Category Archives: Cookies

Sweet Puff Pastry Twists and the view out my kitchen window…

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Sweet Puff Pastry Twists

I love living in Southern Oregon but sometimes the weather can be cold and drab at times…  Rain, fog and snow are not uncommon during the cold winter months.  Many of the wild birds that chose to spend their winters here in the Rogue Valley rely on backyard bird feeders for their food sources.  That’s precisely why I always make sure that my bird feeders are stocked with thistle seed, suet and sunflower seeds and that my hummingbird feeder is filled with sweet nectar.

While preparing my Sweet Puff Pastry Twists this morning, I noticed a flurry of activity outside my kitchen window.  Several species of birds were visiting the feeders that I have placed out in our backyard.  The usual visitors that show up every winter are dark-eyed juncos, house finches, scrub jays, black capped chickadees, lesser goldfinches and spotted towhees.  Sometimes I am treated to less common birds to my feeder such as California quail, red breasted nuthatches, and evening grosbeaks.  Then there are birds that I would rather not have visit at all…  Sharp shinned hawks, great blue herons and great egrets.  Sharp shinned hawks hunt the little birds that frequent my feeders.  The herons and egrets try to make a fish dinner of my koi in my pond…  Don’t get me wrong, I think that they are all beautiful but I’d rather not observe their eating habits in my yard.

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A female dark eyed junco.  The males have darker heads and rusty backs.

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A female lesser goldfinch.  The males are bright yellow and have a black cap on the tops of their heads.

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A ruby crowned kinglet zipping through the air towards the suet feeder.  This bird constantly is moving back and forth so it was hard to snap a picture of him.  It seemed that every time I would focus, he would pop out of the frame. His face looks so intent as he bounced his way to the feeder.  I see this bird nearly every winter.  Whenever he would get excited, he would display a large red crown of feathers on his head.  What a cool little bird!

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A female house finch.  The males are brightly colored with a purplish red breast.  Do you see the sunflower seed in her bill?

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A sharp shinned hawk in the tree above my feeders.  When he is around, all the little birds quickly fly away and hide…  When there is no activity at my bird feeders, you can bet he is the reason why. This little hawk is lightning fast and even tries to take down birds his own size!  He is such a beautiful and skillful hunter.  I like him better when he stays away from my hawk bird feeders :).

Back to the cookies… My Sweet Puff Pastry Twists are reminiscent of a cookie that I used to purchase years ago at the old Harry and David country store here in Southern Oregon.  They called their cookies “Croustilles”.  Unfortunately, they don’t sell them anymore but I think my cookies are a pretty good “knock off”.  They’re easy to make, light and airy, crispy and delicious.  They taste wonderful with a hot cup of coffee or your favorite tea.  Makes about 5 dozen cookies.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (thawed)
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees farenheit. Begin by rolling out the puff pastry into a 12″ square.  Combine both sugars in a small bowl.  Sprinkle half of the sugar on the puff pastry dough.  Be sure to cover it evenly with the sugar.  Take a rolling pin and lightly press the sugar into the dough.  Gently, flip the dough and repeat on the other side.  On one side of the dough, lightly brush with the egg.

Take a pizza cutter or knife and slice the puff pastry down the middle.  Do the same for the remaining two halves.  You should have four rectangles…  Each 12″ by 3″.

Now, slice each rectangle into 3″ by 3/4″ strips.  You should now have about 64 puff pastry strips.

On a silpat or silicone lined baking sheet place each strip about 1 1/4″ apart.  Twist each strip 360 degrees in the middle, making sure the egg brushed side is up.  They should all look like little bow ties.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until a golden brown.  Remove from oven and immediately place the twists on a wire rack to cool.  Makes about 5 dozen Sweet Puff Pastry Twists.

*** Note: This recipe is not rocket science.  Not all brands of puff pastry are the same size when you unroll it out of the package.  Some puff pastries are larger that what I described.  The key to this recipe is even coverage of sugar and uniformity in size and twists of the dough strips.  And of course, keeping an eye on the twists while baking is also important.  They do brown quickly!

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Polvorones with Pepitas

Polvorones with Pepitas

I love the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Thanksgiving is the time of year that we get to spend quality time with friends and family.  We cook, we talk much, we laugh, play games, watch football and most importantly, we simply get to enjoy each others company.  I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful family.  In my opinion, the grand feast of roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, green peas, rolls, potatoes, cranberry relish, pumpkin pie, cakes, cookies and so many other dishes is just a bonus.  At our annual Thanksgiving dinner this year, I offered to bake Polvorones with Pepitas, Mint Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies, and Herb Rolls to share.  I also brought an antipasto platter and a couple of bottles of prosecco :).

