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The Way to His Heart

Autumn Cranberry-White Chocolate Cookies


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Fresh cranberry season is very short lived and I like to take advantage of it while I can. Sweet and savory, it doesn’t matter. I love cranberries and my daughter does too! These cookies are a wonderful treat. The tangy tartness of the cranberries is nicely offset by the white chocolate chips. The dough is a basic butter cookie dough with the cranberries and white chocolate chips added. How can you go wrong? They also look very festive for this time of year and are a nice change of pace from the chocolate and peppermint overload.

Autumn Cranberry-White Chocolate Cookies


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned or quick oats (not instant!)
  • 2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream butter on medium-high speed for one minute. Add brown sugar and beat for one minute and then add granulated sugar and beat for one minute. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for one minute.

Sprinkle 1 cup of flour, the baking soda, and salt over mixture. On low speed, mix until incorporated. Add the remaining cup of flour and mix until combined.

Grind oats in a food processor or blender. Stir the oats into the cookie dough until well mixed. Gently fold in the cranberries and white chocolate.

Using a cookie scoop or tablespoons, drop dough onto baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. The cookies will spread slightly. Bake until the cookies begin to turn a pale brown on the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. The cookies will be slightly soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 3 minutes an then transfer to a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container for 3 days or freeze. As with most drop cookies, these can be “flash frozen” as dough and cooked at a later time.

Yields 32 cookies

Source: Hannaford Fresh Nov-Dec 2012

Eggnog Cookies


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Nothing says the holiday season to me like eggnog. While there are definitely certain flavors that go along with December and Christmas, you can usually only get eggnog this time of year. Unless you make your own, but I’d still rather have that lush and fattening beverage when I can hid under a nice big sweater!

I stated to think, why drink eggnog and eat sugar cookies when you could have eggnog cookies? I did some searching and found this great recipe. I decided that since these cookies are wonderful just as they are, there was no need to frost them.

Eggnog Cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large egg yolks

Pre-heat oven to 300 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.

In a medium bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks and beat on medium until smooth. On low speed, add the dry ingredients just until combined.

Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto the prepared baking sheet, one inch apart. Press the dough down slightly and sprinkle nutmeg over top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. Remove from pan immediately and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Yields 30 cookies.

Source: The North Pole


Cookies for Kids’ Cancer


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Every December lots of folks head into the kitchen to make tons of cookies. Cookies for gifts, cookies for dessert, cookies for cookies sake, and of course cookies for Santa! Cookie exchanges are great fun because it can lessen the amount of cookies you make but you still have a great variety that is shared amongst friends.

This year, I participated in GLAD Cookies for Kids’ Cancer cookie exchange. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a non-profit organization founded by parents inspired by their young son’s fight against cancer. It was started with the simple of idea of raising money and awareness and has blossomed into something bigger. This holiday season, make your kitchen the heart of your home by turning the simple act of baking into an opportunity to make a difference in the fight against pediatric cancer. Cancer claims the lives of more children annually than any other disease – more than asthma, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis & AIDS combined.

So, what exactly can you do? You can go to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and register a bake sale or cookie exchange. If you are already planning on having a cookie exchange at home or at work, why not register it and send in the results of yours as well? Go ahead, be Good Cookie! Also, on the same site you can order and send cookies as a gift with proceeds going to Cookies for Kid’s Cancer. I also encourage my readers to go and send a virtual cookie. GLAD will donate up to $1.00 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each cookie sold, exchanged or given this November and December 2012 – up to $100,000!

I am overjoyed with the turnout for my cookie exchange and will probably host a bake sale at a later date. GLAD will be donating $1.00 for each cookie exchanged and there were over 200 cookies exchanged! I will also be posting the recipes for the cookies shown in the next couple of weeks.

I have partnered with The Glad Products Company through DailyBuzz to help promote their Food Storage products. I have been compensated for my time commitment to work with this product. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments. Thank you GLAD!


Baked Quinoa and Chicken Parmesan


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Baked pasta dishes are easy to make, usually yield leftovers, and please most everyone. The problem is after a while they get a little dull and if you are trying to watch your figure our simply be more healthful having a baked pasta dish once or twice a week is not a good thing!

