Monday, January 25, 2010

Homemade Barbeque Sauce

This is an easy no-frills barbeque sauce that is super quick to make and would be good with just about anything you're grillin' or dippin'. Other than being a cheaper alternative to the store bought variety, I use organic ketchup, so it doesn't contain any high fructose corn syrup (evil!), fillers, or preservatives you can't pronounce. Plus, organic ketchup is thicker and way more flavorful than the regular national brands. I like Trader Joe's, but Heinz or the store brand are good too. This is by no means an exact recipe. Taste as you go and season to your liking.

Barbeque Sauce
heavily adapted from

1/2 c. orgainc ketchup
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. brown sugar
1-2 Tbsp. honey
juice of half a lemon
a pinch to 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper - depending on how spicy you want it
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1-2 Tbsp. water (optional)

Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook 5-10 minutes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chocolate Stout Cake - a little slice of heaven

This is one of those recipes that I came across on Smitten many months ago, printed it, bookmarked it, and decided that someday I needed to make it. Why? It's chocolate, more chocolate...and beer, stout no less, what could be better with chocolate. If you really have to ask, just don't bother. Plus, it was a fabulous way to use the new bundt pan that I got for Cristmas (Thanks, Mom!). As my favorite 6 year old says of Rice Krispies Treats, this cake is "redikalous good." The hint of coffee in the ganache is perfect. But now we're wondering how much more amazing it could be with this tasty brew. Unfortunately, I don't have a decent picture to share partly due partly to my poor kitchen lighting and the fact that I was so darn impatient and turned it out of the pan too early. It was in 2 pieces. Not my best work. See...

Check out the link below for Deb's stunning presentation. Half of mine kinda looked like that, but without the almonds. I will be making it again soon though, for St. Partick's day for sure, if not sooner and hopefully without the mishap.

Chocolate Stout Cake
as adapted by Smitten Kitchen

1 c. stout (such as Guinness)
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2/3 c. sour cream
6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
6 Tbsp. heavy cream
3/4 tsp. instant coffee granules

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Butter or spray a bundt pan well; make sure you get in all of the nooks and crannies. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; cool completely in the pan, then turn cake out onto rack for drizzling ganache.
3. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of cooled cake.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Turkey Sausage and Broccolini Ravioli

One of our favorite restaurants is an Italian place in Ann Arbor, where the bruschetta is amazing, and so is the Veggie Lasagna. It's very easy to be a member of the Clean Plate Club at that place. For a while, one of their dishes was my favorite meal anywhere. "Broccolini and Italian sausage stuffed ravioli with cream tomato sauce." It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Some time ago I decided that I was going to attempt to make it myself, but never found a day when I could spend the entire day in the kitchen making pasta dough and filling ravioli. I remember making fresh pasta with my great-grandfather as a kid so I was convinced that I could do it myself. I was also under the impression that someone in our family had Grandpa's old pasta machine, but no such luck. If it's around, it's burried somewhere. Then I came across the short-cut of using wonton wrappers. It still seems like a cop-out to me, but if Giada can do it, then they're good enough for this Polish-Irish-American girl.
Turkey Sausage and Broccolini Ravioli
Yields about 30 ravioli 

3 Italian turkey sausages with the casings removed or about 3/4 lb. loose
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
1/2 c. broccolini, chopped small
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1 package wonton wrappers (about 60 each)

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper, sage and sausage. Cook until sausage just starts to brown and is cooked through.
2. Transfer sausage mixture to a large bowl and set aside. Add broccolini to the pan and sautee for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add broccolini, egg, and parmesan to the sausage and mix well.
4. Set wontons out on your work surface in a single layer. Drop tablespoons of the sausage mixture in the center. Using your finger wet the outer edge of the wonton, place another wrapper on the top and firmly press the layers together whithout creating air pockets. Use a biscuit cutter to cut off some of the excess and place on a cookie sheet. Continue making ravioli with the remaining ingredients.
5. Bring a large pot of water to a low boil. Add ravioli in batches of about 5-6 at a time, and boil for 3-5 minutes until wontons are soft.
6. Serve immediately with your favorite sauce. (We used a basil marinara.)
These turned out awesome! It was exactly the flavor combo that I was hoping for. Broccolini is sweeter and more tender than regular broccoli which pairs well with the spicy sausage. You can find it in most grocery stores, but it's often called "baby broccoli" or "aspirations", as it was in my store, because some people think it tastes like a cross between broccoli and asparagus. The wonton wrappers are definately more delicate than an egg pasta dough so the dish ends up lighter than traditional Italian ravioli, but with great flavor. Because they are delicate you have to be careful not to over cook them or they'll tear right in the pot.

