Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Best Oatmeal Cookies EVER!

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A few weeks ago I actually BOUGHT bakery cookies for my daughter's birthday treat.  My kids normally insist on having those big Great American cookie cakes for birthdays, frosted and decorated and oh so yummy, but our Great American Cookie is currently shut down for new ownership or something...  We have another local cookie bakery called Hot Box Cookies which was actually started by a college kid in our town.  Those cookies are awesome and beyond wonderful!  

What I figured out when I bought Hot Box Cookies was that even though most people won't say that oatmeal raisin cookies are their favorite, they are always the first cookies to go.  I decided right then and there that I really needed to find a go-to oatmeal cookie recipe.

Of course, I have several favorite blogs that I can always depend on for great, home cooking food.  I found this recipe at one of the best- Chickens on the Road.  HERE is Suzanne's original recipe for Iced Oatmeal Cookies.  I believe the last recipe I posted also came from this great blog.  I don't mean to just re-post recipes Suzanne has already posted, but I definitely want to be able to look back and find recipes that work well for me.  I have found the best way to do that is to post them right here in little old bloggyland.  This way, I know just-a-what-I-like!

These cookies are so wonderful!  Suzanne frosts hers with melted white chocolate and I had some leftover cream cheese frosting in my fridge from the Ditch the Box Homemade Chocolate Cake that I thought about using but, after tasting these cookies?  They needed nothing!  These cookies are nice and chewy, yet crisp - fabulous, fat little cookies that didn't spread out into lace.  I just cannot describe them in any better way than PERFECT!

Here's how I made the Best Oatmeal Cookies EVER - AT HOME MY WAY:


Best Oatmeal Cookies EVER!
  • 3/4 cup butter (use the real thing), softened to room temp
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (I didn't have brown sugar so used 1 cup regular sugar and added 1 teaspoon molasses to my creamed ingredients)
  • 1/2 cup regular white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I omitted-didn't have any)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup raisins (+water for cooking them)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Put the raisins in a little pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and then shut off.  Let them sit 15 minutes - just while mixing your cookie dough.  Then, fully drain and cool a little to add to the dough last.

Cream butter, brown sugar, white sugar, egg.  Then add baking powder, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves.  Stir until well blended.

Add flour and stir to mix completely.

Then add oats, stir to mix completely (will be a very stiff dough).

Add the drained, plumped/cooked raisins and stir to mix.

Place scoops/rounded balls of dough on sprayed cookie sheet to bake.

Bake in fully preheated oven at 375 for approximately 12 minutes.



Look how fat these little babies are!


Enjoy!


Gina


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Monday, March 16, 2015

Ditch the Box - Homemade Chocolate Cake

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First, a disclaimer... I am NOT a cake baker.  I am a mom, wife, daughter, friend, home cook, but not a pastry chef, cake decorator, or anything like that.  My attempt at baking cakes is purely for fun and for my eating pleasure.

This weekend I wanted cake!  I have for you today the mother of all cakes.  This cake even worked out for me, a non cake baker.  I had never baked a two-layer cake that didn't crack in the middle or slide off the plate.  I usually only have success with sheet cakes or those in 9 x 13 pans, or cupcakes.  But this weekend I wanted a two layer cake.  Something pretty that I could be proud of.  I didn't want over the top sweet, so I opted to only frost between the layers and on top.  This also saved a lot of potential anxiety for me because frosting the sides causes me lots of stress!  This cake was a great success - on all levels:



Delicious?-yes!
Chocolaty?-yes!
Moist?-yes!
Great crumb like boxed cake?-YES!
Regular ingredients that I had in my pantry? Yes!

I found the recipe on Chickens in the Road (RECIPE - HERE).  Suzanne never leads me down the wrong path and I knew I could depend on a good cake with basic pantry ingredients if I used her recipe.  Her blog offers just a complete wealth of information.  Go see it HERE!   

I made a couple of modifications.  I am listing Suzanne's exact recipe and my modifications.  I made modifications ONLY because I had two eggs (instead of the three called for in the recipe) and because I knew Suzanne would probably do the same thing LOL.

