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A sweet taste of the holidays

Readers show off their best cookies in annual recipe contest


Santa’s catering staff worked overtime recently, baking cookies to satisfy a bunch of hungry newspaper writers and designers.

Wait. That should say, “highly experienced culinary judges.”

Over four days, a dozen wonderful people came to our front counter bearing plates of goodies loaded with chocolate, a variety of nuts and candied fruit and even a cookie/candy combination.

A decorated table in the newsroom groaned from the caloric weight. As did Sandy Post sports reporter, Kris Anderson.

Contributing cookie bakers came from Sandy, Damascus, Fairview, Gresham, Troutdale and East County. We thank each and every one of you for sharing your favorites with us.

But this year’s overall favorite was a surprise. by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Five-year old Teagan Dixon.

That cookie/candy combination mentioned before? It was made by 5-year-old Teagan Dixon, with the help of her grandmother, Bev Dixon.

Bev discovered the Pretzel Candies or Cookies at a card party with friends last year. She Googled the treat’s main ingredient — Rolo candies — looking for some idea on assembly, to see if the recipe was kid-friendly.

“I thought it would be a fun recipe for Teagan,” Bev said. “They are something a kid can easily do with some caution.”

Teagan is the daughter of Happy Valley residents Jenessa and John Dixon. She’s a kindergartner at Mt. Scott Elementary School and was somewhat familiar with the concept of competition.

“A contest is when you bring in stuff and people choose you to win,” Teagan explained. “I like it!”

Teagan’s bite-size treats earned her an apron from the Troutdale General Store, which was fortuitous since she’d outgrown the one she’d been wearing when cooking with Grandma.

All our bakers were winners, but a few led the pack.

In the crunchy cookie category, The Outlook’s judges spared no crumbs from Imogene Wilner’s “Good Anytime Chocolate Chip Cookies.” The perfect chocolate chip cookie received high marks for the addition of toffee bits and pecan pieces.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Imogene Wilner's Good Anytime Chocolate Chip Cookies Imogene, a Gresham resident and past winner in The Outlook’s recipe contest, acquired the recipe from a co-worker years ago and altered it to her tastes.

“It might have originally been the Neiman Marcus Cookies,” she said. “Those had a grated chocolate bar in them and a lot of nuts, but it was too much chocolate for me, so I changed it around some.”

Runner-up in the crunchy cookie category was Damascus resident Nancy Griswold. Her Chocolate Mint Cookies wowed the judges with just a touch of mint frosting to balance the rich chocolate cookie. The recipe came from a magazine a long time ago, Nancy said, and the cookies are among several varieties she bakes each Christmas. by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Nancy Griswold's Chocolate Mints

“It wouldn’t be Christmas at our house without them,” she said.

The judges also had favorites in the soft cookie category, the winner being a first time entry. Sandy resident Carol McGrew’s Black Forest Crinkle Cookies featured dark chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet and dried cranberries as a nod to the season. Carol also uses her own homemade vanilla.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Carol McGrew's Black Forest Crinkle Cookies.

“These are my favorite cookies,” she said. “It’s not Christmas for me without them. I’ve been making my own vanilla for years. It’s a Martha Stewart recipe. It just gives everything a little different taste.”

The runner-up for best soft cookie also was a first-timer. Mary Ann Inglesby of Gresham, brought in her admittedly “decadent” Nordy Bars, a rich combination of butterscotch, chocolate, marshmallows and nuts. Baking Nordy Bars isn’t limited to Christmas, Mary Ann said, nor is eating them in a refined manner.

“Calories don’t count if you’re standing up by the sink, do they?” she asked.

Imogene and Carol also received aprons from the Troutdale General Store and a sincere hope from judges for their future participation. Nancy and Mary Ann received a copy of Outlook reporter Sharon Nesbit’s collection of columns, “Sunny with Occasional Tirades.” And for their kindness in feeding the judges, our other entrants were provided with a three-month subscription to The Outlook or Sandy Post.

Happy baking!

Good Anytime Chocolate Chip Cookies

Submitted by Gresham resident and past contest winner, Imogene Wilner.

2-1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup each: mini-chocolate chips, toffee bits, pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine together all dry ingredients (oatmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt) in a large bowl and set aside.

Cream together sugars, butter, eggs and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and creamed mixture together. Add chips, toffee bits and pecans.

Use small cookie scoop and drop onto ungreased cookie sheet 2-inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Makes more than 100 cookies.

Black Forest Crinkle Cookies

Submitted by Sandy resident Carol McGrew.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 Tbsp.)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)

1 egg

1 tsp. instant coffee granules, mixed with 2 Tbsp. hot water (optional)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Carol uses Guittard Special Dark Chocolate Chips)

1/3 cup dried tart cherries (Carol uses dried cranberries for the holiday)

3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Melt butter in a second bowl in a microwave oven or in a small saucepan over low heat.

