Peanut Butter, Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Cookies


This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so its great when you need cookies for a crowd.  This is also a good cookie dough to make when you want to freeze some dough balls and bake them later.  It holds up well in the freezer for a few weeks.  Here are some tips for freezing cookie dough.  If you want to freeze individual balls of dough, scoop the dough into the size desired, then place them on a cookie sheet.  They can be close together since you won’t be baking them right now.  Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour to harden the dough.  Then, you can remove the dough balls from the sheet and place them into a freezer bag.  This will allow you to bake just a few cookies at a time instead of defrosting all the dough, which after one defrost should not be frozen again or the texture of the cookie will change.

I like these cookies because of all the goodies in them.  I like a simple sugar cookie from time to time, but I much prefer something with lots of different flavors and textures.  I used milk chocolate chips and salted peanuts this time, but I think peanut butter chips, semi-sweet or even white chocolate could be good.  Maybe a combination of a few kinds even!  I’m getting carried away now.  I have not tried them with honey roasted peanuts, but will probably leave out the chocolate chips when I do.  So many different variations…so little time.  This is an easy cookie recipe.  The only “trick” I use it to chill the dough for a few hours before scooping it.  They taste just as good if you don’t chill the dough, but the cookies seem to bake more evenly, spread a little less and I think letting the ingredients have more time to sit together before baking creates a better flavor and texture.  So, do as you please…chill or don’t chill.  But make these.  They are yummy.


Greek Spiced Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

These meatballs were the main dish for our little Greek night last week.  We ate them with warm pita and feta cheese, and they were delicious.  I made a few changes to the original recipe from Fine Cooking magazine, July 2009.  I used ground beef instead of lamb, I used bread crumbs from a loaf of french bread, and took a shortcut with the tomato sauce.  Instead of making my own sauce and doctoring it, as the magazine instructs, I just used a good quality 28 ounce can of chunky tomato sauce.  The meatballs were very tasty, and the sauce was delicious.  It was a little thick when I reheated it the next day, so I added a little water and it was perfect.



Galaktoboureko: Greek Phyllo Custard Pie

Sweet, creamy, rich and wonderful.  I made Greek food for dinner on Friday night, and I wanted to make a Greek dessert that wasn’t baklava.  I love baklava and have a good recipe for it that hasn’t failed me yet, but I wanted to try something new.


There were so many different recipes and methods for this dessert.  Some were made in a 9×13 pan.  Others were made into individual little pies.  I baked mine in a 9 inch pie plate, and it turned out well.  There is something appealing to me about doing this dessert in little individual packages so that more of the phyllo stays nice and crisp.  However, the pie plate was nice and self contained with no serious risk of leaking.

This dessert is made of a custard of milk, eggs, semolina flour, sugar and butter wrapped in phyllo and soaked in some type of syrup after baking.  The kind of milk, number of eggs, and flavor of syrup varied quite a bit in the recipes I browsed, but the methods were all similar.  I chose this recipe from Epicurious .

Phyllo-Custard Pie


  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour*
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 11 tablespoons (about) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 10 fresh phyllo pastry sheets or frozen, thawed


Stir 1 1/4 cups sugar and 2/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add cinnamon sticks and 1/2 teaspoon orange peel and simmer 2 minutes. Set syrup aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix semolina and 1/2 cup sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in milk and 4 tablespoons melted butter; bring to boil, whisking occasionally. Boil until mixture is thick and creamy, whisking constantly, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk eggs and 1/2 teaspoon orange peel in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in semolina mixture. Mix in vanilla. Cool filling completely.

Lightly butter 10-inch glass pie dish. Place 1 phyllo sheet in bottom of dish. Brush with melted butter. Top with second sheet. Continue layering with 3 more sheets, brushing each with butter. Spoon filling into dish. Top with 5 more phyllo sheets, brushing each with butter. Using scissors, trim excess phyllo from sides of dish. With very sharp knife, score tip of phyllo sheets, forming diamond pattern.

Bake pie until phyllo is golden brown and filling is set, about 45 minutes. Transfer pie to rack. Immediately strain 1 cup cooled syrup over pastry. Cool completely. Cut into wedges and serve.

I LOVED this pie.  Crisp phyllo encasing a creamy custard.  Just delightful.  It was too rich for Ben, but most desserts are.  It was good at room temperature, but so lovely after it had chilled in the fridge for a few hours…and delicious the next day as well!  The cinnamon syrup is essential and gives the pie a nice flavor.  Try this next time you want a fairly easy and very  impressive dessert.



Pita Chips and Hummus

It makes me so very happy that I will never be forced to buy pre-packaged hummus or pita chips again!  Freedom from store bought foods!  Ok, so there may be a time when buying a bag of pita chips will be necessary.  BUT, if I have the time to make my own, then I will make my own because the hummus is delicious and easy, as are the pita chips.

Both recipes come from  There are quite a few hummus recipes on the site, but this one seemed just different enough to be fun without being weird or overly complicated with ingredients.  I like the versatility of hummus.  A dip for pita chips or fresh veggies, and equally good spread on a flat bread with veggies or some turkey and wrapped up for a quick lunch.


The garlic in this hummus is cooked in olive oil along with some ground cumin to mellow the flavor of the garlic, and the results are really nice.  The soy sauce in the hummus isn’t obvious, but does add something to the flavor.

