SFM Recipe Roundup: Cookies, Goodies, and Candies, oh my!

With the countdown to Christmas dwindling far too quickly, some of the gals at Simply Family Magazine kindly offered to share some of their favorite Christmas recipes for cookies, goodies, and candies (oh my!). And so, as you prepare to transform your kitchen into a Christmas goody creating machine, perhaps you’d like to give a few of our recipes a whirl…

P.S. You might want to stick around until the very last recipe, as I managed to sweet talk (pun so very intended) our Executive Editor into sharing her caramel recipe. Let’s just say we are one giddy bunch of SFM staff when those babies drop at the pre-Christmas editorial meeting.

Mashed Potato Cinnamon Rolls

from blogger/regular SFM contributor Stephanie Toews: Our family's tradition is to have them on Christmas morning and I only make them once a year! They are so moist and delicious and a treat we wait the entire year for.

For the rolls:

  • 1 package instant yeast (2 ¼ tsp.)
  • ½ Cup warm water
  • ½ Cup sugar
  • ¾ Cup shortening
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 1 Cup mashed potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • About 5-6 Cups flour


  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • ¾ Cup softened butter


  • 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

(Beat until smooth)

Directions: Heat milk and shortening until just simmering. Remove from heat and transfer to mixing bowl. Add sugar, potatoes, water and salt immediately. Stir and allow to cool.

Add instant yeast when cooled to tepid temperature. Add eggs and stir to combine well. Start with 4 Cups flour in mixer. Pour wet mixture onto flour and use paddle attachment. Once combined, switch to dough hook attachment. Add and mix in more flour to make a soft dough. Knead about 5 minutes on speed #2 until smooth and elastic consistency. Place dough in greased bowl and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours. Roll out dough to about ¼ inch thick into the shape of a rectangle. Use plenty of flour on flat surface, dough and hands. Spread softened butter on dough. Spread filling on top. Leave a small margin at the top and bottom of rectangle. Shape it to form a uniform log. Roll up from bottom to top. Cut to 1 ½ - 2 inch slices/ Place in greased baking pan ½ inch apart. Cover with towel and let sit for 40 minutes in a warm place to rise.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown on top. Spread frosting as soon as they come out of the oven.

Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

from SFM blogger/contributor Rebekah Rae: This is one of my favorite Christmas bars and was shared by one of my friend who lives over in Europe. Every time I make them I think of her and the fun memories we have together in spite of our distance. 

Thumbprint Cookies

from SFM Advertising Sales Executive Korinne Rice: This is the one cookie in which everyone was in the kitchen at the same time making and we'd laugh ourselves silly in the process.


  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1/2 Cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 Cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup finely chopped pecans - most people use walnuts, but we have several in the family with a walnut allergy, so swapped for pecans
  • fruit jam
  • powdered sugar icing (1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp milk) mix until desired consistency is reached - may add more milk or powdered sugar as needed
  • food coloring


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Separate egg, reserving egg white. Cream butter or margarine, sugar, and egg yolk.
  3. Add vanilla, flour and salt, mixing well.
  4. Shape dough into roughly 1 inch balls. Roll in egg white, then pecans. Place on cookie sheets. Bake for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove cookies from oven. With thumb, press into the center of each cookie creating a well to hold the topping.
  6. If using jam for filling, fill the well in the cookies with jam. If using frosting, just return to oven.
  7. Bake for another 8 minutes.
  8. If using the powdered sugar icing. Mix colors as desired (this is the part where it got goofy at our house as everyone wanted a different color) and spoon into well of thumbprint cookie.

Edible Christmas Wreaths

from SFM Assistant Editor Rebecca Stewart: I swore to myself that I would choose something other than the wreaths – let’s face it, I’ve been there done that, but the other staple my mama always made when we were growing up was Russian Tea Cakes, and they just don’t come with the same memories...So, my Grandma A’s most fantabulous Christmas Wreaths it is! Again.


  • ½ stick of butter/margarine
  • 1 bag of marshmallows
  • Splash of vanilla
  • 5 Cups of Corn Flakes
  • Green food coloring
  • Red Hots

*It behooves you to just go ahead and double this recipe


  • Trust me when I tell you, have everything measured and ready to go before you ever turn a burner on.
  • Spread wax paper over your kitchen table (or other work area). Tip:For easy wreath removal later, spray and spread your sheets with cooking spray.
  • Place a bowl or two of cold water on your working area. This makes the wreath forming go much more easily.
  • Have a potholder set up on your table, ready for your hot pot.

Cooking Directions:

  • Melt butter/margarine and marshmallows over high heat. Tip: Get your butter melting first – at least enough to cover the bottom of the pot, before adding the ‘mallows.
  • Add splash of vanilla.
  • When the lumps are gone, add green food coloring to your mixture until you’re satisfied with the color. Note: Don’t skimp on the food coloring, no one wants to eat an anemic wreath. They will, but it’s just not pretty.
  • Remove from heat, add cornflakes and mix until flakes are covered.

Forming the wreaths:

  • The younger kids are wonderful for adorning the wreaths with the red hots, while your older kiddos can help with the wreath forming.
  • With your freshly washed hands, dip your fingers into those bowls of water you set up during prep and grab fingerfuls of the wreath mixture.
  • Place on wax paper and form your wreath, using your finger to create the hole in the middle. They can be as big or little as you want.
  • As you and your older helpers are forming the wreaths, have your designated red hot technicians following behind placing the desired number of red hots on each wreath.

Once all is said and done, place your beautifully edible creations in containers and store in the refrigerator until it’s time to enjoy. (However, my husband would vote that you leave them to room temperature; your call).

Homemade Caramel

from SFM Executive Editor Jamie Besel: This is an old-family recipe from my husband's side of the family, and I've been sharing it with my family and friends for over a decade now.


  • 1 Cup Sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Cup Karo light syrup
  • 1 Cup butter
  • 2 Cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Combine all ingredients in large pan.  Cook on the stove over medium heat, stirring constantly.  The key is to slowly bring to a boil (don't rush!)  After it begins boiling, set the timer for 8 minutes, continuing to cook over medium heat and stirring to avoid burning.  Pour into buttered 9x12 pan (glass preferable), let cool.  Cut into small squares and wrap in wax paper.  Enjoy!

Note: if you prefer harder caramels, boil 2 minutes longer; for softer caramels, boil 2 minutes less.