download printable here
download printable here
I just love cookies. Love them. I love all kinds of cookies. I love trying new recipes and I love the recipes that I have made for years. I love starting a batch of cookies in the afternoon so that the aroma fills the house just as the kids are coming home from school. I love packaging them up to give to friends. I love packing them in my kids’ lunches. They are sweet, they are tasty and they are portable. I have cookie moods. People often ask me what my favorite cookie is. It depends on the day!
Recently one of my favorite nephews stopped by with his wife for a visit. I have a real soft spot in my heart for this one. When he was younger he used to come and sleep over at our house. His ready smile and happy nature made him pretty easy to love. He’s all grown up now– tall, strong and handsome. When I see him and he gives me a hug, in many ways it’s much like a hug my own sons would give me…it’s a little tighter and a little longer and it’s packed with genuine care. At any rate, the other day he was visiting and before he left he asked me if I had a good oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. We tried to define which kind of oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Does it have cinnamon? Is it cake-like? Is it flat? Does it have raisins? I have so many great oatmeal cookie recipes, but this one is one of my all-time favorites.
This cookie is thin and chewy, no raisins and no cinnamon. Oh, it does have plenty of butter. Here you go, Brandon. And since a picture is worth a thousand words…
My husband likes to stack cookies…
and pile cookies. I kept telling him I needed them lined up nice and neat on parchment so that I could
drizzle them with chocolate. They needed to dress themselves up a bit because they were going to a neighbor’s house.I like using white chocolate for this as well. Do it or don’t–they are your cookies!
He laid them out for me on the parchment like I asked. I drizzled and when I turned around he had stacked cookies again. So I took a picture.
And because a taste is worth more than a thousand words, you should make yourself a batch. This makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies. Have fun!
Pasta. Comfort food. Family-style. Leftovers. Make-ahead. This dish covers so many of the elements required of being a mom and the one in charge of dinner. Because I love to cook and I love to bake you might imagine that I spend blissful days in the kitchen listening to Sinatra, happily cooking away. This just isn’t the case. I have a busy family. I try to help my dad. I watch my granddaughter several times a week. I help my son with homework. I love a chance to either visit or have my other granddaughter and grandson come to visit. Sometimes I clean the house. I’m busy with my church activity. I enjoy taking my son lunch. I write to my missionary. I work in the yard. I want to take a yoga class. I go to baseball and football games. In other words, I am a lot like you. Life can be hectic and sometimes you need something simple but incredibly delicious for your family. That is why I enjoy making and serving this dish.
To me, days have moods. Part of the reason that this recipe is awkwardly lacking in photos is because I made it on a very overcast day and had next to no lighting. The mood of the day called for something that would fill the house with a delicious aroma while providing something filled with flavor and substance to a family who felt like eating their dinner in pajamas. This dish was a perfect choice. Bake or pick up a nice crusty loaf of artisan bread to serve with this dinner. And then, tomorrow, enjoy the other half of why I love this dish–leftovers!
There are times when you want to make something really special for dinner. You want a restaurant-style experience without the price and without hiring a babysitter. I have six kids. Most of them are grown and gone but I remember those early years of motherhood with fondness and sometimes fatigue and frustration. We didn’t always have the budget for a nice evening out and we didn’t always have a babysitter available. Enter the rosemary and garlic marinated steak. This meal has been served on many special occasions at our house. Events like anniversaries, birthdays and New Years Eve are ones that quickly come to mind. Sometimes we would put the kids to bed and make dinner and other times we put out our best dinnerware and had a beautiful etiquette-teaching meal. My favorite steak to use is a 2-inch thick porterhouse steak but the process for any steak is the same and it always packs big flavor. Use whatever steak you have available to you or splurge and ask the butcher to cut you a nice thick porterhouse.
Start by placing sprigs of fresh rosemary on both sides of the steak along with several slices of fresh garlic. Wrap the steak and refrigerate for about 8 hours.
About 20 minutes before you are ready to start cooking the steak remove it from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Heat a heavy (cast iron if possible) to medium heat and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Sear the steak on both sides WITH the rosemary and garlic. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Reduce heat and add 1/2 cup red wine, apple juice or bouillon. I found this nice little cooking wine that I used because I don’t have alcohol in the house. 🙂 Preheat your oven to 375°.
Simmer 2 minutes while the oven is heating. Place the steak, uncovered, in the oven for about 25 minutes. Turn the steak every 10 minutes. Cook to your desired doneness. During the last 5 minutes of cooking place a tablespoon of butter on top of the steak. That’s just a delicious idea.
