Fruit and Nut Granola

July 006

As my faithful readers know, I typically post recipes for my favorite meal: Dessert. I rarely follow recipes for lunch and dinner and am not really a ‘breakfast person’ unless you count Peanut Butter oatmeal or cereal (no need to post a recipe). I really never eat breakfast unless I know I won’t get lunch until late in the day but am rarely hungry before heading to work. I have been looking for something transportable that I could snack on at my leisure to tide me over until lunch but that was not terribly unhealthy for me.  I decided to try my hand at granola and let me tell ya, it is addicting. I have been eating this for breakfast, snacks and desserts for a week now and have no intention on quiting anytime soon. I am an addict.

After searching through several granola recipes on the internet and in cookbooks, I decided to make up my own. The great thing about granola is that the recipe itself is so versitile and addaptable based on your tastes or ingredients on hand you really can’t mess it up. This is the recipe to which I am currently addicted. It is cruchy, has a nice balance of salty/sweet flavor which is complimented and deepened by the toasted nuts.

Granola can be a healthy snack but packaged granola can contain more than its fair share of sodium, fats and sugars (and can be very pricey!!). The thing I love about making this treat at home is that it is very inexpensive and  you can control the oil, sodium and sugars that you include (as well as the nuts, fruits and other goodies).  You can even make this recipe more healthy by adding a few TBS of wheat germ or flaxseed to the oat/nut mixture before baking.  Relatively speaking, this granola is fairly low in sugars (watch out for natural sugars in the dried fruit) and fat (depending on how many nuts and coconut you add).

I have eaten this for breakfast with vanilla or strawberry yogurt, with milk or on fresh fruit (I love raspberries, strawberries and blueberries). I enjoy this as a crunchy topping for ice cream, frozen yogurt or on warm pie filling (kind of like a crisp). Let’s face it, I have also eaten this plain by the bowl-full. SO good. I just can’t get enough.

Feel free to adjust the spices, nuts and fruit to suit your tastes. I have tried several different juices and really like either Cranberry Apple or Cranberry Raspberry. They provide a subtle base flavor to the granola that does not overpower the other flavors and adds that extra dimention of flavor that a milder juice (apple) would not. I would not use a heavily flavored juice as its flavors may compete with the overal taste of the granola in my opinion, (I did NOT like Tropical fruit juice, too acidic and overpowering).

You just can’t beat the flavor of toasted nuts, oatmeal, honey and fruit. The smell alone will draw you in and before you know it the flavor and crunch keeps you coming back for ‘just a little more’ until the whole batch is gone.

I look forward to adapting this recipe many more times.  I may add some white chocolate chips to the granola after it cools to add another flavor dimension. I may keep adapting this recipe as I am excited to incorporate peanut butter in my next batch and leave out the fruit.

I rate this recipe an 8.5

Tropical Granola
Mix together in a large bowl:
2 cups old fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup coconut
1/3 cup pecan halves
In a small saucepan (if heating on stove) or Glass measuring cup (if heating in microwave) combine the following ingredients:
1/3 cup Welch’s frozen Passion Fruit Juice Concentrate (thawed)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
Bring ingredients to a boil. Whisk till sugar is dissolved.
Pour syrup over dry ingredients. Stir to coats. Spread on baking sheet that has been sprayed with quick release spray.
Bake 20minutes at 350 degrees. At the end of the twenty minutes stir in the following ingredients:
1 cup dried diced pineapple
1 cup dried diced mango
1 cup dried sliced banana chips (I used unsweetened)
Bake another 10 minutes till ingredients are dry. But watch carefully it can over brown quickly.
Cool on the baking sheet. When completely cool store in tightly covered tin.
Serve with plain or vanilla non-fat yogurt.
Fruit and Nut Granola
by bakingblonde
In a large bowl mix:
2 cups old fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup pecan pieces
1/3 cup flaked coconut
.
In a medium bowl combine
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried pineapple
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried mango
.
In a small saucepan combine the following ingredients:
1/3 cup Welch’s frozen CranApple or CranRaspberry Juice (thawed)
2 TBS canola or vegetable oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 TBS honey
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
*salt (optional, I like to sprinkle a bit over the top before baking)
.
Preheat oven to 350.
Line a large baking sheet with foil sprayed with PAM. July 003
Bring the above ingredients to a boi, wisking constantly until all sugar is dissolved.  Carefully, pour hot syrup over dry ingredients. Gently stir to coat.
Evenly spread on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt if desired.
.
Bake for 20 minutes, stirring well after 10 mintues.
At the end of the twenty minutes stir in the dried fruits.
Bake an additional 10 minutes, stirring well after 5 mintues for even baking. Bake in 5 minute increments (stirring after every 5) until ingredients are toasted and almost dry. Watch carefully it can burn quickly!
Allow to cool completely on baking sheet. Store in airtight container.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dream Bars

