One of our favorite things about the Holiday Season is the way the house smells from all the holiday goodies being baked, especially in our beautiful New Custom Built Home. Since the cold weather has arrived, you can even use the oven any time of day. And the kids like to stand by it after playing outside.
I can’t wait for that first pan of Spiced Cookies to come out of the oven. This is an old family favorite recipe, and the first couple of pans always disappear before they even cool. You’ll probably want to make a double batch to compensate. We’ll also get out the cookie cutters this year and make some special cookies, sprinkled with love, to send to our son and his friends serving overseas in the army. We’re so proud of him and want him, and all those serving, to feel a connection to home.
Our large custom kitchen was a huge hit over Thanksgiving. The over-sized island became our new center of activity; and with everyone hanging in the kitchen, I was able to pass off some of the prep work. The sounds of laughter mixed with chopping of vegetables was music to my ears. It was also a great place to fill the pecan tarts, roll out the dough, and make the biscuits in the morning. Our new open concept floor plan allowed the whole family to join in when we started singing our old favorites and telling jokes. This was a new experience for us never having built an open floor plan and it was a lot of fun; we can’t wait to do it again soon.
We are so thankful for our family but it’s sad that so many people don’t have family to share the Holidays with. We encourage you to reach out to those you may know who are in this situation and invite them to share the warmth of your home and family this Holiday. You may want to let your pastor know you would like to invite someone over as they are usually aware of some lonely souls who would appreciate your hospitality. Contacting senior centers and community centers is another good way to locate people who may be alone over the Holiday Season.
We have a tradition of taking hot plates of holiday food to shut-ins in the weeks leading up to and including the Holiday. This is always a good excuse to do a little extra cooking and test out some new recipes… Speaking of new recipes to test… once you taste our Brown Gravy Sauce and Spiced Cookies, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear with Holiday Cheer! We encourage you and your family to reach out to someone in need this season and share our delicious southern food; it’s a great way to put a smile on the faces of those who need it most.
We wish everyone a very merry and peaceful Holiday Season and Look forward to another great year in 2017!
Recipes to Share:
Brown Gravy Sauce
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 small onion, minced
- 4 tbsp. Brandy
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 ½ cups beef stock
- 4 leaves fresh sage
- 2 tbsp. cornstarch
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil and butter in a sauce pan, then add the onion.
- Sauté for about 5 minutes or until translucent.
- Add the Brandy, wine, stock and sage and bring to a boil.
- Lower the temperature and simmer until liquid is reduced by half.
- Mix the cornstarch with ½ cup cold water until dissolved and smooth.
- Whisk cornstarch mixture into the saucepan, mixing well to avoid lumps, and simmer until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Spiced Christmas Cookies
- Makes about 30, depending on cookie cutter size
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 cups self-rising flour
- ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 4-5 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- edible silver balls and other decorative items of choice
- Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add the corn syrup, egg and ginger and beat again until well combined.
- Gradually sift in the flour, folding it in as you go.
- Transfer the mixture to a work surface and knead a few times until smooth.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use the cookie cutters of your choice to stamp out shapes.
- Transfer the cookies to a baking sheet and press and re-roll the trimmings to form more cookies.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden.
- Transfer to a rack to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the icing:
- In a small ball, stir together the confectioner’s sugar with the lemon juice until smooth. (If the icing is too thick, add more lemon juice if too thin add more confectioner’s sugar).
- On thoroughly cooled cookies, spoon a little icing into the very center of each cookie and spread it out towards the edges.
- Sprinkle the icing with small edible decorations and let set.
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