Christmas memories - cookies...

Last Thursday our two oldest boys returned from California to celebrate Christmas with us. Since then, we've done lots of shopping and visiting and talking and trying to adjust two different time zones. The kitties are very happy to have their boys home, though I think Tiger is on an adrenaline high from so much stimulation! When the guys were out the other night, Tiger slept hard - had to build up his energy for all the tussling and snuggling that would go on when they got home and long into the night. Hard to go to bed at midnight when your body thinks it's only 9 p.m. Kitties seem quite able to adjust, though parents do not! In the midst of all the running around we've had to do and the remodeling that went on - finished up last week - we are behind on our annual Christmas cookies. One of my favorite memories of Christmas is the many years when Randy would bake all kinds of cookies until our freezer was bursting with choices. Friends would come over and we would take a plate to the basement freezer and fill it up with a variety of treats.

Randy has cookie recipe books and recipes snipped from various places and is always looking for something new. But some have become annual favorites. One came from a newspaper years ago and we still have that original clipping. They're called "Raspberry Foldovers". Here's the recipe.

Raspberry Foldovers

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks 1/2 tsp salt 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, cut into chunks 1/4 cup ice water 1 tablespoon milk raspberry jam confectioner's sugar

Cut cream cheese into chunks and add to food processor with metal blade or mixer with metal whisk (to get the cream cheese into chunks) along with the flour, butter, and salt. Add milk and ice water while the machine is turning. Processed dough should not be smooth but rather like popcorn in appearance.

Divide dough in half; roll out each half into a 10-inch square about 1/8-inch thick. Cut rolled-out dough into 2-inch squares. Place 1 1/2 tsp. of jam in center of each square.

Dampen two opposite corners or each square with water and pinch firmly together over center of jam. Place on greased baking sheet and bake in 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove immediately to cooling rack.

Cool. Sift confectioner's sugar over top of cookies, if desired.

Side note: These cookies are best eaten right away. Otherwise, freeze or refrigerate them.

Another holiday favorite:

Chocolate Raspberry Crumb Bars

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened 2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 1/4 tsp. salt 2 cups (12-ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided 1 1/4 cups (14-ounce can) sweetened condensed milk 1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans - optional) 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in flour, sugar, and salt until well mixed. With floured fingers, press 1 3/4 cups crumb mixture onto bottom of greased 13" x 9" pan; reserve remaining mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Combine 1 cup (or a little less) semi-sweet morsels and sweetened condensed milk in small, heavy-duty saucepan. Melt over low heat, stirring until smooth. Spread over hot crust.

Stir nuts into reserved crumb mixture; sprinkle over chocolate filling. Drop teaspoonfuls of raspberry jam over crumb mixture. Sprinkle with remaining morsels (little less if you don't want it quite so chocolatey). Continue baking for 25-30 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely on wire rack.

Makes 3 dozen bars.

Note: Of course, I can't imagine wanting something less chocolatey, but I suppose it is possible...

Trays filled with a variety of homemade cookies will remain part of my favorite Christmas memories. The best part for me is that I do very little of the baking! When I do attempt to make some of Randy's creations, they just don't turn out quite right. Randy has that magic, cookie-baking touch!

PersonalJill Eileen Smith