Monday, January 11, 2010

NYE Pizza

My veggie masterpiece
What better way to ring in the new year than with a "make-your-own" pizza party. It's especially nice to have homemade pizza when you have a professional living with you. My husband worked at a couple different pizza joints for a total of nine years! So I, of course, leave the dough making to him. He found a new recipe and it worked well with both bread flour and whole wheat flour. It was both delicious and easy to make-as far as I can tell. We had a plethora of toppings including: sausage, pepperoni, peppers, garlic, spinach, basil, tomato, onion, jalapeno, and some mushrooms that I sauteed ahead of time in a bit of olive oil, garlic, and white wine...delicious.

Dan's pizza during construction
and now, here's Dan with the recipe...

Pizza Dough
adapted from Tyler Florence

1 packet yeast (quick rise or dry active, your choice determines how long the water needs to activate)
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. salt
3 c. bread or whole wheat flour
olive oil

1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir gently to dissolve. Let the mixture stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes.  (I had 3 packs of quick rise and one of dry active yeast.  I didn't give the batch with the dry active enough time to fully activate which resulted in less rise.  Make sure you give it enough time!)
2. Turn the mixer on low and add the salt and 2 tablespoons (a little more never hurt) of olive oil. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until all the flour has been incorporated. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium; stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Get a feel for the dough by squeezing a small amount together: if it's crumbly, add more water; if it's sticky, add more flour - 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix until the dough gathers into a ball, this should take about 5 minutes.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times; kneading until it's smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot, i.e. over a gas pilot light, until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  (Seeing that our oven/stove is electric we have to use the oven to create a warm environment.  I like to heat the oven to its lowest setting and then turn it off when I put the dough in there. This is kind of a bummer because we weren't able to preheat the pizza stone until all of the dough was done proofing.)
4. Once the dough is domed and spongy, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll and stretch the dough into a cylinder and divide into 3 equal pieces. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes so it will be easier to roll out.  (On this particular occasion I spread some olive oil on a cookie sheet, put all of the dough balls on there and then placed it in the fridge until we were ready to start.)
5. Preheat oven to 500 °F if using a pizza stone, or 425 °F for a cookie sheet, but unlike the stone, do not put the cookie sheet in the oven while preheating. Roll or pat out a piece of dough into a 12 inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Dust a pizza paddle or cutting board with cornmeal and slide it under the pizza dough. Add your favorite toppings. Slide the pizza onto the hot stone (or place pizza on a cookie sheet) in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden and crisp. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cheddar Cheese and Red Bell Pepper Strata

2 posts in 1 day? Inconceivable!
Here is another red and green thing that I made over the holidays. Apparently I was subconciously festive the entire week. The motivation for this one was to have a nice breakfast or brunch when we woke up. It smelled awesome in the oven, but again left something to be desired. This is one of the few strata recipes I have come across that does not say to refrigerate (I always want to put a "D" in that word) it overnight. We did and it was mushy. Too mushy for Dan to even eat. I made him some scrambled eggs and put this back in to oven to bake a little longer for myself. It did dry out some more, but maybe I shouldn't have let it soak so long, or reduced the amount of milk. The flavor was great though, so I'll give it another try.

Cheddar Cheese and Red Bell Pepper Strata
adapted from Bon Appetit via epicurious
The cooking time below includes the additional baking.

