santa cookies

By Mary Heyl

It’s the weekend before Christmas—one of the busiest weekends of the year! From holiday gatherings to last minute shopping, there’s no shortage of things to do, and not a lot of free time to do it. If you’re in need of a tasty recipe, an easy, almost-homemade Christmas cookie, or a unique ornament that can be made in a moment’s notice, read on.

For an easy, delicious snack for holiday guests to enjoy before the big meal, make something that will satisfy everyone! Spicy-sweet pecans have just the right amount of sweetness with a little kick—a new take on a favorite treat. Start by preheating the oven to 275 degrees. Stir together ¾ cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of ginger, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon of ground red pepper in a medium bowl.

Next, whisk together 1 large egg white and 1 tablespoon of water in a separate medium bowl until foamy. Add 4 cups of pecan halves, stirring to coat all of them. Add the pecan mixture to the sugar mixture, and mix well. Then, spread the pecans in a single layer on a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until sugar mixture hardens and the nuts are toasted, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread the pecans immediately in a single layer on waxed paper; allow to cool completely (about 30 minutes).

These pecans make a great appetizer, but can also be stored in airtight containers for up to a week. In a decorative tin, these make a great holiday gift for neighbors, mail carriers, babysitters and others on your list!

Whether you have a few more cookies to bake or children or grandchildren who want something fun to do while watching Christmas movies, these easy Santa cookies are a great way to include even the littlest ones in the decorating process, and you can even get away with store bought cookies. That’s right—no need to make and roll out cookie dough for these cute and tasty Santa Claus cookies. Just stop at the store for a package or two of round sugar cookies or make your own using a favorite recipe or a roll of refrigerated cookie dough.

In a small bowl, beat 2 cups of powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine and 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk together until smooth and spreadable. Divide into two bowls and use 2 to 3 drops of red food color to make red icing. Using the red icing, frost the top third of the cookie for Santa’s hat. Use white decorating icing to pipe a line of white along the bottom edge of the hat. Then, press a miniature marshmallow into the top of the hat for a pompom.

Next, frost the bottom third of the cookie with the white icing and press shredded coconut into it for Santa’s beard! Get creative with Santa’s eyes and nose: use icing to attach colored chocolate candies or chocolate chips to make his face. Enjoy these cute, easy Santas right away or allow the icing to harden before storing.

Add a personal touch to your Christmas tree or make a gift for the aspiring musician or world traveler in your life with these three dimensional DIY ornaments! Grab some sheet music or a map (personalize it with your loved one’s favorite composer or dream destination) and a drinking glass. Trace and cut out 12 circles. Fold each circle in half (if the paper isn’t double sided, make sure the side with writing on it is folded inward) and tape one side to another circle’s side until a complete circle is formed. Using hot glue, attach a ribbon hanger to the inside of the circle and decorate the tree.