 

Once again I bring to you one of my favorite flavor combinations: Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal. You may remember one of my summer favorites from last year because they require NO baking (meaning, no heated kitchen in the hot summer months).
I found this recipe over at this blog and the description and pictures tempted me too much, I finally caved in and decided to give them a try. I am sure glad I did! I changed up the recipe a bit as reflected in the ingredients and recipe below. These bars are wonderful! They have a slight subtle caramel flavor thanks to all that butter and brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar, which intensifies and deepens this flavor). The filling has a nice light peanut butter flavor without being too overpowering or sweet. Infact, I thought it would be sweeter than what it turned out, and was pleasantly surprised. The filling was is and provides a nice compliment to hte sweetness of the Milk choclate chips and Reese’s Candy bar pieces.
 
 Right out of the oven they are ooey, gooey and very good. You definately need a spoon to eat and scoop up every last drop of the filling from the dish! I did chill these until set and they are much easier to eat, I can’t decide which way I like them best, warm with melted chocolate and peanut butter all over my spoon and fingers (MMMM, I love to lick my fingers) or chilled and set making the filling seem almost fudge-like (only a bit softer). Either way these are sure to please any Peanut Butter and Chocolate lover, and with the oatmeal, these are almost a health food!
 
The down side is that I don’t think these will travel well or stand up to summer heat. They are great but messy, but heck, as complaints go, that is a minor one!
 
I rate these bars an 8.5
 
 
Oatmeal Bars
2 cups melted butter (starting out with melted butter… you KNOW they’re gonna be good!)
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. soda
4 cups oatmeal
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
2 cups mini choc. chips or mini m&m’s
Mix together melted butter, sugar, soda, oatmeal, flour & salt until it’s crumbly.
Set aside 3 cups. Press the rest into a greased 15×10 pan. Remember I made a half batch. I couldn’t decide what size pan would be half of a 10×15. That’s 150 square inches, so half would be something that’s 75 square inches. An 8×8 is 64, a 9×13 is 117. So I picked the 8×8. Maybe I need more baking pans. Or maybe they don’t even make 8×9 pans (72 sq in) or better yet, 7 x 10.5, that would be perfect. Um, let’s see, I forget, were we baking or having Math class? 
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
Mix peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk. Spread over the baked crust. Pour/drizzle worked great. Yum, doesn’t that mixture look good?! It is. I licked the spatula afterwards.
 
Mix mini choc chips or m&m’s with the reserved crumbs. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top of the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
Enlarged to show texture. And that creamy caramelly peanut buttery layer. These definitely do not fit the ‘Oatmeal Bar’ name. In a recipe that has peanut butter and M&Ms and oatmeal, WHO would pick out the oatmeal and name them THAT?! So, Peanut Butter Dream Bars they will be. They are, of course, irrestistably good. They’re a bit crumbly, for example, you wouldn’t want the kids to walk around in the house eating them. But then, who’d ever let their kids do that anyway. Thanks for the recipe, Michelle! It’s a keeper.
May 117
Once again I bring to you one of my favorite flavor combinations: Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal. You may remember one of my summer favorites from last year because they require NO baking (meaning, no heated kitchen in the hot summer months).
 
I found today’s recipe on a fellow blog and the description and pictures tempted me to the point that I finally caved in and decided to give them a try. I am sure glad I did! I changed up the recipe a bit as reflected in the ingredients and recipe below and in my opinion, they changes were a success. 

These bars are just wonderful! The crust and topping has a subtle caramel flavor thanks to all that butter and brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar, which intensifies and deepens the caramel flavor). The filling has a nice light peanut butter flavor without being too overpowering or sweet, almost like creamy peanut butter fudge. Infact, I thought the filling would be sweeter than what it turned out, and was pleasantly surprised. The filling is smooth and creamy and compliments the sweetness of the Milk choclate chips and Reese’s Candy bar pieces that I added to the topping.

 
 Right out of the oven these bars are ooey, gooey and very good. You definately need a spoon to eat and scoop up every last drop of the filling from the dish! I did chill these until set and they are much easier to eat, I can’t decide which way I like them best; warm with melted chocolate and peanut butter all over my spoon and fingers (MMMM, I love to lick my fingers) or chilled and set making the filling seem almost fudge-like (only a bit softer). Either way these are sure to please any Peanut Butter and Chocolate lover, and with the oatmeal, these are almost a health food!
 
The down side is that I don’t think these will travel well or stand up to summer heat. They are great but messy, but heck, as complaints go, that is a minor one! Next time I might add more chopped Reese’s candy bars because I can’t get enough of those babies!
 
I rate these bars an 8.5
 
Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Dream Bars
adapted from here 
1 cup melted butter 
1 cup brown sugar (I used Dark brown sugar)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups Quick Cooking oatmeal (NOT instant)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2  cup peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 King size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup candy bars, roughly chopped
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
 
Preheat oven to 350.
Line a 9×13 pan with tin foil and spray lighlty with PAM. 

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together melted butter, sugar, soda, oatmeal, flour & salt until it’s crumbly.

Set aside about 1 cup or a little more.
Press the rest of the crust into prepared pan. Bake crust for 10 minutes. May 118
While crust is cooking, in a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk.
Once crust has baked, evenly pour and spread peanut butter filling over the baked crust.Be gentle so you don’t pull up the warm crust while you spread the filling.  
Evenly sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top of the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle the chopped candy bars and chocolate chips evenly over the top. Return to oven to bake for another 5-10 minutes or until topping is light golden brown and candy bars/chips are melting. 
Allow to cool to make cutting and serving easier.  

Hand Mixed Peanut Butter Cookies

april-09-129

It has been a while since I have baked up a treat using one of my favorite ingredients, Peanut Butter. I was craving cookies and as you know, I have my all-time-hands-down-ain’t-no-other-better peanut butter cookie recipe, however I decided to play around with another recipe instead. I am sure many of you have seen the 3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. I have made it a few times when I needed a Peanut Butter fix in a pinch, when I have run out of flour, butter or was too lazy to pull out my mixer. Yep, these babies are so simple plus you get a small workout while stirring the dough. That is great because it means you can enjoy more of these babies once they are finished (or just eat some of the dough)!  This time I decided to bump them up a notch and play around with the ingredients.

As you can see, they are no longer only 3 ingredient but they are still super simple and don’t require flour, butter or even a mixer! Because I was looking for a cookie that was chewy, I added brown sugar in combination with white sugar to get the texture I was craving. If you want, you can use any proportion of brown and white sugar you want (as long as it equals a cup or a little less) to reach what texture you are wanting. White sugar tends to create a cookie with a slightly more crisp texture than a cookie made with brown sugar. I found the proportion I used to be just right for my tastes.

In addition to using brown sugar, I also added some baking powder to inhibit the cookies from spreading too much. A dash of vanilla and salt rounded out the flavors of the dough nicely. To jazz them up a bit more I added chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter cups (how can you go wrong?). 

The final result was a chewy cookie that was not cakey at all. They were better than I had expected. While they won’t replace my favorite recipe, (I can’t wait to try chopped Reese’s  when I make them again) these did not disappoint anyone who tried one. The chunks of Reese’s complimented the Peanut Butter flavor in the cookie and provided the right amount of sweetness (though it may be a little too sweet for some). These were quick, easy and best of all used fewer ingredients than most recipes. Another bonus is that they contain no additional fat other than the peanut butter, require no flour and can be mixed by hand in minutes! Nothing says homemade like hand mixed cookies!

I rate this recipe an 8.5

Hand Mixed Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from this recipe
1 cup Peanut Butter (I like creamy)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (more or less to taste)
sugar for rolling dough balls

Prepare baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.april-09-127
In a large mixing bowl mix together the peanut butter, sugars and salt until combined. Add the egg, vanilla and baking powder. Stir to combine. Gently fold in the chopped candy.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.
Drop spoonfuls of dough into a bowl of sugar and gently roll to coat. Place onto the prepared baking sheet and press down with fork so they are even thickness. 
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Be sure to watch carefully and do not overbake!
Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to rack to cool completly. These are very tender and fragile until cool and set.

Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies

january-040

I was hungry for some cookies but after paging through countless recipes I still was undecided as to which recipe to make. I wanted to bake up something simple, that tasted great and used up ingredients I already had on hand. Not having much time to bake, I did not want a recipe that was too labor intensive today, rather I needed a quick recipe that I could whip up and chill until I had to bake the cookies later.

I was so impressed by the results of my Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that I decided to play around with it a bit. I really liked the chewiness and richness that the cream cheese added to my traditional cookie recipe, the changes in taste and texture were subtle yet noticable.  After diggin in my freezer, I decided that this would be the perfect time to use up my bag of coconut in some cookies.

I am very pleased with the results. These baked up rich and flavorful with a wonderful coconut flavor. They kept their shape well with a slightly crisp exterior that gives way to a soft and chewy interior. I highly recommend chilling the dough at least 30 minutes. The incorporation of cream cheese in the dough keeps it very soft unless chilled which will lead to cookies that spread while baking and thus resulting in thinner and possibly crisper cookies. If that is your thing then feel free to experiment with chilled vs. unchilled dough.

Next time I will add some toasted pecans and toffee pieces to the dough. I think that those ingredients will push these over the edge into greatness! I can’t wait to make these again.

I rate this recipe an 8.5

Coconut Cream Cheese  Cookies
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

2 cups plus 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled until room temp
5-6 oz. cream cheese softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups coconut toasted

*I chilled the dough overnight before baking, which I recommend.

Adjust oven racks to upper & lower -middle positions & heat oven to 325. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread coconut evenly on baking sheet.

Once oven is preheated place coconut in oven. Bake for 10-20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes for even toasting. Remove from oven when light brown. Do NOT burn. Remove from oven. Allow to cool completely before adding to dough.

Re-line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together; set aside.With electric mixer, or by hand.january-048
Mix butter and cream cheese together with a mixer until smooth. Add sugars and beat until thoroughly combined.
Beat in vanilla until combined.
Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in cooled coconut. Chill dough overnight. OR

Drop dough onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are set and bottoms are light brown. Do NOT overbake!

Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking and place on wire rack to cool.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake

december-066

MMM, I do love the combination of Chocolate and Peanut Butter and what better way to enjoy that combination than in a nice and rich, creamy cheesecake? I rarely make cheesecakes, they are not difficult but I find it hard to resist and end up eating way more than my waist and thighs can handle!

I needed to bring a dessert to a baby shower this past weekend and knew this would  be a hit (I had to grab a pic quick before serving).
This recipe is so quick and easy, it is based off of this recipe, my go-to cheesecake recipe.  After looking online for a tried and true Peanut Butter cheesecake recipe, I decided to make one  up on my own. I was very pleased with the end result. The batter was so thick and creamy with a peanut butter flavor that was not overwhelming.  It baked up beautifully and did not crack a bit!  After chilling for 24 hours I tasted this wonderous creation. So rich and creamy with a light Peanut Butter flavor that complimented the chocolate cookie crust perfectly. I loved the layer of Peanut Butter and Chocolate between the crust and the cheesecake and enhanced the flavors perfectly.  My only complaint is that the crust crumbled a bit more at the tips of the cut pieces than what I would want for serving company. It may have been my fault though because I pried up the cut pieces with a fork (possibly breaking the crust in the process). It still tasted wonderful, just not the best presentation.

Next time I might dress this up a bit with chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and a milk chocolate drizzle before serving.

I rate this recipe an 8.5

Peanut Butter Cheesecake
2 cups Oreo Cookie crumbs
3-4 TBS butter, melted
1 TBS sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter (slightly  melted until easily spreadable)
1 cup Milk chocolate chips
 
3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz.)  Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 TBS flour
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 300° F. Grease 9-inch springform pan.
Fill an oven safe cake pan (I use a 9×9 pan) 3/4 full with warm water. Set on bottom oven rack while oven is preheating.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine Oreo crumbs and butter, stir to combine.  Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and increase oven temperature to 350.

