Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


Oatmeal cookies? love! Chocolate chips? make everything amazing! 
Combining two of my favorite things, I whipped up a batch of these cookies on Sunday afternoon right before my home was overrun with teenagers (for youth group of course.) The whole plate of cookies was devoured with comments of "Best cookie ever!" and "I could eat a million of these!" resounding from happy mouths. These are quick and easy and a definite winner in everyone's book.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies 
recipe by
yields 4 dozen cookies 

1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups quick oats 
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl, cream together margarine, shortening, brown sugar and sugar. Once fluffy and smooth, beat in eggs and vanilla. 

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. 

Incorporate flour mixture into the creamed ingredients in three additions. Stir in oats, then chocolate chips.

Place dough in the refrigerator in between batches.

Using a cookie scoop, drop dough by the large tablespoon onto a baking sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes until edges and tops are just golden. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes


By now I'm sure you've come to terms with the fact that I will never stop trying new pancake recipes. I adore pancakes of every kind--thick and fluffy, filled with bananas or nuts, thin and buttermilk-y. My husband is a *bit* more particular about his pancakes, and I'm constantly trying to find the "right" recipe to suite his tastes. I won't admit my annoyance at his pancake-snobishness, but I'll leave that for you to deduce. 

After Annie AND Joy raved about these pancakes and knowing I could throw chocolate chips into my breakfast pancakes, I was all over this recipe.  My husband gave them an 8 which is a pretty darn solid rating. I will definitely keep this as a top favorite for our house, and I'll continue leaving out the chocolate chips in his and adding a few extra in mine. :)

Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes
recipe adapted from and
Serves 4

2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
4 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips


Note: to make 2 cups of buttermilk, combine just under 2 cups milk with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes, stir and incorporate.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. To the eggs, add the buttermilk, butter and vanilla and whisk until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients in 2 or 3 additions, stirring until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Spread butter over the warm skillet. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the skillet for each pancake. When the top begins to bubble and pop, flip the pancake and cook 2-3 minutes on other other side. Once the bottom is golden grown, remove from the skillet and serve warm.

Note: to keep pancakes warm while preparing a large batch, transfer pancakes to a heat-safe dish and cover with foil. Place in an oven preheated to 200 degrees.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

5 Can Chili


This may be the best soup recipe ever for busy families. From the time you open the first can to the time you ladle out a serving is about 15 minutes. Not. even. kidding. I let mine simmer for a good hour, but that only enhances flavor and/or gives you a huge cushion until dinner time. This could easily be made in the crockpot and set to low for 4 or 5 hours. Delicious and healthy--my mom figures it's about 180 calories per serving! I'm so glad my mom recommended this recipe to me and I hope you like it just as much as we did. 

Five Can Chili
Serves 6

1--14.5 oz can chili with beans
1--10 oz can tomato soup (condensed)
1--14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with chilis, undrained
1--14.5 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
1--14.5 oz. can mixed vegetables, drained

After draining the corn and vegetables, pour all ingredients into a 4 quart pot/saucepan and heat through on medium-low heat. Simmer until dinner time.

Ready in 15 minutes!

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Strawberry Sorbet


I'm not sure I've ever tasted anything so pure, so clean, so bright, so perfect. This strawberry sorbet is beyond amazing--AND healthy! I could go on and on, but I'll just leave you with the insistence on trying this as soon as you find delicious strawberries on sale for $0.99 a pound. 

Strawberry Sorbet
adapted from
Yields: ~3 pints

2 lbs fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Slice the strawberries and toss them in a medium bowl with the sugar, stirring until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand for 1 hour, stirring every so often.

Puree the strawberries and their liquid with the lemon juice in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Optional: Press the mixture through a strainer to remove the seeds if you wish.  

Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

linked up with Sweet as Sugar's Sweets for Saturday

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Salsa from Canned Tomatoes


I am still absolutely in love with the homemade-with-tomatoes-from-my-garden Salsa Recipe, but for the months when tomatoes are not in season, this recipe is top shelf amazing. I don't know how I never thought of this before, but using canned diced tomatoes is brilliant and delicious. I'm fairly certain I'm never going to be buying the over-cooked, mushy-tomato version of most store-bought salsa. 