Polvorones are little cookies that are also called Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs, or even Butterballs.  Whatever you choose to call them, they’re just delicious!

My Polvorones recipe is a twist on the traditional cookie recipe for I used toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) instead of walnuts or pecans.  Many people know by now that I don’t cook with walnuts, pecans or other type of tree nut because I am allergic to them and I have other members in my family that share the same issue.  Pepitas are a perfect substitute for they have a delicious nutty flavor and crunch similar to nuts.  I use pepitas in recipes all the time that list nuts as an ingredient.  Pesto, cookies, and granola just to name a few…

I like to give the little cookies a light dusting of powdered sugar before setting them out at the dessert table.   The powdered sugar reminds me of fresh fallen snow.

The dessert table at Thanksgiving…  We had quite the selection of brownies, pumpkin pie, salted caramels, apple pie, coffee cake, chocolate cookies and my little Polvorones with Pepitas.  We are so fortunate to have some amazing cooks in our family.  Everything that we prepare and share is made from scratch.  I just love it!

My Polvorones with Pepitas recipe is slightly adapted from Epicurious (Bon Appetit,2003).

Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup pepitas, toasted, coarsely ground
  • a big pinch of ground cinnamon

In a medium sized bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until fluffy (I used my stand mixer).  Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Continue to mix.  Slowly add the flour and pepitas.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about a half an hour or so to chill the dough.  Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set aside.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Using a small cookie scoop (2 tsp sized) to scoop out 4 dozen little balls.  Roll each ball in the palm of your hand and place 1″ apart on a silicone lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 18 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom and have a pale color on the top.  Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for about 5-7 minutes.  Carefully roll each warm cookie in the powdered sugar mixture and place on racks to cool completely.  Sift leftover powdered sugar over the cookies before serving. Store in an airtight container for 2 – 3 days.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Not many things will put a smile on my face faster than the taste of chocolate.  Chocolate cake, chocolate bars, hot chocolate, hot mocha’s, chocolate sandwiches, chocolate cookies, chocolate pie, or straight up big chunks of dark chocolate, I love it all…  And what’s interesting about my love for chocolate, is that over the years I have begun to prefer an increasing higher cacao content in my chocolate choices.  Twenty years ago, the darkest chocolate I would have consumed would have been milk chocolate.  It’s funny how our tastes change over time.

My Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies are made with my favorite dark chocolate cookie dough recipe with little bits of Andes Mint chocolate pieces stirred in.  They’re easy to make, delicious and will satisfy nearly everyone’s chocolate craving.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup extra dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 sticks or 1 cup  butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp chocolate extract
  • 10 oz. package chocolate mint chips (I used Andes-Creme De Menthe)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with a silicone liner.  In a medium sized mixing bowl blend together the flour, extra dark cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  In a large mixing bowl with a mixer, cream the butter, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs and chocolate extract.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend well.  Fold in the mint chocolate chips.  Drop the dough using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for about 12 minutes or until done.  Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.  Store in a tightly covered container.   Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Chocolate Sunflower Seed Cookies

Chocolate Sunflower Seed Cookies

It’s time for me to send a care package up to my son at the university…  His care packages almost always include fresh baked cookies, maybe a loaf of quick bread, or a variety of tea or cocoa.  This time, he’ll get homemade Chocolate Sunflower Seed Cookies and a DVD…  Not bad for being away from home for little over a week!

My Sunflower Seed Cookies are made with extra dark cocoa powder, white chocolate chips and sunflower seed butter.  They taste faintly reminiscent of chocolate peanut butter cookies but with the sunflower seed butter twist.  They are easy to make and they ship well.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs extra dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 ounce bag white chocolate chips

In a medium sized mixing bowl cream together the white sugar, brown sugar, sunflower seed butter, egg, and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until blended.  Add the white chocolate chips.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Using a small scoop, place dough balls on silpat or silicone lined cookie sheet 3 inches apart.  Press top of dough with a fork to flatten slightly.  Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove cookies from cookie sheet with a spatula and place on wire racks to cool.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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Sunflower Seed Cookies

Sunflower Seed Cookies

Chances are you know someone who has a food allergy. You might even be one of those people yourself.  Whether it be shellfish, wheat, dairy or peanuts, food allergies can be a real nuisance and are not easy to deal with.  First of all, you have to constantly ask questions about what you are about to eat and second, you have to always read the food labels.  I know what it’s like because I personally know from experience…  It’s not fun  and depending on the ingredient or level of allergy, it can be down right dangerous.

Many of you may have noticed by now, I don’t prepare dishes with almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, or even pecans.  I like really like them but they don’t like me. I can’t eat them let alone touch them.  Big, big, big, bummer…  But on the bright side, I have learned to cook with substitutions and have adapted many of my favorite recipes.  And fortunately, I am still okay with peanuts.  I just need to be careful.

