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(Written for the River Current Publication, December 20, 2012)
My youngest son returned from college last weekend, so once again…action, aromas (and dirty dishes) abound in my kitchen.  I told a friend it was like awakening a sleeping giant; I had forgotten how much fun it is to be elbow deep in flours and creamy concoctions.  I was surprised when I came downstairs this morning to see the full-at-bedtime cookie jar had somehow become empty overnight!

I had fun reading the holiday recipes that some of you shared with me and look forward to trying them all out on my ever-willing testers; my Mom and Dad.  

Here are two that you can add to your recipe file…maybe just in time for the quickly approaching season of sweets.

Chocolate, Fruit, and Nut Clusters
½ cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup milk chocolate chips
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

1. Place the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH; stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate is completely melted.
2. Stir in the cranberries and pecans. Immediately drop by level teaspoonful’s onto a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. Clusters will keep in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Cranberry-Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup regular oats
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ dark chocolate chips
¾ cups packed brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white

1. Combine flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt in a large bowl.
2. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add honey, vanilla, egg, and egg white; beat well.
3. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until well blended. 
4. Stir in walnuts, cranberries and chocolate chips. 
5. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
6. Using a small scoop, place cookie batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or lightly sprayed with cooking spray.
7.  Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on pans before removing to a cooking rack.
Good offerings:  Dark chocolate offers stress-busting antioxidants, while cranberries may help fend off winter colds and fight stomach bugs, too.  Pecans are rich in zinc, good fats, and fiber.  Enjoy!

This was filled to the brim with cookies when I went to bed last night!


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