The Dirty Snowman

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It’s rare that I peruse a men’s clothing catalog, because my husband isn’t a stylin’ kind of guy. Which is fine with me, since I’m not either. We probably often look like a couple of vagrants.

But during the catalog-intense period of time prior to Christmas, I happened to check out a men’s catalog that intrigued me. It’s called Huckberry, and the catalog pages were cute, with photos like this one.

But what got me excited was a cocktail recipe that was in the catalog, called The Dirty Snowman.


It contains cognac and dark beer, neither of which I like. I think it was the chocolate and hazelnut rim on the glass that got my attention!

Here’s the recipe:

The Dirty Snowman
Makes 1 drink

Cocoa nibs and chopped hazelnuts, for garnish (I used chopped bittersweet chocolate)
1/2 ounce simple syrup, plus a little extra for the rim
1 teaspoon cocoa nibs (again, chopped bittersweet chocolate)
1 1/4 ounce cognac
3 ounces dark beer (I used Guinness)
Splash coconut milk (I used freshly whipped cream)

Use simple syrup to rim a glass with the hazelnuts and chocolate.



In a shaker, muddle the 1/2 ounce of simple syrup, and 1 teaspoon of chocolate.

Add the cognac and shake well with ice.

Strain into the rimmed glass, add ice, and top with beer.

They suggest floating a splash of coconut milk on top, which could be tasty, but I preferred to add unsweetened whipped cream.

My husband loved it, and suggested I make some on Christmas eve.

Oh, and it turns out that Huckberry sells much more than men’s apparel. Cute stuff.

Golden Cauliflower and Carrot Rice

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I’m pretty sure you all know that I’m not fond of food trends. I’ve probably mentioned this numerous times. So if something becomes popular and trendy, I completely ignore it.

Sure, I’m old(er) and old-fashioned, but it’s just my personality. I never wore white metallic lipstick in the 60’s, either.

The dumb thing is, sometimes when you’re too stubborn, you can really miss out. Like the bowl trend. Is there one on my blog? No! But they do look lovely.

And in the 80’s, when I really started cooking, I looked down my nose at both sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto because they were everywhere. I have no idea how many years I lost not indulging in those two fabulous foods. I’ll never forgive myself for that.

Which leads me to… cauliflower rice. Nope.

Then, thanks to the lovely Serena from her blog, Domesticate Me, I saw a recipe that I couldn’t ignore. It was a cauliflower and carrot rice with almonds and golden raisins.

If you don’t know Serena, you must check her blog out and her just-published cookbook, The Dude Diet.

She’s a doll, she’s funny, and she swears. Oh, and she’s a professionally-trained chef. What’s not to love?!! But also, and this is important to me, if I comment, she responds to my comment.

Now this may seem a bit silly, but I will stop following blogs if the authors have no time for me. It’s not that I’m so great, it’s because the best thing about blogging in my four-plus years of doing so, is the interaction. It’s like this virtual, giant group of foodie friends that you get to know around the world.

Plus, on some of those fancy blogs, you can tell that the author responds to nobody’s comment. They’re just too important and busy. I just don’t get that.

Serena has been on her book tour around the U.S., but she is still responding to comments. And I know how much time it takes, because I follow many blogs. It’s just part of the dedication one should have to one’s blog. And Serena’s blog is also one of those fancy ones!

I promised Serena that I would make her “rice” dish because it really sounded lovely. She assured me it would not disappoint.

Golden Cauliflower and Carrot Rice
Adapted slightly from Domesticate Me!

1 medium head cauliflower, florets only, about 1 lb. 6 ounces
Baby carrots, 8 ounces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt
Juice of 1 lemon
¾ cup chopped parsley leaves
½ cup golden raisins (I used figs)
½ cup chopped raw almonds (I used hazelnuts)
Lemon wedges for serving (optional)

Add about half of the cauliflower florets to a food processor and pulse until a “rice” forms. Place in a large bowl, then process the remaining cauliflower.