Add cocoa to butter, whisking until smooth. Stir in the egg, coffee mixture and vanilla, fully blending in each one before adding the next. Stir flour mixture into cocoa mixture just until combined.

Fold chocolate chips and cherries or cranberries into the dough until evenly distributed. Shape into generous 1-inch balls.

Roll balls in powdered sugar two times, then arrange on prepared baking sheets, spacing 2-inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are cracked. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack.

Chocolate Mints

Submitted by Damascus resident Nancy Griswold

3/4 cup butter or margarine

1-1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp. water

1 pkg. (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 eggs

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 pkg. (2 cups) Guittard Green Mint Chips

colored sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large heavy saucepan over low heat, cook butter (or margarine), sugar and water until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips and stir until partially melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into large mixer bowl and let stand about 10 minutes to cool slightly. With mixer at high speed, beat in eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients, beating just until blended. Chill dough about 1 hour for easier handling.

Line 2 cookie sheets with foil. Roll teaspoons of dough into balls; place about 2-inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake 12-13 minutes — no longer. (Cookies will crisp as they cool) Remove from oven and immediately place 6 or 7 green mint chips on each cookie.

Allow to soften for about 5 minutes; then use a spoon to swirl mints over cookie. Decorate with sprinkles. Remove from cookie sheets and cool completely. Makes 80 cookies, about 90 calories each.

Pretzel Candies or Cookies

Submitted by 5-year-old Teagan Dixon, who whipped up this plate of chocolate goodness with her grandmother, East County resident Bev Dixon.

“These are the easiest, tastiest treat,” wrote Bev. “Here are two versions of this recipe. One version is made with pretzels, Rolos and pecans (we call it candy). The other version is made with pretzels and Rolos (we call them cookies).”

Cookie ingredients:

1 (10 ounce) bag square waffle pretzels

1 (12 ounce) bag Rolo candies

For candy, you will need 60 pecan halves.

Place pretzels on parchment paper or foil-lined cookie sheet (one that has sides). Lay pretzels on sheet. Place 1 unwrapped Rolo on each pretzel. Place cookie sheet in preheated 250 degree oven. Remove from oven in 2 -1/2 minutes. Work quickly. Place pecan on top of Rolo and press in a bit (for candy). Place another pretzel on top and press (for cookie). Let cool. May be stored in an airtight container.

Nordy Bars

Submitted by Gresham resident Mary Ann Inglesby.

1/2 cup butter

1 (11 ounce) pkg. butterscotch chips

1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar

2 eggs

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vanilla

1 (12 ounce) pkg. chocolate chips

2 cups miniature marshmallows

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Grease 9 x 13 pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add butterscotch chips and brown sugar; stir until melted. Remove pan from heat and stir in eggs, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix thoroughly. Stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool (15-20 minutes). When mixture is cool, stir in chocolate chips, marshmallows and pecans or walnuts. Spread into pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

Enjoy!

2012 Outlook Cookie Contest Recipes

Best of the West Cookies

Submitted by East County resident Eilene Roecker

1 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup rolled or quick cooking oats

1 cup crushed corn flakes

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup nuts

3 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream sugars and butter until fluffy. Add egg and mix. Then add vegetable oil and mix. Add oats, cornflakes, coconut and nuts. Mix well. Add flour, soda, salt and vanilla.

Place parchment paper on cookie sheet and scoop dough the size of walnuts. Flatten with a fork. Sprinkle with colored sugar if desired. Bake 13-14 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool a few minutes before removing from cookie sheet.

Stir-N-Drop Sugar Cookies

Submitted by Fairview resident and multiple Outlook recipe contest winner, Deloris Schwartz. The recipe, Deloris says, came from Betty Crocker’s 1962 New Good and Easy Cookbook .

2 eggs

2/3 cups vegetable oil

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp grated lemon rind

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups Gold Medal Flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Beat egg with fork until well blended. Stir in oil, vanilla and lemon rind. Blend in sugar until mixture thickens. Measure flour by dip-level-pour method (dip measuring cup into flour and level with a knife before pouring into cookie batter). Mix flour, baking powder and salt; blend into oil mixture.

Drop by teaspoons about 2-inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Gently press each cookie flat with the bottom of a glass that has been moistened and dipped in sugar. Continue dipping in glass in sugar before flattening each cookie. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until a delicate brown. Remove immediately from baking sheet.

Makes 4 dozen 2-1/2-inch cookies.

Note: Deloris added chopped pecans, coconut and chopped candied cherries for the holidays.

Chris’ Cookies

Submitted by Sandy resident Bob Winfield, who named the cookies after his daughter.

1 cup butter

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

2 eggs

4 cups flour

1 tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first five ingredients and vanilla in a bowl; mix until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; add to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in nuts.

Drop by teaspoons on cookie sheets. Bake for approximately 10 minutes.

