Christmas Cookie Exchange

This past Saturday I hosted and attended my first cookie exchange!  It was a really fun afternoon of visiting with friends, and snacking on delicious cookies.  I ended up with more than 4 dozen of eight different types of cookies, and I only had to make one kind.  This is a pretty sweet deal.  Get it? Sweet?  Anyway…


I had a fun time decorating and getting everything ready for the party.  I think I could be very happy as a party planner.  Aside from the tiny breakdown I had on the living room floor when I had yet to take a shower, still had more things to prep and set up, and it was only an hour till the party started, I did an OK job!  Well, if you want the real story, ask Ben.  Or just let me know and I will fill you in on all the nitty gritty details that made my day so horrifically hilarious.

Along with the cookies, we had veggies and a creamy dill dip, crackers and cheese.  To drink I made apple cider and got a Starbucks traveler coffee box, which I highly recommend when you have other things to do for a party, and making coffee isn’t something you want to spend time doing.  Ben bought some very nice carafes to store the coffee, and I am so glad.  I think they will come in handy in my future as a hostess.


Witch Hat Cookies

witch6Happy Halloween!  I made these cookies for the trick-or-treaters at Ben’s office.  I thought they would be more fun than little bags of candy, and too cute for words.  I also thought they would be quick and easy.  Cute, yes.  Quick and easy, kinda.

This Halloween treat can be made in a day, but I spread the preparation out over 3 days.

Day 1: Bake chocolate sugar cookies.

Day 2: Brush ice cream cones with chocolate and let set.

Day 3: Assemble & decorate hats.

My original plan was to make royal icing to decorate the hats, but as the deadline approached and a stack of about 100 papers needed grading, I broke down and bought tubes of Wilton icing in orange, black, green and purple.  As I completed the last hat I was very thankful that I’d made this adjustment.  Sometimes you just have to take shortcuts.

The Wilton icing tubes are pretty great.  You simply attach Wilton decorating tips and get creative.  It’s easy to switch out tips and the colors are nice and vibrant.  It’s often hard to achieve really vibrant color when you color your own icing, so this saves time and the stress of making the perfect color you’re looking for.


Witch Hat Cookies

  • 24 chocolate sugar cookies
  • 24 sugar ice cream cones
  • 1 package chocolate candy coating
  • 2 large bags M&M’s
  • Various icings, sprinkles, decorations, etc.
  1. Melt chocolate coating according to package instructions.
  2. Use a pastry brush to coat all the cones with chocolate.  I found it easiest to place a few fingers in the cone to hold it while I brushed on the chocolate.  Stand up on parchment paper and let set.
  3. Fill the ice cream cone with your choice of candies.  Candy corn, M&M’s, Skittles, whatever.
  4. Use some of the frosting to pipe around the base of the ice cream cone.  Top with the cookie and flip over to set.
  5. Decorate as desired.

These are a fun treat and would make a fun party favor.  Happy Halloween!

Lemon Zucchini Cornmeal Cookies

More zucchini calls for more zucchini recipes. This time I thought something sweet was in order. I got this recipe in my daily cookie email from Martha Stewart. She sends them to me personally…ok, not personally. I had everything on the ingredient list, so not having to go to the grocery store was an appealing thing to me about this cookie.


I liked the crunch that the cornmeal provides, the clean flavor of the lemon and the moistness that the zucchini adds.  You can’t really taste the zucchini, so don’t let that deter you.  The cookie isn’t too sweet.  It would be nice with a cup of coffee or tea.  A nice afternoon treat!  Enjoy!


Nutty Cookies

If you are anything like me, you collect recipes and put sticky notes in cookbooks as “Recipes to Try” but somehow, in the business of life, they just do not get the attention they deserve.  This is one of those recipes.  Neglected for over a year…a sad tale.


I have mentioned Rebecca Rather on my site more than once.  I’ve been to the bakery in Fredericksburg a few times, and have her cookbook.  I’ve made quite a few of the recipes in the book, and this one has always sounded delicious, but I’ve just never gotten around to making these  cookies.  Why, you ask?  How could someone resist this lovely combination of four, yes four, kinds of nuts in one cookie?  Well, believe it or not, some people do not like nuts.  I know, this is the epitome of crazy.  But it is true.  So, I haven’t made this cookie before because I worry that someone in the group of cookie recipients may not be a nut fan and therefore shun this cookie.  I just wasn’t sure if I could handle the disappointment of someone rejecting something I have put love, sweat and tears into!  OK, so no sweat and tears in this cookie…but there is love.

nutcookie5I have overcome this fear of rejection and today decided to bake half a batch of these cookies and bring them to some friends we are visiting this weekend in Fort Worth.  Are they nut lovers?  I don’t know for sure…but if they are then that just means more for me.

This cookie dough is easy and simple.  Toasting the nuts before mixing the dough is the biggest effort you have to make, and it’s worth it.  Toasted nuts provide a more complex flavor than their un-toasted counterparts.  The end product is soft, nutty and delicious.  A must make for a nut lover.


