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.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Tomato Basil Bisque

You know what they say, the third time is the charm.

On my third time making this, I finally nailed it.  I discovered the missing ingredient, the je ne sais quoi, the piece de resistence.  And in my head, I'm saying both of those phrases in a luxurious French accent which in my waking (and talking) hours, I simply do not possess.

The rich tomato flavor that I've been persuing in my struggles to make the recipe amazing comes from a simple, pantry staple.  Tomato paste.  I know, it sounds weird, but that's what truly sets this apart.  Here's how it comes together:

1 can diced tomatoes or 1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 red or orange sweet bell pepper, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 T. garlic, minced (about 3-4 cloves)
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
1/8 C. white wine (optional)
1 T. basil
1 6oz. can tomato paste
1 28 oz. can crushed tomato or tomato puree
1 C. marinara sauce
1-2 C. chicken broth or stock, reduced sodium
1 C. heavy cream
2 T. parmesan
1/2 tsp. paprika (optional)

In a large, cast iron Dutch oven, heat 1 T. each olive oil and butter until hot.  Add in cherry tomatoes, sweet pepper, and shallor, cook over medium high heat until tender and tomatoes have popped or split their skins.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant (30 seconds to a minute).

Smash until mixture resembles a chunky paste.  Deglaze pan with white wine (or chicken stock/broth).  Add in tomato paste and stir until well combined.  Add in remaining butter and olive oil.  Stir in chicken broth/stock in 1/4 C. increments until the first cup is well combined.  Stir in basil, marinara sauce, and heavy cream.  Stir in paprika (optional).  Add more chicken broth/stock if desired.  Let simmer over medium low heat for 10-15 minutes, stir in parmesan cheese.  Serve with crusty bread, grilled cheese, or with a light side salad.

Yields: 6-8 servings

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Rosemary Lemon Chicken

At a local, upscale restaurant last week, I tried their Sage Chicken and was blown away by how a few simple ingredients made a luxurious, elegant dish.  And then I got to thinking....why couldn't I make my own take on this at home.  And the grocery store so kindly put the few ingredients I needed on sale this week, I'm taking this as a sign from the universe.  When the universe (of chicken dinners) knocks, I simply must answer.  So this is what I'm making for dinner tonight.

3 chicken breast halves, butterflied (for 6 portions)
salt and pepper
1-2 T. flour or cornstarch
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
2-3 cloves minced garlic (1-2 tsp.)
1 large lemon
2-3 springs fresh rosemary (or 10-12 leaves of sage, if you prefer)
1 tsp. basil
2-3 T. white wine
1/8 C. heavy cream

Heat butter and olive oil in a nonstick or cast iron pan over medium heat, until butter has melted.
Season chicken with salt and pepper, lightly dredge in flour.  Sear over medium heat 4-5 minutes, flip and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan.  Saute garlic until fragrant, add in basil and squeeze in 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, stir gently to combine.  Stir in white wine and heavy cream.  Add chicken back to pan and top cutlets with rosemary (or sage leaves).  Bring to a low simmer and let simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Serve over mashed potatoes or angel hair pasta with sauteed mushrooms, garden salad, and crusty bread.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Deli Roasted Chicken Breast

Since relocating to a new town that is sans Italian deli, Mexican tiendas, panaderias, and marcados, Indo-Pak takeout shops with small grocer attached, I've had to get a little more creative and up my game.  A lot.

Without the incredible Italian deli counter to serve my charcuterie needs, better and more versatile recipes are not just a thing I want, but something I need to keep my house - and more importantly my kitchen, from descending into madness and too much Panera takeout.  But, I digress.  A better recipe for tomato basil soup is in the works, I just need to put the finishing touches on it.

What I was craving lately was a simple, but flavorful, chicken sandwich.  Just roasted chicken, sliced thin, and piled high on a hearty sandwich roll with a a mound of mixed greens, a smear of basil-pesto or really good mayo, and a sprinkle of black olives.  I wasn't looking for buffalo chicken or mesquite chicken, just a classic and versatile chicken.  That way the leftovers would be great tossed on a salad or in a pasta dish with some angel hair and a drizzle of olive oil, crunchy red bell pepper, and a splash of lemon juice.

