I don't know if you are like me and get incredibly blown-up ideas about all the decorating, baking, activities and handmade gifts that you want to do for Christmas... but I have to remind myself to reign in my expectations to a more realistic scale sometimes.
For example, a good introduction to Christmas baking for a two-year-old would not be the entire Christmas cookie process, dough to decorating AND making gingerbread houses from scrap. Thus, I had to adjust my sites, choose one of those projects and keep it simple. The objective was not to overwhelm, but to introduce my daughter to the fun and creativity we can have in the kitchen. Yes, that sounds nice. So, with the help of my sweet momma, (who loves sugar cookies) I decided that making cut-out cookies would be the best, no construction required, and they sounded delicious. After pouring over many recipes, we found one that sounded especially good, with orange peel in it! Neither of us had made many cut-out cookies before, but we enjoyed this recipe and time together so much, that we have a new tradition!
Mom even said these were the best she had had, so... that's a pretty high recommendation.
Sugar Cookie Cutouts
(Recipe from Penzeys Spices Magazine- Janette Mittelstadt)
2 C. shortening (we substituted butter for 1/2 C. of the 2)
2 1/2 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 C. milk
6 C. flour
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
(I cannot wait for a new bottle of vanilla from Mexico from Bethany!)
4 C. powdered sugar
4 tsp. butter, melted (I used about 2-3 T.)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 C. milk
Cream together the shortening, sugar, orange peel and vanilla. Add the eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in the milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Gradually blend into the creamed mixture. Divide the dough into two or three balls, pat into inch-thick discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes. (We "floured" the surface with powdered sugar.) Bake on greased cookie sheets for 6-8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before decorating. To make the icing, beat together the powdered sugar, butter and vanilla until smooth. Add enough milk to reach your desired spreading consistency. Color with food coloring as desired.
This recipe yielded approximately 5-7 dozen cookies! We broke the dough into three sections and had three separate cookie decorating parties.
I surprised my small group with a cookie-decorating night, aren't they cute?!
And we also got to decorate cookies with Bethany, Diego, Eliana and Cruz. Although Cruz did more sleeping than decorating... he's brand new. :)
Evie would have continued sprinkling her cookies for hours if I'd let her!
I'm not sure if Eliana ever got as far as to put frosting and sprinkles on her cookies, they just kept disappearing! :)
And these were Diego's cookies, which I was quite taken with, so colorful and oozy!
But, he was fast with the decorating so that he could move on to more exciting things.
They really were delicious, I wish they weren't all gone.