Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

1/3 C. granulated sugar

2/3 C. dark brown sugar

1 stick (1/4 C) of butter, salted

1 egg

2 T. molasses

1-2 T. cream (or milk)

1/2 tsp. rum extract

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 C. Flour

1/2 C. cocoa powder

1/2 C. oats

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 C. dark chocolate chips or slivers

2/3 C. cinnamon chips

1/2 C. nuts (I used walnuts and cashews, but use your favorite)

Cream together butter and sugars until light in color.  Thoroughly combine with egg, molasses, cream, and extracts.  Blend for 3-5 minutes.  Add in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon and oats.  Mix for 20-30 seconds, then add chips and nuts.  (Mix until the flour just starts to incorporate before adding chips - you don't want to overmix at this stage).

Chill cookie dough overnight for best results.

Bake on a silpat or parchment paper at 350 for 13 minutes.  Tops should be slightly firm when they're done.  Yields 24-30 cookies.

Lime in the Coconut Cookies

 If you love all things pie - especially key lime and coconut meringue pies, these are definitely the cookie for you.  I know coconut can be a polarizing flavor, but here it's subtle and adds just the right texture to pair with graham cracker pieces, sweet white chocolate, and the zesty tang of lime.  Ready?  Here we go!

1 C. granulated sugar mixed with the zest of 2-3 limes

1 stick (1/4 C) of butter, salted

1 egg

2 T. honey

juice of 2-3 limes, about 1-2 T.

1/2 tsp. coconut extract

1 tsp. rum extract

1 3/4 C. flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 C. shredded coconut

2/3 C. white chocolate chips

4-5 graham crackers, crushed by hand (pieces should be irregular)

Cream together butter and sugar until light in color.  Thoroughly combine with honey, lime juice, egg, and extracts.  Blend for 3-5 minutes.  Add in flour, baking soda, nutmeg, coconut, and graham cracker pieces.  Mix for 20-30 seconds, then add white chocolate chips.  (Mix until the flour just starts to incorporate before adding chips - you don't want to overmix at this stage).

Chill cookie dough overnight for best results.

Bake on a silpat or parchment paper at 350 for 13 minutes.  Tops should be lightly golden when they're done.  Yields 24-30 cookies.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Easy Italian Seasoning Blend

7 T. basil

1 T. parsley

1 T. thyme 

1 T. Each minced dry onion, shallot, and garlic 

2 T. garlic powder
1 T. Roasted garlic 
1 T. onion powder
1 T. Toasted onion 
1 T.  oregano (I like the Mexican oregano, but any will work just fine)
1/4 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. California black pepper seasoning 
1 tsp. Sugar

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

1/2 C. cooled melted butter

1/2 C.  granulated sugar

1/4 C. dark brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 C. yogurt or sour cream

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. almond extract

1 tsp. each: baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon

1 3/4 C. flour

1/4 C. milk or cream

1 1/2 C. blueberries

Streusel Topping:

1/4 C. Flour

1/2 C. brown sugar

1/4 C. granulated sugar

3 T. melted butter

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 C. oats

Mix well all topping ingredients.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together sugars and butter.  Mix until pale and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, mix well between each addition.  On low speed, add sour cream or yogurt and extracts.  Mix for 2-3 minutes.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Mix on low until almost combined, add milk and mix for 15-20 seconds.  Fold in blueberries by hand.

Chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 425.

Line a muffin tin with cupcake wrappers and lightly spray with cooking spray the muffin tin.  Fill each wrapper to the top with muffin batter, sprinkle on streusel topping.

Bake for 7 minutes at 425, then drop the oven temperature to 350 and bake an additional 12-15 minutes.

(The cold batter and the high oven temperature gives the muffins a better rise, the lower oven temperature helps cook the batter through.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Fabulous $5 Chicken Dinner

 So, hubby's boss came for dinner tonight.  I've done more than a few meet and greet, invite the boss to dinner nights in the past 10 years, I almost consider myself a pro at this.  Until today....

