Russian Tea Cakes: The Best Cookies for Any Occasion

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By Collier Curran

I distinctly remember my first interaction with these mildly sweet, perfectly crunchy, and admittedly messy cookies. My family and I were on vacation in the beautiful Cayman Islands in the winter of 2016, and our hotel had placed a display of these cookies out for guests to enjoy. Never one to turn down free food, I tried one, unsure of what to expect underneath the thick powdered sugar coating. Immediately, I was hooked.

I went back for more cookies repeatedly throughout my stay, and began scouring Pinterest for a recipe as soon as I was on the plane home. I am delighted to announce that this easy homemade version may even be better than the ones at the hotel (but don’t tell them I said that). These cookies have a mild buttery and nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk.

Full disclaimer: I found this recipe from the blog Crazy for Crust over a year ago, and have loved it ever since. I use a mix of pecans and walnuts that I blend up finely before adding to the cookies. As the recipe notes, there are many options for the nutty component, though I love the subtle but delicious taste I get from both pecans and walnuts.

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These cookies are so simple to make, and rolling them in powdered sugar is one of the most satisfying moments a baker can experience, in my humble opinion. 

They are great to bring to parties or to make for guests, because they can easily be made the night before the big event (if you can manage to resist them for that long!). I have made these many times both for my friends and for friends of my mother’s, and I am always asked for the recipe.

Russian Tea Cakes

Makes 48 Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 ¼ cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup finely chopped nuts (I use walnuts and pecans)

Powdered sugar for rolling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Stir in the nuts. If the dough is too soft, chill it until you can work it easily with your hands.
  3. Scoop 1 tablespoon balls of dough and place on prepared cookie sheet.
  4. Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes or until bottoms are just slightly brown. Remove from oven and cool for just a minute until you can handle them. Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar and roll each cookie in sugar until coated. (My tip: definitely take this time to make sure the cookies are not only cool enough for you to handle, but also firm enough that they will not crumble when rolled in the powdered sugar. The first time I made these cookies, a few of them fell apart because I did not allow them enough time to sit before rolling in sugar.)
  5. Place on a rack to cool. (You may want to re-roll them after they’ve cooled for the maximum powdered sugar content, which is highly recommended.)

And there you have it: delicious, easy, and crowd-pleasing cookies for your next event or for a relaxing weekend with friends. Physically resembling snowballs, they are perfect for the cooler months ahead and are a great way to impress friends and family when returning home for the holidays!

I made this batch for a holiday party and they were a hit!

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Spring Break Shakes and Smoothies

by Molly Scott

Spring break is upon us! In order to celebrate the lack of school and make sure you’re relaxin’ right, I’ve compiled some recipes for some awesomely delicious shakes and smoothies. No matter where your spending the week, even if it’s staying right here in the big apple, you can get into a tropical mood with just a few ingredients and a blender. The only directions for all these recipes are add ingredients and blend to your desired consistency.

Strawberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie

Healthy Smoothies
(For maintaining that beach bod.)

Strawberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie
This is an awesome breakfast idea for anytime: it has fruit and a complex carb (great combo!). It’ll keep you fuller, longer!

1 cup soy milk (or whatever milk you normally use)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 banana, broken into chunks
14 frozen strawberries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (not completely necessary, but good for flavor)
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar (don’t add or add less if you’re aiming for healthy)

Banana Blast Smoothie
I don’t think there is an easier recipe than this one! If you’re bananas for bananas, this one’s for you.

2 bananas
1 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar (you can cut this down a little for a healthier version)
8 cubes ice

Mango Peach Smoothie
So tropical and delicious! This one will give you an added boost of vitamin C, which is perfect since when we left, campus was a hot mess of sick people.

1 peach, sliced
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1/2 cup orange juice, or as needed

Banana Coconut Smoothie. Mmmm…


Downright Delicious Smoothies
For treatin’ yourself the way you deserve!

Iced Mocha Fusion Shake
This just sounds like a party in a glass.

3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons mocha flavored instant coffee mix
1 cup crushed ice

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Shake
A nice combo of healthy and delicious!

2 cups milk
4 tablespoons chocolate instant breakfast mix (like a Carnation breakfast mix)
2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
2 bananas, sliced
4 cubes ice

Banana Coconut Smoothie
This is my all time favorite! You can try adding real coconut shavings as well for an added coconut taste.

1 banana
1 cup milk
3 fluid ounces coconut cream
ice cubes

Molly Scott is a sophomore at Barnard and Girl Talk Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Recipes and images courtesy of All Recipes.

