Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oatmeal Chipper Cookies

This is a recipe that my mom got from a friend of hers while our family was living in Michigan. We decided that it has been in the family since about 1982. That may sound like forever ago to some of you, but the recipe is fabulous and has survived through the years and continues to be a favorite at our house. These are my husbands second favorite cookie, rivaled only by a good chewy oatmeal raisin. Happy baking!

1 1/4 cup oats
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup chocolate chips (again... I prefer semi-sweet)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. milk

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. In a small bowl, wisk together the oil, egg, and vanilla. When your wet ingredients are mixed, pour them into the large bowl and continue to stir until mixed. Use a cookie scoop to drop dough onto a well greased cookie sheet. This dough is a little dry and you will need to use your fingers to form the dough into tablespoon sized balls. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are just starting to brown on the edges.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let's face it... I like to cook, but I LOVE to bake! Mostly just because I love eating baked goods. In all my years of baking, I have tried a hundred different chocolate chip cookie recipes. Some are too cakey. Some are too flat. Some are too crispy. And one that I tried was just plain salty! I discovered this recipe over at www.ourbestbites.com and think that I have finally found that perfect combination of gooey, chewy, goodness.

½ c. butter
½ c. high-quality margarine
¾ c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
¾ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. baking soda
1 12-oz. bag chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet)

Cream together butter, margarine, and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, salt, and soda and stir just until combined, then stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop onto a well greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Pull them out of the oven when they are just barely golden on the edges. Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies (depending on how much dough you eat!!!).

Just a couple hints...
  • Don't scoop your flour with your measuring cup. It will get packed in and you will end up adding too much. Instead, scoop the flour into your measuring cup with a spoon and then gently level it off with the flat edge of a knife.
  • Your butter and margarine should be room temperature. Never melt it or try to use it straight from the fridge.
  • When you get to the dry ingredients, stir them in by hand. It may seem like a lot of work, but that way you will avoid over-developing the gluten in the flour and your cookies will turn out silky smooth. Plus, as my good friend Adrianne once said, "the arm workout will justify all those calories that you are going to consume!"

Summer Delight

This is a super easy, make-ahead dessert that is fabulous for those hot summer months and prefect for serving a crowd. I doubled this recipe to serve to my husband's family this weekend and they ate every last bit!

1 carton pineapple sherbet
1 small carton (approx. 12 oz.) frozen strawberries
2 ripe bananas

Soften the ice cream and strawberries and then pour into a large mixing bowl. Coarsely mash the bananas and add as well. Use a large spoon to mix it all together and then place in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving. If you double the recipe, it will fill one 9x13 pan to the brim.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Homemade Freezer Jam

Strawberries are in season here and I just brought home a huge container of huge, juicy strawberries from Costco. We eat them like candy, but also love them on top of pancakes or waffles. When fresh fruit is in season, I love to make homemade freezer jam. My Mom and Nana always made it too and my husband refuses to eat store-bought jam now! It's so simple to make and the jam lasts for about a year in the freezer, actually tastes like fresh fruit and has no preservatives. I'm writing this post to encourage those of you who have never made freezer jam to give it a try! 

Start with a box of pectin. You can find it with the canning supplies at the grocery store. I prefer Sure Jel For Less Sugar Recipes (in a pink box, pictured below), because it uses more fruit than sugar and we think the jam is still plenty sweet. Inside the box of pectin will be several different recipes for whichever type of fruit you are using. I usually make strawberry and raspberry, but have also had good results with fruit blends, such as Strawberry-Blueberry and the Strawberry-Raspberry that I made this year. Last summer I made a batch of Strawberry-Citrus Jam that was divine!
  1. First, wash your canning jars and lids. I like to run mine through the dishwasher. As for size, I like the 1/2 pint (1 cup, or 8 ounce) Ball mason jars for jam.
  2. Wash your fruit and measure it. Some fruit needs to be chopped or crushed before measuring. When I use raspberries, I just wash and measure them. They tend to get obliterated when your stir the jam, so I don't crush them first. As for strawberries, blueberries or peaches, I like to coarsely chop them with my Pampered Chef food chopper or pulse them with a food processor. You don't want to overdo it though. Pureeing your fruit too much can prevent your jam from setting.
  3. Next, you'll measure your sugar into a saucepan, add the pectin and water and bring to a boil (pictured below). *BE SURE TO FOLLOW THE RECIPE IN YOUR BOX OF PECTIN; SOME RECIPES MAY VARY.*
  4.   Typically, the next step is to pour the hot pectin into the prepared fruit and stir.
 5.   Spoon the jam into clean jars, screw on the lids and let sit for up to 24 hours to set the jam. Store in the freezer until ready to use.

