Little Hands A Big Help In the Kitchen

Reindeer Cupcakes

There’s nothing like . . . the soft glow of lights on the tree that illuminate a treasured collection of decorations . . . the excited giggles of delight that fill the air while snuggling with two sweet little ponytails to watch a holiday movie . . . the way that with each sip of wine, the tensions of the past year melt away . . .

It truly is a magical time.

Now that I’ve hung up my baking mitts for another year, it’s time to relax and enjoy my favourite holiday activities. I hope that you are able to do the same.

But I didn’t do it all alone this year. The ponytails were a BIG help during cookie baking season. So, for this last post before Christmas I thought I’d share a few of the sweet treats that the girls and I made together.

First up–Reindeer Cupcakes. My oldest daughter decided that we were going to bake Reindeer Cupcakes for the school potluck–and she sketched out how she wanted them to look. A couple of the materials were going to be a bit tricky to work with, so we negotiated between her ideas and one that I spotted on a Facebook foodie group that I belong to. Thanks to Sue H. for positng a link to With Spinkles on Top’s version of these Reindeer Cupcakes!

Decorating reindeer cupcakess

Decorating the reindeer cupcakes with: mini marshmellows cut in half (eyes), chocolate chips (eyes), pretzels, Nilla biscuits and Swedish Berries (nose). For the cupcakes, use your favourite cupcake and chocolate icing recipe.

Earlier in the year when I saw the beautiful ma’amouls that Fati at Fati’s Recipes and Betsy at Bits and Breadcrumbs had made, I knew that I had to try them . . . but I decided to wait until Christmas. The girls were quick to get into the action with these cookies and they got the knack of whacking the molds very quickly!


The end result was well worth the effort. Look how beautifully they turned out:


Our entire family fell in love with the Glaciers and Bear Paws from The Fudgery in Banff, Alberta this summer. So, we tried our hand at recreating them . . . it was as easy as making a small circle with five cashews and squishing a caramel on top. Mom (me) popped them in a 325 degree oven for 6 minutes. Then the girls drizzled with melted semi-sweet chocolate (for the Bear Paws) and melted white chocolate (for the Glaciers).

Bear Paws and Glaciers

Gingerbread and Sugar Cookies make the cookie list every year. My youngest daughter really enjoyed the rolling and cutting process of making both these cookies. Here she is in action with the Gingerbreads.

Ponytail gingerbreads

And here’s the final product of the Snowflake and Tree-shaped Sugar Cookies . . .


Who knew that little hands could be such a big help in the kitchen? Now I certainly do and I imagine that these little hands will only be more helpful with each passing year. Baking for three weeks solid is always a lot of work, but memories like these make it all worthwhile . . . and so does a peek into one of the cookie boxes . . .



Reindeer Cupcakes — Use your favourite cupcake and chocolate icing recipe. For decorations: mini marshmellows cut in half (eyes), chocolate chips (eyes), pretzels (antler), Nilla biscuits and Swedish Berries (nose). We used white icing to “glue” the ingredients to the cupcake and it worked well.

Ma’amouls — I followed Betsy’s Recipe since I had bought the farina flour at a local specialty shop.

Bear Paws & Glaciers — Make a small circle with five cashews and squish a caramel on top. Pop them in a 325 degree oven for 6 minutes. Then drizzle with melted semi-sweet chocolate (for the Bear Paws) and white chocolate (for the Glaciers).

Sugar Cookies (used for Snowflake and Trees) Martha Stewart Cutout Cookie Dough

Gingerbread Cookies — From Martha Stewart; I double this recipe.

I wish you all a very happy holidays. I hope that they are filled with all the things that you love, like the soft glow of Christmas tree lights and treasured ornaments . . .


My treasured Eiffel Tower ornament made by my friend Shailyn many years ago and a ballerina to commemorate a first Nutcracker performance for my oldest ponytail.

And sweet things, both big and small . . .

girls with cookies

Getting ready for Santa (Christmas 2011).


78 Comments on “Little Hands A Big Help In the Kitchen”

  1. Debi Sereda says:

    I love the reindeer cookies! Very cute and festive!

  2. albertocook says:

    very beautifull girls…
    Children make everything more magical … even Christmas

  3. Nicole da Rosa says:

    Everything looks so yummy!
    And the girls are so adorable πŸ™‚

  4. Tandy says:

    I’m sure they tasted better having been made with love. Wishing you and your family a merry Christmas πŸ™‚

  5. What a lovely roundup, Barb, I can hardly wait to see you tomorrow! Those reindeer cupcakes are absolutely adorable.

  6. Saskia (1=2) says:

    Barb, that is a seriously beautiful box of cookies. The iced snowflakes are so pretty. Impressed with your ma’amouls too. I bought a mold a while ago to try them myself – very inspired to make them over the holidays with the boys. Love the photo of your girls decorating the reindeer cookies, deep in concentration. Happy Christmas!

