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December 2015

A Recipe for Fun—and Cookies!

Vicki Bentley, HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens Consultant

Vicki Bentley
Vicki Bentley

For these recipes (and more family-friendly recipes), check out Everyday Cooking

Read “Last Minute Christmas Ideas for Families” for more simple ideas to help you enjoy family time: gingerbread houses to craft projects, art ideas to favorite picture books, and more—even some tips for those of us who are getting a really late start!

At this time of year, I’m joining the many of you who take a break from academics to focus on the meaning of the holidays and on family traditions. So while this newsletter edition isn’t heavy on academics, it does focus on one of our Bentley family traditions…

In our house, it just isn't the Christmas season without a marathon baking day with all the sisters and as many grandkids as we can gather—with our favorite holiday music providing the atmosphere, of course. Most of the cookies are set aside for the neighbors, but we make sure to save some to enjoy throughout the holiday ourselves (and we eat more than a few while baking—gotta test one or two—or five—to make sure they turned out okay, right?).

Photo by Rebekah McBride

Some of our favorites include Russian teacakes (a.k.a. snowballs), chocolate chip oatmeal, chocolate oatmeal no-bakes, pizzelles, spritz cookies (vanilla and chocolate, of course), and of course…sugar cookies with royal icing and/or red or green sprinkles.

A Recipe for Fun

We always have a joyful time of decorating (and tasting).  And the great thing about our go-to recipe is that it doesn't require refrigerating the dough. This is awesome because I usually forget to do that sort of thing in advance, so this recipe simplifies my cookie-baking.

Kristy’s Roll-Out Cookies

1 c. butter, softened 1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sugar 2 tsp. baking powder
1 lg. egg 3 c. flour (all purpose, or half white/half wheat)

Cream butter and sugar (I prefer a mixer, but you can do this by hand)

Add egg and vanilla. Add the rest of the ingredients gradually. Do not chill dough.  (At this point, if you will be a while, wrap or put in airtight container to keep it from drying out.)

When you are ready to cut out the cookies:

Divide into 2 balls. Roll out ⅛ – ¼ inch thick. I find this easiest between two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, or a silicone baking mat and a plastic wrap top.

Cut into desired shapes. Sprinkle with colored sugar before baking (or bake without sugars, to ice/decorate the cookies after they cool). Bake on ungreased cookie sheet (I lecithin/oil lightly anyway) on top rack for 6-8 min at 400°, till lightly golden. Cool on racks or newspapers. 

(If icing with Cookie Icing, below, then you omit the sprinkle sugar before baking. Cool cookies, then ice/frost and sprinkle as desired.) Yield depends on cookie size. For sharing, you may wish to double the recipe.

Photo by Rebekah McBride

Adapted from a recipe from my good friend Kristy Thrasher, now of South Carolina, formerly of Fort Lee

Cookie Icing

(eggless; similar to royal icing)
1 cup 10X (powdered) sugar 2 tsp. light corn syrup
1 tbsp. milk 1 tsp. vanilla
drop food coloring (add more to the desired color, or omit for white icing)

Mix in a mixer; add more milk 1 tsp. at a time to the desired consistency. For decorating, the icing should be the consistency of school glue.

The More, the Merrier…or is that Messier?

We recently expanded our cookie decorating to include about 45 kids and moms from our local support group. I baked 16 dozen cookies in advance, then set up decorating stations in several locations so children could work in small groups, sharing bowls of icing. So the children would know whose were whose as they dried, each child was given a paper plate or two with his name on the border to identify his masterpieces.

Since we had various ages and ability levels, we offered icing in pastry tubes for older ones, and bowls of icing with paintbrushes for the younger ones, with squeeze bottles of colored icing for contrast. For example, these trees took just a swipe of the paintbrush, then I added a bit of design with the squeeze bottles.

Photo by Vicki Bentley

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”    John 1:14 (ESV)

Portions of this newsletter were adapted from a blog post by Vicki at

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