Chicago Public School Butter Cookies

As soon as I read an article about these cookies, I was obsessed. 😉

Although named butter cookies, I would describe them as shortbread cookies. According to The Chicago Tribune, these fantastic cookies were the standout item served by the Chicago Public Schools from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Now described as a “cult classic,” easily identified by the three-finger press on top of the dough, Crockett Cookies updated the original recipe by incorporating vanilla bean paste and sea salt.

The recipe was adapted from crockettcookies.com, via myrecipes.com and The Chicago Tribune. I modified the proportions and size, using a cookie scoop to ration the dough. I also baked the cookies in a convection oven. Crockett Cookies sells them (as well as a peanut butter version) in grocery and specialty stores throughout the Chicagoland area- genius.

They have quickly climbed the ranks to be one of my husband’s absolute favorites- tied with Tutu’s! 🙂 The texture is perfect- crispy on the edges and tender and crumbly in the center. Crazy easy and absolutely delicious.

Yield: Makes about 20 cookies

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (can substitute vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix to blend.
  3. Mix the salt into the flour, then add to the mixer and beat on medium until combined.
  4. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, make balls of dough and place on a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  5. Using three fingers, press down on top of the dough to flatten, leaving the finger marks on the cookie. Place the cookies in the fridge and chill for at least an hour.
  6. Preheat an oven to 375° and prepare 2 large rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. (I set my oven to convection.)
  7. Bake 12 minutes, on convection, or up to 15 to 18 minutes in a standard oven, until lightly golden brown on the edges. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking time.
  8. Cool completely on a rack on the pan then transfer to an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for up to three months.

Note: To bake at a later date, the prepped cookies can be frozen in a single layer on a sheet pan, and then transfered to a zip top bag. Bake from frozen, adding a few minutes to the baking time.

Roasted Eggplant & Lentil Soup with Fried Sage

I made this healthy and hearty soup with beautiful eggplant from a friend’s garden. I was also able to make one of my favorite eggplant dishes with her amazing harvest, Eggplant and Wild Mushroom “Meatballs.”

The soup was initially more fluid, but I preferred it re-heated and cooked down, as pictured. We scooped it up with fresh Portuguese Rolls. Perfect.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier.

Yield: Serves 4

  • one 1 1/4-pound eggplant, quartered lengthwise (I used 2 small)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup French green lentils (5 1/2 ounces) 
  • 14 large sage leaves, divided, plus more, as desired, for garnish
  • 2 cups chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 cup 1% milk 
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Place the eggplant quarters on a rimmed baking sheet, skin side down. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggplant is very tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 sage leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils in a colander and discard the sage leaves.
  4. Scrape the eggplant flesh into a blender; discard the skin. Add 1 cup of the stock and puree until smooth; transfer to a clean saucepan. (I used a Vitamix.)
  5. Add the lentils and the remaining 1 cup of stock to the blender and puree until smooth. Add the lentil puree to the eggplant puree in the saucepan.
  6. Stir the milk and lemon juice into the soup and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper; keep the soup hot over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the remaining 12 sage leaves and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 20 seconds per side.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the fried sage leaves and serve.

The soup can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

One-Bowl Crispies

These cookies were simple and sensational. The original recipe named them “Brown-Edge Cookies” which didn’t seem fabulous enough! They were named for a similar crispy cookie sold by Nabisco prior to 1996 called Brown-Edge Wafers.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Mille Shea and Liz Laskey, adapted by Margaux Laskey. Millie Shea learned this all-butter recipe from her mother in the 1930’s.

The authors described them as “buttery like the Danish cookies in blue tins, tender in the middle like snickerdoodles and snappy like Scottish shortbread.” The article also stated that they would be placed in the intersection of a Christmas sugar cookie, vanilla wafer, and French tuile. Wow. That is a combination of quite a few favorites!

I made half of the recipe below, yielding about 32 cookies. The recipe (even half of the recipe!) definitely makes enough to share.

