7 Cookie Recipes Worth Making and Taking


December has arrived, and I haven’t started baking in earnest yet.  However I am okay with that.  Usually I can be found baking all through the twelve days of Christmas.  Our family runs on an academic calendar, so that’s often the time that works best.  The pace of life slows.  My kids are out of school and eager to help make and scarf down what we create together.

If you think you’ve finished your holiday baking, you might want to reconsider and add one or two more of these treats to your stash.  Or keep these on file in case you need to replenish something.

As for me, I would rather bake than shop all day.  And cookies are probably my favorite treat to make.  My cookie board on Pinterest offers further proof and inspiration.   Enjoying these seven homemade cookie recipes again with family, neighbors, and friends is something I am really looking forward to in this Christmas season.

Do you have a special cookie recipe that you like to make each year?

Almond Supreme Cookies | Swirls and Spice

1. Almond Supreme Cookies (gluten free)

Almond-kissed butter pecan cookies

2.  Almond-Kissed Butter Pecan Cookies (super easy!)

Hot Chocolate Cookie Brittle

3.  Hot Chocolate Cookie Brittle (gluten free option)

Five Spice Pepper Nuts | Swirls and Spice

4. Five Spice Peppernuts (jar-gift and party friendly!)

Healthier Samoa Coconut Cookies

5. Healthier Samoa Coconut Cookies (gluten free)

Folded Pinwheel Cookies on a Plate

6. Pinwheel Spice Cookies with Jam Filling (pretty on a plate!)

Pistachio Almond Cookie Brittle {Gluten Free} | Swirls and Spice

7. Pistachio Almond Blondie Brittle (sweet and crispy!)



Sweet Potato Rice Pudding

This sweet potato rice pudding is pure creamy comfort on a plate.  And it’s perfect for a crowd.  Those who are sensitive to gluten and dairy will appreciate that they can enjoy it right along with everyone else.Sweet Potato Rice Pudding | Swirls and Spice

Nothing says comfort food like my mom’s baked Swedish rice pudding.  One of the earliest recipes I shared here at Swirls and Spice was Custard-Style Baked Rice Pudding, which is her recipe, slightly modified to be dairy free.   Honestly, I like the pudding best with the richer flavor of coconut milk, and my mom likes it that way too.Sweet Potato Rice Pudding | Swirls and Spice

Sometimes I am in the mood to add colorful ingredients to my baking, which is when sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and the like come in handy.  With American Thanksgiving just around the bend, those rock-bottom sweet potato prices have arrived at last.  And so I won’t be making sweet potato pie, but rather this rice pudding custard that blends two traditional recipes into something amazing.

Sweet Potato Rice Pudding | Swirls and Spice

Sweet Potato Rice Pudding

Ingredients:Sweet Potato Rice Pudding | Swirls and Spice

  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 + 3/4 cups light coconut milk (1 can)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup light brown sugar (or other sweetener)
  • 3/4 cup cooked rice, cooled
  • 3/4 cup cooked sweet potato puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Blend milks and vanilla, if using, into beaten eggs. Stir in sugar and rice.
  2. Pour into greased round or square baking dish. Fill another medium baking pan or dish with water 1-inch deep. Place water pan under or next to rice pudding and bake at 350 F (180 C) for 45 minutes or longer, until the middle is loosely set. Serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature.  

I share recipes at Allergy Free Wednesdayshere, at Savoring Saturdays and at Made by You Mondays.

Sweet Potato Collage



Butternut Squash Skillet with Lamb and Spinach

Butternut Squash Skillet with Lamb and Spinach

All it takes is one skillet and about 20 minutes to get this flavorful fall supper from the skillet to the table.  This dish proves that firing up the oven isn’t the only way to enjoy delicious butternut squash.  Inspired by ingredients I had that needed to be used up, I took a casserole recipe from Meal Planning Maven and fused it with one of our family favorites, Sweet Potato Skillet with Bacon and Greens.

