Bake adorable Thanksgiving cookies with this tried and true recipe,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets.

Happy entertaining!


I put chocolate cookie dough mix in some of my baking gift baskets, but if you’d like to make your cookies from scratch, here’s my tried and true recipe. Everyone loves cookies, so they make the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert selection. Bag some up in small cellophane bags and tie with ribbon to hand out to your guests as party favors.


1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 cups all-purpose flour


  1. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then the chocolate and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour, beating until just blended.
  2. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill until firm enough to roll out, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and have ready 2 ungreased cookie sheets. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Add sprinkles, if desired.
  4. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies feel firm. Let cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.




November 24, 2008


One Thanksgiving, my sister invited the entire family to her home in Charlottesville, VA for the weekend. Everyone was assigned a dish to bring for the main feast. My Mom brought her famous dressing, I made my soon-to-be-famous turkey-shaped sweet potato biscuits, and my sister-in-law was in charge of the big bird. We were all expected for dinner the night before Thanksgiving, but my brother and his wife ran into traffic and didn’t arrive until about 9:30 that night.

My sister-in-law had some prep work to do on the turkey, so as soon as they settled in, she began scurrying around my sister’s kitchen. Big snag! No bacon grease. Turns out, the secret to my sister-in-law’s juicy, delicious turkey was that she slathered the bird with bacon grease before roasting. She was absolutely appalled that my sister, who claimed to be a Southerner, didn’t have any bacon grease. In those days, any Southern cook worth her salt had a coffee can sitting on the back of the stove for collecting drippings after frying a batch of bacon.

Luckily, my sister did have a pound of bacon in the fridge, so we uncorked a bottle of crisp, cold, dry white wine and set about the task of creating bacon grease. Before long, the free-flowing wine and the smell of the bacon frying made us ravenous. Suddenly it occurred to us that our only job was to create grease. And all that crispy bacon was just a scrumptious byproduct! Out came the sweet potato biscuits and a hunk of sharp cheddar and, within a matter of moments, a family food memory was born, and a Thanksgiving tradition created.



Of course, you don’t have to cut the biscuits into turkey shapes. These beauties will taste just as good if you simply pat out the dough and cut it into squares with a knife.

(Makes 14 – 16 two-inch biscuits)



2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon each cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg

¼ cup cold butter, cut into ¼-inch dice

1 cup baked and mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup

16 slices crisp fried bacon

Sliced sharp cheddar




  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the chilled butter pieces and, with an electric mixer on low speed (or your fingers) cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Stir together the mashed sweet potato, milk and maple syrup. With a wooden spoon, stir the potato mixture into the flour mixture until dough starts to form in clumps. Add a tablespoon or so of milk if the mixture is too dry. Do not overmix.
  3. Turn the clumps out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead once or twice until the dough comes together. Roll or pat the dough out into a 1/2 –inch thickness. Cut out shapes with a 2-inch cutter dipped in flour. Gently pat the scraps together and repeat with the remaining dough. Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 – 12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. While still slightly warm, split biscuits and fill each with a strip of crisp bacon (broken into thirds to fit on biscuit) and a slice of sharp cheddar. Serve immediately.