Mended Heart Cookies

These cookies come with a story.  A love story.  Probably not the kind of love story you expect to hear about on Valentine’s Day.  Let me explain….

My sister and I were orphans in South Korea.  We were adopted together by my parents.  Originally, the adoption agency only wanted my parents to take my sister, because I was born with a heart defect.  Why would an American couple want a flawed baby, when there were so many healthy children available?  My parents fought and fought to adopt the two of us together.  Finally, they were successful.

We arrived in the U.S. in February.  My sister had just turned three, and I was fifteen months.  We were malnourished, had scabies, eczema, and all other kinds of medical issues.  They all cleared up, save for the bum heart.  The doctors wanted to wait until I was forty pounds before they operated on it, but I was such a scrawny kid that my mother feared I would never reach that weight.  So when I was four, they scheduled the surgery.  The doctors patched up a hole in the septum, and repaired a faulty valve.  The surgery left a scar on my chest, making me a member of the “zipper club.” Some of my earliest memories are from my days in the hospital.  My parents had the support of all their friends and family during that time.

Which brings me to these cookies.  One of my mother’s friends silk screened a shirt for me.  It had a picture of a smiley-faced heart with a little bandage on it.  It was one of a kind.  It was my favorite when I was little.  That shirt made me feel special. My mom saved it for me, along with the clothes I wore when I arrived from South Korea.  The below picture is the only one I could find of me wearing the shirt.  I was post-surgery, still in the hospital. You can see the bandage from the suture peeking out.  My son is just a bit older than I was in that picture.  He’s modeling the shirt in the picture on the right.  He calls it the “old heart shirt that you wore when you were little.”

Every time I look at this shirt, I remember what an active childhood I had, full of running around outside, climbing trees, playing tag with the neighbors.  All these things that I would not have been able to do had I not had that heart surgery.  Had I not been chosen by parents who wouldn’t give up their fight to adopt a child that no one wanted.
So on this Valentine’s Day, I share with you the love that enabled me to live.  My heart has been broken many times since, but it always emerged mended and strong.

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Orange Cranberry Pinwheels

It’s time again for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!  This year, the swap raised nearly $14,000 for Cookies For Kids’ Cancer.  Special thanks to the incredible Julie and Lindsay, fearless organizers of the swap.

I sent cookies to Karissa, Trisha, and Grace.   In return, I received cookies from Monica, Roxana, and Jess.  I loved opening up the mailbox to these tasty treats!

Of all the cookies I’ve made lately (and that’s well over 200), these were the first that my husband ate whenever he wanted something sweet.  Cranberry and orange is a classic combination, and tang from each of the fruit gives these cookies a fresh flavor.

source: Better Homes and Gardens 100 Best Cookies, 2005

Orange Cranberry Pinwheels

Orange Cranberry Pinwheels

Ingredients

1 ½ c fresh cranberries
1 ½ c pecans
⅓ c packed brown sugar
1 c butter, softened
1 ½ c sugar
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tsp fresh orange zest
3 c all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, pulse the cranberries, pecans, and brown sugar until finely chopped. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter in a large mixing bowl for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt, and beat until fluffy. Scrape down the sides a few times as you go. Mix in the eggs and orange peel. With the beater on low, beat in as much of the flour as you can. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon.
  3. Divide dough in half. Flatten dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for an hour.
  4. Roll dough between two pieces of waxed paper into a 10-inch square. Spread half the cranberry mixture evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving a ½ inch around the edge bare.
  5. Tightly roll the dough; pinch the edges and ends to seal. Wrap the roll in the waxed paper, and chill for 4-24 hours. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice rolls into ¼-inch disks. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet one inch apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are firm and lightly brown.
  7. Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cookies completely cool.
http://kokocooks.com/2013/12/orange-cranberry-pinwheels/

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Raspberry Pillow Cookies

This past month, I participated in the Second Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap! This international event is organized by Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil, and Julie of The Little Kitchen. Thank you so much, ladies, for your hard work making this possible!

