2 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
This is a moist, tender coffee cake that is best served warm from the oven for breakfast or a quick snack...

The first time I saw this recipe, I was not particularly drawn to the title: Peanut Butter Cake. Further down the recipe, however, was the option for Peanut Butter-Chocolate Cake. This title is still misleading to me. I chose to rename it because it resembles a coffee cake with the crumble topping. Chocolate...AND peanut butter....now, that's a combination to win me over! Now look at that crumble topping....

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
From Better Homes & Gardens
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

½ c. all purpose flour
½ c. brown sugar
¼ c. creamy peanut butter
3 T. butter or margarine
¼ c. semi-sweet choc. chips
2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
1 c. milk
½ c. creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
¼ c. butter, margarine, softened
½ c. semi-sweet choc. chips

Grease bottom and ½” up side of 9x13” pan. In small bowl, stir flour, sugar for topping. Using a pastry blender, cut in peanut butter and margarine till mixture looks like small crumbs. Add ¼ c. choc. chips. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir 2 c. flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add milk, peanut butter, eggs and butter. Beat on med-high speed for 3 min., scrapping bowl.
Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with topping.

Bake in 375° oven for 30 min. or till toothpick comes clean.
Serve warm or cool on wire rack.


24 Gen. Tso's Chicken: Step by Step

My favorite restaurant has General Tao's Chicken made my way: mild. It is a sweet and tangy dish that you can adjust the heat to any level you want. They will make your dish super spicy or they will stir fry your meat rather than fry it, if you wish...

I would eat there every day, if I could. And I would eat the same thing. Hey, if I find something I like, I order it again. After  creating this recipe, I can eat it every day, or any day that I wish.  It is easy and uses ingredients that you probably have in your pantry.

Here is my recipe, step by step.

First, make the sauce and set it in the fridge for later.  Recipe link is at the bottom of this post.

Next, take 2 semi-frozen chicken breasts (Costco size).  Cut them against the grain, in thin slices. A serrated bread knife works well.   Wonder why it's semi-frozen? Try cutting raw, slimy chicken into thin slices ... just doesn't work.

Next, get your brown rice cooking ... brown rice takes 45 minutes, so get it going! I keep my brown rice in an used ice cream bucket in the freezer, as it can go rancid.

I use 2 c. water to 1 c. rice.  It will be done by the time your chicken and sauce is done.

**Now take a cup of flour, sprinkle some white pepper in it; and whisk in a few chicken pieces. I used to do this by hand...I finally got smart and used stainless steel tongs instead.  Saved my fingers from getting "flour glue."

I put my floured chicken in a metal strainer; shake the excess flour back into the bowl.  This will keep a lot of excess flour accumulating in the bottom of your frying oil.

I then put my pieces of floured chicken in the basket of my fryer.  I have used my stove top wok or a couple of inches of oil in a saucepan to fry my chicken ... then I found this beautiful fryer at Costco for $40.  Worth every penny. You can use a deep saucepan with 2" of oil, instead of a deep fryer.

I drop the basket and immediately, the bubbles start...Dang it...did I get grease on the camera lens? Better not get too close! After about a minute, the bubbles subside and the chicken is ready to take out.

Look at all the chicken I get from 2 chicken breasts! A good way to stretch your food dollar. These babies drain on a wire cooling rack over paper towels that are resting in a cookie sheet.  Makes cleaning up so much easier!

Now it's time to get my wok ready. Any large skillet will do, really. I put the crushed red pepper flakes in the oil (only a little...my poor tongue can only take so much...I put the rest on the table for the other spicy eaters in the family). Warm up the flakes a little ... it infuses all the flavor into the oil, which will make your dish taste so much better.

I then take my prepared sauce from the fridge and slowly pour it in on top of the flavored oil. Watch this carefully ... on med-high heat, it will start to thicken very quickly ...

Turn off the stove and put the cooked chicken into the sauce.  Stir until the chicken is completely coated.

TaDa! Here it is...in all its glory.  Delish. Try it, you'll like it!  Add more red pepper flakes if you like it HOT!

