Seasonal Sundays (Week 51) Cookie Season!

Andy Williams is a-crooning, "It's the most wonderful time of the year ..." and amid all his jinglebelling and mistletoeing, he overlooks the great fun (and sweet eats) of Christmas cookie-baking. I'm here to fill the void! Here are a few of my favorite Christmas cookies, some go back years and years. I hope you find one or two recipes to inspire your own cookie-baking this year ...

Seasonal Sundays ♥, a seasonal collection of recipes and life ideas in and out of the kitchen.

Welcome to Seasonal Sundays ...

Once upon a time, my nephews would attempt to count the number of different cookies collected in dozens of cookie tins for "cookie trays" and "cookie gifts". They'd hit something in the 30s, give up and just sit down for another family "cookie party". (Recommended! Throughout the holidays, anybody can declare it's time for a cookie party anytime just by calling out "cookie party"! Set the table with small Christmasy paper plates and napkins, pass a tray of small cookies, taking one at a time, eating one by one. It's fun!)

Now I didn't bake all those cookies, some came from cookie swaps, some were gifts. But I did bake a-l-o-t of Christmas cookies in those days. How did it all add up to so many kinds of cookies? Well ...

  • I make small cookies, just two or three bites big.
  • I bake small batches, usually one-stick of butter batches, except butter cookies, those are two-stick batches.

So yeah, my cookie baking was, um, prodigious.

Fast forward to today. We had such fun this week at a cookie-decorating party at our kitchen table. My husband's Chicago son and grandson were new to the experience, but his grandniece has been at it with me for at least ten years, this year she brought along her new husband. He was soooo creative!

Baking Resources

Holiday Baking Tips ♥, practical Christmas cookie-baking tips, packed with ideas for new and experienced bakers both.
  • HELPFUL HINTS Holiday Baking Tips from a Certifiable Cookie-Baking Fiend

  • DORIE! I've been on a Dorie Greenspan fangirl roll since updating Pumpkin Pecan Pie after Thanksgiving when I discovered that Dorie herself left a comment on my adaptation of her "Two-fer Pie" recipe way back in 2008. Since, I subscribed to her Substack newsletter where that very same Dorie generosity is written between her lines.

  • FACEBOOK INSPIRATION Dorie Greenspan's Facebook group is called ""Bake and Tell. Wow these 6.3K folks go through the butter, sugar and flour! It's a fun group, a real inspiration if you need a little somethin-somethin to get you go-in-go-in for Christmas baking. Anyone on Facebook may join, just answer a few questions to prove you're a human being to be approved. Dorie pops in quite often!

  • DO BUY GOOD BUTTER! Dorie's Facebook group is full of reports of bakers trying to save a little money on butter by buying less-expensive butters from Costco, Sam's Club and the like.
  • Just don't! Those butters have a lower butterfat content and so your cookies won't turn out the same, most will just s-p-r-e-a-d thin.
  • I've baked with Land O Lakes butter my whole life. Over the years, I've found that the best price (and consistently low price, not just when on sale) for Land O Lakes butter is at Target, both Minnesota companies.
  • That said, just like almost everywhere, Target's butter prices are higher this year than last.

About the Photo By Popular Request, a Little Insight into the Top Image: The soundtrack to last week's cookie decorating would be laughter. There were just six of us but three generations and it was pure fun to get creative applying sugary color to No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies.

More Christmas-y Music for the Kitchen

On the Ten-Things-Even-My-Good-Friends-Don't-Know list, right there in the middle is that over the years, I've built a huge collection of Christmas music. Every year, I look forward to switching to Christmas music throughout December. Here are a few favorites from my collection.

This week, I'm featuring Christmas albums from the sing-along-y folk genre, not your usual fare.

Please note, all these selections are affiliate links, here's My Disclosure Promise. And hey, any recommendations? My "buy now" finger is primed ...

One Favorite Christmas-y Thing

Ever since I heard about the "favorite thing" gift-giving idea, I think about small things that make life just a little bit better. So here you go!

