Bake the Halls – Sugar Cookie Swirls

These cookies are perfect for bringing to a Christmas party. This time of year reminds me of one of my first Christmas’s here in Kentucky, I was invited to a Christmas party at the house of one of the ladies (whom I’m now really good friends with) that works at the church I attend.

At the time the girls in my lifegroup (who are now in middle school!) were in the 3-5th grade area, and all the leaders were gathering at Wende’s house to hang out. This was before I had a iPhone and the internet, so I got the directions and didn’t write them down because, you know, I would be just fine. By the time I get  into her subdivision I no longer remember the name of the street she lives on nor the address, but no worries, I turned onto her street and went to the only house with an open door and the lights on. Now at this time I didn’t know Wende too well and only knew a handful of leaders, that night was the night to meet some new friends!! As I walk in the front door I greet the couple around my age inside with a Merry Christmas and they respond in kind.  They motion for me to sit on the couch, while I do, inside my head I’m wondering if I had ever seen them around church and notice that they must be great friends with Wende to be moving around her house in such a familiar manner.  I see them in the kitchen, and to be honest at this time I’m feeling a little bit awkward so of course I ask

“Can I help you guys with anything?”
“Oh we’re good, no worries”

But I was worried, what happened to Wende? And why was I the only one there? I was a little early since I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get there but I was just getting this weird vibe from the two people in the kitchen.

“Um, so where’s Wende?”
“This isn’t Wende’s house?”
“No, we don’t know who you are, but just figured you were a friend of a friend”
“Oh my gosh! I’m at the wrong house!!! Ummmm Merry Christmas guys!”

And then I awkwardly leave a random strangers house. Thankfully they were nice and they wished me luck in finding the house and a Merry Christmas. With a burning face of embarrassment I hid in my car and call to find out directions, I wasn’t even on the right street! She lived a street over…

Now, back to the cookies this was the first time I did these and let me tell you there are a couple of things that I’ll do differently the next time I make them. When I originally saw these cookies here, they look beautiful! So of course I figured it would be a cinch to make them and like the story above didn’t read any directions in making them. They were messy but fun to make and the next time I make them I will try the recipe on the link above.

Sugar Cookie Swirls



2 packets of Betty Crocker Sugar cookie Mix
2 sticks of butter
2 eggs
Food coloring


1. Make the Betty Crocker Sugar cookie mixes separately,  using the food coloring on one of the batches. Let refrigerate for 30 minutes. (The refrigerating for 30 minutes is what I will do differently next time. It can be done without letting the dough get cold, I just think that by refrigerating it the dough will be easier to roll out.

2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface, then place one dough on top of the other and roll both of the doughs together to get the swirl pattern.

3.  This is what I think is the hardest part… Adding the sprinkles, once the doughs are rolled together the next thing to do is to add the sprinkles, and you know what? Sometimes those little stinkers don’t want to stick on to the outside of the cookie dough! Once the dough has been sufficiently sprinkled I wrapped my now sprinkle cover cookie tube in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for an hour or so.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring the cookie tube out of the fridge and get a sharp knife and cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices into the tube. Place in the oven for 7-10 minutes until the sides are just turning brown. Please note that the cookies will expand! Quite a bit, so give them their room, once cooked let cool for 1 minute and then transfer onto a wire rack to continue to cool.


Bakes the Halls – Gluten free style!

I’m lucky enough to be part of a community of really great Christians, and have a close knit group of girls that I get together with on a weekly basis. We intentionally push one another on our walks with Christ. Th first time I had this treat we were celebrating 2 of the girls birthdays, both of them are gluten free. I was really skeptical of this brownie, but my expectations were blown away and I was surprised to say the I wanted the recipe! I’ve had other brownies that were gluten free and what I think makes this one stand out from those is the frosting that goes on top of the brownie.

Gluten Free Skillet Brownie

Original recipe found here

This tastes amazing!

This tastes amazing!


1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp Nutella

2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp Nutella
1/4 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar

1. Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the vanilla and the eggs.

2. Stir in the dry ingredients; the gluten free all purpose flour (if you aren’t gluten free by all means regular flour can be used), cocoa, salt and baking soda.

3. Once those are all mixed, fold in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a cast iron skillet. Once in the skillet, add the Nutella and swirl with a knife.

