all sorts of recipes, from me to you

all sorts of recipes, from me to you…

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!




Once in a blue moon there is a blue moon on New Year’s Eve but it won’t really be blue.  A blue moon is the second full moon in a month and we will see it in all its glory as the countdown begins.  The blue moon will be brilliant and I hope it is a clear night for good viewing and let there be no howling!

New Year’s Eve and speaking of the blue moon makes me think of moonshine and moonshine makes me think of whiskey.  The best bourbon whiskey in the world is produced at Maker’s Mark Distillery in Loretto, KY.  (Is that kind of like “6 degrees of separation” thinking?)  Those who know Bill undoubtedly know that when imbibing, his elixir of the gods is Maker’s Mark.  Maker’s Mark is smooth, gentle and very easy to drink.  It is termed a “wheatie” because any rye is replaced with wheat, making it milder and sweeter than rye whiskies. 

If you should get the chance to visit Maker’s Mark, you should!  It is beautiful out that way in the countryside (I really mean way out in the country, on very narrow back roads!) with its bold black and red buildings, black fences and fields surrounding it.  The tour is truly interesting and you will see how the red wax seal is hand-dipped and applied to the bottle.  

Not only does Bill enjoy drinking it, he is also a Maker’s Mark Ambassador.  As an ambassador, Bill had a barrel in the warehouse with his name on it that aged for 7 years.  When his barrel reached maturity, the people at Maker’s Mark invited him to come for a visit for the honor of applying the traditional label bearing his name, then hand dipping his bottles in the red wax and finally, stamping the top of the bottle, reading 2009.  It made for an interesting unique visit!




Back to New Year’s Eve!  It would not be complete without a glass of Champagne and we’ll throw in a Manhattan, the so-called “king of cocktails”, made with Maker’s Mark and Sweet Vermouth.  It is strong, urbane, simple and deep in flavor; a hearty cocktail.  The drink originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the 1870’s and is still regarded as one of the greatest cocktails ever created.   Sweet Vermouth has a very intense flavor so the drink will taste much stronger if more is added. 


Manhattan

Ingredients:

1 ½ ounces Maker’s Mark
¼ ounce Sweet Vermouth or Dry Vermouth
dash Angostura Bitters, optional

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass and drink straight up or serve it on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass.
Garnish with Maraschino cherry.

Cheers!

Happy New Year to you all!!!


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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Prosciutto Mozzarella Roll-ups

Antipasto
Anton Arkhipov


This unique appetizer combines several great Italian flavors into a single bite for a tasty appetizer!  It includes mozzarella balls, fresh basil leaves and cherry tomatoes wrapped up in a slice of prosciutto, the heavenly spicy Italian ham.  They are so very easy to make and so very delicious!

If your grocery store has an antipasti or olive bar, you should be able to find the mozzarella balls there.  But, if it is your lucky day and you come across marinated mozzarella balls, that is even better and you better rush out and buy a lottery ticket!  However; if you can not find them, just cut the mozzarella into bite-size chunks the size of half of a cherry tomato. 

Using lean prosciutto makes them hold together easier as you roll them and depending on the size, it may be better to slice the prosciutto into thirds lengthwise, thereby giving you more servings also.  The sliced prosciutto should be about the width of the cherry tomatoes and the mozzarella balls. 



Prosciutto Mozzarella Roll-ups

Ingredients:

8 thin slices lean prosciutto, halved lengthwise
8 large basil leaves, torn in half or 16 smaller ones
8 small, 1” diameter, mozzarella balls, preferably marinated
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, optional

Place a slice of prosciutto on a cutting board, lay a basil leaf on top at one end of the slice.
Top the basil with a mozzarella ball and tomato, matching the cut sides to make a ball.
Sprinkle very lightly with salt and liberally with fresh ground pepper.
Roll up the ball in the prosciutto.
Secure the ball with a toothpick.
Repeat as above with the remaining prosciutto, mozzarella and tomatoes.
Arrange them on a serving plate, drizzle with the olive oil and serve.
(They will keep at room temperature for an hour before serving.)

Note:  This recipe does not require marinated mozzarella balls but, since they really add to the flavor, do the following to make them yourself:  Mix together, Italian vinaigrette, a little pimento or roasted red pepper and add the mozzarella.  Let the mixture marinate in the refrigerator for a day or two before serving. 