**You can stir fry the thawed chicken pieces in a small amount of oil instead of dipping them in flour and frying them.

Print Friendly and PDF General Tao's Chicken
Brown Rice:
2 cups water
1 cup brown rice

Put water and rice into a medium saucepan. Stir. Cover and put over med-high heat. When water comes to a boil, reduce to low.
Cook for 45 min.
Remove lid, fluff with a fork.

2 T. cornstarch
1/4 c. water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 t. ground or fresh ginger
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 T. apple cider (add if you like a 'tang' to your sauce)
1/2 c. chicken broth
1/4 t. onion powder


2 large boneless chicken breasts, sliced thin
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. white pepper
1 c. vegetable oil (if frying in a wok)

1/8 t. crushed red pepper flakes (use more if you want more heat)

Mix sauce ingredients together.  Cover and store in the fridge.
Slice semi-frozen chicken in thin slices.  
Put oil in wok on med-high (375degree) heat.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and pepper.
Using a few chicken pieces at a time, dip into flour mixture.  Shake off excess (or use a sieve).
Put coated chicken pieces into hot oil.  Fry up to a minute; until golden brown.
Drain chicken pieces on paper towel.
Repeat until all chicken pieces are cooked.

If using a wok, drain all but 1-2 T. of oil.
Put chili peppers in oil.  Warm up peppers on medium heat for a minute or two.
Slowly pour sauce into hot oil.  
Stir constantly, until sauce thickens up.
Turn off stove.
Put cooked chicken pieces into sauce.  Stir to coat chicken thoroughly. 

Serve over hot rice.

0 Creamy, Hot Artichoke Dip

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and I am snacking. Not only am I snacking, I am also eating something green...

Anybody who knows me well, knows that I have a strong aversion to green food. Not the color green, but green food in general. (I do like green M&M's!) I am a texture eater and have a picky palate. I also cannot handle spicy foods. Anyway, back to green.

Green is a great color...great to look at. Great for the environment. But to eat, well...I have a hard time going there. Imagine the surprised looks on the faces of my family when I not only made artichoke dip, but ATE it.

I am, to an extent, a social eater. If I am hungry enough, desperate enough, I will eat it. Maybe. Thus my introduction to sour cream (college roommate cooking), fried shrimp (double date, which my date ordered for me), bloomin' onions and artichoke dip (they were appetizers and I was HUNGRY while waiting for my food).

I have watched a couple of my friends make this and searched the Internet for some good recipes. By far, the recipes called for thawed, frozen, and drained (or squeezed) spinach. I did not want a whole lot of contact with spinach, so I adapted a recipe and did what one of my other friends did: used creamed spinach. Easy. Yummy.

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Hot (or not) Spinach and Artichoke Dip
adapted from Food Network

1-10 oz. package creamed spinach
1-14 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts, drained (not marinated)
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. non-fat sour cream
1/4 c. reduced fat mayonnaise
2/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated (not the powdered kind)
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. red pepper flakes (I opted out)

Thaw out spinach in microwave, according to directions.
Put in a food processor. Add cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes, if desired.
Process until smooth.
Serve warm, with pita chips, flour tortilla chips, or crackers of choice.

0 Herbed Roasted Turkey Breast

This year, I wanted a simple Thanksgiving. We had my parents and in-laws over and my son's girlfriend. So for a small group of 9 people, I opted to cook a turkey breast...or two.

I have cooked turkeys in the past and the white meat goes first. Its almost a race to get them! Also, it is difficult to keep the white meat moist. We have tried brining, injecting, and smoking turkey breasts, with mixed results. My husband would love to smoke all his meats. Brining (soaking meat in salt water) does make it moist, but sometimes it has been too salty. Reading somewhere, I found out that you are supposed to rinse the meat after brining. Injecting has brought some saltiness, too. Besides, I think turkey breasts are already injected. With what, I don't know.

It is a good idea to have a meat thermometer or a probe (if your oven comes with one, like mine does). I cooked two almost 6 pound turkeys and it took about 2 1/2 hours. Longer than this recipe indicated.

My good friend from Comemos-Let's Eat showed me a book from the Barefoot Contessa. She loved her simple cooking. I Googled her and came across her recipe for Herb Roasted Turkey. It turned out sooooo good. And soooo easy! My dad commented that he would like to do his turkey with all white meat again...I'll take that as a compliment!

