make you a convert cookies

It’s that time of year again. The time of year that parents of school aged children dream about for nine months. The time of year when memories of endless school projects, fundraisers and homework are slowly being shed like winter coats. Yes that’s right, it’s finally, thankfully and just-in-the-nick-of-time-or-I-really-might-have-lost-it… the end of the school year!

But just as I’m getting ready to heave a giant sigh of relief along come the notices about end of the year parties, plays, picnics etc. All of which would be very happy to accept my donation of a baked good (“peanut-free and at least a dozen please.”) Of course I’ll send something along, how could I not, but I feel as though I’ve managed to paint myself into a bit of a corner. I’ve shown up to enough events and class birthday’s with something yummy in hand that now at the end of year when I’m just plumb tired, I have to “bring it” one final time. Sigh. Me and my big mouth and weekly blog.

I considered making cupcakes but I figured the dessert table would be awash in them. Then I thought about some lemons bars; but the recipe literally only makes a dozen. What if they turned out so delicious that there was a stampede trying to get to the dessert table. And what if several little people were injured in the may lay and never able to look at a lemon bar again without having flashbacks— I’d feel terrible! So I settled on cookies, ya can’t go wrong with a cookie (that’s my motto anyway) and I knew just which recipe to make.

As you may recall I collect cookie jars and while most of them hold bric-a-brac and dust bunnies, one is usually filled with something freshly baked. A wide variety of cookies come and go through that jar, but some that never hang around long enough to get stale are my Cherry & Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. I know what some of you are thinking, “I don’t like oatmeal cookies.” I’m with you, I usually don’t either. I don’t like their grainy texture or how overly spiced and sweet they usually are. And I can’t stand raisins in my cookies (don’t even get me started on walnuts in my brownies!) Anyway, the oatmeal cookies you’re thinking of and writing off as not for you, are not these cookies. These are without a doubt the oatmeal cookies that will covert you.

Cherry & Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
These are my go to cookies when I have to show up somewhere with treats. The recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen large cookies, plenty to take to school and enjoy a few at home as well!

oat-choc cookies3

1 1/4 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 cup quick cook oats
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 tbsp. 2% milk
1/2 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
1 12 oz. bag dark chocolate morsels

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Mix together the flour, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl.
  3. In large bowl beat together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla until creamy. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg and milk. Beat until well combined and a batter has formed.
  4. Add the flour/oat mixture to the batter mixture and gently stir to combine (it will seem dry but not to worry). Add the cherries and chocolate morsels and stir until blended. Drop by rounded tablespoon (or cookie scoop) onto the baking sheets. (The cookies will spread a bit so be sure to leave enough room between each one.)
  5. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned but centers are still soft. Cool on wire racks, then try and eat just one.
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Homemade Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches— Oh Yeah.

I collect cookie jars. Vintage McCoy cookie jars to be precise. I’ve collected them for years, way before I had little people to make cookies with or for. You see I have a weakness for housewares. When I was a young girl I would go to the local department store with my mother and head straight for the fine china department. I would walk around and around the beautiful sets of dinnerware and crystal, dreaming of which patterns I choose one day when I was grown up. This would therefore explain why I own five sets of dishes (we had a yard sale and I sold two “extra” sets), enough serving pieces to easily set a buffet for a hundred, a ridiculous number of tiny antique aperitif glasses, a crazy collection of water pitchers and just about every size and shape cocktail glass you could ask for. Feel like margaritas? I’ve got the glasses… Red wine? But of course, balloon or bordeaux… Champagne? Got it… Dark and Stormy? Yup, swizzle sticks too! I could go on but you get the picture.

