This weekend welcomes the arrival of December and it's already time to start thinking about holiday baking and planning this year's cookie tray selections.
Saturday, Dec. 1 is also the 15th Annual Cookie Walk to benefit Hospice of the Calumet Area. It's at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 8955 Columbia Ave., in Munster and doors open at 9 a.m.
Shirl Pawlowski of Friends of Hospice tells me this year's cookie sale will once again feature one of my mom's annual cookie recipes, which she donated to the group last year and turned out to be a hit with cookie customers.
"We will begin our baking on Nov. 29 and are looking forward to once again offering 'Peggy's Christmas Pecan Crescents' for sale," Pawlowski said.
"They were 'gobbled' up so quickly last year, they sold out very fast, so we are delighted to bake them again and we thank your mom for letting us feature them as a highlight."
I'm also told anyone wishing to donate fresh baked cookies can contact Cynthia Camp at (219) 922-2732 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
And as readers plan to do their own holiday baking, I have some great recipes to share that are perfect to add as both new and old holiday traditions.
On Saturday, Nov. 17, I judged the holiday baking contest at the 5th Annual Holiday Kick-Off Celebration: A Tribute to "A Christmas Story" in Hammond.
This year's categories included:
• Best Old Fashioned/Traditional (such as the standards like chocolate chip, gingerbread, sugar, peanut butter...)
• Best No Bake/Texture (such as chewy, soft, crisp...)
• Creative Use of Ingredients (nuts, raisins, fruit, chocolate chips)
Our 2012 winners are Patty Grigutis of Lansing and her Easy Oreo Truffles (no bake category), Kevin Clutter of Hammond with his simple molasses cookies (traditional category), Jessica Klidaras of Lowell and her Coconut Jam Bird Nests (use of ingredients) and Barb Pakan of Munster and her grandmother's recipe for the Hungarian cookies called "Keflee" (grand prize winner).
Congrats to all the winners and a big thank you to the contest organizers and all the participates, as well as fellow judges, Chef Terry Zych of Ivy Tech and my fellow Times columnist colleague Eloise Valadez. This week, I'm sharing the first two winning recipes and next week, I'll publish the remaining two. Happy Holiday Baking!
Easy Oreo Truffles
1 (15-ounce) package of Oreo Cookies
1 (8- ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
1 (20- ounce) package of Almond Bark White Chocolate Coating
6 ounces of Almond Bark Chocolate Coating
DIRECTIONS: Chop up whole cookies in a blender or food processor until fine. In a large bowl, combine cookie mixture with cream cheese. Roll into balls the size of small walnuts and place on tray. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour. Melt the white chocolate coating and dip chilled balls and return to tray. Melt the milk chocolate coating and using a teaspoon, drizzle a little over each of the truffles to create a design. Refrigerate. Makes 3 dozen.
Mrs. Anderson's Molasses Cookies
1 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup dark molasses
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
White granulated sugar as needed
DIRECTIONS: Cream together the egg, 1 cup sugar, shortening and molasses. Set aside. Sift together the baking soda and spices with the flour and blend with the creamed mixture. Place dough in icebox for 8 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take a teaspoon of dough and roll in some white granulated sugar and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes and remove to cool on a cookie rack. Makes 2 dozen.