Saturday, December 5, 2015

Diamonds, Chocolate, and Cookies are a Girl’s Best Present

Congratulations to "Tammy Y.", the winner in Lisa's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

            The Christmas season is upon us. It is my favorite time of year, and the only time of year I enjoy snow.  I try to do the bulk of my Christmas shopping before December rolls around, allowing more time for friends, wrapping, cooking, and baking.
            In A Shenandoah Christmas, winner of the 2015 Booksellers Best Novella Award, Katherine Roberts, the matriarch of the family, loves to cook. From homecoming lasagna to Christmas Eve dinner to Christmas roast to muffins, pancakes, and glorious desserts, Katherine is famous for her skills in the kitchen.
            I also love to cook, and I spend many fulfilling and filling hours in my kitchen during December. Fudge, peppermint bark, and sugar cookies are family favorites, with the sugar cookies topping the list. Everyone seems to love this simple recipe, and you can substitute almond extract for vanilla if you want a change of flavor.

Question: What’s your favorite Christmas/Holiday cookie?
One commenter wins a box of chocolates, a new recipe book, and a copy of A Shenandoah Christmas.

Christmas Sugar Cookies
2 Sticks Butter (1 cup), softened
1 Cup Sugar
1 Egg, slightly beaten
3 Cups Flour, sifted
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 ½ Teaspoons Baking Powder
½ Teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Milk

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
3. Cut in butter until particles are fine.
4. Add egg, milk, and vanilla – blend.
5. Roll out dough onto a floured area, and cut with cookie cutters as desired.
6. Decorate with colored sugar, or an edible decoration. *
7. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on thickness of cookie. (We like them on the thicker side in my family so it’s normally 8 minutes.) 
* If you’d rather frost the cookies, bake them without sugar or sprinkles, and then apply frosting when the cookie is completely cooled.

Her sweet voice stopped him. She sounded puzzled, but not angry.
His body moved as metal drawn to the magnetic power of her lips when they spoke his name.
“Hey.” Thirty years old, and that was the best he could summon from his mental vocabulary list? Pathetic.
“What are you doing here?” Allyson walked past a customer and stood before him.
“I didn’t know you were working here.”
 “Sorry I didn’t tell you.” She uttered the words, which sounded sincere, except for the fact that her focus was on a woman examining the rack of shower curtains. “I, ah, wanted to pick up the extra cash while I could.”
 “Want to grab some coffee when you finish?”
Her usual eager smile did not appear. “Sorry, Drew, but I’m already beat. I’ve got another two hours here. Can we meet at church in the morning?” She lifted her hand as if to touch him, then tucked it into her jeans pocket.
The urge to point out the movement, to ask what gives, filled his throat. Andy choked it back, aware of the couple standing six or seven feet to his left. The answers he desperately wanted would have to wait.
He nodded. “Church it is. Any chance we could grab lunch after?”
There it was, for a split second—a flash of pain that darkened her cornflower-blue eyes. He closed the gap between them and ran his hand along her left arm. “Allyson, are you okay?”
“Fine. Just tired. And I’m working tomorrow from noon to eight, so I’ll be eating lunch as I drive from church to the Emporium. But I’ll see you for dinner at your parents’ on Christmas Eve. Okay?”
“Okay.” No, it wasn’t okay. Nothing about this was okay, but what more could he say to her? He lowered his lips to her cheek and gave her a gentle kiss. “I love you.”
“Me too,” she said as he stepped back. A customer seized that moment to approach her. Before walking off with the guy in the tacky Christmas sweater, Allyson smiled and said, “See you tomorrow.”
“I’ll be there.” His feet felt weighted, walking away from her. The conversation hadn’t gone as he’d hoped, not even close to what he’d imagined.
As he pulled the store’s door shut behind him, the click of the latch shifted a puzzle piece into place within his heart. Allyson hadn’t said “I love you.” Not tonight, and not for days, maybe weeks. She said, “me too,” but she hadn’t spoken an “I love you” to him since—when? Thanksgiving?
He needed to think. He drove to the dock and stared out at the water, at the stars in the sky, at the Shenandoah’s empty mooring ball. Andy began scrolling through all their text messages on his cell phone. December 4—there it was. The last day Allyson had written an “I love you” to him. How had he missed it? How had three weeks gone by and he hadn’t picked up on it?
The dull throbbing of doubt that had plagued him all day grew to an intense searing pain as his heart rent into unrecognizable pieces. 
Allyson didn’t love him anymore.