Today was a 3:55pm, oh-by-the-way should I invite my new boss over for dinner - a message delivered via text that truth be told, sent me running straight to Kroger for some basics.  Mainly, chicken and bread.

Why chicken and bread?  Because I didn't have any entree planned for dinner.  And bread because every meal seems fancier with garlic bread.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.... that's probably a me thing, but it's an instant, easy side dish that few people actively dislike.

I did a quick scour of the fridge and pantry, came up with all the fixings for cheesy potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, cinnamon apples, and salad.  That sounds like a meal fit for a king.  Or a boss, in my case.

The cheapest cut of chicken is usually bone-in, skin on dark meat.  For which I am eternally grateful, it's my favorite cut of chicken too.  I grabbed a few things out of my pantry and had a flavorful and bold marinade ready in minutes.  And I had about an hour to marinade the chicken at room temp.  Here's what I used:

1 C. cheap Italian salad dressing

3 T. Worcestershire sauce

3 T. Olive oil

2-3 T. White wine, whatever you have in hand, I used moscato

2 tsp. each thyme, garlic, dry minced onion, basil

1 tsp. garlic pepper

1 tsp. sugar

Whisk together all ingredients until well combined.

Marinade 5 lbs. cut up chicken for 1 hour.

Spread chicken out on a sheet pan, dust with parmesan cheese.

Roast at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until internal temp reaches 180F.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Toffee Butterscotch Cookies

 1 C. butter

1 C. dark brown sugar

1 C. granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. Butterscotch extract or butter extract
2 T. Molasses, optional
1/8 C. milk or coffee creamer
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
3 C. flour
pinch of salt
1/2 oats
1 C. mini butterscotch chips
2/3 C. each: toffee bits and chopped pecans

Heat oven to 375.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cream together sugars and butter, mix in eggs and extracts.  Mix in molasses and milk/creamer.  Fold in oats, flour, and baking soda.  Stir in chips and nuts.

For bakery style cookies, portion dough with a 1/4 C. sized scoop.  Bake at 375F for 13-15 minutes.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Chocolate & Butterscotch Banana Nut Bread

 7 is overripe bananas

1 C. melted and cooled butter

2 eggs

1 1/2 C. Dark brown sugar

3 tsp vanilla

1 tsp rum extract

1/8 C. Heavy cream or creamer

2 C. Flour

1 C. Cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1 C. Chocolate chips

2/3 C. Butterscotch chips

1 C. Walnuts, chopped and toasted (if you prefer)

Heat oven to 350.

Grease and sugar 2 9x5 loaf pans.

In a large mixing bowl, mix bananas on medium low speed until well blended.  Add in dark brown sugar and melted, cooled butter and mix for 2-4 minutes on low, until well blended and fluffy.  Add in eggs, extract, and creamer and mix an additional 2-3 minutes.  Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder and add to the wet mixture.  Mix until just combined, stir in chips and nuts.

Pour into prepared pans, adding a handful of butterscotch chips on top.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until top is just set.

Cool and cut.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Butterscotch Chipper Cookies

 While these darling butterscotch cookies aren't your tried and tired as hell oatmeal scotcheroos, they are still all notes of butterscotch through and through.  I used to think that I didn't like butterscotch.  I was absolutely convinced of it.  It just wasn't my thing.

Until scotcheroo ice cream came home with me.  What can I say?  It was 2020, I was pandemic sweets shopping, and choices were thin on the ground.  Here was an ice cream with a butterscotch flavor, bits of oatmeal cookie, some kind of ripple, and dark chocolate chips.  Then I got it home and tried it a day or two later.  With all the pandemic baking, I lost track until I had my cohort in dessert at home.  With mom in residence, ice cream is a must.

