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There’s An Onion In The Bed

Hello, my friends!

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the wine shop lately.  ‘Tis the season for catering, so I’m usually in the kitchen, elbow-deep in cocktail meatballs, or driving to an event with half a ton of caramelized onion dip in my trunk.  It’s fun to see people ring in the holidays with food and drink, but if I have to wrap another goddamn piece of bacon around another goddamn date, I’m going to collapse in on myself like a goddamn dying star.

Scott might have some choice words about the catering business, too.  The other night he woke up at 3 a.m.  shouting, “GET UP! GET UUUUUUP!! THERE’S AN ONION IN BED WITH US! AN ONION!”  I patted him on the back and told him it was just a nightmare, but after he fell back asleep I took a whiff of myself and realized. . .

I AM THE ONION.  Especially my hair, which smells like it’s been rinsed with volumizing scallion conditioner.

Speaking of Scott, he gave me his Christmas list the other day.  This is what he wants:

  • some electroluminescent wire
  • an ultrasonic arduino
  • a passive infrared motion sensor
  • an oscilloscope

I don’t want to kill the magic of the season or anything, but  SANTA NO UNDERSTAND.  In fact, Santa’s probably going to do the same thing she did last year, which is sit down on Christmas morning and buy him a $50 Amazon gift card.

In other news, I made a gingerbread house using this recipe.  I’m going to enter it in movita’s annual competition for goofballs.  This is the competition I lose every year, usually to a 6-year-old with advanced motor skills.  This year is going to be different, though, because I got 50 people to help me think of a good theme for my house.  FIFTY PEOPLE.   All I had to do was stand by the buffet at Scott’s work holiday party and demand that everyone give me three ideas before touching the food.  It was so easy, you guys.  People will tell you anything for an egg roll these days.snowball cookies Anyway, when it comes to my sister-in-law, Lily, no egg rolls are needed.   She just tells me things–like her recipe for Russian tea cakes–for free. snowballsLily’s family used to have a bakery.  And not just any bakery–a bakery that TINA FEY went to all the time when she was in college.  TINA FREAKING FEY, you guys.  I don’t know about you, but her approval (or even her ambivalence, or her raised eyebrow) trumps a hundred James Beard Awards in my book.

Lily’s been digging up recipes from the old bakery and adjusting them for small batch home kitchens.  These cookies are one of my favorite things on her website.  They melt in your mouth.  They’re kind of rustic looking, so you can stack them in a container without worrying that they’re going to get messed up in transit.  You can actually make two other cookies with this dough, too:  thumbprint cookies and chocolate chip shortbreads.  (For those instructions, hop over here to an article I did for Life & Beauty Weekly.)three cookiesEnjoy, my friends!  And hit me with good cookie recipes in the comments, will you?  I have to bake a bunch more before the weekend.

Snowball Cookies (a.k.a. Russian Tea Cakes) {Download & Print Recipe}
by my sister-in-law, Lily, retold in my own words


1 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. powdered sugar (plus more for rolling the cookies in once they’re done)

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

2 1/2 c. flour

2/3 c. finely chopped walnuts or pecans


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cream the butter and the sugar together in a mixer.  Add the vanilla and salt and continue to mix.  Add the flour and mix until the flour is gone and the dough comes together.  It will be on the dry side, but that’s normal.   Add the nuts and mix until evenly combined.

Pinch off some dough and roll it in your palms to make a ball 1 1/2″ to 2″ wide.  Place the cookie balls on a baking sheet sheet (preferably one lined with parchment paper).  The dough won’t spread very much, so you only need an inch or so between cookies.  Bake 10-12 minutes.

Once the cookies are cool, roll them one at a time in a small bowl of powdered sugar.


She’s all, “YOU CAN’T SEE ME.  You can leave the cookies right there because it’s like I’M NOT EVEN HERE.”

47 Comments Post a comment
  1. Russian Tea Cakes are a family tradition in my house and they’re my all time favorites! I just made a batch for my cookie exchange at work this week.

    December 11, 2013
    • Oh fun! What did other people bring? Did you try anything really good?