Process the carrots the same way, and add the riced carrots to the cauliflower.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the cauliflower and carrot rice, turmeric, cayenne, cumin, and a good pinch of salt.

Cook for 2-3 minutes until the rice is just tender.

Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.


Fold in the parsley, dried fruits, and toasted nuts. Taste, and add salt if necessary.


I served this “rice” with some grilled chicken that was marinated in a garlic-parsley marinade.

What’s really fun is changing up the dried fruits and nuts according to your taste and the season. Imagine this dish with dried cranberries and pistachios in December!

Dried figs and hazelnuts are really more autumnal, but I had them on hand and I love them.

Okay, so am I glad I finally tried cauliflower rice? Of course! But I really liked what Serena did with the dish, adding carrots, seasoning, and the fruits and nuts. I can also see this as a salad with a vinaigrette, maybe with some orzo, or barley, or just like it is.

Serena’s actual name for this dish is Cauliflower and Carrot Golden “Rice,” and she serves it in a bowl, but it’s okay, cause I like her. I put mine on a plate. Maybe I can start a plate trend?!!

Better than Nutella?

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Many years go I purchased a Vitamix, Professional Series 300. Having gone through various brands of blenders, I was excited to finally get one with a strong reputation.
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I also purchased a smaller blender jar for dry ingredients. I’d always thought it would be fun as well as economical to make nut butters. But have I? No.

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While on a road trip in November, I read many food magazines (doesn’t everyone?) and came across this recipe. Chocolate hazelnut spread that is better than nutella. Nutella is pretty darn good, but home-made is always better of course. So I knew this would be the recipe to christen that dry blender jar.

I used my cell phone to photograph the recipe and unfortunately do not remember from which magazine this recipe came, but I did find it on Epicurious.com.

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Here’s what I did to make the “real” Nutella, based on the above ingredients; my verdict below.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, or Gianduja

2 cups (heaping) hazelnuts, preferably skinned (about 10 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Toast the hazelnuts on the stove in a cast iron skillet. Let cool.

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Grind hazelnuts and sugar in a food processor until a fairly smooth, buttery paste forms, about 1 minute.

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Combine the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Melt slowly and stir until smooth and shiny.

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So here’s the deal – my hazelnuts and sugar never formed a “buttery paste” like they were supposed to. So I added all of the cream to the blender. You can see from the photo, the blender was working hard to combine the hazelnut mixture with the cream.

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The resulting mixture was stiff and thick, but smooth and not gritty.

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The recipe says to “whisk in cream and salt, then hazelnut paste.” Since my hazelnut paste already contained the cream, I simply folded the hazelnut mixture into the chocolate, gradually, stirring well.

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Pour gianduja into four clean 8 ounce jars, dividing equally. Let cool.

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Gianduja can be made up to 4 weeks ahead; keep chilled.

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Let stand at room temperature for 4 hours to soften. Can stand at room temperature up to 4 days.

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If you don’t know what to do with chocolate hazelnut spread besides eat it with a spoon, I’ve got a few suggestions:

1. Spread in warm crepes, roll and eat.

2. Thin with cream and serve drizzled over a fresh-out-of-the-oven Dutch Baby or Crespella.

3. Fold gently with beaten whipped cream for an instant mousse.

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For a treat, I spread some chocolate-hazelnut spread on buttered toast.

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verdict: I’m befuddled as to why my hazelnuts didn’t grind into a hazelnut butter. Secondly, the recipe claims that the nutella will thicken; mine was already really thick, and definitely not “pourable.” My husband said that the spread reminded him of cupcake batter, which I think is an excellent comparison. Also, I would suggest 12 ounces of chocolate instead of 16 ounces, or use bittersweet chocolate instead of semi-sweet. It was too chocolatey for me.

So is this stuff good? Yes, but I will tweak the recipe next time.

Hazelnut Spatzele

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After the success of my pistachio spatzele, which I made in an attempt to duplicate what I’d enjoyed at a restaurant, I started thinking about other possible spazele made with nuts. And of course I thought of my favorite nut – the hazelnut.

So I used my recipe except substituted hazelnuts for pistachios in the spazele batter, and again used the grater spazele maker. I served them in a gorgonzola cream sauce, and the result was fabulous.

One change I made was a result of a reader who suggested that my spazele could be longer. This is what my pistachio spazele looked like.

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Ginger, from the blog Ginger & Bread, commented… “I make the batter much more runny when using the grater, so that it almost drips through the holes by itself – as a result the Spätzle end up longer and thinner.”

We had a bit of back and forth, because I think that it’s clear in one photo from that post that my batter is on the runny side, but then I thought that because it was my first time using the grater, perhaps I moved the hopper too fast, and that was why my spazele were short.

In any case, I decided to make a runnier batter. And it didn’t work. I ended up with what looked like oatmeal. I’m actually surprised that the batter didn’t completely dissolve in the boiling water.

So now I’m wondering if it’s a factor of ground nuts being in this batter, and will try again using a traditional spazele batter. Because what Ginger says makes sense. It just didn’t work with this batter.

Hazelnut Spazele in a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

1 cup cream or evaporated milk, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 ounces shelled hazelnuts, peels removed, finely ground
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt

Place the cream, eggs, and hazelnuts in a large bowl and whisk until smooth.
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Meanwhile, have the spazele grater gadget on top of a large pot of boiling water.
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Add the flour to the batter and stir gently. Then pour some batter into the carriage of the grater. Like I mentioned, I tried to move the carriage slower this time.
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I still got the same size spazele. After about 1 minute, using a spider sieve, remove them from the water, let the sieve drain on a tea towel for a second, then place them in a bowl. Continue with the remaining batter.
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I wanted this spazele dish to be simple, so I first added some crumbled Gorgonzola to the spazele, and then I added some warmed cream.


I topped the spazele with some toasted hazelnut halves.
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Serve immediately while still warm.
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I served salt and pepper, but I felt the spazele needed none of either.
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The hazelnuts and the Gorgonzola were a wonderful combination. But just like with the pistachio spazele, I’m not sure the ground nuts made a significant flavor contribution.
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Berry Cherry Hazelnut Galette

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When I see desserts on blog posts, I rarely check them out. First of all, I’m not a baker, and have no desire to bake any more than I do. But mostly it’s because many cakes and desserts are just too fancy for my taste. Not that I don’t appreciate the skill that goes into making them. In fact, I’m truly in awe of pastry chefs.

It’s just that I’m a pretty plain Jane, and that speaks for my lifestyle as well as the food I prepare. So I am attracted to simple, rustic desserts like this galette.

I found this recipe on Epicurious here, and what attracted me was the title – Raspberry-Hazelnut Galette. I’m a huge fan of both raspberries and hazelnuts so I was determined to bake my first galette. Yes, my first, even though I’ve coveted them forever!

When I went through the ingredient list, I realized there weren’t fresh raspberries in the darn recipe, so I used the recipe for the hazelnut crust, and did my own thing with the filling, using cherry jam and fresh raspberries. Here is what I did:
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Cherry Berry Hazelnut Galette

3.5 ounces raw hazelnuts, skins on
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick, 4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 ounce or so of water or juice
Orange-flavored oil
6-7 ounces cup fruit-only cherry jam
Fresh raspberries
Raw sugar or pearl sugar
Whipped cream, optional

To make the crust, first process the hazelnuts, flour and salt in a food processor until a hazelnut-flour meal is formed. Place the meal in a bowl and set aside.

Using the same food processor jar, add the butter and sugar and process until smooth. Add the egg yolks and water or juice and process just to combine.

Turn out the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Gently form the dough into a disc and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.


