I’m amazed at how much of our time during the holidays is spent talking about, making and eating delicious food. It seems that every family has a traditional cookie recipe, a popular dish that they take to every party and some Christmas day traditions that revolve around food. Our family of course has all of the above and then some! Here are some ways that we like to get out and enjoy all that Indiana has to offer during the holidays:

Each year we make our way down to Martinsville to visit the Candy Kitchen where we watch the owners make a giant batch of their famous (orders must be placed in the summer) candy canes. We stand behind a glass window and watch as magic seems to happen. The Martinsville Candy Kitchen is so appropriately placed in Indiana where we are 4th in both peppermint and spearmint production!

Indiana is home to over 200 Christmas Tree Farms! Every year over 200,000 Christmas trees are grown for families all over the United States! We’ve enjoyed making our way to a local Christmas Tree Farm, taking a wagon ride and sawing down our very own tree. The tree is loaded up for us and then we sit in the main cabin sipping delicious hot chocolate and snacking on popcorn.

Another fantastic tradition that we’ve enjoyed during Christmas Time is spending a breakfast with Santa Claus! Where we feast with the old guy changes each year but we just love the pancakes, omelets with ham, bacon and sausage that is served as we dine as a family with other local families. Indiana is 5th in the nation for raising hogs, so there’s a really big chance that the yummy bacon and sausage are from right here at home.

One tradition that we adopted from my husband’s family is having meatballs and monkeybread for breakfast. In the past, his family would host an open house at their home before Christmas Eve service at church. There were always leftover meatballs and other appetizer items. Add those to the delicious fresh monkeybread that his mom would make on Christmas morning and you have a well balanced feast! Jay and I added our own favorite beverage to the Christmas day meal. We love to make mulled cider in the crockpot using Hard Cider from Indiana’s own Oliver Winery. Often we’ll make this several times throughout the season; when decorating the tree and for Christmas parties.

Even though I’m not really a big fan of eating cookies, I am a big fan of making cookies with my daughter. We make shortbread thumbprint cookies with raspberry jam filling. The best way I’ve found to make cookies with young kids (Lulu started helping in the kitchen when she was around 18 months old) is to measure everything out into cups and bowls and containers, put it all on a tray and let them pour the ingredients into the mixer. Lulu is also a fan of trying to roll the dough up into balls, which is perfect for our recipe! I’m so thankful that our oven has a light because Lulu will park herself right in front of the oven door and watch as the first tray of cookies bake. Oh, and you know she’s just so helpful at cleaning off (licking) the mixing utensils!

Tart Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

1 cup of butter
⅔ cup of sugar
½ tsp of vanilla extract
½ cup of jam
1-2 tsp of lemon juice (if you like a tart flavor — we do)

Cream the butter and sugar and beat in the vanilla. Gradually blend in all of the flour. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour. We generally make the dough after lunch and then let it chill while we nap. Roll the dough into one inch balls and put them on a cookie sheet. Use your thumb/finger to make an indentation. Warm the jam in the microwave and then stir in the lemon juice. Fill the indentations with the jam/lemon mixture. Bake at 350 for 14 to 18 minutes.

Thank you to Indiana’s Family of Farmers for helping me share fun Indiana farm facts each quarter. Their gifts for my kitchen have really enhanced our holiday cookie making and dinner entrees! We love the great conversations we have around our dinner table about Indiana Food and Indiana Farms. I’m proud to be an Indiana’s Family of Farmers Table Talk Contributor and Ambassador. Like them on Facebook!