This is becoming a fun tradition.  It’s simple: receive the names of three food bloggers.  Bake and send a dozen cookies to each person.  Receive a dozen cookies from three different food bloggers in return.  I was so excited for each box of goodies that arrived. This year, the swap raised money for Cookies For Kids’ Cancer. OXO generously matched donations up to $100,000, and provided all participants with a handy cookie spatula.

I received (clockwise from top left): chocolate m&m cookies from Meagan of A Zesty Bite, pistachio wedding cookies in a beautiful shade of celadon from Lisa of Clawson Live, and coconut macaroons from Koko of Koko Likes. You may notice an extra set of cookies.  These are white chocolate toffee crunch cookies from the above-mentioned Julie. She sent me a complimentary set of cookies as a “thank you” for helping her name the scrumptious cookie concoction. She also threw in a set of paper straws from Pick Your Plum. Thanks, everyone!  Special congratulations go to Meagan, who very recently welcomed a baby girl to the family!

For my part, I made raspberry pillow cookies.  They are my copycat version of the pillow cookie from The Fresh Market.  Anyone familiar with these cookies knows how addictive they are, and how tightly the store keeps this recipe under wraps.  I used raspberry preserves for the middles, which is similar to the original filling.  I would like to come up with a more accurate raspberry filling, but these are close.  These pretties went to Lisa of Snappy Gourmet, Christina of Stracciatella, and Nik of A Brown Table.  Hope y’all liked them!

 

Raspberry Pillow Cookies

Yield: 20-24

Raspberry Pillow Cookies

Note: these cookies spread a good bit during baking. To help them hold their shape, gently nudge the cookie dough into a slight mound after sealing the edges.

Ingredients

Cookies
2 sticks butter, softened
½ c sugar
½ c light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbs vanilla
½ tsp almond extract
3 c flour
1 Tbs baking powder
½ tsp salt
Filling
1 c raspberry preserves, stirred

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Combine butter and both sugars in a large bowl. Beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, and beat after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extract and beat another minute. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly, and mix well.
  2. Form dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least an hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Place raspberry preserves in a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip.
  4. Roll cookie dough on a very lightly floured surface and cut into 2-inch squares. Place half the cookie dough squares onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pipe about 2 tsp of preserves into the center the squares. Top cookies with the remaining cookie dough squares and pinch edges to seal.
  5. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until the edges just start to turn golden. Do not over bake. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/12/raspberry-pillow-cookies/

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Loaded Chocolate Covered Oreos

What are they loaded with?  Why, bacon of course!  Let me explain….

 

My husband has been playing many nights at EPCOT.  Tom, one of the trumpet players in the orchestra has a thing for Oreo cookies.  He posts numerous Facebook updates about them.  Here’s a sample of some of his Oreo-related statements:

“Not sure why I’m not losing any weight.  I’ve been dunking these Oreos in Slimfast shakes all week.”

“I don’t know why they call it ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ when George never once eats any Oreos.”

“Just started work on a new book: ‘Oreo Zen.’ Time for some research.”

These are just from the past week.

So, my husband got the brilliant idea of combining Oreos with bacon.  And the chocolate is the glue that holds it all together. He bought all the supplies; I merely assited in dipping them (Hint: tongs are extremely helpful for this.)

I could type up a recipe, but it seems self explanatory:

-Cook bacon, let cool, then break into pieces.

-Melt about half a bag of chocolate melts in the top of a double boiler.  Using a pair of tongs, dip the cookies so they are completely coated.  Set them on a sheet of wax paper.

-Top with a generous amount of bacon.  Let chocolate set.

By the way, Tom loved them.  So did a lot of other musicians at EPCOT that night.

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Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a confession: I am a horrible perfectionist when it comes to my food photos. There have been so many times where I make a dish, and it tastes fabulous, and I can’t wait to write about it. But then the photos look horrible. Or the food just isn’t very attractive. Or I don’t like the lighting. And so I scrap them all, and the recipe doesn’t get shared. Brown foods especially are difficult for me.

