Sunday, December 9, 2012

Making Cookies & Enjoying the Snow - Countdown to Christmas - Day 9

With the snow falling from the early hours of about 3:00 a.m. throughout the day, we were amazed at how the landscape went from looking like late-October to winter. 

By 5:00 p.m., there was more than 13 inches of snow...and it hadn't stopped snowing. We'll see what the snow depth is tomorrow morning. 

Red berries and a pine cone covered with snow.

In the morning, we went to church since the focus was on St. Nicholas and the girls enjoy seeing him each year. Unfortunately, when it was time for St. Nicholas to appear the pastor shared with the children that St. Nicholas was snowed in and unable to visit that morning.

Nonetheless, chocolate coins were distributed and the story about St. Nicholas was shared. The children were each given a gold chocolate coin and told that it was one that they should give to someone in church who they didn't know. Once they did that, they could come back to the altar and receive a chocolate coin. This was to remind them that St. Nicholas believed it was better to give than receive.

After church, Sophia and Olivia had play practice for the Christmas play that is this Friday and Saturday.

Driving home from church was challenging, at best. The visibility was limited; and the roads had not been plowed or sanded so they were slippery and rutted from other vehicles.

A "better" section of drive home.
Visibility was better here than in most parts.

Once we were home, we checked on the horses who were out in the pasture walking around. They seemed unaffected by the snow. As we parked the Jeep, Bailey and Hoss came to the fence to greet us. We brought carrots out for them for a special treat.

The snow, at this point, is almost as high as Hoss' chest.
By the end of the day, 
the snow was as high as half his height.
(Hoss is a miniature horse and stands less than 36 high 
from his hooves to the top of his head.)

In the short time that we were outside, we were covered with snowflakes.

Sophia with snowflakes in her hair.

The girls didn't mind...we haven't seen this much snow in a long time.

Olivia is excited about being covered in snow.

We took one last look around the front yard before heading inside. 

Snow-covered berries.
Cedar waxwings and robins like to eat these berries.

Everything looked so pretty with the snow on it.

This is the northern magnolia tree.

While Sophia and Olivia practiced their instruments (piano, harp, and violin), I worked on some Christmas gifts. When I took a break and looked out my window at the bird feeder, there was a bird I have never seen before.

I typed a description of it on Google. Nothing came up. Looked at the U.S. bird book. Nothing. Then I looked at the Minnesota bird book, and there it was: the Harris's sparrow. It's a pretty big bird - about the same size as a cardinal or a grosbeak.

The Harris's sparrow at the feeder.
I hope it stays around for awhile. 
It's an interesting bird - kind of a cross between
a cardinal (face markings), grosbeak (the beak), and 
a sparrow (feather color).

It normally lives in Canada. However, it migrates south through the Midwest States - starting with North Dakota and Minnesota and working its way south where it lives during the colder months. 


In the late-afternoon we made some cookies. One is called "A Light Dessert" and is from Family Fun magazine. We were going to make them yesterday, when Hanukkah started, but didn't have enough time.

So, we made nine candle-shaped cookies today to mark the nine days of Hanukkah.  

Olivia with one of the candle-shaped cookies.


Confectioners' sugar
Flower cookie with a center hole (we used Murray shortbread cookies)
Larger cookie (we used Anna's Ginger Thins)
Rolled wafer cookie (we used Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes)
Mini marshmallow
Orange decorating sugar
Red decorating gel (we used confectioners' sugar mixed with water and red food dye)


Make a simple icing by stirring together 1 teaspoon water and 5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar.

Use dots of icing to attach a small flower cookie with a center hole to a larger cookie.

Dab icing on one end of a rolled wafer cookie and press it into the center of the flower cookie. (Sophia used a knife to trim away some of the ends since the Pirouettes didn't fit into the center of the shortbread cookies.)

Sophia working with the Pirouettes and 
shortbread cookies.

For the flame, halve a mini marshmallow diagonally, dip the sticky side of one half in orange decorating sugar, and attach the half with icing. Spoon a few wax drips of icing down the candle's sides and use red decorating gel to embellish the base.

Olivia working with the icing to make it look like
dripping wax down the side of a candle.

We put the candle-shaped cookies on two plates and put them by the Advent wreath. This week is the second Sunday of Advent so two candles are lit now. The girls will add elements that represent plants to the wreath. These elements will join the rocks and gems that are there from the first week of Advent.

Nine candle-shaped cookies for Hanukkah.

The cookies are ones that the girls said they would like to make again next year.


We tried another new recipe - Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies. We have never used red velvet cake mix nor had all-red cookies so this was something different for us.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies


6 tablespoons butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon lemon zest


Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt butter; set aside to cool. Place powdered sugar and cornstarch in shallow dish. Mix with a fork to blend.

Place cake mix, cooled butter, eggs and lemon zest in large mixing bowl. Mix by hand until well blended and a dough forms.

Form dough into 1-inch balls and roll in powdered sugar. Place on cool, ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in center of oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Store in airtight container with wax paper or parchment separating layers.


For consistency, use a small scoop (1 to 1-1/4 inches in diameter) to form dough into balls.

For best results, bake only one sheet of cookies at a time. If two are baked at once, rotate sheets midway through baking.


The third dessert we made were Thin Mint Truffles. The recipe was pinned and linked to Cookin Cowgirl.

Four of the Thin Mint Truffles we made.


1 9 ounce box of Girl Scout Thin Mints (we used Keebler's Grasshopper Cookies)
4 ounces fat free cream cheese, slightly softened
8 ounces Guittard's green mint chips (we used green meltable chips)
8 ounces white chocolate chips or white chocolate bark (we used white chocolate chips)


In a food processor, pulse cookies a few times, and them blend them down until they are just crumbs. (We did this in smaller batches to make sure the cookies were all turned to crumbs.)

Next, mix in the cream cheese and crumbs together in a bowl until well incorporated. Roll the mixture into 24 1-inch size balls, and place them on a wax paper covered baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, so the balls are easier to dip in the chocolate and do not fall apart.

Once the truffles have been in the refrigerator for a while, melt the green mint chips in a double boiler or a microwave safe bowl.

(Note: this is where things didn't work out as well for us...we melted them in the microwave and the consistency is not the same as melting them over a double boiler. Also, we added a hint of mint extract to the melted chips and it changed the texture making it no longer a spreadable consistency.)

Roll half of the truffles in the green mint chocolate, and place them back on the wax paper. Melt the white chocolate and roll the remaining truffles. Once they have dried a little, place the remaining white chocolate in a small zip lock bag and cut a tiny bit of one corner off the bag. Start small at first, then if you need, make the hole a little larger. Drizzle the white chocolate over the green truffles. Do the same with the mint chocolate over the white truffles. Place the baking sheet back in the fridge so that the chocolate can set.

You could just use one one type of chocolate for the outside (which we did because of the difficulty with the texture of the melted green chips).


That was our ninth day in the Countdown to Christmas. It was a memorable and fun one for us all.


What Remains Now said...

Oh my goodness...look at that snow! We're supposed to get a dusting to 2" today, but then it will go away. The cookies look yummy.

germandolls said...

Would love to have some of that snow. Great photos!

Rita said...

I am so jealous of all the snow you guys got down there!! And the sweet cookies look delicious, too. The horses looked quite happy out there...and the bird, too. :)

Emily said...

Fun days! Looks like you guys are having a great time!