Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Gingerbread Cookie Butter Oatmeal Cookies

This time last year...

Most of our possessions were in boxes. We knew it was to be the last Christmas in our Pennsylvania home and we were preparing ourselves for the mental and emotional heartbreak that comes with saying goodbye to people and places that had come to be a part of us. I was pregnant with Daniel and on rest for placenta previa, rest that was much easier to accomplish since my foot was also still on the mend from a break that made mobility a bit more cumbersome. My knee scooter was my best friend. Our home was for sale, and we were having open houses every weekend leading up to Christmas. We also had found our current home and were in the process of purchasing it with the help of our amazing realtor who has become one of our dearest friends here. There was so much unknown on the horizon. Would we like our new home? Would the children adjust well in their new school? Would we be able to find a community like the one we enjoyed in Pennsylvania? How would I adjust being even further away from my family?

And now here we are...

The tree is trimmed, the winding banisters leading upstairs are covered with lights and garland, and we are eagerly preparing to celebrate our very first Christmas in Colorado. When we look back on how chaotic and stressful our lives were at this point last year, we can't help but feel so grateful that we not only survived that period in our lives but that we came out on the other side so happy and adjusted in our new home. We have been loving it here in Colorado - the sunshine, the beautiful scenery, the kind people. We are still forming our community and working on making friendships, a process that is innately slow and cannot be hurried, but we have already made some wonderful connections that we feel so blessed to have.

The kids are disappointed that we do not have as much snow on the ground as Erie would have had by now. In fact, we have no snow at all. What little snow that does fall from time to time quickly melts in the bright sunshine that beams down on us daily. I love it, but the children lament that they are unable to build snowmen, forts, or snow angels. However, Matthew did get to travel into high country to try his hand at skiing as I mentioned in a previous post. I promised that I would update you on what he thought about the skiing experience and all I have to report is that he did not complain about it one bit. He came back tired, exhausted really, but had very little to say about his day on the slopes other than that he wanted to go to bed and sleep. Believe it or not, that is a very good sign. If he had absolutely hated it, we would have heard about it. Matthew is much more vocal about complaints. He'll get back on his skis a few more times this season with Paul. The girls will take lessons together next winter and hopefully I'll get to ski with them as well. We are hoping that skiing will give them a whole new appreciation for the snow.

One thing I never did with the kids in Pennsylvania was go out of my way to visit Santa and have our pictures taken with the big guy. My kids have never been all that into Santa, mainly because Matthew has always said, "Santa creeps me out." And I had absolutely no problem with not going to the mall or somewhere and standing in a big long line to take a picture of my kids crying while sitting on the lap of an old guy dressed in red. No, thank you.

SO I have no idea what possessed me this year to take my kids down to the historic district of our little suburb where a Christmas market was being held and one of the most realistic looking Santas you will ever see was present hearing the Christmas requests of the children of Denver. Lucy announced that she wanted to visit Santa and I, being the sucker that I am, decided to do bundle everyone up and take them down there. When we arrived, about 20 minutes before Santa was supposed to arrive, the line of parents and kids was stretched out up and around the town square. I was informed that from where I was standing in line that it would be about an hour until we actually had our turn with Santa. I told the girls to forget it, but Lucy acted so disappointed and heartbroken that I was once again bamboozled into staying put.

So, we waited for over an hour and slowly inched our way closer and closer to meeting Father Christmas. The kids also became more and more tired and grumpy with every minute we had to wait. There were carolers entertaining the crowd and a real estate company was also passing out free hot chocolate so it wasn't complete torture to wait. But, it still was a long time.

Then FINALLY, we were next in line. I yanked Lucy out of the double stroller to prepare her for the big, highly anticipating meeting with Santa and what do you think she angrily tells me?

"I don't want to see Santa!"

You've got to be kidding me. After waiting in line for over an hour because LUCY was the one who wanted to see Santa in the first place? Oh, HO HO're definitely going to be seeing Santa, young lady.

When our turn was called, Emma happily leaped forward into Santa's arms and began feeding him lies about how well behaved and angelic she has been all year. Lucy, however, proceeded to burst into tears and yell: "I DON'T WANT TO SIT ON HIS LAP! HE'S SCARY! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOOO!" She wouldn't stop wailing as she collapsed into a heap at my feet while simultaneously completely wrapping her little body around my ankles.

At this point, I pretty much hated my life.

The elf helper was yelling at me to start taking pictures to capture this beautiful moment with Santa. I couldn't move because Lucy was so tightly wound around my legs and my camera was buried in the diaper bag in the back of the stroller. I awkwardly shuffled over towards it, slowly dragging a little limp Lucy along with me, and pulled the camera out to hopefully snap a quick photo of Emma with Santa before leaving the wretched place with my tail between my legs. Without even looking into the viewfinder, I snapped a couple quick shots and then encouraged Emma that we had to beat it. She happily waved goodbye to Santa and I shoved everyone else out of the way to make way for the next parents.

And these were the treasured shots I captured...

At least we got a coupon for free cookies and a couple candy canes out of the deal. And I will never, ever, ever be doing that again.

And speaking of cookies, it's time for a cookie recipe! What clever segue that was! Not much really to say about today's recipe except that they were a new recipe I decided to try this Christmas season and they certainly paid off in flavor. In a word, these are simply scrumptious or "scrummy" as Mary Berry would say. My kids love everything gingerbread or molasses flavored. When I asked them what cookies they wanted to help make for Christmas, ALL of them wanted "gingerbread men" and nothing more. As a child, I don't remember being particularly drawn towards gingerbread flavors, so this fetish must come from Paul who also adores molasses anything. Another thing Paul adores is cookie butter - particularly the Trader Joe's variety. So, when I spied this recipe and noted that it not only contained ginger and molasses but cookie butter as well, I knew it had to result in a tasty treat. This recipe has quickly found a spot in the "favorites" file. The kids have already eaten a dozen or so and would have eaten more had I not cut them off, stashed the remainder into a tupperware, and hidden it atop our refrigerator where they all are fortunately still too short to reach.

If you get your hands on a jar of cookie butter, make these! You can find the Biscoff brand of cookie butter in the aisle with the peanut butter at most major grocery stores or, of course, if you are blessed enough to live near a Trader Joe's, their cookie butter is pretty amazing. Lucy enjoyed a few spoonfuls before the rest was dumped into the cookie dough.

Gingerbread Cookie Butter Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) butter, softened to room temperature
1 2/3 cup (14-ounce jar) cookie butter (see note)
3/4 cup (5.5 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5.5 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 cups (7 ounces) quick oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. (Just always always always do this for cookies)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer), cream together the butter, cookie butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and ginger until creamy and fluffy, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the molasses, vanilla and eggs and mix until well-combined, 1-2 minutes, Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and quick oats and mix until combined (don't over mix, just mix until evenly combined and no dry streaks remain).

Scoop the dough into balls about 2 tablespoons each (I use my #40 cookie scoop) and place a couple inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes until set around the edges with a few cracks on top but still soft in the middle. Let the cookies rest for a few minutes on the baking sheets.
Remove the cookies to a cooling rack. The cookies stay soft for a couple days stored well-covered at room temperature and freeze well, too, for several months.

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