      December 11, 2013
      • My favorite was someone’s turtle cookies. They were fantastic!

        December 11, 2013
        • Mmm. I made turtle brownies a few months ago for the first time and they were amazing. (And making the caramel part was easier than I thought.) I’ll check out some recipes for turtle cookies. Thanks!

          December 11, 2013
  2. I’m so happy you posted this. I’m broke, and think the only way I can give to my family is by cooking this year – which is dammed hard as they are bakers, too! I think this is just simple enough, cheap enough, and different enough from what Irish people bake that I might have a chance to not gag them 🙂 Thank you!

    December 11, 2013
    • You know, about being broke around the holidays—I hear you, and I’m kind of appalled at the “gift guides for people who like food” that are swirling around the internet. I was just reading one on Forbes (so, okay, I probably should have seen this coming) that listed a 4,000+ dollar wine opener. I kid you not. And the New York Times gift guide is just as bad. How about a damn plate of cookies, you know? People will ACTUALLY use/eat it. Together. And that’s the whole point. Gah!

      December 11, 2013
      • Whoa, I’d not even look at those things! Any item that costs more than a serviceable car is right out – and for me, that’s about $800. Jeez, I love a lot of people, but not one of them enough to get them an $800 present. I usually try to make something my Irish family has never had – the pumpkin pie was a hit with some, massive failure with others! I’ve had these cookies before, and found them light on the tongue, and not too sweet – I think that hits all the buttons for an Irish palate 🙂

        December 11, 2013
  3. My dear, I spat out my water when I read “volumizing scallion conditioner”, LOL!
    You are too funny. I’m glad your business is going well, my bakery here in Round Rock is gaining attention (or Google ranking) too for the holidays. It’s a blessing and a curse to get more gigs, eh? Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

    December 11, 2013
  4. Thanks for the chuckle as per usual! I feel your pain sister!!! When we lived in CT I used to cater holiday parties every year – the killer for me was clams casino! Everybody wanted them for their shindig and all that shucking and piping of the hotel butter and laying on of the bacon slices and bread crumbs was SO STINKING TEDIOUS that I wanted to stab myself with the shucking knife just to make it stop!!! I reeked of clam poop and garlic for weeks! But at least it never woke Matt up in the middle of the night – course he sleeps like a corpse so nothing short of his hair catching on fire is going to wake him up anyway. BTW I’ve got a couple of extra ultrasonic arduino’s lying around here somewhere from a rocking party we had a couple of years ago – so if Scott is good with regifting I’ll send one over. It’s still in the box and everything…

    December 11, 2013
  5. Ha! That is hilarious. I went to bed the other night smelling so strongly of garlic, I couldn’t put my hands by my face because it was keeping me up. Could I have gotten up and dunked my hands in vinegar and baking soda to try to cull the smell? Probably. Did I? No.

    Also, I adore russian tea cakes, but have never made them before. Now I have to, because, well, Tina Fey. But also, cookies.

    Oh, and if you’re looking for more cookie recipes, I just did a recipe for brown butter chai spiced snickerdoodles, which I (in all my bias) really love. I also like really, really gingery cookies (no pansy ginger cookies for me). Nom!

    December 11, 2013
  6. Every time I think ‘THERE’S AN ONION IN THE BED WITH US’ I snortlaugh. I can’t stop. Send help. And volumising scallion conditioner.

    December 11, 2013
    • Carol Anne, if was liker the horse-head-in-the-bed scene from The Godfather, except I guess less scary. Depending on how you look at it.

      December 11, 2013
      • Both less and more. At least a horse’s head is just right there and you can see it. Hard to miss it, really. A mysterious onion fragrance, on the other hand… is it a ghost onion? Who knows. That’s where the psychological terror comes in.

        December 15, 2013
  7. My wife read the “Santa no understand” section aloud, since Scott’s xmas list resembles mine. May I suggest a gift card to either SparkFun or Adafruit instead of Amazon? He’ll get more bang for his buck at either one. They’re both small, independent companies that are very involved in the local (to them) electronics community, as well as educational outreach to kids.
    Info on SparkFun:
    and on Adafruit:

    Looking forward to trying the snowballs!