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Herb Roasted Turkey
from the Barefoot Contessa

1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 6 1/2 to 7 pounds
1 T. minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 t. dry mustard
1 T. chopped fresh rosemary leaves (I only had dried)
1 T. chopped fresh sage leaves (I only had powdered; used 1/2T.)
1 t. chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper
2 T. olive oil
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 c. dry white wine (I used Fre alcohol removed white wine)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the turkey breast, skin side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice to make a paste. (it was runny, but worked just fine) Loosen the skin from the meat gently with your fingers and smear half the paste directly on the meat. (A small spoon worked better than using my fingers) Spread the remaining paste evenly on the skin. Pour the wine into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast turkey for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest and meatiest areas of the breast. Test in several places. If the skin is over browning, cover the breast loosely with aluminum foil. When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice and serve with pan juices spooned over the turkey.

2 Sugar Free NY Cheesecake

Sugar Free New York Cheesecake

My son just turned 20 yesterday...his birthday landed on Thanksgiving this year...the last time was when he turned 8. For his birthday cake, he requested cheesecake...not just any cheesecake, but New York style cheesecake...

"What is the difference between regular cheesecake and NY cheesecake?" I asked him. "Umm...I think it's higher and doesn't have a crust on the side," he responded. Now, my son, being a thespian, has a yen for ANYTHING New York. I am sure he has a secret desire to run away and live in NY.

Now, I had to research some recipes on cheesecake. First of all, it is not a cake, it is a custard. There is no flour in this recipe...only two pounds of cream cheese! Yikes! I found a couple of recipes and decided to combine the two. One was from the Food Network and the other from Marlene Koch's Splenda recipes.

I like the idea of sugar free....only if it tastes good. Cooking with Splenda granular is fine...baking is a different thing altogether. The few cookies I have tried taste good, except they lose a little bit of the color (they don't brown as well) and instead of staying 'crispy,' they go soft the next day.

Marlene's recipe for cheesecake is good and I made a couple of changes. First, I did not use fat-free cream cheese. I used 2 pkgs. regular and 2 pkgs. of reduced fat. Doing this brought back some of the creaminess and texture to the cake. I mean, custard. Whatever. The second thing I did was add lemon and orange rind to the custard. This added a light citrus flavor that made the cheesecake taste great all by itself.

Oh, and one more change...I did not do the sour cream topping that is baked on during the last 15 minutes. That's the great thing about recipes...you can add or change some things to your liking! Next time, I would probably double the graham cracker crust; it wasn't thick enough for me.

This was the first time I ever gave my food a "bath." Huh? The last time I ever gave a bath was well over 15 years ago! But hey, I decided to try it, because the first time I ever made cheesecake, it was runny inside...not good. Especially when you make it for company. So I guess giving your cheesecake a "bath" is important!

Yes, this recipe is sugar free, but not fat free. But it turned out great and no one knew it was sugar free! If you don't have Splenda, you can substitute it with granulated sugar, using the same measurements.

Splenda New York Cheesecake
adapted from Marlene Koch
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page printable recipe)

1 c. graham cracker crumbs (about 8 crackers)
2 T. butter, melted
2 T. Splenda Granular (or regular sugar)

16 oz. regular cream cheese
16 oz. fat-free cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
1 1/4 c. Splenda Granular
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. lemon zest
1/2 t. orange zest
4 eggs
1/3 c. light sour cream (I used non-fat)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wrap a 9" springform pan in heavy duty foil to waterproof.
Begin making the crust. In a mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and Splenda. Press into the springform pan. Bake crust for 5 minutes. Cool.

For filling, cream the cream cheeses until very creamy. Beat in Splenda, lemon juice, vanilla and zests. Add eggs one at a time, beating briefly after each addition. Stir in sour cream. Pour cream cheese mixture into crust and smooth the top.

Place cheesecake into a 9x13" baking pan. Place in oven. Pour hot water into the 9x13 pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan. (This is the "bath") Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the sides of cake appear firm but the center still jiggles slightly.
Turn off the oven.
Leave the cheesecake in the oven for an additional 15 minutes.
Remove from water bath and cool completely.
Chill cake in the fridge over night....this is important to create a nice, dense cake.
Serve with fresh strawberries, jam, chocolate, whatever you want!


