Health-ier Monster Cookies

cookies with M&Ms on top
Health-ier Monster Cookies

1 c. creamy peanut butter
½ c. brown sugar
¾ c. rolled oats (the kind that cooks in 5-minutes, not instant)
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. vanilla
1 egg, large
1/3 c. chocolate chips
1/3 c. M&Ms

Makes 9 monster cookies. Recipe can be doubled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one large cookie sheet.

Using a mixer, blend the peanut butter and brown sugar until creamed. Mix in salt, baking soda, vanilla, oats, and egg. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using your hands, scoop up dough, squeeze, and shape into balls about the size of golf balls and place on cookie sheet. Press down with your palm to flatten slightly. Cookies can be about 2-inches apart. They don’t spread out much when baked. Gently press about 6-8 M&Ms into the top of each cookie.

Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until bottoms just start to turn brown ever so slightly. Remove from oven even if cookies don’t look done. Let cool completely. I like to wrap them individually in plastic wrap.

Options: replace a tablespoon or two of the rolled oats with ground flax seeds. Dried cherries, cranberries and golden raisins can replace the chocolate chips and you will still have a great cookie. Nuts? Sure!

Advertisements

Amish Cinnamon Bread

Four slices of cinnamon bread on a white plate
Amish Cinnamon Bread

A quick version of Amish Friendship Bread
without the traditional sourdough-style starter

1/2 c. butter, softened
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk (or ¼ c. buttermilk powder and 1 c. water)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cinnamon/Sugar Topping:
1/3 c. sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees conventional (Use convection setting if you have it.)

Cream butter and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla, mix well. Add buttermilk, flour, baking soda, salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon and mix until just combined. Spread half of the batter into a greased loaf pan.

Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top and swirl with tip of knife or finger. Gently spread remaining batter over the 1st layer and swirl with another 1/3 if the cinnamon mixture again. Sprinkle top with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or longer until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert to a rack and cool. Makes 1 loaf.

Click here for a little history on this long-loved recipe tradition.

Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies

Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies
Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies

My new favorite,
Cranberry Orange Sugar Cookies

For the Orange Sugar:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp freshly grated orange peel

For the Cookies:
1 cup sugar
¾ cup butter, room temperature
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
½ cup pistachio nuts or chopped walnuts
1 TBSP freshly grated orange peel or more

Heat oven to 350F. Zest one medium orange.

Combine 1/2 c. sugar and 1 tsp finely grated orange peel in a small bowl and mix. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup sugar, butter and egg in a large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add nuts, cranberries, and the remaining orange zest ( it might be a little over a tablespoon) and mix again. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in orange sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten lightly with bottom of glass.

Bake for 7 to 10 minutes—only until edges are lightly golden. Cool and remove from cookie sheets.

Refried Beans

refried beans
Refried Beans

REFRIED BEANS

2 T olive oil
1 15 oz. can pinto beans
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large jalapeño – diced and seeds removed
1/2 medium onion – diced
3/4 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
¼ c sour cream (opt)

In a medium saucepan, saute’ onion and minced pepper in olive oil. Add garlic near the end. Puree’ the beans and spices in blender and return to saucepan to simmer until desired consistency and flavors marry. Stir in sour cream and serve warm or room temperature with chips as a dip or as a side dish sprinkled with shredded colby-jack cheese.

This is so easy and fun to make. Take it to a party, it’s the season!

Christmas Crack or Soda Cracker Candy

chocolat, toffee and nut candy
Soda Cracker Candy is also called Christmas Crack

SODA CRACKER CANDY (reminds me of Heath bars)

• 35 saltines (1 sleeve)
• 1 cup butter, cubed
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
• 1 cup chopped toasted pecans (toasting the nuts is optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll/cookie sheet baking pan with foil; grease foil. Arrange saltines in a single layer on foil breaking a few to fit if needed.

2. In a large heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar. Bring to a full boil; cook and stir 3-4 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Spread evenly over crackers.

3. Bake 5-7 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Cover with foil and allow chips to soften for 5 minutes, then spread evenly over top. Sprinkle with pecans.

4. Refrigerate, uncovered, 1 hour or until set (or put in freezer 20-minutes). Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 2 pounds.

Editor’s Note: To toast nuts, bake in a shallow pan in a 350° oven for 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Cranberry Orange Quick Bread
Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Healthier and low fat but you will never notice it because this is so good!
CRANBERRY ORANGE QUICK BREAD

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• Finely grated zest of 1 medium orange
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon fine salt
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 2 medium oranges)
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), melted and cooled slightly, plus more for coating the pan
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 cups cranberries, thawed if frozen and sliced in half
• 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter; set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps. Add the orange juice, melted butter, egg, and vanilla and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in the cranberries and nuts, if using, until evenly distributed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, pushing it into the corners and smoothing the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then turn the bread out onto the rack and cool completely before cutting. Be patient.

Makes: 1 (9-inch) loaf

Kosher Dill Pickles

dill pickles in a jar
Kosher Dill Pickles

THIS one is the winner of three canned dill pickle recipes I tried:

KOSHER DILL PICKLES
(Nadia’s favorite hot water bath process pickles)
50-60 Pickling cucumbers (enough to fill 10 quarts)
1 c. canning salt
1 qt. dark vinegar
3 quarts Water
10-20 large cloves garlic, peeled
10-20 heads fresh dill (all depends on size, if small, use 2 per jar)
1 jar grape leave (buy at deli) or 10-20 fresh (1-2 per quart)

Scrub pickles and trim off the blossom ends (they sometimes contain an enzyme that will make pickles soft). If you cucumbers are not picked the same day, put them in a big tub of ice water and let them soak and freshen up for an hour or two.

I like to put 2 grape leaves in each jar. Boil canning salt, vinegar and water. In sterile quart jars, put in garlic first, then 1 grape leaf and ½ to 1 head dill. Then fill jar with the cucumbers (I usually leave them whole but you could use spears) leaving enough room at the top for another head of dill and a grape leaf. Topping with a grape leaf helps keep pickles below the brine and also makes them very crispy. If you don’t have dill, you can use oak leaves (rounded corners, or fresh bay leaves).

Fill the jars with hot brine, cover tightly with fresh lids and process in a hot water bath 10 minutes. (Modern canning methods advise 15 minutes, I always do 10.) You may or may not use all of your brine.