(FYI no affiliate links here, just products I've bought with my own money and personally use.)

Facebook ads target me with bras and nail polish ... I no longer fall for the former but when I happened upon Olive & June nail polish at Target, well, I went for it.

And I love it! Target has fewer polish colors but it's plenty for my taste. Here's what I've loved, so far:

  • The brushes! The brush tips are round, it's so much easier to apply the polish.
  • The Nail Strengthener! When I started, my nails were pretty much a mess. So I started off by cutting my nails very short, dealt with the cuticles, then applied the Nail Strengthener before polish. I haven't had a break or a tear or anything even close in six weeks.
  • The colors! So far my favorites are a dark blue (called "OMG") that's not really blue and a wine color (called an inimitable "SC") that's holiday-ish without screaming Christmas. Yesterday I put on a Christmas-y green (called "Besties"), maybe I'll warm up to it later but so far, I'll give green nails a pass. There's also a really pretty natural neutral (called "HZ"). Yeah, somebody could work on their polish names ...
  • The forgivability! Once, I brushed one still-wet nail against something. The fix was simple, just a tiny bit more polish where I'd nicked it, then the clear Super-Glossy Top Coat. That nick just kinda melted away.
  • The speed! These polishes dry fast! The Strengthener dries instantly, the polish layers and the top coat dry hard in just 5 minutes.
  • It lasts! All my DIY manicures have lasted a week, maybe a two or day more, even with lots of dish-washing. Once they go, they go from fine to totally chipped in a day.
  • Official Olive & June website & Olive & June at Target

SEASONAL INSPIRATION: Let's Build a Beautiful Cookie Plate

Frosty Christmas Trees ♥, my long-time favorite cut-out cookie, with an easy-to-handle dough, lovely gingerbread flavor and just a touch of chocolate.

Sugar Cookie Bars ♥ All the colorful deliciousness, none of the cookie cutter and decorating fuss.

Gourmet Chocolate Mocha Cookies ♥, decadently chocolate-y, laced with espresso, almost like a brownie cookie or a fudge cookie. Wonderful with a glass of cold milk.

Perfect M&M Cookies ♥, classic Tollhouse cookie recipe with M&Ms, perfected by my friend Kathy.

Family Shortbread ♥, spare, simple, ethereal English shortbread. Lots of family tricks and tips, all in one place.

Colored Roll-Out Sugar Cookies ♥, an easy-to-work-with recipe for roll-out sugar cookies, here in Christmas Stars. No icing!

Homemade Caramel Corn ♥, made in the microwave in a paper bag so no mess, no fuss. Fun for kids!

What's New?!

Wondering about a recipe from the last while? Check Recent Recipes from Kitchen Parade and Recent Vegetable Recipes from A Veggie Venture.

Festive Kale Salad with Apple & Pomegranate, another seasonal salad ♥, a burst of color, texture and flavor for winter holiday meals.

A Quick Peek Into a Real-Life Kitchen

Just so you know, everything's not all pretty pictures around here: in the background is a pile of dirty dishes. And just like many (all?) of us, come five o'clock, I too draw a blank about what to make for supper, despite so many recipes I so dearly love. Here's a quick peek from the last week.

No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies ♥, just mix and roll, no need to wait. Mix and bake in under an hour.
  • THIS WEEK For a lot of years, I threw a cookie-decorating party for grandkids and grandnieces/nephews. These days, about half are married and establishing their own traditions. When one (hey, Erika!) called to get my sugar cookie recipe, I invited her and her husband to an impromptu cookie the next night. Such fun we had! And I finally have good Christmas-y photos for this recipe. (Post not yet updated with new pics but just know, it took three hours to mix and bake a double batch of cookies; mix a double batch of icing in six colors; and set up the whole group decorating table. That's pretty good, yes?)
  • THE RECIPE No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies Just mix and roll, no need to wait.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Cut-Out Spice Cookies My all-time year-round favorite cut-out cookie dough recipe.