You might notice that my “dough” on the left looks a bit crumbly. And it was. I followed the directions, but the amount of hazelnuts on the original recipe states 3/4 cup, which I estimated at 3.5 ounces. I actually think that might have been too many hazelnuts, but to compensate for the dryness, I simply sprinkled about 1 ounce of water onto the dough until it stuck together. Thus the addition of the liquid in the above recipe.

When you’re going to make the galette, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Roll out the dough into a circle, approximately 14″ in diameter. Brush about 2″ of the outer edge of the crust with oil – I used an orange oil. I only did this because I realized I was completely out of eggs!

Spread on the jam, and top it with the raspberries. I trimmed the crust just a bit, and then gently folded it over the cherry berry filling. I brushed a little more of the orange oil on the crust.

This is when I discovered I had no turbinado or raw sugar, which was in the original recipe, so I used pearl sugar instead. With an egg wash, the sugar would have stuck better!


Transfer the galette to a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. The crust should be golden brown.
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Transfer the baked galette to a cutting board to rest. If you don’t own one of these giant spatulas, believe me. They really come in handy!
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After about 45 minutes, I cut the galette into fourths, added a little more pearl sugar, and put cream in my whipped cream gadget. Another thing you shouldn’t be without!

Serve the galette still warm, or at room temperature. Ice cream would also be fabulous instead of whipped cream!
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verdict: The hazelnut crust, which is like candy, would definitely be good with just the jam filling, but I really feel that the raspberries add to this dessert!
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Fruit and Chocolate

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I have a thing for the combination of dried fruits and chocolate, like dried apricots dipped in chocolate. Every holiday season I plan on dipping some variety of dried fruit or candied fruit in chocolate, but I know, in the end, I will be the only one who eats them.

photo from Windy City Sweets

photo from Windy City Sweets

Then I came across a recipe that combines chocolate and dried fruit – figs, to be specific – with nuts thrown in. And these bars seemed like something everyone would love.

The original recipe is in the book shown below, and it combines bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, macadamia nuts, and figs. Doesn’t that sound spectacular? I made the switch to hazelnuts just because I happen to have a lot left over from the holidays; plus they’re my favorite nut.
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I typically would have added different fruits to the mixture as well, but I held back, limiting it to the nuts and figs like in the actual recipe.

This batch was made last week, and what my husband didn’t eat went into a freezer bag. Maybe I’ll pull them out on Valentine’s Day. But what is funny, is that he wouldn’t eat a chocolate-dipped fig, yet he gobbled up these bars.

And that’s life cooking for people, isn’t it?!!

So here’s the recipe as printed in the cookbook.
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No-Bake Chocolate, Macadamia and Fig Slices

100 grams/6 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons clear honey
300 grams/10 ounces dark/bittersweet chocolate
100 grams/3 1/2 ounces milk chocolate
6 digestive or other sweetmeal biscuits/graham crackers
100 grams/2/3 cup shelled macadamia nuts
100 grams/2/3 cup ready-to-eat dried figs, chopped

Place the butter and chocolates in a double boiler and slowly begin melting the chocolate. I omitted the honey.

Meanwhile, grind the graham crackers, or whatever biscuit/cookie you’re using, in a food processor until smooth.

Measure out the hazelnuts, or whatever nut you’re using, as well as the figs. Add them to the graham crackers.

By now the chocolate should have begun melting. You want to be patient and wait until it’s smooth and shiny.

Mix together the chocolate and the goodies, then immediately spread into a foil-lined baking dish. The recipe suggested a 7″ square pan, I used a 5″ x 9″ rectangular pan. No greasing of the foil is necessary.
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Let the mixture cool, then cover the pan tightly and refrigerate for a few hours.

To serve, slice in the shape of biscotti, and top with a light dusting of cocoa.


As you can imagine, these are a wonderful chocolatey treat. I like their rustic appearance as well.

