Monday, September 24, 2007

Wedding Cookies, again.

I was in New Orleans this weekend and there were three things that I wanted while I was there:

1. Gumbo
2. Hurricane
3. Pralines

I accomplished the first two (at the same meal, coincidentally), but I didn't get my pralines. So, I got home early on Sunday morning still craving them. I thought about making them, but I'm not sure if I have a candy thermometer and didn't really feel like I had the patience to make candy. So, instead, I decided to make something comforting and sugary.

I chose wedding cookies. This is the third wedding cookie recipe I've tried and it's right on the money. They turned out slightly crunchy (just like the ones in the pink box) and the perfect texture.

I halved and tweaked this recipe, just a little by:

adding 1/2 cup of finely chopped mini chips (although, next time I might just use 1/3 cup)
adding 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, also chopped finely.

The dough is super difficult to deal with. Very dry. But, if you put it in the fridge for awhile, makes it easier to form balls.

Just the comfort I was looking for!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

M&M Dream Bars

I absolutely love candy bars. All candy bars. It's the experience. It's the shiny wrappers and picking one from from a rack of 10s of them... trying to decide if I'm in the mood for a snickers bar, m&ms (and if so... peanut, regular or peanut butter), reese peanut butter cups, whatchamacallit, and the list goes on and on...

I've been searching for a recipe for m&m cookies. I always got the feeling that the actual cookie part was different than just making chocolate chip cookies and using m&ms instead. Although, now, after some research, I think thats exactly how you make them. But, in my search for a specific m&m cookie recipe, I found this recipe for m&m dream bars.

They are delicious! Addictive, in fact. They are pretty crumbly on top, which makes them very messy to eat, but worth the mess. Trust me.
The only thing I hate are blue m&ms. There is something so non-appetizing about bright blue m&ms.

Also: April, if you are reading this.... I'm going to save you some grief here cause I know you won't read the recipe all the way through... You have to reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crust to use on the top at the end!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Grandma Cookies

Everyday when I came home from school, my mom was there. I didn't realize at the time what a sacrifice that was for our family, to have her stay at home with my two brothers and I, but I am very grateful that my family was fortunate enough to be able to make that decision. I may not have had all the barbies or video games that my friends had, but having my mom there when I got home from school made it worth it.

When we got home from school, we were always hungry and clamoring for something to eat. And this is the recipe that my mom made us at least twice a week. (Probably more like 3-4 times a week). We call these Grandma Cookies. And strangely enough, not after our grandmas or any other grandmas in our family. We call them Grandma Cookies because a boy in my brother's boy scout group brought these cookies to the boy scout functions and called them Grandma Cookies (after his Grandma, I suspect) and so the name stuck.

Normal people call them No Bake Cookies, Chocolate No Bake Cookies, Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies.... you get the idea.

My mom NEVER used a recipe (see a pattern here?). And these cookies NEVER turned out the exact same way. Sometimes they would be thick and harden almost before she got them out of the pan (This is how everyone else liked them). Sometimes they would be gooey and chocolatey and never firm up, you had to scrape them off the aluminum foil with your fingers (how I preferred them). And sometimes they would be thin and lightly crispy, but tender (how I think they are supposed to turn out). Sometimes my mom forget to put butter in them, or vanilla (she forgot the vanilla a lot). Regardless of how they turned out, we always gobbled them right up.

If my brother or I ever tried to make them, we used this recipe that one of my aunt's penned. They called them Boiled Cookies (sounds delicious, huh?). I think my Aunt Evelyn wrote out this recipe, (although for some reason I think it might have been my Aunt Carolyn) and practically every word is misspelled. Whoever it was, was probably 12 or so when they wrote it out.

This is a cookie that is quick and simple, requires few ingredients and brings back great memories for me. I will definitely make these cookies for my kids one day.

Mine turned out pretty well, but I'm hoping to one day make them the same way my mom does/did... without a recipe.

Chocolate Oatmeal No Bake Cookies

1 stick of Butter

2 cups of sugar

1/2 cup milk

3 tbsp Cocoa

Pinch of Salt

Boil all these ingredients together at a heavy boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and quickly add:

2 1/2 cups of Oats

1/2 cup Peanut Butter

2 tsps Vanilla

Stir in and drop onto a a sheet of aluminum foil to cool.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

6th time the charm... Biscuits.

