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Walnut cookies

Prep time: About 20 minutes
Bake time: About 18 minutes -- These buttery mounds are meltingly good, and not too sweet. Make up to 4 days ahead; store in a cookie jar or tightly sealed container.

Yield: 40 to 45 cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs low-fat milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
About 1 cup confectioners' sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Line 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil and set aside.

3. Using a mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and salt together for about 4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and milk, and beat until smooth. Add the flour and walnuts, and mix gently on low speed just until dough holds together.

4. Scoop out about a cup of dough and roll it into a log shape. The dough will appear crumbly at first, but it will soften from the heat of your hands. Cut off small pieces, about ½-inch thick, and roll each to form a 1-inch ball. Place the balls on cookie sheets, not touching.

5. Bake about 20 minutes or until the balls are solid and just beginning to turn golden. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

6. Put the confectioners' sugar in a bowl. Carefully roll slightly warm cookies in the sugar to coat.

How kids can help: Measure ingredients; put ingredients in bowl; help roll dough into balls; roll cookies in sugar.

Per serving (1 cookie): 108 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated), 4 mg sodium, 11 mg cholesterol.

Candy-cane cookies

Prep time: 20 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour
Bake time: 10 minutes -- Make up to 4 days ahead; store in tightly sealed container.

Yield: 48 cookies

2 ½ cups flour
Dash salt
2 sticks butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1½ tsp vanilla extract
12 mini-candy canes

1. Sift flour and salt into a bowl.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer. Slowly add sugar; beat until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add yolks and vanilla; beat until smooth. Slowly add flour mixture; beat until dough comes together. Wrap in foil; chill 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, put candy canes in a zip-close bag and crush them.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough 1-inch thick, press out shapes, and place on cookie sheets. Press candy pieces on top.

5. Bake 10 minutes, or until just golden. Remove from sheet; cool.

How kids can help: Measure ingredients; crush candy canes.

Per serving (1 cookie): 73 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated), 4 mg sodium, 19 mg cholesterol.

Holiday hot cocoa

Cooking time: 5 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

8 cups low-fat milk
About 12 Tbs unsweetened cocoa
About ¾ cup sugar

Heat milk over low heat. In bowl, blend cocoa and sugar. Add ½ cup of warm milk; whisk until smooth. Add cocoa mixture to remaining warm milk; whisk smooth.

How kids can help: Measure and mix ingredients.

Per serving (1 cup): 194 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated), 126 mg sodium, 10 mg cholesterol.

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