Christmas cookies to warm your holiday!

December is the most wonderful time of the year.

The decorations. The parties. And the baked goods.

This year, celebrate the holiday season with ginger cookies stuffed with caramel goodness from the Junior League of Omaha’s A Century of Serving centennial celebration cookbook, available in Fall 2018. Caramel goodness, you read that right.

The cookies, which are delectable on their own but pair well with coffee, cocktails and cocoa, are the League’s December Recipe of the Month. The “caramel goodness” alone is sure to impress your guests.

After you make the ginger cookies stuffed with caramel goodness, share a photo on social media using #JLOCookbook. Members who do will be entered into a drawing for a gift card.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 caramel candies, halved
  • 1/2 cup Demerara sugar

Instructions 

 

  • Beat brown sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla with a heavy-duty stand-up mixer on medium speed until mixture is smooth.
  • Process flour, ginger, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until ginger is very finely chopped and mixture is well-blended, approximately 1-2 minutes. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, and beat on low speed just until blended after each addition.  Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill 6-24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into approximately 30 (1 ½nch) balls.  Flatten each ball in your palm, and place 1 caramel half in center.  Wrap dough around caramel, and reshape into a ball by rolling in hand, completely covering the caramel.  Place balls approximately 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle each cookie lightly with Demerara sugar.
  • Bake in preheated oven until flattened and lightly browned on the bottom, approximately 10-12 minutest, switching pans halfway through baking (i.e. top cookie sheet is switched with the bottom cooking sheet). Cool on pans for 8 minutes.
  • Serve warm either straight out of oven or reheated in the microwave.

 

The ginger cookies stuffed with caramel goodness were just one of the cookies on the table at the Cookbook Committee’s November meeting, which doubled as a holiday social for the members. Members also made ooey gooey butter cake cookies, dark chocolate and sea salt sables, rum buttercrunch toffee and other recipes exclusive to the cookbook.

Need some more inspiration for your upcoming parties?

Happy holidays! And happy hosting.

Recipe of the Month: Cowboy Chic Black Bean Dip

What is your go-to for game day? If your spread includes jarred salsa and a tub of pre-made dip, served with a side frozen wings and a store-bought pizza, know that it does not have to be that way. You can have a tasty, homemade dish in just minutes.

With a few hearty pantry staples and a handful of fresh flavors, Cowboy Chic Black Bean Dip can transform you from second-string to the Most Valuable Player. A real crowd-pleaser, Cowboy Chic Black Bean Dip is one of the recipes in the Junior League of Omaha’s A Century of Serving cookbook, available in Fall 2018.

Cowboy Chic Black Bean Dip    

September_CowboyChicBlackBeanDip

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato
  • 2/3 cup bottled picante sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili powder
  • 1 can black beans (drained and washed)
  • 1/4 cup Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons Tabasco-if desired

Instructions

  • Heat oil in skillet.  Add onion and garlic, and sauté until tender.
  • Add tomato, picante sauce, chili powder, cumin, and black beans to skillet.  Cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
  • Partially mash mixture with a potato masher.  Add cheese, cilantro, and lime juice.  Stir until cheese melts.
  • Serve warm with tortilla chips.

After you make Cowboy Chic Black Bean Dip, share a photo on social media using #JLOCookbook.

Boots & Belles Roundup

Boots & Belles (formerly Barn Bash), a fundraiser for the Junior League of Omaha’s projects and initiatives, took place on Friday, August 4, 2017, at the home of Lexie and Shane Frahm in Gretna, Nebraska.

2017-08-04-BootsBellesSign

The theme of the evening was a rustic BBQ. White and blue gingham tablecloths popped against the rich, warm tones of the Frahm family’s barn. Vintage outdoor string lights illuminated the venue in which fresh wildflowers adorned each table.

