Tasty Traditions

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By Heather Jeffcoat

Every December, my kids and I set aside a couple of days to get into the kitchen to bake cookies and make candies. The idea is that we’ll use some for gifts, and some will become a festive treat for us to snack on. My kids love to help in the kitchen, so I never have to sell them on the idea, especially when sugar is involved!

We usually end up with a very dirty kitchen, lots of dishes to wash, and full stomachs from tasting our delicious end results. My husband loves these days because he is normally our taste tester, timing his entrance into the kitchen when a batch of something is ready. After we’re done, we relax with some sweet confections and a tall glass of milk while watching a holiday movie. I love those times!

Last year, the kids invited a good friend over to make chocolate crinkle cookies. If you’ve never made these, they’re great cookies to prepare with kids because you can set up an assembly line, which is what we did. One kiddo rolled the dough into balls, one dropped them in the confectioners’ sugar to cover, and one placed them onto the baking sheet. Then I put them in the oven for baking. All the kids (and somehow me, too) ended up covered in sugar, probably from all those wonderful giggles throughout the process. What a great memory to relive! I didn’t even care what those cookies were going to taste like, I was just happy to see those smiles. (They did, however, turn out pretty great.) The kids have already asked me if we’re doing it again this holiday season. And my husband has requested some with a tall glass of milk—I think he may even be tempted to jump into the process this year!

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Making cookies with my kids always takes me back to my childhood when I made cookies with my Mom. She would get our sugar cookie dough ready and line up all the colored sprinkles to use for our decorating. I remember using these silver cookie cutters to make candy canes and angels. I was always nervous that I was going to cut myself, so I was extremely careful. I’m sure my Mom warned me about that at some point, and it stuck! I still think about that, even though my cookie cutters have dull, almost rounded edges. It still doesn’t stop me from telling my kids to be careful though.

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I love making decorated sugar cookies with my kids too. They usually end up more like an art project rather a culinary delight, but the process sure is fun. This year, though, we’re using one of Paula’s recipes for sugar cookies with a delicate buttery taste and topped with a fun meringue frosting. They’ll not only look great, but taste pretty fantastic too! You can find it in Paula Deen’s Christmas on newsstands now or click here to purchase it.

Grab the kids and head to the kitchen to make some wonderful memories. Package your treats in a cute box or bag, and pass them out to someone who needs a smile. May your holidays be bright!

What kind of treats have become traditions in your home during the holidays? I would love to know.

 

Heather Martin Jeffcoat recalls an early love of being in the kitchen. It developed from the days of being beside her Grandmother Louise as she cooked for everyone who visited her small-town Alabama home as well as time spent baking with her mother, a Michigan native transplanted to the South after marriage. To this day her mother combines the best of Northern and Southern fare. Heather now spends every spare moment in the kitchen. It’s a way for her to relax and enjoy time with her husband, son, and daughter, who often participate in cooking meals at their home. A love of writing steered Heather into journalism school and then into publishing. After several years working in print and online media, she began freelancing for Cooking With Paula Deen magazine, and she was recently tapped to join the staff full time as the managing editor. She has come to realize that her childhood memories cooking in her grandmother’s and mother’s kitchens, full of love and hospitality, have given her the best education she could have asked for.
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Reader Comments:

54321

Hello!! I just found out that my daughter wrote Miss Paula a letter, so I thought I might send one as well. You asked what treats have become a tradition around our House at Christmas. Well, it is hard to break it down, we have so many!! I think our absolute favorite is Her 3 chocolate chocolate chip cookies with toffee in them. We make somewhere between 10-15 dozen to give out as Christmas gifts, and a few more just for us. We have a family tradition started by my sister-in-law Holly many years ago when my mom and dad were still around. We would choose 12 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day to do 12 activities together as a family. We had Cookies for Santa, Decorate the Christmas Tree, Christmas Lights, Build a Gingerbread House, etc.... and it always included Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My family loves this continued Tradition, and my daughter Kendall is now in on all the planning. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year, usually, somewhere in July, I start all of the planning and shopping to make our Christmas as memorable as the one before. I think this year we will be going ice skating!! Nothing like some cookies and hot cocoa to set the mood for my favorite time of year, Christmas!! Sincrely, Sherille

By Sherille Raley on September 02, 2013

54321

Miss paula deen my name is amanda, i have a fiance the loves your cooking. Her birthday was january 6,it would mean so much to her if you would write a letter to natasha cooper.

By amanda on January 08, 2013

54321

hahaha Paula, did you see this yet? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6Leo4JVl7c

By Jac on January 03, 2013

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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm