Oatmeal butterscotch cookies

I really don’t care for turkey. This is also my very first year making the thanksgiving turkey. Despite my abilities in the kitchen I feel clueless and stupid about fixing this 17 lb bird. Making something so important (and expensive) that I don’t really even LIKE to eat is stressing me out. And when I stress out I make cookies.

Oatmeal butterscotch cookies

These cookies really taste like the holidays to me. My family has this butterscotch, peanut butter, chow mein noodle, and peanut concoction that we make this time of year so anything with butterscotch chips reminds me of Christmas. These cookies are also a favorite of my brother-in-law who, God bless him, apparently ate two dozen of these in one day. My sister was not pleased.

There is nothing terribly special about this recipe. It is in fact the one from the back of the package. Making these did get me out of researching how to make my turkey though and that in of itself was enough for me.

If you are concerned I have found a recipe (ish) and the turkey is in brine. Blah. Here is to hoping it turns out. If not I will make more of these cookies and call it dinner.

Ps. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I’m taking the rest of the week off blog wise but will be back next week to share some of the great dishes that will grace our table tomorrow.

Oatmeal butterscotch cookies

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies (makes 3 1/2 dozen)
not adapted one bit from Nestle Tollhouse

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment lined baking sheets.  bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Brownie cookies with salted caramel frosting

Brace yourself.

For so many reasons.

First. These cookies. They are shut-up-shove-them-in-your-face good.

Brownie cookies with salted caramel frosting

Second. This frosting. I have plans for it. So.Many.Plans.

I feel like I say this a lot but these cookies really are a breeze. Other than chopping some chocolate there really is nothing to them. They are incredibility delicious all on their own too. I would happily shovel them down with a tall glass of cold milk.

Brownie cookies with salted caramel frosting

The frosting on the other hand was a bit more work. Making your own caramel is a cinch. I followed this great step by step tutorial from Bakers Royale. My caramel ended up being fairly hard when it cooled so I rewarmed it and thinned it with some more cream. Once it was cool (for the second time) I was able to use it in the frosting.

Brownie cookies with salted caramel frosting

So yes, all in all there are three separate recipes here. They are time consuming but I believe the end result is worth it. I managed to make the cookies and caramel during Little’s morning naptime. The frosting was whipped up during the afternoon nap.

I wish I could say these are every day cookies. Perhaps the cookie part alone might be, that is if you are ok with two dozen cookies requiring over $4 in chocolate alone.

Brownie Cookie with salted caramel frosting (makes 10 large or 20 small two-sandwich cookies)

Adapted from Bakers Royale

Cookies:
12 oz. chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon baking powder, sifted

Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup confectioner sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup caramel (Make sure caramel is cooled if making homemade)

Brownie cookies with salted caramel frosting

First make the cookies: Place 7oz. of the chocolate and the butter in a saucepan over low heat and gently stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.
Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat for 5 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add in flour, baking powder, melted chocolate mixture, remaining 5 oz. of chocolate and mix to combine. Set aside to to stand for 10 minutes. Spoon 2 tablespoonful for a large cookie and 1 tbs full for a small of the mixture, onto parchment lined bake sheet. Bake for about 8–10 minutes or until puffed and cracked. Allow to cool completely on trays.

Second make the frosting: Place butter in a bowl and beat until creamed. Add in confectioner sugar and salt and beat until light combined. Add in caramel and beat until combined.

Assemble: Spread a teaspoon and a half of frosting on underside of one brownie cookie and place a second brownie cookie bottom side down on top frosting.

Ps. I am trying to learn how to take better food pictures. I read through a wonderful tutorial this weekend and spent some time taking too many pictures of these cookies. As mentioned above I utilized naptimes to cook so when it came time to take pictures… Someone was up and intent on helping.

taking pictures with a Little help

Carrot Cake Cookies

I really wanted brownies. Or a different cookie. Not these.

I really wanted to come home from the park with Little to find dinner made. I did come home to find the house spotless which was a blessing in and of itself (hire a housekeeper, they are worth it).

I really just wanted to stay at Starbucks all day working on work.

I really want to sleep in till I want to get up. I really want to sleep for more than four hours in a row.

Carrot cake cookies

I really want to go to the beach for the weekend and stay in a kitschy motel and eat too much clam chowder.

I really want to play in Portland for a few days- take Little to the zoo, eat brunch at Tasty n Sons.

I really want new shoes. Cute new ballet flats in fact. I do not want to break them in.

But despite all the wants these cookies did suffice. I had a clean house. I got a few hours yesterday to just work with no Little interruptions. I got a nearly four hour stretch of sleep. I already have cute shoes plus the weather is indicating it is time to bring the Danskos back out. I’m blessed.

And have too many cookies in my house right now.

Carrot cake cookies

Carrot Cake Cookies (make 4 dozen individual cookies or 2 dozen sandwiches)

1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots, (about 3 large carrots)
Cream cheese frosting

Combine sugars and butter; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until well combined.In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice; stir to combine. Gradually add flour to butter mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended. Mix in oats and carrots. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

While dough is chilling preheat oven to 350 F. Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, spread cream cheese frosting onto a cookie. Sandwich together with a second cookie.

Ps. These cookies are spectacular even without the frosting. Think oatmeal cookie with carrots. They are chewy and a bit crispy on the edges. Try adding raisins or walnuts (1 cup of each or either) for a more carrot cakey cookie.

Carrot cake cookies

Pumpkin cookies

As soon as the calendar  rolled over to October I got the sudden urge to make every recipe I can find that involves pumpkin. I am hopeless at home decorating but have been searching for the past week of small ways to decorate for autumn. I absolutely love love love this season.

I have scoured the web and pinterest for tasty pumpkin recipes and have a hoard of them to make. Good thing I bought seven cans of pumpkin puree last night. And I am going to Detering Orchards this weekend for their fall apple party and to pick up some sugar pie pumpkins.

easy quick pumpkin cookies

Currently Little even smells of pumpkin pie as I fed him pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. The recipe needs some tweaking but have no fear I will perfect it and share it with you. Yum yum yum. I found an amazing recipe for pumpkin pull apart cinnamon bread. Also a killer curried pumpkin lentil daal I can’t wait to make.

The pancakes weren’t the first pumpkin recipe I made this fall though. I made these tasty pumpkin cookies last night. They are a cakey cookie but oh so good. I topped them with this cream cheese frosting recipe. Nathan had one for breakfast. I am currently exhibiting self control although I am confident when I go get my second cup of coffee in a bit all will power will be lost. They go SO well with a latte.

Happy fall!!

easy quick pumpkin cookies

Pumpkin Cookies (makes about 2 dozen)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
(or 1 tbs pumpkin pie spice in place of all the above spices)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves (or pumpkin pie spice), and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies on a rack. Frost with this cream cheese frosting when completely cool.

easy quick pumpkin cookies

Oatmeal cookies your way

I improvise alot in the kitchen. I am sure you have realized this by now. My favorite recipes are flexible and forgiving. Most savory cooking type recipes are this way. Baking tends to be more exact. This recipe is the exception.

While there are key base elements that must remain constant to churn out these delicious cookies there is much room for improvisation. All the pictures on this post are of my favorite variation- white chocolate and craisins. However you can add anything you want to these cookies- raisins, cinnamon, chocolate, coconut, chopped nuts, M&Ms, chopped up candy bars. Your imagination is your limit.

Oatmeal cookies- super versatile! Add whatever you want to them.

If you come up with a winning combination please come back and share!

Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cup oatmeal
Mix ins of your choosing- 1 cup raisins/craisins, 1 cup chocolate chips (white, dark, milk), 1-2 cups coconut, 1 tsp almond extract, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup chopped nuts, etc. My favorite is 1 cup white chocolate chips 1 cup craisins

Oatmeal cookies- super versatile! Add whatever you want to them.

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar till light and pale. Add eggs one at a time mixing well in between and scraping down the bowl as needed. Add vanilla. Sift flour, salt and baking soda together in to another bowl. Add to wet mixture. Fold in what ever mix ins you want. Scoop 1 inch balls of dough on to a cookie sheet 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Pull out slightly underdone for a chewy cookie.