I have really wanted to try quinoa out, but I needed to find something that would be very tasty on the first go. Since my husband and I love chicken Parmesan, I knew the only new thing would be the quinoa and it was my best shot at getting my family to like it. I’ll be honest, the quinoa has no real taste and is definitely filling like a pasta. There is a textural difference, but if you take normal sized bites, rather than trying to identify it, you get over it very fast. It was a win in our household and hopefully it will be in yours as well.

This recipe can also be gluten free if you omit the use of breadcrumbs or find gluten-free breadcrumbs. Another win!

Baked Quinoa and Chicken Parmesan


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 15oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Basil and oregano to taste
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, cooked
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Making the sauce

Heat a large skillet over  medium heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the onion and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar and deglaze the pan, cook until the vinegar is almost fully absorbed.

Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a low boil and simmer while the rest of the meal is prepared.

Making the quinoa

Place the quinoa in a mesh strainer and rinse with cold water for about 2 minutes.

Place the quinoa and water (or broth) in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. If you are using only water, you may want to add a little salt. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat, and simmer until cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Cooking the chicken

Dice or cut the chicken into thin strips. Pan fry them in a little bit of oil and season as you would like. You can also use breadcrumbs and prepare them that way as well. However you would like the chicken prepared.


If you skillet is big enough add the quinoa and chicken into the sauce and mix thoroughly. Otherwise, add everything into a large bowl.

Place half of the mixture in the baking dish and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Top with the remaining quinoa mixture and then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top. Add the Parmesan or Romano cheese on top. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top, if using.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about 10 additional minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned.

Garnish with parsley and additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

Source: Elly Says Opa!

Butternut Date Muffins


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It seems a lot of people have difficulty finding some filling, healthy, and tasty for breakfast. Most people don’t have time to make a big breakfast and the idea of yogurt and fruit everyday gets old. Enter these muffins! The sweetness from the applesauce, dates, and butternut squash make these extra tasty. The chickpeas add fiber and allow the ingredients to bind, so no eggs here! We omitted the walnuts because of my daughter’s nut allergy. Don’t like butternut squash? Use canned pumpkin or sweet potato !

These are very moist, so once they have cooled it is best to store them in the refrigerator. These can also be frozen.

*Dust your knife with flour to make chopping the dates easier.

** Freeze ginger and then when you are ready to use it, simply grate. It comes out so much easier!

Butternut Date Muffins


  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup rinsed and drained canned chickpeas
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/3 cup canola or light olive oil
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped pitted dates, divided
  • 12 walnut halves

Steam squash until very tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 350 F and spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.

Place cooked squash, chickpeas, applesauce, milk, oil, ginger, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of the dates in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add this puree to the dry ingredients and mix gently until all of the flour has been incorporated. If the mixture is too dry, add a small amount of milk. The batter should be thick, but wet. Fold in the remaining 1/2 cup of dates.

Divide the mixture among the prepared muffin cups. Top each muffin with a walnut half.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutritional Information

Per muffin: 200 calories, 31g carbohydrates, 4g protein, 8g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium, 3g fiber.

Source: Hannaford Fresh Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2012

Hot Cocoa


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Our bellies are stuffed and holiday shopping has begun. People are decorating their houses and baking lots and lots of cookies! Here in Kennebunkport, we have a wonderful Christmas celebration called Prelude. For two weeks, our little town transforms into a perfect little Norman Rockwell picture. We do tree lightnings, caroling, minstrels Santa arrives by lobster boat. Lobster bakes at the firehouse, check! Pancake breakfasts and horse drawn carriages? Check, check!

It’s cold outside and we all need something to warm us up. Making your own hot cocoa is so easy and just feels so much better than the packaged stuff. Sip it in a mug on your couch or pack a thermos while you hunt for that perfect tree! Either way, stop and enjoy for a moment. Don’t get caught up in all of the holiday stress. Just take a nice, long sip and relax. Those other things will get done later.
Hot Cocoa


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup half and half
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • whipped cream or marshmallows

In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Pour in the half and half and heat on medium. Cook until mixture comes to a boil, stirring constantly.

Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add milk and heat through, stirring constantly. Do not allow the milk to come to a boil. Remove cocoa from heat and whisk until it becomes frothy.

Serve with whipped cream or marshmallows.

Source: Real Mom Kitchen

Date Filled Cookies


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Sometimes, when you are looking for something new, it’s best to take a look back. One night I was chatting with my husband about wanting to try some different cookie recipes. He mentioned one that his grandmother made that his father loved. When I asked my mother-in-law about the cookies she said, “Oh those are good!” When I called Gram up for the recipe she had said she hadn’t made them in ages, but now that she dug the recipe out she would make some soon.

Well, I can see why these are beloved. These are a nice change of pace from the chocolate and sugar laden cookies I’ve had lately. I had honestly never had dates in baked goods before and was pleasantly surprised. These take a little time to go through and make them all, but looks don’t matter so you don’t have to make them perfect. The recipe makes a large batch of about 60 cookies so you will have plenty to share! The dough freezes well before and after baking.

*Tip: When cutting dried fruit dust your knife with flour. This will allow the blade to go through the sticky fruit with ease!

Date Filled Cookies



  • 2 cups dates, chopped
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water

Cookie Dough

  • 1 cup shortening (or 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
  • 2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the filling

Simmer all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan until soft and thick. Allow to cool.

To make the cookie dough

Cream the shortening, sugar, and eggs in a mixer on medium-high speed until thoroughly combined. Combine water and vanilla extract and add it to the creamed mixture.

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly and then add to the wet ingredients. Mix until combined.


Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Line cooking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

Drop one heaping teaspoon of dough on prepared sheet and pat it down slightly. Add one and a half teaspoons of the cooled filling on to the dough, taking care that it stays on the dough. Drop one teaspoon of dough on top of the filling.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Yields roughly 60 cookies.

Source: The Way to His Heart

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger


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The days are getting shorter and colder and nothing is better than a warm bowl of soup. My problem is I never make soup at home, besides opening up a weak can. I love going out to lunch and grabbing a bowl, but for some reason, even though I make most everything else from scratch, I don’t make soup. I think the big thing is, the hubby isn’t a big soup eater. Now that I have my daughter loving soup there is more of a reason to step away from the can and enjoy a wonderful soup together.

I’ve grown to really love butternut squash over the years. Mostly, because it was one of my daughter’s favorite purees as an infant. I loved the way the house smelled when I would roast a few. It is a nice introductory squash and you can find them anywhere. This recipe was originally for acorn squash, which is in season right now, but difficult to find other times. So, I took the safe road and tried it with butternut!

I tried this soup when I went down to the Stonewall Cooking School as part of the Blog Better Boston Conference back in October. It was rich and creamy and everything you would expect from a chef, but now you can make it too! The best part is you can this soup ahead of time for yourself or your guests. After blending the soup, rather than putting it back in the pot to simmer, simply let it cool, cover it and refrigerate! This soup is cream free as well, so you wont feel as guilty about it afterwards!

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger


  • 2 butternut squash (about 4 3/4 lbs total), halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus some for oiling baking sheet.
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 Tbsp golden brown sugar
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth

Optional garnishes: Chopped fresh parsley, pepitas, crystallized ginger, or creme fraiche

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Oil a baking sheet and place the squash, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the squash until it is very soft, about 50 minutes. Using a paring knife, remove the peel from the squash and discard the peel. Cut the squash into 2-inch pieces.

In a large, heavy pot over, heat oil on medium-low heat. Add onion, ginger, brown sugar, garlic, and cinnamon. Cover pot and cook until the onion is tender, about 15 minutes. Add squash and 5 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon.

In batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the pot and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, thinning the soup with more broth if necessary. Ladle into bowls and garnish.

Serves 6,  1 1/2 cups per serving

Nutritional Info

Per serving: Calories 167.7, Total Fat 5.0 g, Saturated Fat 0.3 g, Monounsaturated Fat 2.8 g, Cholesterol 0.0 mg Sodium 70.2 mg, Potassium 682.6 mg, Total Carbohydrate 30.8 g, Dietary Fiber 7.2 g, Protein 4.2 g, Vitamin A 287.0 %, Vitamin C 58.0 %

Source: Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School