Friday, December 05, 2008

The Best Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

When a dear old friend phoned last night to see if she could stop by this morning with a Christmas present for Jem, her godson, I told her we’d be delighted.

And then I hung up the phone with an “Ack! I don’t have anything for her yet!”

I quickly made plans to whip up a batch of my very favorite Christmas cookies from last year—the ones I talked about in this post—and ran to the grocery store after supper. I stood in the baked goods aisle for a full ten minutes, seeing every kind of baking chip possible except for the mint-flavored. (I did, however, finally find the price code for the mint chocolate chips. They were all out of them. Of course.)

Feeling stuck in a rut and as if nothing else could possibly do, I drove home deep in thought. I looked in the freezer and found a bag of miniature chocolate chips. Then I went to my stash of Christmas goodies and grabbed a couple of red-and-white striped candy canes.

Inspiration struck. I was in business.

The Very Best Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

  • 1/2 C. salted butter - softened
  • 3/4 C. dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 C. white granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. peppermint extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/3 C. sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 package (10 oz.) mint chocolate chips (I only use half a package, but that’s just me.) And if perchance you cannot find the mint-flavored chocolate chips, do not fear! Use semi-sweet and proceed with confidence.
  • Crushed candy cane pieces, about 1/3 cup.

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Blend butter, sugars, extracts and eggs until mixed.
  • Sift together flour, baking soda & baking powder. Blend into dough.
  • Stir in chocolate chips. Chill approximately one hour in the refrigerator.
  • Form dough into 1-inch balls and slightly flatten. Sprinkle a few crushed candy canes on top and gently push into the dough.
  • Bake at 350° F for approximately 8 - 10 minutes.
  • Cool on wire racks, gently pushing in any loose candy cane bits.
Eat one and box the rest up for your friend.

Or, conversely, eat the entire box and try to save one for your friend.

Either way, these cookies are very, very good.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Oatmeal Cookies

It must be fall because I can’t stop making cookies!

These oatmeal cookies are among my family’s favorites. We eat them for snacks and we eat them for breakfast. Hey, it’s oatmeal, right?

They are really very good.

Oatmeal Cookies

(Adapted from Colorado Cache)

This recipe makes 4 to 6 dozen, depending on the size of your cookies and how much dough you eat while making them.

3 eggs, well beaten
1 C. raisins (I often substitute dried cherries or craisins.)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. butter
1 C. brown sugar
1 C. white sugar
2 ½ C. white flour
(I substitute 1 C. of whole wheat pastry flour.
That alone justifies a third cookie, don’t you think?)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
2 C. oatmeal
(Here I substitute ½ C. of toasted wheat germ.
More nutrients means less guilt!)
¾ chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine eggs, raisins and vanilla and let stand for one hour, covered with plastic wrap. Cream together butter and sugars. Add flour, salt, cinnamon and soda to sugar mixture. Mix well. Blend in egg-raisin mixture, oatmeal, wheat germ and chopped nuts. (Your dough will be quite stiff.)

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, or roll into small balls and flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.

Cool. Consume in abundance.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Kitty Cookies

Kitty Cookies , originally uploaded by Margaret in Minnesota.

Here’s one for next year—spooky but delicious “Black Cat Cookies”.

(My girls call them “kitty cookies”. They’re not so intimidating that way.)

We make them on All Hallows’ Eve afternoon and I hand them out to the moms & dads that evening. It’s but a small perk, I figure, for schlepping alongside those little goblins. Plus they’re good—chewy, and chocolaty, and candy corny too.


“Kitty Cookies”

(Makes 2 dozen)

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
24 wooden craft sticks
48 candy corn candies
24 red-hot candies

1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place 3 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets.

2. Insert a wooden stick into each cookie. Flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Pinch top of cookie to form ears. For whiskers, press a fork twice into each cookie. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are set. Remove from the oven; immediately press on candy corn for eyes and red hots for noses. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Note: The big box store that I visited to purchase supplies for these cookies did not carry red hots and I did not feel making another trip. Feeling very clever indeed, I bought a bag of Skittles and used the red ones instead. (What did I do with the rest of the Skittles? You don’t need to know.)

Also, it pays to read the directions thoroughly. For my first batch, I added the eyes and nose before baking the cookies. Goodness, what a fright! The poor little kitties’ eyes melted clean out of their sockets. No, do not go this route. Put the candy in after the cookies come out of the oven, like you’re supposed to.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Monkey Bread

Every year and on every birthday, my children request Monkey Bread.

They like it, I think, because they’re all part simian (on their father’s side ;) but also because it’s just darn good.

Is it healthy? Not at all. But as a once-every-blue-moon treat, though, this bread cannot be beat. Think of the food that you eat at the State Fair—elephant ears & cheese curds….a basket of chocolate chip cookies washed down with milk….

We’re talking a treat like those, you know.

So here we go.

The Ingredients

4 tubes of refrigerated biscuits (the 7 ½ oz. ones)
1 C. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 C. brown sugar
¾ C. butter (My recipe says “margarine” which made me wonder: does anyone really cook with margarine?)

The Directions

First you cut each biscuit into quarters.

Place them in a baggie (a few quarters at a time)with your cinnamon/sugar mix and shake shake shake.

