Nutcracker Cookies

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Some of you might remember that my Grandpa was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma right around this time last year. He had a rocky start to 2011, but his strength carried him through some very tough times and he enjoyed a happy and stable summer and fall season.

He has unfortunately encountered another set back with his health over the past week. He battled a blood infection which landed him back in the hospital. He overcame it with antibiotics, only to find himself with yet another mysterious blood infection, fighting for his life, as of yesterday. It’s been a shock to our family as the doctor said he was in remission just before this all happened.

All this has made me realize that every day we wake up in good health is a day to celebrate. Forget about being down on yourself for the number on the scale, the guilt over yesterday’s indulgences, and whether you think you look “perfect” in your holiday dress.

If you wake up healthy, it’s already a great day.

and my Grandpa would argue, even if you wake up unhealthy it can still be a great day.

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This past summer, Grandpa was the best I had seen him since his diagnosis last December. He was vibrant, active, and loving life. Despite his cancer, he carried on life as usual working up at the cottage, visiting with family, and doing renos all summer long.

He’s taught me so much in my life, most importantly, with the right attitude and faith, anything is possible. He is a true role model in my life.

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Did I mention he already beat cancer once in his life? He’s one tough cookie!

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I actually made these cookies before I found out the news, but in a way, they oddly remind me of my Grandpa. They are both tough cookies.

And of course, I mean that in the best way possible. :)

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The cookies come together very easy! Just toast the nuts, mix the batter, chop the dates, add flour and flax, and mix it all together.

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Your dough should look like this…sticky!

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The dough is really sticky to handle, so if you need to lightly dab your fingers in a bowl of water, feel free. When shaping the cookies, make them just smaller than golf balls and really squeeze the dough to compact it together.

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I had to make quite a few trials of these cookies to figure out what the perfect temperature and baking time was. In my oven, 325F and 18 mins of baking time resulted in the perfect cookie. Depending on your baking sheet, oven, and altitude, this time may vary. To get the cookies cooked in the middle, I had to cook them until they were golden brown on the bottom.

This golden bottom, resulted in the perfect middle:

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Perfectly cooked middle (after cooling):

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If you don’t bake them long enough, you will have an undercooked middle, as shown below:

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You don’t want that!

After cooling, they have this amazing toffee-like, chewy, and dough interior with a crispy and crunchy shell! We’re pretty much obsessed with them. For my first original Christmas cookie, I was really pleased with the outcome. Eric insisted I keep all the “failed” trials for him to eat! I’m also freezing a bunch and will give them to family members on the weekend.

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Make these cookies for someone you love, maybe even crazy Uncle Ted.

Most of all, never forget your sense of humor during the holiday season.

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My Grandpa still has his.

and I’m sure he would agree with me that Nutcrackers are really creepy.

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Seriously, creepy.

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{ 137 comments… read them below or add one }

HRCK the Herald December 22, 2011

I have ALWAYS found nutcrackers to be a little creepy! They are in the ballet, as well.

These look delicious, and they’re making me wish I could have their toffee/chewy goodness for breakfast right now!

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Andrea @ Vegvacious December 22, 2011

So sorry to hear about your grandpa’s setback. It sounds like he is a really strong and wonderful man and I’ll be thinking of him and your family and sending lots of positive thoughts & vibes your way!

PS – totally agree – Nutcrackers are seriously creepy dudes

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Julie @ Shining From Within December 22, 2011

Your grandpa is an inspiration.
It’s so true, too. If you wake up alive and well, or otherwise regardless, it’s a good day.
And there is more important things than looking *perfect* in your holiday dress.

Cheers with nutcracker cookies to your grandpas health and spirit!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table December 22, 2011

Sorry to hear that about your grandpa. He looks like an energetic, positive person! That goes a long way in beating cancer. :)

Your nutcracker cookies sound wonderful! I wonder if I could use chestnuts in them too? And figs in place of some of the dates? I’m out of walnuts and dates. :)

P.S. I’ve always thought nutcrackers were creepy.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 22, 2011

I think these would work with many different nuts and dried fruit! Let me know how they turn out. :)

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Natalie December 22, 2011

My boyfriend’s mom must have 100 nutcrackers around the house at Christmas. She lines them up along ledges on the stairs, so when you come in the front door they stare down at you. I hate them! Creepy!

Best wishes to your grandpa.

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Liz December 22, 2011

So sorry to hear about your grandpa Angela. I hope you’ll hear some good news soon. He sounds like a very positive person and must be so proud of you!