The quest for the biscuit mastery continues...

Well, this is probably the 5th time I've made biscuits and I finally got the height right. when I rolled them out this time, I kept the dough thick... almost an inch. Previously I had been rolling out to about a 1/2 inch and that just made too many and too thin of biscuits.
This time they were the right height and thickness, but I think next time I'll use half buttermilk and half regular milk, I feel like all buttermilk makes them a little heavier than I'd like. I also used butter flavored shortening this time, which I won't do again. Tasty, but again, too rich. Next time, I'm hoping for perfection.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lemon Bars (that aren't lemon-y).

I really enjoy the tart flavor of lemon and lime. My mom used to make my grandma a lemon bundt cake every year with a lemon glaze for her birthday. YUM. It was a favorite of mine.

So, the other day, I was browsing some lemon bar recipes and came across this one. It had good reviews, so I decided to give it a try last night. I didn't want to make a whole recipe, and the measurements seemed easily divisible, so I decided to halve the recipe. I think that's a mistake. Since there isn't an exact pan that is half the size of a 13x9 inch pan... I was forced to use an 8 inch square pan. I ended up with bars with a very thick (but yummy) crust and then a very thin layer of lemon topping. So thin, that I overcooked it. A lot. They are pretty tasty though, but they have a very light lemon flavor. I would almost call these sugar biscuits or something. I wouldn't even mention that they had lemon in them.

I'll definitely try the recipe again, but I'll try it whole. But, that makes me think... surely someone makes a pan that is exactly half the volume of a 13x9 inch pan. I'll look into it and if not.. then maybe I will!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I have a confession.

I’ve been living a lie since 1989.

And, I feel the need to finally confess my sins and wash away the guilt.

So, here goes.

I cheated in The 1989 Sumner County 4-H Cornbread Muffin Competition. I was the grand prize winner, but, I did not make the cornbread muffins.

When I was in grade school, everyone had to participate in the classroom level 4-H cooking competitions. There were categories for no bake cookies and cornbread muffins. If you won, you automatically got to participate in the county level competition held at a local community college. Basically, this means you had to waste your Saturday sitting around waiting for your baked (or non baked, as the case may be) goods to be judged.

That Saturday morning, my mom helped me make the cornbread muffins and by make, I mean, she threw everything into a bowl (she never measures anything) and I stirred. That was my single contribution, I stirred.

At the end of the baking process, she put pats of butter on top of the muffins and off we went to the community college.

We sat there for about 3 hours, luckily (actually, not so luckily) they scheduled a talent show to coincide with the competition so that we competitors would have something to watch while they tasted all the goods.

After 3 hours of watching kids sing or dance in horrible neon bows and matching puff paint shirts (it was 1989 afterall), my mom and I decided we were out. My mom wanted to play golf, instead of wasting the rest of her Saturday.

Later that afternoon, we got a phone call from a classmate of mine’s mother who was also at the competition. Apparently, MY cornbread muffins had won Grand Prize and she was going to bring MY ribbon over.

I couldn’t believe it. I had never won anything in my entire life and technically, I hadn’t won this either.

But, it doesn’t take winning a 4-H competition to know that my mom does make the best cornbread. Hands down, bar none, it’s what she does best and no one else’s cornbread that I’ve ever had comes close.

So, yesterday, I had her make it while I watched and tried to learn. She does it all by feel (how can you bake without measuring??!!!????!!!???), but I tried to roughly estimate the amounts of each ingredient.

So, here we go… My mother’s Sumner County 4-H Grand Prize Winning Cornbread recipe. It’s not sweet, but it’s baking at it’s best.


1 ½ tbsp Butter
1 ½ cup Self Rising Corn Meal
2 tbsps Self Rising Flour, sifted
1 Egg
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tbsp regular milk
1 tbsp oil

Preheat oven to 375.

Place the butter in a round 9 inch pan and put into oven to melt and heat pan (dont let the butter burn while you prepare the cornbread though!).

Mix the cornmeal and the flour together. Make a well in the center of the flour and cornmeal mixture and add the egg, buttermilk, regular milk and oil. Incorporate all together. If mixture is too dry, add more milk to thin it out. It should be a pourable batter similar to a thick pancake batter consistency.

Pour into heated pan with the melted butter and cook till golden brown.