I enjoyed one with an afternoon coffee, though it was hard limiting myself to one.
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I wasn’t kidding when I said my husband finished off all of the bars that didn’t fit into the freezer bag, which I think totaled six. Well, he’s not on a diet.

verdict: These are fabulous. I’m really glad I omitted the honey. My only complaint is that these could be heavier on the dried fruit and nuts. Next time I’ll include dried cherries and apricots.

Bread for Cheese

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I’m addicted to cheese. It’s one of the joys in my life, besides the obvious stuff like family and friends. If only I was addicted to celery, I wouldn’t have to bake bread to go with cheese.

Bread is not something I make a lot anymore. I used to make it almost daily, mostly for my husband, who is bread-addicted. These days he’s down on carbs, so that’s why I don’t bake much anymore. But fortunately I don’t have to twist his arm to get him to eat cheese – especially good cheese.

I’ve mentioned before that the holidays make me think of all kinds of festive foods. In my house, from October 1st Thanksgiving through New Year’s it’s a food frenzy.

I not only start planning dishes with figs and cranberries and sweet potatoes, I plan the cheese itinerary. On top of that list is Époisses, which we discovered when in Beaune, which is in the Burgundy region of France, in 2002. To this day, I think it’s still banned on French transportation. And it’s a French cheese!

Although it would be classified as a stinky cheese because of the smell (think standing amongst cows in a cow paddy), it is wonderfully smooth and flavorful.

I always serve Epoisses with sliced of bread made with dried fruits and nuts. They just go together.

The other day I happened upon some dried currants, so I picked those up. And because of my love of hazelnuts this time of year, they’re going into the bread as well. For today I’ll just stick to currants and hazelnuts, but there will be a generous amount of both.

Sometimes I make the bread so dense with fruits and nuts that it’s almost like a yeasted fruitcake, but this one is on the breadier side.

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Époisses comes in a little carton. So you really don’t have to do anything presentation wise if you don’t want to. But do make sure you take it out of the refrigerator about 3-4 hours before you serve it. That’s the only way you will get the lovely runniness that typifies this unique cheese.

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Fruit and Nut Bread for Cheese Pairing

3 ounces currants
Cherry brandy or port
3 ounces toasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces goat’s milk or evaporated milk
1 egg, whisked
Scant 5 cups of flour in total, 1/2 cup of it whole wheat flour

Place the currants in a small bowl, and cover with a liquid like port. Or, if you prefer, use orange juice. Let them soften for at least 30 minutes before draining them thoroughly right before using. You can always save the liquid for another purpose. Don’t include the liquid or the yeast may not function properly.

Have all your ingredients ready. Chop the hazelnuts and set aside.

Place 1/4 of warm water in a large, warmed bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast and sugar, and let it sit for about 3-4 minutes, or until the yeast softens.

Give the mixture a whisk, then put the bowl in a warm place for about 5 minutes. The mixture will have doubled in volume.

Add warmed milk and the whisked egg to the yeast mixture. I thought I had a can of evaporated milk, but it turned out to be goat’s milk. It still works, which is what I love about brea. It’s not like making pastry!

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Then whisk 1/2 cup of flour into the mixture. Place the bowl in a warm place and let the mixture double in volume, about 45 minutes.

Switching to a spoon or spatula, vigorously stir in 1 cup of flour. Cover the bowl with a damp dishcloth, and return it to the warm place for about 1 hour.

Next, add 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and the hazelnuts and stir together. The bread dough is ready to be turned out onto a floured surface.

Using about 1/3 more of flour, knead the dough until smooth, then fold the currants into the dough.

Knead a few more minutes until the currants are fully incorporated, then place the dough into a greased loaf pan, or any pan or pans of choice. Place it in the warm place for at least 30 minutes, or until the dough has at least doubled in size.

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Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.

Place the pan in the oven and bake the bread approximately 40 minutes. If you’re not sure if it’s done, you can use a thermometer to see if it has reached 195 degrees internally. It shouldn’t become hotter than that or it will be overbaked.