Can we talk more about those truffles? I made them the other night and my husband loved them! They were SO good! We had two each. Which leaves 12 to take to my in-laws .. . . if they last that long! :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 22, 2011

Thanks Liz!
I’m happy that you enjoyed the truffles! I agree they go fast. I think next time, I will double the batch.

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Tanya @ theskyandback December 22, 2011

Angela, I’m so sorry to hear about your grandpa! I will be thinking about you and him in the coming days. Please keep us posted. Cancer is a complete bit*h. My mom is battling stage IV breast cancer right now. But she is putting up an awesome fight and your grandpa will, too!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 22, 2011

I’m sorry to hear about your mom Tanya, but glad to hear she is such a fighter. There is something to be said about a strong spirit. Sending positive thoughts her way.

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Zugey December 22, 2011

Peace and healing energy to your wonderful grandpa. I will keep him in my thoughts and prayers. Yes, waking up each day to a healthy self is a gift all on its own. To life, health, and delicious eats! Looking forward to making these cookies this weekend, since I made the berry bliss oat bars and pumpkin spiced donuts this past Sunday; absolutely delicious treats. Thanks, Angela!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 22, 2011

Thanks Zugey, I couldn’t agree more. Glad to hear those recipes turned out for you.

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kimberly December 22, 2011

Angela, your grandpa is SO CUTE! I am a nursing student, and I love all these little old men I get as patients all the time. They are adorable, tell the best stories, and often have such a positive outlook, it’s just inspiring. I truly hope he feels better and things can be resolved, especially with the holidays approaching. Just keep the faith! It sounds like with you he has a wonderful support system in place.
The cookies look awesome, but I am with Liz… I am so excited to make your truffles. I am actually planning on giving them away as a gift, too. Yay!

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Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga December 22, 2011

First, so sorry to hear about your grandpa and the setback and challenges he is going through. I will keep him and your whole family in my thoughts and prayers. This is an especially hard time of year to have anyone going through something so tough.

The cookies…oh, wow! The shot of them before baking…I doubt I would have even bothered with baking them :) Seriously I love dough of all kinds and yes I love the toffee/caramelized sugar vibe but raw dough usually trumps that.

You did an amazing job with them from recipe development to the photos…wonderful work!

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Em December 22, 2011

sending your grandpa positive vibes of the most potent kind :)

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Melissa December 22, 2011

I’m so sorry. My thoughts and prayers will be with your grandpa and your family.

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The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh December 22, 2011

I LOVE those buckets. Where did you find them?

I’m so sorry to hear about your grandpa! My FIL had MM. If you need to talk to someone who understands the struggle, feel free to shoot me an email. My FIL had a good amount of success with a stem cell transplant. If they find your grandpa has relapsed, *insist* they run the blood test for refracted MM which is usually how it comes back and is highly treatable when diagnosed early. It could’ve saved my FIL’s life and if one person can benefit from this info, it’s worth sharing.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 22, 2011

Thanks so much for your support and advice. He is having extensive blood testing done today, so hopefully we will know more soon.

The containers are from Bulk Barn :)

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Diane December 22, 2011

Hi! My grandpa also had multiple myloma. The thing is they can go into remission but will mostly likely get spots somewhere in their body again. My grandpa’s were in his lower back vertabrae. He was in so much pain and Fought the good fight until he just let himself go home in 2004. I will be trying to make these wonderful cookies this year. Grandpa’s are tough cookies aren’t they! I miss mine and was just wishing last night that I could talk to him. This is what I was looking for! Thanks for your blog and sharing your heart with us. With love, Diane

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Elisabetta December 22, 2011

Oh, Angela, so sorry for your granpa. My prayers will add to yours. I can understand your feelings because last year in the days before Christmas my grandma was in hospital and she was so ill and bad… It’s hard to live such situation while people out there are laughing and having fun. Wishing you, your granpa and your family all the best.

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Lauren @ What Lauren Likes December 22, 2011

Nutcrackers are downright creepy! I am making these cookies now, I love how they remind you of your grandpa! Tough cookie is right! :)

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Carolyn December 22, 2011

*hugs*
Your grandpa is, as you said, one tough cookie! I hope for the best for your grandfather. I’m sure he’d love a batch of your nutcracker cookies when he gets out of the hospital. =)

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Tracy December 22, 2011

Cookies look yummy. Prayers and healing thoughts to your grandpa. My stepdad had active MM after being in remission for a year. I love the tough cookie comparison – my grandpa was indeed a tough cookie!!

