holiday fare 1 cookies

[My sincere apology for the delay in posting this blog. It was just one of those weeks where urgent jobs kept surfacing, stealing time from my writing. Hope these additional recipes arrive in your inbox on time and will provide some inspiration for you to create some new and unusual holiday treats. –CMT]

Kitchen assistants taking a break.

kitchen assistants taking a break. I usually start my serious holiday baking this week, especially since my feline kitchen assistants are eager to pick up some odd jobs like diving after anything that falls on the floor and licking the bowls, of course. Just kidding, but really, I need a solid two weeks to get all my sweets and savories planned and prepared.You can print these recipes using the PDF link at the end of this post.

I won’t bore you with the typical chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie recipes. My treats are special, and will add a festive and delicious touch to your table. This week it’s cookies.

golden cups  So delicious, these tiny little pies will melt in your mouth. If you prefer, you can substitute chopped slivered almonds or pecans for the walnuts.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • Salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs melted butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. On the day before (or within a week of baking, make dough), soften the cream cheese. Sift flour with ¼ tsp regular salt.
  2. Blend butter with cream cheese till streaks are gone; add flour. Shape dough into a ball, wrap in foil, and refrigerate.
  3. Early on the day, preheat oven to 375°
  4. Beat eggs in medium bowl on medium speed, add sugar, melted butter, and pinch of salt. Stir in nuts and vanilla.
  5. Divide dough in 4 parts (each fourth will make 12 cups). Refrigerate all but one. Pinch off and form into 12 balls.
  6. Press each ball into ungreased 1 ¾-inch muffin tins, forming slightly rolled edges at top. Fill half full with nut mixture (about 1 heaping teaspoon).
  7. Bake 20 minutes till light golden and filling is set. Cool a minute or two before removing to wire rack.

Cool pan between batches. Makes 48 cups. Recipe can be doubled or halved according to your needs.

 

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aunt olga’s christmas cookies  In Philadelphia, our neighbor across the street would send a platter of cookies over to our house every Christmas. She was descended from the Pennsylvania Dutch. “Deutsch” (pronounced doitch) means “German,” and they are famous for their amazing food. Anyway, these cookies don’t look like much, the ingredients are rather common, but they have that certain “umami,” an indescribable flavor that keeps you reaching for more. Follow directions to a tee for best results.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ¾ cups softened butter
  • 3 eggs (divided)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3¼ cups flour

Directions

  1. Cream butter and sugar, add 2 of the eggs. Mix well.
  2. Stir soda and cream of tartar into the flour. Add to butter mixture. Dough will be stiff. Cover with wax paper and chill for at least an hour. Or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°. Pinch off dough and roll into small balls the size of a walnut. Arrange on an ungreased cookie sheet 3-4 inches apart.
  4. Once arranged, cover a flat-bottom tumbler or jar with a flat lid with wax paper, Secure with a rubber band. Use to flatten each cookie as flat as possible.
  5. Brush tops with beaten whole egg and decorate with colored sugar, confetti nonpareils, or cinnamon and sugar. Bake 10 minutes till lightly golden and egg is set.
  6. Cool on wire racks. Store in tight-lidded cans or plastic bags. Crisp and amazing!

 

marina’s wonder cookies  I worked with a young woman who brought these into the office one Christmas. I had to have the recipe—they taste like expensive chocolate-covered toffee, but you won’t believe the simple ingredients and ease of making them. If you’re careful, you can break these up pretty evenly, but they will often break randomly. It’s okay. They taste so good, no one will complain!

Ingredients

  • ¼ box of saltines (1 sleeve)
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ large package chocolate chips (dark or milk—your preference)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a large cookie sheet (with sides!) with cooking spray. Arrange saltines in a single layer to cover the bottom of the cookie sheet.
  2. Place butter and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat.
  3. Carefully pour boiling mixture over crackers to cover evenly. Place in oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven to wire rack. When bubbling stops, sprinkle chips over top and spread with an offset spatula as they melt. Cool and refrigerate.

 

old-fashioned no-bake cookies  This the closest thing to fudge without all the work. I have a friend who folds in mini marshmallows at the end. That sounds good!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbs cocoa
  • ¼ lb butter or margarine
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups oats (the old-fashioned kind are most nutritious—just sayin’)

Directions

  1. Line a couple of cookie sheets with wax paper. Measure out oats in a bowl.
  2. In a large saucepan, place sugar, butter, milk, and cocoa. and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla, peanut butter, then the oats. Keep stirring and work quickly or mixture will begin to dry out.
  4. Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper or use a small cookie scoop. Keep them small so they dry evenly.
  5. Stack in containers in the ‘fridge between sheets of wax paper.

 

no-bake apricot coconut candy cookies  Make anytime up to one week ahead. Nice to tuck in among the regular cookies on your cookie plate or gift boxes.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs butter, softened
  • 1 Tbs water
  • ½ cup Light Karo Syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup dry (powdered) milk
  • 2 cups finely snipped dried apricots
  • 2 cups flaked sweetened coconut

Directions

  1. In a large bowl mix butter with syrup. Stir in water, vanilla, and dry milk and mix well.
  2. Add apricots and coconut and knead until thoroughly blended.
  3. Roll into 1-inch balls or use a small cookie scoop.
  4. Store in a loosely covered container at room temperature.

