Thursday, October 21, 2010

White Chocolate Chip Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

How about that for a loaded cookie?! Last week, I could not decide what snack I wanted to make and these cookies seemed to have it all. They bake up high, so the cookie is almost rounded at the top. All those ingredients in one little cookie gives it great texture and flavors. Great for days when plain old chocolate chip won't do!

White Chocolate Chip Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (I used instant)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsps. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups white chocolate, coursely chopped or white chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the dry ingredients together starting with flour and ending with salt. Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the brown sugar and mix until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture in three steps. Stir in the white chocolate and dried cherries.

Scoop out walnut sized mounds of cookie dough and place on cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are a light golden brown. Place on cooling racks and store in airtight containers.

From: Chocolate Lover's Cookbook for Dummies

"C is for cookie. That's good enough for me."
-Cookie Monster, Sesame Street

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vacation, Sort Of

My husband and I decided earlier on in the year to spend our money to fix up our house instead of taking a vacation this year. Nobody was happy about it, but our house desperately needed updating. We have been working on it slowly since we bought it 10 years ago. We added a new sun room, installed wood floors, put in new kitchen counters and cabinets, painted and added crown molding, refinished the basement and added a bathroom. We both agreed that now it was time to update the outside of the home. Plus we needed more space for our family and a front porch would be a great place to hang out. So we had my brother in law, who owns his own contractor business, add a front porch to our house, a new driveway and a new stone wall. We also decided to build pillars with solar lights at the beginning of the driveway. It was a lot of work and took three months to complete, but I'm so glad we did it.

Since my husband had not taken his vacation time this year, he scheduled it for this week. Just some time at home. No plans. Having a husband at home is a lot of work! Just today alone he had us going out to buy bikes (I haven't owned one since I was 14 years old!) and riding them all afternoon on the local trail. He also took me to lunch the other day and tomorrow he wants to go for coffee. Some people. Really.

Needless to say, I haven't been home much to get any baking done and dinners have mostly been on the fly. It's a nice change of pace and I'm enjoying having some company all day! I'll miss him next week when he has to go back to work. I will have my baking to comfort me, though.

"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in."
-Robert Orben

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Slow Cooker Apple Onion Soup

With this past week being in the 50's and rainy, I felt the need to make lots of soup. Being that French Onion soup is one of my favorites, when I received this recipe through Paula Deen's monthly newsletter, I was intrigued. A little worried too. Would it taste weird combining the apples with onions? To me, that doesn't sound too good! So after cooking it all day, I was dying to taste it. Suprisingly, it was good! The diced apples add texture and the apple juice in the recipe gives it a slight sweet taste. Add that to the cinnamon sprinked on the bread, and the flavors taste just like Fall should. I hope you enjoy it too!

Slow Cooker Apple Onion Soup

1/2 cup butter (I used about 4 tablespoons of SmartBalance butter)
4 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
3 apples peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
5 cups beef stock
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup white wine (I used cooking sherry)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (I omitted due to large amount of salt already in recipe)
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

For Cinnamon Cheese Toast Top:
6 slices French bread, sliced
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups Swiss cheese

In slow cooker on high, combine butter, onions, apples and garlic. Cover and cook on high for 45 to 60 minutes or until the onions begin to brown around the edges. (I didn't use the cooker. Instead I completed this step on the stove top with a frying pan)

Sprinkle mixture with flour and stir to coat (at this point I added the mixture to the crock pot). Add beef stock, apple juice, white wine, Worcestershire, brown sugar, thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high 3 to 4 hours until onions are tender and soup is hot.

To serve: Ladle soup into ovenproof crocks. Top with one slice of bread per crock. Sprinkle cinnamon over each bread slice and cover with 1/4 cup of cheese. Place under preheated broiler on low for about 2 minutes or until browned.
Makes 6 servings.

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."
-Stanley Horowitz

Friday, October 1, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Squares

There are so many varieties of bar cookies that you could probably make a different one everyday and not run out of recipes for months! I love them cause they are so easy to make and fun to tweek to your own taste. They never fail to be chewy, crunchy and full of sweet goodness. These bar cookies have all of my favorite ingredients- peanut butter, chocolate and oats. And M&M's to boot! I used the minature instead of full size regular M&M's, but you can pick your favorite to add.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Squares

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 tsps. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
12 ounces candy coated chocolate, like M&M's
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some paper hanging over the edge of the pan to make it easier to lift bars out after baking.

Beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in the peanut butter and vanilla to form a smooth batter.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and oats. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, mixing until flour is just blended. Batter will be thick.

Spoon half the batter into the prepared baking pan. Smooth over with a spatula. Sprinkle M&M's over the batter then top with remaining batter.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until top is lightly browned and toothpick or knife comes out clean. If middle is not done yet, cover pan with alum. foil until baked through.

Cool pan completely on a wire rack. Lift bars out of the pan and drizzle with melted chocolate. Cut into squares. Store in sealed container.

"Tell me what you eat, I'll tell you who you are."
-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin