Holiday Baking: Ingredients for Family Fun

Few things bring out the holidays like a house filled with the delicious aroma of freshly baked goodies. Baking is a holiday tradition for many families and guess what? You don’t have to be a pastry chef to have fun in the kitchen. I guarantee your kids will jump at the chance to help. My 3 year old loves to hold the measuring cups while I pour the ingredients, and her favorite part (besides the taste testing) is helping stir everything together. There’s always a bigger mess when young children are involved, but that’s half the fun. I’m still waiting for her to get excited about doing the dishes too. (It’s gonna happen…right?)

One of my favorite staples of holiday baking is the sugar cookie. They are a delicious, buttery canvas for creativity. Get out the sprinkles, frosting, and cookie cutters and go to town. Kids from toddlers to teenagers will have a blast with the decorating.

Just this week, a friend invited my daughter and me to a cookie baking party. The older kids helped the younger kids, and we moms had a chance to share some laughs. By the end of the evening, we had a plate full of colorful treats that showed the unique artistic style of each child (and a lot of sticky hands and smiling faces with green icing-stained lips).

Here’s an easy recipe to get you started:

Easy Sugar Cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets or press and have the kids use cookie cutters to cut holiday shapes.

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

The great thing about these cookies is they don’t have to be perfect. Below is how my 3 year old’s cookie turned out after some intense sprinkling. You can buy prepackaged icing or make it yourself.

Simple icing

  • 1 cup confectioner’s or powdered sugar
  • 2-6 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Add food coloring to get the color you want.

My favorite website to get recipes is www.allrecipes.com. There are also a lot of great alternatives if you want to watch your waistline this holiday season. For instance, substitute regular flour with whole wheat pastry flour to pack in the nutrients (and hide them from your kids inside a yummy cookie). You can also use apple sauce as a sweetener instead of sugar or lighter versions of your favorite fats and cheeses. Make sure to check recipes to get the proper ratios.

If you’re not a baker, just keep it simple. If you are a baker, comment with your favorite holiday recipes. I look forward to giving them a try. Happy baking and enjoy the season!

Arianne Rapkoch-Snyder has been a journalist and communications professional for nearly a decade. She grew up in Montana and enjoys writing about families and the community that she loves. She is a wife and mother to a beautiful, rambunctious little girl.