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Holiday Baking for the Win!

For me, a big part of the holidays is all the wonderful food that you (and everyone else) never makes any other time of the year, because really who has time in the average week to put aside three hours for making lasagna (yes, my great grandmother’s lasagna takes that long, but it is totally worth it). Of course, much as I love all of those foods, I also want to be able to enjoy spending time with family and friends or just kicking back and bingeing a season or two (new season of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, here I come!), so what’s a girl to do? I found the perfect solution with some easy, crowd pleasing cookie recipes. But you ask how can it really be an easy holiday cookie recipe if you have to cut them out, roll them or decorate?! The answer, skip the gingerbread men and crinkles (or at least save them as a fun family baking activity) and go right for bar cookies and fudge.

I have put together three of my simplest recipes, each can be mixed up in 15 minutes or less (limited ingredients!) and are either made like bar cookies or easy drop cookies, which means no chilling, rolling or cutting. As for decorations I have a few simple ideas for how you can make these a little festive without having to do any real decorating. So go ahead, volunteer to bring cookies to the next potluck, bake a batch for your neighbors, astound your family by presenting a packed cookie platter at your family dinner. No one needs to know how little time it took to make them.

This first recipe is for Junk Food cookies, one of my personal favorites. I love gifting these because they fit both that salty and sweet craving and are just unusual enough that they stand out from all the other cookies. But be warned you can’t eat just one!


2 sticks butter (you can also use Imperial margarine)

⅔ cup of white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup crushed potato chips (you could also add in some pretzels)

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks (or chocolate chips or even a crushed chocolate candy bar)


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together.

3. Add 1 ½ cups of flour, save ½ cup on the side.

4. Add in the crushed potato chips and chocolate, combine so everything is evenly distributed. If you batter is still sticky add in the additional ½ cup of flour.

5. On a parchment-lined baking sheet evenly spaced tablespoon dollops of batter.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown.

7. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before storing.

These cookies taste best the next day which makes them perfect for packing up. If you want to make these a little more festive try using red and green M&Ms in place of the chocolate chunks.

The second recipe is for Orange Shortbread, my mother’s favorite cookie. These a great cookie because they have a slightly more sophisticated taste and go over well even with those who aren’t huge sweets fans. Eating one always tastes like the cookie version of a chocolate orange. I will say the key to making these really pop is the extra orange zest, it actually takes longer to zest the oranges, than to mix everything up!


2 sticks butter (you can also use Imperial margarine)

½ cup of sugar (use white for less crumbles or confectioners for a crumblier texture)

2 ½ cups all- purpose flour

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks

Zest of 2-3 oranges


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. Mix the softened butter, sugar and orange zest together

3. Add the flour in one cup at a time, it will be difficult to mix in the last ½ cup but keep at it and the last of the flour will mix in.

4. Add in the chocolate chips making sure they are evenly distributed.

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or a 9 by 13 inch baking dish).

6. Put the shortbread mix on the baking sheet and flatten into a rectangle like shape.

7. Bake until golden brown, 20 -25 minutes.

8. Cool on a baking rack, when mostly cooled, cut into 1 inch (or close) squares.

9. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

You can do some fun variations on this basic recipe. Feel free to omit the orange zest and chocolate for a really basic recipe. You can also sub in brown sugar for a richer flavor or for something a little more tart try lemon zest (only one or two in that case). Or for something with more of a berry flavor add two tablespoons of jam to the base recipe.

The third and final recipe is for fudge and can be found here. If you are a regular reader you have seen this recipe before, if not I strongly recommend it. The best part is you can use the base recipe and do all different mix-ins. If you want to make them a little more festive add red and green sprinkles, for a s'mores feel try mini-marshmallows and graham cracker crumbles, or you can go for rocky road with nuts and marshmallows. The possibilities are endless!

Hopefully these help make your holiday baking a little later, and remember you don’t have to tell anyone how long it took to make! Next week we will be talking all about holiday traditions, happy baking everyone!

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