Monday, June 22, 2015

Outrageous Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

On Mother's Day, my husband told me that he was going to cook all three meals for me.  *gasp!*  Unspeakable!  I was thrilled to have a day off from cooking, even though I love it.  I was relaxing upstairs when my husband brought me lunch.  He went back downstairs to make lunch for the kids as well.  All of the sudden I heard a loud gasp followed by an, "Oh. my gosh!  That's really, really bad!!  Callie!"  I rushed downstairs, and my poor husband had his bleeding hand under running water.  While slicing an avocado, the knife ended up slicing his hand pretty deep.  Needless to say, I was in charge of the rest of lunch and dinner.  And my husband's hand survived the ordeal, although he'll always have a nasty scar.

Come Father's Day, he requested turkey dinner.  I was happy to oblige because he deserves an awesome dinner on Father's Day.  On Saturday night, I made the pumpkin chiffon pie, cranberry chutney, and prepared the bread and vegetables for stuffing.  On Sunday morning, I make the bread for the rolls.  After a couple hours of rising, I was ready to put them in the oven.  I preheated the oven and went to relax for a few minutes (or try to).  About twenty minutes later, I noticed that my oven still said "pre" and didn't beep.  Upon further investigation, my oven decided to bite the dust.  It wouldn't heat up.  it's kind of hard to cook a turkey dinner in a cold oven.  We ended up having fried chicken instead.  Father's Day fail.  I felt terrible!  At least he got to have some pie that night.

The night before Father's Day, I baked these cookies.  I had pinned this recipe on pinterest a long time ago but finally tried them.  Good grief.  They are fabulous.  Ever get in that mood where you think, "hmm... should I make oatmeal cookies?  Peanut butter cookies?  Or how about chocolate chip?"  Well, my friends, these delicious cookies combine all three.  They are a delight.  I was pleasantly surprised the next day when they were still really soft.  Many cookies get stale after a day ,but these were just as tasty as day one.  These may be a new family favorite.  We loved them... a lot.

Outrageous Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c butter
1/2 c white sugar
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 t vanilla
1 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 c rolled oats
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, add the butter and sugars.  Beat on medium speed for two minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the peanut butter and vanilla.  Mix until incorporated.  Turn off the mixer.  Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and oats.  Mix on low until well-combined.  Add the chocolate chips.

Use a cookie scoop to put the dough on the cookie sheets.  I got 1 1/2 dozen out of the recipe, but I'm notorious for making big cookies.  I'd imagine the regular recipe is two dozen.

Bake for 10-11 minutes.  Do not over-bake!  They will set up as they cool.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Cinnamon Scones

This was my first attempt at making scones, and my family asked why in the world I had never made them before.  It's basically a thick, cinnamon-glazed covered pie crust.  Sweet mercy.  It was tasty,  Next time, I'm going to add blueberries or chocolate chips.  It'll be fantastic!  

Cinnamon Scones

Yield: 1 8-inch pie/scone/breakfast torte thing

2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 c butter
1 egg, separated
3 T honey
1/3 c buttermilk (or 1/3 c milk mixed with 2 t lemon juice)

Crumb Topping:
1-2 T sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 - 1 c powdered sugar
1-3 t milk
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk together.  Cut in the butter with a fork until crumbly.

Separate the egg.  Set the egg white aside.

In a bowl, combine the egg yolk, honey, and buttermilk.  Add the the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Flour a surface and plop the dough out.  Shape it into a ball then pat it into into a 1/2 inch thick 8 inch round.  Using a pizza cutter, cut it into 8 pieces just like a pizza.  Transfer it to a greased cookie sheet.  Whisk the reserved egg white until frothy.  Brush it onto the tops of the scones.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

While it's baking, combine the glaze ingredients.

When the scones come out, drizzle them with the glaze and serve warm.

Bistro Mac'N'Cheese

This recipe doesn't have bacon, but this made me laugh pretty hard.  My youngest daughter requested breakfast for dinner tonight, so I was frying up some bacon.  My 7 year old son wanders up, looks in the pan, and says, "Mom, I love to watch the bacon dance."

