Smart Cookie’s Christmas Recipe Collection 2012

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Let’s be honest; it ain’t just the holiday spirit that brings us together around this time of year; it’s the promise of a plethora of the year’s best foods. Eating Christmas dinner is just as joyful as opening presents Christmas morning. It’s the meal we remember, when the family’s together and the food is good enough to shut everyone up.

Now, just in case you’re scrambling last minute to compose your Christmas Eve/Day menu(s), I’ve got the ultimate list of recipes to get you all ready for the big feast. Have a Very Delicious Christmas!

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Cookiepalooza

  1. Fudgy Chocolate Crinkles
  2. Hello Dollies
  3. White Chocolate Filled Snickerdoodles
  4. Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies – Gluten Free
  5. Fudge Brownie Thumbprints w/ Caramel Drizzle
  6. Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
  7. Christmas Oreo Mint Chocolate Cookies
  8. Soft Sugar Cookies
  9. Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies
  10. Orange Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
  11. Peanut Butter Filled Crinkles
  12. White Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Cookies
  13. Chewy M&M Cookies

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No-Bake Magic

  1. Snow-Covered No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls
  2. 3-Ingredient White Chocolate Walnut Truffles
  3. Almond Butter Toffee Cups
  4. Peanut Butter Pretzel M&M Fudge
  5. White Chocolate Walnut Toffee
  6. Cookies & Cream Fudge
  7. Chocolate Walnut Biscoff Bark

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Christmas Dessert

  1. Igloo Penguin Cake
  2. Gingerbread Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse Trifle
  3. Maple Pumpkin Pie w/ Brown Butter Graham Cracker Crust & Maple Whipped Cream
  4. Chocolate Chip Lava Cookies
  5. Gingerbread Oreo Blondies
  6. Eggnog Christmas Cookie Milkshake
  7. Milk & Cookies Parfait
  8. White Chocolate Mousse & Macadamia Nut Mini Pies

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Christmas Feast

  1. Caramelized Onion & Butternut Squash Lasagna Pie
  2. Roasted Garlic Alfredo & Penne
  3. Chickpea, Feta, & Spinach Penne Marinara
  4. Classic Polish Potato Pancakes
  5. Easy Blush Chicken & Penne Bake
  6. Pierogi Casserole
  7. Favorite Eggplant Parmigiana <- This is my Christmas dinner! Such a special dish; just heavenly.

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Seasonal Sides

  1. Orecchiette with Mascarpone-Parmesan Sauce & Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
  2. Cheesy Brussels Sprout Gratin
  3. Pretzel-Topped Mac & Cheese
  4. Creamy Four-Cheese Mac & Cheese
  5. From-Scratch Cheddar Green Bean Casserole
  6. No-Bake Twice Baked Potato Mash
  7. Ma’s Baked Corn Pudding
  8. David’s Ultimate Mac & Cheese
  9. Mascarpone-Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
  10. Brown Butter Sage Mashed Potatoes
  11. Ma’s Sweet Potato Casserole
  12. Stovetop 3-Cheese Brussels Sprout Mac & Cheese
  13. Four-Cheese Baked Skillet Rigatoni
  14. Roasted Asparagus in Garlic Bechamel Sauce
  15. Spinach-Nut Pesto w/ Roasted Tomatoes and Rotini

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Soups & Starters

  1. Best Ever Spinach Artichoke Dip
  2. Easy Pesto Garlic Knots
  3. Sweet Potato Pepper Jack Soup
  4. Creamy Tomato Soup
  5. Roasted Cauliflower & Asiago Soup
  6. Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Ring
  7. Pull-Apart Party Bread
  8. Roasted Squash & Cauliflower Soup
  9. Spicy San Marzano Soup w/ Beans & Spinach
  10. Cheddar Jack Bean Dip
  11. Fried Tortellini

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And for your Holiday Reading:

  1. Is Your Oven Sick?
  2. The Chronicles of the Christmas Cookie: Past, Present, & Perfecting the Art

I hope your holidays are filled with delicious eats and good spirits. Smart Cookie will be on vacation Tuesday Dec. 25, but will resume on Wednesday Dec. 26. See you then!


Brown Butter & Sage Mashed Potatoes + Christmas Carol: “It’s the Most Delicious Time of the Year”

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You can probably guess my favorite part of the holidays is the food, the glorious cornucopia of indulgent, comforting foods. To celebrate, I’ve concocted a Smart Cookie original Christmas carol, based off of the classic “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” For your enjoyment, I present, “It’s the Most Delicious Time of the Year.”

It’s the Most Delicious Time of the Year
By The Smart Cookie Cook

It’s the most delicious time of the year.
With the kitchen a-smelling,
And everyone yelling to, “Bring some food here!”
It’s the most delicious time of the year.

It’s the fat- fattiest season of all.
With the holiday feasting that is never ceasing;
Just give me it all!
It’s the fat- fattiest season of all.

There’ll be cookies for baking,
Roast turkeys for making,
The Green beans, and mashed potatoes.