Take these cookies for example. They are one of the best recipes for a chocolate chip cookie that I have found. I ended up making two separate batches because they kept getting eaten before I could take a picture of them. The malted milk powder and chocolate syrup give them a unique twist. Then, it took me three tries before I got some pictures that I actually liked. It also didn’t help that someone kept trying to steal the cookies right out from under the camera.

And played with the props.

Other foods that I find difficult to photograph are casseroles, pasta, and soups. What are challenging foods for you to shoot?

adapted from Taste of Home, October/November 1995

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

1 c butter-flavored shortening (can substitute with butter)
1 ¼ c packed light brown sugar
1 egg
⅔ c malted milk powder
3 Tbs chocolate syrup
1 Tbs vanilla
2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ c milk chocolate chips
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together shortening and light brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg and beat until well combined. Mix in malted milk powder, chocolate syrup, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and chunks.
  3. Drop cookie dough onto baking sheet in 2-inch sized scoops, placed 3-inches apart. Bake until golden brown on top, about 12-14 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on the pan before removing cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/10/malted-milk-chocolate-chip-cookies/

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Moonrise Kingdom Cookies

 

 

I am a huge fan of Wes Anderson’s movies. My top 3 are: The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Darjeeling Limited. So when his latest movie, Moonrise Kingdom, came to a local theater, we raced to purchase tickets for it. Good thing, because the movie sold out for the entire weekend.

One characteristic of W.A. movies is the two-dimensional feel of his shots. You could freeze frame at just about any place in the movie, and the resulting image would look like a scenic landscape or a perfectly composed still life. As I watched the movie, I kept visualizing how different key props would look on a sugar cookie (what’s wrong with me anyway?)

 

photo: courtesy of Moonrise Kingdom Trailer

If you haven’t seen the movie, I’ll explain the cookies: The main character is Sam, who is a member of the Khaki Scouts of North America, tribe 55. He wears a coon skin cap throughout most of the movie. He falls in love and runs away with Suzy.  At a key moment of the film, she defends herself with a pair of red left-handed scissors.  They camp out for a night on the beach in a yellow tent.

 

If I were more savvy with royal icing, I would’ve made a cookies with Suzy’s memorable pink dress, the portable record player, and a pair of binoculars on them.  Alas, my decorating skills only go so far.   I highly recommend this movie.  If you are a Wes Anderson fan, you will especially love it.

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Classic Chocolate Cookies

 

Sesame Street was a favorite show of mine when I was a little kid. Back in those days, it was one of the only age-appropriate shows on tv at all.  Ernie and Bert were some of my favorite characters. Ernie loved to eat cookies (almost as much as Cookie Monster) and they figured into many of his stories. In one particular segment, Ernie “accidentally” takes a bite of Bert’s cookie. Hoping to hide the bite, he starts eating around the edges in an attempt to make it round again. Eventually, he eats the whole cookie. Watch the rest of the skit to see what happens when Bert comes to claim his cookies.

I always thought the cookies in that story were chocolate. In reality, the cookies could’ve been ginger snaps, or molasses (or any other brown cookie), but to my 5-year-old mind, they were chocolate cookies. I specifically looked for a recipe that would resemble the ones I remembered from the story. Not only do these cookies fit the bill, but they taste amazing as well. I feel like I captured a bit of my childhood when I made them.

adapted from The Best of Fine Cooking, Cookies

(under the name “Dark Chocolate Crackles”)

Classic Chocolate Cookies

Classic Chocolate Cookies

this cookie dough freezes well. Shape the dough into balls, and then freeze. When ready to bake, thaw the dough and continue with the directions.

Ingredients

2 ½ c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 c firmly packed brown sugar
⅔ c unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch-process)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
3 Tbs granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 3 cookie sheets with a baking liner or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together. Beat in the cocoa powder, orange zest, and vanilla until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Add the melted chocolate and beat on low until blended. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined.
  3. Shape dough into 1 ½ inch balls (I used an ice cream scoop.) Place balls about 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. Flatten the balls slightly with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle sugar over the tops of the cookies. Bake one sheet a time, until the cookies are a bit cracked on the top, 11-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack and cool completely.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/07/classic-chocolate-cookies/

 

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Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I got caught in Tropical Storm Debby. It poured as I walked from to my car. I fought rush hour traffic all the way home, which is always worse when it’s raining. It poured as I dashed from my car to the house. By the time I got inside, I was sopping. After a change of clothes, a hot mug of tea, and a few of these cookies, all was well again.


adapted from Gourmet, January 1990

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe makes a lot. Cut recipe in half if you don't want a ton of cookies.

