small balls and place on baking tray. Dip the bottom of a glass in sugar and lightly flatten the balls to 1/4-inch thickness. Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes or until golden brown on edges.


Chewy Chocolate Peanut

Butter Bars

Source: Taste of Home

1 c. flour
3/4 c. quick-cooking oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. (4 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 c. dried cranberries

Line a 9- by 13-inch pan with foil with ends extending over the sides; spray with non-stick cooking spray. Mix flour, oats and baking soda until blended. Beat butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mix well. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing well after each addition. Stir in chocolate and cranberries. Gently press mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 20 minutes at 350 F. Cool completely. Use foil handles to lift dessert from pan before cutting into bars.


Holiday Spiced Nuts

Wrap these in colored plastic wrap and tie with a ribbon to place in the middle of your cookie tray. So pretty and so tasty.

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. walnut halves
1 1/2 c. pecan halves
1 c. almonds
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Preheat oven to 250 F. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in nuts. Add Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, salt, cinnamon, allspice and cloves; stir well to coat all nuts. Toss onto a parchment paper covered cookie sheet and spread to one layer. Bake 15 minutes then use a large spatula to flip the nuts over. Bake an additional 15 minutes.


Cherry Mash Candy

This traditional candy is a nice addition to any cookie plate or can be wrapped separately in a decorative box with tissue paper for gifting.

2 c. sugar
12 large marshmallows or 1 1/4 c. mini marshmallows
Dash of salt
1 pkg. (12 oz.) salted peanuts (or bagged chopped peanuts)
1 pkg. (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 c. evaporated milk
1/2 c. butter
1 pkg. (12 oz.) cherry chips
3/4 c. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Finely chop peanuts. Stir sugar, milk, marshmallows, butter and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes stirring often. Remove pan from stove and add cherry chips and vanilla. Pour into a buttered 9- by 13-inch glass baking pan. Chill one hour. Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter and then stir in peanuts. Spread over cherry mix and chill at least one hour before cutting.


Lemon Snowballs

1/2 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
1 3/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. finely chopped almonds
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and egg until well blended. Add lemon juice and peel. Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into creamed mixture. Add almonds. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour or overnight. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove immediately to wire racks; cool for 5 minutes, then roll in confectioner’s sugar. Yield: 3 dozen.


Sweet & Salty Pretzel Cookies

These cookies will appeal to the adult palate with their mix of sweet coconut and salty pretzels! Use a fresh bag of coconut for a moist cookie. Do not crush the pretzels or the cookies will be hard. Break them into 1/4-inch pieces.

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 c. miniature pretzels, broken
1 1/2 c. flaked sweetened coconut
1 1/2 c. candy-coated milk chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Beat into creamed mixture a tablespoonful at a time. Stir in pretzels, coconut and chocolate pieces. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (or use ungreased baking sheets). For large cookies, use an ice cream scoop and place 3-inches apart; bake 12 to 14 minutes. For medium cookies, use a tablespoon cookie scoop and place 2-inches apart; bake 9 to 11 minutes. Cookies should be golden brown. Cool on pan for 2 minutes and remove to wire rack to completely cool before storing.

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