0 Macadamia White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Macadamia Chip CookieAfter reading about the Ultimate Chocolate Chip cookie on Phemomenon's blog, I just had to respond! Everyone's looking for the perfect recipe. I like soft, crispy on the edges, and not doughy in the center. The perfect balance of cookie, chips, and nuts...I also love the versatility of adding any kind of chip or chocolate chunk in it...

I have tried to make cookies with only butter in it, and I have not had success with them. The cookies tend to spread out very thin. It is probably because I do not let my dough sit in the fridge for 36 hours! If I tried to do that, the dough would "disappear" overnight...I am a cookie dough fiend!
Macadamia Chip Cookie bottomSo, my compromise is to make cookies that are 50% butter or margarine (I use I Can't Believe it's Not Butter) and 50% shortening. I do add less chocolate chips and a little more flour. I like the balance of cookie, chips, and nuts.

Macadamia Chip Cookie openSo, try this cookie and add your own favorite "add-ins," whether it be chocolate chunks, semi-sweet chips, or Andes Mint chips.

Macadamia Chip Cookies
adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. white chocolate chips*
1 c. macadamia nuts, chopped**

In an electric mixer, beat butter and shortening till well combined.
Add sugars and beat till fluffy.
Add eggs and vanilla. Mix completely.
Add flour, soda, and salt, mixing thoroughly.
Stir in chocolate pieces and nuts.

Drop from 2T. cookie scoop onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until tops are dry and golden.

Do not remove from cookie sheets until cookies are set and cool.

Makes 40 cookies

*substitute your favorite chocolate chip...milk, semi-sweet or chunk.
**substitute your favorite nut...walnut, pecan or hazelnuts.

0 Greek Style Parmesan Chicken & Simplified Cooking

This recipe is waaaaaaay easy! Simple. Easy. Takes minutes to throw together, 25 minutes in the oven...and Voila, you've got dinner!

Credit for this recipe goes to my good friend and cook from Comemos-Let's Eat! She has taught me baking and how to make authentic and great tasting Mexican food.

I am not one to purchase specialty ingredients, but this recipe uses
Greek Seasoning from the San Francisco Herb Company.    I have tried other "Greek" seasonings, and they don't compare. This one is granular and more flavorful than others I've tried.

You can also try subbing your favorite Italian Seasoning for a change of pace.

Greek Seasoning


Greek Style Parmesan Chicken
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)
4 boneless chicken breasts
1 T. Greek Seasoning (I am sure you can use an Italian blend)
1-8oz. can of tomato sauce
3/4 c. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded

Put chicken in 9x9 baking dish. Sprinkle seasoning all over the chicken.
Pour tomato sauce evenly on top.
Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake, uncovered in 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

Lightly cover with aluminum foil last 10 minutes to prevent over browning.

Serve over spaghetti. Pour sauce from pan over spaghetti.


4 Baked Teriyaki Chicken

This is a very easy, easy recipe to make! My dad got it from a Japanese woman he knew a long time ago. I made it for my friend, who eventually became my husband. He claims that it was this recipe that won him over...

Tonight was the first time I have ever used fresh ginger root. I have always used ginger powder or dried ginger root and finely grated it. I saw a cooking show that showed how you can peel the ginger root, put it in a plastic bag, and into the freezer. When you need some fresh ginger, just take out the root and grate what you need. I loved the idea!

So, I got out my microplaner (a favorite tool for citrus rinds) and grated my peeled ginger root. I was surprised not to see it come out from under the grater, but when I tapped the planer over my sauce, what looked like a paste came out. Maybe it was ground to fine...I don't know. All I know is that I grated 1/4" of the root and the sauce turned out great! There is NO comparison between the dried and fresh! There was a brighter, sweeter aroma and it tasted so good! Anybody want my leftover dried ginger?

You can make the sauce alone, thicken it on the stove top and use it as a glaze to brush grilled chicken. It is also good as a marinade for grilled chicken, though I think this oven version is a good combination of both and less time consuming!

I usually serve this over a short grain Japanese rice. Tonight, I used the long grain. It was good, but not the same. I love the tender, sticky Basmati rice with Japanese foods.

