This may sound slightly off-topic, but I love salad bars. I like my salads light on the lettuce and heavy on the toppings--carrots, mushrooms, roasted beets, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, hard-boiled egg . . . You get the idea. And this is relevant because? I like my cookies the same way. While I can appreciate a soft sugar cookie as much as the next person, what I really love is a cookie that has it all. And these cookies, dear reader, have it all. "Everything but the kitchen sink," as they say.

I used pastel M&M's, which gave them a very festive look just in time for Easter. Not that these cookies made it anywhere near next Sunday. I had to hide four of them just so I would have enough to photograph the next day.
Recipe for Kitchen Sink Cookies
Adapted from Bakergirl
Makes 26-30 cookies.

1-1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oats
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup M&Ms
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and following five ingredients, through coconut.

In a large bowl, beat sugars and butter until combined, about one minute. Add egg and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining ingredients (M&Ms, white chocolate chips, raisins, and pecans).

Roll the cookie dough into 1-inch balls (or slightly larger). Place on prepared baking sheets and bake 10 minutes on the middle rack, one batch at a time.
Like many of the things I do in life, I tried this recipe because my mother asked me to. I baked these cookies for her book club meeting, and I believe that they went over very well. At least, there were no leftovers. I see that as a good sign.

The recipe is unique in that you actually bake the jam in the cookie, instead of waiting until they've been baked to add in the filling. I liked that, because it makes them a bit more cohesive and as such, easier to transport. If you like citrus as much as my mother, you will love these cookies. And even if you don't really like citrus (like my brother), you'll probably still like these. (He did.)
Recipe for Lemon Thumbprint Cookies
Makes about 40 cookies.

1/2 cup jam (I used raspberry and apricot preserves)
2-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy. Beat in the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until combined. Add in the flour, half at a time, and beat at low speed until a ball has formed. Use your hands if necessary.

Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place on prepared baking sheet one inch apart. Lightly flour your thumb and press the center of each cookie gently. I recommend doing this after each row of cookies has been added, because the dough begins to harden and crack a bit if you wait until all the balls have been formed.

Fill each indentation with 1/2 tsp of jam. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
Recently, I have become very aware of my sugar intake. And while I was on my Whole30 Challenge, I enjoyed dried dates as a sweet, decadent-tasting treat after dinner. When the Whole30 ended, I found myself with an excess of dried dates in the fridge and stumbled upon this recipe for short bread cookies that doesn't require any added sugar.

These cookies were very good--not too sweet, and with a nice short bread texture. They are a Muslim dessert during the holy month of Ramadan, and the recipe's creator, Anja, includes a bit more on their background if you are interested.
Recipe for Pistachio Date Cookies
From Anja's Food for Thought
Makes 15-20 Cookies

1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios, divided
1/2 cup dried, de-pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup whole wheat flour

In a food processor, combine butter and dates until they form a creamy paste. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and blend until incorporated. Add the flour and stir until it becomes a smooth batter. Mix in half of the pistachios. Form the dough into a round log about 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from fridge and unwrap. Roll the log in remaining pistachios. Slice dough into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick rounds. If necessary, roll each cookie in pistachios again. Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges begin to brown.
Welcome to my two-part holiday post on biscotti.

When it comes to cookies, biscotti ranks pretty low in my book, somewhere between vanilla wafers and those bizarre bacon-flavored cookies that are so popular in the foodie world right now. When I think about a store-bought (or more commonly Starbucks-bought) piece of biscotti, I think dry, jawbreaker-style cookie with the texture of sandpaper. Having become an occasional coffee drinker over the past few years, I can better understand their appeal with a nice espresso or latté, but not enough to really want to crunch into one in place of a piece of pumpkin bread or cranberry bar.

Now that I've completely turned you off of ever eating one of these things again, let me reign you back in. Here's the secret: Homemade biscotti is a totally different breed of cookie. It has just the right crunch without being too tough, and is anything but dry. Plus, you can decide what you want in it and control (read: go out of control with) the amount of chocolate drizzle or dip being used.

And the holiday bonus: Biscotti is a perfect gift! Wrap a few pieces up in a plastic cellophane bag, tie a pretty bow on it, and pair it with a nice bag of coffee for an excellent, affordable present.
Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti with White Chocolate
Adapted from Diamonds for Dessert

1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup pistachios
6 oz. white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine olive oil and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients into wet and stir until no streaks of flour remain. Fold in cranberries and pistachios.

With wet hands, divide dough into two equal portions and form into logs roughly the length of the cookie sheet. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Lower oven temperature to 275 degrees F. With a serrated knife, the logs into half-inch slices. Toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, flipping once. Cool completely.

In a shallow bowl, melt white chocolate in the microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring well after each one. Be very careful not to scorch the chocolate. Dip one side of the cooled slices in the chocolate.