Chock-Full-o-Nuts Cookies

Courtesy of Rebecca Rather, The Pastry Queen

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup macadamia nuts
  • 3/4 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Toast the nuts on a baking sheet for 8-10 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes, then coarsely chop the nuts.  Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugars on medium speed until creamy and well combined.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well.  Add vanilla and almond extracts.
  5. Stir in flour and salt until combined.
  6. Mix in nuts.
  7. Scoop by heaping tablespoons (or a 1 3/4 inch cookie scoop) onto a baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350°F until golden on the edges.


Have you found yourself with some leftover puff pastry and asked yourself, “What am I to do with left over puff pastry?”  The answer is…make palmiers!  I love getting the huge ones at bakeries that I always knew as elephant ears.  My sister thinks they are a waste of calories, but my mom and I love them.  Crunchy, sweet, rich, and buttery.  Perfection.


I made a sweet and a savory palmier.  These are so easy.  Roll out your puff pastry to 1/8 inch thickness.  Sprinkle your goodies on the dough and roll both ends evenly to marry in the middle.  Chill the rolled dough for 30 minutes.  Err on the side of longer chilling time to make the slicing easier.  After the dough is chilled, slice 1/4 inch pieces and place flat on a baking sheet covered in parchment or a silpat.  Bake for 10-15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  Cool for 5 minutes or so…then enjoy.

palmier1I think that maybe I didn’t use enough pastry, or maybe I did not roll it out thin enough.  I was hoping for more layers, and that just didn’t happen.  They still tasted divine, but not as filled with goodness as I was hoping.  I will definitely try them again, especially the savory ones.  I loved the flavor of the parmesan with the pastry and tomatoes.  They are such an impressive appetizer, and with store bought puff pastry, would be incredibly easy.  Check out this how-to if you need more detailed instructions.  I actually wish I’d watched this before I made mine!  It seems easier than rolling the dough and produces a nice crunchy cookie.  Mine were sweet and lovely, but more flaky than crunchy and caramelized like these.  Oh well.  There’s always next time!

Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomato Palmiers

  • puff pastry
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • finely chopped sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained

Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers

  • puff pastry
  • cinnamon sugar

Follow the instructions above for forming and baking.

Peanut Butter, Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies


This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so its great when you need cookies for a crowd.  This is also a good cookie dough to make when you want to freeze some dough balls and bake them later.  It holds up well in the freezer for a few weeks.  Here are some tips for freezing cookie dough.  If you want to freeze individual balls of dough, scoop the dough into the size desired, then place them on a cookie sheet.  They can be close together since you won’t be baking them right now.  Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour to harden the dough.  Then, you can remove the dough balls from the sheet and place them into a freezer bag.  This will allow you to bake just a few cookies at a time instead of defrosting all the dough, which after one defrost should not be frozen again or the texture of the cookie will change.

I like these cookies because of all the goodies in them.  I like a simple sugar cookie from time to time, but I much prefer something with lots of different flavors and textures.  I used milk chocolate chips and salted peanuts this time, but I think peanut butter chips, semi-sweet or even white chocolate could be good.  Maybe a combination of a few kinds even!  I’m getting carried away now.  I have not tried them with honey roasted peanuts, but will probably leave out the chocolate chips when I do.  So many different variations…so little time.  This is an easy cookie recipe.  The only “trick” I use it to chill the dough for a few hours before scooping it.  They taste just as good if you don’t chill the dough, but the cookies seem to bake more evenly, spread a little less and I think letting the ingredients have more time to sit together before baking creates a better flavor and texture.  So, do as you please…chill or don’t chill.  But make these.  They are yummy.


Daring Bakers: Cookies

I must admit this, I was not thrilled about this months challenge at first.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love cookies.  Almost all kinds of cookies.  I even like when they take all day to make.   My issue with this challenge was that I made one of the cookie recipes a few years ago with less than stellar results, so I was kinda bummed.  The other cookie also seemed a little boring.  I went into this challenge with a rotten attitude…but I came out a very happy girl.


The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole     at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I made the Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies first.

Day 1: I made the cookies a day before I planned to make the marshmallow and cover them.  The cookie dough was easy to deal with and the cookies made my house smell so wonderful while they baked.  I tried the cookies alone, and I found them to be a bit dry, but they had good flavor.

Day 2: I’ve made these cookies before, so I have made marshmallow before.  I really enjoy making food that starts out with a very ordinary and unassuming list of ingredients and miraculously becomes something completely different!  That’s why marshmallow is so fun to make.  It creates quite a sticky mess, but is worth it.  mallow1

Be sure to use good vanilla as this is the only flavoring in the marshmallow besides sugar. I recommend Nielson-Massey Vanilla Bean paste or Madagascar Vanilla.

The marshmallow was beautiful and piped out quite nicely onto the cookies.  I let them set at this point for a few hours at room temperature.

The process of covering things in chocolate and I do not get along very well.  Unless I am using that chocolate bark, my chocolate doesn’t ever harden completely without putting it in the fridge or freezer.  And yet again, I had that problem with these cookies.  They looked beautiful coming out of their chocolate bath, but even after 3 hours the chocolate was still wet.  So, in the fridge they went!  The chocolate hardened and then we were able to taste them!  The chocolate formed a nice hard shell around the soft gooey marshmallow and crumbly cookie.  I liked these cookies, but think they might require more work than they’re worth in the taste department.  They are beautiful and impressive, though.