This will be a great appetizer for your New Year’s Eve party!

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Italian-Style Stuffed Mushrooms

  New Year's Eve in Dogville
 
Cassius Coolidge



My, gosh!  It sounds like we have been cheated of a good thing!  Four thousand years ago, the ancient Babylonians were probably the first group of people to celebrate New Year’s Eve and they had 11 days of celebrating, beginning with the first crescent moon after the spring equinox.  Then in the late 1500’s, the Gregorian calendar changed all of that.


                                         
Mushrooms for sale at market in Napoli, Italy - D Evans


                                    
I love appetizers and New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to serve a tempting array of them.  They are fun to make, delicious to eat and they could be the main meal if you serve a variety of them.  Italian-Style Stuffed Mushrooms is my favorite appetizer!!!  They are delicious with the added bonus that they can be prepared the day before, refrigerated and then baked just before serving the next day.  They are the best!

Whoopee!!!  The biggest party day/night of the year is fast approaching.  How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve?  Do you go out for the big bash, have a party at home, watch a movie or just go to bed early?  So many options…
                                              


Italian-Style Stuffed Mushrooms 

Ingredients: 

1 pound large button mushrooms
1/3 cup butter, divided
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup pepperoni, chopped
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs 

Clean mushrooms with damp cloth. Remove stems.
Chop stems and brush caps with melted butter.  Set aside.
Sauté onion and mushroom stems in remaining butter.
Add remaining ingredients.  Combine well.
Fill caps.
Place in buttered dish.
Bake 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes until hot and bubbly.
 Place on plate and watch them go! 

Yum!!!  Savory delicious!!!

When you make these, please invite us over!


 

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Bill’s Christmas Goose



Is what’s good for the goose, good for the gander?  It could be true in some houses but, not quite in this one.  Bill has fond memories of Christmas when he was a kid and seeing a platter filled with a golden goose on the dinner table.  According to him, it was a delicacy with a sweet rich taste from his childhood.  I even grew up on a farm in Pickerington, Ohio and had never eaten goose until I met Bill and didn’t realize what I had missed.
       
Roasted goose was the rage on the Christmas dinner table in Victorian England, as you may recall from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, but it did not become popular on this side of the pond until the early 1900’s.  These days, Americans consume less than one third of a pound per person yearly. 
                                 

 Since goose is a bit fattier than the traditional holiday turkey, the fat can either be trimmed away before roasting or just let it melt away as it roasts.  Actually, goose has less unhealthy saturated fats than beef, lamb and other such meats.  Many chefs claim that the texture of a goose with its darker, firmer, moister, more flavorful meat is better than the mushier turkey.  You will know that the fat has been successfully removed from the goose when the skin becomes crispy. 

We haven’t gone so far as to serve a side dish of roasted chestnuts along side of the goose but, who knows, it just might happen next year!

Bill’s Christmas Goose

Ingredients:

9 pound goose
4 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 medium Vidalia onions, quartered
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil
1 stick butter, melted

Wash the goose thoroughly, removing innards.
Cut all excess fat out of the goose.  It will come out in large clumps.
Place vegetables inside goose.
With a meat fork, penetrate the skin on an angle about every 2 inches, trying not to go deep into the meat.  This will take a while but, it will help eliminate the fat.
Rub it generously with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place in a roasting pan.
Roast in 375 degree oven.
Cook for one hour.


Remove the goose from the oven.  With a baster, remove all the fat from the bottom of the roaster.
With a brush, baste the goose liberally with butter.
Return to oven for 1 hour.
Remove the goose from the oven.
Drain all fat.
Baste the goose again liberally with the remainder of the butter.
Your golden brown goose should be fully roasted in another hour.
Remove the vegetables and discard.

Place goose on platter and serve.

Yum!!!  Enjoy while thinking of Tiny Tim!



Bill’s note:  do you know the difference between a tame goose and a wild goose?  A wild goose is two inches off center!



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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mom’s Quick Streusel Coffee Cake



The subject was coffee yesterday so today it is time for a good coffee cake to go with the coffee.  I love coffee cake with this being a great one since it is as the title says:  quick, plus easy and delicious.  This coffee cake of Mom’s is moist with the addition of the sour cream and a treat for the morning or any time. 