Over the years I have learned to adapt.  For example, I like to use sunflower seed butter instead of almond or peanut butter on toast or in cookies.  I’ll use toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for a nutty crunch in pesto and in homemade granola.  The more I learn about using these ingredients the less I miss tree nuts.  It used to be a big obstacle but now I consider my tree nut allergy just a speed bump in my life.  As my sister says, “It is what it is…”  And quite frankly, she’s 100% correct.

My Sunflower Seed Cookies are a riff on Betty Crocker’s Peanut Butter Cookie recipe from my circa 1950′s first edition Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook.  I found my cookbook in a used bookstore a few years ago and I just love it!  It’s 62 years old and is full of amazingly nostalgic recipes.  I adapted the peanut butter cookie recipe from this cookbook by swapping the peanut butter for sunflower seed butter.  I also added a half cup of crunchy sunflower seeds and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  They look just like a traditional peanut butter cookie but with a subtle sunflower seed flavor.  They’re simply delicious!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup toasted unsalted shelled sunflower seeds

In a medium sized mixing bowl cream together the white sugar, brown sugar, sunflower seed butter, egg, and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until blended.  Add the sunflower seeds.  Place cookie dough covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator and chill for about 2 hours or until the cookie dough is firm.

15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Using a small scoop roll the dough into 1 1/4 inch sized balls.  Place dough balls on silpat lined cookie sheet 3 inches apart.  Press top of dough with a fork to flatten slightly.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden in color.  Remove cookies from cookie sheet with a spatula and place on wire racks to cool.  Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

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Lemon Pineapple White Chocolate Cookies

Lemon Pineapple White Chocolate Cookies

Bruce and I spent the last two days up in Eugene at the Prefontaine Classic track meet at the University of Oregon.  The Prefontaine Classic draws the many of the best track and field athletes from all over the world.  What’s even better than attending a world class event is that I had the opportunity to visit my son since he is a student at the university.  Fortunately, in a few short weeks he will be home for part of the summer.  I have one last chance to send him a care package this week before the school years ends.

Eugene, Oregon is also known as “Tracktown, USA”.  Bruce and I attend the Prefontaine Classic nearly every year.

Men’s 110 Meter Hurdles

Oscar Pistorius of South Africa getting ready to run the Men’s 400 meter race.

Women’s Pole Vault

Men’s 100 Meter

Women’s Long Jump

Sanya Richards-Ross of the United States.

Athletes lining up for the final race of the day, the Bowerman Mile.

When Bruce and I got home, I decided to make Lemon Pineapple White Chocolate Cookies for the final care package of the term. My Lemon Pineapple White Chocolate Cookies are made with an interesting combination of fresh lemon zest, tender chunks of dried Philippine pineapple and creamy white chocolate chips.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.  Oh and by the way, Bruce liked the cookies so much that only half of the cookies will make it up to Eugene :).  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 sticks or 1 cup  butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 Tbs lemon zest
  • 1 cup chopped dried Philippine pineapple chunks
  • 1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with a silicone liner.  In a medium sized mixing bowl blend together the flour, baking soda and salt.  In a large mixing bowl with a mixer, cream the butter, white sugar, brown sugar, lemon extract and lemon zest.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend well.  Fold in the pineapple and white chocolate chips.  Drop the dough using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for about 12 minutes or until done.  Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.  Store in a tightly covered container.   Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

It’s been a few weeks since I sent a care package up to my son at the University so I thought it would be a good idea to send him one first thing tomorrow morning.  In G’s care package I will send some homemade Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies, assorted teas, and some vegetarian instant meals that he can make while he is busy studying.  There might even be a few dollars tucked in the box for spending on whatever he wants  :).

My Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies are made with dark chocolate chips, extra dark cocoa powder, chocolate extract and tart little Montmorency cherries.  And no, I’m not that nice of a mom.  Trust me, he’s not getting all of these wonderful cookies…  Half of them will stay at home.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 sticks or 1 cup  butter (softened)
  • 5 Tbls. extra dark cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp chocolate extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 10 oz. dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cherries (coarsely chopped)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with a silicone liner.  In a large mixing bowl with a mixer, blend together all the ingredients except for the dark chocolate chips.  Mix well.  Fold in the dark chocolate chips.  Drop the dough using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for about 12 – 14 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.  Store in a tightly covered container.  Makes about 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Twists

Chocolate Peanut Butter Twists

If you were to peek in my pantry, you would quickly realize that I don’t have a lot of pre-made items.  My pantry consist of basic ingredients.  Grains, beans, sugar, flour, vinegars, sauces, canned goods and pastas.  In the grand scheme of things, I think that it probably is a good thing.  Homemade meals are likely better for you than store bought frozen or boxed.  However, if you were in a cookie mood like I was the other day, peering into my pantry would have been pure torture…

I stared into my pantry trying to figure out how to satisfy my craving for sweets.  I spied a box of imported Dutch chocolate sprinkles hidden in the corner and a jar of peanut butter.  I snagged them both and promptly headed to the freezer where I knew I had some puff pastry stashed away.

