All Of My Training Has Prepared Me For This Moment

Thanks to a trusty, old bread maker, homemade bread has always been my forte.

Like many people at the start of the pandemic, I jumped on the stress baking bandwagon. I started out small by making breads and loaves that I had made before, and then it grew to the point where I was making cookies that I had always wanted to try making. I’ve always been good at cooking, but I’ve never been that good at baking. With cooking, you can be as flexible as you want. With some of my go-to recipes, I’ve learned what modifications to make in order to make the dish taste better. I’ve learned which substitutions to use for ingredients I don’t have on hand. And I’ve taught myself how to make delicious meals out of random stuff in my fridge and pantry that I just want to use up before it goes bad.

But the pandemic has offered me a chance to improve my baking skills. I am happy to report that I have definitely improved over the past year. And it’s because of that, I think, that I decided to engage in what has become a classic holiday activity for many home bakers: Christmas baking. Between my improved skills, my tightened budget, and the fact that I’m spending time at home, I decided to spend some extra time in the kitchen baking cookies to share with some of the people closest to me. And, obviously, I set a bunch of them aside for me and Mark.

My little helper asleep on the job.

To hand out as gifts to people who I knew would be doing socially distant gift pickups and drop-offs with us, I made chocolate chip cookies and ginger molasses cookies. The next day, after delivering cookies to a peanut free household, I made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for me and Mark only. Remember: always be mindful of people’s allergies and food intolerances when baking for friends.

In the style of food blogs everywhere, now that I’m done rambling on about the life experiences that inspired this baking marathon, it’s time to get to the recipes. That’s right! My holiday gift to my readers is three delicious cookie recipes that have ended up in my cookbook over the years (and more cat pictures, of course). Happy Baking!

For the gift cookies, I tied up the containers with some scrap yarn to make them look more like presents. For the peanut butter cookies, Mark and I ate the first round right off the tray 😛

Old Fashioned Soft Molasses Cookies

  • 1 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup of butter (or margarine), softened
  • 1/4 cup of dark molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extact
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar (for rolling)
  1. Preheat oven to 325o. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick cooking spray. (Personally, I find greasing the tray with a little butter/margarine works just as well).
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, or in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the brown sugar, butter, molasses, egg, and vanilla until well combined.
  3. Mix in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
  4. Shape the dough by rounded Tbsp-fulls into 1 1/2 inch balls. Dip the cookies into the sugar and space 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 13-15 minutes just until set. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool immediately.

Minerva judges you if you don’t follow the recipe just right.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup of shortening
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 6oz of chocolate chips
  1. Cream shortening, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Then add the egg and beat well.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, to the above mixture.
  3. Add the chocolate chips
  4. Bake at 375o for 10 minutes

Finn helps me find the recipes I need. He thinks I have far too many in my cookbook.

4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 melted milk chocolate (I use dark chocolate chips instead – I’ll explain in the instructions)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350o. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick mat or parchment paper (again, greasing the pan with butter/margarine has worked just as well for me).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the peanut butter, sugar, and egg with an electric mixer or spatula until smooth.
  3. My extra step: Mix in the chocolate chips.
  4. Roll the dough into golf ball sized balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Press the cookies down with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern.
  5. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. Let cool.
  6. This is the step I skip: Dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate, or drizzle the chocolate on top of the cookies.
  7. Return to the baking sheet to set. (I prefer my peanut butter cookies to have chocolate chips, but some day I might try the dipped version.
Happy Holidays from the kitchen crew! Thank you to Finn and Minerva for helping out with the baking.

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