This is so full of classic chicken flavor, I'm instantly smitten.
And, all the ingredients are generally on hand, which I may love even more.


1 1/2 tsp. each: salt and pepper
2 tsp. each. oregano and roasted garlic powder
1/2 tsp. each cumin and onion powder
2-3 T. olive oil
2 large chicken breasts, fat trimmed
1/4 C. white wine
2 T. butter
2 tsp. basil, if desired

Heat oven to 350.
In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, cumin, garlic and onion powder, and oregano.  Sprinkle over chicken lightly, coat both sides.  Heat olive oil in a cast iron dutch over over medium-high heat until hot.  Add chicken to pan and cook for 7-9 minutes or until chicken pulls away from the pan easily.  Flip and sear for 5 minutes.  Add white wine to bottom of the pan then top each chicken breast with 1 pat of butter.  Let wine reduce by half (takes 2-5 minutes).
Remove pan from stove into oven, covered.  Roast chicken for 15-20 minutes or until thermometer reads 175-180.  Cool completely before slicing thin for sandwiches.

Yields: 6 sub sandwiches

Leftover makeover ideas:
1.  Chop chicken and add to pasta
2.  Chop chicken and toss with thin sliced onions and peppers for killer fajitas
3.  Add to mixed greens, sliced almonds, parmesan, and thin sliced pear for an entree salad.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Carnitas Cheesesteak Sandwich

Carnitas Ingredients:
3 lb. boneless pork roast
1-2 medium red bell peppers, sliced julienne
2-3 small onions, sliced thin
1 minced shallot, optional
2 tsp. each oregano, cumin, black pepper, and ancho chile powder
2 T, minced garlic
1 tsp. each granulated garlic, smoked sweet paprika, salt
1/4 C. each orange juice and red wine
2-3 T. worcestershire sauce
2 T. olive oil
juice of 2-3 limes

Cheesesteak ingredients:
1 T. olive oil
4-8 oz. thin sliced or shredded cheese (I used provolone and cheddar)
16" loaf French bread or 4-6 sub rolls
2-3 T. butter

In a small bowl, mix well the minced shallot and garlic, oregano, cumin, black pepper, chile powder, granulated garlic, salt, and paprika.  Pat pork roast dry and drizzle with olive oil.  Coat with seasonings.

Add all remaining carnitas ingredients except pork to bottom of a crock pot, stir to combine.  Add pork roast.  Cook on low for 10-12 hours.  Lightly shred the meat.  Reserve the cooking liquid.

Add 1 T. olive oil to skillet and add carnitas meat along with onions and peppers.  Fry lightly for 5-10 minutes, stir occasionally.  (Deglaze pan with cooking liquid from the crockpot as needed.)  Top with cheese.

Lightly butter French bread (cut into 4-6 sections) or sub rolls.  Toast in the over at 400 for 5-7 minutes or pan sear on a griddle over medium-high heat until lightly golden brown.

Top with cheesesteak mixture and additional cheese, if desired.
Serve with salad or fresh fruit.

Yields: 8-12 servings

Leftover makeover ideas:
Serve meat in tortillas for tacos
Use in enchiladas
Add to baked bean casserole for hearty side dish
Stir in BBQ sauce for kicked up pulled pork

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Smoky and Sweet Garlic Lime Marinade for Pork and Chicken

Summer flavors are here!  And I'm marinating and rubbing, hubby's thrillin' and grillin' his way into all kinds of yummy stuff.  My latest craze: PORK!

Grilled pork ribs, chops, pork steaks - all things pork and smoky! This summer I am in the mood for pork, but I wanted a twist on a Mexican marinade with something sweet and smoky - this is what I've come up with using pantry basics with a fully loaded spice cabinet and a few fresh limes that I needed to use up. To pair with this yummy entree, peach lime spritzer - a favorite summertime treat.

