Family traditions shine in Christmas cookie recipes

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – This week, some of our former star cooks are sharing their favorite Christmas cookie recipes.

Among them are a specialty food expert who celebrates her Italian heritage, a pork producer who donates thousands of pork samples to farmers’ markets each year, and me – Phyllis Coulter, editor of Illinois Farmer Today .


Photo courtesy of Raghela Scavuzzo

December is understandably a busy month for Raghela Scavuzzo, but she always makes time to bake Christmas cookies, an Italian family tradition.

As Associate Director of Food Systems for the Illinois Farm Bureau, she is busy with the IFB annual meeting in early December and is active with the Illinois Specialty Growers Association as it prepares for its big conference in January. .

“You had me beyond excited to share Christmas cookies. I immediately knew I had to share the most important recipe in my heart,” she said.

While most people are familiar with Italian wedding/Christmas cookies, every family has a slight variation. Scavuzzo’s grandmother gave him their family’s handwritten recipe on his 13th birthday.

Scavuzzo started learning this recipe when she was 2 years old when she was able to make the nuggets.

“And the older I got, the more I learned the recipe until my grandma made the nuggets and I baked the cookies to help her out,” Scavuzzo said. “Most of my family know the recipe, but each of us has our ‘dish’ for the family and it’s always mine.”

Readers met Vicki Huelskoetter in 2019 when she shared recipes using pork raised on the family farm in central Illinois. Even his desserts are known to have the occasional bacon topping.

She and her crew are a common sight at the Bloomington Farmers Market, where there’s usually a line of people wanting to sample her pork.

Huelskoetter and her late husband, Larry, began raising pigs and selling them directly to customers. She shares recipes on the Huelskoetter Pork website,


Photo courtesy of Vicki Huelskoetter

Today, she’s sharing a recipe for butter cookies and icing that she uses for her die-cut cookies that come included on trays with candies she makes at Christmas for her landlords and co-workers.

“It’s always fun to make candies and cookies — and especially to eat them along the way,” she said.

In the first issue of the Illinois Farmer Today newspaper, January 18, 2014, I was introduced to readers with my recipes.

Before coming to Illinois, my husband and I lived in Denmark, where he was born, so I shared some Danish recipes. It seems natural to share a cookie recipe with Danish roots almost nine years later.

This recipe comes from my sister-in-law, Inger Ivo, who lives in Ontario, Canada, with her Danish-Canadian husband. These cookies, called pfeffernusse in German, are small spice cookies similar to the Dutch cookies called pepernoten and the Danish called pebernødder.

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