Chocolate Square Oatmeal Cookies

Submitted by Damascus resident Debby Staehle.

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1-1/2 cups uncooked quick oats

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup Crisco

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Hershey bars

Pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda and salt. Add sugars, Crisco, egg and vanilla. Beat until smooth, approximately 2 minutes. Stir in oats and chopped pecans. Shape dough into a 12-inch roll; wrap and chill thoroughly.

Slice dough to desired cookie thickness and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-11 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately place once square of the Hershey chocolate bar on each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to cool. Add one pecan half to top of each chocolate square.

Diane’s Splendid Oatmeal Cookies

Submitted by Sandy resident Diane Noriega, who says, “This is my variation on the Oatmeal Cookie recipe on the Quaker Oatmeal box. I call them Splendid because I use Splenda sugar but then I add ingredients that totally destroy the healthy benefits.”

2 sticks reduced-fat margarine

3/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar

1/2 cup Splenda granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1-1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

3 cups oatmeal

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and sugars together on medium speed. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Add dry ingredients 1/2-cup at a time. Add oatmeal, 1/2-cup at a time. By hand, fold in the cranberries, walnuts, coconuts and white chocolate chips. Mix well.

Drop by rounded tablespoons on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool for one minute before moving to wire racks to cool completely. Store tightly covered. Make about 4-dozen cookies.

Gingersnaps

Submitted by Gresham resident and former Cookie Contest winner Mary Nelson.

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

2-1/4 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. cloves

1/4 tsp salt

granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Thoroughly mix shortening, brown sugar, egg and molasses. Blend in remaining ingredients, except granulated sugar. Cover dough and chill for one hour.

Shape dough by rounded teaspoons into balls. Dip tops in granulated sugar. Place balls sugared side up, 3-inches apart, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or just until set. Immediately remove from baking sheet.

Makes approximately 4-dozen cookies.

Pumpkin Cookies

Submitted by Gresham resident and former Cookie Contest winner Mary Nelson.

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1-1/2 cups sugar (Mary uses 3/4 cup sugar)

1 egg

1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin

1 tsp. vanilla

2-1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup nuts

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla; mix well. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Mix well.

Add the nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Mary notes: “I also put in 1 cup of dried cranberries, instead of the nuts, or you can do nuts, chocolate chips and cranberries.”

Stuffed Date Drops

Submitted by Troutdale resident Paulette Kuiper, who has taken these cookies to cookie exchanges for many years.

1 lb. pitted dates (approximately 70 dates)

1 (3 ounce) pkg. pecan or walnut halves

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup medium brown sugar

1 egg

1-1/4 cups sifted flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stuff dates with nut halves. Cream shortening and sugar until light. Beat in egg. Sift in dry ingredients; add alternately with sour cream to creamed mixture.

Stir in dates. Drop onto greased cookie sheet, one date per cookie Bake 8-10 minutes.

After cookies have cooled, top with the following frosting recipe:

Lightly brown 1/2 cup margarine. Remove from heat. Gradually beat in 3 cups sifted powdered sugar and 3/4 tsp vanilla. Slowly add water until frosting reaches a spreading consistency.

Makes approximately 5-1/2 dozen cookies.

Mincemeat Chews

Submitted by Gresham resident and former Cookie Contest winner Mary Nelson.

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup light molasses

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. salt

1-1/2 cups S & W Brandied Mincemeat

1 cup chopped walnuts

3 cups quick cooking oatmeal

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together shortening and sugar. Beat in molasses, egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda, ginger and salt; mix well. Add mincemeat, walnuts and oatmeal; stir together until well blended. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes

Makes approximately 5 dozen.

Cherry Winks

Submitted by Gresham resident and former Cookie Contest winner Mary Nelson.

2-1/4 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup pecans

1 cup dates

1/3 cup Maraschino cherries

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 Tbsp. milk

1 tsp. vanilla

2-1/2 cups crushed cornflakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine shortening and sugar, beating until fluffy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients, except crushed cornflakes; mix well. Add pecans and dates.

Shape dough into balls; roll in the crushed cornflakes. Place on greased cookie sheets and top each cookie with a cherry. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Pumpkin Pie Pecan Bars

Submitted by Gresham resident and former Cookie Contest winner Mary Nelson.

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup uncooked oats

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt, divided

16 ounces canned pumpkin

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 eggs, beaten

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans

Powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, beat margarine and brown sugar until fluffy. Add flour, oats, baking power and 1/2 tsp. salt; mix until crumbly. Reserve 1/2 cup of the flour mixture for later use. Press remainder on bottom of a 10 x 15-inch pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Spread over baked crust.

In a small bowl, combine reserved 1/2 cup flour mixture with pecans. Sprinkle over pumpkin mixture. Bake 30-35 minutes or until set. Cool and cut into bars. Chill. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.