Christmas cookies, newlywed-style

One of the best things about being married, besides getting to be married, has been my discovery of my love of cooking. While initially intimidating (and really, it still is at times), I have really grown to love making meals for my husband, friends, and family, when there’s a chance; and I must say, it is a good feeling to make good food. I love using whole foods, real ingredients, and taking the time to make things myself from scratch instead of buying food “products” sold in grocery stores.

As the Christmas season started kicking in this year, the thought of showering my friends and family with delicious homemade gifts and treats just thrilled me. Visions of handcrafted vanilla extract, herb-infused olive oil and stovetop butterscotch danced in my head… but then life got away from me… actually, the month of December hit, too. Have you ever noticed how quickly the month can go by? And admittedly, I am the type of person who shops during the week preceding Christmas and never has everything organized the way I’d like it. So basically… I didn’t do anything that I imagined I could do to make other people’s Christmases special.
But I’ve decided that it’s better late than never. So yesterday I made Christmas cookies for the second time this season, here at Willy’s parents’ house in Twin Falls. I like to try recipes that are either new to me or fairly original, so in this case I went with a butter cookie recipe. I’m pretty sure that butter cookies have been around for awhile, but I had them for the first time this fall at the Moscow Food Co-Op and loved them. They’re pretty similar to rolled-out sugar cookies, but with less overall sugar and definitely more butter. (1 lb, I believe!) I found a quick recipe for icing that worked really well, and I had a fun time decorating cookies with Willy’s sister Emily and nephew Brock. (I probably should’ve taken pictures…) The other cookies that I made a week ago were a cookie version of peppermint bark. I thought they were really good, but Willy and I only ate about two each before we gave them away for a cookie exchange at his office Christmas party. It seems almost unfair since we spent all of an afternoon making nearly eight dozen of these cookies. Oh well though; we’ll just have to make them next Christmas! I wanted to share the recipes here in case anybody had a cookie urge. In my opinion, post-Christmas cookies are just as good as the ones made on time.
I hope you all have had a great and relaxing holiday! I have missed being with family and being home in Illinois too, but I love my in-laws and feel very blessed to be so thoroughly included in their family and blessed to have my husband as well. Stay warm out there, wherever you are! 🙂
Butter Cookies, adapted from Karly Campbell via tastykitchen.com
Ingredients:
  • 1 pound butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 whole egg yolks (save the whites if you want icing)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla; mix well. Beat in the flour and salt. Chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour in the refrigerator. After taking dough from fridge, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough between 1/4 and 1/2 inch and cut into shapes. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet for 10-13 minutes or until very lightly browned on the bottom and/or cooked through on top. Keep a close eye on these, because they are not nearly as tasty when they get too brown.
to make icing: use (four) leftover eggwhites; beat until foamy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually add approximately four cups confectioners sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Add food coloring and wa-la! Icing!
Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies, via epicurious.com
As I am running short on time, below is the link for this recipe. My only changes were to make the shortbread base in a larger pan than 9×13 – according to the reviews, this made it easier to cook through all the way.
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the end approaches…

This week is the end of the semester here at UI, and though I’ve graduated, I still hold a student-level job; therefore I am allowed to be away from work for the entirety of break, if I want. I probably won’t be doing that, but either way, my “break” from work starts Saturday, and I’m pretty excited.

Last Christmas – Willy’s and my first Christmas together – was pretty interesting. Being that we had started dating in June and got engaged in December, he had not met any of my extended family or friends in Illinois. So we decided to take a nice big long trip criss-crossing the country, traveling by plane, train, AND automobile. Now in theory this sounds exciting… and it did end up being kind of fun. But here’s what we ended up doing travel-wise:

– Flew from Spokane, WA to St Louis, MO: to see my family/friends/hometown
– Flew from St Louis, MO to San Antonio, TX: to see my brother and his family
– Took the train to Salt Lake City, then drove to Twin Falls, ID: to see Willy’s family

Though we did enjoy traveling (except for the 3-day period on the train while both having colds), it ended up taking the WHOLE BREAK. No joke. And now that we’re married and have our own place, I’m already realizing that it’s a good thing for us to not run ourselves crazy trying to get everywhere… what’s the point of a huge long break if you’re exhausted by the end of it?

So this year we’re toning things down… sort of. By that I mean that we’ll be at home for longer periods at the beginning and end of the break. On the 23rd we’re planning to head down to Twin Falls for Christmas with Willy’s family. That’ll be about an eight-hour drive. We’ll spend around a week there, then drive down to Las Vegas (eight to ten hour drive), where my parents are living now. My brother, his wife and two little girls will be there then as well, so it should be very nice! Then we’ll head back to TF to spend probably a couple more days before heading back to Moscow.

So it should be a good break, and I’m looking forward to it. Meanwhile, I haven’t bought any Christmas presents yet, my husband stayed up all night working on a final project, we have a really big pot of soup in our fridge that is really kind of gross, and I have to bake almost nine dozen cookies by Saturday. But those are all stories for another time. 🙂

an introduction to my new blog:

I have found, as of late, that I feel disconnected from people and life. Some of that may come from the fact that I sit in a basement office for eight hours a day with no natural light and very little human interaction. It is in some ways an irony, because it contradicts a lot of who I am and what I believe about life – that we were made to experience and intimately know God and participate in His creation, which includes fellow human beings.

Another way I’ve felt disconnected is the realization that I’ve been offering very little of myself to others who are or were once important to me. It’s not really intentional, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the inner-workings of our own lives and not just share what’s actually going on. I find that I end up spending lots of time with my husband and some time with a few other close friends, but my family – who live at a minimum of 1,000 miles away, currently – and other good friends don’t get to see any of my daily life or interact with me in a personal way. Some of the people who I value most, I only see once a year or once every two years.

I’ve had many close friends leave town in the last year and a half, and it’s become easy for me to feel lonely, so when it comes to matters of disconnection, I often want to push the blame on others. But I know that it is important for anyone and everyone to put effort into their relationships, and I have not done so. So this blog will be my effort to reach out and even possibly reconnect, in a way, with family, friends, and if I meet someone new through this blogging endeavor? Hey, that’s great too. I’m planning on just posting what’s going on in my life. Hopefully I will not be lazy, and if that happens, I think this will be really enjoyable and great.

I hope that if you read my blog you’ll leave a comment and interact with me. If I’ve invited you to do so (and most likely, even if I haven’t), know that I value you.

Let’s begin!