1/8 C. worchestershire sauce ($.10)
1/8 C. white wine ($.10)
2 T. Liquid smoke ($.10)
2 T. minced garlic ($.05)
1 T. basil ($.05)
2 tsp. black pepper ($.10)
3 T. brown sugar ($.05)
2 tsp. each smoked paprika and onion powder ($.10)
juice of 2 limes ($.20)
1 sliced lime ($.10)

Whisk together all ingredients except sliced lime.  Lay slices of lime on top of pork chops, top with marinade.  Allow to marinate for 2 hours to 2 days.  Grill pork chops and serve with rice, salad, and additional lime wedges and sliced avocado.

Cost of marinade: $1.05

Monday, April 4, 2016

Summer Pasta: Margherita Pasta Sauce over Capellini

I created this light and easy sauce recipe about 3 years ago, when hubby and I moved into our home, the first home we have ever owned.  Instead of one of us running to the grocery store for a jar of sauce for our pizza that night, I used what we had on hand - and it's become my signature summer pasta sauce - it's light, meatless, packed with bright, sweet flavor.  And it takes all of 30 minutes to make, maybe a little less if you have a handy-dandy bean masher, which just so happens I do.

Easy to make for a crowd but perfect for a few servings, this can be a great dish for a brunch or a side dish for a BBQ.  It's super versatile which makes it one of my go-to meals, I'd eat it every day or two if I had my choice.

1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes ($1)
1 sweet bell pepper, red, orange, or yellow, rough chopped or quartered ($.20)
3 cloves of garlic, minced ($.15)
2 T. each olive oil and butter ($.50)
1/4 C. white wine (I use pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc) ($.25)
1-2 T. dried basil ($.10)
1/2 tsp. fennel seed, optional ($.05)
salt and pepper ($.05)
2 T. heavy cream, optional ($.05)
1-2 T. parmesan cheese ($.15)
1/2 lb. capellini pasta ($.40)

Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente.

Add olive oil and butter to a small cast iron pan over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add in the whole tomatoes, rough chopped bell pepper and minced garlic.  Cook over medium-high heat, covered, until the tomatoes start to pop and split their skins.  When most of the tomatoes are soft, use a bean mashed to break up the tomatoes.  Stir in basil and fennel, season with salt and pepper.  Once the tomatoes have cooked down, about 1-3 minutes, stir in the white wine a few tablespoonfuls at a time, letting the wine cook down before adding more.  Finish the sauce with parmesan and heavy cream, add in capellini pasta, cooked al dente, along with a few tablespoons of pasta water, toss well to coat, cook an additional 1-2 minutes, and serve.

You can top with mozzarella cheese or provolone, if desired, for a baked pasta entree.
Yields: 2-3 servings
Cost: $2.90
Cost per serving: $.98-$1.45

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Bavarian Pork Loin

I've long been a fan of my local Italian deli/grocery store and they have this Bavarian pork loin at the deli counter which is just all kinds of addictive.  It wasn't until a few weeks ago (when I scored a pair of whole pork tenderloins) that it dawned on me: I could try making this myself.  Why do brilliant ideas like this take so long to reach my brain, I'll never know.  But I am making one of these beauties today and am beyond excited!

What makes it even better is that having a full and varied spice cabinet, a few pantry basics, and less than 5 minutes - and I had the spice paste to rub into the meat.  Woo-hoo!  Very happy when an idea comes together - and so I don't forget what I did in my haze of talent, awesomeness, brilliance, and just sheer excitement, here is my recipe:

2.5 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed ($3.15)
2 T. spicy brown mustard ($.10)
2 T. olive oil ($.10)
1-2 T. white wine ($.10) - I used pinot grigio
2 tsp. each: paprika, onion powder, and salt ($.10)
1 tsp. each: roasted garlic powder, black pepper, and thyme ($.10)
1/2 tsp. each: oregano and dry ground mustard ($.05)
pinch of cumin
splash of worchestershire sauce

Mix all but pork tenderloin until fully incorporated.  Spread mixture onto thawed and dry meat.
Roast in oven at 350 for 2-3 hours, uncovered.  Meat is done when exterior is firm and meat registers 180F.  Cool 15 minutes, then slice thin for sandwiches, thick for serving alongside potatoes and root veggies.

Cost: $3.70