Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Can you believe Christmas Day is almost here? I hope all of you have gotten everything done that you wanted, but if you haven't, then I also hope you're not stressing over it. Just let go of those things you wanted to do, buy, or bake ..... but weren't able to accomplish for one reason or another. I'm wishing all of you a stress-free holiday.
My last hurrah was this morning. I love to bake at Christmas time and I make Spritz cookies every year. They're part of my German heritage. My family might be too kind to tell me they're sick and tired of Spritz, but for me, it's not quite Christmas without them.
I made a batch of Spritz the other night, but they turned out horribly and that frustrated me. What I learned is that you shouldn't take shortcuts with family favorites. Shortcuts are fine for some things, but apparently not for Spritz.
After that disaster, I decided I had enough cookies baked to give to the neighbors so I was going to let it go at that....until this morning. I got up with a positive attitude and a resolve to make those Spritz just because I wanted to - not because I thought I had to. Plus I had the time. Everything else was pretty much under control - famous last words, right?
Since I was baking anyway, I also made another batch of Russian Teacakes (aka Snowballs or Mexican Wedding Cakes), and one small batch of Chocolate Chip cookies without nuts. My son-in-law won't eat things with nuts in them (if he knows they're there). Yes, that's probably coddling him a little, but he's a great guy and I think he deserves the extra effort. He's truly like a son to us.
So....my last three batches of cookies are done and so is my holiday baking. There were a few other things I wanted to try, but I've hung up my old wooden spoon and oven mitt. This is one of very few years I've felt ready for Christmas. My daughter has helped a lot, though she might not realize it. She invited her dad and me to dinner for Christmas Day and when I asked what she wanted me to bring, she said, "not a thing". I hope she won't mind that I'll bring a tin full of cookies, but other than that, I'll honor her wishes and not cook anything for the dinner. She has everything planned and she's a great cook, besides that, she's much more organized than her mom. What a sweet gift she's given me - time off from cooking. Thank you Jen! You know I love you!
SPRITZ COOKIES (Betty Crocker Cookbook)

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla

Food color, if desired, and currants, raisins, candies, colored sugar, finely chopped nuts, candied fruit or fruit peel, for decoration.
1. Heat oven to 400ºF. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, salt, egg, almond extract and a few drops of food color if desired.
2. Place dough in cookie press. Form desired shapes on ungreased cookie sheets. Decorate.
3. Bake 5 to 8 minutes or until set but not brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. To decorate cookies after baking, use a drop of corn syrup to attach decorations to cookies.

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