I’ve always made an effort to interact with our neighbors, at least a little bit. And getting to know our neighbors has been such a blessing for my family. We finally live on a street where there are other kids the same age as mine. Where people check in on each other, keep an eye on each other’s kids, shovel each other’s driveways, and help rake each other’s yards. We love our neighborhood and I want to be sure to treat our neighbors and make them feel appreciated.
Baking for Our Neighbors
For about 10 years now I have been baking to treat our neighbors at Christmastime. I love baking. For me, baking is a way to release stress and a form of self-care. The holiday season has a tendency to be filled with stress and bustle and to counteract that, I bake!
When I started baking for neighbors, it was just a way to say, “Hello! I live in Unit 2! Merry Christmas!” Now, that we know our neighbors (well, most of them), it’s more of an opportunity to bless others and show we care.
I always find a way to include my kids in at least one recipe. Usually it’s just a small task like the dipping and sprinkling of pretzels, and unwrapping Rolos for our pretzel turtles. It’s fun to include them because then they get to tell the neighbors that THEY made the cookies when we go and deliver cookies as a family. It’s something that’s become a special tradition for us.
Last year was our first Christmas in our new neighborhood. We delivered cookies to the neighbors we knew, just like we have in all our old homes. We’ll do it again this year, too. We love our neighbors, but we end up a little disconnected in the winter. We’re all relatively shut up in our homes for months, thanks to the cold temperatures and bone-chilling wind. And so we will take the chance to share a bit of home-baked love and a tiny bit of connection, even if it’s a wave and a plate of cookies on the porch.
Below is one of my family’s favorite recipes. They’re usually the first ones gone from any cookie tray we bring anywhere!
- 1/2 Cup Butter, softened
- 1/2 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
- 1 Egg
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1-1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips
- 1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
- 1 (14oz) Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- Chopped Peanuts, optional
- In a mixing bowl, cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars; add egg and vanilla
- In separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture. Mix well.
- Chill for 1 hour.
- Shape into 48 balls, 1 inch each. Place in lightly greased mini-muffin tins.
- Remove from oven and immediately make "wells" in the center of each by lightly pressing with a melon baller or tart press.
- Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then carefully remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- Melt Chocolate chips in a double boiler over simmering water.
- Stir in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla; mix well
- Fill each shell with fudge filling.
- Add chopped peanuts to top, if desired.
- Leftover filling can be stored in the fridge and served warm over ice cream!
Enjoy! And for other ideas on starting a tradition of giving back in your neighborhood or in the local community see our Guide to Giving Back This Holiday Season.