Meatless for a Month

by Caroline Thirkill

This isn’t meat, it’s mushrooms! 

I’ve never been one of those girls who worries about “systems.” You know, the things you learn about in sociology or gender studies: systems of oppression, systems of repression, systems of whatever-the-heck-else. I’m sure that makes me an irresponsible citizen or something, but let’s be real—we only have so much time and energy to put towards worrying. As such, my decision to go vegetarian has absolutely nothing to do with morality or mistreatment of animals or any of those things that good people worry about.

After a few years of college I’ve learned a few things about my environment and about myself. Number one, I am perpetually broke. No matter how much I make per week, all that money winds up going somewhere besides really delicious food. Everything I make goes straight towards the school books I was too poor to buy at the beginning of the semester, towards my bus and subway fare, or towards basic staples of sustenance like cereal and bread. As such, I never go out to dinner. Number two, I am terrified to cook meat for myself. I always feel like I’m going to give myself food poisoning or salmonella or something. Which leads us number three: the only meat I ever consume is either from Hewitt or horrible fast food.

With all the cheesy goodness you won’t notice it’s meatless

For me, becoming a vegetarian was a choice to cut down on the fat and chemicals of pre-processed meat. It is a part of a bigger attempt to cut out unnecessary sugar and other unhealthy things in my life, and is part of an ongoing process. Vegetarianism was a little bit rough for the first few weeks, particularly when I did save up to go out for restaurant week, but with a little will and determination, I’ve kept it up.

A few pieces of advice for anyone looking to go vegetarian for health reasons only:

• Don’t just cut out the meat and keep your diet as it is. Most of us don’t eat enough vegetables and fruits, relying on carbs to keep us going; make sure to actively replace the meat with vegetable substitutes.

• At the same time as you are going meatless, substitute your white bread or pasta for whole grains, which have more nutrients.

• Also, if you ever get desperate for some meat, don’t be afraid to reach for some fish. Sure, it may not be technically vegetarian, they are still so much healthier for you than steak or chicken due to high levels of omega-3s and fatty acids.

I’ve also found a few vegetarian recipes that either mimic the taste of meat, or are so much better than it. Here are a few of the online recipes I’ve found to make going meatless quite a bit easier.

Peppercorn Encrusted Portobello Fillets
While the online recipe tells you to go with white wine and white wine vinegar, if you crave steak on a regular basis, you can easily go with red wine instead for a more robust flavor.

Broccoli and Cheddar Quiches
While this recipe is a little higher on fat than others, these quiches are healthy and generally good for cold days when you want warmth in your belly.

Also, check out online recipes with seitan or tofu that can substitute for meat. There are so many delicious vegetarian recipes out there. Don’t be afraid to go meatless!

Caroline is a junior at Barnard and Opinions Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images from Kitchen Kvell and My Recipes.

How To Please a Crowd with a Chocolate Pie

by Anonymous (but awesome) Barnard Student

Almost too pretty to eat….almost!

I am notoriously horrible at giving presents. Horrible to the point that I once had a boyfriend who received a calendar from me for Christmas…two years in a row. So, after I secured my place in the running for worst girlfriend ever, I decided I should just quit while I was ahead. I don’t really bother with buying people normal gifts anymore. It’s not that I don’t love my friends, but I think they probably enjoy my cooking much more than they would like my sad attempts at choosing presents.

For all you bad gift givers out there, here is a recipe that will make everyone forget that time you gave them a bunch of old Halloween trinkets for their birthday in February.

Chocolate Pie

Ingredients
one pie shell
two egg yolks
one whole egg
a bag of chocolate chips
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
6 oz. fresh raspberries

Directions
Preheat your oven to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Pre-bake your pie shell until it no longer seems raw. Make sure to stab the bottom of the pie shell a lot (or put dried beans in it) before you pre-bake it so that it does not puff up too much. Next, heat up your milk and cream until very hot, but not boiling. After you eat a handful of chocolate chips straight out of the bag, put the rest in a large mixing bowl. Pour the hot milk and cream over and wait for about a minute then stir this all together. Once it looks smooth, let it cool for five to ten minutes. Add your egg and egg yolks and stir. Pour this evenly into your pre-bake pie shell and drop berries into the mixture. Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes until the edges are set* and then remove the pie from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack. This pie can be served cold or at room temperature.

*If it doesn’t seem to be setting (mine didn’t), you can just take it out and let it cool for a while and then stick it in the fridge.