Fresh (ish) and totally healthy! 

Canned Tomato Salsa
Yields 24 oz salsa

2--14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes with chilis, drained
OR 1--14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with chilis plus 1--14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (to reduce heat)

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar (apple cider, red wine or balsamic)

Pour all ingredients into a 7 cup food processor. Pulse to desired consistency. Transfer to a glass storage container. (I save and wash my formerly-store-bought 24 oz. salsa jars--they're the perfect size.)

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Homemade Wheat Thins


Confession: I have a teensy obsession with wheat thin crackers. 

These crackers are like dessert to me, and I give myself permission to overeat them because they're classified as "healthy." Unfortunately, eating half a box goes WAY beyond healthy. But that's beside the point. 

I love the hint of sweetness. The salted top. The crispness. The melt-in-your-mouth-ness. 

When I saw this recipe on Two Peas and Their Pod, I knew right away I had to try it. These crackers are simple to make and totally worth it. They give you the whole wheat goodness that you can't get from the store-bought variety and you know exactly what you've put in each cracker. The only problem is keeping myself from eating half a batch.


Homemade Wheat Thins 
recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
Yields 6-7  dozen crackers

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt, plus extra for topping
1/4 tsp paprika
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup water (you might need to add a little more)
1/4 tsp vanilla
sea salt, for sprinkling 


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Add the flour, sugar, salt and paprika to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  Cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the bowl.  Using a pastry blender, mix the butter into the dry ingredients thoroughly. The dough should be evenly crumbly. Combine the water and vanilla in a small measuring cup or bowl.  Add to the butter/flour mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms. If the dough is still dry, add a little more water.

Divide the dough into 3 pieces.  Work with one piece at a time, keeping the others covered with a towel to keep them moist.  Lightly flour your work surface and the rolling pin and roll the dough into a large rectangle, sprinkling with additional flour as needed.  Be sure to keep the surface lightly floured to keep the dough from sticking. You want to roll the dough as thin as possible, try to make sure it’s 1/16-inch thick at most.  If you want all of your crackers to be perfect, trim the edges of the dough so you have a rectangle with even sides.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the rectangle into squares about 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide.

Transfer the dough squares to the prepared baking sheets. Arrange them close together as they will not spread. Sprinkle the squares lightly with sea salt.  Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.  Save all of your scraps under the towel to keep the dough from drying out; reroll them all at once to create a final batch of crackers.

Bake the crackers, one sheet at a time, until crisp and browned, about 5-10 minutes.  Check the crackers at 5 minutes, and if some of the thinner ones are browning too quickly, remove them from the oven.  The crackers can burn quickly so you want to keep a close eye on them.  Remove crackers from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Store the crackers in an airtight container.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Almond Biscotti


Just like Pizzelles, Biscotti are a uniquely Italian cookie. Literally meaning "twice baked" these cookies are hard and dry and meant to keep for a long time. The variations on the recipe are almost endless. I've made cinnamon sugar biscotti and look forward to trying a chocolate variety as well as anise. Most traditionally enjoyed dunked in a mug of your favorite hot beverage, these cookies are just sweet enough to make you smile. :) 


Almond Biscotti
recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook
Yields: 30-40 cookies

1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped or slivered 
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Beat in almond, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in almonds until evenly combined.

Mixture will be coarse and crumbly. Pour half of the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently by hand until the dough holds together. Form the kneaded half of the dough into a 10x3 inch rectangle, rounding edges slightly. The form will be rough-looking. 

Repeat the kneading and forming process with the remaining half of the dough. 

Place both logs onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and center is firm to the touch. Cool on the cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Transfer each form to the cutting board and use a serrated knife to slice into 1/2-1 inch cookies. 

Place the slices, cut side down, back onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until crisp and light brown. Be sure to check the undersides of the cookies to avoid over baking. 

Cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with your favorite hot beverage--tea, coffee, or cocoa!