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 large (or 1 1/2 smaller ones) red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped green onions
6 slices whole wheat bread
1 1/2 c. grated medium cheddar cheese
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
2 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 tsp. yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper to skillet and sauté until just tender, about 4 minutes. Mix in green onions; sauté 1 minute longer. Remove from heat.
2. Cut bread into 1/2-inch pieces. Layer half of bread in 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Cover with half of cheese, then half of bell pepper mixture. Repeat layering with bread, cheese and bell pepper mixture. Beat milk, eggs, mustard, dry mustard, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend. Pour over strata.
3. Refrigerate overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Bake strata until lightly browned on top and set in center, about 50-65 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes; cut into squares.

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Guacamole

I have to be honest, these were just alright. Alright by themselves, and decently good topped with guacamole. The combination is odd in a good way. They would probably be better as a side dish or appetizer instead on making them your entire meal like I did. I first saw this recipe while flipping through the channels sometime in December and stopped, of course, on the Food Network and 30 Minute Meals. I thought to myself  "I love sweet potatoes! What a great/different/not too sweet way to make 'em. I'm gonna make those over my break." So I got all of the ingredients and proceeded to prepared the semi-time consuming recipes. Having never made potato pancakes of any kind, or homade hashbrowns for that matter, I was surprised at how hard it is to shred potatoes, especially sweet potatoes, which have very low moisture content. Upon the initial tasting I was thinking that I would never make them again, but now I feel diferently. I think that they would be better with a better sweet potato. Mine was not very dark in color so it probably wasn't as sweet as it could have been. I did cut back on the spices compared to the original recipes only because I thought it seemed like a lot. Also, I just made my own guac rather than following Rachel's recipe. I was not feeling the pomegranate syrup.

Sweet Potato Pancakes
adapted from Rachel Ray
Many reviewers of this recipe complain that their pancakes fell apart. I formed the pancakes in my hand pressing them tightly together and squeezing out any extra liquid before putting them into the oil, and used a small flexible turner to flip them. They are pretty fragile when cooking, but if you are careful you shouldn't have any problems.

about 2/3 cup canola oil, for frying
1 medium Idaho potato, peeled and shredded
1 large sweet potato, peeled and shredded
1 small onion, peeled
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. coriander
salt and pepper

1. Heat enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan over medium to medium-high heat.
2. Drain the shredded potatoes, pressing them down in a colander to get their moisture out. Place the potatoes in a bowl; using a box grater, grate the onion directly into the potatoes so that the onion juices fall into bowl as well. Add the egg and flour to the potatoes and onion then season with spices and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
3. Drop enough batter into hot oil to make 2 1/2-inch pancakes. Add more oil, as needed, and fry cakes in batches until deeply golden on each side.
You will get about 16 pancakes. Drain cooked cakes on paper towels.

I never go by a recipe when I make guac. It's one of those things that I just eyeball and taste, so it ends up a bit different every time. This is what went in this time a round...sadly without onion (the husband's request).

2 ripe Hass avocados
1 roma tomato, finely chopped
1/2 a jalepeno, finely diced - use membranes and seeds to achieve desired heat
the juice of 1/2 a lemon - I prefer a lime, but we were out
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper

1. Cut the avocados in half, all the way around the pit. Remove the pit with a spoon or sharp knife, then scoop the flesh into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients.
2. Mash until smooth. Taste and reseason, if necessary.

I like to make my guacamole in a bowl with a flat bottom and use a potato masher to mash all of the ingrediants together. It's much easier than using a fork and yields a more uniform consistency.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Vegetable Lover's Chicken Soup

T'was the day after Christmas and all through the house, the in-laws were stirring with hungry mouths. So I whipped up some soup just as quick as a flash, and we all settled down for a midday... meal (nothing rhymes with flash).  OK. I'm done. Anywho, after many days of cookie binges, a soup and salad lunch was the prefect way to feed a family of hungry people without contributing to our mutual malaise. I served my Taco Soup, Smooth Vegetable Soup, both of which I had in the freezer, and this new one. It's simple, but in my opinion way better than your average chicken noodle. Not that I have anything against egg noodles and carrots, but it's been done...a lot. The wine adds depth to the flavor and makes it seem like something special, and the red and green vegetables, or should I say fruits, make it rather festive for the holidays.