Spread 1/3 cup softened peanut butter over the crust and evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the peanut butter layer. Set aside.

 In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese until creamy. Add sweetened condecember-063densed milk and peanut butter and beat until smooth. Add sugar and flour, beat to combine. Add  eggs one at a time beating only to combine after each addition. When adding the third egg, also add the vanilla extract; beat until combined.

Gently pour batter evenly into prebaked crust, peanut butter and chocolate chips.
Bake in preheated oven for 45-60 minutes or until edge is set and center moves slightly. Watch carefully and do  not overbake.

Shut oven off and allow cheesecake to cool in oven for 1-4  hours. Run a warm knife around edge of cheesecake after 1 hour.
Place in fridge to cool completely. (Remove the pan of water)
Allow to chill at least 24 hours before serving for best flavor and texture.

Mini White Chocolate Cranberry Oat Fudge Cups

november-004

Everywhere I look lately there seem to be recipes involving cranberries, this is one that caught my eye! I rarely bake anything involving fruit, not that I have anything against fruit (it is one of my favorite snacks), it just seems that most recipes that catch my eye involve chocolate, peanut butter, butter scotch or candy.

I am deciding what to make for goodie trays I will be making for the Holidays and thought that a recipe using cranberries would be perfect. I wanted something different from your typical cookie or bar recipe and hit the jackpot when this recipe caught my eye.

I changed the recipe a bit based on my preferences. The original recipe is baked in a muffin tin but because I am making these for holiday trays I used a mini muffin tin to make them bite sized (Plus I LOVE how cute they look). I also used finely chopped walnuts instead of pecans because I think their flavor better compliments the cranberries. I partially baked the oatmeal crusts before filling them with the white chocolate fudge but then baked the filled Fudge Cups for a few more minutes. The original recipe did not call for baking the cups after they are filled, so if you’re short on time you can always save a few minutes by not baking them after filling with the white chocolate fudge.  I am not sure what difference it will make in the final consistency of the white chocolate fudge, I chose to bake them because the filling is siimilar to the filing in this recipe in which you bake the fudge filled bars.
*I would recommend bakinnovember-006g the crusts for 2-4 more minutes before filling if you are not planning on baking the cups once you fill them.

I am very pleased with the end result! They are so cute and the specks of red cranberry in the crust make them perfect for the holidays.  The crust is slighlty sweet, with a hint of cinnamon and has a delicate nutty flavor which compliments the sweet and creamy white chocolate fudge filling. They are not overly sweet, but definately will satisfy your holiday sweet tooth. I think you could dress these up a bit after baking by garnishing with a dried cranberry or walnut halve on top and then drizzled with melted white chocolate. As is, they are definitely going to be a welcomed addition to my holiday goodie tray!

I rate this recipe an 8.5

Mini White Chocolate Cranberry Oat Fudge Cups
adapted from here
1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 cups oatmeal (I used quick cooking)
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped fine
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped fine

White Chocolate Fudge Filling
2 cups chopped white chocolate
1 can Sweet and Condensed Milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°.
Spray a mini muffin tin with PAM cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add the oatmeal, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until combined. Add chopped cranberries and walnuts and mix until incorporated. november-007

Drop dough by tablespoon into the preapred wells of a mini muffin tin. Using a tart press or the back of a teaspoons press down on the crust mixture until the crust is formed into a small well.
Bake for 5-6 minutes.

While crusts are baking make the White Chocolate Fudge Filling:
In a small sauce pan over low heat, heat milk and chips until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.

Remove the partially baked crusts from oven (should not be brown). If needed, gently use the tart press or the back of a teaspoon to press the crust down to form a well (crust may puff a bit while baking making it difficult to fill the wells unless you press the crust down a bit).
Fill each mini crust with a teaspoon of White Chocolate Fudge being careful not to get any on the mini muffin tin or it will burn.
Return to oven and bake for another 3-4 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool at room teperature.
Chill for 20 minutes or until firm.
Using a sharp knife, gently pry the Fudge Cups out of the tin. They should pop out if you greased it properly and the cups are firm. (I had no problem getting them out at all)

Chewy Ginger Cookies with Cinnamon Chips

november-008

The holidays are approaching and I have been searching for some recipes to make for my goodie trays for Christmas. I have a ginger cookie recipe I love but decided to try out a new recipe and jazz it up a bit.  I had some cinnamon chips that I have been wanting to use for a while and thought that they would be perfect in this recipe and boy was I right!  I very loosely followed a recipe I found on a flyer in a kitchen outlet store in their spice aisle. 