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

S'mores Cookies


I have been a huge fan of S'mores ever since I can remember. My family went camping from the time I was 8 or 9 years old, and roasting those marshmallows to huge, puffy, golden brown orbs of gooeyness was my favorite part of the experience. We always squished TWO marshmallows in between our graham crackers and chocolate. If you're going to get sticky, you might as well go all out, right? :) 

These cookies are reminiscent of those evenings around the campfire--telling stories, laughing, and being mesmerized into silence by the flickering flames. 

S'mores Cookies
Yields 3-1/2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2-1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup graham cracker pieces (2-1/2 sheets of graham crackers largely chopped)

for topping:
6 large marshmallows, torn into 6 pieces each 
1-2 sheets of graham crackers, broken into small pieces 
1-1/2 Hershey bars, broken into small pieces (approximately 4 pieces out of each square of chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. 

In a large mixing bowl, cream together margarine, shortening, brown sugar and sugar. Add in vanilla and eggs and beat until evening combined. 

In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Add in this flour mixture into the creamed ingredients in three additions. Do not over mix. 

Stir in chocolate chips and graham cracker pieces. 

Using a cookie scoop (1-1/2 Tbsp) arrange dough on the cookie sheet. On each cookie, place 1 marshmallow piece in the center followed by a piece of chocolate and graham cracker. (Please put that marshmallow in the MIDDLE of the cookie. The first two pans I baked had marshmallows along the sides, and I ended up with a really big mess of marshmallow overflow.) Bake for 9 minutes until edges are golden brown. Let cool on pan 2 minutes, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pecan Sandies


Pecan Sandies always remind me of my dad. I remember having a package of the Keebler variety in the cabinet, and as a young girl I couldn't figure out why anyone would choose a pecan cookie over a chocolate chip cookie. Now I know why. These shortbread-esque cookies are the purest form of dessert. 


A simple list of ingredients, quick to put together, impossible to stop eating, these cookies are just asking to be made by you! :D  


Pecan Sandies
recipe adapted from
Yields: 1 dozen cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 vanilla extract 
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar until creamed. Mix in vanilla extract. Add flour and salt and stir until just combined. Stir in pecans. 

Roll dough into 1-1/2 inch balls or use a cookie scoop. Arrange on cookie sheet and flatten balls slightly with the dampened bottom of a glass. 

Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once cooled completely, dust lightly with powdered sugar, if desired. 

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am forever willing to try new chocolate chip cookie recipes. It's never bad to have a fresh cookie to indulge my sweet tooth, and I just might come across something wonderful! This adaptation (egg plus egg yolk) of my standard cookie recipe results in a perfectly chewy cookie, with a crisp exterior, and the appearance of perfection. Yumalicious! 


Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields: 3 dozen cookies

1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla 
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk 
2-1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt 
1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large mixing bowl, cream together margarine, shortening, brown sugar and sugar. Mix in vanilla and egg and egg yolk until combine. Add flour, baking soda and salt and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. 

Drop by tablespoonful onto a large cookie sheet (preferably lined with a silicone baking mat.) Bake 9-11 minutes or until edges and tops of cookies are just golden. Let rest on the cookie sheet 2 or 3 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweet Heat Chili (Slow Cooker)


When I came across this recipe on Mel's Kitchen Cafe, I immediately wanted to try it. Normally, when it comes to chili, I totally wing it and end up with a new recipe each time. I LOVE it. But there was something special, something unique about this recipe, so I did my best to follow it to a T. I love the wide array of vegetables in this chili. I think that's my favorite part of this recipe. It's not just meat, beans, and tomatoes

The only changes I made to the original recipe (besides slow cooking rather than stove-topping it) were roasted red peppers for sundried tomatoes (as I didn't have any) and I added jalapeƱos--making my chili a bit heavier on the "heat" than the "sweet" side of things. . It was still really delicious, and we're super excited to have leftovers. Chili just gets better with time. 


Sweet Heat Chili
recipe adapted from
Serves 8-10

1 medium onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 lb ground meat
4 cups beef stock
2 cans (28 oz. each) whole stewed tomatoes
1- 14oz can kidney red beans, drained and rinsed
1- 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and diced 
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika 
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

Heat a medium skillet over medium low heat and brown the ground meat. Drain and rinse off excess fat.
Pour the cans of stewed tomatoes into a food processor and pulse a few times to desired consistency. 