The result was a weeknight meal that saves time in the kitchen and delivers something deliciously different on a crisp autumn evening.  It’s a hearty blend of flavors that is not too heavy on meat, and yet is packed with flavor, thanks to cumin and ginger.  Quick, affordable, and tasty, this easy meal will be back on our table again soon.Butternut Squash Skillet with Lamb and Spinach

Butternut Squash Skillet with Lamb and Spinach

  • Servings: 3 to 4
  • Time: 30 min
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Ingredients:Butternut Squash Skillet with Lamb and Spinach

  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 + 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 lamb shoulder chops, about 6 ounces each (or pork chops or venison)
  • granulated garlic, to taste
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 spring onions, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons butter and/or oil
  1. Sprinkle lamb with granulated garlic and sea salt to taste on both sides. Lightly grease a large skillet with oil or butter and heat skillet over medium heat.  Brown the lamb chops on both sides.  Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin.  Continue cooking the lamb in the skillet until center of meat is pink (or red if you prefer less cooked meat).  Transfer lamb (along with juices from cooking) to a plate to cool.
  2. Wipe the skillet clean and heat 2 Tablespoons butter or oil over medium heat.  Add butternut squash and turn heat up to medium-high.  Saute for several minutes, stirring frequently.  Sprinkle with ginger and 2 teaspoons ground cumin. Cook for 1 more minute, until spices become fragrant.  Next, add 1 cup broth and cover skillet with a lid.  Reduce heat and let the squash simmer in the broth until slightly tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cut cooled lamb chops into cubes, trimming away any bone and removing excess fat and gristle.  After squash in skillet has simmered, remove cover and continue to cook squash over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half.  Add lamb cubes and spinach.  Cook until spinach is wilted.  Turn off heat and sprinkle with spring onion and sea salt to taste.  Serve warm.

I share recipes here and at Allergy Free Wednesday.


Sweet Potato Pecan Cookies

Pecan Spice Cookies with Sweet Potato | Swirls and Spice

This is the season for all things orange, and lately my seasonal ingredients have incorporated that warm and wonderful color.  Butternut squash went into a savory soup and pumpkin got tossed into a stick-to-your ribs fried rice.  But for the next installment I bring you something sweet from the oven: tender pecan cookies made with sweet potato.  Let baking season begin!

These healthier treats make an ideal grab-and-go breakfast for cookie lovers like me.  Inspired by my Cocoa Nut Breakfast Cookies, this aromatic version features pecans and highlights the warm hue of the sweet potato base.  My youngest daughter won’t eat chocolate, so these cookies hold maximum appeal to her, since she also adores nuts.  My all-time favorite nutty cookie is Almond Supreme Cookies, but I reserve those for the Christmas season because they are sweetened with white sugar and dangerously irresistible.

In contrast, when I make something sweetened with more wholesome maple syrup, my cookie cravings can be satisfied guilt free.  Plus they get a thumbs up from my kids, who are often wary of gluten free goodies. And especially when it comes to baking cookies, they have to be yummy or there’s no point.

Speaking of yummy, I also have a recipe for Healthier Samoa Coconut Cookies that include sweet potato and caramel.  If you’ve never ventured beyond sweet potato pie, it may be time to change that.  Step away from the marshmallows and enjoy the abundance of sweet potatoes as a healthy hand-held treat.  I think that once you try sweet potato cookies, you will understand why I’ve never looked back!

Pecan Spice Cookies with Sweet Potato | Swirls and Spice

Sweet Potato Pecan Cookies {Gluten-Free}

  • Servings: about 24 smaller cookies or 16 large
  • Print

  • 1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup unsweetened fine coconut flakes, packed
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour or oat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed (or ground chia seed), optional
  • 1 cup chopped pecans*, divided

*Alternative: use just 1/2 cup pecans and mix into the batter; then use 1/2 cup more coconut flakes for the coating.


  1. Combine sweet potato, coconut oil (or butter), maple syrup, egg, flax/chia, and sugar using food processor or electric mixer.  Blend until smooth.
  2. Sift remaining dry ingredients together, except for nuts.  Add dry mixture to wet ingredients and process or mix well together.  Fold in 1/2 cup pecans with a sturdy spoon.  Cover batter and chill for 15 minutes, until firm but not completely solid.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 C).  Form chilled batter into balls with a small scoop or by hand. Roll each ball in remaining pecans.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Press down with fork to flatten each cookie.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.  Let cookies cool completely on the cookie sheet before serving.  Wrap and store any remaining cookies in the freezer.

I share recipes here and at Allergy Free Wednesday.

Pecan Spice Cookies with Sweet Potato | Swirls and Spice


Pumpkin Fried Rice with Ginger

Golden ginger lends a touch of zing to rice grains and slices of tender pumpkin. Simply toss together a handful of seasonal ingredients to create this fresh take on fried rice.