Your mixer may get a workout because the dough is very dense and thick. My right arm got a little sore while folding in the cinnamon chips but it was sooooo worth it! These cookies bake up soft and chewy (not cakey) and the cinnamon chips complimented the flavors of the cookie perfectly. These cookies have a sweet crisp exterior thanks to a roll in sugar before baking. The interior of the cookies chewy with the perfect blend of cloves, ginger and cinnamon. The cinnamon chips do not overshadow the other flavors but instead enhance and compliment them. They are a welcomed surprise and the perfect way to ‘spice’ up a traditional holiday favorite cookie!

While yummy, I don’t know if the base recipe will replace my original ginger cookie recipe but I will definitely  be adding cinnamon chips the next time I make them! I havent’ made them in so long that I am anxious to bake up a batch and compare. Let’s just say that you can NOT lose with either recipe!

*If you can not find cinnamon chips in your grocery store, order some online HERE! DO IT!! They are great in muffins and pancakes as well!

* I do recommend to chill the dough for at least 20 minutes or they may spread a little too much while baking. If you want to bake right away, maybe bake a test cookie and if it spreads too much add a little more flour to the dough to help them retain their shape.

I rate these cookies an 8.5

Chewy Ginger Cookies with Cinnamon Chips
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup molasses (NOT blackstrap)
1 cup Cinnamon Chips
1 cup sugar (for rolling dough balls)

Preheat oven to 350. (if baking immediately)
Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium size bowl stir or sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
november-010
In large mixing bowl mix together the butter and brown sugar until light. Add egg and vanilla, mix to combine. Slowly add molasses and beat to combine and mixture is creamy.  Add the flour mixture slowly  and mix until combined. Gently fold in the cinnamon chips.

Chill dough for 20 minutes (or you can bake immediately)
In a shallow bowl pour 1 cup sugar.
Form dough balls (I used my Pampered Chef Medium size scoop) and toss in the bowl of sugar. Roll to coat evenly.

Place dough balls on prepared baking sheets. Press middle down slightly for even baking.
Bake in preheated oven for 9-12 minutes until edges are set and light brown. Do  not overbake or cookies will be crisp. 
 Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes and then allow cookies to cool completely on wire rack.

Grandma’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Once again this recipe comes from the hand written cookbook given to me by my grandma. I have to say that these cookies bring back many childhood memories. I remember helping my grandma make these cookies, I stand on a chair to reach the counter and would help by sifting the dry ingredients together for her being careful not to get flour all over the counter and myself.

I patiently waited while these baked, sneaking bites of cookie dough while my grandma was not looking. The ingredients in these cookies may turn many of you off. They use butter flavor Crisco and oil instead of butter as the source of fat. Typically I only bake with butter but the unique combination of the fats along with the use of cream of tartar give these cookies their unique texture. They have a more cake-like texture than other cookies I typically bake, which usually would be a bad thing, but for some reason I love these cookies like no other. They are so different in flavor and texture than my typical recipe that I feel these are a treat when ever I make them. 

While these cookies are soft and cake-like out of the oven and stored in a sealed container at room temperature, I have to admit that my favorite way to enjoy these cookies is frozen. Yup, you heard that right. I LOVE LOVE LOVE these cookies straight from the freezer. They have a light and crisp texture that can’t be beat! I think my love for these frozen cookies comes from my childhood memories. My grandma would bake these in huge batches and freeze the extras in tupperware containers in her big chest freezer. My cousins and I would sneak cookies from the containers and eat them before dinner whithout getting caught while we played Nintendo and Barbies.  Man, I could eat 4-5 of these frozen cookies at a time, still enjoy a dinner of meat and potatoes and was stick thin. Wish I still had that metabolism! haha.

Hot, room temperature or frozen, these cookies are a great alternative to your typical chocolate chip cookie when you are looking for something just a little different! Be warned though, they don’t have that  “butter” flavor that your typical cookie would have and may not suit the tastes of everyone.

