Crispy Goodness!

Ok – anyone who knows me knows I never liked baking. To me it’s monotonous and boring.  However, over the last year, I find myself ok with it.  It’ not a “chore”, per say, anymore.  I’ve cookie1 been trying to scratch cook and bake more, knowing preservatives and processed foods are not good for you.  So if the family wants cookies, I have chosen to make them.

I have to say that these are bakery quality and quite delicious.  I did not put the sea salt on top not having any.  However, I did use a couple handfuls of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips which were a perfect addition.  This is definitely and do-over and it was very quick to make.



Thin and Crisp Oatmeal Cookies with Sea Salt (adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon saltcookie2
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, but still cool
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • Flaked Sea Salt to sprinkle on top before baking (optional)
  • A couple handfuls of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, or raisins, or nuts (optional)


Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or use Silpat baking pads. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt in medium bowl.  Beat butter and sugars at medium-low speed, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute longer. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. Add egg and vanilla and beat on medium low until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl again. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add oats and mix until well incorporated and then add in your chocolate, nuts, raisins, etc. Give dough final stir with spatula to ensure no flour pockets remain.  Divide dough into 24 portions, each about 2 tablespoons, then roll between palms into balls. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart, 8 dough balls per sheet. Using fingertips, gently press ball to 3/4-inch thickness.  Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are deep golden brown, edges are crisp, 13 to 16 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely on sheet.



rumcakeAll my brother wants for his birthday is this cake.  He cuts it in several pieces and freezes it, eating it a little at a time over several months.  It is a very rich, moist “boozy” cake.  Perfect for the holidays!  Enjoy!

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 18 1/2 oz. package yellow cake mix
1 3 3/4 oz. pkg. Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding and Pie filling
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup Wesson oil
1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum
1/4-pound butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Bacardi dark rum


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan, or 12 cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan. Mix all cake ingredients together. Pour batter over nuts. Bake 1 hour. Cool. Invert cake onto a serving plate. FOR GLAZE: melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the water and sugar. Boil five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in the rum. Prick all over the top of the cake. Drizzle and smooth glaze evenly over top and sides. Allow the cake to absorb the glaze completely. Repeat until glaze is used up. Have waxed paper underneath and continue to scoop up the glaze and add it until the cake is saturated.


Source: Bacardi Party Book


babka1Babka – traditional Polish bread that is made for holidays.  As Easter nears, even though it stills feels like Christmas here in (insert sarcasm here) balmy Minnesota, it is time to make this delicious “sweet” bread.  It’s is a versatile dough that can be made and altered into many variations.  My favorites are orange sweet rolls, a nut and honey roll or just into plain clover leaf dinner rolls.  I have known people to add citron or raisins to it, make it intbabka2o a poppy-seed roll or just into a bundt cake topped with a sweet glaze or maybe even some rum.  For Easter I’ve seen it braided w/ hard-boiled eggs inserted in it or shaped into a cross.  It is always included in the basket of food that is taken to the church to be blessed on Holy Saturday, another Polish Easter tradition.  Here’s the recipe – please note it is a “sticky” dough, so adding more flour will make it dense and not light and fluffy as it should be.  Wesołego Alleluja!  Enjoy!


2 cups scalded milk

12 tbsp. butter flavored Crisco

Melt the shortening into the milk and cool.

In a large bowl, mix ½ cup sugar, 4 eggs and 1 tsp. salt.  Mix really well.  Grate in one orange or lemon rind.  Add in the cooled milk mixture.

In 1 cup of very warm water, add 1 tsp. sugar and 3 packets of dry yeast.  Once that foams up and the yeast is activated, fold into the mixture.

Add, one cupful at a time 5 – 6 cups of all-purpose flour.   Mix/knead with hands until the dough freely comes off your hands – probably a good 10 minutes.  This will be your arm workout for the day.  Or if using a stand mixture, have it mix for 7 minutes with paddle attachment.

Place in a large greased bowl in a warm place, covered to rise.  Once it has doubled in size, punch it down and let it rise again.  Once it has risen, use the dough as you wish.  I have it pictured here as clover leaf dinner rolls or a honey-nut roll.

Once you have it in pans, let it rise, brush with an egg wash before baking.  Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes depending on how you are using it.

Me Want Cookies…

CookiesOk – so I’ve been on a sabbatical, per say, from contributing to my blog.  A sabbatical meaning busier than all get out with a freshman in high school, work, holidays, work, flu invasion, work, flu invasion during the holidays, work, any of the aforementioned.  Well anyways, I’m back.  And I’ve been cooking…just check my bathroom scale.  For some reason, I received a copy of the magazine “Self” in the mail.  Knowing me, you’d be like…wrong address?  That’s what I thought…that or someone is dropping me a hint. Being a glutton for punishment (no pun intended), I decided to flip through it and after so many articles of how to lose inches and tighten this or that, I went right to the back where I know I’d find recipes.  What was I thinking…recipes in a health magazine???? Well low and behold, I did find a recipe for a cookie that looked very tasty and dare I say it…good for me.  Again, knowing me, you’d be saying – Whaaaa??? You hate to bake…you hate to bake so much you pay people to do it for you.  Call it cabin fever, snow blindness or downright boredom, but I made these this weekend and I absolutely love’em.  Hope you do too!

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

Reprinted from Self Magazine, December 2012

Makes 20

½ cup whole-wheat flour

¼ cup rolled oats

¼ tsp. baking soda

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

6 tbsp. brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

¼ cup dried cherries (I used dried cranberries)

Heat oven to 375°.  In a bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon.  In another bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth.  Blend flour mixute into butter mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts and cherries/cranberries.  Drop 20 dough balls (1 tbsp. each) onto 2 ungreased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.  Bake until golden brown for 9 minutes.  Remove from oven; let cool on sheets 3 minutes; then transfer to foil to cool fully.


The Skinny:  100 calories per cookie, 6g fat (3g saturated), 11g carbs, 1g fiber, 1g protein

I Have a Nice Pear…Bread Recipe

Falls a’comin and things are settling back down into a routine.  Kids are at school, summer work schedules are back to normal and the harvest is coming in.  I acquired a lovely bunch of pears from my friend Tootsie’s pear tree and remembered my mom used to make a pear bread.  It was absolutely delicious.   I hadn’t had this since I was a teen and let me tell you, it tastes just as delicious as if my own mother made it.  Wonderful by itself — I prefer a slathering of butter,  but my mom likes it with cream cheese.  Here’s the recipe – enjoy!!


    Pear Bread

2 – 3 pears peeled, cored and chopped to equal one cup

½ cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

½ cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups shifted all purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

(cinnamon and sugar mix to top loaf)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Blend vegetable oil and sugar together, mix in eggs, sour cream and vanilla.  In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients then incorporate into wet.  Once mixed together, fold in pears and nuts.  Put batter into one greased loaf pan and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mix on top.  Bake for one hour or until done.  Let rest for 15 minutes, remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.