Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Cookies

*This post originally appeared on The Children's Museum of Indianapolis' blog.

On our most recent visit to the Children's Museum, we stopped into the new Gingerbread Cafe' for a snack, and it got us in the mood for some of our traditional Christmas cookies. Every year, we gather around with cookies in hand and carols on the radio to decorate our Christmas tree. It's a tradition as old as our family, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. So this year, we converged around the table to build gingerbread reindeer cookies. They are pretty simple to assemble and easy to get little hands involved with. The ingredients are few, and the instructions very straightforward.

- Begin with gingerbread dough (we used store bought because kids love helping mix any dough, but that can get a little messy, and I like projects with less cleanup)
- You'll also need a small bag of RedHots (also called cinnamon imperials if you look in the generic section)
- Next, pick up mini pretzels (these will be used as reindeer antlers, so don't think you'll get away with using those huge soft pretzels from the mall)
- Finally, a small bag of chocolate baking chips will make up your cookie's eyes (and if my family is any indication, more than a few will also line your stomachs before the baking is done)

After you assemble the ingredients (and the help) you begin by forming the dough into a rough prism shape. Then simply slice the log into thin triangles, and let the help lay them out on a cookie sheet. Bake per the dough instructions, and when you pull them out, immediately begin pressing two mini pretzels into two corners for the "antlers" a red hot into the third corner for "Rudolph's nose", and two chocolate chips in the middle for the "eyes". If you have really little ones helping, you can remove the cookies to a cooling plate before building your reindeer. Rudolph's nose provides a little spice to compliment the sweet molasses flavor inherent in the gingerbread.

Let your reindeer cool while you do a second pan, and then it's time to get the munchies! I'm sure Santa won't mind if you eat one (or two or three) of his reindeer, just don't name them before biting off their tasty little noses!

Monday, December 7, 2015

'Tis the Season

This is our first December in Indy, and so it's our first Jolly Days at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. We went down to the museum on Black Friday to see Santa's big arrival, and got our first taste of the Yule slide, as well as our first taste of the new Gingerbread cafe. Mmmm, gingerbread....

I'm going to be honest with you, the cookies are my favorite part of every Christmas season.

Like many homes, December is full of traditions in our house. We like to kick off the holiday season by decorating our Christmas tree near the beginning of the month, and it just doesn't feel like the holidays until we have Christmas cookies to munch while we hang ornaments and listen to Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, and Nat King Cole sing our favorites. In fact, Bing and Bowie are singing their Drummer Boy duet as I type.

This year, Godzilla helped set up the tree. He's at that age where he's just enough help to be adorable while not being a hindrance to the process. We go with a fake tree for many reasons, so he got to help fluff the branches first, then took lessons in winding the lights up and around our tannenbaum. After fighting to find enough working strands of lights to fill the tree, it was ready for to get the full Christmas treatment, but as there are five of us, and Kate and I each work, time is limited. So we put off the day of decorating until the next weekend, when we could do the cookies and cocoa and carols.