Lemon dream bars

Entries for the fair are turned in. I didn’t end up making everything I thought I would and made one thing I didn’t plan on. I only turned in three entries this year- a petit carrot cake, chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, and these lemon dream bars.

What is so special about these bars? First off they are my dad’s favorite and Shouldn’t that be enough reason to make them?

Lemon Dream Bars

Second it wouldn’t be Christmas at our house without them  We could skip the ornaments, tree, and nativity but if we had these bars it would be enough.  Which makes eating them in August feel like Christmas. Odd.

Third this recipe is handed down from my grandma to my mom to me (to you). They are an institution in our family.

Lemon Dream Bars

Fourth coconut meets walnuts meets chewy, lemony, shortbready goodness. I might have just made up a word but these bars deserve it.

Convinced you yet? I made them yesterday morning and they are all gone. That is how good they are.

Lemon Dream Bars

Lemon Dream Bars (Makes one 9×13 pan. Number of bars varies on how big or small you cut them)

2/3 cup butter
2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons white sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

Lemon Dream Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together the 4 tablespoons of sugar with the 2 cups of flour. Cut in the 2/3 cup of butter until mixture is coarse crumbs. Press firmly into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven till lightly browned.

Meanwhile in a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Stir in the coconut and chopped nuts. Spread the mixture evenly over the baked crust (ok to do while the crust is straight out of oven). Return to the oven to bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes.

Lastly make the icing by combining the lemon zest, lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar. Beat until smooth. Pour and spread over the top of the bars as soon as they come out of the oven. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Lemon Dream Bars

Rosemary Shortbread

I have been uninspired to cook lately. It is getting incredibly hot and it is supposed to be over 95 F tomorrow. Who wants to turn on the oven when it is hot hot hot outside? Not me.

Rosemary Shortbread

I threw these together last night, waiting to turn on the oven till after 9 pm so as to not warm up the house. I want to make a big cake for my anniversary on Monday but I don’t see that happening. I want to eat watermelon, drink a good beer, and stay as cool as humanly possible. Oh, and play with Little. He is getting so big so fast and it is making me sad.

But I love rosemary in sweets. Not too sweet, hint of saltiness, deep earthy rosemary. Yum. Remember the rosemary pound cake I made a couple of months ago? These shortbread cookies are very similar. I have had rosemary sitting on the counter for a week begging to be made into shortbread. Also they only require turning the oven up to 300 F and bake rather quickly.

Rosemary Shortbread

If you live in the Pacific Northwest hurry and make these before it gets too hot!

Rosemary Shortbread (makes about 20 cookies)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons mild honey
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Rosemary Shortbread

Preheat oven to 300°F. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and rosemary in a bowl. Mix together butter, honey, and confectioners sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at low speed, then add flour mixture and mix until dough resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Gather on the counter and kneed a couple of times to combine. Roll into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge. Refrigerate till firm- about an hour and half.

Remove from the fridge and cut into 1/4 inch rounds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes till golden brown.

Rosemary Shortbread

(Ps. The blog might be kinda slow next week as I will spend the better part of next Saturday and Sunday in the kitchen baking for the county fair! I promise to share the recipes I enter as well as what, if anything, I win.)

Fruit Crumble Bars – Revisited

Last week I posted this wonderful cherry crumble bar recipe. These bars got better by the day but overall seemed to be missing something. Everyone who tasted them gave them rave reviews so I figured we were just too picky, spoiled, or sophisticated.

Again, I found myself with fruit in fridge looking a little worse for the wear. I saved some raspberries after making jam this week and there were some blueberries lurking in the back of the fridge from the last time I visited my mom’s house (she has a huge blueberry patch in her backyard). I wanted to remake the bars as a “real food.” Real food to me means omitting all refined ingredients. I substitute whole wheat flour for the all purpose flour and sucanat for the sugar. What is sucanat? You can check the wikipedia entry but basically it is an unrefined, whole cane sugar. It is still sugar and, contrary to what this blog may suggest, I do try to limit how much sugar we have in our diets but when I cook for just us,I use sucanat.

fruit crumble bars

These bars are infinitely better. I have considered deleting the original cherry bars but figured they have their place. I just much prefer these amendments. Here is the updated recipe:

