Food & Drink

Try these easy cookie recipes to help you get into the holiday spirit

Try making molasses cookies to get into the holiday spirit.
Try making molasses cookies to get into the holiday spirit. MCT

If it is time for cookies for school parties, Greek pastries and Slavonian pusharatas, then Christmas cannot be far behind.

To me, this is a scary thought. I am not, emphasis on the not, ready.

I didn’t do Black Friday or small business Saturday. I must confess I ordered one light-up mermaid Barbie on Cyber Monday; quantity was limited. I didn’t realize mermaid Barbies were so hot, but my purchase is now in my Santa closet.

It seems Thanksgiving was just last week, and already schools are ramping up for Christmas even though my granddaughter’s school doesn’t let out until Dec. 20.

Decorating the class Christmas tree becomes a milk and cookies party. I don’t mean to sound like the Grinch because I really love being a part of my granddaughter’s life, but let me repeat, I am not ready.

I love seeing the excitement on her face when she talks about her list for Santa and hearing her sing Christmas carols for her school program.

If, readers, you are like me, we have to get ourselves in gear. First up for me is baking cookies for the tree decorating. Of course, my Lilly will want to help. She loves cracking eggs and decorating the cookies. She is probably best at tasting anything sweet.

Remember the days when we ate raw cookie dough? Now, it’s not cool for several reasons.

Today, I am making Mexican wedding cookies, snowball cookies or pecan balls, whatever you call them. This is one of my favorite cookies next to my grandmother’s tea cakes and old-fashioned molasses cookies.

If you are struggling to get motivated like I am, I offer some easy cookie recipes that may put us in the holiday spirit. Just think how great the house smells with the aromas of cinnamon and spices.

Readers, please send me some of your best cookie and candy recipes quickly, and I will use them in my column before Christmas.

For extra help, check out these two bake sales. Don’t forget the women of Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Biloxi will be having their annual bake sale and Greek festival Saturday, Dec. 9. Also, the Slavonian Lodge Auxiliary is taking orders for pusharatas that will be available for pickup Dec. 23. I am on the “call” list for both events.

Appetizers, anyone?

Holly Gibbs, a Coast Realtor, is preparing for the holidays. She sent an appetizer recipe that is easy to make and tasty that makes use of good Gulf seafood, grilled prosciutto-wrapped shrimp.

Like cookies, easy appetizers are a must-have during the holidays. A few pretty trays, a punch or specialty cocktail and you have an instant party.

Readers, along with cookie recipes, please share your favorite appetizers for Christmas and New Year’s parties. Send them to my e-mail below or to Andrea Yeager, 407 Holly St. Long Beach, MS 39560.


If you need a lost recipe or just want to try a certain dish, send me an e-mail at and I will try to find it for you.

Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus additional for dusting

2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup ground pecans (if making for kids, I omit the nuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, set on medium, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in flour. Stir in vanilla extract and pecans, if using. I use my stand mixer and let the dough do its thing. Much easier that standing and hand-mixing.

Using your hands, roll heaping teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place dough balls onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake cookies until firm, 8-10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool completely.

Set cookies on wire racks over waxed paper. Sift confectioners’ sugar over tops of cookies.


1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon soda

Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and soda; mix until well blended. Take dough by spoonfuls and roll into balls and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees about 12 minutes. Yield: About 4 dozen tea cakes.


1 cup shortening

3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup molasses

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

Cream shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Mix in molasses and buttermilk. Add sifted dry ingredients. Chill dough.

Roll out to about 1/8-inch thickness and cut in desired shapes with a floured cookie cutter.

Bake on an ungreased baking sheet at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Baking time may vary with size of cookies.


24 jumbo shrimp, uncooked

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons sliced garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

12 slices (about 4 ounces) paper-thin imported prosciutto, cut in half crosswise

Salt and pepper

Lemon wedges

Rosemary sprigs

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving tails on.

Combine olive oil, rosemary, garlic, red pepper, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Let marinate for about 1 hour, no more.

Preheat barbecue grill (oil hot grill to prevent sticking). Remove the shrimp from the marinade and lightly wrap each with a slice of prosciutto (because the prosciutto is thin, it will stay wrapped).

Place shrimp onto hot grill and cook approximately 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Submitted by Holly Gibbs