The Hallmark channel has a tradition of featuring Christmas movie marathons in July. Every movie has a happy ending guaranteed to put viewers in a hopeful mood, part of the reason they are so popular. Many of these movies feature baking contests or delectable treats served at a cozy bed and breakfast getaway. Here are some Christmas goodies from allrecipes.com perfect for munching while watching.



Soft Christmas Cookies

3 -3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

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1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup margarine, softened

1-1/2 cups white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Gradually blend in the sifted ingredients until fully absorbed. Cover dough, and chill for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. On a clean floured surface, roll out small portions of chilled dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters. Sprinkle with sugar (or cool after baking and frost using any icing recipe).

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are barely brown. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.



Gingerbread Man Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 cup molasses

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons warm water

1/4 cup raisins for decorating

Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until smooth. Mix in egg and molasses. Dissolve baking soda in 1-1/2 teaspoons warm water and add to egg mixture and stir until combined.

Mix in dry ingredients well blended. Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.

Lightly flour a work surface. Roll out dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut out gingerbread men using cookie cutters and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Use raisins to make eyes, noses and buttons.

Bake in the preheated oven, or until firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.



Snowball Cookies

1 cup butter

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting, or as needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter with 1/2 cup of the confectioners' sugar and the vanilla. Mix in the flour, pecans, and salt. Roll about 1 tablespoon or so of dough into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in preheated oven until bottoms are golden, about 15 minutes. Do not allow cookies to get too brown, it's better to undercook them than to overcook them. While cookies are still hot, roll them in confectioners' sugar. Once they have cooled, roll them in confectioners' sugar once more.



Raspberry and Almond Shortbread Thumb Prints

1 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp. almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

Icing:

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

3/4 tsp. almond extract

1 tsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and white sugar until smooth. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Mix in flour until dough comes together. Roll dough into 1-1/2 inch balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Make a small hole in the center of each ball, using your thumb and finger, and fill the hole with preserves.

Bake for 14 to 18 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Let cool 1 minute on the cookie sheet.

In a medium bowl, mix together the confectioners' sugar, 3/4 teaspoon almond extract, and milk until smooth. Drizzle lightly over warm cookies.

Readers are invited to submit four to five of their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to lskarpness@parkrapidsenterprise.com and they may appear in a future issue.