Fruit Crumble Bars

1 cup sucanat
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups fresh fruit (I used 2 cups of blueberries and 2 cups of raspberries)
1/2 cup sucanat
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Fruit crumble bars

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch (or two 8×8) pan and line with parchment.  In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sucanat, 3 cups flour, salt, and baking powder. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan (if using two pans put 1/4 of the dough in each pan).  In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch . Gently mix in the fruit. If doing two pans mix fruit with 2 tsp cornstarch and 1/4 cup sucanat each. Sprinkle the fruit mixture evenly over the crust (or crusts). Crumble remaining dough over the fruit layer. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown.

Fruit crumble bars- easy and use whatever fruit you have on hand!

Cherry crumble bars

Confessions:

I drink too much coffee.

Often clothes will sit in my dryer for three to four days before being folded and sitting in the basket for another week. Thankfully Little has too many clothes.

I am addicted to my iPhone (not good).

Cake is my kryptonite. I cannot resist it.

Yard work and vacuuming are my least favorite chores. Hence why my yard is a mess.

There are clothes in my closet that still have the tags on them and have never been worn (anyone else do this!?!). In my defense they are work type clothes and a button down dress shirt isn’t really appropriate for a day at home with a messy baby.

Unitaskers have no place in my kitchen. Unless it is a cherry pitter. Which somehow I decided I needed and bought this week.

Sometimes fruit and veggies wallow in my fridge till they go bad. This makes me sad.

pitted cherries

I had way too many cherries,  had already eaten more than one person should, and I had my brand new super cool cherry pitter to use. So in an effort to avoid feeling sad I came up with this recipe.

Cutting in the butter

I actually knew what I wanted to make but couldn’t find a recipe to save my life. I found lots of cookie bar type recipes that called for cherry pie filling (YUCK!) and the ones I found that called for fresh cherries just weren’t right. So I pieced this together and it was perfect.

Cherry Crumble Bars (makes 24 or more depending on how you slice them)

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups fresh pitted cherries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Cherry crumble bars
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.  In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, salt, and baking powder. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.  In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch . Gently mix in the cherries. Sprinkle the cherry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the fruit layer. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown.

Cherry crumble bars

Ps. Substitute strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and lemon zest, cranberries and orange zest, or peaches for the cherries. This recipe is very flexible. Also, these cookies taste best after a night in the fridge. If you can resist them that long.

Cherry crumble bars

PPS. Remember how I mentioned I was officially (sorta) in business. Check these out- wrapped and tagged! Pro looking right? So much fun to deliver these little yummy samples to people yesterday!

Cherry crumble bars samples

Chewy chocolate chip cookies

I love baking (does that go without saying?). I  love trying new recipes and finding something that is just right. However, somehow, a few recipes have snuck in to my repertoire that are sub par. I have always felt my chocolate chip cookies were this way.

I want rich, chewy, big, golden cookies. What I usually got was a mixture of cakiness, toughness, and blah. What on earth? I can produce a stunning three tiered cake but am defeated by a recipe on the back of a little yellow package? (not naming names here)

Oatmeal cookies I have down pat. In fact I can vary my recipe and it comes out spectacular every time. Ribbon winning at the local county fair good. I accidentally just ate seven cookies in a row good. Impress new friends good. But plain Jane everyday chocolate chip cookies eluded me. Till now.

chewy chocolate chip cookies

I stumbled on to this recipe just recently and was struck at how odd it was. Melted butter? So much brown sugar? That many chocolate chips? How much vanilla!?! As per usual I whipped up the recipe verbatim the first time. The batter was odd but into the oven they went. And when they came out- Oh my! There is the cookie I always wanted to make!

So what did I do? I messed with the recipe. I added fewer chocolate chips. I tried using whole wheat flour. Results- disastrous. Ok well that is overstating things. They were mediocre. Better than the little yellow package but not the out of the world cookies that came out of my oven the first time.

So if you are a crunchy cookie person, sorry these aren’t for you. But if you want a cookie that is still ooey gooey three days later (if they last that long) then here is your perfect recipe.

chewy chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.