I rate these cookies an 8.5

Grandma’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup oil (use good quality vegetable oil)
1 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tesaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Sift together in a large bowl the baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and flour (you can whisk if you don’t have a sifter)

In a large mixing bowl cream together the oil and Crisco. Add the sugar and brown sugars and beat to combine. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat.

Slowly add the flour mixture and mix only until combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
Chill the dough for 15 minutes.
Drop dough on parchment line baking sheets (I use my medium scooper).
Bake for 8-11 minutes or until the edges are beginning to turn light brown.
Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.
Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature, or if you are like me, store in a sealed container in the freezer.

Oatmeal Jumbos

I was wanting to make some cookies using up some oatmeal. Usually I turn to my favorite cookie recipe for Monster Cookies when I am looking for a yummy cookie to whip up quickly. Today, however, I wanted to try a new recipe.

Like my monster cookies these are loaded with oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate! What a winning combination? The dough to chocolate candy ratio is small so these cookies are not as sturdy as some but boy are they good! I used Old Fashion oats instead of quick oats in this recipe which created a chewier, softer and more fragile cookie. The higher ratio of brown sugar to sugar gives these cookies a nice depth of flavor and balances out the peanut butter and candy nicely without being overly sweet. You can cut down on the amount of candy and chocolate if you prefer to make them a bit sturdier and ‘healthier’. Either way they will be great!

If you are looking for a chewy cookie that is loaded full of your favorite candies than look no further! This recipe makes about 4 dozen average size cookies or 2 dozen ‘jumbo size’ cookies.

I rate these cookies an 8.5

Oatmeal Jumbos
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup M&M’s
1 cup Reese’s Pieces

Preheat oven to 350.
In mixing bowl, combine peanut butter and butter  until blended. Add the brown sugar, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until well mixed. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined.

Gently fold in the oatmeal, chocolate chips and candy.
For Jumbo Cookies: Drop dough by 1/4 cup balls onto parchemnt lined baking sheet about 5 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool on sheet for 10 minutes before tranfering to rack to cool completely.
For average cookies: Drop dough by medium scooper on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes until light brown and just set around edges. Cool on sheet for 10 minutes before transfering to rack to cool completely.

Peanut Butter Crinkle Cookies

This recipe is another one from the cookbook of my Grandma’s favorite recipes. She does not site a source for any of her recipes, but a quick google search brought up the same recipe at several sites, including this one. Because the original source is unknown, I am giving my grandma credit on this one unless someone knows where this recipe originated.  After searching a bit it seems that several people make these cookies and stick a Hershey’s Kiss on top of the baked cookie (while it is still warm). I had these several times as a kid but that is never the way my grandma made these.  You see, one of the qualities that makes these cookies irresistable is their crinkley top that gets hidden by the addition of a Kiss!

These are so simple to make and produce a cookie that would be a welcomed addition to any bake sale or holiday tray! They really do catch your eye and stand out from your typical Peanut Butter cookie recipe.  Their eye-catching crackly top is the produced by rolling the dough balls in powdered sugar and slightly flattening the tops of the balls before baking.  

Let me tell ya, the dough tastes phenomenal as do the finished cookies. They have a slighlty crisp (not crunchy) exterior but a soft and chewy interior. I did not find these overly sweet (even though they are rolled in powdered sugar) and they have a wonderful peanut butter flavor. These did not last longer than 48 hours in the house but kept in a tupperware container they did stay soft for those 2 days.

Next time I might press down a Holiday edition PB M&M in the center of a warm baked cookie to add a little pop of chocolate and more peanut butter! Plus, who doesn’t love the holdiay colored M&M’s???

I rate these cookies an 8.5

Peanut Butter Crinkle Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup powdered sugar (or more as needed for rolling)

Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking sheets with parchement paper.
Place powdered sugar in shallow bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and peanut butter. Once combined beat in the white sugar, and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
In a large bowl wisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently add to creamed mixture and mix until almost combined.
Chill dough for 10-20 minutes.
Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Genlty roll the dough balls into powdered sugar and place dough balls on parchment lined baking sheets. Carefully press down on each ball with a glass to flatten tops slightly.
Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until top is crinkley and edges are set. Cook on sheet for 10 minutes and transfer to baking rack to finish cooling.