Yield: about 5 dozen

  • 1 pound/453 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound/453 grams granulated sugar (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups/384 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  1. Arrange two racks around the middle of the oven and heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add egg and vanilla. Beat on medium until incorporated, about 1 minute. 
  4. Add 1 cup flour and the salt and beat on low to just combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the remaining 2 cups flour and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, then beat on medium for 30 seconds just until no flour streaks remain. 
  6. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 3 inches apart as the cookies spread quite a bit while baking. (I used a 1 T cookie scoop, leveled, and placed 8 cookies per sheet.)
  7. Bake 2 sheets at a time, rotating the pans halfway through, until the edges are lightly browned and the centers are slightly puffed, 8 to 9 minutes on convection or up to 10 to 12 minutes in a standard oven. Be careful not to overbake.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the dough. 
  9. Cool on the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then transfer cookies to the rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

It seems like a good time to share more cookie recipes. 😉

Before the holidays, I started receiving weekly cookie emails (I subscribed :/ ) from The New York Times- a pretty dangerous and crazy idea! This “pantry cookie” recipe caught my eye right away. A crowd-pleaser for sure.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Jerrelle Guy. The recipe starts by creaming the sugar with eggs rather than butter. The end result is a cookie with a crusty exterior and chewy interior. Cracks also form on the surface which are highlighted by the essential glaze. Great.

Yield: 15 to 16 cookies

  • 1 cup/95 grams old-fashioned rolled oats 
  • 1 cup/128 grams all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 packed cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 4 T/57 grams unsalted butter, melted 
  • 3/4 cup/92 grams confectioners’ sugar 
  • 5 teaspoons whole or oat milk, plus more as needed 
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and line two large rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine the oats, flour and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat both sugars with the egg, cinnamon, vanilla and baking soda on high speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until glossy, pale and thick, a full 2 minutes.
  4. Reduce the speed to medium. Very slowly drizzle in the melted butter and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Add the oat mixture and gently fold by hand using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula just until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  6. Using a small cookie scoop or two spoons, drop 15 golf ball-size mounds of dough onto the sheet pan, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. (I used a 1 1/2 T cookie scoop.)
  7. Bake until the edges and surface are set and lightly golden brown, but the center is still gooey, 10 to 11 minutes on convection or up to 12 to 14 minutes in a standard oven.
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately rap the cookie sheet on the counter or stovetop a couple of times to help the cookies flatten a little more, and cool on the sheet for 5 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar and milk using a small whisk or fork until the icing is completely smooth and very thick but still moves if you tilt the bowl. Add more milk in small increments as needed. (I add the milk 1 teaspoon at a time to make sure the consistency is not too thin.)
  10. Dip only the very tops of the cookies into the bowl of icing, leaving the deeper cracks in the cookies uncoated and allowing any excess icing to drip back into the bowl.
  11. Flip the cookies over and return them to the cookie sheet to allow the icing to harden, 10 to 15 minutes. The iced cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

One additional note about special cookies….

My oldest just had his 17th birthday! He is DRIVING. We celebrated with several family favorites- enjoying Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano Tacos (first celebration), Thai One Pot (second!), a Maple Layer Cake, and, most importantly, with our traditional Number Cookies– two versions, Roman numerals are his preference. 🙂

Sheet-Pan Potato Gnocchi with Tomatoes, Arugula, & Basil

One more summer sheet-pan dinner! 🙂

I recently made a delicious skillet gnocchi dish developed by Ali Slagle for The New York Times which was very reminiscent of this dish. Apparently, Ali Slagle inspired Sarah Jampel to create this version for Bon Appétit.

I loved that this variation incorporated arugula- one of my favorites- and coated it with a dressing made with roasted garlic. It was a quick, easy, and tasty summer meal. Great.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges (I cut it into 8 wedges)
  • 2 to 4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 4 cups (2 pints) cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 17.6-oz. package shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling, if desired
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 cups baby arugula (I used 3 cups of my CSA arugula)
  • 1 cup basil leaves, large leaves torn
  • 2 oz Parmesan, shaved (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 425°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. Toss onion, garlic, tomatoes, gnocchi, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 1/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt on a rimmed baking sheet to coat. Season generously with pepper and toss again to combine.
  4. Roast, stirring once or twice, until gnocchi are golden and starting to crisp, most of the tomatoes have burst, and onion is golden, 25–30 minutes.
  5. Remove garlic from baking sheet, peel, and place in a small bowl. Mash with 1/4 tsp salt (garlic should be quite soft). (I used 4 cloves of garlic.)
  6. Whisk in lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into the mashed garlic. Season dressing with pepper and more salt, if needed.
  7. Add arugula, basil, and Parmesan to baking sheet and drizzle dressing over; toss to combine.
  8. Divide among plates and drizzle with a little more oil, if desired.