I will be forever DITCHING THE BOX of chocolate cake mix.  This cake is spot on perfect!  It will make great birthday cakes, summer desserts, and treat day contributions.  I will definitely be making more of these!

I frosted my cake with a little-of-this-little-of-that cream cheese buttercream (sorry, I have no recipe), but I will also frost it in the future with chocolate icing, seven minute frosting, and german chocolate frosting.  Most members of my family prefers no frosting so it will be good with just powdered sugar or a scoop of whipped cream.  Heck-it's so good it would need nothing at all!  Really!  

Here's how I made Ditch the Box - Homemade Chocolate Cake - AT HOME MY WAY:

Ditch the Box - 
Homemade Chocolate Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I only had 3/4 cup.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter (room temp) (2 sticks) (I used the real thing!)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs (I only had two so used two large eggs + 1/4 cup plain yogurt)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 2/3 cups milk 
Instructions:  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour two cake pans (round) (I didn't spray - I actually greased and floured and my cakes came out perfectly).  First, combine the butter (room temp), eggs, sugar, and vanilla.  Mix well (using a mixer).   Add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Mix.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend/mix approximately 2 additional minutes.

Divide dough between the two greased/floured pans.  Lift and slam them on the counter to even the batter/release any air bubbles.  

Bake in FULLY PREHEATED 350 ° oven for 35 minutes (do not open the oven to peak or they will fall.).  The middles will be springy to the touch when done.

Let cool about 10 minutes before removing from the pans.  Slide a knife around the edges to release from the pan.  Cool on racks (right side up.)

I frosted between layers by dumping some of the frosting and spreading within one inch of the edge of the cake.  Topped with the top layer and just frosted the top.  

Ta-da!!  



Enjoy!


Gina
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Easy Crochet Slippers and Keeping Warm in February

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Do you think I have fallen off of the Earth?  Well, I promise that I haven't.  Just cold days here in Missouri (misery) with little desire to do much other get home from work and stay in my rut.  I haven't been trying many new recipes as winter just makes me want to operate on auto pilot ..... be cozy, comfortable, WARM, and eat things I know I can make.


I've done a little cooking - making things like:



(which was DELICIOUS - I should make this more often)

(One can never go wrong making this pie!)

(for my freezer - for fast lunches - a favorite)

I tried a new pattern for crochet slippers.  I absolutely LOVE making these slippers (I've made three pairs so far).  I made some for my mom.  Hers are the orange pair; made some for my sister-in-law, who requested a bright color so her's are aqua, and some for me - which are gray- my favorite color these days - probably because it's winter, it's gray (I want to be in Florida where it's not gray), and, well...  I feel gray LOL.   


Anyway, the pattern can be found HERE at MAMMY MADE.  It's a free pattern so go try it out!  (Remember to check out her rules for use of the pattern.)


They are easy and unbelievably were the first slipper crochet pattern I've been able to make where both slippers turned out the same size.   I will be making lots more of them for gifts for my friends and family.  Hoping they like slippers LOL. 


Here's how I made them AT HOME MY WAY:






Easy Crochet Slippers

  • Crochet Pattern found HERE by MAMMY MADE
  • Red Heart Super Saver Yarn (white and another color)
  • I just searched Pinterest for a flower pattern and attached with a small button.
  • I crocheted these using two strands of yarn.  I like the stability that provides to the slippers.
Notes:  I made the first pair exactly like the pattern.  I then figured out how to decrease rows, etc. to make the pattern smaller for my foot and because I like my slippers tight like a sock.  It will be easy to reduce the size of this slipper by decreasing the amount of stitches at the beginning and making less rows for small adult or youth sizes.  What a versatile and easy pattern!  My choice place for making these is on the ride to work  (my husband and I carpool so I get to have a driver).

This is a great first slipper pattern, or it was for ME! My mom and sister-in-law both loved theirs.  We have washed them in the washing machine with other clothes and dried them in the drier.  They wash up GREAT!  

What a fun project!  Perfect for yourself or for gift giving!  

Special THANKS to MAMMY MADE 
for this great and free crochet pattern!


Enjoy!


Gina
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