Vegetable Lover's Chicken Soup  (or Italian Chicken Soup as I have been calling it)
adapted from Eating Well

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small pieces
3 small zucchini, finely diced
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
3 cans (14 oz.) low-sodium, fat free chicken broth
1 heaping tsp. Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
3/4 dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 1/2 c. water
3 c. packed baby spinach
1/2 c. orzo pasta
grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. Add zucchini, shallot, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth and wine; increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach, the cooked chicken and any accumulated juices from the chicken; cook, stirring, until the chicken is heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

The original recipe says to add the orzo in with the tomatoes, broth, and wine. I chose to cook it seperately in order to keep the recipe gluten-free. Plus, having the pasta seperate prevents any leftovers from having overly bloated, saggy, chunks that look vaguely like noodles. Just add a spoonful to each portion as desired.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cookie Day 2009

This is very overdue. My holiday backlog continues to look for many new posts this week.

For the past 4 years a dear friend and I have come together to make Christmas cookies...for the masses. Cookie Day, or Cookie Hell as we refer to it, should be considered an olympic event, much training and preparation lead up to this day. We make the traditional decorated butter cookies along with 9 others. Yes, a total of 10 (!) different kinds of cookies all in one day, and to make matters worse, we double almost every recipe. Why do we do this? Well, we love cookies, the making, the baking, the gifting, and, of course, the eating. It has changed locations a few times, as we have moved over the years, but for now its at my place, since I have more counter space. We do miss baking at my parents house with their awesome "Speed Bake" oven feature that allows you to evenly bake up to 3 tray of cookies at one time! Someday, when I have a home of my own, I might have to invest in this type of oven even if we use it only one day a year.
We made record time this year. From start to finish, and that includes clean-up, we were done in about 11 hours, and it usually takes well over 12.

Swedish Butter Cookies
a family recipe
I have tried many different sugar/butter cookies, but these are fabulous, even after a couple weeks.
Combine in a large bowl:
3 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder

Mix in a small bowl:
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Add contents of small bowl to large bowl. Mix/knead thoroughly. Wrap in wax paper, chill overnight. Roll and cut. Bake 11 minutes at 375 °F on an ungreased cookie sheet. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Store in an airtight container.

1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. milk
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1 box* powdered sugar

Beat until peaks stiffen. Frost and decorate as desired.
* "box" is what was listed on the original, very old, recipe. We think it was a 1 pound box.

Chinese New Year Cookies
another family thing, my Mom made them every year growing up

1 bag (11 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag (11 oz.) butterscotch chips
1 can (12 oz.) spanish peanuts
1 can (5 oz.) chow mein noodles
sprinkles (optional)

Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips in a large pot on the stove over low heat. Once melted, add noodles and peanuts. Stir to coat, and remove from heat. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of mixture onto sheets of wax paper. Top with sprinkiles, if desired, and allow to cool and harden for several hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
from Hershey's

48 Hershey's Kisses
1/2 c. shortening
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. granulated sugar, plus a few tablespoons
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose floour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Heat oven to 375 °F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.
2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in a large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 c. granulated sugar and brown suger; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in extra sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookies will crack around the edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen.

Ginger Snaps
source unknown
This year, these were my favorite, and I ate far too many! I love how they are tough and chewy and seem to bite you right back. To achieve the star pattern, gently press an astersik (*) pattern into the balls of dough with a table knife before baking.

3/4 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
granulated sugar

1. Cream shortening, brown sugar, molasses, and egg until fluffy.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves; stir into molasses mixture.
3. Form into small balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.
4. Bake at 375 °F for 12 minutes.
Yield 5 dozen

Cinnamon Cookies
adapted from a recipe by Diana Rattay,

2/3 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnnamon
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
2. Sift flour with baking powder and 1 tsp. cinnamon; add to butter mixture and blend well. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
3. In a wide shallow bowl, combine chopped nuts with 2 tablespoons cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Form chilled dough into small balls; roll each ball in cinnamon sugar nut mixture and place on a greased cookie sheets 2-3 inches apart.
4. Bake at 350 °F for about 10-12 minutes.
Makes 3 dozen.

