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Have a Fun Neighborhood Cookie Exchange

Christmas Cookie Exchange Tips

What's better than cookies with friends?

Cookie swaps or exchanges are fun ways to gather friends and neighbors for a festive time. They're so easy to organize and require very little effort on any one person's part. You can host one at work, home, church or other group. Just the mention of coffee and cookies will get people interested! Here's how they work.

What is a Cookie Swap?

Cookie swaps are a time for friends to bring over a few dozen cookies for exchanging.

You decide in advance how many dozen to ask each person to bring. Usually, it's two dozen - one to swap and one for guests to enjoy at the party.

Everyone bakes the recipe of their choice and arrives with a container big enough to hold the stash of cookies they will take home. You can also offer gallon sized zipper bags or Chinese take out cartons if you like. Your guests can fill them as they go.

A Christmas cookie swap is probably the most popular, but don't limit yourself to the holidays! other great ideas are birthday, spring time or housewarming cookie swaps.


Send out invitations with a cute cookie or baking theme.

You can find free printable invitations online, make one of your own, or even use a recipe card as a unique invitation! Be sure to ask everyone to bring the recommended cookie amount and tell them they'll be going home with a variety of cookies as a reward for their labors.

Most people have either heard of or been to a cookie swap in the past, so they will be able to help out those who aren't familiar with the process.

Free Printable Cookie Swap Invitation

  • Holiday Cookie Swap Invitation
    A great printable invitation that you can fill in with your date and time. Also includes helpful instructions for your guests about what to bring, printing the recipe, etc.

Start the Party

When the guests arrive, you take their cookies and place them on a table. Arrange the one dozen that's meant for swapping and leave it on the table. Take the other dozen into the kitchen so you can arrange it on a large platter along with everyone else's dozen when you serve the coffee.

When everyone has arrived, you can play a fun name game if everyone doesn't already know each other. Or you can just enjoy chatting and visiting with each other.

Serve coffee and tea and the one dozen cookies that each person has brought. Chances are the conversation will turn to funny stories of baking mishaps and staying up all night to make the deadline. It's all in good fun.

Cookies, Cookies, Everywhere!

Then, the swapping begins. Place all the cookie tins or plates to swap around the perimeter of your table. Each guest goes up and takes one cookie from each plate. When all the guests have gone, if there are any extras, they can be shared for take home as well. Some people might want to take more than one of one kind and none of another for allergy reasons. So be sure to list the type of cookie and what it contains. You might even want to ask people to bring their recipe and put it out in front of their tray.

You'll find the variety of cookies is wonderful. You may get a few chocolate chip or sugar cookies, but no two batches will taste the same. It's all in the magic the baker has put in and the ingredients she used.

Christmas Cookies for Swap - Photo Credit Bill Roehl

Share the Recipe!

Find Free Printable Recipe Cards at

Start your own cookie swap!

The fun of the cookie swap is that everyone takes home gourmet cookies they ordinarily wouldn't have had time to bake or wouldn't have known how to. You may get some ethnic or regional specialty cookies that some have never tasted before.

There really are no hard and fast rules other than to have fun. But there is one requirement that you must adhere to. No one is allowed to bring in store bought cookies. It ruins the excitement for those who spent time baking. A store bought cookie just doesn't have the same panache as a home baked one does.

Candied Yams Recipe

Candied Yams Recipe

Picture courtesy of jillmotts om Creative Commons.

Delicious Candied Yams Recipe

Yams are basically the dark orange fleshed variety of sweet potatoes. They are commonly used to make Candied Yams here in the South and they are enjoyed every year during Thanksgiving at my house. Candied yams are seasoned with butter, dark brown sugar, and other spices and baked to yummy perfection. Some people add nuts while others choose not to.

Still, a lot of people debate on whether to add bake marshmallows on the top of their candied yams. No matter how to choose to finish off your candied yam recipe, the basis for the recipe is the same. You can dress them up any way you like. Pile them on a plate with turkey and green beans and you have a plate full of Southern deliciousness. Happy Thanksgiving ya'll!

Picture courtesy of Cat on Creative Commons.

How To Make Candied Yams

Candied Yams Ingredients

What you'll need: 5 yams or sweet potatoes, unpeeled, about 4 pounds total weight

For the Topping:

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice,

(or substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and allspice)


Candied Yams Directions

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F.

