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Eleventh Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Slow Roasted Spiced Almonds

Slow Roasted Spiced Almonds 1

DAY 7: Slow Roasted Spiced Almonds

Not a cookie, but perfect for Christmas snacking when you need something savory to counterbalance all of the sugar. These also make a great gift for friends and neighbors.

Slow Roasted Spiced Almonds 2

RECIPE:

Slow Roasted Spiced Almonds

  • Servings: 18 ½-cup servings
  • Print

Slow Roasted Spiced Almonds 1

¼ cup coconut oil or butter
4 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs Sriracha
1 ½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground mustard
9 cups (3 lb) whole raw almonds

Preheat oven to 250°F.

In a Pyrex measuring cup, melt coconut oil or butter in the microwave. Stir in seasonings. Place almonds in a large mixing bowl and pour seasoning mixture over the nuts. Stir with a rubber spatula until nuts are well coated.

Spread nuts in a single layer on a very large baking sheet (or use 2 medium baking sheets). Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Taste nuts and sprinkle with additional sea salt (½ – 1 tsp), to taste. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 9 cups

NOTE: Almonds can also be roasted at 350°F for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.

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Eleventh Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Coconut Cornflake Sandies

Coconut Cornflake Sandies 3

DAY 6: Coconut Cornflake Sandies

For those that like their cookies crisp, these are perfect: crispy, but not dry or crumbly. And a great way to use up some cornflakes in the cabinet that no one wants to finish.

Coconut Cornflake Sandies 2

RECIPE:

Coconut Cornflake Sandies

  • Servings: 4 dozen cookies
  • Print

Coconut Cornflake Sandies 3

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup crushed cornflakes cereal
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, oil, and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually beat into butter/sugar mixture, until just mixed. Beat in oats, crushed cereal, coconut, and pecans.

Let dough sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before scooping.

Using a cookie scoop, place level scoops of dough on baking sheets, about 2” apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool 2-3 minutes on the baking sheets and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Eleventh Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Raspberry Almond Thumbprints

Raspberry Almond Thumbprints 3

DAY 5: Raspberry Almond Thumbprints

The cookie base for these thumbprints is a light shortbread dough. Fill with your favorite jam. We love seedless raspberry or apricot jam. I always add a little more jam after baking so they are “jam packed” with filling.

Raspberry Almond Thumbprints 2

RECIPE:

Raspberry Almond Thumbprints

  • Servings: 4 dozen small cookies
  • Print

Raspberry Almond Thumbprints 3

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
About ½ – ¾ cup seedless raspberry jam

Glaze:
½ cup powdered sugar
2-3 tsp milk
½ tsp almond extract


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in almond extract. Gradually beat in flour and salt.

Using a small cookie scoop (2 tsp capacity), place level scoops on baking sheets, about 2” apart (I can get 20 cookies on a baking sheet). Roll scoops of dough into balls; return to baking sheet. Using the back of a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Fill each indentation with about ¼ teaspoon jam.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, or until baked through, but still pale. Don’t overbake. Remove baking sheet from oven and let sit for one minute. If desired, add a small amount of additional jam to the centers of the cookies. Cool cookies completely on wire racks.

Glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar, 2 tsp milk, and almond extract in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk until smooth, adding additional milk if necessary. Place glaze in a Ziploc bag; poke hole in one corner with a toothpick or skewer. Drizzle glaze over the cooled cookies.

NOTES:

  • For easier filling, heat jam for 20 seconds in the microwave before adding to centers of cookies.
  • Apricot and peach jams also make good fillings
  • Keep the dough covered when you are not working with it, or it will dry out and your cookies will have more cracks

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies

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Eleventh Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

Oatmeal Coconut Cookies 1

DAY 4: Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

Coconut helps to keep these oatmeal cookies soft and chewy without overwhelming the flavor. A simple, but delicious, cookie. You can add additional stir-ins like chocolate chips or nuts, but certain people in our family like them best just plain.

