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One of my favorite memories growing up is making Christmas cookies and candy with my Nana. She does it all: Thumbprints, Sugar Cookies, Pecan Tarts, Wedding Cookies, Buckeyes, Turtles, Fudge. She gave us each jobs from the time we could hold a spoon.

Now that I’m a mom, I look forward to making Christmas baking memories with my kids. Thumbprint cookies are a favorite recipe in our house. The kids can easily add the ingredients, roll the dough balls and press their little thumbs into each cookie, giving them an extra bit of love. The kitchen is a mess when we’re finished, but our bellies are full and and so are our hearts.


Thumbprint Cookies (Makes 3-dozen cookies)
Ingredients:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, separated
2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
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Directions:
Heat oven to 350ºF. Mix brown sugar, shortening, butter, vanilla and egg yolks in medium bowl. Stir in flour and salt until dough holds together. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Beat egg white slightly. Dip each ball into egg white. Roll in nuts. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press thumb deeply in center of each. Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Fill thumbprints with butter icing (recipe below.)



Butter Icing
Ingredients:
4.5 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
Food color of choice (optional)

Directions:

In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla, 1 tablespoon of the milk, and food coloring, if using. Gradually beat in just enough remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.
 
 
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This time of year, I love all things pumpkin. I can’t get my fill of pumpkin muffins, pumpkin lattes and my favorite treat – pumpkin butter. It’s really Fall on a spoon! I use it on my yogurt and granola, in smoothies, on toast and pancakes for an extra special breakfast treat. Sometimes, when no one’s around, I just eat it with a spoon right out of the jar. This yummy treat makes wonderful gifts and freezes well. Unfortunately, it’s not advised to actually “can” pumpkin butter, due to it’s low acidity and the viscosity of the squash, but it keeps well in the fridge for … well, I’m not really sure how long it will last – not more than a week or so, in my house.

Many thanks to Gina at skinnytaste.com,  one of my most favorite food bloggers, for this recipe. She also has lots of links to other Fall favorites using this treat as an ingredient. (http://www.skinnytaste.com/2007/07/skinny-pumpkin-madness.html)

Pumpkin Butter
Gina's Skinny Recipes
Servings: 30 • Serving Size: 2 tbsp • Old Points: 1 pts • Points+: 1 pts
Calories: 32 • Fat: 0.1 g • Protein: 0.5 g • Carb: 9.5 g • Fiber: 1.3 g • Sugar: 8 g 
Sodium: 3.5 g 

Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups pumpkin puree, or 1 (29 ounce) can (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup apple cider or juice
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (to taste)
Directions:
Combine pureed pumpkin, vanilla, apple juice, spices, cinnamon sticks and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Adjust spices to your taste. Makes 3 3/4 cups.