 Freezer jam makes a wonderful gift! I love to give jam with a fresh loaf of homemade bread... Yum! We also like jam spread on toast, crepes or in these Berry Oat Bars.

I hope this has helped inspire those who have never made jam before to give it a try! 
Happy summer!!!

Digital strawberry from "Juicy" kit by Pamela Donnis.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Easy Coleslaw

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp sugar
1 Tb. vinegar
Stir together.

Then stir in:
1 pkg coleslaw mix

Serves 6

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chicken Burritos (or tostadas)

We love Mexican at our house (my husbands fav) so I am always looking for new Mexican dishes. I originally found this recipe at your home based mom then tweaked it slightly.  The original recipe was for tostadas but we like it for burritos. Eiher way they are yummy. The chicken would be great in a salad or just grilled too.

chicken marinade:  (enough for 6 chicken breasts)
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
juice from 1 large lemon
3 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt

combine together and add chicken. marinate several hours (I do it overnight)

Bake or grill chicken. While chicken is cooking bake some refried beans topped with cheese for 10-15 minutes at 350 until cheese starts to bubble.

 Shred or slice chicken. Spread bean mixture and chicken onto tortilla then top with your favorite burrito toppings. I like them with salsa, lettuce and avocado if I have any.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Grandma Em's Spice Cake Frosting

**This dreamy panoche frosting is another favorite recipe from Jules. This was her Grandma Emma Rae Ashton's signature dessert, and I get rave reviews every time I serve it.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 3/4- 2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter & add brown sugar in medium saucepan. Boil over medium heat for two minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk and stir until mixture returns to a full boil. Cool to lukewarm. Add powdered sugar gradually until frosting is desired consistency. If frosting becomes too stiff, add a few drops of milk to thin.

Pour or spread over spice cake (baked according to package directions and cooled) while frosting is still fresh.

Coconut syrup

**Recipe from my dear friend Jules, whose hand is scooping up this yumminess in photo above!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 cup sugar (I usually put in 3/4 c. to make me feel better)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. coconut extract

Place first three ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat and add soda and flavoring. It will fizz, so give it a few minutes to settle down--the foam eventually settles. Store in the fridge--I usually heat it up a little in the microwave before using. YUM!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bajio's Copycat Pineapple Shrimp

This is my version of a favorite salad from Bajio's. I served this to my kids over Orzo pasta and my husband and I had a salad, but next time, I think we'll all have tacos. This shrimp is SO good!

1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, partially frozen
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup honey
1 cup pineapple cubes, completely drained and chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Place shrimp in a bowl of ice water and shell and devein the shrimp. HERE's a great video, if you've never done this (like I hadn't). 
  2. Dry the shrimp with a paper towel and set them aside. 
  3. Place the butter and honey in a saute pan and heat over medium heat until bubbly. Add the shrimp and cook for about 5 minutes, or until shrimp is pink and cooked through. Stir in pineapple and season with salt and pepper.
Serves 5-6.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