Let the bread cool. When you’re ready to serve it slice it with a serrated knife.

I love the pairing of a fruit and nut bread with this particular cheese, or any cheese, actually.

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Look how gooey Époisses is:

The bread is so easy to make, and it’s fun to change up the different fruits and nuts. It could have just been easily figs, cranberries, and walnuts.

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Cranberry Hazelnut Cookies

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I know. Everybody loves cookies with chocolate. But if you’re willing to try these cookies, they will, I promise, make your top two favorite cookies ever list. I’m not kidding.

Cranberries – fresh ones – so that they’re moist and bursting with flavor, pair with the fragrance and crunch of toasted hazelnuts in this cookie. Everything else is a pretty standard drop cookie dough. There’s just something about the cranberries and hazelnuts!

This recipe was actually published in Oklahoma Today magazine years ago. They didn’t want the recipe, per se, it just came with the article they asked me to write on cranberries. I jumped at the chance because, as with many of my fellow bloggers, if not all, I just love cranberries. They scream holidays for me.

Plus, they’re so verstile. They’re just as good in a cake or cookie, like this recipe, as they are in a cranberry compote or chutney – adding that tartness that is so unique and yet so necessary. I just have a love relationship with these little guys. Back in our lean years, I even made cranberry garlands for our Christmas tree. So beautiful and festive.

But back to the cookie recipe, here it is. I know you’ll enjoy its uniqueness and fabulousness as much as I do!

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Cranberry Hazelnut Cookies

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup, packed, brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk or orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups chopped cranberries*
1 cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts*

Before you begin, have all of your major players ready. Have your cranberries rinsed, dried, and chopped. Have your hazelnuts skinned (directions here), and have the flour sifted along with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

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Place the butter in a large bowl, along with both sugars.
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Beat the mixture with an electric mixer until fluffy. Then add the eggs, milk, and vanilla.
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Beat the batter well. Then gradually add the flour mixture, beating at a low speed, until it’s almost all incorporated into the batter.
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It will be slightly crumbly.
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Switch to a spoon, and add the cranberries and hazelnuts.
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Fold them in until they’re completely incorporated into the batter. At this point you can chill the dough for a couple of hours and continue with the recipe, or chill the dough overnight, which is what I did. To continue, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and let it warm for about 30 minutes.
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Then, using a scoop, place balls of dough, approximately 1 1/2″ in diameter on a non-stick or greased cookie sheet, approximately 2″ apart from each other.
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Bake them for approximately 15 minutes; the time will vary depending on how thick they are, your oven temperature, and the temperature of the dough. When they’re done they should be ever so slightly golden, but still soft to the touch.
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After about a minute rest, place the cookies on a rack to cool. Then they’re ready to serve. Or hide, whichever you want to do.
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I have frozen these cookies with good luck, so if you need to hide them from people, freezing is a great idea.
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If people get to them, there will be none left. Guaranteed. Merry Christmas. Now you can’t say I never got you anything!

* To easily chop the hazelnuts, place them in a food processor and pulse until they’re the right size; for this recipe halved hazelnuts are fine – you don’t want hazelnut meal. Empty out the food processor jar, and then do the same with the cranberries! Easy chopping!

Hazelnut Cinnamon Pie Crust

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When I make a pie crust for even the simplest of pies, I like to change things up. There’s nothing quite so perfect as a pâte brisée, but when you can also add ground nuts of various kinds, and flavorings like rum and cinnamon, the crust pushes the pie over the top!

For Thanksgiving, I only made one pie, since there were only four of us, and that was a pumpkin pie. I did add some rum-soaked raisins to the pie as well. A good pie, as it turned out, although not necessarily better than a traditional pumpkin pie, which we all love. I just wanted to literally spice up the crust.

