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Easy (after) dinner recipes: Three tempting holiday cookies

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Cookies aren't a substitute for a solid meal. But they sure are a great way to end one! So celebrate the end of the week -- or savor the weekend -- with one of these tempting holiday treats.

Peppermint pinwheels: "Four years ago, my roommates and I started the 'Annual Christmas Cookie Sweatshop' party for our friends and family, and I make over 1,000 cookies for them to eat and decorate (hence the 'sweatshop'). Every year, there is high demand for the peppermint pinwheels!" says Shauna Cruz. Her peppermint pinwheels were one of our top 10 cookies from our first Holiday Cookie Bake-Off.

"Four years ago, my roommates and I started the 'Annual Christmas Cookie Sweatshop' party for our friends and family, and I make over 1,000 cookies for them to eat and decorate (hence the 'sweatshop'). Every year, there is high demand for the peppermint pinwheels!" says Shauna Cruz.  - See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2011/12/got-peppermint-pinwheels-were-here-to-help.html#sthash.iYlFCHW3.dpuf"Four years ago, my roommates and I started the 'Annual Christmas Cookie Sweatshop' party for our friends and family, and I make over 1,000 cookies for them to eat and decorate (hence the 'sweatshop'). Every year, there is high demand for the peppermint pinwheels!" says Shauna Cruz.  - See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2011/12/got-peppermint-pinwheels-were-here-to-help.html#sthash.iYlFCHW3.dp"Four years ago, my roommates and I started the 'Annual Christmas Cookie Sweatshop' party for our friends and family, and I make over 1,000 cookies for them to eat and decorate (hence the 'sweatshop'). Every year, there is high demand for the peppermint pinwheels!" says Shauna Cruz.  - See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2011/12/got-peppermint-pinwheels-were-here-to-help.html#sthash.iYlFCHW3.dpuf

Raspberry crescents: Kim Nykanen says she usually makes lots of different cookies for the holidays to fill out sampler trays. But these, one of the winners from the 2011 Holiday Cookie Bake-Off, are special. “These are absolutely my husband’s favorite. And so for the last 20 years, even if I make no other cookies, I make these.”

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

Ultimate wedding cookies: Wedding cookies are truly international. You’ll find them called Russian, Mexican or Greek. Doesn’t matter, really, once you pop one in your mouth and feel the butter and sugar dissolve. This recipe comes from Bonnie Zanardi of Whittier and it was one of our 10 best holiday cookies of 2010.

You can find the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

MORE RECIPES: 99 more easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

PEPPERMINT PINWHEELS

Total time: 50 minutes, plus chilling time

Servings: About 4 dozen cookies

Note: Submitted by Shauna Cruz of Vallejo, Calif., originally published in Taste of Home magazine.

3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

1/4 teaspoon red liquid food coloring

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla until thoroughly combined.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, or stir in the flour mixture by hand until evenly combined to form a dough.

3. Divide the dough in half, and add the food coloring and peppermint extract to one of the halves.

4. On a large work surface, roll each portion of dough between wax paper into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Remove the wax paper and place the red rectangle over the plain one, then roll up the dough lengthwise jelly-roll style. Wrap the roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or until firm.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the roll and cut it into slices 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake until set, 12 to 14 minutes. Cool 2 minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Each of 4 dozen cookies: 58 calories; 1 gram protein; 7 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 3 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 12 mg cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 30 mg sodium.

RONNIE'S RASPBERRY CRESCENTS

Total time: 1 hour, plus cooling time

Servings: Makes 2 dozen cookies

Note: Adapted from a recipe by Kim Nykanen.

Cookies

3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (5 ounces) flour

1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until well-blended. Slowly beat in the flour until well combined to form a soft dough. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in wax paper and chill for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.

2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball to about a 9-inch circle. Cut each circle into 12 wedges. Put a scant half teaspoon of jam on the wide end of each wedge. Roll each wedge from the wide end toward the point to form a crescent. Place each crescent point-side down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the cookies and cool on a rack.

Glaze and assembly

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Cookies

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and lemon juice until smooth to form a glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies.
Each of 2 dozen cookies: 87 calories; 1 gram protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 5 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 14 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 13 mg sodium.THE ULTIMATE WEDDING COOKIES

Submitted by Bonnie Zanardi of Whittier

Total time: 1 hour

Servings: Makes about 5 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar, divided

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups finely chopped macadamia nuts

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter with one-half cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and nuts. Beat the flour mixture slowly into the butter over low speed if using a stand mixer, or gently stir the flour into the butter mixture by hand until evenly combined to form a dough.

4. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls (about 1 rounded teaspoon of dough per cookie); if the dough is too soft to roll, chill it in the refrigerator until it is easy to handle. Place the cookies at least 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

5. While the cookies are still hot, gently roll them once in the remaining powdered sugar, then place the cookies on a rack to cool. Once the cookies have cooled, roll them again in the remaining powdered sugar.

6. Store the cookies in tightly sealed plastic bags; they also freeze well.

Each of 5 dozen cookies: 90 calories; 1 gram protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 7 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 8 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 6 mg sodium.The ultimate wedding cookie

Total time: 1 hour

Servings: Makes about 5 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups finely chopped macadamia nuts

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter with one-half cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and nuts. Beat the flour mixture slowly into the butter over low speed if using a stand mixer, or gently stir the flour into the butter mixture by hand until evenly combined to form a dough.

4. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls (about 1 rounded teaspoon of dough per cookie); if the dough is too soft to roll, chill it in the refrigerator until it is easy to handle. Place the cookies at least 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

5. While the cookies are still hot, gently roll them once in the remaining powdered sugar, then place the cookies on a rack to cool. Once the cookies have cooled, roll them again in the remaining powdered sugar.

6. Store the cookies in tightly sealed plastic bags; they also freeze well.

Each of 5 dozen cookies: 90 calories; 1 gram protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 7 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 8 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 6 mg sodium. - See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2011/12/holiday-cookies-ultimate-wedding-cookie.html#sthash.xhpArbL6.dpuf

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