A Little Yule Cheer: Day 18 (Inspiration: December)

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Are your feeling overwhelmed or scroogy yet?  I hope not, but it can happen to the best of us in the midst of endless preparations, activities, and celebrations.  Perhaps you need a time out?  Grab a hot drink, make yourself comfortable and take a few minutes to recharge.  I’ve found some no-pressure links to inspire and recharge your spirit this holiday season.  It’s OK to allow  yourself some down time.  Enjoy!

Inspiration: December

  • Taking cookies to the next level.  SweetAmbs creates the cutest penguin cookies ever!  If you have time, check out her snowglobe cookies, too. ( I just enjoy watching the videos and listening to the music).
  • Food 52 shares even more baking tips than I do.  Rolling dough between pieces of plastic wrap when it is still soft and then chilling it is genius.  I’ll have to give that a try.
  • Snowflake bread.  Beautiful!
  • Slowing down the holiday madness.  Laura Gaskill provides very doable words of wisdom.
  • Ann Voskamp takes the matter even more seriously.  She doesn’t just want to slow Christmas down, she wants to turn it upside down.
  • This advice on decorating for Christmas from The Lazy Genius Collective continues the theme of mindful Christmas preparations.
  • Two holiday weekends are looming on the horizon.  Read this for some suggestions on how to spend the time off.  I see much movie watching, book reading and game playing in my future.
  • Are you feeling a bit crafty?  These paper snowflakes look pretty easy and are very pretty.
  • For book lovers: Check out NPR’s Best Books of 2015.  A very interesting list.  Because I’ve been working so hard to reduce my To Be Read (TBR) pile, I’ve hardly read any of the books mentioned.
  • Check this list out from Live Renewed for “life changing” faith-based reading recommendations.
  • Even though I probably won’t finish Popsugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge ( I still have 9.5 books to go), the 2016 Reading Challenge is posted.  It sounds very tempting.
  • If you love A Christmas Carol as much as I do, you might enjoy seeing the home Charles Dickens lived in while he was establishing his career as a writer.  You can take a tour here at Houzz.
  • My favorite secular Christmas tune…

A Little Yule Cheer: Day 14 (Sour Cream Sugar Cookies)

There are so many things I could say about sour cream sugar cookies:

  1.  They are the perfect miniature version of the big cakey Pennsylvania Dutch sugar cookies seen around here at farmer’s markets and bakeries – soft and airy with a just-sweet-enough frosting.
  2. They are e-a-s-y to mix up and bake.  If you bake even occasionally, you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry or fridge.
  3. Their potential for decorating possibilities is endless.  For anyone who likes messing with colored frosting, sprinkles, non-pareils, and sanding sugar, these cookies are the bomb.
  4. They are a cornerstone in my husband’s family’s Christmas culinary traditions.  I’m sure there would be grave disappointment if Grandma ever came to Christmas brunch without her anticipated cookies; some might even think the earth would cease rotating on its axis.  The recipe is my mother-in-law’s and I’m grateful she shared it with me.
  5. Even though they make adorable Christmas cookies,  they aren’t just for Christmas.  Seasonal sprinkles make these an adaptable cookie recipe for any time of year.

All of the above statements are true and interesting.  However, the most relevant and compelling thing I will say, as I sit here stuffing yet another sugar cookie in my mouth, is that you need to make these cookies just because they are so. darn. good.  Seriously.

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Sour Cream Sugar Cookies (adapted from Arlene Yoder’s recipe)

2 cups sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

4 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Cream the sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla for 7 – 8 minutes.  Whisk dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Gently fold each addition into the batter.

Place cookie dough (still in mixing bowl) in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.  This step is optional but the cookies are plumper and spread less during baking if you do it.  It will not change the flavor or texture of the cookie at all so if you are pressed for time, skip this part with a clear conscience.

Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoons onto the cookie sheet 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 – 11 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 3 minutes and them move to cooling rack.  Allow cookies to cool completely.  Frost cookies with butter frosting.  Makes approximately 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

Butter Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

4 – 8 Tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat butter and sugar in a small bowl with a hand mixer.  Add vanilla and milk.  The amount of milk will depend on the consistency you want.  I prefer a thicker frosting so I usually use about 4 Tablespoons.  Add the milk by tablespoonfuls so that you have better control over the frosting’s consistency.  Beat until smooth and well blended.  Add food coloring now, if desired.  Apply frosting to cookies.  Add any embellishments – sprinkles, jimmies, non-pareils, sanding sugar, etc. – at this time.

Pour yourself a glass of ice cold milk.  Pop a cookie (or two) in your mouth.  Mmmmmm…  See what I mean?  So. Darn. Good.

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