    December 11, 2013
    • Ha! David, I haven’t heard of those websites. Thank you, truly. I’d definitely like to patronize businesses that are smaller than the ones that are hooked up with amazon. Happy holidays to you and your wife! I will be back in touch if I need any further decoding of Scott’s list. . .

      December 11, 2013
      • Joan in VA #

        If you do get the gift card from Amazon, those oscilloscopes are pretty pricey. $50 is just a down payment. Hubby got his second had from someone who got his from Radio Shack.

        December 11, 2013
  8. I certainly hope Lily has given you the chocolate crinkles (krinkles?) recipe. If not, it is essential.

    December 11, 2013
  9. As Scott’s, ahem, mother, I thank David for the gateway into weird electronics. Seriously.

    December 11, 2013
  10. 1 – You’re hilarious.
    2 – 4 gallons of Caramelized onion jam later, we may be onion-scented twins.
    3 – THE PUPPY! OMG.

    December 11, 2013
  11. Thanks for the shout-out 🙂 My RSB blog came in at over 100 views today–pretty awesome! Hopefully this will serve as motivation to continue!

    December 11, 2013
  12. Jen #

    Oh how I’ve missed seeing Thunder! Oh and your great recipes too! LOL Thought for a minute you got frozen here in Chicago! I have to try these cookies soon, going to make a batch this weekend.
    Personal favorite part of this whole post- SANTA NO UNDERSTAND!!!! I was like WTH are those things and where does one every buy those! LOLOLOLOL
    Merry Christmas
    Happy Holidays
    and if those don’t work anything else! 🙂

    December 11, 2013
  13. Well, I don’t want to be one of those people but: I gots lots of cookie recipes… Also, your husband’s nightmare might be one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. Have you heard of Sleep Talkin’ Man? A woman blogs the things her husband says in his sleep. Scott’s onion dream reminds me of him.

    December 11, 2013
  14. Jean G. woodhouse #

    Another favorite personal part of the post, SANTA NO UNDERSTAND, is great. I live in Houston, Texas, speak no Spanish and use this sometimes at the farmers market. It works.

    December 11, 2013
  15. these look amazing!

    December 11, 2013
  16. jenny_o #

    If you haven’t had Sparkled Ginger Cookies from the book Vegan With a Vengeance, they are an excellent choice. You don’t have to make them vegan if you only have mainstream ingredients, they are fast, easy, and even low in saturated fat (they use canola oil instead of butter or shortening). And they are DELICIOUS! If you want me to write out the recipe (is that legal as long as credit is given?), let me know via Reply here.

    December 12, 2013
  17. jenny_o #

    And Thunder’s picture and your caption made my day – what a sweetheart!

    December 12, 2013
  18. awoni3 #

    Looks yummy and I love the picture of the dog 🙂

    December 12, 2013
  19. Oh, how I have missed you, my Allium-flavored friend!
    Thunder’s Thought Bubble: Least sheez not oozin’ garlic. Cuz dem cookies’d be ruint.

    December 12, 2013
  20. I can’t even talk about Ginger 2013 yet. What are we, like three whole days out from the deadline? awesome. *sigh* i can’t wait to see both of your entires, and if you could sneak my name onto yours…please…:)

    I automatically love these cookies for all the reasons you mentioned. they really DO melt in your mouth, and it’s a great base dough to use for other things. Also, i got married in December (six years ago) and we made snowball cookies as my wedding favor to set at everyone’s places. not kidding: like my mom, sister and i spent several days making/baking/rolling about 1,000 of these bad boys in confectioners’ sugar. it was THE BEST.

    December 12, 2013
  21. Casey #

    These look delish and I can’t wait to try them out myself! Question: where did you get those awesome blue and white dishes and white chargers?