My family LOVES pancakes, but we usually only get to make them on the weekends when we're not rushing out the door to school. This weekend I made these fluffy, light, lemony pancakes. Like our favorite Cottage Cheese Pancakes, they have more protein and fewer carbohydrates than most pancakes, which works well for this diabetic:)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt 
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
1 (15 oz.) carton low-fat or non-fat ricotta cheese
5 eggs, divided
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbs. fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice (juice from 2-3 lemons)
  1. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. 
  2. Crack the egg whites into a small bowl and place the egg yolks in a separate bowl. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Set aside. 
  3. Add the milk, ricotta cheese, vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice to the egg yolks and mix well.
  4. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Fold in the beaten egg whites. 
  5. Heat a non-stick griddle or pan to about 325° F. (medium heat). Spray with cooking spray, then drop pancake batter by 1/4 cups onto hot griddle. Flip when bubbles form around the edges and cook on the other side.
  6. Serve hot with maple or berry syrup or fresh berries. This raspberry sauce would be divine too! 
Makes about 30 pancakes.

*Nutritional info (per pancake): Calories: 53, Fat: 0.9 g., Carbohydrates: 8.3 g., Dietary fiber: 0.2 g., Protein: 3.1 g. 


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Peanut Butter & Honey Cookies

Yesterday I ground up some wheat to make my Mom's Wheat Bread and I had some flour left over. I had also just bought a big jug of honey from Costco, so I experimented and created this recipe for peanut butter cookies that is a keeper! These are light (even with the wheat flour) and a little different, due to the sweetness from honey. I hope you'll enjoy them!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening*
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1 cup peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Mix butter, shortening and sugars in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Add honey, eggs, peanut butter and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl to incorporate. 
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the baking soda, salt and flours, then add to wet ingredients. Mix well, scraping the sides and the bottom of the bowl until well-mixed.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop cookie dough 2 inches apart with a cookie scoop.
  5. Bake for 6-8 minutes. These should be a tiny bit undercooked when you remove them from the oven. Let sit on the cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes, then remove to cool completely. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
* Okay, shortening no longer contains trans-fats. It does keep cookies softer for longer. You can substitute the butter for the shortening, if you'd rather:)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lemon Meringue Dessert

6 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 cup sugar
Beat egg whites until frothy then add cream of tartar and gradually beat in sugar while beating. Beat until stiff. Pour into a buttered 9x13 glass pan.
Bake 275 degrees for 20 minutes then 300 degrees for 40 minutes.
Let cool then gently push down edges.

6 egg yolks
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp lemon extract
7 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens.
Beat 1 pint whipping cream then add 2 tsp sugar.
Spread 1/2 of the cream over the meringue, then pour lemon mixture over cream.
Finish with the remaining cream.
Refrigerate overnight.
Serves 12-15

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


1 can corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped green pepper (or a combination of red, yellow and green)
2 chopped Roma tomatoes

1/4 cup sour cream (I use Lite)
2 Tbs mayonnaise
2 Tbs vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/8 tsp pepper
Stir together and mix into vegetables. Chill and serve with crackers.

(adapted from Ruthanne Jackson's recipe)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Grilled mushrooms

My Grammy says that when I was just a few years old, we came over for dinner and I stepped in the door and exclaimed, "Mmmmmm..... I smell mushrooms!" This is an easy and delicious side dish, just the way my Grammy and my Mom prepare them...

Olive oil
Beef bouillon granules

Wash and slice mushrooms. Add about 1 Tbs. olive oil to a sauté pan and heat over medium heat. Add some beef bouillon granules (1 tsp.- 1 Tbs.) and the sliced mushrooms.  Cook a few minutes, stirring often, until mushrooms are tender. Also great on top of grilled burgers or steak!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spring berry salad

Spring mix greens
sliced strawberries
Mandarin oranges
pineapple tidbits
(may add feta cheese, sliced almonds, dried cherries, Craisins)

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup vinegar
1 cup canola oil

Combine all but oil in blender and mix until well blended.
Pour oil in slowly while blender is on "stir" position. When all oil is in, blend at high speed for 30 seconds.
Stir in 1 tsp. celery seeds
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