Teriyaki Chicken
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

2-3 boneless chicken breasts; sliced or cubed
2-4 T. sugar (you decide how sweet you want it)
1/3 c. soy sauce
7 T. ketchup
1/2 t. ground ginger
1 T. cornstarch (leave out if making this as a glaze to grill chicken)

In a 1.5 quart glass baking dish, combine the sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, ginger, and cornstarch. Mix until well dissolved.

Add chicken pieces. Marinate overnight, at least 8 hours.

Bake, covered, at 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Uncover last 10 minutes for browning.

Grill over hot grill for 15-20 minutes, turning chicken over every 5 minutes to prevent burning.

Serve over hot rice.

0 Chicken Pot Pie

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
When I first told my husband that I was making chicken pot pie, he got a sad look on his face...he actually thought I was gonna pull out the miniature frozen ones and bake them for dinner! I am delighted to say that he was very pleased with the 'family style' pot pie...chunk full of chicken, potatoes, carrots....

I am sure that there is a lower calorie version of this, but hey, this is family, right? Families need to eat together to stay together, right? Now you are on to my secret agenda for cooking!

What to do with the extra pie dough? Make a mini-pie or do what I do...make pie crust cookies! This is what my mom always did: roll out the extra pie dough onto a pie tin, score into sections, and sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on top. Bake for 6-9 minutes or till golden brown.

This recipe is easily adaptable...add any veggies you like, or don't like (peas, for instance). You could, if you wanted to spend extra time, make those individual size pies...

Chicken Pot Pie
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)
adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Pastry for 2 pie crusts (recipe below)
2 small potatoes, cubed
2 med. carrots, sliced
1-10 oz. pkg. frozen mixed veggies
1/2 c. chopped onion (medium)
1/4 c. margarine or butter
1/3 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. thyme
1/8 t. pepper
2 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. milk
3 c. cooked chicken, cubed (2 boneless chicken breasts)
1 T. dried parsley

Prepare pastry for double crust pie; set aside. (crust is better if it has rested in the fridge for an hour or more)
Cook frozen veggies according to direction; or cook potatoes/carrots/other veggies by boiling, steaming, microwaving, or pressure cooking till fork tender.
In a medium saucepan, cook onion and butter till tender. Stir in flour, salt, thyme and pepper. Add chicken broth and milk all at once. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Stir in drained veggies, chicken, and parsley. Cook till bubbly.
Assemble 1 pie crust in a 2 qt. pie or baking dish.
Pour mixture onto pie crust. Place 2nd pie crust on top and flute edges of pastry and cut slits in top for steam.

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 12-15 minute or till golden.

Pie Crust Double
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)
From Better Homes & Gardens

2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
2/3 c. shortening
6-7 T. ice cold water

Stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or food processor, cut in shortening till pieces are pea-sized.
Pastry blender:
Sprinkle 1 T. of water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat, using 1 T. of water at a time, till dough is moistened.
Food Processor:
Turn on to low setting. Through feed tube, add water until pastry forms a ball. Turn off immediately.

Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball. Flatten into a 6" disc and wrap in plastic wrap.
Put dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
On a lightly floured surface, dust the top of the dough and rolling pin with flour.
Roll from center to edges into a 12" circle.
To transfer pastry, wrap it round the rolling pin; unroll into a 9" pie plate, being careful not to stretch pastry. With a table knife, trim pastry even with pie plate.
Put filling in pie crust.
Roll remaining dough into a 12" circle.
Cut slits in the center to allow steam to escape while baking.
Place pastry on top of filling; trim to 1/2" beyond edge of plate. Fold top pastry under edge of bottom pastry and slightly flatten.
Crimp edge of pastry as desired.

Bake as directed in the individual recipe.

Cover crust edge with foil during last 10 minutes to prevent over browning.

1 Cookie Making Tips & Tools

Cookie Making Tips and Tools Oatmeal CookiesWant the perfect cookie? Do your cookies turn out different every time? What kind of baking sheet do you need? Why do my cookies turn out flat? Crispy? Soft? Check here for some tips and ideas for making, baking and storing your cookies...


