Miss A Columnist

Misty Mathewsis a first-time mom to Noah, learning to navigate through working motherhood one day at a time. By day, she is a PR professional for a state university and has a background in journalism, having worked as a newspaper reporter and magazine editor She started blogging at The Family Math primarily as a way to keep family members up-to-date on her pregnancy and on Noah after he was born but found she enjoys writing for pleasure as much as writing for a profession.

Teach Your Child Community Service Through Baking

The childhood memory of baking cookies with my mom is one I cherish. To be fair, I think my mom did most of the work, and I did most of the bowl-licking. Regardless, it was time spent together that I always looked forward to.

It’s also a tradition that I hope to carry on with my son, Noah, particularly during the holiday season. But where I took a passive role in prepwork, I hope to encourage him to take an active role — not just in making the cookies but in finding a way to share those cookies to bring joy to others around him.

Photo Credit: Sean Locke / www.digitalplanetdesign.com

My husband, Bobby, and I plan to make helping others a major aspect of our holiday traditions. Here are some of the ideas we’ve come up with for bringing tidings of comfort and cookies to people who may need a little extra holiday cheer. And I’ve included the recipes, too!

Visit the elderly in an assisted-living facility

If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit with the residents of an assisted-living facility, you are missing out. Almost without fail, they love for people to come to see them, especially children, it seems. And during the holidays, those who don’t have family nearby can get pretty lonely. Put in a call to a local facility and find out if they allow visitors and special treats like cookies. For this particular venture, a sugar-free cookie is probably going to be your best bet because of dietary restrictions, so give this sugar-free peanut butter cookie a try!

Photo Credit: 123rf.com

Sugar-free peanut butter cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cups artificial sweetener (such as Splenda)
  • 2 eggs
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine peanut butter, sugar and eggs in a bowl and beat until smooth. Spray a cookie sheet with cookie spray, and drop batter by heaping spoonfuls onto the sheet. Bake for about eight minutes or until the center appears cooked. Yields approximately 24 cookies.

Make a homemade dessert to hand out at a local soup kitchen

There’s nothing quite like the comfort of a fresh, warm chocolate chip cookie. With the economy and the job market having been pretty tough in recent years, there are plenty of people out there who could use that little bit of comfort and familiarity, especially coming from a friendly face. What’s so great about this particular recipe? A little extra vanilla and the use of milk chocolate as opposed to semi-sweet. Call ahead to be sure your local soup kitchen allows children to serve; some have a minimum age requirement.

Photo Credit: Misty Mathews

Chocolate chunk cookies
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 4-oz. Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate baking bars, chopped
  • Cooking spray

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 F. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine butter and sugars and beat until smooth. Mix in the vanilla and egg. Add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, then drop dough by the spoonful onto sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes. Yields approximately 24 cookies.

Prepare cookies for a special community service event, such as a toy drive

This provides a great opportunity to show your child the charitable acts of others and to provide examples of adults doing good.

White chocolate cranberry cookies

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, stirring in between until the mixture is combined. Add flour mixture a little bit at a time while continuing to mix. FInally, add the chocolate chips and cranberries, stirring until well distributed. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, and spoon cookie dough onto the sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Yields around 24 cookies.

Make memories that last
I hope you are able to use some of these ideas this holiday season to teach your little one a little bit about working in the kitchen and helping others, and that you get some good, quality family time, too. Even if your child just helps by pouring in the chocolate chips or unwrapping butter — or licking the bowl — the memories are certain to last a lifetime!

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