Oatmeal Scotchie Bars
from Nestle's Very Best Baking
We usually make the cookie form, but bars were a nice alternative, and saved some baking time.

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. quick or old-fashioned oats
1 2/3 c. (11 oz. pkg.) butterscotch morsels

1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels.
3. Spread dough into a greased 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until light brown. Alternatively, drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheets and bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9-10 minutes for crisp cookies.
Makes 4 dozen bars or cookies.

Icebox Shortbead - two ways
from Martha Stewart
We have been making the lemon poppy seed variety for years and decided to add the ginger sesame for a different type of Christmas cookie. They were delightful, but if you have never tried to chop crystallized ginger, I will warn you that it is very sticky and may take a few minutes.

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. all-purpose four (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling

Our Mix-Ins and Coatings
for other variations see the original recipe
-Mix in grated zest of 2 lemons; coat with 1/4 c. poppy seeds
-Mix in 1/4 c. finely chopped candied ginger; coat with 1/4 c. sesame seeds

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. With mixer on low speed, add flour, mixing just until a dough forms. Stir in desired mix-ins.
2. Divide dough in half; place each half on a piece of floured waxed or parchment paper. With floured hands, gently roll each into a 1 1/2 inch diameter log. Dividing evenly, sprinkle with desired coating, if using, rolling log (to help coating adhere) and pressing gently. Wrap logs tightly in the paper, and refridgerate until firm, 1-2 1/2 hours. (To store longer, wrap log and paper tightly with plastic wrap.)
3. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Unwrap logs; with a serrated knife, slice dough 3/8 inch thick (if dough crumbles, leave at room temperature 5-10 minutes). Arrange slices, about 1 inch apart, on baking sheets.
4. Bake until lightly golden around the edges, 15-20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1-2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 3 dozen.

Nutella Cookies
from alpineberry
Oh, man I cannot say enough good things about these ones, the name should really say it all. We tried these for the first time last year, and they are the next best thing to slathering Nutella on a fresh bakery croissant, and are at their best warm, right out of the oven.

1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. light brown sugar
2/3 c. Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted and skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
2. Sift together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside dry ingredients.
3. Cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in Nutella and vanilla extract. Mix in egg.
4. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add chocolate chips and hazelnuts.
5. Drop tablespoons of dough 2 inches apart onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for about 11 minutes until the edges look set. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then carefully remove to cooling racks.
Makes 30 cookies.

The Ultimate Heart Smart Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Kelli Gibbs published in the Detroit Free Press
These were a pretty good spin on the traditional chocolate chip, but they did get pretty hard after only a few days.

1/4 c. margarine
1/4 c. (2 oz.) reduced fat cream cheese
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 c. miniature chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (we omitted these)

1. Preheat oven to 375 °F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, beat together margarine, cream cheese, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt and stir into sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts, if using.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Cool on wire rack.
Makes 2 dozen.

Here are some tips for cookie mass production that we have learned over the years:
- If you have several recipes that require the dough to be refridgerated make a couple the night before.
- Use parchment paper to line the cookie sheets rather than silicone mats or cooking spray. The later two require some washing in between and can slow you down. Wasteful I know, but it's only once a year and for some of the less greasy cookies, you can flip the paper over and reuse the same sheet.
- Invest in a cookie scoop and a thin, cookie friendly turner.
- Obviously having 2 people to crank it out helps, and so does a KitchenAid, or a few hand mixers with extra beaters.

Other Cookie Day Traditions:
- Eggs for breakfast help to prepare us for the sugar consumption.
- We order fish and chips for dinner and drink iced tea...both are delicious and serve as a vehicle for lemon juice. What else would we do with 4 naked lemons. ;)