I love Gingerbread in all shapes and sizes. I don’t love making those rolled out, cut, and decorated cookies so much. So, I found the perfect happy medium. These Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies are chewy on the inside and full of spice. I’m daydreaming about them now.

Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup  dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons Red Stick Spice Gingerbread Spice blend

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

3/4 cup sorghum molasses

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Stir together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add the butter pieces. Mix at medium speed with a hand mixer until the mixture is sandy and resembles fine meal. With the mixer running, gradually add the molasses and milk. Mix until the dough is evenly moistened. Mix until thoroughly combined. Scrape the dough onto a work surface; divide it in half. Working with one portion at a time, shape the dough into two round disks. Cover them in plastic wrap and freeze until firm, or refrigerate the dough overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the two baking sheets with parchment paper or a baking mat. Take the cookie dough out of the fridge and begin rolling the dough into balls, about 2-inches in diameter. Be careful not to overwork the dough as it will lose its chill and get too warm. Roll each dough ball in the granulated sugar until coated. Transfer ball to confectioners’ sugar and roll again until coated evenly. Place the coated dough balls 1-inch apart from each other on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the cookies until set in the centers, 12 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool the cookies on the sheets, and then remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Store gingerbread crinkle cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

There’s only one week left until Christmas Day, and I thought I’d come from under my research in postpartum blogs and recipes of lactation cookies (If you missed it, baby Wes is finally here; and I have the cutest cousin in the world now.) to share my favorite part of Christmas with you.

Ever since my Nannie, Doris Guido, passed away 10 years ago, Christmas has been a little grayer and a little less magical without her. Thankfully I have several pieces of her around my house to make it feel like she’s still around, and at Christmas time she’s everywhere because of her ornaments and decor I now call my own.

She was a stickler for her white flocked tree and giving it a very mauve and pastel appearance with its decorations. The living room it lived in was one of antique furniture in floral patterns and pink, plush velvet, so traditional reds and greens just didn’t fit. She also liked to embellish the decor a little (ok, maybe a lot) with little hints of ribbon and holly. Don’t even get me started on her gift wrapping. Each present under the tree was carefully wrapped, tied with a real ribbon, and donned with extras like snowflakes or holly.

However, one little bit of extra has always stuck out to me. Her collection of mid-century ornaments with painted frost over the aqua blue glass tucked in so nicely to her tree. One of the ornaments was special though and received the Nannie touch. She added a small spring of faux holly to the top of the bauble. Today, it is always featured on my bedroom tree with the rest of her ornaments, and it’s my favorite to find the perfect placement for each year.

Having those little pieces of her make Christmas happy again and make these last ten years without her seem a little less gray.

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Yet another recipe from Suzi’s book of favorites. She always talks about her mother making these overnight cookies when she was growing up. What a fun project with your kiddos this weekend?!

Goodnight Cookies

2 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

6 ounces chocolate chips

3/4 cup nuts (pecans), chopped

Dash vanilla extract

Dash cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold in the remaining ingredients until combined. Drop mixture by the teaspoon on a foil-lined baking sheet. Put in the oven, turn off the heat, and forget until morning.

 

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It’s time to get on my soap box for my top pet peeve — the gift of puppies at Christmas. I know. It is adorable. Those kids are thrilled. All is right in the world while that puppy plays in piles of discarded wrapping paper.

BUT. Think about a week later when you’ve been up all night and the kids are snug in their beds. Think about what happens when they go back to school and you’re back at work in January. Most people aren’t lucky like I am to have a built in doggie daycare in the form of MawMaw and PawPaw (also known as Paul and Suz). You’ll be tempted to make that post on Facebook to re-home that little ball of fur.

Don’t get me wrong. I always asked for puppies at Christmas, but we are a different breed of dog people (and my parents knew how to say no). When we were growing up, our dogs stayed outside; but we played with them. We would come home from school, get into the backyard, and spend hours running around the yard with the dogs. We didn’t play video games. We didn’t have the internet until I was in the 8th grade. Our dogs were our after-school activity. Now that I’m an adult and have 2 children, I mean, dogs of my own, nothing makes me madder than seeing those people who had to give in to their kids’ wishlists and get them a puppy post they are ready to regift a family member.

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Now, here comes the warning. If you have the slightest thought of getting a puppy for Christmas for your kids this year, go ahead and unfriend me. Block me on Instagram. I’ll be watching you otherwise. And when you go back in mid February and make that post saying “free to a good home” or “we just don’t have time for him”, beware. I’ll call you out  on that post because you are the worst of the worst. I won’t feel bad about it either. Your kids will eventually move on and forget, but that dog won’t. Dogs get attached. Dogs become a part of the family the moment you bring them home and begin to trust you. When you give them away or let them run off or don’t have time for them, that changes that dog.

So, you’ve been warned. Merry Christmas. Get them a stuffed animal instead.

As a Christmas present the first year that my parents were married, my grandmother gifted a custom-bound book to fill with her favorite recipes. I’ve seen this book come out of the cabinet all of my life and know that it is filled with recipes that I’ve grown up with and love. One particular recipe that I demand make it’s appearance each Christmas season is for my favorite cookie, Childhood Thumbprint Cookies. The dough is that of a buttery shortbread, and it is filled with a dark fudgey chocolate that I could eat by the spoonful (and maybe have over the years).

 

Childhood Thumbprint Cookies

For dough:

1 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

For frosting:

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup cocoa

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make the dough, cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour and salt. Mix well and chill. Roll into 1-inch balls and flatten with thumb. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

To make the frosting, cook sugar, cocoa, butter, and milk. Bring to a boil. Boil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Beat until the desired consistency (a thick, shiny fudge). Top each cookie thumbprint with a teaspoon full of chocolate and allow to harden. Keep in an airtight container (and hidden so no one else will eat them).

 

Maybe the average Christmas tree parent doesn’t encounter issues with their decor. Maybe it’s like a free-for-all of tree problems at my winter wonderland because there is one in each room. However, when I came home Sunday night to find my birds and squirrel themed tree on my dining room floor, I felt like I was in the twilight tree zone. After a second tumble while I was in the shower, I was ready to get a new one and throw that particular artificial tree on the curb.

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BUT when Mom and Dad stopped by Monday morning to assess the damage, they found a possible culprit. Jo (the Beagle) was happily running through the house with one of the bird ornaments that resembles a ball of yarn. I mean, the tree is dedicated to she and Jackie’s favorite prey; but after having it up every year, I figured that they were over the tree ornament grab and run. Maybe not. We still have a few weeks to go.

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What do I remember most about Christmas morning at Nannie and PawPaw’s? (Other than the flocked, white tree?) I remember my grandfather, TJ Guido, carefully making up a punch bowl filled with homemade Egg Nog. He spent time whipping the cream by hand and making sure to get the recipe just right. Of course, it was the adult version of egg nog, so I never indulged. Now, I’m still not a fan, but Paul Guido sure is. Here is the recipe they went by year after year.

Egg Nog

1 carton whipping cream

12 eggs, separated

2 cups sugar

1 pint whiskey (or rum)

1/2 gallon sweet milk

Nutmeg

Beat cream. Blend yolks and sugar. Add to cream. Add the milk. Fold in egg whites. Add whiskey. Sprinkle nutmeg on each cup to taste. Can put in punch bowl and will not separate.