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Holly jolly

By Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

Cue the sounds of holiday music and scents of pine and cinnamon. Sprinkle the night sky with twinkle lights and fill our souls with the warmth of a mug of mulled apple cider. But just for a moment. Because the hustle and bustle of the holiday party season, the race to get the gi. deal of the day and pressure of feeding a crowd are about to take over.

Every year we vow to be less harried in December and focus more on family and the lessons the season can bring us. I guess the folks at Sutton Central get caught up in the marketing frenzy that takes over the 12th month of the year because for all our efforts to resist it, we too join the chase.

When really we just long to build memories with our kids. To reconnect to loved ones. To serve a family in need. Or to simply have a holly jolly Christmas. The lyrics to this song are pretty good advice:

Have a holly, jolly Christmas;
It's the best time of the year.
I don't know if there'll be snow
but have a cup of cheer.
Have a holly, jolly Christmas;
And when you walk down the street,
Say 'Hello' to friends you know,
and everyone you meet.

Johnny Marks, composer


Pumpkin Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

1 (18.25-oz) pkg. yellow cake mix
1 large egg 8 Tbsp. butter, melted

Filling:

1 (8-oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 (15-oz.) can pure pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl of a stand mixer, combine cake mix, egg and butter; mix well. Evenly pat the cake batter into the bottom of a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla and butter, and beat together. Continue mixing and slowly add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice; mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 50 minutes. Center will be moist but spring back when lightly pressed. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate overnight and serve with whipped topping.


Apron Strings Best Cut-Out Cookie Recipe

Ingredients:

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp. almond extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together all dry ingredients; set aside.

2. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter, eggs and almond extract. Continue to mix and slowly add dry ingredients until dough is combined.

3. Roll out the dough on a floured surface or pastry mat. Use star-shaped cookie cutter.

4. Bake 10 minutes, remove from oven and let cookies cool 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Once completely cooled, frost.


Apron Strings Tips to make your holiday baking a sweet success

1. Make a plan and work your plan.

I'm a list lady and it keeps me on track throughout the holiday season. I purchase an inexpensive journal with an inspirational quote on the front. This serves as my "holiday guide." I enjoy browsing recipes and when one catches my eye I like to copy it and paste it into my notebook on the right-hand side. On the left-hand side I jot down notes and thoughts such as "good for cookie exchange" or "Lia would love this cake." I can then go back and add notes if I want to adjust a recipe or remember something for next year.

2. Make a supplies grocery list.

I first start by inspecting all of my seasonings and baking supplies. Out-of-date items are culled and anything that has been opened for a while, such as brown sugar, is replaced. The supplies grocery list includes anything I'll need for my favorite recipes during the holidays and seasonal items like molasses and pecans. Once I open the new supplies, I mark the date on the package. Starting with fresh baking soda and baking powder is a key to baking success.

3. Preheat your oven.

Always make sure your oven is fully preheated before you begin baking. Placing doughs and batters in an oven when the temperature is still fluctuating can impair browning, rising or result in under or over-cooked centers.

4. Use the right tools.

Use liquid measuring cups to measure liquids only. Using liquid measuring cups to measure dry ingredients will result in inaccurate measurements. When measuring sticky ingredients, such as molasses or honey, lightly coat your measuring utensil with cooking spray so that the ingredient will slide right out and ensure you get an accurate amount of the ingredient in your recipe.

5. Food safety rules.

Following food safety guidelines is important when you are baking, particularly if you intend to gift your baked items. Be particular about how long your cream cheese sits on the countertop or your eggs as they come to room temperature.

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