5 of 8
Carrie Nahabedian, NAHA, Chicago
I come from a big Armenian-American family; we're a family of excess—too much food, too many presents. We really pull out all the stops for Christmas. My mom, who's now 78, starts her Christmas baking right after Thanksgiving, so we usually end up with about 15 different types of cookies. One thing remains constant: my mom's cream cheese–chocolate chip cookies. They're just incredible. She found the recipe in a magazine or newspaper in the early 1960s. These days, there are so many of us—all the family members, plus boyfriends or girlfriends, the occasional person stranded in Chicago without family—that I cook dinner for everyone at the restaurant. No matter how fancy the meal, my mom's cookies are always the highlight.

Recipe: Cream Cheese-Chocolate Chip Cookies