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Gina @ Running to the Kitchen December 22, 2011

I love the idea of these! I have cookies and fudge in tins right now all ready for homemade gifts to be handed out but the fudge tin is looking sparse. I’m thinking I could add some of these in to bulk it up. Especially because I have all the ingredients :)
And for the record I’m with you, Nutcrackers are seriously creeptastic.

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Nicole December 22, 2011

Sending healthy, healing vibes to your Grandfather!

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Dawn December 22, 2011

Angela, wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas, and sending prayers and positive vibes that your Grandfather will be feeling better very soon! xo ps. Thanks for your inspiration all year long :)

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Kristi December 22, 2011

Of course everyone’s thoughts are with your family… prayers & good luck to your Grandpa.

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LizAshlee December 22, 2011

Sending well wishes to your grandpa…I am so sorry to hear about his recent infection…I bet one of these delicious cookies will help heal him even faster! :)

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Cindy December 22, 2011

Sending loving thoughts and prayers for your grandpa.

Your recipe looks delicious. Can’t wait to bake some healthy cookies!

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Mary December 22, 2011

Angela, I’m sending positive vibes to you and yours as you go through this scary time with your grandfather. He sounds like someone truly special and well loved.

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Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn December 22, 2011

Is that your sister?! Or your cousin? You two could be twins.

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Katrina December 22, 2011

These are so pretty!!

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Anne December 22, 2011

Thanks for the post and the reminder to appreciate the health that we have. I’ve been actively trying to do this daily, especially during this holiday season when we tend to get caught up in how we look, how much weight we gain, how many cookies we eat, instead of focusing on what really matters – health, love, friends, and family. Happy holidays to you!

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Georgina December 22, 2011

So sorry to hear about your Grandfather. He sounds like a wonderful man. I’ll say a prayer for him.
The Nutcracker cookies are a must try! I just saw the Nutcracker ballet this week, so this will be a perfect thing to do on Friday, if we get sent home a few hours earlier. (Fingers crossed!)

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Veggie V! @Veggie V's Vegan Adventure December 22, 2011

Everyday I wake up is a good one. I’ve said that for years. Keeping that in mind helps keep things in perspective when I’m having a not-so-great day.

I hope your grandpa is peaceful in mind and spirit, even if his body won’t allow it.

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Jen @ keepitsimplefoods.com December 22, 2011

Aw, what a sweet post! I actually think Nutcrackers are kinda cute. ;)

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Rachel Runs December 22, 2011

These cookies look amazing!! I’ll definitely have to try them out.

Holidays are always a little bit tough when a family member is sick, my grandfather is on oxygen since he smoked most of his life. He also has Alzheimer’s and he’s been slipping a lot this year. Its hard to see him not be able to finish his sentences, and know that he’s a proud WW II vet that only a few years ago used to chop all the firewood for the wood stove and be an expert fisherman and fly tier. It makes me look up to my grandmother so much, she is selfless a bundle of energy that refuses to sit down and always makes ENORMOUS meals for holidays. Her goal in life is to someday have no grass in her lawn, just gardens full of flowers and every kind of vegetable you can think of. I hope I’m like her someday!!

Although my grandfather is sick, being around family you appreciate the health and happiness of the rest of your family (and your own) so much more and I think that is truly the spirit of the holidays!

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Dana December 22, 2011

I’m sorry about your grandfather. I’m sending good vibes his way!!!<3

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Britny W December 22, 2011

I am sorry to hear about your grandfather. It is inspirational that he has such a great attitude! On another note, my boyfriend is terrified of nutcrackers. I have been told I am not allowed to bring one in the house lol.

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Andrea December 22, 2011

I’ve noticed that some of the most positive people I’ve met in life are the ones who have had some really rough patches in their life but have pushed through them like no other! It’s always so inspiring. Good luck to your grandpa!

The cookies look awesome :)

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kalli December 22, 2011

angela,
i agree with you 10 percent. everyday we wake up in good health is a good day! so sorry about your grandpa…..my thoughts are with you and and your family.

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Katie December 22, 2011

I’ll keep your family in my thoughts, Angela.
And these little cookies look delicious!!

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Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove December 22, 2011

I hope your grandfather gets better soon! My grandma beat cancer about 10 years ago and now she’s 90! There must be something special about their generation.

I actually like nutcrackers, but I think that’s because I love the ballet so much :)

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Amanda December 22, 2011

Sending positive thoughts to you and your family. I hope your Grandpa has a speedy recovery.

And yes – nutcrackers are totally creepy.

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Beth December 22, 2011

Best wishes to your grandfather. He looks like a good man. :)

Do you think overnight oats would work with steel cut oats?

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