Speaking of “easy”, this is how easy it is:  after dealing with 11” of snow in our driveway, we came inside and I put this coffee cake together in just a few minutes!  How easy is that?

This is the consummate old-fashioned classic coffee cake.  It is moist, delicious and perfect for a lazy Sunday breakfast or brunch.



Mom’s Quick Streusel Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

1 stick butter
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups flour sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder


Streusel Topping:

Ingredients:

½ cup pecans, chopped finely
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cream 1 stick butter with ¾ cup sugar.
Add eggs, one at a time, mixing all the time. 
Add vanilla.
Sift baking soda, flour and baking powder.
Add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. 
Pour half of the mixture into a greased 8”x8” pan.
In a small bowl, mix streusel topping ingredients:  nuts, ½ cup sugar and cinnamon.
Sprinkle all but 1/3 cup of streusel topping mixture over top of batter.
Spread remainder of batter on top.
Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup of cinnamon sugar streusel topping over all.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve this and watch it disappear from the plate!


P. S.  By the way, it is still snowing with 3” more expected today. Wish you were here to enjoy the snow and the coffee cake with us!  Tee hee!!!

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

For the Love of Coffee!




Ah, can’t you just smell that cup of coffee with its fragrant aroma?  There is nothing like a good cup of coffee in the morning and thanks to Juan Valdez, Bill can make a perfect cup!




You don’t have to be a coffee aficionado to know who Juan Valdez is.  Most of us are familiar with the fictitious character sporting a moustache, wearing his sombrero and poncho; always pictured with his mule, Lana. Juan and Lana have been all over the media for as long as I can remember.  They have been viewed on TV hand-picking coffee cherries, validating the fact that rich Columbian coffee is harvested manually by real people.  Then,  Juan has also even been seen strolling through the grocery aisles, leading Lana along the way.  Juan Valdez has been around for 50 years and is well known wherever he goes; being a bit like Santa Claus, just no one guy.  



Coffee jump starts my day and I could not do without a cup or two or three in the morning; hot, strong and black.  Bill is a coffee and cream sort of guy and he makes a great cup of coffee! He swears by Folgers 100% Columbian Coffee, you know it well, “the best part of wakin’ up!”

                              



I don’t know what Juan Valdez will be doing next but, on this cold snowy (yet again!) morning, Bill will be brewing another pot of his perfect coffee!



Have a wonderful day!


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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mom’s Penuche


Merry Christmas Everybody!



Say it with me, “Peh-noo-chee.”  Or, do you call it brown sugar fudge?  Mom always called it penuche but, some people call it brown sugar fudge and that describes it spot on.   It is either a New England or a Southern delicacy and the origin of it is unclear.

This is an old recipe that Mom used during the holidays when I was young and it is undoubtedly one of the sweetest confections you will ever put in your mouth!  Penuche is a form of fudge, except that it does not include chocolate and is lighter in color than fudge while being extremely sweet.  Penuche tastes like a very rich caramel.  You make it by heating sugar and milk to the soft ball stage, letting it cool briefly, and then beating it until it is smooth and creamy.  Mom usually added chopped nuts walnuts but, that is optional.

Then, you get to the “workout” segment of it when you have to beat it!  It has to be beaten vigorously and it will make your arm feel like it is going to disintegrate but, you have to persevere!  Better yet, have someone handy to be your back-up and take turns at it.  It will definitely build those biceps up!

Penuche has an intense brown sugar buttery taste that is very dangerously addicting!  It would make a great home-made Christmas gift if you and your family don’t devour it first!  There is nothing else quite like it!



Mom’s Penuche

Ingredients:

3 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup light corn syrup
¾ cup milk
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup walnuts or pecans chopped, optional

Mix all of the above together in a deep heavy sauce pan.  Using a candy thermometer, cook to 238 degrees.
Cool to 110 degrees.
Add vanilla.
Beat until stiff and mixture begins to gloss, about 10 minutes or more.
Very quickly stir in the nuts.
Pour into buttered 9” pan.
Cut into squares when firm.


Penuche is the perfect remedy for your sweet tooth! 

It will make you drool!!!


Have a Wonderful Christmas!!!


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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Glazed Pork Roast



Bill and I both love roasted pork and I’m always looking at new recipes for it.  It is a great meat to have in the winter time when it is cold and snowing like it did all day yesterday and last evening.