There’ll peppermint lattes,
Warm gingerbread coffees,
And hot chocolate with marshmallows.

It’s the most delicious time of the year.
With the eggnog a-flowing,
And everyone knowing
That good food is near.

It’s the most delicious time,
It’s the most delicious time,
It’s the most delicious time of the year!mcchipsnowman-3

Say what you want about the holidays; you can’t deny that they truly are the most delicious time of the year. And to get you started on your mouth-watering holiday dinner, I whipped up (or should I say mashed up) these decadent Brown Butter & Sage Mashed Potatoes. They’re so simple to make, but so darn flavor full that they’ll slap you right out of your seat.

With that nutty, rich brown butter and the comforting warm sage, these fluffy taters will envelop you in seasonal flavors. What I like most about these is that they’re a refreshing change from your same old plain mashed potatoes, but they’re not so wildly different or out-there that they throw you off. So if you’ve got a family who likes to keep things traditional, you can still have something different and indulgent without sending everyone into a tailspin with change.

Because no one needs extra hysteria during the holidays.

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A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Fresh sage is essential to creating the fantastic flavor these potatoes yield.
  2. Never made brown butter before? It’s not as scary as everyone thinks! All you do is cook butter in a pan until little brown specks form. That’s it.
  3. Technically any kind of potato will do, but Yukon golds are best for their naturally buttery flavor and creamy texture. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
  4. Although, now that I mention it, sweet potatoes would be a DELICIOUS substitution!

Brown Butter & Sage Mashed Potatoes
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 5 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 cup milk or heavy cream, at room temperature

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water with the potatoes to boil over high heat. Let cook until fork tender then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Let cook, whisking occasionally, until it starts to foam. Butter will begin to smell nutty. Continue whisking until brown specks form at the bottom of the pan and butter turns brown. Immediately remove from heat as soon as it browns so it does not burn. Continue whisking for another minute while it cools down. Sprinkle the sage over top.
  3. Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and sage, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup milk, and beat with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. It’s potatoes are too thick, add more milk, a little at a time. Serve immediately and garnish with fresh sage if you’d like.  _DSC6359

Stovetop 3-Cheese Brussels Sprout Mac & Cheese

When your kitchen is plagued with what Mother Cookie has coined “The Baby Barbie Oven,” cooking big meals can be a tricky task. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas in particular, we battle with how to cook the myriad of side dishes we decided would be a good idea to make. Even though we know we’ll never have enough room, there’s just too much good food we want to try to let our oven size limit our menu.

This past Thanksgiving, my mother and I planned ahead to try and avoid the annual oven fiasco. I decided what absolutely needed to be baked, and what could be done stovetop. I have always, always baked my mac & cheeses in the past, but I thought, why not just do it stovetop? Too often I’ve made what seems like the perfect saucy mac & cheese over the stove, only to transfer it to the oven to bake up golden brown and find that it has dried out too much inside.  But if I serve it straight from the pot, there’s no fear of a dry mac.

Stovetop cooking was the perfect method for my 3-Cheese Brussels Sprout Mac & Cheese. I made my creamiest mac ever with three decadent cheeses: Fontina, the queen of meltiness, sharp white cheddar, strong and robust, and my secret weapon: mascarpone, for one seriously indulgent and smooth sauce. The three in combination are the ultimate trio of cheeses, yielding a crazy creamy and cheesy sauce to submerge adorable bow tie pasta and fresh brussels sprouts in.

You’ve never had a sauce quite so creamy and rich. It’s divine, pure pasta heaven. Because we don’t bake it, there’s no fear it’ll dry up, or that there won’t be a good pasta-to-sauce ratio. There’s plenty of molten cheese to go around! And if you don’t like brussels sprouts, then don’t fear. I guarantee any sprout hater will change their tune when the sprouts are drowned in a decadent, garlicky 3-cheese sauce.

Even though this 5-star mac tastes fancy and supreme, you can have it to the table in under 30 minutes, whereas a baked mac and cheese could take over an hour. But you won’t know the difference; in fact, this is creamier than and just as flavorful as a baked mac.

You have no excuse not to make this cheese-covered dream. It’s quick, easy, and so very decadent.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. If you’re really completely 100% against brussels sprouts, just leave them out.
  2. Bacon would be a fantastic addition to this dish.
  3. Whole wheat or whole grain pasta is the way to go!
  4. Never made a roux? It’s just a fancy word for a stupidly simple step. Check out my how-to video if you don’t believe me!
  5. For a more Italian flavor, replace the white cheddar with parmesan cheese.
  6. Make sure you don’t over cook your brussels sprouts. Nobody likes soggy sprouts!

