Butter Pecan Cookies

Butter cookies represent the richness and decadence of the holiday season for sure.  Instead of a store-bought tin or the basic butter recipe you might make, try this twist.  These guys get an upgrade from a roll in colored sugar crystals and topped with a pecan half.  They’re slightly crispy, but still melt in your mouth.  And they sparkle like all great things around Christmas should!

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BUTTER PECAN COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 3/4 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Each Red & Green Sugar Crystals
  • 50 Pecan Halves

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  • Gradually add flour and mix well until dough is formed.
  • Cover and chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place sugar crystals into small bowls.  Red in one and green in the other.  You can use any color you want!
  • Form dough into 1-inch balls and then roll in one of the colors of sugar.
  • Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  • Once sheet is full, use the flat bottom of a glass or jar and gently press cookies flat.  You made need to dip glass in the sugar crystals between cookies to prevent sticking.
  • Place a single pecan half on each cookie and press gently into dough.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, remove from oven and cool on wire racks.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Be careful when baking these as it doesn’t take much for them to scorch.  They should be slightly browned on the bottom.  Once you figure out the right time for your oven, it’ll be super easy though.  Make them before next weekend and let me know how you like them.  Dig in!

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Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

There’s no cookie more iconic than chocolate chip!  And I’ve had an awesome variety of big, small, crispy, chewy and more that have all been fantastic.  This recipe though is a little twist on your favorite.  With a chewy consistency and the addition of butterscotch chips, they’re a great take on the American classic.  If you can pull yourself away from your go-to family recipe, give these a try this holiday season – or any time of year for that matter…

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BUTTERSCOTCH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Butter-Flavored Shortening
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 6 Ounces Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 6 Ounces Butterscotch Chips

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Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together shortening, eggs, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  • In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well.
  • Using a spoon, fold in both types of chips until evenly distributed.
  • Use a 1-inch cookie scoop or drop by spoonful onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes until edges are golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.  Store in an airtight container.

Even if you’re not a huge butterscotch fan you’re going to love these cookies.  And maybe, just maybe, they might become your new family favorite.  Get a glass of ice cold milk and belly up to the kitchen table for a few.  Dig in!

Coconut Cookies

Let the holiday cookie-making continue!  My wife introduced me to one of her favorites back when we were dating and they quickly became one of my favorites too.  Here’s the twist, there’s no coconut in them!  The interesting combination of instant mashed potato flakes and coconut flavoring will fool anyone.  And you will absolutely love the crispy edges and chewy middles with a hot chocolate or coffee by the fireside.

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COCONUT COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1 Package or 1 1/3 Cups Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • 1 Cup Bisquick (or similar baking mix)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Margarine, Softened
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tsp. Coconut Flavoring

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl cream together butter and sugar.  Add coconut flavoring and mix well.
  • Add egg and beat well with an electric mixer.
  • Stir in Bisquick and potato flakes, with a spoon, until mixture comes together.
  • Cover and chill cookie dough in refrigerator for 1 hour or longer.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Form dough into 1-inch balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
  • Remove from oven and put cookies on a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
  • Store in a covered container.

Simple, weird and totally delicious!  Try making a batch of these this year for something a little different on your cookie platter.  I hope you love them as much as we do.  Dig in!

Peanut Butter Buckeyes

If you’re from Ohio, you’ve likely had the peanut buttery goodness of BUCKEYES!!  Shaped like the seed from our state tree, these namesake treats are a hit for the holidays or any time of the year.  You’ll find them at almost any store in Ohio that sells confections and definitely at Ohio State football tailgates!  Good news is, you don’t have to be an OSU fan or from Ohio to love the perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate – just ask all of our Minnesota friends who clamored for a treat box of Buckeyes around the holidays.

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PEANUT BUTTER BUCKEYES

Ingredients

  • 18 Ounces Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 Lb. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Margarine
  • 12 Ounces Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Ounce Parafin Wax

Instructions

  • Using a stand mixer (you’ll need a heavy duty one) with a dough hook attachment, cream together peanut butter and margarine until smooth.
  • Add powdered sugar a little at a time and mix on low until thoroughly combined.
  • Roll into one inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Place balls in freezer for 15 minutes to harden.
  • While peanut butter balls are in the freezer, use a double boiler (or a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water) to melt chocolate chips and wax together.
  • Remove balls from freezer.  Using a toothpick, pierce each ball and dip 3/4 of the way into chocolate/wax mixture.  Place on parchment paper.  Chill a full tray in the freezer again for 10 minutes or until chocolate is set.
  • Keep stored in an airtight container.  I like to keep them in the fridge, but they’re fine at room temperature too.