Wrap each yam in aluminum foil, pierce all over with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Bake the yams until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 1 hour.

Remove the yams from the oven, and reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Unwrap the yams immediately and let cool. Using your fingers or a sharp knife, peel the yams and cut crosswise into slices 1 inch thick.

FOR TOPPING: In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, walnuts and pumpkin pie spice. Using a fork or your fingertips, mix until coarse and crumbly.

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Place half of the yam slices in the prepared dish, arranging them in a single layer. Sprinkle evenly with half of the topping. Layer the remaining yam slices on top and sprinkle with the remaining topping. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake until the topping melts and is bubbling, 15-20 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of

Invited To Someone Else's House for Thanksgiving?

Don't Forget The Hostess Gift!

If you've been invited to a friend or family members house for Thanksgiving, don't forget to bring a little something to show just how much you appreciate all their hard work. They've probably spent endless hours in the kitchen whipping up an amazing Thanksgiving feast so buying them a little thank you gift is the least you can do.

Think about baking up a batch of brownies and presenting them in a fall themed tin or buy some gourmet cookies online or from a local bakery to give to the hostess. He or she will appreciate your thoughtfulness!

Scandinavian Rosette Cookies

Scandinavian Rosette Cookies

Light and Crispy Deep-Fried Cookies!

No, they're not some kind of rose cookie, but they are just as pretty! Rosettes are special crisp, tender pastries that are traditional in Scandinavia. An intricately designed heated iron is dipped into the batter, then immersed in hot oil to create a crisp shell around the metal. Once the cookie is golden brown, it is separated from the iron then sprinkled with powdered sugar or dipped in a glaze for a wonderful treat!

Rosette irons can be found in a wide variety of shapes. Your best resource for finding unique rosette irons is online. There are shapes for holidays, along with general shapes (star and flower shapes).

Rosette Recipe

Making Rosettes is a great family tradition around the holidays and is a unique addition to your traditional Holiday cookies! Here's what you'll need to get started...


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Making Rosette Cookies

I find that watching instructional videos really does help when trying your hand at making rosettes for the first time. Below are a couple great ones from YouTube.

Step 1: Prepare Your Ingredients

Heat your oil in a large pan or deep fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. I prefer to use a Deep Fryer since it regulates temperature so there's no guessing if your oil is too hot or not hot enough. You will want to use about 8 cups of oil so you can cover the complete cookie iron without touching the bottom of the pan.

Combine eggs, sugar, and salt; beat well. Add remaining ingredients; beat until smooth.

Step 2: Dip Iron Into Batter

Heat rosette iron in deep, hot oil (350 to 375 F) for two minutes. Drain excess oil from iron then tap the iron on paper towels. Dip in batter to 1/4 inch from top of iron, then immediately into hot oil.

*Important - make sure you only dip the iron about 3/4 of the way into the batter. Any further and your cookie may stick to the iron.

Rosette Baking Tips

  1. You can substitute lemon extract for the vanilla
  2. Do not add sugar toppings until you are ready to serve, they get soggier if they have sugar on them when stored.
  3. Soggy rosette? It should be fairly crisp as soon as it is slightly cool. Your fat may be too cool or you are not frying long enough.

Step 3: Fry Your Cookie

Fry rosette until golden brown - about 30 seconds. Lift out; tip upside down to drain. With fork, push rosette off iron onto rack placed over paper towels.

Reheat iron 1 minute; make next rosette. (Reheat iron for 1 minute between each cookie.)

*Some people tap their iron while it is in the oil which causes the cookie to fall off the iron. If you want to try this, make sure you have some tongs handy to lift out cookie. Depending on how seasoned your irons are, this may or may not work for you.

Rosette Toppings

To finish off your cookies, you can sprinkle rosettes with sugar, cinnamon, or powdered sugar. I prefer mine with a glaze that adds an extra sweetness that my whole family loves!



  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Food color, if desired


Mix all ingredients until smooth. Dip completely cooled cookies in glaze.

Anti-Pie Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

Go ahead, start a new tradition

I really have nothing against pie.  It is a frequent guest to our Thanksgiving, and it's always welcome.

Maybe you're not a lover of pie, or maybe you would like to end your meal with something new this year.  Well you've come to the right place!  After this introduction there will be no more mention of pie!