Oatmeal Coconut Cookies 3

Recipe adapted from LilLuna

RECIPE:

Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

  • Servings: 4 dozen cookies
  • Print

Oatmeal Coconut Cookies 1

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup shredded coconut
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and almond extract. Beat in coconut. Gradually beat in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat in rolled oats.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared pans, leaving about 2” between cookies. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 3-4 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

OPTIONAL: add chocolate or butterscotch chips, or chopped nuts

Recipe adapted from LilLuna

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Eleventh Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Bear Paw Cookies

Bear Paw Cookies 4

DAY 3: Bear Paw Cookies

An easy and fun alternative to regular chocolate  chip cookies. Bake your favorite plain cookie dough (or use the dough below) and add two different sized chocolate chips after baking to make a paw print pattern.

Use a very small cookie scoop (or make 1” balls)  so that the paw print pattern covers most of the cooked cookie.

Bear Paw Cookies 2

Recipe adapted from Kitchen Fun

RECIPE:

Bear Paw Cookies

  • Servings: 4 dozen small cookies
  • Print

Bear Paw Cookies 4

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 Tbs cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
About 1 cup of regular-sized chocolate chips plus about 1 cup of larger baking chips (like Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Beat in flour, cornstarch, and salt.

Using a small cookie scoop, place level scoops on baking sheets, about 2” apart (I can get 20 cookies on a baking sheet). Roll scoops of dough into balls (about 1” in diameter); return to baking sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes, or until baked through. Cookies will still look very pale. Don’t overbake. While cookies are still warm, press one large chocolate chip and three small chocolate chips into each cookie to make a paw pattern. Cool cookies completely on wire racks.

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies.

Recipe adapted from Kitchen Fun

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Eleventh Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Cookies

DAY 2: Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Cookies

A chocolate cookie loaded full of sweet and salty goodness: chocolate chips, pretzels, and pecans. All wrapped around a gooey caramel center.

Recipe adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

RECIPE:

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
¾ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pretzels
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, optional
1 pkg (11 oz) caramel squares (about 24)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Gradually beat into butter/sugar mixture, until just mixed. Stir in pretzels, chocolate chips, and pecans.

Cut caramel squares in half and set aside.

Using a cookie scoop, place level scoops of dough on baking sheets, about 2” apart. Roll each scoop of dough around a caramel square half. Return to baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes; cookies will still look slightly underdone. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

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Eleventh Annual Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Whipped Shortbread 2

DAY 1: Whipped Shortbread Cookies

These simple cookies have quickly made their way onto our list of  family favorites. The cornstarch and powdered sugar in the dough make them practically melt in your mouth.

Whipped Shortbread 3

In addition to Christmas baking and spending time with family, this month I am choosing to participate in an initiative to “Light the World” through small and simple acts of kindness.  Check out the link below for daily suggestions of ways to light the world, or to sign up for daily suggestions by text:

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#lighttheworld

Whipped Shortbread 1

RECIPE:

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

  • Servings: 5 dozen small cookies
  • Print

Whipped Shortbread 2

2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3 cups flour
½ cup cornstarch
½ tsp salt
1 Tbs vanilla extract
Candied sprinkles

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until very light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour, cornstarch, and salt.

Using a small cookie scoop, place level scoops on baking sheets, about 2” apart (I can get 20 cookies on a baking sheet). Rub your hands with a small amount of cornstarch, and then roll scoops of dough into 1” balls; return to baking sheet. Press each dough ball with the tines of a fork dipped in cornstarch, to flatten slightly. Dust the tops of the cookies with candied sprinkles.

Bake for 14-15 minutes, or until baked through. Cookies will still look very pale. Don’t overbake. Cool on wire racks.

Makes about 5 dozen small cookies.

For a wonderful new Christmas video about the birth of Jesus Christ, check out this newly produced “The Christ Child” movie:

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Freezing Fresh Peaches (Without Peeling!)

Freezing Peaches 2

It is peach season here in northern Maryland. I have visited two orchards in the past week and I am making my way through a bushel of fresh-picked peaches. Some have made their way into jams, peach butter, frozen peach yogurt, and lots of fresh peach juice running down chins.

Even after all of this canning, I still have more peaches than we can eat our way through before they go bad. So the remaining peaches are going into the freezer to be pulled out all winter when we need a little reminder of summer.

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This is a super simple method for freezing peaches: no blanching, no peeling, no slicing. And I like them so much better than canned peaches.

All you need are two ingredients: fresh peaches and Fruit Fresh (a fruit preservative, mostly consisting of ascorbic acid).