A favorite cookie tool of mine is the cookie scoop! No more "I want the big one!" from my kids. No more over baked or under baked cookies. I use the 2T. size for most of my recipes. (Mine is 1.5" wide and has what looks like a 18/8 number stamped on it.) I scoop up the cookie dough and scrape it against the side of the bowl to remove any excess. Now my kids want the cookie that has the most chocolate chips! A larger cookie scoop (or ice cream scoop) works great for scooping batter in muffin and cupcake recipes.

A necessary tool is a cookie or baking sheet. In the past, I have thoroughly enjoyed my set of 3 aluminnum 12x17" baking pans. The sides are barely 3/4" high. I used parchment paper instead of greasing my pans for a quick cleanup; they did NOT fit in my dishwasher! Look for heavy gauge aluminum pans that have low or no sides. Now I use and love my Cuisinart non-stick cookie sheets. (I found a set of 3 at Costco for $20) I wash those by hand to preserve the non-stick finish. They are very easy to clean up.

I prefer to bake my cookies on the bottom side of my baking sheet, as it allows the air to circulate in my oven and evenly brown my cookies. I am fortunate to have a convection oven that helps with browning and allows me to bake 3 sheets at a time! If you find that your cookies are darker in the back of your baking sheet, you may have to rotate the pan mid-way through the baking time.

If your baking sheets are dark, your cookies may over brown. Cookie sheets with a dull (not shiny) finish bake more evenly. Shiny cookie sheet are perfect for cookies that you DON'T want to be brown on the bottom, i.e shortbread.
I prefer NOT to use the insulated cookie sheets. The cookies end up pale, thin, and spread out, with soft doughy centers.

I let my cookies cool on the baking sheet, NOT a cooling rack. This helps firm up the centers of the cookie. I do not like doughy centers!

Put your cookie dough on a cooled baking sheet each time. Putting dough on a hot cookie sheet causes the dough to start spreading before it is ready to bake, affecting the appearance and texture of your cookies. In the winter time, I put my baking sheets outside briefly to quickly cool in between batches.

Cookie Making Tips

Cookie dough meant for shaping (i.e. sugar cookies) often needs to be chilled first for easier handling. (Less flour used in the rolling out process makes for a tender cookie!) The firmness of cookie dough after chilling depends on whether it is made with butter or margarine. Dough that is made with butter will be firmer.

All margarines are NOT created equal. For the best results, choose the stick margarines containing at least 60 percent vegetable oil. If the spread has less than 60 percent oil; it will have a higher water content and give your cookies different results. Avoid spreads labeled diet, whipped, liquid, or soft; they are not for baking!

Stick margarines containing corn oil will make a soft cookie dough, and you may have to adjust the chilling times in your recipe. Do not substitute oil for margarine in recipes. You will get a cookie that tastes and feels greasy.

Cookie Baking

Cookies made with shortening tend to be crispier, while those made with butter tend to be softer. Of course, the flour/oil ratio, oven temperature, cookie size and how long you bake your cookie help determine the outcome! My perfect cookie has a 50/50 ratio of shortening and butter or margarine.

Cookies are done when they are not shiny on the top. With some cookies (batter-type or soft sugar) you may need to touch the tops slightly. If the cookie springs back up and no indentation is left, the cookie is done.

Cookie Storage

Place cooled cookies in an airtight container. Do not frost. To freeze, put cookies in a single layer with wax or parchment paper between layers of cookies. Store for up to 6 months.

Cookie dough can be shaped and then frozen on a baking sheet. After about an hour in the freezer, remove the cookie dough and place in a freezer safe plastic bag for up to 6 months. To use, remove from the bag and bake as directed, adding a minute or two the the baking time.

1 Oatmeal Choco-Scotch Cookies

Crispy, chewy, tender oatmeal goodness, all rolled up in one cookie! This is by far my favorite cookie. In my recipe book, there are at least 5 different oatmeal cookie recipes, and I keep coming back to this one. Choices for add ins are as limitless as your imagination...nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, craisins, toffee bits, and the list goes on!

My family of boys appreciate this cookie because it is a perfect "dunking" cookie.
The reason it is a perfect dunking cookie is that it is crisp enough on the outside and holds its shape. Yet, its soft and tender inside melts in your mouth with the chewy goodness of oatmeal. Now I prefer NOT to dunk my cookies. I don't understand what my boys see in it! If the cookies are soft, once dunked in milk, they crumble into pieces that settle to the bottom of the glass. Then, a spoon is required to get the cookie, or "cookie mush" as they call it. I just don't get it.

