Christmas Essentials {Christmas cookies and kiddos}

Christmas Essentials {Christmas cookies and kiddos}

Hey y’all. Today is part 3 of my “Christmas Essentials” series! I am truly feeling the holiday spirit this year and I’m pretty excited about it. It has been exactly 1 year since I created this blog, and it is approaching my sweet Shelby’s 2nd birthday. She was born the day after Christmas! This year I’ve enjoyed getting gifts together as well as preparing food for the festivities.

This post is very special to me because there are 3 little people in my life who mean the world to me- my kids. I have a 9 year old stepdaughter, Andrea, a 7 year old step-son, Jai, and my 2 year old baby, Shelby. These 3 little humans really taught me so much about life. Andrea and Jai were 4 and 2 when I came into their lives and they changed me from that day forward. I had never spent time with kids before that, and I remember really enjoying being around them and helping care for them. I still enjoy that and enjoy watching them grow. Andrea LOVES to cook with me and Jai has started enjoying it, too. Shelby is 2 and is the light of my world. She is in the kitchen with me when I cook, and we often dance together in the kitchen which is so much fun. Shelby idolizes Andrea and loves to boss Jai around. My house is constantly a mess and a bit chaotic- and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I remember years ago, before meeting my step kids, I used to say “It doesn’t feel like Christmas this year”. I soon learned it was because 1. I wasn’t a kid anymore and 2. I didn’t have kids in my life. Once I met them and took them to Christmas events like Acadian Village and the Christmas Stroll, I realized what Christmas is all about: kids. I’ll never forget the first year I spent Christmas with them, when we geared up for Santa Clause. We put out reindeer food, baked Christmas cookies for Santa, and they slept on a pallet in our room because they were THAT excited. It was so magical and since that time, I have a new love for Christmas. Now that sweet Shelby is here, it’s even more special! 2 years ago, I went to the hospital on Christmas day to deliver my sweet girl. She came the next day, on 12/26, and I will never forget it. The hospital was decorated with Christmas everything, the nurses wore Santa hats, and I received the best Christmas gift of my life: my first born.

This year I decided to start a Christmas tradition with my kids-to bake Santa’s cookies together. Andrea loves to bake and bakes often with my mother in law. I, however, am not much of a baker. Measuring is tough for me–I am Johnny Jam’s daughter and we create food by throwing things together! It really is so hard for me to be exact when I’m cooking. But, I have 1 blog that is my go-to for all things baking. Sally’s Baking Addiction! I learned of this blog when listening to a podcast about food blogging and have been hooked ever since. Sally turned a passion into a career, which I find so inspiring! She is very creative when baking and she creates simple recipes that I can follow. I go to her every year for Christmas cookie recipes and she never disappoints. My kids and I made some brown butter sugar cookies from her site and man-they were delicious! Even Shelby was able to help with the sprinkles. It was so much fun.

The recipe for these cookies is below along with the link to Sally’s site.

http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/12/07/brown-butter-sugar-cookies/

Ingredients:

    • 1 cup (16 Tbsp; 230g) unsalted butter
    • 2 cups + 2 Tablespoons (265g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated suagr
    • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light brown sugar
    • 1 large egg, at room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • optional: sprinkles and/or nonpareils for topping

Directions:

  1. Brown the butter: Have a large heat proof bowl handy. Slice the butter into pieces and place in a light-colored skillet. (Light colored helps you determine when the butter begins browning.) Melt the butter over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Once melted, the butter will begin to foam. Keep whisking occasionally. After 5-8 minutes, the butter will begin browning– you’ll notice lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it will have a nutty aroma. See photo above for a visual. Once browned, remove from heat immediately, pour into bowl. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar to the brown butter. Using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat together on medium-high speed until relatively combined, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and begin beating together on low speed, slowly working up to high speed until everything is combined. The dough will be thick and a little greasy. That’s ok! Just roll into balls as best you can in the next step.
  5. Roll the dough into balls, about 1 Tablespoon of dough each, and dip the tops into sprinkles. Place dough balls tightly together on a lined baking sheet (or a couple large plates). Loosely cover with plastic wrap and  place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.)
  7. Line chilled dough balls onto baking sheets about 3 inches apart. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can make the cookie dough, roll into balls as directed in step 5 and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 6. Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Click here for my tips and tricks on freezing cookie dough.

Cajun Queen thoughts:
This is the perfect holiday cookie recipe because you can make them ahead of time and are perfect if guests come by! They are also cute and festive and perfect to bring to your family holiday Christmas event. The kids really helped make these, so when you bring them to people they will love hearing how your kids helped. Sally explains how browning the butter first gives the cookies a deep, nutty flavor and aroma, and I definitely agree!
Know what my favorite part about this post was? All the nonsense and BS in the world was non existent while I baked with my kids. Kids are so innocent and sweet, and being around them during Christmastime reminds me what Christmas is all about. It’s about magic. It’s about Santa. It’s about that time in our lives where we innocently believed. I encourage you to spend time baking cookies with the special little people in your lives. You won’t be disappointed in the nostalgia it provides. Oh, and don’t worry about the mess. I had flour and sprinkles all over my kitchen. But, I promise, ttrfgnnfc ccccccccccccccv     bvn,//kdfcccfdczcccccccccccccccccccccccccccz vdcche laughs and memories outweigh the mess.
xoxo- Cajun Queen
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