Overnight Coffeecake ♥, easy, adaptable coffeecake recipe, mix it the night before, bake to serve hot and fresh in the morning.
  • THIS WEEK We had a little family medical drama last week. Well after bedtime that night, I realized we could well have a small crowd for breakfast and dinner the next day. On the spot, I made a 9x13 double batch of this coffeecake, loading up the cake layer with a mix of dried fruit from Trader Joe's and placing toasted pecan halves across the top. So good! And extra pretty!
  • THE RECIPE Overnight Coffeecake Mix the night before, bake to serve hot and fresh in the morning.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Breakfast Casserole with Sausage, Apples & Caramelized Onions A make-ahead breakfast casserole, layers of sausage, apple and caramelized onion.

Turkey Wild Rice Casserole ♥, my long-time go-to wild rice casserole, perfect with after-Thanksgiving leftover turkey.
  • THIS WEEK For dinner the next night, I made what might be the best-ever version of this casserole. First, I used a smoked chicken my husband had smoked the night before, before we knew. WOW. And then because there are avowed anti-mushroom people in the family, I substituted a seasonal "vegetable hash" from Trader Joe's with mini bites of butternut squash, celery, etc. Again. WOW. I froze some, it made for a festive supper with another couple on Friday. (Post not yet updated with these notes but they're highly recommended.)
  • THE RECIPE Turkey Wild Rice Casserole A festive make-ahead hot dish.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Turkey Tetrazzini A good way to use up leftover turkey or roast chicken.

Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce for the Slow Cooker ♥, the convenience of the slow cooker plus the sweet aroma of cranberries, fresh ginger and orange zest!

Green Chile Scrambled Eggs, another easy, healthy breakfast ♥, just eggs jacked up with extra protein and green chiles. Weekday Easy, Weekend Special. Low Carb. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free.
  • THIS WEEK For breakfast the next day, I pulled together these easy scrambled eggs, serving them with warm tortillas, avocado, salsa and sour cream. So good!
  • THE RECIPE Green Chile Scrambled Eggs An easy, healthy breakfast.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Easy Green Chile Egg Casserole No bread! Just eggs, green chiles, bits of cheese and a surprising ingredient, cottage cheese.

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin ♥, first roasted, then braised in cream or half 'n' half, turned dark and luscious. My favorite way to cook Brussels sprouts during cold weather but also a Thanksgiving favorite! Low Carb. Rave reviews!
  • THIS WEEK This has become my go-to recipe for Brussels sprouts and I made it twice this week, once as an appetizer, later as a side dish. I'm settling on the idea that cream works better than half & half but always skip the buttery topping. (FYI post not yet updated.)
  • THE RECIPE Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin An appetizer with toothpicks? A forgiving side dish? Yes and yes.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Bodacious Brussels Sprouts Prep ahead of time, then finish just before serving.

Just Updated!

No-Roll Christmas Sugar Cookies ♥, quick and easy, chewy and buttery, colorful and festive. Tastes just like the very best sugar cookies, without the fuss and mess of rolling.

Smoked Turkey Chowder ♥, homemade chowder made with slow-cooked caramelized onions, mushrooms, potatoes, smoked turkey, milk.

Potato Blintzes ♥, savory mashed potatoes wrapped in tender crepes, sour cream on the side.

How to Remove Pomegranate Seeds, Three Quick & Easy Methods ♥

Gingerbread Granola ♥, granola all dressed up for Christmas with orange and molasses plus special spices. Lower Sugar, Bigger Flavor. Vegan. Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep & Homemade Food Gifts.

Don't Be a Stranger ...

I'd love to hear from you. Comment, send me a quick e-mail (my current address is in the FAQs), dot-dash in Morse code, build a fire for smoke signals, launch a message in a bottle, send a Christmas letter, get the dog to yip, toss me a note wrapped in a rubberband, write a message in the sky, scratch a note in the sand, listen to a seashell, tuck a question into a plastic Easter egg, whatever.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. When you make my recipes, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below or better still, on the specific recipe's page.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.