    • That is so great that you found a mold — they are hard to come by! I found mine in a little middle eastern specialty shop up the road, so I’m fortunate to have all of the supplies I need within easy reach. I hope that you try to make the ma’ amoul cookies, as I’m certain that you’ll have fun. They are really delicious and were very well received by friends and family. Hope that you and your family are enjoying the holidays!

  7. A_Boleyn says:

    Many (little) hands make light work … and a whole lot of Christmas fun. Great box of cookies, the reindeer cupcakes are SO imaginative, and I’m sure Santa is going to enjoy his plate of cookies and milk as he goes about his busy night.

    Happy holidays to you and yours, ponytails and all.

    • Merry Christmas to you too Maria! I think that Santa enjoyed his plate of cookies and milk — it is so cute watching how excited the girls are to put out the treats and artwork etc. on Christmas Eve. If only we could bottle that excitement . . . it would carry us through anything that life throws our way! Hope that you are able to relax and enjoy the best of the season!

  8. Those reindeer cupcakes are just adorable and you surely have some grand help there with the baking. Very impressive batch of cookies and lovely Ma’amool, too! Thank you so much for the shout out, and you certainly deserve to hang up those mitts, kick back and enjoy the holiday with your family. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a lovely New Year, too!

    • Thanks so much Betsy. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the past few days with no baking to take care of or kids activities to run off to. It is so nice just to hang out in your pjs and sip your coffee for a few minutes each morning. Hope you’ve been able to do the same!

      • Yes, we are taking it easy here for a few days, too. We traveled for Christmas and just returned. Am just settling back in and prepping for what I hope will be a way, way better new year! πŸ™‚ Enjoy your time off, Barb.

  9. Those reindeer are so cute! Your girls did a wonderful job helping! And the Bear paws and glaciers look so delicious! Have a very relaxing Christmas with your little ponytails!

  10. petit4chocolatier says:

    So adorable. I love the cookies! And your girls did such an awesome job. Reminds me when my children were young and helping with the baking. They are grown now and love eating the baked goodies. I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas πŸ™‚

    • I’m sure that you have some great memories of baking with your children. Given all of the wonderful treats that I’ve seen posted on your site, your chldren must REALLY enjoy eating all of your goodies! Happy holidays!

  11. ChgoJohn says:

    What a great post! Your daughters are indeed good helpers — and cute as a button, to boot! Those reindeer cupcakes are smile-inducing if ever anything was. I bet the recipients of those cupcakes and of the cookie boxes were very happy to get them.
    Wishing you and “the Ponytail Household” the best of Christmases and a very Happy New Year.

    • I hope that you are enjoying the holidays as well! I’ve never seem to have any complaints about the cookies — except of course from people who are watching their calorie intake! It really was a lot of fun baking with the girls and seeing how excited they got about helping. Hopefully that enthusiasm continues… Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too. I’m really enjoying all of the traditional family recipes that you share with us.

  12. Karen says:

    The memories of making cookies with the ponytails is as priceless as their smiles. It looks like it was a lot of fun for everyone. Have a wonderful Christmas.

  13. megtraveling says:

    That looks like a fun project… Happy holidays to you!

  14. Karista says:

    Truly a magical time of year, especially with little ones in the house. I think that’s what I miss most, having little ones around this time of year. My two sassy gals are home for the holidays and although grown, and almost grown, it’s so nice to have them home for Christmas. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happiest of New Years Barb!!

  15. All the cookies look fabulous and the reindeer cupcakes rock! The Ponytails were a great help I see. So nice to have young’uns eager to help. I have teenagers…there is no desire to help there.

    Happy holidays!


  16. Jeanette says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!! I love the reindeer cupcakes. They came out beautifully. It’s clear that the ponytails have got a bit of their mom’s flair for baking!! Merry Christmas to you and the Ponytails! I hope your holiday season is magical!

  17. Norma Chang says:

    Love, love the Reindeer Cupcakes. Precious memories the ponytails will treasure.
    Happy holidays to you and the family.

  18. My nieces would love helping to make these! Merry Christmas!

  19. Charles says:

    Aah, another person making ma’amouls? Haha, what is it with all the ma’amouls all of a sudden? πŸ˜€ Aren’t they great though Barb, and yours turned out fantastic – the ponytails really nailed those, that’s for sure! Wonderful looking cookies all around – I hope you’re having a wonderful day so far. Christmas is over here for me for another year, but you’ve still got a few hours of fun left πŸ™‚ – Merry Christmas!

    • I can see why you enjoyed them so much Charles. I bought the molds for Eva and myself — and I’m glad to see that they were put to good use. Happy New Year to you and your family. I hope that you enjoy your little break — you really deserve it!

  20. aFrankAngle says:

    With such helpers, no wonder the treats were delightful. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  21. courtneybentley says:

    Your ponytails are adorable! You came up with some great ideas! This was my first year Baking cookies so they were not decorated cute but next year I’m planning on getting festive! Love and shine courtstar

  22. Maya Oryan says:

    Love the atmosphere!