"The bacon dance, hih?  What exactly does that look like?"

He plops down on the ground face-first with his arms to the side and starts shaking and twitching like a worm trying to escape rain.

There you have it folks... the bacon dance.  It's a thing.  Bacon would be an excellent addition to this tasty dish, although I didn't add any in.  This stuff is pure gold on its own.  My husband took a bite and told me that he was having a love affair with it.  I've been demoted.  The Gargonzola has a very strong flavor, so if you don't like the taste of it, leave it out!  You can just add more mozzarella or cheddar.  More cheese, please!

Enjoy this quick, tasty dish.  I've made it three times already since I first  found the recipe, and that it saying something!  You'll love it!

Bistro Mac & Cheese Recipe
Bistro Mac'n'cheese
Recipe and photo source:

8 servings
Time: 25 minutes

16 oz. elbow macaroni
5 T butter, divided
3 T flour
2 1/2 c milk
1 t salt
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t pepper
1/4 t garlic powder
1 c mozzarella cheese
1/2 c crumbled Gargonzola (omit if you don't like the flavor of this cheese)
3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c seasoned bread crumbs

Cook the elbow macaroni according to the directions on the package.  Drain and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt 3 T butter over low heat.  Stir in flour until it's smooth.  Slowly whisk in the milk and seasonings.  Bring this to a boil.  You may need to increase the heat to medium but no higher.  Once boiling, cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened.

Turn heat to low.  Add the mozzarella, Gargonzola, and cream cheese.  Stir until melted.  Stir in the sour cream.  Add the drained pasta and toss to coat.


In a small pan, melt remaining 2 T of butter over medium heat.  Add the breadcrumbs, cook, and stir until golden brown.  Take off of heat.

Pour the macaroni and cheese into a serving dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Muffin Tin Doughnuts

If you like cake doughnuts, you're going to love this recipe!  These muffins taste just like a good cake doughnut.  I think my kids each ate three of them within a few hours this morning.  My husband said he liked my muffins, too, but based on the smirk on his face, I think he meant something other than these.

Muffin Tin Doughnuts
source: America's Test Kitchen The New Family Cookbook

2 3/4 c flour
1 c sugar
1/4 c corn starch
1 T baking powder
1 t salt (omit if you use salted butter)
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 c buttermilk
8 T butter, melted
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk

1 c sugar
2 t cinnamon
8 T melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease the muffin tin very well.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, corn starch, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.  In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, and egg yolk.  Make a large well in the dry ingredients.  Pour in the wet ingredients.  Use a rubber spatula to combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Mix until no flour remains.

Divide batter into the 12 cups.  The batter will be thick, and you'll fill them to about 3/4 full.  Use all of the batter.

Bake for 19-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Let them cool in the muffin tins for 5 minutes.

Pour them onto a clean counter.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Working on one doughnut at a time, brush it completely with butter.  Roll it in cinnamon sugar.  Repeat with all doughnut muffins.

Let rest for another 5-10 minutes.

Roasted Vegetable Tortellini

We had a family BBQ at Spring Mountain Ranch this weekend.  It's a beautiful place with a huge grassy field, trees all around, and beautiful scenery.  It seems like you're far from Las Vegas because it's just beautiful, so naturally, it's packed on the weekends.  Well, my not-so-athletic 8 year old daughter went out to throw a frisbee around in the grass.  She was trying to throw it into the middle of the field, but she threw it toward the next group of picnic-ers.  The frisbee barely missed a kid and rolled on the ground right underneath some poor Mexican lady's chair.  It nearly scared her to death.  My embarrassed daughter went over and got it with her tail between her legs.  Then, she was trying to fly a little remote controlled helicopter, and it b-lined right to that lady's head.  Luckily, it fell short by a couple feet. We were laughing so hard.  I have a feeling that she may not have a career in athletics or aeronautics.