The kids love to help with this part.

And you don’t have to be picky on the fractions. You can do thirds or fifths if you prefer.

Only do a few pieces at a time because otherwise you will end up with a great big clump of dough. You want your individual pieces to be well coated, like this:

Like my nails? They’re made in China.

Melt the brown sugar and butter in a pan but do not boil it! It will get all separated and gross. Pour it over your biscuits, which have been placed in a well-greased Bundt pan. (My recipe says you can also use an angel-food cake pan. I tried that once and the brown sugar leaked all over the oven. It’s your call; how brave are you?)

So anyway. Pour the brown sugar and butter over the biscuits, like so:

And bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

When you’re done it will look like this:

And this:

I told you. They like this stuff; they really like it.

PS. You will, too.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Silverglade Spinach Salad

From the Crème de Colorado Cookbook

6 cups spinach leaves, rinsed & dried & all of that
6 oz. Swiss cheese, cut into julienne strips
6 oz. Cheddar cheese, cut into julienne strips
2 C. seedless grapes, halved


¼ C. cider vinegar
½ C. vegetable oil
2 tsp. light brown sugar
4 slices bacon, fried crisp & crumbled
2 T. sliced green onions

You will probably have more dressing than you need, but I'll let you be the judge of that.

In any case, this was so easy and so good. (It's the unlikely combination of colors, tastes & textures that won me over, I think.)

Oh, and nibbling on the cheese while you’re julienne-ing it is permitted.

Having a glass of wine on the side, even better.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Curried Beef

(As shared by Sweet Shivaun)

  • 3 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 chopped sweet onion
  • a few chopped fresh garlic cloves
  • 1 lb. of sliced carrots
  • 4 to 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut up stew-style
  • 2-3 heaping tablespoons of curry powder (Shivaun says that the Indian Madras type is the best)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • salt to taste / soy sauce to taste if you like
  • a squirt of ketchup, or a chopped tomato, or a dollop of tomato sauce
  • Water
  • 1 can coconut milk or coconut cream
  • A dash of lemon or limejuice if you like (lemongrass would be really good, too, if you have it)
Brown the ground beef in a large sauté pan. When it is almost done cooking, add the garlic and onions and sauté until soft. (Don’t overcook the garlic.) Add the curry powder and mix well.

Drop in your carrots and potatoes. Add water to almost completely (but not quite) cover the food. Add the sugar, salt, and ketchup and simmer for 25 minutes or so, covered with a tilted lid so steam can escape, until carrots and potatoes are done.

Add coconut milk and lemon juice before serving and warm throughout.

Serve over rice.

*You could also throw everything above into a crock-pot and cook it all day. Just leave out the coconut milk until shortly before serving so that it doesn't curdle.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Chocolate Rolo Cookies

(Recipe courtesy of Cathie B.’s Catering)

Warning: these cookies are probably a little too good, if you know what I mean. If you are working on the virtue of temperance then perhaps you’d better go google-search a nice, safe fruit salad.
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 48 chocolate covered caramel candies (Rolos)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar

1.Preheat oven to 375. Cream the butter and sugars. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.

2. Carefully beat in the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt).

3. Refrigerate the dough for an hour or two while you unwrap all those Rolos. (It is helpful to put the Rolos in the fridge, too.) Use a cookie scoop or spoon to make balls with the cold dough. (If it is too sticky, put the dough back in the fridge.) Put an unwrapped Rolo in each blob of dough. Make sure the dough completely covers the Rolo or the caramel might leak out while baking. Roll or dip the little balls of dough into the white sugar.

4. Place on a cookie sheet (I use parchment paper for easy clean-up if some caramel bakes out) and bake for 8 minutes at 375. Let cool for a bit on the pan and then move to a cooling rack.

5. Ingest in large quantities. Pause; wonder if you should have shared with the kids.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cathie B.’s Unbelievable Beef Stew

The ultimate in comfort food, this stew is even better when the recipe is doubled or even tripled and shared with a friend in need.

The following proportions serves 6 to 8.

  • 3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 medium to large onions, chopped coarse
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 T. flour
  • 1 C. full-bodied red wine
  • 2 C. chicken stock or broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 6 small boiling potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and slice ¼ inch thick
  • 1 C. frozen peas, thawed
  • ¼ C. minced fresh parsley, if desired

1. Heat oven to 250 degrees. Place beef cubes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Heat 2 T. of oil over medium high heat in large soup kettle; add beef to kettle in two separate batches. Brown meat on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, adding remaining tablespoon of oil if needed. Remove meat and set aside.

2. Add onions to now empty kettle; sauté until almost softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic; continue to sauté about 30 seconds longer. Stir in flour; cook until lightly colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits that may have stuck to kettle. Add stock, bay leaves and thyme; bring to simmer. Add meat; return to simmer. Cover and place in oven; simmer in oven for 1 hour.

3. Bask in the delicious smells that are now beginning to fill your home.

4. Remove kettle from oven. Add potatoes and carrots, cover and return to oven. Simmer until meat is just tender, 1-½ hours to 2 hours. Remove stew from oven.

5. Add peas and allow to stand 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and add more salt & pepper to taste.

6. Enjoy! Say a prayer for Cathie B. and her family while you’re at it.