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So, I chose to make a hazelnut-based pie crust. In my tutorial for making pie crusts, I mentioned adding nuts as an option for introducing different flavors as well as textures into a basic pie crust. It’s just so fun and easy.

The only negative in adding ground nuts to a traditional flour-based pie crust is that the dough is more on the crumbly side, and is a tiny bit harder to work with. However, if I can do it, anyone can as well.

So here’s what I did.

Hazelnut Cinnamon Pie Crust

Place the hazelnuts, 1/2 cup of flour and the brown sugar in a food processor jar. Process until the hazelnuts are very fine.
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The addition of the flour will keep the nuts from becoming nut butter.
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Add the remaining flour, cinnamon, and the rum. Then add the shortening and butter and process just a little.
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Then, adding icy cold water as needed, continue processing the dough until it balls up.
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Turn out the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap.
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With your hands underneath the plastic wrap, fold over and forcibly pat down on the dough until it sticks together and forms a disk.
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Wrap up the disc and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

The next day, get the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit a little bit to warm up slightly. You can alternatively try beating on it with your rolling pin.

Unwrap the disk of dough and place it on a gently floured surface.

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Using the same technique as you would a pâte brisée, roll out the dough into a large circle, sprinkling a little flour as needed.

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To assist in placing the rolled out crust into the pie pan, use a very wide metal spatula. I would invest in one if you don’t already own one; I’ve used this a lot when a regular spatula just won’t do.

Then carefully place it over the pie pan.
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Trim the edges of the crust that overhang, and then crimp the edges carefully.

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Place the pie crust in the refrigerator until you fill the pie. At that point, also place the pie pan in a jelly roll pan, or on a cookie sheet. That way you don’t wreck the integrity of the crimped crust grabbing the pie pan with oven mitts.

There will be a future post on the eggnog ice cream I topped the pumpkin pie with that filled this fabulous hazelnut cinnamon crust pie!

Brussels Sprouts Salad

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When I buy Brussels sprouts, I immediately think to steam them and toss them in browned butter with a little salt. I’m the only one who eats them between my husband and myself, so that’s always how I prepare them. I may actually love Brussels sprouts more than any other vegetable. And I like them to shine like the mini cabbages they are.

Until today, I’ve never had a Brussels sprouts salad. What? They’re just so good the way I serve them, that I’ve never gotten very adventurous with them. But I put an end to this nonsense today.

Salads of Brussels sprouts are raw. That’s right, simply shaved or sliced and then tossed with a vinaigrette. The vinegar “cooks” and softens the sprouts, just as lime juice cooks fish in ceviche. It’s simply the acid doing its work.

So I bring to you a recipe I adapted from reading many different recipes for Brussels sprouts salads – this one a bit more festive, since it is that time of year!
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Salad of Brussels Sprouts with Dried Cranberries and Hazelnuts, served with an Apple-Maple Vinaigrette

vinaigrette:
1/2 cup olive or hazelnut oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup apple juice or cider
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt.

Combine these ingredients in a mini blender.
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Blend until smooth; set aside.
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salad:
Brussels sprouts
Toasted hazelnuts
Dried cranberries

First, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts using a knife or the blade fitting on your food processor. Or, use a mandolin like I did. However, since getting a tip from Richard at REMCooks.com, I have purchased a Kevlar glove to use with the mandolin, to avoid any emergency room trips.

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Thinly slice the Brussels sprouts, without getting too close to the stem ends, which are woody. Slice as many as desired; I only made a small salad for myself. How big a salad you make is up to you.
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Add some of the dressing and toss. Then let the Brussels sprouts sit for about 30 minutes to let them soften.
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The hazelnuts and cranberries can be tossed in with the salad, but I chose to just sprinkle them on the salad itself.
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I served my Brussels sprouts salad with some grilled salmon, but just about any protein would work.
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verdict: The salad was very cabbage-like, which is fine, because I like cole slaw, which is also cabbage. However, I think I prefer my Brussels sprouts hot with browned butter.