When I actually had time to make lunch one day last week, I knew I had tortellini and asparagus on hand.  I googled a recipe for those ingredients, and I found this one a couple pages in.  I did modify it a bit by adding red pepper, red onion, kalamata olives, and feta.  You could add any other vegetables you'd like, but I think this combination is amazing.  I've made this two times since because it is so quick and delicious.

Roasted Vegetable Tortellini
recipe and photo source:

2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 lb. fresh asparagus,
1/4 red onion, cut into slices
1/2 red pepper, cut into 2 inch strips
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper
24 oz. tortellini
1 c chopped spinach
1 T lemon juice
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 c. feta cheese
1/4 c. Kalamata olives

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover the bottom of a rimmed cookie sheet with foil.

Cut off the bottom inch of the asparagus.  Throw that away, and cut the remaining asparagus into two inch chunks.  Place them on the cookie sheet with the diced tomatoes, red onion slices, red pepper strips, and garlic.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  Roast this in the heated oven for 15-20 minutes.

While that is cooking, boil water and cook the tortellini according to package directions.  Drain.

Place the chopped spinach in a large serving bowl.  Put the warm tortellini on top.  Do not mix yet.  Add the vegetables on top.  Add the lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, fets cheese, and kalamata olives.  Mix well.


It's also delicious to eat cold as leftovers.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Baked Manicotti

I remember going to a dine-in Pizza Hut restaurant often when I was a kid.  We would put songs on the jukebox like "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns'n'Roses, "More Than Words" by Extreme and "To be with You" by Mr. Big.  Does anyone else remember that song?!  Or do jukeboxes even exist anymore?!  Anyway, we'd be sitting at the table listening to the same songs every time, and I would be looking around at all the stuff on the walls, and my eyes would drift to the table.  Then, I would see it.  The spice of death known as Red Pepper Flakes.  My eyes widened, and a fear came over me.  How could anyone like that stuff!  Maybe Smaug, the dragon, appreciates it because no human on earth could possibly like their mouth to be one fire when eating pizza.  To further my point, recently we went to a pizza place, and my two-year old tends to get a little excited with sprinkling things on her pizza.  Apparently, she grabbed the red pepper flakes when I wasn't looking and sprinkled a bunch on her pizza.  Well, since she eats as much as an ant in a day, I thought I'd finish off one of her pieces.  Holy piece of death!  There were so many red pepper flakes on that bad boy, and I had no idea until I took a bite.  It was crazy, folks.  My mouth was burning for like 30 minutes.  Well, despite my fear of red pepper flakes that stemmed as a child in Pizza Hut, I have come to appreciate them in red pasta sauce.  The flavor disperses and gives the pasta sauce a bit of a kick.  I know the recipe says "optional" for them, but try it out if you never have!  I'm telling you, it does wonders for your pasta sauce.

Now a quick blurb on this manicotti... When I told my husband I was making this, he was not thrilled.  He's not a fan of ricotta, so he was thinking that it would be pasta tubes filled with 1 c of manicotti.  These are different, my friends!  They use lasagna noodles and are rolled up.  It's more like lasagna rolls than manicotti, and they were amazing!  The sauce was great, there wasn't too much ricotta in each one, and when I told my son it was like lasagna, he ate four of these, which is crazy because he eats as much as two ants in a day.

This recipe will not disappoint!

Best Baked Manicotti
Baked Manicotti
source: America's Test Kitchen The New Family Cookbook pg. 363
photo source:


2 T olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t red pepper flakes (optional)
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1/4 c fresh basil (or 1 1/2 T dried)
salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs ricotta
1 c Parmesan cheese, grated
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
2 lg eggs, lightly beaten
2 T minced fresh parsley (or 3/4 t dried)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (The flat kind)

1 c mozzarella or Parmesan for the top

In a large pot, cook oil, garlic, and pepper flakes until fragrant- 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.  Turn of the heat, and add 3/4 t basil, salt, and pepper.  Cover to keep warm,

Mix ricotta, 1 c Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, parsley, 3/4 t basil, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Mix well.