    December 12, 2013
  22. Sandra R #

    OK, you asked. On Monday night at our quilters holiday dinner, Terry brought these cookies. They were green. Really. They stood out like someone with purple hair and a nose ring would in our group, rather loud. I had to try one. They were amazing. I nagged Terry, she sent me the link on Tuesday and I went to the store and made them on Tuesday.
    Andes Mint Grinch cookies, on six sisters website. And use all those drops of green dye, you probably are deficient. Eating so pure the rest of the year, you might be short of unnatural substances. And the Andes Mint people have bags of chopped mints with the chocolate chips, so don’t torture yourself by unwrapping all those candies, just get the bag. Or bags. Depending.
    Merry Happy .

    December 12, 2013
  23. It appears from the list as though Scott is asking Santa for the makings of an nocturnal onion invader detection kit. Just sayin’.

    December 12, 2013
  24. mdog32 #

    There is nothing wrong with a $50 Amazon card. Hell I’d take that any day!!! I love Amazon. I don’t know how I survived without it. The cookies look great!! I’d have the same look on my face as your dog if I were at your house. ~Gina

    December 12, 2013
    • Hi, Gina! At Christmas minus 3 days, the Amazon gift card scenario is looking more and more likely. . . 🙂

      December 22, 2013
  25. oooh these look good – I make something similar called lime nut buttons and they are pretty damn good too – I may have to make cookies this weekend…..

    December 13, 2013
    • Yuuuuum. I like lime-flavored things a lot but haven’t found many ways to use lime in desserts other than key lime pie. I should get on that.

      December 22, 2013
  26. Amy #

    I can’t wait to see your gingerbread house!!! I bet it’s going to be amazing, even if it does smell like onions. These cookies sound so good. I love the ones covered in powdered sugar, although I usually choke on powdered sugar dust from inhaling them too quickly. Please tell me I’m not the only one that happens to?

    December 16, 2013
    • Amy, I made so many batches of these. When I tasted the first batch, I inhaled powdered sugar too. Drinking water didn’t help–I had to eat something to get it out of my throat!

      December 22, 2013
  27. My mom used to make Russian Tea Cakes every year at Christmas time….I’ll have to get her recipe and make both 😉

    December 16, 2013
    • Yes–I’d love to hear about your mom’s recipe, when you find it, if it’s much different than this.

      December 22, 2013
  28. Okay, that onion in the bed bit just made me laugh out loud. And I like to maintain my reputation as that crazy lady who laughs out loud at 6am. Keeps my neighbors curious. I love intrigue. Also, Tina Fey is my barometer for success, too.
    So cookies. I’ve been pushing this cookie recipe for years. It’s not sexy, it calls for margarine (which, you know, I switch to butter, because heart attacks). But I made them for my wedding to give as favors to the guests, and I’ve buttered up troublesome college freshmen with them, and they’re always a hit. Make them a little less big, and it makes a ton. And before next week is over and done, I may have to make some myself: Big Soft Ginger Cookies.

    December 16, 2013
    • Dana, thanks! I love ginger cookies (I love all soft cookies, come to think of it.) I just used all my molasses when I made gingerbread–I’ll have to get some more because these look fantastic.

      December 22, 2013
  29. I’m sorry you smell like onions, but there are worse edible things you could smell like… I mean, I can’t think of any at the moment… but I’m sure there are!

    And I agree with you that Tina Fey’s endorsement is worth over a hundred James Beard awards. Besides all the other obvious reasons to love Tina Fey, I really, really love her for her love of eating.

    Your snowball cookies look adorable and addictive! I’m going to investigate your thumbprint variation, too, since we have the opposite of a jam shortage going on at my house right now.

    December 16, 2013
    • Hi, Allison! Here’s another thumbprint cookie recipe that I saw last week in the New York Times.

      December 22, 2013
      • Thank you! That one looks good, too! I like the whole grain idea… I ended up making thumbprints using the America’s Test Kitchen recipe (that calls for butter and cream cheese) and they were pretty good! (The cookie parts themselves were nothing special, but at least they were totally sturdy in holding up all that jam.) I definitely STILL want to make your snowball cookies at some point, too.

        December 26, 2013

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