Combine all ingredients into a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours, or on high 4 hours. 

Serve with a dollop of sour cream. 

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Honey Yeast Rolls


I am so sorry I didn't make these sooner! No matter how many different rolls Annie makes, she always comes back to these as her favorites--and now I know why! These rolls are perfection. They are simple to make and the results are out of this world. The perfectly crisp exterior gives way to a light and fluffy inside that nearly melts in your mouth. Kevin loved them so much he asked if I could make them every day. :) I hope I do!

Honey Yeast Rolls
recipe adapted from
Yields 10-12 rolls

2-1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 cup warm water (105-115˚ F)
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbsp canola oil
1-1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 cups flour
Vegetable cooking spray
2 Tbsp butter, melted--optional
2 Tbsp honey--optional


Note--a stand mixer makes fast and easy work of these rolls, but they can also be made by hand.

In a large bowl, stir together yeast and warm water. Mixture will bubble. To the yeast mixture, stir in the honey, oil, salt, and egg. Mix until evenly combined.

Gradually stir in 3 cups of flour (the 4th cup will be added later). Dough will become sticky, but keep stirring until it comes together in a cohesive ball. Slowly stir in the remaining 1 cup of flour. Use a dough hook or knead by hand for 8-10 minutes, adding a sprinkle of flour as needed. Dough should be smooth and springy.

Coat a large bowl with a light layer of oil. Move dough to this bowl, rolling it around to coat lightly with the oil.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Move to a warm place in your kitchen and let rise for 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.

Once the dough has finished rising, lightly flour a counter top or cutting board and knead dough briefly for 30 seconds to remove air bubbles. Let dough rest on the counter, covered with a tea towel, for another 10 minutes. Punch the dough down and use a knife or bench scraper to cut into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Spray a 10 inch round baking dish/deep dish pie plate with non-stick spray. Place dough into the pan, spacing evenly. Place the towel over the rolls and allow another 30 minutes to rise.

Preheat the oven to 400F. If using the optional honey-butter spread, combine the melted butter and honey and brush on top of rolls. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the rolls are baked through. Serve warm.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes 2.0


Like I said a few days ago, I love me some pancakes. Typically, I gravitate towards the thick and fluffy pancakes. This one is my favorite. But when Kevin and I are in the mood for a traditional pancake--the kind you might get from a box mix--this is definitely the recipe to go for. Fast, easy and delicious, start your weekend the right way!


Best Buttermilk Pancakes
recipe adapted from
Yields: 16 four inch pancakes

2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk*
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 to 2 tsp vegetable oil, for greasing the pan

*Make your own buttermilk: Mix together just under 2 cups milk and 2 Tbsp lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl,  combine buttermilk, sour cream, eggs and melted butter. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, until just combined. Batter should be slightly lumpy. Let the batter to sit for 10 minutes before cooking.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Spread butter over the warm skillet. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the skillet for each pancake. When the top begins to bubble and pop, flip the pancake and cook 2-3 minutes on other other side. Once the bottom is golden grown, remove from the skillet and serve warm.

Note: to keep pancakes warm while preparing a large batch, transfer pancakes to a heat-safe dish and cover with foil. Place in an oven preheated to 200 degrees.


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Tuesday, March 1, 2011



originally posted June 9, 2009. 

I could hardly believe I hadn't posted a snickerdoodle recipe yet. Craziness. This is one of my favorite cookies and making them has fond memories of my growing-up years, yet for some reason I don't bake them very often. The cookies have a delightful crisp surface, with a soft center, and the perfect cinnamon-sugar flavor. This recipe comes tested and true from the kitchen of one of my best friend's mom, Colleen. Elizabeth and I baked these cookies together quite often and loved them. I hope you do, too!


recipe adapted from Colleen V., a longtime family friend
Yields: 4 dozen cookies

1/2 cup softened margarine
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2-3/4 cup flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a large bowl, cream together margarine, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Stir until just combined. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes or, if using a cookie scoop, begin scooping.
Combine cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. 
Roll dough into walnut sized balls (or use a cookie scoop) and then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet
Bake for 8-10 minutes until tops are cracked and edges are golden.