Remove the steak from the oven and allow it to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving. This is where I add a bit of salt to the steak. Cover with a piece of foil to keep the heat in. (The steaks I made today were plated as individuals, not sliced.) While the steak (or steaks) are resting, we will work on the sauce that is poured over the steak for serving.
Remove the large sprigs of rosemary from the pan. To the drippings add 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 2 green onions chopped, 1 rounded tablespoon of jalapeno jelly and 1/4 cup additional red wine or your substitute. If I don’t have jalapeno jelly handy I use 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes with about a tablespoon of brown sugar. Look at us making rational substitutions! Whisk together until well incorporated over a low simmer.
Pour warm sauce over steak and serve immediately. You know what is a great side dish for this steak? Loaded Red Potatoes! Garnish with fresh rosemary.
Look at your calendar and see what special occasions you have coming up in your life. My kids still remember feeling so important when I cooked this for them as young children. Something I couldn’t afford to do with them at a fancy restaurant became a happy memory.
If you are anything like me you have been on the hunt for a pizza crust that is worthy of it’s toppings. I’ve tried so many recipes over the years. Pizza becomes very personal. Are you a thin crust person? Are you a deep dish person? Do you like a crust that you bake halfway before topping? Let me tell you what I love about this crust and then you can decide if you match me in pizza personality. If you do you will want to make pizza dough. If you don’t you still have the number of your favorite pizza place via magnet on your refrigerator right?
There are two pizza crust recipes that I love at the current time. Today we will talk about pizza crust #1. This is NOT a dough that you cook partially before topping it. For me those types of dough’s never seem to bond with all the toppings. I’m in to bonding. This dough has a great texture and is appropriately chewy. It is easy to make and make ahead if you want. You have a choice after the first rise…make a pizza or freeze the dough for a week. Let’s make pizza dough #1… Start with 2 1/4 teaspoons of dry yeast sprinkled over 1 1/4 cups of warm water. Keep your water around 110°. Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the yeast and water to feed the yeast and get it nice and bubbly.
Set it aside in a warm spot in your kitchen for 5-8 minutes. When the yeast has had a chance to activate, add 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix. If you are doing this by hand use a sturdy wooden spoon and get it all nicely incorporated before adding the last bit of flour. Those of us using a stand mixer–well turn it on and let it do all the work for about a minute. Now it’s time to add the remaining flour. If you are working by hand sprinkle one cup of the remaining flour over the dough, reserving the last quarter cup, if needed, to diminish the tackiness of the dough. Using your hands, turn the dough onto itself until all the flour has fully incorporated. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and continue to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes or until you feel the dough become smooth and elastic. You will most likely need to add that last quarter cup of flour just a little at a time. If you are working with a stand mixer, add one cup of flour and allow the mixer to run at medium speed for about 6 minutes adding the last quarter cup of flour just a bit at a time as the mixer runs. The test of this dough is that if your hands are moving with the dough it doesn’t really stick to you like this–
Now you are ready to either make pizza or freeze the dough. Today I decided to freeze the dough. Spray a freezer safe bag with cooking spray and place the dough in the bag. Remove all the air that you can, seal the bag and pop it in the freezer. This dough will make one large 15 inch pizza crust. When you are ready to thaw the dough just leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Often when I thaw my dough I find that it decided to raise a bit more. Bonus! This means I can make a smaller personal pizza with the extra dough.
If you are going to use the dough right away, simply shape the dough, top it and bake it until the edges are golden brown and your sauce and toppings have melted to your desired gooeyness. This usually takes a 450° oven about 15 minutes.
***cooking a pizza on a pre-heated pizza stone will always give you better results.
***no matter how tempted you are to load your pizza with heavy delicious things…remember that dough does need to cook (and in some cases transfer to the oven on a peel)
***add delicate things like basil leaves or spinach during the last couple of minutes of baking.
I have this great Lemon Easter Cake that I want to make next week. It calls for self rising flour. I don’t want to buy a 5 pound bag that will then sit in my pantry for months before I throw it out. And since I don’t have a lot of recipes that call for self-rising flour, the chances of that happening are pretty good.
So there I was racking my brain about anything I might know about self-rising flour when I remembered something I had read in a cookbook long ago. Ya–I read cookbooks.
Unlike pastry flour or bread flour, you can make your own self-rising flour…and you can make the exact amount that you need when you need it. No waste. I love it.
Gather together: all-purpose flour, double-acting baking powder and salt. Make sure that your baking powder is fresh. I try to use mine within a 6 month period, hence I buy slightly smaller cans.