Okay, so back to cookie jars… I own many. And while most of them are currently in the attic I do have a few of my favorites in the kitchen. One holds loose change, one holds bric-a-brac that we may need to get our hands on one day and the remainder hold dust, the odd button and perhaps a few pebbles from the beach or an old parkway token. That is except one. If you’re a frequent guest at my house then you know exactly which cookie jar I’m speaking of. It’s the one that’s almost always filled with some homemade delight. Since family and friends have come to expect homemade cookies at our house I do my best to keep it full, but sometimes cookie making gets pushed to the back burner. I always know its time to refill the cookie jar when I hear the lid being lifted and replaced, followed immediately by a sad-faced individual wandering into the room.

It happened to be time for me to whip up another batch for my nearly empty jar, but with the arrival of warm weather the kids have been more inclined to ask for popsicles as a snack than cookies. So, I wondered to myself, how do you think they would feel about cookies turned into ice cream sandwiches?…

I’ll give you one guess as to how they felt about homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches. If these two little people could have hoisted me on their shoulders and marched me around the room I think they would have. Instead I got a “Mom you and these are THE BEST!”, which was even better.

Brown Sugar Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
The addition of a little bit of espresso powder really kicks the dark chocolate flavor up a notch. One batch of these cookies typically makes about two dozen cookies, certainly enough to make ice cream sandwiches and enjoy solo as well.

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tsp. of water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. plain yogurt
5 oz. dark chocolate morsels* (these are bigger than ordinary chips)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Cream together the butter and brown sugar until thoroughly blended. Add the egg, espresso/water, vanilla, milk and yogurt and mix well. Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix, add the remaining flour and mix until completely blended. Gently fold in the chips.
  4. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon place mounds of dough on the prepared cookie sheets.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies have spread a bit and the tops have begun to crack, but are still soft to the touch.
  6. Transfer cookies to racks to cool and enjoy with a loved one and an ice-cold glass of milk, or use to create ice cream sandwiches.

*In the past I have also made these with 3/4 cup peanut butter chips instead of the morsels. Holy cow they were good!

Ice Cream Sandwiches
Having all the ingredients cold when you assemble these seems to be the key to building a successful ice cream sandwich.

Ice cream in flavors of your choice
Homemade chocolate cookies

  1. Place pre-baked chocolate cookies in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes.
  2. Working quickly, one flavor at a time, place a generous scoop of ice cream in the center of each cookie and top with a second. Place the completed sandwich on a cookie sheet in the freezer and repeat with remaining cookies and ice cream flavors.
  3. Chill ice cream sandwiches for at least an hour before serving. Store in an air tight container in the freezer or gobble up immediately.

Baking with my Cookie

“Let’s make cookies!” my daughter says on the way home from nursery school one afternoon. “Oh baby, I don’t have the ingredients for cookies, next time I go to the store I’ll get some.” “Yes you do” she replies, “sugar, flour, milk and eggs…” Hmmm, my two-and-a-half year old budding chef might be right, we in fact could make sugar cookies with the ingredients she just rattled off. So, since she specifically requested a little kitchen time with mom (and I would hate to deny my sweet girl), it looked like we’d be baking after lunch.

Here’s something you may not know about me, I don’t like to do anything if it seems too easy. I guess I equate a certain degree of effort with a successful final product. I’m sure plain sugar cookies would of been fine and certainly would of satisfied my daughter’s desire to bake, but in my little head that would of been too simple. I had to make sugar cookies that were a bit fancier. Cookies with some added cinnamon and nutmeg in the dough and then a quick roll in more cinnamon and sugar before baking. Yeah, those are my kinda sugar cookies!

So how did our little mother-daughter baking session go? Well, as is often the case with a two-and-a-half year old her enthusiasm for the project didn’t last long. Once the ingredients were measured and the stand mixer switched on, she was more interested in pillaging the fruit bowl and helping herself to cheese sticks from the fridge. Oh well, there’s always next time.

But the final results, seriously delicious.