  23. Kristy says:

    Those smiles have just made my night. I’m going to fall asleep smiling. Your daughters are just precious Barb. And how fun to spend a day cooking with them! Miss A and I did the same. Mr. N pops in every now and then, but Miss A is happy to just hang out and cook. I can see it becoming a holiday tradition. πŸ™‚ I hope that you all had a fabulous Christmas and that you’re enjoying your time together this holiday season. Here’s to a happy, healthy New Year as well! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Kristy. They have their moments, like all kids — but they really do get excited about helping in the kitchen …and eating too. I guess that is what we hope to achieve through the blogging isn’t it? A little part of us hopes that the kids will acquire our same enthusiasm for cooking and baking . . . and they’ll remember these traditions for years to come. I know that has given me the energy to keep it all going at times when I’m feeling run down. Happy, happy holidays to you and your family. Let’s make 2013 a great year, free of snoring mangoes!

  24. Sissi says:

    Hi, Barb. I’m so sorry for coming so late and almost having missed these cute Christmas treats! I have had a particularly busy (to be honest exhausting) days before Christmas and during Christmas. I have been relaxing for the past few days… I hope you have had wonderful Christmas (they were delicious I bet, especially with such skilled little helpers!). Happy New Year!

    • Thanks Sissi! I hope that you were able to recharge your batteries over the holidays. It is so important, isn’t it? Yes, I had a wonderful Christmas holidays — it was great to spend time with the girls and they certainly were great little helpers!

  25. erika says:

    Oh wow! Those cookie boxes look fantastic!!! You do have some great helpers on your hands! Thanks for introducing me to Ma’amouls–I have a giant container of dates from Costco and wasn’t sure what to do with them. I think I might try Fati’s Recipes recipe when I have some time.

    Hope you had a great Christmas with your ponytails + family!!

    • Thanks Erika! I hope you had a great Christmas too! It was so nice to have the girls help in the kitchen this year. It really does seem like just yesterday that they were baking with me in one of those baby carriers. Time flies, doesn’t it?

  26. mmmarzipan says:

    These are adorable!!!

  27. mmmarzipan says:

    … and such beautiful children too πŸ™‚

  28. Awesome! I remember you talking about these cookies some time ago and that you had been all over town looking for the topping for these cookies and they turned out adorable. The ponytails are precious and very good helpers. Wishing you and your family a very happy and fun 2013! Take care, BAM

    • Good memory Bam! Yes, I had to go to three grocery stores to find the pretzels for the reindeer antlers…and it was such a busy time. In the end, it all turned out though. Lots of fun. Can’t believe that the holidays are all over. Thans for dropping by Bam!

  29. Perfect little helpers and the most perfect pretzel reindeer. I love a simple idea and cute & effective is even better. Looking forward to seeing what new ideas and happy noms you have in store for 2013!

  30. Sophie33 says:

    What a lovely post & cute pics too! I always make home-made goodies for my guests!! I loved your & Martha’s recipes too!

    I hope you celebrated a lovely Christmas with your family & I wish you & your family a lovely, happy & healthy 20132 filled with tons of joy, great food & much laughter too! xxx

  31. The pictures of your ponytails are just precious!
    I hope you had a wonderful and blessed Christmas and and hope this new you year brings you much laughter, success, and magic πŸ™‚

  32. I love this post – the girls are SO cute. You can see their excitement – precious time spend with them baking πŸ™‚ I love being in the kitchen with the kids it is such a great time!
    Happy New Year to you all!

    • You are right — it is hard not to share in the excitement when you are cooking with kids. I just realized that you are in BC…for some reason I thought you were still in Denmark (I must have read your post wrong the first time). Anyway, nice to meet another Canadian blogger. I used to live in Vancouver for many years, so BC is very dear to me. Happy New year to you!

      • Ha I can understand you are confused, I am here there and everywhere, but I live in BC πŸ™‚
        I love Vancouver it is such a beautiful city!
        I am so happy to have met you and I am loving your blog!

  33. m3lly78 says:

    Your 2 little ponytails are ADORABLE!!!

  34. Lilly Sue says:

    All these cookies are so adorable!! Love it!!

  35. Your children are as darling as your culinary treats look delicious. I love that you bake with them….they will never forget those moments. I have wonderful memories of baking with my Mom and other times, watching her make seasonal candies with my Grandmother and Aunt. My Mom still to this day makes and sends me her wonderful toffee at Christmas p.s. i LOVE Banff…I LOVE Canada. I’m going to post a couple of pics on my facebook page from my trip there. Would love you to visit the page to check them out! πŸ˜€ They might make you laugh;) Have a wonderful weekend! Bake on!

  36. I could’ve sworn I commented here while over in Malaysia! πŸ™‚
    Those ma’mouls look so delicious… glad to see all those lovely creations turned out so well! πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Fati! I hope that you had a terrific time in Malaysia — it must have been a good break! It was so much fun to give the ma’amouls a try and boy they were tasty. The girls really got into them. I remember being so inspired by your cookies and your molds. I was extremely excited when I found the molds at a local specialty shop. Isn’t that the best part of blogging? The constant international inspiration is just amazing. Hope your 2013 is off to a great start!

  37. Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while today. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as good as when I arrived. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s