4. Bake for 35-40 minutes

5. To make the frosting, I would wait until there was just a couple of minutes left before the brownie was finished, or even start right after you take the brownie out of the oven. The frosting doesn’t take long at all to make. The original recipe used a microwave, since I don’t have one I used the stove. Melt the butter and chocolate chips over low to medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning.

6. Just as the chocolate chips were half way melted I added the milk (the chocolate was starting to stick to the bottom of the pan) and the Nutella.

7. Once the chocolate, milk and Nutella are melted and creamy remove the mixture from heat, and slowly start adding the powdered sugar. Once all the powdered sugar is added pour the frosting over the brownie, cut and serve! Make sure not to touch the skillet, its HOT!

More baking goodness!

Bake the Halls – Gingerbread

Bake the Halls – Sugar cookie frosting

12 Days of Cookies

Bake the Halls – Gingerbread

I made this recipe last year, and honestly I had to make it again! I had never really eaten or enjoyed gingerbread cookies. These however are soft and chewy and all over yummy, and since they were that good last year, why not make it again. If it’s not broken why fix it, right! Another thing that hadn’t changed from making these last year was the smell of molasses, if you have never encounter this before get ready. Personally I don’t care for the smell of it, if you go wonderful, but it does something magical when it’s in the oven to come out smelling and tasting nothing like the raw molasses. One thing I got this year was these rolling pin thickness gages. Fantastic I picked them up when I was wondering around in the craziness of holiday shopping, and they made it immensely easier to make cookies. I no longer had to worry if all the cookies would be different widths or if some would burn while others wouldn’t be cooked at all. If you do a lot of baking and haven’t picked these up, I would recommend picking some up.

4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 large egg


1. Whisk flour, salt, baking soda and spices. in a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the molasses and egg until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough out onto a floured surface, this is super important otherwise the cookies will stick and be all sorts of crazy when you try and put them on the cookie sheet. I used the thickest of the rolling pin rings, I believe it was 3/8 of an inch.

3. This year I made gingerbread men, stars and Christmas trees. Since these were pretty thick cookies and they puff up while in the oven I made sure to really give them their space on the cookie sheets. I baked them for 6-7 minutes.




Bake the Halls 2013

A little late on my Thanksgiving update but needless to say it was a ton of fun seeing my family for an extended weekend. Plus I got to meet the daughter of one of my best friends!! It was epic! One of the things that I actually tend to enjoy a lot is the drive, I know who likes a 6 hour drive? Well I do, not really the drive, but the forced time to reflect. I find that sometimes I get so caught up in life that I am just going, going, going, and without anytime to reflect back on it it’s hard to really enjoy my life. Let alone have the time to be thankful for all of the blessings in my life, for example as I write this tomorrow will be my last final for my first semester back at school in a long time. Woohoo!!

But on to the baking! Another blessing is my entire family bakes together and it is one of my fondest memories from childhood. I can still see the counter tops full of cookies, some cooling and some already packaged up and ready to be given out (with the ominous “DO NOT EAT” signs taped on them). It’s something I do to this day actually, ask anyone I am friends, volunteer, or work with, I love to bake and then give out all of the goodies! Last year I did a series call ’12 days of cookies’ and I’ll make a link available near the end of this post.

Thanksgiving was the kick off for baking, annnd I got my sister to post for some pictures for the blog! She says she doesn’t want to be on the blog, but deep down I think we all know she wants too ;). For the cookies, we used the dough from Betty Crocker sugar cookies, and made homemade frosting!



1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-3 tbsp milk


1. Make sure the butter is softened, and not melted. Add the vanilla and slowly add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time.

2. After the sugar is all added to make it easier to put into pipping bags and decorate the cookies add some milk. (Trust me, I tried to not add the milk thinking it would be fine, wrong, it didn’t work!)

3. Decorate the cookies and eat!!

*We split the frosting and dyed it different colors, as well as had some chocolate frosting that was left over from the chocolate cake we made for breakfast

Click here to go to the page that has a list (with links) to the “12 Days of Cookies” recipes.

Enjoy the pictures:

The set up

The set up

Val's apparence! And the cutting of the cookies
Val’s apparence! And the cutting of the cookies

Chocolate flavored tree trunks!

Chocolate flavored tree trunks!

I decorated the stockings and the snowflakes! Val did the trees and the snowmen

I decorated the stockings and the snowflakes! Val did the trees and the snowmen