We popped the top on that carton and instantly I was transported.  Long Minnesota winters with iffin' cookies, mugs of hot cocoa, and snow piling up on the ground.  Christmas tree decorating and bad Elvis Presley Christmas music that's equal parts nostalgia and cringe worthy.  I was a kid again, then a bookish teen, finally a college student stuck in the dorms and grateful for the homemade care package that brought my ragtag circles of friends together for a bit of holiday cheer and of course..... cookies.

How could I have summarily dismissed butterscotch all these years?  Fast forward to life mere months before covid and me finally making friends with the most awesome person in the world.  My new bestie opened my eyes to more butterscotch delights - and has a daughter as head over butterscotch heels as I am.

A happy bonus?  She knows how to get to the Amish grocery store!!  Why is this exciting??  They butterscotch chips.  And butterscotch extract!  Score!!!  Yes, I used butterscotch, Amish, and score in one paragraph.  Welcome to thrifty middle age where cheap baking supplies, mini chips, and great snacks are the highlights in life - and making a new friend is a huge deal.

So, tonight while bestie's butterscotch loving daughter is here, butterscotch cookies are definitely on the menu.  Here is what I came up with:

1 C. Butter

1 C. dark brown sugar

1 C. granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 T. milk

2 T. molasses

2 tsp. each vanilla and butterscotch extract

1/2 C. oats

1 tsp. each baking powder and baking soda

3 1/2 C. flour

1 1/2 C. mini butterscotch chips

1/2 C. each pecans and dark chocolate chips


Cream together butter and sugars over low speed for 2-3 minutes.  Add in eggs, milk, extracts, and molasses and mix for 3-5 minutes.  Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and oats, and mix until almost combined.  Add in all remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Chill for 1 hour to overnight.

Bake on parchment at 350F for 15-17 minutes for a large cookie, bake for 11-12 minutes for a small cookie.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Chicken Tinga

 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in thick strips ($3.50)

14 oz can crushed tomatoes ($.75)

4 T. Olive oil, divided ($.30)

2 bouillon cubes ($.10)

2 T. Chipotle in adobo sauce ($.45)

1 finely chopped chipotle, if desired

1 C water 

3-4 T. Sofrito (.35)

Seasoning blend ($.50)

2-3 tsp. Dried oregano

1 T. Cumin 

2 tsp. Paprika 

2 tsp. Onion powder

1 tsp. Anchor chile powder

2 tsp. California black pepper seasoning

1-2 T. Honey garlic seasoning

Pinch of rosemary, lemon pepper, and garlic powder

Mix well the seasoning blend.  Set aside.

Drizzle 2 T. of olive oil over chicken.  Sprinkle generously with seasoning blend.  Layer chicken with tablespoons of sofrito.  Marinade overnight.

Add remaining olive oil to a preheated cast iron dutch oven.  Once oil is hot, add chicken and sear over high heat.  Do this in batches to help meat brown easily.  Add all remaining ingredients to pan and cook over low for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Chicken is done when it's tender and can shred.  Serve with sauce in tortillas with your favorite taco toppings.

Cost: $6.35

Servings: 4-6 servings

Cost per serving: $1.16-$1.59

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Teriyaki Chicken Fried Rice

We dearly miss Chinese takeout, our favorite Chinese restaurant, heck even Chinese buffet sounds good lately.  But I am kind of lazy and all the chopping for stirfry and fried rice is too much.  So I just combined them.  And yes, it was genius.

1 C. White rice, cooked and fully cooled
2-4 T. Toasted sesame oil or canola oil, divided
1-2 small yellow onions, chopped or sliced thin
6-8 mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 bell pepper, chopped (if desired)
1 1/2 C. Roasted chicken or pork (I use a combination of both)
3 eggs
1/4 C. teriyaki
Soy sauce
Hoisin sauce

In a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat, add 1 T. oil, onions, and bell pepper.

Cook, stirring often, until veggies are tender.  Add garlic, cook until fragrant.  Remove veggies from pan, add 1 T. oil and mushrooms.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring every 2-3 minutes (to let mushrooms brown).  Season
 to taste with salt and pepper.

