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Christmas Tree


Here’s a recipe for a delicious cookie that can be put together quickly and kept on hand for those coffee and tea gatherings we enjoy throughout the holidays. This recipe is perfect as is, but it can be varied according to taste by substituting your favorite dried fruit mixture, using only dried cranberries, or raisins, or by adding chopped pecans, almonds, etc. Maybe even a few chunks of chocolate? That would be nice, but not necessary, as these cookies shine with just the dried fruit. The prepared cookie dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. How perfect is that?

Perfect tucked into lunch boxes and in homemade cookie packages given to family, friends and neighbors. Take some to work with you and make a co-workers day. They make a great afternoon pick-me-up during the hectic, busy days of December, and will become a favorite standby cookie during the rest of the year for many of you.

Fruit Slice Cookies1

Fruit Slice Cookies

2 cups brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tbsp. pure vanilla

3 1/2 cups *sifted, unbleached flour

1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

*Tip: If you don’t want to drag out a sifter, just place the flour in a bowl and whisk briskly to fluff the flour.

Measure one cup of dried fruit. Chop any large pieces. Set aside. (My favorite dried fruit mix comes from King Arthur Flour.)

Dried Fruit

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together the brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs and beat well, then mix in vanilla.

In same bowl that you sifted or whisked the flour, add the cream of tartar and baking soda to flour and whisk again to mix.

Add flour mixture (a cup at a time) to creamed mixture. After the first cup of flour has been mixed in, add chopped dried fruit. Proceed with the rest of the flour. Dough will be thick and somewhat stiff. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of mixing bowl to ensure all ingredients get mixed in evenly.

Cut 2 pieces of waxed paper about 10″ long and place half the dough on each piece, forming two logs. Using warm, clean hands, press and roll as you go. Wrap each log in the wax paper, rolling tightly to form round logs. Secure ends and place logs in the refrigerator. Chill at least two hours and up to a week.

Rolled Fruit Slices

Wrapped Fruit Slices

When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator and allow to sit a few minutes, rolling log a few times on counter. You can roll any flattened sides as you slice the cookies, but don’t worry about this too much (perfection not a requirement, just good taste!). Unwrap dough, and slice evenly with serrated knife, anywhere between 1/4″ and 1/2″ thick. Place slices on cookie sheet lined with a non-stick liner or parchment.

Fruit Slice Cookies3

Bake in a 350 degree oven, 7-10 minutes for thinner slices and 10-12 for thicker slices. Remove from oven when edges are brown and the middle is no longer wet. The longer the cookies are baked, the crisper the cookie. After baking, remove from cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Fruit Slice Cookies2

So good with a cup of steaming hot tea!

 Fruit Slice Cookies4

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Bluebird of Happiness

Bluebird of Happiness

While I was baking this biscotti, my husband called me outside. We have been fortunate this spring to have two different bird nests to watch over, right in the middle of our yard. Western Bluebirds have built a nest in a juniper tree. The bluebirds are very beautiful and very colorful. The little ones have tender voices and it’s been so nice to listen to them as they are being fed. The nest was built in a birdhouse our son built when he was much younger, in the sixth grade. He’s twenty-five now. The birds return each spring, but we are not sure if they’re the same pair, or if we perhaps are just lucky enough to attract new bluebirds each year.

Nic's Birdhouse

We have also been watching a nest with four little bluejays, located in a very large, old pinon tree. The birds are very loud when feeding, sounding almost dinosaur-like, with their loud screeching.

Today was the day they left the nest for the first time. We were wondering how long the nest would hold them, since they’ve grown so large for the size of the nest. They didn’t really fly from the nest, they hopped, from branch to branch. They will be perfecting their wing flapping and soon be gone.

A sight to behold, these little feathered friends, all fluffy and new.

Baby Bluejay1

Shaking its tail feathers.

Shaking its tail feathers.

Blessings come from unexpected places.

Very Vanilla Biscotti

Simple, with lots of vanilla flavor, because simple can be oh, so, delicious.

Besides, sometimes you feel like nuts, sometimes you don’t.

 Vanilla Biscotti

6 tbsp. unsalted butter (3/4 stick)

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

2 whole vanilla beans, split and scraped

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees (375○ high altitude). Lightly grease a large baking sheet (18 x 13), or line with parchment or silicone baking sheets. A pan specifically for baking biscotti may also be used.
  • Measure out the sugar (3/4 cup) and place in a small bowl. Split the vanilla beans and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a small, sharp knife. Add to the measured sugar, mixing well.

Vanilla Beans

Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla Biscotti1

  • In a medium bowl, beat the butter, the vanilla sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and baking powder together until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs. Batter will look curdled. On low speed, add the flour one cup at a time. Mix until smooth. The dough will be soft and sticky, but will hold its shape when dropped from a spoon. You will be able to see the vanilla beans throughout the dough.
Very Vanilla Biscotti Dough

Very Vanilla Biscotti Dough

  • Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet., shaping it into a rough log, about 14″ long, 2 1/2 inches wide, and 3/4″ thick.
  • Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a baking rack to cool for 5 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan. Slice 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick, using a sharp serrated bread knife. To make the biscotti easier to slice, use a clean plant mister filled with fresh water to lightly mist the top and sides of the dough. This will make the dough less likely to crumble when slicing. After misting, let sit for 5 more minutes, then slice, making sure to slice the biscotti evenly from top to bottom.
  • Place slices upright on baking sheet, leaving room between the slices. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool before storing in an airtight container.