Pumpkin Fried Rice with Ginger | Swirls and Spice

I’ve done quite a bit of experimenting with cranberry recipes in my kitchen, but when it comes to pumpkin, I usually pick plain and simple pumpkin pie over anything else.  Until this month I had posted just three pumpkin-based recipes here at Swirls and Spice.

But pumpkin has a delicious savory side that is worth exploring too.  Soups and stir fry dishes in Vietnam often feature this friendly squash.  We enjoyed them both, as well as stir fried pumpkin leaves, when we lived there in years past.Pumpkin Fried Rice with Ginger | Swirls and Spice

This fall I am bucking the pumpkin dessert trend once again and offering something savory instead.  Pumpkin fried rice makes a great vegetarian entree topped with cashews or pine nuts. Or serve it as side dish that goes well with poultry, barbecued meat, pork, or seafood.  In fact I’m craving shrimp to pair with this fried rice at the next opportunity.

And don’t leave out the shallots–even if you have to ask where to find them.  They enhance the dish tremendously, with their savory caramelized richness adding unbeatable flavor to the pumpkin.

Have you ever tried a savory pumpkin recipe?

Pumpkin Fried Rice with Ginger

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Time: 25 min
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Ingredients:Pumpkin Fried Rice with Ginger | Swirls and Spice

  • 4 cups leftover cooked rice, chilled or at room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated, divided
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 +1/2 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut into thin, bite-sized slices
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, optional
  • 2 Tablespoons shallots, diced
  • 3 Tablespoons cooking oil, such as avocado oil or coconut oil, divided
  • sea salt, to taste


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallots, followed by pumpkin slices and 1 teaspoon of the grated ginger.  Saute for several minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add broth and turmeric; let simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has mostly evaporated and pumpkin is slightly tender but not mushy.  Transfer cooked pumpkin slices to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Pour remaining 2 tablespoons oil into warm wok and heat over medium-high heat.  Fluff and gently separate rice grains with a fork and spatula before adding rice to wok.  Add remaining ginger and green onions.  Toss rice with ginger, green onion, and oil until evenly mixed.  Let rice heat for 1 to 2 minutes until sizzling.  Then stir rice and continue to heat through for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add cooked pumpkin and soy sauce.  Stir occasionally until pumpkin, rice, and soy sauce are evenly distributed.  Season with sea salt and additional soy sauce to taste. Serve hot.

I share recipes here and at Allergy Free Wednesday.


Mulligatawny Soup with Butternut Squash

Mulligatawny Soup with Butternut SquashIf I’m keeping things simple, I’ll turn leftover chicken into a soup with rice and vegetables.  With this soup recipe, I’ve added the classic Indian spices along with sweet butternut squash.  The squash blends beautifully with the other flavours.

With apple season wrapping up, there’s no reason not to try a fresh spin on this classic soup by adding a touch of butternut.  Soup is also an optimal way to use leftover turkey or chicken from weekend dinners and Thanksgiving feasts.   By saving your poultry carcass you can craft a nourishing post-feast soup to carry you through the busy days that follow.

Making homemade soup from poultry bones means that it is healthier and more frugal than prepared broth or bouillon. Bone broth is a highly beneficial source of protein and nutrients that offer what bodies need, especially as we enter cold and flu season. My whole family enjoys homemade soup, and this one was just what the doctor ordered this weekend.

Mulligatawny Soup with Butternut Squash

  • Servings: 10 to 12
  • Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Print
Mulligatawny Soup with Butternut Squash | Swirls and Spice

  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder*
  • 2 pounds (900g) bone-in chicken pieces or cooked chicken/turkey with bones
  • 1 +1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup raw apple, peeled and diced, optional
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups cooked white or brown rice

*or 1/2 teaspoon each ginger and turmeric for milder taste


  1. Combine first five stock ingredients, including chicken, in a large pot. Add 6 to 7 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for one hour or until chicken is cooked through.
  2. Remove chicken and bones from the pot and let cool.
  3. While chicken cools, add butternut squash and salt. Remove any meat from the chicken bones and chop or pull into small pieces. Discard bones and return chicken pieces to pot. Add rice and simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust salt and spices to taste. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

I share recipes here and at Allergy Free Wednesday.


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