Cinnamon-Sugar Cookies
These cookies are fantastic as is or with a glass of cold milk. They’re even better along side of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


12 tbsp. Smart Balance spread
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. creme of tarter
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. milk
1 egg
3 cups flour

For the cinnamon sugar topping:
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl mix together the cinnamon and sugar for topping, set aside.
  2. To make the dough cream together the softened butter, sugar, brown sugar, honey, baking powder, baking soda, creme of tarter, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Add the egg and milk and blend into the butter mixture, then slowly stir in the flour.
  3. Scoop out rounded tablespoons of the dough (it will be very soft), shape them into balls, and roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place each ball on the prepared cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-16 minutes, until the cookie is golden brown and the tops have begun to crack.
  4. Allow to cool on a wire rack and then try to eat just one. Store remainder in an air tight container.

* I realize you may think I’m crazy to use anything other than butter to make these cookies. I agree it’s unorthodox but here’s the thing, I tested this cookie recipe three times and on the last try I ran out of butter and substituted Smart Balance. While the butter cookies were good, they got hard very quickly sitting in my cookie jar, but the Smart Balance cookies stayed soft and yummy for days. Like the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”…

My Sweet Valentine

There are many ways to say I love you. To me it’s the little everyday things we do for each other that mean the most.

Run and empty the dishwasher for me… You rock, thanks babe! Clean up the lego explosion in your room without being asked… You’re the best kid, thank you! Stay by me in the store and behave like a sane child, rather than run around like a lunatic screaming at the top of your lungs… Thank you my sweet girl!

My family on the other hand can be won over via a much simpler means—food. If you fill their bellies with something tasty they’ll love you for life! I often joke that they’re like living with a bunch of goats. I can cover just about anything in chocolate or red sauce (homemade of course!) and they’ll eat it. But that aside, what better opportunity than Valentine’s Day for me to give them something truly delectable that will really make them smile.

As you may already know Valentine’s Day is synonymous with chocolate, but I feel like I’ve already showered my family with a considerable amount of chocolate goodies. This year called for something different, something out of the ordinary, something delicious that will make them think back longingly to Valentines Day 2012. But what? Cookies…too everyday, candy…too expected, cupcakes…too easy. Hmmm. What to make, what to make, what to make. Then it came to me; like a bolt of lightning, a light bulb going off or a trademarked “aha moment”… Heart shaped Coconut Scones with a Dark Chocolate Drizzle (okay, so I couldn’t stay away from chocolate entirely).

Here’s where I would ordinarily gush on about how fantastic and easy these little scones were to make. And how my family threw rose petals at my feet and talked about their plans to gold plate my whisk. HA! Not this time my friend. These little babies may look cute in pictures and my family in fact did like them and insisted that I blog about them (while stuffing seconds in their mouths), but they actually did not turn out as well as I had hoped. They didn’t rise up enough to qualify as a scone, yet weren’t quite sweet enough to pass as a cookie. But like I said, my family thought they were great (however I have already established their goat-like status, so take that recommendation for what it’s worth.)

So you may be asking yourself “Should I bother to make them…” Sure, go ahead. They really were easy to make and like I said my family actually did enjoy them. But if you do, feel free to tweak the recipe a bit. And if per chance you should end up with the perfect Coconut Scone with a Dark Chocolate Drizzle… please send me the recipe!

Coconut Scones
I don’t have much else to say about these except “Good luck!”

2 1/3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 1/3 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. coconut milk

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add butter and toss so that each piece is coated in flour.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it has the texture of coarse cornmeal. Stir in shredded coconut.
  4. Add in about half of coconut milk and stir together. Add remaining coconut milk as needed until the mixture comes together into a firm dough.
  5. Divide the dough into two balls. Use a rolling pin to form each ball into a 1/2-inch thick circle. Cut out your scones with a cookie cutter and place on a prepared cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until scones are a light golden brown on top.
  7. Cool on a wire rack before glazing.

Chocolate glaze
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. 
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and butter over low heat until the cream is hot and the butter has melted. Do not let it boil.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate and let it sit in the hot cream to soften. Add the vanilla and whisk the glaze until it is smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Chill the glaze until it’s thick enough to hold its shape on the back of a spoon.
  3. Drizzle the glaze over each scone and chill until set.