Ingredients

3 cups (about a 15 oz box) raisins
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2 c old fashioned rolled oats
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Place the raisins in a medium heat-proof bowl. Pour enough boiling water in the bowl to cover them; soak for 20 minutes, until plumped. Drain water, reserving 1/3 c of liquid.
  2. In a stand up mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and clove in a separate bowl. Add the mixture to the butter mixture in batches, alternating with the soaking liquid. Stir in raisins, oats, and chocolate chips.
  3. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a very lightly buttered baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until golden. Let the cookies cool for 3 minutes, and transfer to a rack with a spatula. Cool completely.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/06/oatmeal-raisin-chocolate-chip-cookies/

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Nutella Pillow Cookies

Happy World Nutella Day! As I’ve stated before, this is one of my favorite food holidays. This event is hosted by Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso. This is now my fourth year participating, and I love thinking of what new nutella treat to concoct for the event.

This year, I made nutella pillow cookies. For a while now, I’ve been searching for a recipe that recreates the scrumptious pillow cookies from The Fresh Market. None of the recipes I found seemed to work.

So I took matters into my own hands. I used a recipe for soft sugar cookies, and made a nutella filling for the centers. They came out even better than I hoped. The only thing I would change was to use a little more filling in each cookie. The more nutella, the better!

adapted from Hostess With The Mostess

Nutella Pillow Cookies

Nutella Pillow Cookies

Ingredients

2 sticks butter, softened
½ c sugar
½ c light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbs vanilla
½ tsp almond extract
3 c flour
1 Tbs baking powder
½ tsp salt
Nutella filling
⅔ c nutella
1 ½ tsp flour
Other
Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine flour and both sugars in a large bowl. Beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, and beat after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extract and beat another minute. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly, and mix well.
  2. Form dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least an hour.
  3. In a small bowl, stir nutella and flour together. Roll cookie dough on a very lightly floured surface and cut into 2-inch squares. Place half the cookie dough squares onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon (or pipe) about 2 tsp of nutella mixture into the center the squares. Top cookies with the remaining cookie dough squares and pinch edges to seal.
  4. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until the edges just start to turn golden. Do not over bake. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool. Once cooled, dust the tops of the cookies with powdered sugar.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/02/nutella-pillow-cookies/

 

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Animal Cracker Cookies


I remember eating animal crackers as a kid…I loved holding that adorable red box that looked like a circus car. I would take each cracker out and match it up with the picture of the animals on the box. They kept me occupied for many car trips.

I’ve always wanted to make my own version of animal crackers. Here’s a point of debate: Are they a cracker or are they a cookie? They are sweet like a cookie, but not too sweet. They are crispy like a cracker. How would you categorize them? This recipe produces cookies with a good crispy texture, but are a tad more buttery than the original. All in all, it’s a pretty good facsimile of an animal cracker.


from Williams Sonoma

Animal Cracker Cookies

Animal Cracker Cookies

Ingredients

2 ½ c all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and mace. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, and slowly add the sugar. Beat until fluffy, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute.
  3. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until most of the flour has been absorbed. Add the remaining flour and beat until all of the flour has been absorbed and the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 2 equal balls. Shape each into a disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  5. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness. (If the dough cracks while rolling, let it stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes more.) Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour.
  6. Preheat an oven to 350°F.
  7. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Dip cookie cutters into flour just before using and cut out shapes. Place cookie cutouts on prepared baking sheets. Gather up the scraps, re-roll and cut out more cookies.
  8. Bake the cookies until very light golden brown, 12 to 16 minutes, depending on their size. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool to room temperature.
http://kokocooks.com/2012/01/animal-cracker-cookies/

 

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