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It’s a Prairie Merry Christmas

Slideshow: The Prairie Farmer staff and some of your favorite columnists share their family-favorite Christmas recipes.

Holly Spangler

December 1, 2022

12 Slides
1-year-old Clare Haynes surrounded by baking dishes and ingredients

BAKING WITH BABY: Clare Haynes, 1-year-old daughter of Prairie Farmer associate editor Betty Haynes, helps her mom make Rolo Cookies for the first time — with her own little wooden toy mixer. Betty says Clare’s little fingers wandered into the bowl of Rolos, both to taste-test and stack them up like wooden blocks. Betty Haynes

What’s a holiday season without food and traditions? Ask most folks and they’ll tell you their Christmas Eve or Christmas morning or New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be the same without this one particular dish.

For my family, it’s Strawberry French Toast on Christmas morning, or my mother-in-law’s sticky rolls at the Spangler family Christmas. As a kid, it was making sugar cookies with my mom, with colored sugars and those little silver balls you can’t get anymore (maybe because you could crack a tooth on them).

Associate editor Betty Haynes is already rocking the Christmas cookie baking experience with her 1-year-old daughter, Clare. Betty’s taken her treasured memories of baking Rolo Cookies with her own mom, Nancy Thomas, and is making them with Clare this year. They pulled out Clare’s wooden toy mixer, right on the counter next to the KitchenAid.

Betty says she won’t soon forget Clare’s first taste of the Rolo Cookie.

“The white-chocolate drizzle drew her in for the first sample of just the topping on her finger — baby approved,” Betty says. “Then she grabbed a cookie from the cooling rack with her sweet little hands and took the first bite. Clare’s face lit up with her signature scrunched-nose grin, revealing the few teeth she has peeking from between her lips. Needless to say, Clare was a big fan.”

Joy to the world, indeed!

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So with all these rich traditions, we asked our staff to share the dish that makes Christmas for them and boy, did they ever deliver! Check out this slideshow for the recipes and stories, from a Crispix mix to a creamy, cheesy fondue. We hope you’ll try them out.

And from all of us to all of you, we wish you a very happy holiday season with all your favorite foods, but most of all, all your favorite people. Merry Christmas!

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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