IMG_0795_FrahmFamilyBarn{Inside the Frahm family’s barn}

2017-08-04-BootsBelles Table Arrangement 1{Mason jars filled with colorful wildflowers decorated each table.}

Hog Wild Pit BBQ catered the meal of pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans and macaroni and cheese. The Junior League of Omaha Cookbook Committee sponsored a dessert tasting featuring ten decadent and sugary treats, including Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Cookies, Rum Buttercrunch Toffee and Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Sables.

IMG_0730_DessertTable{The Junior League of Omaha Cookbook dessert tasting was a big hit!}

“This year’s event was a lot of fun. The weather was perfect and it was great to see so many JLO members and guests show their support for the first fundraiser of the year. The planning committee can’t thank the Frahms enough for hosting us at their beautiful property!”

The event drew 70 attendees who enjoyed BINGO, raffle prizes, a specialty cocktail of vodka lemonade and s’mores by the fire.

2017-08-04-BootsBelles Raffle 3{Raffle prizes were abundant and included tickets to the Big Red Block Party, an Oktoberfest-themed package (complete with German beer, pretzels and a gift certificate to Gerda’s Bakery), passes to Ditmar’s Orchard and so much more! }

IMG_0725_Guests{Guests relaxed indoors and out, many clad in denim and boots!}

IMG_0741_BingoGuests{BINGO aficionados enjoyed several rounds of the game while also giving the dessert selection a taste.}

IMG_0749_Dinner{Host Lexie Frahm and guests dined al fresco on Hog Wild Pit BBQ and refreshing summer cocktails.}

Host Lexie Frahm said, “Thanks to all who attended and planned the Boots and Belle’s event! We couldn’t have asked for better weather for an August evening. Shane and I look forward to hosting this event each League year!”

 

Gifts That Give Back

The holidays are in full swing which means it’s time to exchange presents with the ones you love the most. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for someone in your life, consider finding a gift that not only will bring a smile to your loved one but will give back to noteworthy causes as well.

For the animal lover: AnimalGift.org

If you have a friend who just loves animals big and small, then this is the perfect gift for her! Help animals in need this holiday season by making a donation in their name to the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Gifts for Animals program. Sending support in your friend’s name will help to protect endangered animals and provide emergency relief to animals in need such as dogs, cats, elephants and more.

For the beauty lover: Lush Charity Pot

This lotion does a lot of good not only for your skin but the environment as well. Made of a cocoa butter base, this lotion contains ingredients from the SLush Fund projects. With the purchase of every Charity Pot, 100% of the price (minus the taxes) are donated to small, grassroots organizations that help in the areas of animal welfare and environmental conservation.

charity-pot

For the Baby: Cuddle and Kind

Every baby needs a cuddly friend! The duo behind these hand-knit dolls created them because they’re a family of five that are on a mission to feed children in need. For every doll sold, 10 meals are provided to children in North America and around the world. Plus, each doll is handmade by women artisans in Peru, making each doll unique and providing the female artisans with a sustainable, fair trade income.

cuddle-kind-dolls-web

For the man in your life: Conscious Step Socks

Give the gift of style to the favorite guy in your life with a pair of socks. Each pair is designed to match a specific cause that helps an issue of global concern. Hunger, literacy and HIV are among some of the nonprofit organizations that benefit from each purchase.

For your bestie: Alex and Ani Charity by Design Bracelet

Show your bestie love and support by gifting her one of these stylish bracelets. Each of the Charity by Design bracelets by Alex and Ani support a variety of causes from Best Buddies International to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

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For the #girlboss: Tory Burch Foundation Seed Box

Tory Burch is best known for her timeless accessories including shoes and purses. This holiday season, she takes it a step further and is showcasing the talents of fellow female entrepreneurs with this holiday box. Featuring a curated selection of products from seven women entrepreneurs, including a necklace and a clutch, the proceeds from this box benefit female business leaders with financial support and mentorship.

tb-box

And if you’re looking for a easy way to give back this holiday season while you’re out and about, consider downloading the TAGG app and choosing to support the Junior League of Omaha! By eating at your favorite restaurants and shopping at participating businesses, you’re helping to support the local community.