Using the portions listed below in the recipe section, sift the ingredients through a sifter or a colander. It’s important that the baking soda and salt are well distributed throughout the flour. I needed to make 3 cups of self-rising flour so I layered my ingredients as they went in the colander. I started with flour, added baking soda, then salt and then repeated the process before I started sifting. This ensures a better distribution of the baking soda and salt. If there are lumps when you are done, break them up and get them in there. Once the ingredients are well sifted take a whisk to it for good measure.
In our family pizza is it’s own food group. We love pizza. For the longest time I was not a homemade pizza kind of girl. For me the whole idea of pizza night was that I didn’t have to cook and I didn’t have to clean up. Order a pizza. Have it delivered. Eat the pizza. Throw away the box. In recent years I have changed my tune a little. I enjoy the process of making pizza from scratch and specifically I enjoy being able to make a specialty pizza without the price.
This little pizza sauce is a keeper. I used to keep a bottle of spaghetti sauce on hand to use as a basis for a pizza sauce. Without fail it would get used in some other dish and I wouldn’t have what I needed to start a pizza. I love this recipe because I always have the ingredients that it calls for, it’s quick and easy to make, it’s versatile and it tastes delicious. Use this sauce for pizza, slather it on bread, make an Italian bruschetta, use it as a dip with chunks of french bread or eat it out of the bowl like my adorable granddaughter.
You’ll need a can of diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup sliced fresh basil OR 1 1/2 tablespoons dried sweet basil, 3 cloves of garlic minced or pressed, one tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar (optional).
In a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil for about 30 seconds or until it starts to turn a lovely golden color. Add undrained tomatoes, basil, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has evaporated. Use it immediately or store it up to 5 days in your refrigerator. If I know that pizza is on the menu in the coming week I love to make it ahead of time to simplify pizza night.
Truth. My mom cooked a hot breakfast every day of my life. Bacon and eggs with hash browns, waffles, milk toast and gravy, sausage with scrambled eggs and toast and every once in awhile she tried to pass off oatmeal as a hot breakfast. To this day I don’t know if I ever woke up to an alarm or if it was always to the smell of something delicious coming from the kitchen and the soft sounds of her working quietly so that I would get that last few minutes of sleep. It wasn’t just a grab and go breakfast either. We were called to breakfast. We had prayer and we ate together. Some of that changed as we began to get older and participate in activities that called us early to school, but I never left a dark home. No matter how early I had to be gone she was up and had something waiting for me to eat. I’ve tried to be that mom to my own children but I have to admit that I haven’t hated that my husband and children love cold cereal.
So–pancakes. She encouraged me to memorize this recipe. She was smart that way. “Remember Shanon,” she’d say, “when you don’t have time or money for a lot of other things you will always be able to feed your family pancakes.” Spoken from experience? I think so. She would be 92 this year. I miss her.
This memorized pancake recipe has come in handy on so many occasions. My own little family has lived through a few tough financial times ourselves, but I don’t think our kids ever really knew. Serving breakfast for dinner was fun to them and cheap for us. My youngest son loves big pancakes, my husband loves silver dollar (size) pancakes and I am somewhere in between–so we make all shapes and sizes. My favorite size of all? The little baby tiny one my mom would make and put on my plate. It was the size of a nickle, crisped in the butter she would use on the pan, and it reminded me that she knew me and what I loved. It was like a punctuation mark on my stack of pancakes that said, “I love you Shanon.”
Recently my son Jake found himself in Ukraine and living on a budget. He emailed me one day and asked if I would send him the pancake recipe. It’s a recipe he used on his mission, but since I hadn’t made him memorize it he gave me a call. I didn’t mind. Turns out that pancakes can save you money anywhere in the world. As I was getting ready for this post and talking to Jake about my mom’s pancake recipe he told me of a Ukrainian tradition that involves a pancake week and told me that he had passed my recipe along to a beautiful Ukranian girl. Her name is Alyona and she’s the reason that Jake was in Ukraine. Somehow it warms my heart to think that far away there’s a lovely girl making Momma’s Pancakes and that before too long she’ll be making pancakes for my son in Utah.
In a medium size bowl combine one egg, 1 1/4 cups milk, and 1/3 cup vegetable oil. Whisk together until completely combined and get the egg completely beaten.
If you want to go to all the trouble of sifting–go for it. My mom didn’t with this recipe and that is good enough for me. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt. If you don’t sift, sprinkle the baking powder and salt over the entire surface so it’s not all in one place.
Whisk all ingredients together, but don’t over mix. You want everything incorporated but it’s okay if there are small lumps in the batter. I counted how many strokes I made with my whisk today and I came to 50 and stopped. The batter should drizzle off of a spoon or whisk in a thick stream. Too thin and you will have crepes–delicious no doubt–but we are making pancakes. If the batter is too thick they won’t get done in the middle before burning. This is why we always do a test pancake at our house. Let the batter rest for about 5 minutes while you start to warm the syrup and get your pan ready.