Our family favorite add-ins are a combo of butterscotch chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Another favorite we discovered this year is the Heath toffee chips....can't get over how good they are in an oatmeal cookie! Experiment with this timeless recipe and discover a few family favorites!

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Oatmeal Choco-Scotch Cookies

1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar

1 t. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. butterscotch chips

Add in options:
Instead of 1/2 c. chips, try milk chocolate chips, toffee pieces, chopped nuts, raisins, craisins; 1/4 t. cinnamon and 1/8 t. cloves

Combine shortening and sugars and cream well. Add egg and vanilla; mix well.
Add soda, salt, flour and oats. Add raisins and spices, if desired.
Add chips and mix until Incorporated.

Drop by medium cookie (2T) scoop onto greased baking sheets.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.

Cookies are done when tops are dry and golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheet until set.

Makes 20 cookies


1 Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas with red sauceEarlier, I mentioned my good friend who is an amazing cook, especially with Mexican food. Hooray! She has a blog, and you can find it here! Look for her enchilada sauce and Tilly's rice recipes, they are authentic and delicious...

I have tried basically two types of enchiladas: with red sauce and white (cream of chicken) sauce. My family prefers the red sauce, and I have to agree.

Knorr Tomato Chicken BouillonI like to use Knorr's Tomato bouillon for the seasonings and McCormick's chicken base instead of bouillon. The chicken base dissolves more readily than a cube of bouillon and keeps well in the fridge. I find my tomato bouillon at Walmart in the 35 oz size for around $6. There are smaller 3.5 oz sizes for around $3-$4. The yellow product is CHICKEN only...make sure you get the RED jar...it has the tomato flavor and spices in it.

Mccormick Chicken Base
For recipes that calls for chicken broth, I like to use McCormick Chicken Base. It is chicken bouillon in a paste form. It tastes fresher than cubed bouillon. I keep it in my fridge. I can find this at Costco.
(Thanks to my friend, Susan for the picture ideas...makes finding them easier!)

There are a couple of ways to cook your chicken. Boiling, pressure cooking, or microwave. The easiest for me is to microwave. I put the thawed out chicken breasts on a plate and cover it with plastic wrap. I cook the chicken for 3 minutes and then rotate; cook for 3 more minutes. If you are unsure, check your microwave manual. Then I shred them in a bowl by using 2 forks; pulling it apart. It is easier to pull apart one chicken breast at a time. Use the reserved 'juice' from the chicken to keep it moist.

When it comes to tortillas for chicken or beef enchiladas, I prefer flour, although corn can be used. I also like to use the smaller flour tortillas; the ones from Costco are HUGE! (I cut those in half) For Cheese enchiladas, I like to use white corn tortillas...they taste milder than the yellow ones.

If you want a fast and EASY meal, just warm up the corn tortillas (covered with plastic wrap) in the microwave, put a 'finger' slice of cheese on it, roll it up and cover with enchilada sauce. Microwave it until cheese is melted. So easy, so good!

Now on to the traditional enchilada recipe:

Enchilada Sauce
adapted from Comemos-Let's Eat!

(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

In a blender, combine the following ingredients:
1/2 of an 8oz can of Tomato sauce (I use the other half for Mexican Rice)
1 T. Knorr Caldo de Tomate **
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 T-2 T. dark chili powder (you decide the heat)
3 T. all purpose flour
2 c. water*
1 t. McCormick Chicken Base (this is similar to chicken bouillon, only in paste form)*

**If you cannot find Caldo de Tomate, use 3-4T. mild chili powder; 1/2 small onion; and 1/8t. cumin.
* You can use 1 c. chicken broth + 1 cup water in place of water and chicken base.
Blend till well mixed.
In a medium sauce pan, put 1 T. of oil. Turn stove to med-high and pour the sauce into the pan. Cook until bubbly and thick, stirring continually, about 5 minutes.