There’s little practice involved in the dipping process, but overall these are really easy to make.  A good tip is to use a small bowl or boiler for the chocolate as you want the chocolate to be deep enough to dip into.  You can also make 1 1/2 of the chocolate/wax mixture to make it easier.  We like to then use the excess chocolate to dip pretzels in.  Or try mixing in enough corn flakes to coat them thoroughly.  Drop in small spoonfuls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and top with sea salt flakes – wow are those good!  Try the buckeyes, share with your family and friends and make it a favorite holiday tradition like it is for us.  Dig in!!

B Spot – Strongsville, OH

There are a lot of places to get a burger around town, but few reach the grand height of deliciousness as Michael Symon’s B Spot!  In a world of frozen patties and fast-minded service, B Spot stands out for their fresh ground burgers, inventive topping combinations and homemade sauces.  On a recent trip to Cleveland for business I had my first taste of B Spot while having lunch with my sister.

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In a busy strip mall you’ll find the warm and inviting atmosphere of B Spot.  It’s decorated with wood and metal and enough TV’s for sports, but not an overwhelming bar feel.  It was busy for a late Sunday lunch, but it’s the holidays and we were near the mall so I expected as such.  I’ve heard it’s busy like this all the time though!  We were seated and immediately greeted by friendly staff.  There’s an ample craft beer selection and a list of made-to-order milkshakes that can be amped up with booze if you so choose – hello!!  I had a blonde ale from Sibling Revelry since it’s a friend’s friend’s new brewery, an excellent choice I might say!

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The place is known for their burgers, but there was a good menu with choices like house-made bratwurst and bologna sandwiches.  I settled on the Fun Guy – sautéed mushrooms and onions and topped with cheese.  My sister had the Fat Doug with pastrami, cole slaw and swiss.  Both were perfectly cooked to order, extremely juicy and had just the right ratio of meat-to-bun-to-toppings that let you get a tasty bite of everything every time!  I love when you can really enjoy a burger without it all falling apart and these hit the nail on the head.  I thought the size was perfect, but you can add a patty if you’re tank is running a little on empty.  We split the rosemary fries which was enough for two to share.  Salty, crispy and perfumed with herbs, they were excellent and not the typical disappointing fries you get in most places.

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You can enhance all of the food with 6 different signature sauces at your table – I love the coffee BBQ and the mustardy relish!  Oh, did I mention there’s a house-made pickle bar??  Honestly, everything was done right here and the attention to detail was really refreshing considering they’re growing quickly.  With 8 locations in Ohio, Detroit and Indianapolis you have no reason to not seek one out and have a great lunch or dinner.  I can’t wait for a chance to try the New School bologna sandwich and a side of pork cracklings!!  Thanks Michael, for putting the ingredients first and keeping the burger game real in middle America!!  You can check out their website here for menu and locations bspotburgers.com. Dig in!

SuperChef’s – Gahanna, OH

Sunday morning screams for amazing breakfast or brunch!  And when we’re not at home, it’s always fun to check out somewhere new and inventive.  On our recent trip to the Columbus, OH area for some Christmas shopping, we decided to check out SuperChef’s Breakfast & More in Gahanna.  Located just east of the I-270 loop, this strip mall eatery did not disappoint.  I’ll admit the exterior with bright graphics and large pictures of food reminded me of an oversized Chinese menu in a mall food court, but it’s all part of the schtick for this comics-themed brunch spot.

A lively place with plenty of seating packed into a tight spot, there is an overabundance of energy in the morning with the perfect backdrop of conversation and the aromas of coffee and syrup.  A large wall in the rear of the restaurant is covered with comic book covers and characters which were complimented by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirts the staff were wearing.  After a short wait we perused the menu choices with amazing “bam-kapow” comic book takes on traditional breakfast fare.  Think of green waffles with bacon, egg and cheese – that’s “The Hulk”.

We sipped strong coffee and then dug into our choices, all of which were really good.  Breakfast pizza was a thin chewy crust with eggs, cheese, bacon, house-made sausage, tomato and parsley.  I had a tasty croissant sandwich made with sausage (a spicy chorizo-like breakfast patty), eggs, cheese and mustard vinaigrette dressed greens.  What a perfect addition to cut through the fatty richness of the rest of the sandwich!  The omelets were hefty and full of fresh ingredients.  Most dishes are served with chunky hash browns browned with topped with a dollop of spicy butter – I know, genius idea!

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With another location in downtown Columbus, I would recommend trying this place out for a great brunch any day of the week.  The waffle and pancake combinations looked ridiculous – wings & waffles or blueberry pancakes with lemon buttercream are just a few of the choices!  Add those choices to a great cup of strong coffee and really good service and you’ll see why there was a wait to get in.  You can read their story and check out the breakfast and lunch menus at mysuperchefs.com.  Dig in!!