I decided to make little chocolate peanut butter twists.  Similar in method to a Parmesan cheese or herb twist.  These little twists were so good that I had to hide them from Bruce.  Don’t tell him that I put them on the top shelf in the left hand corner :).  Adapted from Pepperidge Farms.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (thawed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1 Tbs all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup chocolate sprinkles
  • 2 Tbs creamy peanut butter

Begin by heating your oven to 400°F.  Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl.  Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unfold the puff pastry. Carefully roll the puff pastry into a 14 x 10 inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise. Brush each half with the egg wash. Brush one half of the rolled pastry with peanut butter. Evenly cover the peanut butter with chocolate sprinkles.  Place the remaining half of the pastry over the chocolate sprinkle filling, egg side down. Lightly roll with rolling pin to seal.

Using a sharp knife or pizza slicer, slice the pastry into 28  half inch strips. Twist each of the strips. Place the twisted strips 2 inches apart on the baking sheet, pressing down both ends. Brush the twists with the egg wash.  Bake for 10 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Let the pastries cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes.

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Triple Chocolate Cookies

Triple Chocolate Cookies

It’s time for me to send a care package up to my son who is away at college.  Today, I decided to make a batch of Triple Chocolate Cookies.  I started with my usual cookie dough base of flour, butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs and salt.  What makes these cookies “triple chocolate” is the addition of extra dark cocoa powder, chocolate extract and white chocolate chips.  The extra dark cocoa powder is what makes these cookies one of the most chocolatey cookies that I have ever made.  Makes about 4 dozen.  Enjoy!  Tessa

And for my son G…  You’ll get these Friday afternoon.  Be sure to check your front porch.  Love you!  Mom

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 Tbs EXTRA DARK cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 sticks or 1 cup  butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp chocolate extract
  • 10 oz. package white chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with a silicone liner.  In a medium sized mixing bowl blend together the flour, extra dark cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  In a large mixing bowl with a mixer, cream the butter, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs and chocolate extract.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend well.  Fold in the white chocolate chips.  Drop the dough using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for about 12 minutes or until done.  Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.  Store in a tightly covered container.   Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Persimmon Cookies

 Persimmon Cookies

Fall in Southern Oregon brings a bounty of locally grown fruits and vegetables.  Yesterday, when I stopped at one of my favorite produce stands, I found some gorgeous hachiya persimmons.  Hachiya persimmons are fist sized heart shaped fruits that have a beautiful deep orange color.  You have to know that in my opinion, persimmons don’t get a lot of credit and are often overlooked by those who don’t know what they are or how to use them.

Hachiya persimmons must be fully ripened before you consume them.  With this fruit, fully ripe means seriously mushy.  Whenever I get a bunch of unripe persimmons, I prefer to set them on the kitchen counter and use them as they ripen naturally or as I just learned today, toss the unripe persimmons in the freezer and use them the very next day.  I obtained that helpful hint from an elderly produce man who obviously spent his entire career working with fruits and vegetables.  Pretty smart eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hachiya Persimmons

My recipe for Persimmon Cookies was handed down to me from my Aunt Eunice.  I gotta tell you, Eunice was such a character.  She never learned to drive a car, loved to wear bright pumpkin colored lipstick,  and walked everywhere she needed to go.  As long as I knew her she always had an orange cat and no matter how many cats she had, the cat was always named Lucky.  She had at least 3 cats named Lucky that I knew of in my lifetime…

Aunt Eunice’s original persimmon cookie recipe included 1 cup of raisins and 1 up of walnuts. However, I changed up the recipe a bit, eliminated the raisins and walnuts, and added sweet dried Oregon cranberries.  I never did care for raisins and I am unfortunately allergic to the walnuts.   Add them if you like, especially if you want to get the flavor of the original recipe.

If you have access to hachiya persimmons, without a doubt you gotta make these cookies.  They are moist, cakey and have a wonderful spiciness to them.  Thank you Aunt Eunice!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup persimmon pulp or puree
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • or omit the cranberries and add 1 cup each of raisins and walnuts for the taste of the original recipe.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl cream together the persimmon pulp, sugar, egg and shortening.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.  Add the vanilla extract and cranberries until well blended.  Drop by teaspoon or using a small cookie scoop on a silicone lined or greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden.  Remove from cookie sheet and let cool on a wire rack.  Store tightly covered.  Makes 3 dozen cookies.

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