Below are a few of my favorite dessert recipes that perfectly complement a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  After your dinner guests get a taste of these, they'll be saying "Pie who?"

Turkey Cupcake Flickr Photo Credit: Bisayan lady

Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin doesn't have to lay flat - let it roll!

Pumpkin Roll Cake Recipe


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipped topping
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs on high for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in white sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Add pumpkin and lemon juice.

3. In another bowl combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg; fold into the pumpkin mixture.

4. Grease a 15x10x1 inch baking pan; line with waxed paper. Grease and flour the paper. Spread batter into pan; sprinkle with walnuts.

5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

6. Immediately turn out onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar. Peel off paper and roll cake up in the towel, starting with the short end. Cool.

7. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, 1 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup whipped topping, butter, and vanilla until fluffy.

8. Carefully unroll the cake. Spread filling over cake to within 1 inch of edges. Roll up again. Cover and chill until serving. Dust with additional confectioners' sugar, if desired.


Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

If the bowl was any bigger you would dive right in

Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle Recipe


  • 2 (14-ounce) packages gingerbread mix
  • 1 (5.1-ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping
  • 1/2 cup gingersnap cookies, optional

Picture credit: Colleen Greene on Flickr


1. Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool.

3. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding.

4. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a trifle bowl.

5. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping.

6. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping.

7. Sprinkle of the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate overnight.

Don't let the shape fool you... It's a cake.

Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake



  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cups finely ground ginger cookies
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 4 - 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place the oven rack in the center of the oven.

2. Butter (or spray with a non stick spray) an 8 inch spring form pan.

3. For Crust: In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, finely ground ginger snap cookies, sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared spring form pan. Cover and refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling.

4. For Cheesecake: In a separate bowl, stir to combine the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.

5. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), on low speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth (about 2 minutes).

6. Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until creamy and smooth (1 to 2 minutes).

7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition.

8. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree.

9. Pour the filling over the chilled ginger crust and place the spring form pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips.

10. Place a cake pan, filled halfway with hot water, on the bottom shelf of your oven to moisten the air.

11. Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to bake the cheesecake for another 10 - 20 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake are puffed but the center is still wet and jiggles when you gently shake the pan.

12. Meanwhile whisk together the sour cream, vanilla extract and sugar.

13. Pour the sour cream mixture over the top of the baked cheesecake and rotate the pan slightly to evenly distribute the topping.

14. Return the cheesecake to the oven and bake about 8 minutes to set the topping.

15. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Loosen the cake from the pan by running a sharp knife around the inside edge (this will help prevent the cake from cracking). Then place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan so the cheesecake will cool slowly.

16. When completely cooled, cover and refrigerate at least eight hours, preferably overnight, before serving this gourmet cheesecake.

Anti-Pie Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

Maple Praline Cheesecake Recipe

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup English toffee bits or almond brickle chips


  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 cups whipped topping
  • 1/4 cup English toffee bits or almond brickle chips


1. In a bowl, combine the pecans, coconut, flour, and brown sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack (leave oven on).

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Combine brown sugar and flour; add to cream cheese. Add the cream, syrup, vanilla and salt; beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs just until combined. Stir in toffee bits. Pour over crust. Return pan to baking sheet.

3. Bake until center is almost set, 50-55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.

4. Remove sides of pan. In a small bowl, combine the syrup and whipped topping; carefully spread over cheesecake. Sprinkle with toffee bits. Refrigerate leftovers.

Bake a perfect cheesecake - Give your cheesecake a bath

I'm Thankful for Chocolate

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart Recipe

Shell Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Bleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, preferably superfine
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 large egg (beat before measuring)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

Shell Directions:

1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine well.

2. In a food processor, with the metal blade, process the sugars for several minutes or until very fine.

3. With the motor running, add the butter cubes then add the peanut butter and process until very smooth and creamy, about 10 seconds.

4. With the motor running, add the egg and vanilla extract and process until well blended, scraping the sides of the bowl.

5. Add the flour mixture and pulse until just combined.

6. Scrape the dough into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

7. Press dough evenly into pan.

8. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

9. Bake shell in a preheated 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden. It will puff at first and then settle down toward the end of baking. The sides will be soft, but spring back when touched gently with a finger.