But, there are so many variations of it and it is hard deciding how to prepare it but, this recipe with the glaze makes it wonderful!  The roast is so tender and succulent to the point that your knife has to do very little work. 

By marinating it for a couple of hours in the refrigerator, the sauce permeates the meat and the flavors come alive.  The sauce caramelizes, giving the meat a beautiful dark brown glaze and besides, it smells excellent while it is roasting!  It is an easy recipe, yet delicious and impressive. 

The pork roast has a juicy subtle taste, not sweet and the flavors come alive with this recipe!  It’s amazing, it is really very tasty!  I served it with chive mashed potatoes and broccoli with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan. 

Glazed Pork Roast

Ingredients:

3 pound pork roast
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons soy sauce (I used the lite, with less salt)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dry mustard
Pepper, to taste

Place roast fat side up in a roasting pan with a lid or wrap foil around it.
In a small bowl, blend remaining ingredients and brush the meat well with the sauce.
Cover it and bake at 350 degrees until done, about 2 to 2½ hours.
Baste with the sauce every 20 minutes adding more of the reserved sauce as needed.
The last 45 minutes, remove the lid and baste frequently for browning. 

Note:  I placed the pork and half of the sauce in a plastic bag and marinated the roast for a couple of hours in the refrigerator but, that is optional.  Then, when ready to roast, I poured the remaining sauce from the bag over the meat.



This is really excellent, very savory and tasty!
If you love roasted pork, give this a try!!
 I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!!!


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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potato vine in flower


Here is Kathy’s (Matt’s girlfriend) delicious recipe for sweet potatoes that is a great departure from the traditional pineapple and marshmallow sweet potatoes.  It is made of fresh sweet potatoes, not canned for a great fresh flavor and is filled with aromatic spices and a bit of pecans.   As there is just a little brown sugar in the recipe, it is not too sweet. 

This scrumptious dish makes a great addition to your holiday menu but, there is no need to wait for a holiday to enjoy it; it’s great any time!  It is easy to make and delicious.

This dish is a keeper and will make anyone a sweet potato lover!

Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:

2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (melt extra for baking dish)
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Splash of vanilla extract
Several pinches of nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper (very little to taste)
¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet (she sprays the sheet with some cooking spray) and pierce each one 2 or 3 times with a fork.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until tender.  Set aside to cool.

You can either buy chopped pecans or chop whole unsalted pecans on a cutting board.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.  When sweet potatoes are cool to touch, scoop the potato out of their skins and into a large mixing bow.  Discard the skins.  Mash the potatoes or use hand mixer until they are smooth.  Add the eggs, butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper and vanilla.  Whisk the mixture until smooth (no lumps).  If necessary, use hand mixer to get to the appropriate smoothness.

Butter an 8x8 inch casserole dish.  Pour the sweet potato mixture into the pan and sprinkle the top with the pecans.  Bake until puffed, about 30 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Thanks, Kathy for another great recipe!

Flavor galore!!!

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chicken & Spaghetti Frittata


Sautéing chicken, mushrooms and onion


I’m hooked on frittatas!!!  Now that the Christmas cookie baking binge is over, I’m ready for a great savory dish and this is it!  Frittatas are the Italian version of the American omelet and differ in that the frittata is served open-faced and not folded.  It is sort of similar to eating quiche without the crust.  They are initially cooked on the stove in a skillet and finished in the oven by broiling or baking.  Some cooks invert the skillet onto another skillet on the stove instead of putting it in the oven and that takes a bit of practice. 

Frittatas can also be as thick or as thin as you like them and the filling has endless possibilities: any variety of cheese, Italian sausage, spinach, shrimp, crisp bacon, ham, salmon, vegetables and diced potatoes or pasta.  They are usually served warm but are good also at room temperature. 

I had never cooked one until recently and from time to time, I love these types of dishes:  a complete meal all in one pan.  I just combined parts of several recipes and this was the result.  It’s worth it to cook fresh chicken and spaghetti for it however, if you should have leftovers; it is a delicious way to use them. 

It is a tasty change for your meal.  Frittatas are perfect anytime; cook one for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or cut into small portions and serve as a savory appetizer.  It is delicious and makes for a great meal served with a crisp tossed Mesclun salad.  