Heat your favorite skillet on medium heat for about a minute. I almost always end up turning the heat down. If you are wondering if your pan is about the right temperature, drop a droplet of water on the pan and see if it sort of skitters across. Is skitters a word? If it does, add about a tablespoon of butter or cooking oil to the pan to coat the cooking surface. Sometimes I like to use a bit of extra butter because I LOVE crispy edges. Drop, spoon or pour your pancake batter onto the pre-heated pan and watch for the edges of the pancake to solidify and the bubbles that are forming in the batter to pop and remain open. This is when you flip the pancake. This is where that test pancake comes in handy… it gives you time to adjust your temperature and it usually gives my dog breakfast. 🙂 Adjust the heat and thin or thicken your batter at this point.
Turn the pancake and continue cooking until the pancake is firm and golden brown on the bottom. This is a good time to drop on a few blueberries or sliced strawberries. Go ahead and peek to see how it’s doing. See that little nickel-size pancake? I made that for myself. Put your pancakes on a warm plate and serve them with butter and warm syrup. Oh, and if you want…memorize the recipe.
There was this day where I was watching my weight. Scary. My daughter and I started having a conversation about what I would love to eat if I could eat anything in the whole world. We started designing ethereal dishes… but the one that I remember the most, and the one that we ended up making, was a layered chocolate cake, 3 tiers mind you, filled with peanut butter filling, frosted with peanut butter frosting, with chopped peanut butter cups adorning its very peanut buttery sides. We finished it off with salted caramel drizzled all over in a beautiful magical design. I’ve only made it once… it was last fall and I think I can still feel the richness of the cake in my veins. I will make it again…but until I do I think it’s appropriate to post the recipe for the frosting.
Kate loves when I make this frosting–and it goes well with so many things. We like to glaze banana bread with it.. frost peanut butter bars, brownies, cakes or cupcakes or hey–it’s kinda great straight from the bowl.
First. Let’s be very clear about those words up there in the title “sweet” and “chili”. They are both there. What this means is that the sauce for this dish is both sweet and a bit spicy. It’s also delicious. Let’s see… that makes sweet, spicy and delicious. Let’s add easy because I cook these in my crock pot.
I have six kids. At one point I bought a giant wipe board to keep their weekly schedule straight. I remember finishing writing one week’s schedule down, complete with color coding, stepping back and wondering how in the world I would get them all to where they needed to be. Enter the crock pot. This lovely little invention allows me to run the kids everywhere they need to be and still bring them home to a home-cooked meal. Can I make a confession here while I’m at it? I’m not a fan of carpools. Rarely, selectively, I entered into shared ride. Don’t get me wrong. A carpool seems like a great idea and it can be a lifesaver but, for me, I cherish the time I have with my kids in the car. You would be surprised what you find out about your kid when you have a bit of one-on-one time after school. Sometimes it would only be a few minutes between drop-off points, but I have had the best time with my kids just hanging out in the car. We listen to the music they love and sometimes even crank up the volume. We talk about school, love interests, friends, worries, excitements. We pretty much cover the spectrum. It’s been a pleasure to be their chauffeur.
Let’s get back to the crock pot. This is a tasty slow cooker meal. Feel free to just finish it on the stove-top or in the oven but if you are looking for a warm meal that is hours away in carpool years… grab out your crock pot. I like to pair it with cooked baby carrots and dirty rice. You will need bone in pork chops, sliced onions, apricot preserves and
Brown pork chops in 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Get a nice little golden color on each side. This usually takes about 3 minutes per side. Salt and pepper them to your liking. Place the chops in a crock pot and top each with a heaping tablespoon of apricot preserves, a teaspoon of sweet chili sauce and top with sliced onions. Now… this is your dish. If you want to cook your carrots with the pork chops go ahead. That’s the beauty of a slow cooker. Here they are in the dark abyss of the crock pot 🙂
Add about 1/4 cup water to the bottom of the crock pot and set your cooking time. Some days I start mine in the morning and let them cook on low for about 6 hours. Sometimes I am running very late and throw the crock pot on high for 3-4 hours. Slow cooking is pretty basic but it will vary from crock pot to crock pot. Most important is that you let the chops cook until the inner temperature reaches 160°. This has never been a problem for me since most of the coaches my kids have played for usually don’t end practice on time. Anyone else experience this? Again we are back to the beauty of slow cooking. Those chops really aren’t going to burn, so relax and do some pinning while you wait for your little athlete or dancer…