Ebook Buy Links for A Shenandoah Christmas

About the Author:

 Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha’s Vineyard.  She loves time with her family and friends, running, gardening, outdoor activities, cooking, chocolate, reading, traveling, a healthy dose of adventure, and her cat, Ben, who keeps her company while she creates fictional lives for the numerous characters living inside her head.
Lisa runs as an ambassador for TEAM 413 (, and has completed a marathon (26.2 miles) in all fifty states.
Lisa’s stories are set on the Vineyard amidst the magnificence of the ocean, the beauty of sandy beaches, rolling hills, and ancient cliffs, as well as the people and events that make the Island so very unique.
When she’s not at her desk, Lisa is living in paradise, volunteering at her daughter’s school, serving in her church community, planting and weeding her numerous gardens, training to run the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge in January 2016, walking the beach looking for sea glass, or enjoying a great meal while she pens the cuisine column for Vineyard Style Magazine.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Dec. 6th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. US residents only.


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me once again, Maureen. I'm looking forward to a few new cookie ideas!

  2. My family has a tradition of making M&M cookies together for the holidays! We also enjoy chocolate chip cookies with walnuts.

    1. Hi Colleen,
      I'm a huge fan of chocolate chips with walnuts. We've never made M&M cookies. I think everyone eats the M&Ms before I can even think about using them in cookies - LOL

    2. I love no bake cookies in the South they're called preacher cookies they are oatmeal peanut butter and chocolate

    3. I love no bake cookies in the South they're called preacher cookies they are oatmeal peanut butter and chocolate

    4. Cherrilynn, I need to get that recipe from you! Peanut and chocolate is probably my favorite combination.

  3. chocolate chip

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    1. Probably my all-time favorite cookie - chewy ones.

  4. I love gingerbread cookies.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

    1. I love gingerbread cookies too! We also enjoy decorating them with yummy frosting.

  5. I turn into a cookie fairy during the holidays. Everyone gets cookies. My personal favorite is dark chocolate pecan shortbread. We have some in the kitchen right now.

    corozondemono at gmail dot com

    1. Mandy, you're welcome at my house anytime!! A cookie fairy is better than the tooth fairy!

  6. Chocolate Chip are my favorite cookies, but my mother doesn't consider them a Christmas cookie and won't make them for me for Christmas! M&M is my usual Christmas cookie pick, but this year I chose Chocolate Blossoms.

    1. Forgot to leave my email address: amyp115 AT yahoo DOT com

    2. Amy, I can't believe you said chocolate blossoms! This morning I made candy cane Hershey kisses blossoms for church. :-)

  7. Loved this story! I always fall for the frosted christmas cookies. They are always good!
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

    1. Susan, I don't know about you, but I eat way too much of the frosting before I finish decorating all the cookies. :-)

  8. Hi Lisa,
    Making a big batch of Sugar Cookies has been a yearly tradition at our home. The kids decorate them for Santa and his Reindeer first, we set them aside with a glass of milk on Christmas Eve. The rest of the cookies are for our family and friends who visit through the holidays!
    Merry Christmas!

    1. Hi Sue,
      I love your tradition! Sweet - in all the right ways!!
      Hugs and Christmas wishes to you and your family!!

  9. My favorite cookie is kolachy. Many spelling of that cookie. We called them thumbprint cookies.

  10. I love thumbprint cookies too, Kathy! Raspberry jam is my choice, though I had ones with blackberry jam and enjoyed those too.

  11. I love decorated sugar cookies for Christmas. We also make fudge.

    yenastone at aol dot com

    1. I made sugar cookies for church yesterday, Tammy. I don't think we've had a Christmas without sugar cookies. And fudge is always good!

  12. We love making Russian tea cookies (at least that's what they are called on the recipe we have, I've also seen them called Mexican wedding cookies). Whatever they're called, we love them and they are delicious!

    1. I have a girlfriend who makes dozen of those cookies, Beth. She's a great friend to have!! ;-)

  13. I like plain ole peanut butter cookies

    1. Debbie, you can't go wrong with peanut butter. My favorite snack is a few tablespoons of peanut butter with either apple slices, or mini chocolate chips. Yum!


Sign up for the JCR newsletter!