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Cookies, friends: A great way to celebrate the holidays

December 20, 2011

By ANGIE CARNATHAN
sdnlife@bellsouth.net

Heather McGinn of Starkville was wanting to get some friends together for an evening of holiday fun, and said she decided nothing is better than a good old-fashioned girls’ night –– with cookies.
McGinn and several friends got together Sunday evening at McGinn’s house and held a cookie exchange. Each girl brought a batch of homemade cookies to share. Several also brought some delicious appetizers, while McGinn served deer meat chili. It was a fun, festive event that ended with the girls doing something extra special: saying thank you to those who serve our community.
“We made extra cookies and bagged them up to take to all four fire departments,” McGinn said. “One of my friends said she was already inspired to bake cookies for her fire department. I just think its a small token of appreciation for these men and hopefully it will inspire others to show someone their appreciation as well.”
If any of you should feel compelled to do some baking and sharing this holiday season, the following recipes should come in handy:
Grampa McGinn’s Snickerdoodle Recipe
“These were my grandfather’s favorite and he used to make them all the time. Not only were they one of my favorites then but they remain my favorite now as I remember him. These cookies have a sweet crispy outside and a soft chewy center and are a great holiday treat. No one would object to getting a bag of these for Christmas.” — Heather McGinn
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 eggs (room temperature)
- 2 3/4 cup flour
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Mixture of Cinnamon & Sugar
Preheat over to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream together butter, shortening, sugar, & eggs in a medium size bowl. In a large bowl whisk together flour, cream of tartar, salt, & baking soda. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. The batter will get very doughy. Set in the refrigerator at least two hours (I do mine overnight). Roll into 2-inch balls and roll in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Bake nine minutes at 400 degrees on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cool on rack.
Iris Jean’s Oatmeal Cookies
“I love being part of a group of girls who, when all together, laugh and have fun! The Cookie Exchange allowed us to bake our favorite recipes and share the cookies with one another,” Jodi Culbertson said. “Also, as a token of appreciation, cookies were delivered to the men of the fire department. That was our way of thanking them for all of their hard work and dedication. I made everyone my grandmother’s oatmeal cookies.” — Jodi Culbertson
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Combine all together until smooth and creamy.
Add to mixture:
- 1 1/2 cups AP flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3 cups quick cooking oatmeal (optional) (1/2 cup of walnuts, or chocolate chips, Raisins, coconut, peanut butter)
Mix thoroughly and by tablespoon drop cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until almost a light brown on top. Makes about 30 large cookies.
Gingerbread Family
“I chose gingerbread cookies for the exchange. This is my first year to make these cookies, and they were made especially for family. My kid sister, Abby, asked me one day if we could make gingerbread men. My reply was we certainly can. So I consulted several cookbooks searching for the perfect recipe. I wasn’t satisfied with just one, so I wrote a recipe that is a cumulation of all and then named them ‘Gingerbread Family’ for the sake of they were neither men or women but a family. Our first attempt at making these cookies was a great success. We enjoyed the spicy taste of the cookie along with the sweet but simple icing but really adored the shape. They were absolutely scrumptious. While the cookies were baking, our home was filled with an aromatic medley of spices that made the baking memorable and comforting. The scents of the holidays bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart. I was delighted to share this memory with my sister and will file this moment in a special place to recall in years to come. So I decided to share this special recipe and cookie with my friends in hopes they would enjoy as much as my family does. Food touches the heart and brings people together. Whenever I cook or bake, I always add love as a main ingredient. If you make everything with love, then you are sure to produce something truly special.” — Amanda Pugh
Prep: 30 min. Bake: 14-17 min. per batch. Other: 3 hours
- 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup dark molasses
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine first five ingredients in a medium bowl; stir until blended.
In a separate bowl, beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add brown sugar, beating well. Beat in molasses, egg, lemon rind, ginger, and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture; beat just until blended.
Shape dough into a ball, and divide in half. Flatten each half into a round disc; wrap each in plastic wrap, and chill three hours.
Preheat oven to 325˚. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out dough, 1 section at a time, to a 1/4 inches thickness on a lightly floured surface. Stamp out cookies with cookie cutters and transfer to baking sheet. Place 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Repeat these steps with the remaining dough and scraps. Bake cookies for 14-17 minutes or until puffed and slightly darker around the edges. Cool on baking sheets. Yield: 2 dozen.
Powdered Sugar Icing (optional)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla
- 1 Tbsp. milk
In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients until blended. Additional milk can be added until icing reaches drizzling consistency. Spread on cooled cookies. Yield: 1/2 cup.
Royal Icing (optional)
- 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 tablespoons warm water
In a large bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the egg whites until moistened. Add the water and whisk until smooth. Decorate the cooled cookies with the icing, using a pastry bag with a small plain tip.
Make Ahead: Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.
Rugelach Cookies
“I brought Rugelach Cookies to the cookie swap. I chose this cookie because a family friend has been making them for us every Christmas since I was 10 or so. They’re so delicious that we have to limit the number each of us can have per day.” — Candace Weed
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 9 tablespoons
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
Add the cheese and butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts.
On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circles into 12 equal wedges-cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Arrange the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet(s) lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven to a wire rack and let cool. Arrange on a large platter and serve.
Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
“I was excited when Heather (McGinn) told me about her idea. It’s nice to have a chance to get together with our Starkville ‘family’ before we all go our separate ways for Christmas.” — Pam Campbell
- 2 cups flower
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Dash of salt
- 3/4 cup coco powder
Combine. Mix till fluffy:
- 2.5 sticks softened butter
- 2 cups sugar
Then add:
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
Slowly add dry mixture till combined. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 8-9 min. Makes 4 dozen.

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