Stressed is really just desserts spelled backwards

With everything going on during the holidays, the last thing you need to do is reinvent the Christmas cookie. Take these suggestions for tasty treats and cut yourself a little slack. Above all, remember to have a very merry Christmas!

Santa’s candy stripers 

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup real butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Mix sugar, butter, eggs and extract. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Divided dough in half. Tint half with food coloring. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. For each candy cane, shape one teaspoon dough of each color into 5 inch rope. Roll back and form for smooth, even strips. Place one red and one white strip side by side. Press together lightly and twist into candy-cane shape.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Curve top down to form handle of cane. Bake until very light brown, about 7 to 9 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Italian Christmas cookies

Italian Christmas cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract (or almond extract)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (may need up to 3 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 -3 tablespoons milk

ICING

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon anise extract
  • food coloring
  • decorative candy sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

For cookies, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add anise extract.

Blend flour and baking powder. Start by adding about 1/3 of these dry ingredients to the butter/sugar in your mixer, then add 1 T. milk. Add another third of the flour and another 1 T. milk. Finally, mix in enough of the remaining flour until your dough is like a brownie batter (it should be softer than a drop cookie dough).

Use a 1 T. cookie scooper to make simple round drop cookies — use wet fingers to pat any rough edges OR for an Easter-Egg look, roll 1 T. dough into an elongated ball.

Bake cookies 10-12 minutes (they won’t be brown but the insides will be soft and cake-like).

For icing: mix sugar, milk and extract to make a sugar glaze. HINT: When I make the icing, I make it thick but then I microwave it for 10 seconds so it is thin enough for dipping. Also, I like to divide the mixture in thirds, and then add ONE DROP of food coloring to each batch (pink, green, yellow).

Hold cookie in your hand and turn upside down so you can dip the top half in the glaze; turn over and immediately top with sprinkles so they will stick.

Allow icing to harden overnight; then store in air-tight containers or freeze.

Holiday fireside treats

  • 2 cups butter (l lb.)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs (plus some egg white from another egg.)
  • 4 cups flour, sifted
  • Pecans — 1 cup or more

Holiday fireside treats

Cream soft butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Add flour gradually. Take a teaspoon of batter and roll in hand ,about the size of a marble. Place on a cookie sheet and press down with a fork crosswise. Brush a little egg white on cookie to make the pecan stick as you press the pecan on top.

Bake at 350 Degrees about 12 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Winter wonderland wisps

  • 1 envelope Knox Gelatin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup light Karo syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup water

Put vanilla and Karo syrup in 2-quart mixing bowl. In a double-boiler, mix cold water and gelatin until disolved. Add sugar, stir until dissolved. When it’s hot, add to bowl with karo and vanilla. Beat on high until it’s stiff like a marshmallow, about 15 minutes. Pour and scoop into 9×9 pan, sprayed lightly with cooking spray.

Let set in a cool dry room. Cut into squares and roll in nuts or coconut. Can also be cut into holiday shapes. Use a toothpick or cotton swab to decorate with food coloring.

Jolly jelly thumbprints

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 to 1-2 cup jam or preserves

Separate eggs; place yolk and whites in separate bowls (skip this step if you use eggbeaters or other substitute, obviously). Cover and chill egg whites until needed. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a cookie sheet; set aside. shape dough into 1-inch balls. Slightly beat reserved egg whites. Roll balls in egg whites, then in walnuts to coat. Place balls 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each ball of dough.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light brown. Transfer to wire rack and let cool. Just before serving, fill cookie center with jam.

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