My family doesn’t really have a lot of holiday traditions. When we were younger, my sister and I would always travel back and forth between our parents’ houses so I suppose that would constitute a tradition, but it’s not really your deck-the-halls and fa-la-la-la-la kind of tradition. Of course it may come as a shock, though, that one of my favorite things that has come back year after year involves food – specifically, baked goods.
My stepmom has always been the head chef in the Thanksgiving kitchen (as she is for most of the rest of the year) so she’s always made several pies to satisfy our sweet tooth (teeth?) after waking up from a tryptophan-induced nap. Every once in a while, though, my sisters and I will come up with a dessert we want to make in addition to the pies. One year I made a labor-intensive tuxedo cheesecake and Lauren has made a couple traditional pumpkin pies in the past. This year, though, I decided to keep it (somewhat) simple and went with my absolute favorite cookies of all time: my Nana’s famous Monster Cookies.
As you can see, my Nana’s Monster Cookies got their name because of the monster ingredients and the monster number of cookies the recipe yields. This half (yes, half) recipe itself made around 150 cookies from teaspoon-sized balls. I seriously cannot say how much I love these cookies; they remind me that home is not a fixed location. They remind me that family is unconditional love and for that, I could not be more thankful. Check out the full recipe (verbatim from Nana herself) below!
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) margarine
9 c. oatmeal
1 lb. (2 c.) brown sugar
1/2 lb. (or one bag, whichever comes second) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 c. white sugar
1/2 lb. (or one bag, whichever comes second) M&M’s
1/4 c. vanilla extract
1 1/2 lb. peanut butter
1 c. walnuts, chopped
4 tsp. baking soda
Combine (in a very large bowl or bathtub) and mix first four ingredients. Add remaining ingredients. Spoon by teaspoonfuls (or is it teaspoonsful?) onto cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes.
A few tips:
- The bigger the bowl (or pot), the better. Things can get kind of messy when you’re mixing everything together, and it gets even worse when you add the peanut butter. Just take my word on this one.
- Use one more cookie sheet than you have ovens. If you have one oven, use two cookie sheets. If you have double ovens like my parents do, use three cookie sheets. That way you can be scooping cookie dough while the other sheet(s) are in the oven and make everything go a lot faster.
- Rinse your hands after each cookie sheet goes in the oven. You’ll probably want to anyways because it feels kind of gunky but more importantly, it will make it a lot easier to shape the dough. This stuff tends to stick to itself so when your hands are covered, it makes it a lot harder to get a neatly shaped ball.
- Use parchment paper! It makes cleaning up A LOT easier and when you pull a cookie sheet out of the oven, you can just slip the paper off the pan and start scooping again without having to wait for anything to cool down.
- Be prepared with gallon-sized Ziplock bags. Or at least cookie tins. You’ll want something to put all of those cookies in to keep them fresh!