Chicken Enchiladas
(4x6 printable recipe) (full page recipe)

2 boneless chicken breasts, thawed and cooked
1 t. Knorr's Tomato w/chicken bouillon
1/2 c. shredded cheese; divided (cheddar, Monterrey jack, Mexican blend, your choice)

Shred chicken by pulling it apart with two forks.
Sprinkle seasoning in chicken.
Add most of your cheese, stirring quickly if chicken is still hot. Reserve the extra cheese for the topping.
Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce in your baking pan.
Put tortillas, covered with plastic, in microwave for about 1 min. until soft and pliable.
Place about 2 T. of chicken mixture on one end of the tortilla. Lift up end of tortilla over the filling and pull back, forming a tight 'log.'
Continue rolling to the end of the tortilla.
Place tortilla, seam side down, on top of sauce in baking pan.
Continue with rest of tortillas until pan is full. (They fit pretty tight in my pan)
Cover with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with reserved cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole and lettuce.


5 Tacquitos. Baked. Not Fried!

A very good friend of mine is an excellent cook. Better than that, she's spent some time in Mexico and has several authentic Mexican recipes that she has taught me.

These are great to make, freeze, and take out, and bake. I had a can of Costco's roast beef (or brisket, 12 oz) and thought it would make a great tacquito. I also found some extra shredded chicken with cheese in the freezer, so I thawed that out.

You can cook your chicken in the microwave or poach it on the stove. My favorite method is to use my pressure cooker, which cooks my chicken straight from frozen! Shredding cooked chicken, beef or pork is SO fast and easy when you use your electric stand blender or hand mixer!

There is a favorite bouillon/spice blend that I love to use in my Mexican cooking. It is Knorr Caldo de Tomate, or Tomato Bouillon with Chicken Flavor. I use the powdered form. I have found a 35 oz size at Walmart that I use and keep in the fridge. They also sell smaller bottles. I use this seasoning in my enchilada sauce, Mexican rice, chicken enchiladas and chicken tacos.

print recipe

Baked Chicken or Beef Tacquitos
Crispy corn tortillas filled with seasoned shredded chicken or beef and cheese, are great as an appetizer or as finger foods at a gathering. Knorr Tomate Chicken bouillon is a powder that can be found in the Mexican or Hispanic aisle of your grocery store.
  • 1 large chicken breast, cooked & shredded - OR-
  • 12 oz roast beef, cooked & shredded
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, or 1/2 small onion, diced, cooked
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Knorr Tomate w/chicken bouillon
  • 18-20 corn tortillas
  • cooking oil, or spray oil
1. Mix together the cooked chicken or beef with cooked onions and spices. 2. Put 5 corn tortillas on a microwave safe plate and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH/100% for 30 sec - 1 minute.3. Lightly spray a baking sheet.4. Put 2 Tablespoons of meat filling, in a line, on one end of the warmed tortilla.5. Lift edge of tortilla up over the filling. Press down and pull back, making a tight log. Roll tortilla all the way to the other edge and put seam side down on a baking sheet. Repeat the process with remaining meat mixture and tortillas.6. Lightly spray cooking oil or brush tops of rolled tortillas with cooking oil.7. Bake in a 357°F preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot, with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.FREEZER: Tacquitos can be made ahead of time without baking them. Put baking sheet of rolled tacquitos in the freezer. When firm, about 2 hours, put tacquitos in freezer safe baggies and return to the freezer, up to 3 months. Use same baking time to cook the frozen tacquitos.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: about 15-18 tacquitos

5 Orange Rolls

I have been craving these rolls for the past couple of days! When oranges came on sale this week, I knew that it was time to make them.
O.k., now that I have stopped licking my fingers and to prevent me from eating the whole batch, here's why I like these rolls...

Everyone seems to have their favorite version of orange rolls. I have tried some very moist, buttery and really 'orangey' styles of rolls, and I keep coming back to this one. Why? Well, it's the easiest, quickest one to make and besides, it tastes heavenly!

After posting the pictures for my Applesauce Cookies, my son suggested that I take a picture of the 'insides' of my products. So, here you are...trust me, it tastes better than it looks!

I am still working on my photography skills...I didn't think I would need them for this blog, but with food, you definitely need pictures! A good friend of mine, who is a professional photographer, gave me some hints and I am anxiously awaiting the little tripod from Amazon this weekend! Thank you for your patience while I'm developing this.

Orange Rolls
(4x6 printable recipe)   (full page printable recipe)

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