Shopping is done, presents are wrapped (well, maybe) and the kids’ winter break has commenced. The hype for the much anticipated Christmas Day increases by the minute, and the energy levels of our children have reached an all-time high, while it seems like ours are depleting quickly.
Muster up that last bit of energy (or courage) and gather up the family to get some treats ready for Santa.
This will occupy the troops for a least a couple of hours, hopefully outweighing cleaning your kitchen (yes, again) afterward!
I’ve included some recipes that are favorites at our house that put the focus on having fun rather than complicated steps or ingredients. Make some memories, snap some photos and pat yourself on the back!
Chocolate Chip Cookies
The instant pudding in this recipe makes a thicker and softer cookie versus the thin and chewy kind. I discovered that this cookie can be made many different ways depending on the flavor of pudding and chips used. Some of my favorite variations are chocolate pudding with peanut butter chips, pumpkin spice pudding (stocked seasonally in stores) with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips, and lemon or white chocolate pudding with cherry chips (substitute almond extract for vanilla for extra cherry flavor).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (for high altitude I reduce heat to 375). Cream butter until soft, add both sugars and mix well. Add eggs and vanilla, mix until fluffy. Add pudding and mix to combine. Mix flour with baking soda and salt, then add 1 cup at a time to dough, mixing well. Stir in chips by hand. Place dough in heaping tablespoons on to greased cookie sheets. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Be careful not to over bake!
Here is a simple no-bake recipe that is just adorable. Great for little hands to assemble too! (Adapted from “My Great Idea,” Family Fun Magazine, Dec./Jan. 2009.)
Place vanilla frosting in a sandwich bag and snip the end of one corner off of the bag with a pair of scissors (this will make it much easier to apply frosting). Place cookies vertically on tray or cookie sheet. Squeeze a small amount of frosting on top of cookie and place pretzel twist for “antlers.” Squeeze two small dots of frosting below antlers and place a chocolate chip on each for eyes. Finally, place a small dot of frosting on the bottom of the cookie for Rudolph’s red M&M nose!
Peppermint Hot Cocoa
If you are making my peppermint bark recipe, this hot cocoa recipe is a great way to use up the leftover crushed peppermint candy powder and bits that are too small to sprinkle on the bark. Place in decorative bags for gifts. It is also a tasty way for Santa to wash down those cookies!
Place peppermint sticks in a plastic bag and close. With mallet, crush the peppermint sticks. Combine all ingredients and store in an air-tight zip-lock bag. One batch makes approximately 5-7 servings.
Add these instructions to the gift tags: Scoop 4 heaping tablespoons of cocoa into mug. Pour hot water over and stir to combine.
Mary Cornforth Cawood is a Fruita mom married with two daughters. Read her Tuesdays on fruitamoms.com.