Entries in holiday cookie recipes (3)


Cooking with the Kids: Martie and CCA Chefs Club Huntsville

I have the great honor of working with many different groups and one of my favorites is the CCA Chef's Club from Huntsville, Alabama. The group is comprised of junior high and high school students who have a love of cooking and may possibly want to seek a career in food one day. I've had the chance to hang out with the kids a number of times; we cooked together last holiday season and made my chocolate roulage recipe. Last year, some of them were able to come to Birmingham for a tour of the Southern Living campus, the legendary test kitchens and the studios where I film my videos for


I asked the group for a family traditions recipe and they selected this old school whip pie crust recipe to share. Filled with fresh blackberries or your favorite fruit filling, try it for yourself. Here are some photos of the kids with their own variations. The pie crust recipe calls for items I've never even heard of: a pie crust cloth and a rolling pin cover. I guess that just shows how old school it this recipe really is. If you do not have these items, just make the substitutions I've indicated.

CCA Chef TIP:  The use of a pastry cloth and rolling pin cover helps keep the pie crust from absorbing too much flour when rolling it out.  Too much flour and too much handling make a tough pie crust.


(Recipe for 9” two-crust pie)

3/4 cup Crisco
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted once before measuring)
1 teaspoon salt

Put 3/4 cup Crisco in a mixing bowl.  Add 1/4 cup boiling water and 1 tablespoon milk; whip with a fork until water and milk are incorporated into the Crisco.  It should be smooth and thick like whipped cream.  Sift in 2 cups sifted all purpose flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir quickly, with round-the-bowl strokes, into a dough that “cleans” bowl.  Take up dough in hands and work gently into a smooth, blended round. Handle dough as little as possible.  Divide dough in half; roll each half separately. Place one half of the dough onto a lightly floured pastry cloth. (ok to use floured plastic wrap) Using a rolling pin with cover, (ok to simply flour the rolling pin) roll out the bottom pie crust.  Once dough has been rolled out, use the edge of your pastry cloth to carefully raise dough up and over the rolling pin.  This will make it easier to transfer rolled dough to the pie tin.  Fill the bottom crust with desired filling.  Roll out second half of dough and place on top of pie filling.  Trim dough ½ inch beyond pan, and flute edge.  Make several slits in top of pie crust for steam vents and sprinkle with sugar.  (Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon if making an apple pie.)  Baking temperatures and times depends on the filling you have placed inside.

Blackberry Pie frpm CCA Chefs Club HuntsvilleFresh Blackberry Pie Filling

3 cups fresh blackberries rinsed and drained

4 tablespoons All-Purpose flour

1 cup sugar plus more to sprinkle on top of crust

4-5 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon unsalted butter 

Place blackberries in bottom pie crust.  Layer the remaining ingredients.  Cover filling with top pie crust; seal and flute edge. Make several slits in top to allow the steam to escape. Sprinkle top with sugar.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack for 2 hours before serving.

Thanks to all of my sweet future chefs for providing us with the recipe and photos of all the fun! Hope to see you all again soon.



Holiday Traditions: Mom's (Addictive) Fruit Cake Cookie Recipe

One of my favorite holiday traditions with my mom was starting our holiday baking the day after Thanksgiving. We always made spiced fruit cake cookies but we'd have to buy the ingredients over a few weeks so we could afford them. I remember the anticipation of watching the shelf fill up with the candied fruit: pineapple, cherries (yes, even the green ones) and how excited I was when we finally got the last ingredient. I still love those cookies... and they hold so many memories for me. 

I know. You hate fruitcake. I'm pretty sure I don't like most of them but I promise you these gorgeous little fruitcake gems are so addictive and delicious, you will not want to wait a whole year to make them again. These are the same mugs we used for Christmas Eve cocoa way back then!


Makes about 6 dozen depending on how large you make them.


1 pound candied red cherries

1 pound candied pineapple

1 pound candied green cherries

6 cups pecans, roughly chopped

1 pound dates, chopped

2 tablespoons dark rum

3 cups plus 1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup Crisco shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

slight pinch kosher salt

3 teaspoons baking soda

3 tablespoons milk

4 eggs (room temperature)

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon nutmeg


The day before: chop the dates into small pieces and put them in a glass bowl. Add rum. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit overnight to absorb the rum. You can leave this step out if you want but I find it makes the dates more delicious and the cookies have more flavor.  

Preheat oven to 375. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Get out 2-3 cooling racks.

Dice the candied fruit into small pieces and place in a very large bowl; I use the top of my cake carrier. Roughly chop the pecans and add to the fruit. Add the dates. Add one cup of the flour. Toss well to coat all of the pieces and break them up so they are not sticking together.

Next, whisk the baking soda into the milk and let it dissolve.

Mix the Crisco into the fruit. Add the remaining ingredients: sugar, remaining flour, salt, nutmeg, eggs, orange juice and milk with baking soda into the mixture.  Mix together with your hands but just until you no longer see the flour. Try not to over mix. The batter will be very dense. Use a small ice cream scoop or two teaspoons to drop the cookies onto the prepared pans, about 1 inch apart. 

Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the wire cooling racks.

The batter is very dense.

My mom's original recipe for her Christmas CookiesFollow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest for more recipes and fun!


Make it Tonight: Nutella Cookies

My friend Liz recently sent me this recipe for Nutella cookies...and it took me a few weeks to get a chance to make them. Now that I've tasted one, I wish I'd made them a lot sooner! Dark, rich and delicious with cocoa, Nutella and butter... Need I say more? For the unacquainted. Nutella is a hazelnut spread- find it in the peanut butter aisle. Warning- it is highly addictive and these these cookies will soon become one of your favorite recipes. Make them even better by making sandwich cookies with more Nutella, marshmallow fluff, or ice cream! Head's up= this recipe calls for chilling the dough for 4 hours before baking so just be prepared to allow for the chill time.

Nutella Cookies- stuff with more Nutella, marshmallow fluff or ice cream for awesome sandwich cookies:))NUTELLA COOKIES

Makes 4 dozen cookies- depending on the size

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup Nutella

1 teaspoon vanilla

finely chopped, toasted hazelnuts

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Beat sugar and butter on medium speed for five minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to fully incorporate the egg before adding the next one. Add the Nutella and vanilla; beat until combined. Chill dough four hours or overnight. The Nutella makes the dough very soft and you really need to chill it well before you bake. If you don't have time to chill for 4 hours, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer for 1 1/2 hours before baking.

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a very small ice cream scoop to insure uniform size cookies. Roll the tops and sides in the chopped hazelnuts. (you can substitute another nut like almonds if you can't find the hazelnuts) Do not get the nuts on the bottom of the cookie. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes... more for crisp cookies and less for softer cookies. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets.

The cookies will spread as they bake so leave a bit of room between them.