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To prepare peaches for freezing: wash peaches, cut in half and remove pit, place cut side up on a foil-lined tray, sprinkle with Fruit Fresh, turn cut side down, and place in freezer. When peach halves are solid, place in Ziploc bags and return to the freezer.

Freezing Peaches 1

The kids’ favorite thing about these frozen peaches comes when you are ready to eat one. You can remove as few or as many peach halves as you want from the freezer. Place the peach half on a plate or in a bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds, or until no longer solid (You can also leave them in the fridge or at room temperature until thawed). To remove the peel, simply pinch the center of the peel and lift- the peel slides off in one perfect piece! So much easier than trying to peel the peaches before freezing!

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I enlisted a much cuter hand model to help with this demonstration.
Thanks Julia!

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Freezing Fresh Peaches

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Freezing Peaches 2

Ingredients:

Fresh ripe peaches
Fruit Fresh (fruit preservative)

Preparation:

  1. Wash peaches and cut in half.
  2. Remove pit, but do not peel peaches.
  3. Place peach halves cut side up on a foil-lined tray.
  4. Sprinkle cut side with Fruit Fresh.
  5. Turn peaches cut side down, and place tray in freezer.
  6. After peaches have frozen solid, place them in a Ziploc bag and return to freezer.
  7. When ready to use, microwave peaches for about 20 seconds and the skin will easily slide off.

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Chorizo Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 5

Chorizo sausage, fresh mozzarella pearls, spicy marinara: all stuffed into an eggplant shell and topped with melted Parmesan. Perfect on its own, or served with a side of pasta.

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 2

Be sure to use medium sized eggplant. The skin on large eggplant is too thick to eat unless cooked for much longer than this recipe.

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I love  chorizo sausage in this, but you could also use a mild or spicy Italian sausage. I also use a spicy marinara sauce (like Arrabiata), but you can use whatever your family prefers.

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 5

Chorizo Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan 5

3 medium eggplant (do NOT use large eggplant)
2 cups marinara sauce (I use a spicy variety, like Arrabiata)
Olive oil cooking spray
salt & pepper
1 lb chorizo sausage
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
8 oz fresh mini mozzarella pearls (or ½” cubes)
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Use a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon to hollow out centers of eggplant halves (don’t discard eggplant insides). Spread about 1 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13” baking dish. Place eggplant halves in the baking pan. Spray the eggplant halves with olive oil cooking spray (or brush lightly with olive oil) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Coarsely chop eggplant insides and set aside.

In a large skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat until browned; drain grease (place chorizo in a paper towel lined bowl to remove excess grease). Return chorizo to the skillet with the chopped eggplant, onion, and garlic. Stir in Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook until eggplant is soft, about 5-7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Add the mozzarella pearls to the sausage mixture in the skillet and stir gently. Quickly (before the cheese melts) spoon mixture evenly into the 6 eggplant halves. Top the filled eggplant boats with remaining marinara sauce.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

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Sugar-Free Blackberry Cheesecake Mousse

Blackberry Cheesecake Mousse 2

A light, refreshing sugar-free dessert perfect for summer evenings. You can use any fresh berry (raspberry, strawberry, blackberry). It is sugar free, low-carb, and keto friendly.

Blackberry Cheesecake Mousse 1

RECIPE:

Sugar-Free Blackberry Cheesecake Mousse

Blackberry Cheesecake Mousse 1

12 oz fresh blackberries (about 2 cups)**
¼ cup water
¼ cup granulated low carb sweetener (I used erythritol)
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
¼ cup powdered low carb sweetener (I used a monkfruit/erythritol blend)
¼ tsp liquid stevia
1 Tbs vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
Additional fresh blackberries for garnish

Combine blackberries, water, and granulated sweetener in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, crushing blackberries with a potato masher or spoon. Strain blackberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve, pressing with a spoon to strain all of the pulp. Set strained mixture aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sweetener, stevia, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer for 3-4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in cooled blackberry mixture. Taste and add additional sweetener, if needed.

In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into the blackberry mixture.

Spoon mousse into 8 small ramekins and refrigerate until slightly firm (1-2 hours). Garnish with fresh blackberries, if desired.

NOTE: you can also use other berries like raspberries or strawberries.

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