Yes, the countdown is on. Many people this time of year have a completely different countdown than our family. The holiday countdown for others may include getting holiday cards in the mail, Christmas gifts bought and wrapped, the house decorated, the outdoor lights up, and get out-of-town gifts wrapped and shipped. The list goes on and on. As for my family and I, we have a different countdown; it is our countdown to making memories … cookie-making memories. And after last year, I am so glad to be making happy memories again. So here we go, the countdown is on. Thanksgiving cookies were made in an organized calendar order. It goes like this: some were made in advance and frozen; they were our Greek koulourakia cookies and our tribute to the Ohio Buckeyes, our peanut butter and chocolate balls; both of these freeze well. That leaves only a few more to make, including a new one from a recipe I found in a magazine, rye flour chocolate cookies. I’m going to call them our mistletoe cookies because it kisses together my husband’s favorite rye flour and my favorite, of course, chocolate. I have a few more Greek Cretan cookies as well. But the grandkids’ favorite is our family’s famous old-fashioned, cut-out sugar cookies. I will have to admit, the ones that are decorated by our 4-year-old granddaughter don’t look like a baker’s dream cookie but more like Picasso’s messy pallet. However, they all taste fantastic and as you know, our taste buds are always the final judges, right? Send me your Christmas/Holiday cooking-making photos and recipes and I will try to include them in a future column. You can send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. But for now, pour a glass of milk, hot chocolate or cider and “Please Join My Table” as we make new memories.

Koulourakia? Yes, our Greek version of a biscotti. Not too sweet, not too hard, but not too soft either. They are topped with toasted sesame seeds and oh my gosh, sometimes a few of my non-traditional Greek friends actually dip them in chocolate frosting for a modern chocolate twist!

My Cousin Georgia’s Koulourakia

1 pound of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 jigger of whiskey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
3 teaspoons baking powder
6 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of milk
Sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS: Cream together butter and sugar for 20 minutes, yes, 20 minutes. Add whiskey, vanilla, 2 eggs, milk and baking powder. Slowly add flour and mix well. Chill 2 hours in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and roll small strips of dough into 5-inch strips. Bring one end down to meet the other and twist. Place on greased cookie sheet. Beat 3rd egg with milk and brush on top of each cookie. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until top turns golden brown.

 

Karen and Phil’s Mistletoe Cookies

They spread and get huge as they bake so they need a decent amount of space on the baking sheet. This is an easy and delicious recipe to make.

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use grapeseed, coconut or olive oil)
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups rye flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for garnish

DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together cocoa, granulated sugar and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough will be very thick. Form the dough into a log about 2 inches wide. Wrap it in parchment paper and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove cookie log from refrigerator and remove parchment paper. Slice the log into 1/4th inch disks and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool. Makes 24 cookies

 

BEST DARN SUGAR COOKIES IN THE STATE OF TEXAS

I created this recipe for the grand opening of “The Texas Barrel” in Humble back in 1987. The store closed a few years after opening, but I bet there are a few people still around that remember the store and my cookies!

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup of sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons evaporated milk
1 3/4 teaspoons vanilla

DIRECTIONS: In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat in egg, evaporated milk and vanilla. Still well and chill for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll and cut out dough using Texas- or Christmas-shaped cookie cutters. I usually use a boot, an armadillo, a cactus and a lone star. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 minutes. Let cool and frost.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for Amana.in studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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