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Food for Thought: Tips for the best homemade Christmas cookies

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Bake one cookie sheet at a time. If you need to do more than one, leave a couple of inches around the sheets for air circulation.

As many homemade Christmas cookies that end up on holiday feast tables, it might seem like they are the easiest festive desserts one can make. But there are plenty of ways Christmas cookies can go wrong.

Here are a few tips from Livingonadime.com to help you make the best homemade Christmas cookie

Getting ahead

1. Most cookie dough can be refrigerated or frozen: Mix as many batches as you can. Some great doughs for this are basic chocolate chip or sugar cookie dough. You can take these two and add almost anything to them: chips, dried fruit, candy etc.

2. Freeze the dough in small batches: If you want to bake one or two cookie sheets at a time, keep small rolls of dough in the freezer.

3. Measure out dry ingredients: Place the ingredients for your cookies in plastic bags so they are ready to use.

Baking

1. Use hat the recipe calls for: Whether it is butter, shortening or margarine and never use margarine that is whipped, soft spread or reduced fat. Your cookies will spread everywhere if you do.

2. Preheat your oven.

3. Bake one cookie sheet at a time: If you need to do more than one, leave a couple of inches around the sheets for air circulation.

4. Use a sugar shaker filled with flour: Using a container with large holes, sprinkle your board before rolling out cookies.

5. Same thickness: Each individual cookie must not have thin or thick spots or they will bake unevenly. Putting rubber bands on your rolling pin will help get an exact thickness.

6. No cookie cutters: If you don't have cookie cutters, roll out your cookies and cut in squares or diamond shapes with a pastry cutter or pizza cutter.

Storing and shipping

1. No need to freeze: Cookies keep very well for a long period of time without freezing.

2. Cool your cookies: Completely cool the cookies before storing. Store soft cookies in an airtight container, and use a container with a loose lid to store crisp cookies. Never store soft and crisp cookies together.

3. Shipping: When shipping cookies, be sure to give them plenty of time to get there and always mark "perishable" on the package.

EASY RECIPE

Bacon Cornbread Dressing

Serves: 12

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound applewood-smoked bacon, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

8 cups crumbled cornbread (see note)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 cups chicken or turkey stock, plus more if needed (see note)

6 large eggs

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

Steps

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the bacon across the bottom of a large cast iron skillet, place over medium-low heat, and slowly cook the bacon, stirring frequently, until it has crisped and the fat has rendered out, 8 to 10 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium, add the onion and celery, and cook until the vegetables are soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Stir in the crumbled cornbread and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until smooth. Whisk in the chicken stock and parsley. Fold into the cornbread mixture in the skillet until evenly combined. Bake until the dressing is set and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

- SouthernKitchen.com

DRINK

Diet drinks linked to heart issues

According to a recent study, artificially sweetened beverages might be just as bad for your heart as the sugary kind. Researchers at the Sorbonne Paris Nord University said that compared to people who didn't drink artificially sweetened beverages, high consumers were 20% more likely to have cardiovascular disease at any particular time.

FUN FACT

Hazelnuts

One in four hazelnuts end up in the popular Nutella spread.