Add meat and veggies, toss together and cook 1-2 minutes.  Push meat and veggies to one side of the pan, add 1 T. oil to the other side and add eggs.  Scramble in the pan, stirring often until egg starts to set.

Add in rice and cook 3-5 minutes, breaking up clumps.  Drizzle in teriyaki, soy, and hoisin to taste, cook 3-5 minutes longer, until everything is fully heated through.

Serve with scallions on top if desired.
Yields: 4-6 side dishes or 2-3 dinners

Great add-ons:
Minced ginger (add with garlic)
Caramelized onions in place of chopped onions
Shredded carrots (add with meat and veggies)
Baby shrimp (add after cooking the egg)
Be creative with meat, smoked sausage, ham, and turkey all work well.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Quadruple chocolate chip cookies

When triple chocolate chip cookies are good, but you've got tons of chocolate chips on hand in all the flavors: semi-sweet, milk, dark, and white.  I couldn't choose a favorite so I added all 4..  plus walnuts.

Because nuts make everything better.

1 C. butter
1 C. dark brown sugar
1 C. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. rum extract
2 T. Molasses, maple syrup, or honey
1/8 C. milk or coffee creamer
1 tsp. baking soda
3 C. flour
pinch of salt
1/2 oats
1/2 C. each: semi-sweet, milk, dark, and white chocolate chips
1/2 C. chopped walnuts, optional

Heat oven to 375.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cream together sugars and butter, mix in eggs and extracts.  Mix in molasses and milk/creamer.  Fold in oats, flour, and baking soda.  Stir in chips and nuts.

For bakery style cookies, portion dough with a 1/4 C. sized scoop.  Bake at 375F for 13-15 minutes.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Stuffed Chicken Marsala

A restaurant favorite of my hubby, stuffed chicken marsala is a meal I have tried in vain to get right.... until now.  I set aside the 6 different recipes I have tried in my attempts to do this justice.  Finally, I nailed it.

The trick is to use far less marsala than most recipes call for.  My first try, the recipe called for half a bottle of wine.  Seriously?  I got a buzz just smelling the sauce.  Now that I have a solid decade of cooking with wine under my belt, I can see what a mistake that was.  But you live and learn.


4 oz. Cream cheese, softened
3 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 tap. dried basil
2 oz. shredded mozzarella
3-4 T. parmesan
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. each oregano and fennel seed, if desired

Chicken and sauce:
3-4 T. each olive oil and butter
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 T. minced garlic
2 whole chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
2 T. Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
1/4-1/3 C. Marsala wine
3/4-1 C. heavy cream
1/3 C. parmesan


In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the filling, set aside.

Next, separate the two halves of the chicken breast, take the larger half and cut that in half at it's thickest point.  Repeat for the second chicken breast.  Cut a 2-3 inch slit into the thickest part of the chicken and make a pocket. Spoon prepared filling into each pocket, then season the chicken generously with Italian seasoning.

Heat oven to 375.  In a large skillet or cast iron dutcD oven, add half of each olive oil and butter to pan over a medium high heat.  Sear chicken over medium high heat until lightly golden brown on both sides.  Remove from pan and place on a baking sheet or an uncovered ceramic dish and place in oven to finish cooking, depending on size of chicken pieces, it should take 18-25 to finish baking.

In the cast iron Dutch oven or skillet, add remaining olive oil and butter and sautee mushrooms, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  When mushrooms are almost tender, about 1-2 minutes before they finish cooking, add marsala wine.  Reduce by half, turn heat to a low and slowly stir in heavy cream.  Stir in parmesan, keep the heat on low to avoid curdling the sauce.  Add additional parmesan to thicken the sauce as needed.  Sauce is done when it coats the back of a
spoon.  When chicken is ready, add to the sauce and serve over pasta or mashed potatoes with side salad.