Holiday Cheer with Tanya Hanson

by Anna on December 27, 2013

We have another of Wishing for a Cowboy author with us today, Tanya Hanson.   Tanya is also one of my fellow Sweethearts of the West bloggers. Thanks for being on Holiday Cheer today!

Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win the $25 Barnes and Noble gift card I’ll be giving away at the end of Holiday Cheer.

Egg nog or hot chocolate?  Egg nog if it’s full of whipped cream and brandy (My Uncle Albert’s “Killer Eggnog.”)

Share one of your favorite holiday memories. As a newborn, our daughter was stricken with bacterial meningitis. For three horrible December days, we thought we’d lose her. On Christmas Eve, the doctors told us she would fully recover and have no residual damage! Yowza.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition? Stuffing stockings. My son and daughter are grown now with kids and homes of their own, but I will always have a Christmas stocking for them.  (Easter Basket, too.)

What is your favorite holiday song?  Pianist Lorie Line’s rendition of  “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

What is your favorite holiday movie?  There can’t be just one LOL. Home Alone and George C. Scott’s “A Christmas Carol.” Each movie is visually perfect…that house in HO all red and green is so gorgeous. And the message of each movie is what Christmas is all about. The Griswolds’ Christmas Vacation is pretty favorite too…we even have moose mugs now for Uncle Albert’s killer eggnog. All in all, I’m a Hallmark Christmas movie junkie.

What is the most important thing about the holidays for you? Jesus’s Birthday. Whatever anybody’s belief system, how can you not love a newborn baby whose message is peace on earth?

What do you leave for Santa? Cookies and a beer. (And carrots and water for the reindeer)

Do you have a real or artificial tree? Real.  Picking it out is one of my favorite times of the whole year.

Where would you spend the holiday if you could go anywhere in the world?  New York City. (London is a VERY close second.)

What is your favorite holiday book? A collection of Christmas stories and poems by Louisa May Alcott. I got it at Orchard House, the Alcott home in Concord, Massachusetts.

Do you have a favorite holiday decoration?  Yes indeed! A nativity set my grandmother got from my grandfather for her first Christmas as his newlywed bride. (1917) He ordered it from Germany. The teensie Baby Jesus is made of wax and comes out of the manger so you can hold Him.


Springerle Recipe


  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon anise oil, lemon oil, or flavor of your choice
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • anise seed (optional)
  • To get the lovely scalloped edges like in the photo, simply use a pastry crimper/cutter to cut your cookies apart. So pretty!

tips from our bakers


1) Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line them with parchment.

2) In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, salt, confectioners’ sugar and flavor for 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is very light and falls in thick ribbons from the beater.

3) Gradually beat in the flour to form a stiff dough.

4) Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface and knead with your hands for several minutes — it will seem dry at first, but will become smooth as you work with it. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or so.

5) To shape cookies using a springerle pin: Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Divide the dough in half and work with one piece at a time, leaving the other piece covered. Use a regular rolling pin to roll the dough into a 1/4″-thick rectangle, roughly the same size as your springerle pin.

6) Use a pastry brush to brush a very light coating of flour onto the dough. Flour your springerle pin, then give it a couple of sharp raps to knock off excess. Slowly roll the springerle pin over the dough, pressing down hard enough to leave a good impression. Cut the cookies apart on the lines, with a pizza wheel or sharp knife.

7) To shape cookies using a springerle mold: Lightly dust your work surface. Dust the mold with flour, then tap it firmly to remove excess. Divide the dough in half and work with one piece of dough at a time, leaving the other covered. Roll the dough into a 1/4″-thick square or rectangle

8) Press the lightly floured mold firmly into the dough. Remove the mold and cut around the design with a knife. Repeat until all the dough is cut.

9) Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets. If you’re using anise seed, sprinkle it on the cookie sheet or the parchment before laying down the cookies, giving them extra flavor. They’ll also raise the cookies just a bit, allowing air to circulate around the bottom, drying them thoroughly.

10) Set the unbaked cookies aside to dry at room temperature, uncovered, for 24 hours. Turn them over once during the drying time to allow the bottoms to dry.

11) Preheat the oven to 275°F.

12) Bake the cookies for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re firm but not brown. (If the cookies are a bit puffy, and the design isn’t as sharp as you’d like, bake the next batch at 250 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.) Remove them from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

13) Store the cookies in an airtight container. To keep them from becoming rock hard, we suggest placing a piece of soft bread, a slice of apple, or a cookie softener in the container with them.

Yield: 2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies. 

Springerle Recipe, used with permission:


Covenant By Tanya Hanson

Wishing for a Cowboy anthology November 2013 


Alone, abandoned, struck with guilt and grief, mail order bride Ella Green refuses to celebrate their first wedding anniversary by herself on the Nebraska homestead. Her fault Charlotte died.

Her fault her husband couldn’t stick around. So it’s back to Pennsylvania. Until the snow hits.

But do the spingerle cookie molds depicting her life–Carsten’s hand-carved courtship gifts to her across the miles–still have more story to tell?

Or is it truly The End?

Widower Carsten Green took on a bride merely to tend his little daughter. Unbeknownst to Ella, he gave her his heart instantly. Yet he believed she’s got no reason to stay after the child’s death. So he’s left her first.

How can the Christmas blizzard separating them warm their hearts, brighten their future, and ignite love gone cold?

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