After broiling


Chicken & Spaghetti Frittata

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons butter
3 chicken breasts, cubed
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (or canned)
2 cups cooked spaghetti
6 eggs
4 tablespoons parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

In an oven-proof frying pan, sauté the cubed chicken, mushrooms and onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until done, transfer to plate.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, parmigiano-reggiano cheese and parsley.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to skillet.
Add half of the egg mixture to the skillet.
Add cooked spaghetti.
Layer chicken and onion mushroom mixture on top.
Spread 1 cup mozzarella cheese over chicken layer.
Cover with remaining egg mixture.
Sprinkle remaining 1 cup mozzarella over all.
Cook 3-6 minutes until bottom is golden brown, do not over cook.

Invert a skillet or a plate larger than the skillet over the frittata and turn out the frittata.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and return the frittata to the skillet to brown the other side.

Noterather than flipping the frittata, I place the skillet under the broiler for 5-8 minutes. 

Invert a serving plate over the skillet and carefully turn out the frittata.  Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

The frittata is so good and a very versatile dish that is great leftover also.


Dinner is ready!






Ummmm!  Delicious!!!




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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Decorated Christmas Butter Cookies




The cookie I want to give you the recipe of is “The Best-Ever Butter Cookies.”  My family loves decorated sugar cookies and I have tried more sugar cookie recipes over the years than I care to mention or even think about.  Then one day in December 2000, I was reading Yankee magazine when I came upon this magnificent butter cookie that is buttery tasty delicious and an excellent cookie for decorating. 

These cookies are a little on the crunchy side and very easy to make.  We think they are great and they look so pretty when decorated however you prefer.  Just remember, the dough must be prepared a day ahead of time as it has to be refrigerated overnight.  Then, the next day, set the dough out for an hour or so before cutting to make it easier to roll out.

 The Best-Ever Butter Cookie 

5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon lemon extract 

Sift or whisk the flour, baking powder and salt until thoroughly combined.  Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  Beat in the eggs, vanilla and lemon extract.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition.  Chill the dough overnight.
The next day, heat the oven to 375 degrees.  On a lightly floured board roll out one-quarter of the dough at a time to 1/8” thickness.  (Keep remaining dough refrigerated-----I don’t!)  Cut into desired shapes with floured cookie cutters.
Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned about 6-8 minutes. 
Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. 
Decorate as desired. 

Yields 2-3 dozen cookies!

Deliciously good!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Caramel-Filled Chocolate Cookies



Actually, I think this decadent candy-filled cookie has the wrong name.  If I should tell Bill, I’m baking the “Caramel-Filled Chocolate Cookies” I know exactly how it would go down; he would say, “ok.”  But, if I should tell him I’m baking the “Rolo” cookie, he would know exactly which one I mean and I’d get an “OK!!!”  That’s because these yummy cookies are stuffed with Rolo chewy caramels.

Caramel-Filled Chocolate Cookies are made of a luscious chocolate pecan dough wrapped around a Rolo, pressed into a sugar and pecan mixture for a topping and baked.  When cooled, they can be frosted with a vanilla-flavored candy coating, if you wish them to be even more decadent and richer.   They make a pretty cookie too!

Bill is retired now but, I always sent him to work at Christmas time with a plate of home-made Christmas cookies.  This cookie was a hit and his co-worker, Bob, even liked them so much he baked them himself.  By the way, Bob has a great web site.  Look at who he is the spitting image of.

These cookies are a must if you are a chocolate lover.  They are truly a great cookie you should try if you haven’t yet!


Caramel-Filled Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
48 Rolo Chewy Caramels
1 T. sugar
4 ounces vanilla-flavored candy coating, optional.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off.  In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa and baking soda; blend well. 
In large bowl, beat 1 cup, brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla and eggs.  Beat well. 
Add flour mixture; combine well.
Stir in ½ cup of pecans.
For each cookie, with floured hands, shape about 1 tablespoon of dough around 1 Rolo, covering completely.
In small bow, combine remaining ½ cup pecans and 1 tablespoon sugar.
Press 1 side of each cookie into pecan mixture.
Place, nut side up, 2” apart on cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 7-10 minutes or until set and slightly cracked.
Melt candy coating and drizzle on top, if desired.

Now, don’t you think “Rolo Christmas Cookies” should be the name of them also?

They are definitely decadent!




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