Wednesday, March 26, 2014

BLOG REVIVAL & Oatmeal Banana Cookies

It's time to revive this blog and wake it from its looooong nap! Let's do this thing.  In honor of this grand occasion (I know - not really grand but...) I'm posting a cookie recipe.  Cookies - are there a MILLION, or BILLION cookie recipes out there? Yes, but this one is ONE in a million, I promise.

A few (well, several) years ago I worked in a law office with a wonderful, funny, smart, friendly, loving and fabulous woman named Mary Alice Smith. If you knew her you're lucky - if you didn't, I'm sorry.  She only worked once in a while (her son-in-law was a partner in the firm) and she ordered supplies and brought in cookies! Any paperwork she did she tagged with her initials MAS.  We saw lots of MAS paperwork floating around the office.  She had the best laugh and was feisty and sassy! MAS brought these cookies to the office A LOT!!  I sort of forgot about them (yeah, my brain is half dead sometimes) until her cutest granddaughter Jyl of momitforward.com posted a little video on facebook about her grandmother and talked about these cookies.  I have made them 3 times in 2 weeks.  Mary Alice always put chocolate chips in hers - we prefer pecans but you may want pecans AND chocolate chips.  I love these cookies - they don't require a mixer.  Just a LARGE bowl (it's a huge batch) and a sturdy spoon.  Jyl says she likes them frozen but I've never had them last long enough to freeze.  We had a church party here at our house with a lot of males in attendance and they devoured 5 dozen of them in about 1.5 minutes (well, really hours).  Make them - you won't be sorry!

MARY ALICE's BANANA COOKIES w/oatmeal

Preheat oven to 375

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 t. soda
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon

Stir all of the above dry ingredients in a large bowl. With a pastry cutter or two knives cut in :

1 1/2 c. butter (her recipe calls for shortening, but I use butter)

When butter is incorporated into the dry ingredients add:

2 beaten eggs
2 c. mashed banana

Stir well and add

3 1/2 cups oatmeal (I have used quick cooking and regular. Regular oatmeal makes them a little chewier but either one works fine)

Add:

1 - 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1-2 cups of chocolate chips (these are optional)

Drop approx. 2 T. of dough onto a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with Pam.  Bake 8-10 min.  Do not overbake.  I like 9 minutes.  Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack to cool.  Store covered or freeze (like Jyl says). 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Walnut Pesto

Here's the story...
A few days ago, our friends, Evan and Lisa, brought us a big, beautiful bag of basil from their garden.  I knew right away that I would be making pesto ASAP.  We had just run out of parmesan and I didn't have any pine nuts, so I went to Costco the next day to get what I needed.  As you probably know, pine nuts are not cheap. Like $25 for not-even-that-big of a bag.  So I went out on a limb and decided to try walnuts instead.  It was a success!!  We loved the walnut pesto!  Give it a try and see what you think.
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup grated parmesan
couple shakes of salt

*Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until thoroughly combined.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Italian Meatball Soup

I love the Fall & Winter months because that means we can start eating soup again without wanting to melt!  This soup really is amazing and super easy too! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

                  (sorry the photo isn't the greatest, it was taken with a cell phone)

Meatballs

1/2 pound ground beef                               1 teaspoon basil
1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage               1/2 teaspoon parsley
2eggs, beaten                                              1/4 cup dehydrated onion
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs                         1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan       1 teaspoon salt
cheese                                                         1/2 teaspoon pepper

Gently combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Shape into meatballs. Make as big or as small as you'd like. Place on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Broil for 7 to 10 minutes, or just until brown. They will continue to cook in soup.

Soup

1-2 tablespoons olive oil                               1(28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 onion, chopped                                           1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced.                          2 carrots, peeled and diced
5 (14 oz. ) cans chicken broth                         1 cup small pasta
1 cup water                                                      2 cups spinach, thinly sliced
red pepper flakes (opt.)

Heat oil in a large stockpot. Sauté the onions and garlic until translucent. Add broth, water, tomatoes, and seasonings. Heat to boiling. Gently add the meatballs, carrots, pasta, and spinach. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through, the carrots are tender, and the pasta is al dente.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Award-winning Apple Crisp

Fall is in full force here in Albany.  It's my most favorite time of the year!  I love the cool, crisp air, the leaves changing colors and, of course, the yummy Fall desserts!  This is one of them.  The brown sugar topping is crunchy and sweet and the apple filling is delicious.  Topped with ice cream, this award winning dessert is most certainly a winner!


Award-winning Apple Crisp

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Stir then add butter and cut in until crumbly.  Take half of this mixture and press into a greased 2 1/2 quart baking dish or a 9 in. square pan. Top with apples.

Put sugar, water, cornstarch and vanilla in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Turn heat to medium and cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Pour mixture over apples.  Top with rest of oat topping.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.  Serve warm with ice cream.

Recipe from Taste of Home

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Buckle up folks.  This cake is intense.
We are talking richer than rich, moister that moist, and beyond delicious.  I don't drink milk, but if I did, I would have wanted a big glass of it to go with this cake.
Our beautiful and extremely talented sister-in-law, Jen, made this the other night for my cute nephew's second birthday.  She got the recipe from her friend and neighbor, Heidi, whose husband, Jason, makes this cake for his family.  I am so happy that this cake has found it's way into my life.
(Jason also does an awesome job cleaning carpets and you can check that out here).



Cake:
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbs. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans.  Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper.  Butter the paper.
*Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk to combine.  Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend.  Gradually beat in water.  Blend in vinegar and vanilla.  Whisk in eggs and beat until well blended.  Scrape down sides and make sure batter is well mixed.  Divide evenly among the 3 pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for 20 minutes.  Invert onto a wire cooling rack, peel off paper liners and let cool completely. (Cakes are very soft so you might want to freeze them for 30 minutes before assembling).

Frosting:
10 ounces cream cheese at room temp.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp.
5 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter

*Beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly and scraping down the sides.  Beat for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add peanut butter and mix until blended.
*To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large plate.  Spread 2/3 cup of the frosting evenly over the top.  Repeat with the next layer.  Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with remaining frosting.

Chocolate-peanut butter glaze:
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. smooth peanut butter
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

*In a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, corn syrup and half-and-half.  Whisk continually until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
*Pour glaze slowly over cake so that it coats the top evenly and drips down the sides in big drips.  Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes and then remove 1 hour before serving.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Peach Season is Here!!

Three cheers for peach season!!!  Hip-hip-hooray!
Below is a list of some of our favorite recipes involving peaches, including this salad which is my all-time favorite.  Enjoy!!

Spinach Peach Salad
Peach Smoothie
Raspberry Peach Jam
Peach Crisp
Mini Peach Pies
Peach Cobbler #1
Peach Cobbler #2
Peach Cobbler #3
Peach Cobbler #4

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Joe Joe Cookie Cookies

Holy cow it's been a long time since I have posted a recipe.  I don't even have a good reason like moving or having a baby or anything.  But I made these cookies yesterday and they were good!  And good cookie recipes need to be shared.  So here is the recipe and I hope you enjoy it!!
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup (2 cubes) butter, room temp
2 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 sleeves (about 20 cookies) Joe Joes or Oreos if you don't have Trader Joe's

*Mix sugars.  Add butter and beat a couple of minutes until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix together.  Add dry ingredients and mix.  Smash up cookies in a big ziploc bag and add to dough.  Mix until combined.  Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  (11 minutes is perfect in my oven).  I use a medium cookie scoop so they are about the size of a golf-ball.

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