Summer Fruit Buckle

This very special breakfast treat was more clafoutis or bread pudding-like than coffee cake-like. It was eggy, moist, and loaded with fruit. Practically any combination of summer fruit could be used. I used blueberries, strawberries, and a yellow nectarine. Great.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour. I also reduced the baking time for a convection oven. The original recipe notes that the sugar can be adjusted by one or two tablespoons, reduced or added, depending upon the sweetness and tartness of the fruit used.

Yield: one 9-inch cake

  • 1/2 cup/114 grams (1 stick) butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar, more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • finely grated lemon zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1 teaspoon/5 milliliters vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups/156 grams all-purpose flour (I used 100g all-purpose flour + 56g whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 1/2 cups summer berries and/or chopped fruit (a mix of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or use any one kind)(peaches, nectarines, figs, or plums can also be incorporated)(I used 2 cups blueberries + 2 cups strawberries + 1 chopped yellow nectarine)
  •  cinnamon, for dusting, optional
  •  Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. (or coat with cooking oil spray)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, then add lemon zest and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg and baking powder, and whisk to combine.
  6. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and mix until just combined.
  7. Gently fold fruit into the batter, then spread batter in pan and sprinkle lightly with more granulated sugar.
  8. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 50 minutes in a standard oven, or until top is golden and cake is cooked through.
  9. Allow cake to cool, then sprinkle with cinnamon, if using, and confectioners’ sugar.

Mexican Layer Dip

My daughter recently had a camp out with a few friends in our backyard. They slept in a giant, 14-person tent. What fun! 🙂 The camping was combined with another event on their summer bucket list- a “dip-night.” (inspired by TikTok 😉 )

The girls each contributed a different dip, savory or sweet, to create the feast. We made this Mexican layer dip and served it with tortilla chips and Trader Joe’s corn dippers. The recipe was adapted from ThePioneerWoman.com. I loved that her version incorporated warm beans as the base of the dip. It was an easy crowd-pleaser.

  • 1 can refried beans (I used Trader Joe’s Fat Free Refried Beans)
  • hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Cholula, to taste (I omitted it for this crowd)
  • 1 can diced green chilies (I used Trader Joe’s mild green chilies)
  • ground cumin, to taste
  • 3/4 to 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (mild or sharp)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • freshly made guacamole (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 1 cup Pico de Gallo (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 can sliced black olives (I omitted them)
  • kernels from 1 ear of corn
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish, optional
  • sliced or diced jalapeños, for garnish, optional
  • tortilla chips (and/or other corn chips), for serving
  1. Begin by heating the refried beans in a small pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add one or two dashes of hot sauce, if using, and a small can of undrained diced green chilies. Stir well.
  3. Sprinkle the bean-chile mixture with a little bit of ground cumin. Stir to incorporate.
  4. Spread the beans on the bottom of a glass bowl or high-sided or wide serving dish.
  5. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar evenly over the top.
  6. Next, dollop the sour cream over the cheese. Spread it into a single layer, as much as possible, being careful not to disturb the cheese underneath.
  7. The next layer is the guacamole. (I used my favorite guacamole recipe (link above) using 2 avocados and garlic-chipotle salsa. This time, I omitted our traditional add-ins of chopped tomatoes and red onions.)
  8. Next, sprinkle an even layer of shredded Monterey Jack cheese over the guacamole.
  9. Top with a generous layer of Pico de Gallo.
  10. Sprinkle chopped black olives over the top, if using.
  11. Microwave an ear of fresh corn for 1 minute on high. When cool enough to handle, place upright in a bowl and slice of the kernels. Sprinkle the kernels over the top as the final layer.
  12. Garnish with jalapeños and cilantro, if desired. Serve with tortilla chips.

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