Pour 1 inch of boiling water into a 9x13 pan.  Slip the lasagna noodles in, one at a time.  Let the noodles soak for 5 minutes, using a knife to make sure they don't stick together.  Remove the noodles and place them on a clean dish towel.  Pour the water out and dry the pan.

Preheat the oven to 375, with the rack in the middle position.  Spread 1 1/2 c sauce into the 9x13 pan. Working with a few noodles at a time, spoon 1/4 cup of the ricotta mixture onto each noodle.  Spread the ricotta evenly onto the bottom 3/4 of the noodle.  Starting at the bottom, roll up the noodle.  Place it seam side down in the pan.  Finish the remaining noodles and cover completely with the remaining sauce.

Cover dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove the pan.  Take the foil off and cover with 1 c mozzarella or Parmesan, or a mixture of both.  Broil 6 inches from the broiler for 4-6 minutes or until the cheese is spotty brown.

Let cool for ten minutes.

Black Magic Cake (The best chocolate cake I've ever tasted!)

Before I talk about the cake, I need to tell a hilarious story.  My family and I are quite nerdy and are into superheroes, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars,  One night at dinner, we were discussing if we could be any superhero, who we would be and why.  As a little background, my daughter has a specials teacher (I'll call her Mrs. Jones) at her school who is known for not being too nice.  The thought of going to this special had my poor son in tears on the first day of school for fear of being yelled at by her.  So, when my daughter got to pick her superhero, she said, "I would be Iceman, so I could freeze Mrs. Jones, and put a sign on her that says, "Class dismissed."  I seriously laughed so hard.  That girl cracks me up.  Now to the cake...

The first time I made this cake, I took it to my parent's house for dessert after dinner.  My brother, who happens to love chocolate cake, took a decent sized piece.  He took one bite and said, "This is hands-down the best chocolate cake I've ever had!  How did you make this?!"  Every time we get together for a birthday or if I'm supplying dessert, he quickly makes his way into the kitchen and asks if I made THE chocolate cake.  For my son's birthday recently, he cut himself a piece the size of Vermont and ate the entire thing without hesitation.  I can't say that I blame the guy!  The flavor is complex and delicious, and it stays moist for days!  I don't think I'll ever make another chocolate cake recipe because this one cannot be beat.

One last thing- don't be afraid of the addition of coffee!  I don't drink the stuff, but my husband has Pero on hand, so I use that.  Pero tastes just like coffee but doesn't have the caffeine.  It makes the flavor of the cake outstanding!

Post image for Black Magic Cake…

Hershey's Black Magic Cake
cake source:
frosting source: Taste of Home 50th Anniversary Cookbook pg. 230
photo source:

Ingredients for Cake:
2 c sugar
1 3/4 c flour
3/4 c cocoa
1 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 eggs
1 c buttermilk or sour milk*
1 c strong black coffee (I used Pero)  or 2 t powdered instant coffee plus 1 c boiling water
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 t vanilla

Ingredients for one bowl frosting;
1/2 c butter
2/3 c cocoa
2-3 c powdered sugar
1/3 c milk
1 t vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans OR 1 9x13 pan.

Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in your mixer's bowl.  Use the paddle attachment to combine those ingredients together.  Add the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  (Remember- you've got a whole lot of liquid in there, so your batter will be very thin.)

Pour batter into prepared pans.

For the round pans- Bake 30-35 minutes
For the 9x13- Bake 35-40

Before taking it out for good, do the toothpick test.  Stick a toothpick in the center of the cake, if it comes out clean, the cake is done.


For the Frosting:
In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter.  Add the cocoa and stir to combine.  Alternately add the powdered sugar and milk. Stir in vanilla.
(I wrote 2-3 c powdered sugar because I tend to use less powdered sugar.  The full three cups makes the frosting too thick for my taste.  I like it a little more like ganache.  Feel free to use the full three cups if you'd like!)

*To make sour milk, put 1 T of lemon juice or vinegar in a 1 c measuring cup.  Add milk to fill to the top.  Let it rest for 5-10 minutes.