After the packages with four-chip fudge and page 72 two ways are in the mail, it's time to think about nibbles for guests, and to use as additions to the pounds of sweets that will be out and about for the post-Christmas casual family gathering.

Although cutout cookies and I have never gotten along, I'm always willing to try again, as long as it's not the end of the world if I end up throwing the batch away or the shapes are completely unrecognizable.

This time of year, there is little that qualifies as "end of the world," as long as everyone is safe, warm and happy.

To that end, I'd ask my Casper Constant Readers to venture out one more time before 7 p.m. Saturday with a new toy, and take it to the vans parked outside either Wal-Mart as a Stuff the Van contribution. In nearly all things, local media is a serious direct competitor of ours, but in this, the Townsquare radio folks do wonderful, amazing work in just a week's time. All toy contributions stay local. And seriously, if you don't know what to buy, think Star Wars.

Here are two easy recipes that feature the holiday flavors of cinnamon and peppermint. The peppermint patties were huge hits last year and take less than an hour start to finish (including cleanup). When I first made them, I didn't realize how large they are, so they really are more like a cookie than a candy. And they are yummy! They are also a great project to do with small children because there is no oven or stovetop involved. Just help them get things in and out of the microwave.

 Two-Tone Cinnamon Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3-ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 recipe cinnamon glaze (follows)
  • 1 recipe white glaze (follows)

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and cream cheese; beat with electric mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar, backing powder, salt and cinnamon. Beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using wooding spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Cover and chill about 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough until 1/4-inch thick. Using a fluted round 3-1/2 inch cookie cutter, cut out dough. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Cool on sheet 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire rack; cool.

Fill a small resealable plastic bag with cinnamon glaze. Snip off one small corner; set aside. Spoon white glaze over tops of cookies spreading almost to edges. Place cookies on a wire rack set over waxed paper. Drizzle with cinnamon glaze. If desired, gently swirl knife through glazes to marble. Makes about 14 cookies.

Cinnamon Glaze: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup cinnamon flavor pieces, bitterwsweet chocolate pieces or semisweet chocolate pieces, and 2 tsp. shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

White Glaze: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup white baking pieces and 2 tsp. shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

(Recipe courtesy of "Our Favoritrfe Christmas Cookies," Better Homes & Gardens)

Peppermint Patties

  • 24 York peppermint patties
  • 48 Ritz crackers
  • Chocolate Candiquik
  • Vanilla Candiquik
  • Crushed candy canes

Place one unwrapped peppermint patty between two Ritz crackers (to make a sandwich) on microwavable plate. Repeat until you have a full plate.

Microwave briefly for 5 to 8 seconds to soften peppermint patties. Do not microwave them too long.

Gently press down on crackers until peppermint patties are same size as crackers.

Melt candiquik according to package instructions.

Dip peppermint patties into chocolate or vanilla Candiquik and place on silicone mat or parchment paper.

Sprinkle with crushed candy canes before chocolate sets. Makes 24 cookies.

(From Pinterest via thegunnysack.com)

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