 

TIP: If you can’t find bulk apricots, the Dollar Tree has very good, reasonably priced bags of dried apricots.

 

ALSO, cookie scoops will make your life SO much easier. I don’t know how I ever lived without them before a couple of years ago! My first two, a 1-teaspoon and a 1-tablespoon size, were from Pampered Chef, a gift from my son, but they were pretty expensive. Here in Maine, we have a discount store, Marden’s, where I was SO fortunate to find meatball size scoop, same quality, for $4.00! Don’t you just love bargains???

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAconnie’s currant cookies  Currants are small, round, seedless dried berries related to gooseberries. I call these Connie’s because I had to come up with this recipe myself after losing the one given to me by a coworker many years ago. Her name was Michelle, but everyone call her “Mitch.” She was a big woman, built like a football player, but she was a kind and gentle soul who baked me a batch of her currant cookies the Christmas before my first son was born. These are great with a hot cup of tea and a good book!

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ – ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup Zante currants (next to the raisins in the grocery store)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until very fluffy and light in color. Add eggs and vanilla and beat on high for two minutes.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Gradually add dry to wet, combining slowly, including ½ cup of the milk. If batter is too stiff, add remaining ¼ cup milk.
  4. Stir in currants and mix till distributed.
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 11 minutes.
  6. Remove to cooling rack. This makes 11 dozen.

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let the gobbling continue – leftovers

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Are you faced with a hefty supply of leftovers after a holiday meal? You might have a slew of hungry kids on vacation or cheering football fans in the man cave. Get creative and move beyond the hot turkey sandwiches.

turkey shepherd’s pie (serves 6)  This is a stick-to-your-ribs meal your entire family will love. A somewhat rustic version of the traditional dish, it uses cooked turkey instead of raw ground beef or lamb, and chunky potatoes instead of mashed. Shredding both white and dark meat imparts the best flavor by allowing it to soak up the flavorful juices. You can also prepare this with chicken.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded turkey
  • 6 Tbs (¾-stick) butter cut into six 1-Tbs pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced 1/2- inch thick
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • ½ tsp dried thyme (or use 1½ tsp minced fresh)
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  • 2 cups chicken stock (Use stock rather than broth for great flavor; Swanson’s is best. If you were clever enough to make your own turkey stock, by all means use it!)
  • 2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Set oven rack to upper-middle; preheat to 375 degrees. Cover potatoes with water by an inch, bring to boil in a large pan with 1 Tbs salt, reduce to medium heat and strong-simmer for 15-18 minutes. Drain very well. Return to pan, gently fold in 5 Tbs of butter, ¼ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper. Cover and set aside.
  2. In a 10-inch ovensafe skillet, melt 1 Tbs butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots. Cook till golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and stir till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add sherry and scrape up any brown bits. When pan is nearly dry, about 1 minute, stir in chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Mix cornstarch with ¼ cup water and whisk into broth mixture, return to a boil and stir till thickened, about 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, peas, and shredded turkey. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spoon potatoes over entire surface of turkey mixture. Brush with beaten egg. Place in oven and cook till bubbling—about 15 minutes. Turn oven to broil and cook until potatoes are golden brown, 5-7 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

cranky turkey sandwiches  Remember Bailey’s Deli on Bennett Drive? I loved their food—especially their amazing sandwiches with traditional turkey and cranberry sauce plus a few surprises. I like a lot of cranberry sauce!

Ingredients

  • Baguette in 6-inch segments (You can use other bread you like better.)
  • Sliced turkey breast
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Cream cheese
  • Sprouts or lettuce

Directions

  1. Slice bread if necessary. Baguettes or rolls should be halved lengthwise. Spread bottom half with cream cheese. Add lettuce or sprouts.
  2. Top with turkey, then cranberry sauce in slices or spread over the meat. (I like to spread a bit more cream cheese on the top half.)
  3. Amounts are up to you. Variations: add sliced tomato and/or red onion and grilling the bread beforehand.

football sliders (serves 4) I adapted this recipe from a Southern standard. These go great with frosty drinks and a nice relish dish of pickles, apple slices, and celery sticks. Make these with turkey or ham. You can assemble these yummy little sandwiches a day ahead. Brush with sauce, cover, and refrigerate. Just bring them to room temperature before baking. Your fans will be cheering you!

Ingredients

1 dozen square white dinner rolls (or dinner-size potato rolls)

  • 6 Tbs mustard (your favorite kind)
  • 12 thin slices ham or turkey
  • 12 thin slices (1/2 lb.) deli Swiss cheese
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tbs poppy seeds
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Slice rolls horizontally and spread 4 Tbs of mustard on cut side tops and bottoms. Arrange all bottoms side by side, cut side up, in a 13 x 9 baking dish. Fold or cut meat, then cheese, to fit on roll. Season with pepper. Cap with roll tops.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine butter, onion, and poppy seeds. Microwave till butter is melted and onion soft, about 1 minute. Whisk in Worcestershire, garlic powder, and remaining 2 Tbs mustard. Generously brush tops and edges of sandwiches. Spoon any remaining solids over tops.
  3. Cover dish with foil; let rest for 10 minutes to absorb the sauce. Bake on middle rack 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for another 7-9 minutes so cheese is soft and tops are firm. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

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Check back often for recipes, leftover ideas, and cooking tips!