Where's the pintos?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Another Birthday... another chocolate chip recipe.

This is my friend Jeff:
Trust me, I have WAAYYYY more fun and interesting (read that as drunk and hilarious) pics of this guy, but he has my ticket to the South Carolina vs. LSU game and I can't piss him off till after that...

Jeff is one of my best friends and his birthday was Sunday. We met in college and ours is one of the rare friendships that actually grows stronger AFTER college than during. He's hilarious... he's one of those people that you love hanging out with because you know that you are going to be laughing a lot. And he's loyal. Very loyal... everyone should have a Jeff as one of their best friends.

So, since he is such a good friend and since he lives in baltimore, the baked goods I can send him are limited to ones that ship well... I asked him what his favorite type of cookie is. His answer was:

"Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies"

He studies measles for chrissakes, I should have known it was going to be something basic. Well, anyway, I decided to try a different chocolate chip recipe just for fun and I found this recipe.

This was the best chocolate chip cookie dough I've ever had. I could have eaten the whole freaking bowl. Luckily, for Jeff's sake, I didn't.

The cookies are just good. Not spectacular, but good. I think I still prefer the epicurious recipe, which has a crispier outside and smoother center. But this a good for those who like all-round soft and chewy.

And look how cute they look packaged up in Martha Stewart cookie boxes! They won't look this cute when he gets them after the USPS gets their hands on them.

I need to go back to 1st grade, seriously, I have the penmenship of a six year old.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Ahhh... the Lorna Doone. One of my new loves
They are delicious, buttery, crunchy "shortbread cookies." I usually only eat the ones in the 100 calorie packs... otherwise I could easily inhale a box of the full calorie, full size ones.
I never knew I liked shortbread. And actually, I don't think I would like regular scottish shortbread. I think I just like shortbread cookies. Which are basically just buttery, sweet, hard cookies.
I've been trying to find a recipe for shortbread cookies. I finally found this one , it's from Martha Stewart's website and it's an Ina Garten recipe. The texture is perfect, but the cookies aren't sweet enough or buttery enough for me. Hmph.
They were super easy to make though. And they are good cookies, but they aren't like the lorna doone or the pecan sandy that I was hoping for.
So, the search continues...
Oh, but I did get to use my new cookie cutter! Cute, huh?

Monday, September 3, 2007


I've had this recipe printed ever since I saw Paula Deen make them on her show. I love Paula Deen's recipes. I've made a ton of her cookies, cakes, etc. Hell, she practically catered my friend April's bridal shower... I used like 3-4 of her recipes for that party (all delicious). And this one doesn't disappoint either.

The thing is though... I didn't really get a big orange flavor from it, it was more of a citrusy-lemon flavor. Really refreshing though and definitely the texture of chewy brownies. It features a cream cheese icing which is of course delicious. It was a nice summery dessert for my family's cookout this afternoon. Try it when you are craving a refreshing but rich citrus dessert.

I made a half recipe in a circle pan and then I used a biscuit cutter to cut out little rounds and then sliced them in half to serve.

I also thawed a bunch of my previously made cookies and brownies for dessert, too.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Reese Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Sometimes, 1500 calories consumed in 10 minutes is worth it.

This cheesecake is extremely decadent. And extremely tasty. This is the only time that I've ventured away from my typical cheesecake recipe. And I'd say I was pretty successful. I first saw the recipe here and it looked delicious! So, I decided to make this for Chad's Birthday cake. He told me that his grandma always made him a cheesecake for his birthday, so I decided this was a perfect opportunity to to bake a different cheesecake!

So, first off, this cheesecake has 4 blocks of cream cheese. And did you know that a block of cream cheese has 800 calories? Yeah, neither did I. Shocking and very disappointing.

I made a few changes, so mine doesn't have QUITE that many calories. For one, I omitted the topping and I also only used about half of the batter (the other half is frozen in the freezer). I also used half and half instead of whipping cream. And I omitted the peanuts in the crust and only used a half stick of butter. I'm not crazy about the oreo crust, I'd prefer just a graham cracker crust (and that would save a few calories, too). So next time, regular graham cracker crust for me. I felt like the oreos got a little burned... they tasted coffee-like.

So, here is the recipe. Save it for a special occasion, but its definitely worth trying. (and incidentally, I only ate a sliver of this cake and it took all the willpower I had to keep from eating more than that).