Adapted from King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion cookbook. I prefer to scrape the split vanilla beans instead of using the entire vanilla bean. Experiment to see what you like. For those times when plain just isn’t what you are in the mood for, feel free to add in your choice of nuts or chocolate, etc. Just be sure to chop all extras on the small side to make slicing the biscotti easier.


Vanilla Biscotti3


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Think German Chocolate Cake, without the cake. Think German Chocolate Frosting, in a cookie.

It’s a cookie. No, it’s a candy. It’s a cookie that tastes like candy.

It’s a cookie that causes the person eating it to roll their eyes, moan and say:


“oh my gosh” (socially acceptable version).


This is one lovely, delectable cookie.

Be prepared to swoon.

German Chocolate Macaroon


German Chocolate Macaroons

1 pkg. sweetened, shredded coconut (14 oz), divided

1 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans

1 can sweetened,condensed milk (12 oz): 1/3 cup for cookies, the rest for topping

3 egg whites

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

4 tbsp butter, melted

2 tsp pure vanilla


4 oz sweet chocolate, chopped

Sweetened, condensed milk (see above)

Dash of pure vanilla

For the Macaroons:

1.  Mince 1 1/2 cups coconut in a food processor.

2.  Transfer minced coconut to mixing bowl. Add remaining coconut and pecans;  toss to combine.

Coconut-Pecan Mixture

3.  Whisk together 1/2 cup sweetened, condensed milk, egg whites flour sugar, butter, and vanilla in a bowl with a pour spout.

4.  Gently mix egg white mixture into coconut and pecans until combined. Chill dough for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours.

5.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 375 degrees for high altitude. Line baking sheets with parchment or Silpat. Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets with a #60 cookie scoop (about 2 tsp), spacing 1-inch apart.

Scoop Macaroons

6.  Bake cookies until brown on base and golden on tops and edges, 16-18 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks.

For the Toppings:

1. Cook remaining sweetened, condensed milk in a double boiler until slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour, 15 minutes.*

Double Boiler

2. While sweetened, condensed milk is thickening, melt sweetened chocolate in microwave, in 35 second intervals until chocolate is halfway melted. Stir to continue melting.

3. Drizzle and spoon chocolate over tops and sides of macaroons.

Drizzle Sweet Chocolate

4. When sweetened, condensed milk has thickened, add a dash of vanilla, stirring well.

5. Drizzle thickened condensed milk over macaroons.

German Chocolate Macaroons

*Note: Recipe called for 45 minutes over double boiler to thicken, but it took much longer for the condensed milk to thicken (over an hour). The extra time is worth it. I suggest starting the process while you are making the macaroons, instead of waiting until the cookies are baked.

Thickened Condensed Milk2

Thank you to Cuisine Holiday Cookies magazine for a delicious recipe! (I eliminated the shortening in the chocolate topping, increased the vanilla in the cookies, and added the dash of vanilla to condensed milk topping).









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Great Pumpkin Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 doz
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 cup quick or old fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin, canned
  • ½ to 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Mix all ingredients.
  2. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until cookies are set and slightly browned on edges.
  4. Cool completely on wire rack.


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These cookies are a tradition at our house during the holidays, but would make an excellent cookie choice for Easter or any Spring or Summer get-together. They would be ideal at a wedding, bridal or baby shower.

This past Christmas, things were hectic at our house. Our home had been under construction for months, I got sick, and we were breathlessly awaiting the birth of our second grandchild. Needless to say, I didn’t get to my holiday baking, which at our house, is unheard of. Sure enough, my daughter went into labor and I could not think of much else. We were blessed with the appearance of our grandson early in the morning on Christmas Eve, the best Christmas gift any of us could ask for. I could not fathom celebrating Christmas without something sweet, so I somehow managed to make these cookies. They were all we needed. Our family Christmas was complete.


For the Cookies:

1 6oz. can orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 1/2 c sugar

1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 c sour cream, at room temperature

2 eggs

4 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp grated orange zest

For the Frosting:

6 tbsp butter, softened

3 1/2 c powdered sugar

4 tbsp evaporated milk, or enough to make frosting fluffy and spreadable

2 tbsp reserved orange juice concentrate

1 tbsp grated orange zest

2 tsp or 1 tbsp vanilla (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (375 degrees for high altitude).

To Make Cookies:

Reserve 2 tbsp. orange juice concentrate for frosting. Grate 2 tbsp. orange zest for the cookies and 1 tbsp. zest for the frosting. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter together for 2 minutes. Add sour cream, eggs, and orange juice concentrate. Mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture and grated zest to sugar/butter mixture and beat thoroughly. Using a 1 inch cookie scoop or a rounded tablespoon of dough, drop cookies onto a nonstick baking sheet (or line baking sheet with Silpat or parchment), and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottom of cookies are just lightly browned. Do not overbake. Remove the cookies from the baking sheet and transfer to a baking rack to cool.

To Make Frosting:

Beat butter in mixing bowl to fluff. Beat in the powdered sugar and evaporated milk, alternately, until the frosting is fluffy and spreadable. Add the reserved orange juice concentrate and orange zest, mixing well.

Frost cookies and enjoy!

Makes  60 1-inch cookies or 30 2-inch cookies.

Adapted from More Recipes from Quilt Country Cookbook

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1/2 c shortening

1/2 c butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter

3 c unbleached flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets or line with Silpat or parchment.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the shortening and the butter. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and peanut butter. Mix until combined. Add flour, stirring to combine.

Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving space between each cookie. Press down each cookie with a fork to make a crisscross pattern, pressing slightly each time. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks : King Arthur Flour Cookie Campanion




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