10. Cool on wire rack.

Peanut Butter Mousse Ingredients:

  • 7 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 liquid cup heavy cream, softly whipped

Peanut Butter Mousse Directions:

1. In a mixer bowl, preferably with the whisk beater, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar until uniform in color.

2. On low speed, beat in the vanilla. Beat in 1/4 cup of the whipped cream just until combined.

3. With a large rubber spatula, fold in the rest of the whipped cream until blended but still airy.

4. Scrape the mousse into the prepared tart shell and smooth the surface so that it is level.

5. Refrigerate the tart while preparing the ganache.

Milk Chocolate Ganache Topping Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces milk chocolate finely chopped
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
  • 1/3 liquid cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Milk Chocolate Ganache Topping Directions:

1. Chop chocolate until very small.

2. Bring the cream to a boil.

3. Pour cream over chocolate, let sit for a minute, then stir until emulsified.

4. Add vanilla. Let cool to room temperature.

5. Pour the ganache over the peanut butter mousse in a circular motion, so that it does not land too heavily on any one spot and cause a depression.

6. With a small metal spatula, start by spreading the ganache to the edges of the pastry, then spread it evenly to cover the entire surface.

7. Refrigerate the tart for at least 2 hours to set.

Store at room temperature up to 1 day, refrigerated up to 5 days, frozen up to 3 months. (Wrap after freezing to preserve shiny coating on ganache).

How to Send a Cookie Care Package to the Troops

How to Send a Cookie Care Package to the Troops

Make the Holidays Brighter for the Brave Men and Women Overseas

With so many of our courageous armed forces serving overseas (and right here in America) today, it's a great idea to send a care package to them.

You can include toiletries, candy, socks, or anything you think they might like or needs, but a great way to put a smile on a soldier's face is to send a cookie gift basket care package!

You don't have to know a soldier personally to brighten their day. Below I show you how to get shipping information for soldiers who would love to receive a care package to let them know someone's thinking of them!

Pick Your Cookie

How to Send a Cookie Care Package to the Troops

You can bake them yourself or send store bought cookies. Just consider the fact that the cookies will be jostled around countless times in the mail. So select a bar cookie or other stable cookie that won't crush as easily.

You can make chocolate chip bar cookies using the recipe on the Nestle Toll House Morsels package (shown below). Or you can search your favorite cook book for different recipes for bar cookies that are able to take the bouncing.


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Nestle® Toll House® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts


Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

How to Send a Cookie Care Package to the Troops
Flickr Photo Credit: WI Guard Pics

Finding a Soldier's Information

Many people hesitate to send a cookie box to the soldiers because they don't know how. They think it's hard or that they will do it wrong and it won't get there. It's actually very easy to send a care package to our armed forces. Here's how:

Go to and you will see how easy it is. You select the branch of the service you'd like to send to from Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard. Then, you will find a list of soldiers who you can send packages to. You can sort the list by state that the soldier is from, how many requests have been made for that soldier's name, the date the soldier signed up, where he or she is stationed and more. It's up to you. Select your soldier's name and a screen will show what he or she has requested, or you can send any cookies you like.

Next, you'll enter your address on a form that pops up. The site will then send you an email with the soldier's contact information. You can request up to three names a day.

How to Send a Cookie Care Package to the Troops
Flickr Photo Credit: WI Guard Pics


How to Send a Cookie Care Package to the Troops

Once you have selected your cookies, select your packaging. Using current newspapers is a great idea because the soldier can then read them after he unpacks the cookies. You can also use unbuttered popcorn as packing material as it will cushion the cookies. Bubble wrap works as well.

Your box should be sturdy and you should tape it securely. Once the box is closed, you shouldn't really hear much move around when you lightly shake the box. It's better to choose a bigger box with more packaging.

Shipping your Package

When your box is all packed, clearly write the full name and address of the soldier including the site name. When you get to the post office, you will need to fill out a simple customs form. The clerk will give you the right form when you tell her you're shipping to a soldier.

Fill it out with the address of the soldier and your name. Where it asks for the contents you will put "cookies." Where it asks for the value, you can put "$0."

It's as simple as that. Just hand your box to the post office clerk and pay the shipping. It's not as expensive as you might think to ship overseas. And what you're doing is brightening the day of a soldier (and their regiment if he or she will share!). Send a bunch of boxes to different soldiers if you like or send to the same soldier each time. It's up to you.

Image by expertinfantry on Flickr

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