Stovetop 3-Cheese Brussels Sprout Mac & Cheese
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. farfalle (bow tie) pasta, or another short-cut pasta like shells or cavatappi
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) shredded fontina cheese
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups fresh brussels sprouts, cooked & drained

Directions:

  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water over high heat, cook the pasta according to box directions until al dente. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add shallots and garlic and saute until translucent and aromatic, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour and let cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk until free of lumps then cover and let simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk in all the cheeses, salt, and pepper until smooth and melted. Taste test to decide if you’d like more cheese. If sauce is too thick for your liking, add more milk 1/4 cup at a time. Fold in brussel sprouts followed by pasta until well-coated. Serve immediately.

SC’s Easter Extravaganza: Favorite Easter Treats

Holidays mean one thing and one thing only in the Smart Cookie Household: food! On the menu for this fabulous Spring Sunday is Brussel Sprout Gratin, Scalloped Potatoes w/ Cheddar & Gruyere, Garlic Knots w/ a twist, and more. Did I mention there’s my Babci’s Famous Carrot Cake for dessert? Never fear, my little cookies. These recipes will be coming your way soon next week!

In the mean time, here are my favorite delectable Easter eats on the site:

  1. Chocolate Bunny Cake
    This cake looks exactly like the classic chocolate bunny you receive in your Easter basket, but when you cut it open, you’ll find a special surprise: moist chocolate cake & fluffy chocolate buttercream! It’s chocolate heaven, almost too cute to eat but too delicious not to.
  2. Bunny Butt Trifle
    What’s cuter than a bunny’s butt? This dessert is surprisingly simple to make, and yet it looks so darn impressive. The Easter Bunny himself is diving headfirst into layers of dark devil’s food cake, rich chocolate mousse, and chunks of Milky Ways. Now that’s a Happy Easter!
  3. Party Bread
    There is no better way to please Easter dinner guests than with this incredible, mouth-watering bread. Tender sourdough bread is drenched in butter & poppy seeds then stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese and topped with fresh scallions. The whole thing is baked until it reaches the point of melty, ooey gooey, golden brown perfection. Plus, its checkerboard pattern makes it fun to pull apart and easy to share.
  4. 4-Cheese Mac & Cheese
    What could be more welcome at Easter dinner than a pan of baked 4-Cheese Mac & Cheese? With Cheddar, Gruyere, Fontina, and Parmesan, this pasta is overflowing with creamy, cheesiness. Finish it with a crunchy breadcrumb topping, and you’ve got yourself the perfect side dish!
  5. Peanut Butter Eggs
    Skip the store this Easter and make your own Peanut Butter Eggs! These babies are packed with peanut butter and covered in smooth, creamy chocolate. They’re so easy to make, yet so delicious!
  6. Spinach-Nut Pesto w/ Roasted Tomatoes and Rotini
    This is the ultimate Spring pasta. It’s light, flavorful, and colorful. The fresh spinach in the pesto makes it as good for you as it is delicious. Sweet, juicy roasted tomatoes are the perfect finishing touch.

Now, this ain’t the only stuff I’d like to stuff my face with on Easter. In fact, I’m hoping the Bunny is going to bring me a few of my Easter Basket Favorites:

  1. Cadbury Creme Eggs
    These are a “you love ’em or you hate ’em” kind of treat. I definitely understand why people don’t like them. They’re very sweet, which can be a little much for some people. I, on the other hand, cannot get enough sweets. Therefore, these delectable little eggs are right up my alley. I’ve gotten them in my basket every year for as long as I can remember, and they still taste just as good as they did when I was a kid. A thick milk chocolate “egg” shell filled with a sweet, creamy, gooey filling? Yes please!
  2. Milky Way Simply Caramel Bunnies
    Milky Ways are my favorite candy bar, so obviously putting them in bunny form will be a major win. I actually think these taste even better than the bars since they’re more caramel-y.
  3. Peeps (sort of)
    I say “sort of” because Peeps are the cutest edible anything on the planet. Food does not get any more adorable than Peeps. They’re pretty darn tasty too, but I usually get bored after the first 2 or 3. However, it is fun to jazz them up with chocolate or sandwich them in a s’more!
  4. Hershey’s Cookies and Cream Eggs
    One delicious bar turned into miniature eggs…yum!

Let’s chat! What are you favorite Easter treats? What are you having for Easter dinner/dessert?


Happy 2012!

Another year has brushed passed me just as quickly as a stranger on a busy street. It’s been a whirlwind of a year, with both good and bad memories now in the bank. The very best thing to happen to me in 2011 was the birth of Smart Cookie. I believe my life has truly changed as a result. I’ve been able to take my devoted passion for food and channel it into something that I can share with the world. I can only hope that 2012 will allow me to continue my mission in bigger, tastier ways. I would love for Smart Cookie to continue to grow while I grow as both a chef and a writer. Food and I are bound together in a life-long journey. Hopefully, it will lead to a career that will allow me to share my love for food with the world on an even grander scale than I do now. Regardless of what 2012 brings, I will continue to bring you daily deliciousness. I hope you’ll follow Smart Cookie into the new year & the years to come!

So with that, let us ring in the new year right with my 12 absolute favorite recipes of the year.

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