For the pita chips, make sure to halve them to create 2 circles, then cut the pita halves into triangles or strips.  If you cut the entire pita into pieces, your chips will not crisp quite as well.  The recipe calls for 10 pitas, but I only used 4.  Just cut what you need, brush them on both sides with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Easy peasy.


  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 15-1/2-oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tbs. tahini
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt; more as needed


Daring Bakers: Cookies

I must admit this, I was not thrilled about this months challenge at first.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love cookies.  Almost all kinds of cookies.  I even like when they take all day to make.   My issue with this challenge was that I made one of the cookie recipes a few years ago with less than stellar results, so I was kinda bummed.  The other cookie also seemed a little boring.  I went into this challenge with a rotten attitude…but I came out a very happy girl.


The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole     at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I made the Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies first.

Day 1: I made the cookies a day before I planned to make the marshmallow and cover them.  The cookie dough was easy to deal with and the cookies made my house smell so wonderful while they baked.  I tried the cookies alone, and I found them to be a bit dry, but they had good flavor.

Day 2: I’ve made these cookies before, so I have made marshmallow before.  I really enjoy making food that starts out with a very ordinary and unassuming list of ingredients and miraculously becomes something completely different!  That’s why marshmallow is so fun to make.  It creates quite a sticky mess, but is worth it.  mallow1

Be sure to use good vanilla as this is the only flavoring in the marshmallow besides sugar. I recommend Nielson-Massey Vanilla Bean paste or Madagascar Vanilla.

The marshmallow was beautiful and piped out quite nicely onto the cookies.  I let them set at this point for a few hours at room temperature.

The process of covering things in chocolate and I do not get along very well.  Unless I am using that chocolate bark, my chocolate doesn’t ever harden completely without putting it in the fridge or freezer.  And yet again, I had that problem with these cookies.  They looked beautiful coming out of their chocolate bath, but even after 3 hours the chocolate was still wet.  So, in the fridge they went!  The chocolate hardened and then we were able to taste them!  The chocolate formed a nice hard shell around the soft gooey marshmallow and crumbly cookie.  I liked these cookies, but think they might require more work than they’re worth in the taste department.  They are beautiful and impressive, though.


Summer Vegetable Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

This is time consuming, frustrating, quite prep intensive, and not easy.  The resulting dish is delicious and worth every drop of sweat and shed tear.

Summer rolls are one of those things that seems so daunting that most people, or maybe just me, do not even want to attempt to make them at home.  Why spend so much time preparing something like this?  Why not just be content to order them at a restaurant where someone else labors instead of you?  Because once you know how to do it you will realize that it’s not an impossible task and that they taste better when you’ve made them yourself.  Oh, and it’s quite a bit cheaper than restaurant fare.


This recipe is from, and had really high fork ratings and 95% of people would make them again, so I figured I could handle it.  I prepped everything and made the sauce early in the day.  I didn’t really measure my vegetables and herbs.  I chopped and shredded more than I needed and made more noodles than called for.


This resulted in a lot of leftover veggies, but made more rolls and I had more chances to screw up and tear the rice paper…which, by the way, is very easy to do!  Use a light hand with the wrappers and be prepared to toss some into the trashcan. I like bean sprouts, so I added those to a few of the rolls when I added the carrots.  After adding the carrots, when rolling the roll closed, is when I would tear the rice paper.  Good news though, by the last couple rolls I was putting out some very pretty, tight, nice looking rolls.

Tips for making summer rolls:


S’mores Cookies

Oh goodness gracious.  These cookies were so tasty.  I decided to make them at the last minute while doing a little pantry cleaning.  I had a bag af mini marshmallows, 2 half bags of chocolate chips, and some leftover cookies I’d made over the weekend that taste like graham crackers.  I couldn’t help but think of a s’more.  I haven’t had a true campfire s’more in a while, and while this doesn’t quite duplicate the experience of extinguishing a flaming, gooey marshmallow before pressing it on to a few squares of Hershey’s chocolate and a graham cracker, it is a good substitute.


I found this recipe on Cookie Madness.  I had to change a few things in the recipe as it was a last minute decision and I did not feel like going to the store.  I will try them the way they should be next time, but the ones I made were great anyway.  I’m curious to see if they could be any better!


Bacon, Mushroom and Spinach Breakfast Strata

Breakfast is always a bowl of cereal for Ben.  Not only that, he uses the same bowl and sits in the same spot to eat it every morning.  I love that about him.  I usually eat some fruit and yogurt.  Sometimes I make banana bread and we’ll eat that for a few days, and if we’re really getting crazy, scrambled eggs.  Needless to say, breakfast is not too thrilling around here.

When company comes I tend to get a little excited about breakfast.  This breakfast strata is very adaptable to anyone’s personal taste.  I used bacon, mushrooms, spinach, and a combination of swiss and cheddar cheese.  Ham would be delicious, or spicy breakfast sausage…mmmm.  It would even be great with just vegetables.


There are easier overnight breakfast casseroles.  I made one once that used a box of croutons instead of fresh bread and I’ve seen recipes that use frozen hash browns.  I liked that this one was completely from scratch.  It didn’t take too long to put it together on Friday night.  The hard part was getting out of bed early to pre-heat the oven and bake it for an hour and a half.  But it was worth it.


Roast Beef Empanadas

A few weeks ago Ben and I went to visit our friends Jason and Carrie in Decatur.  Along with having a fun weekend catching up and enjoying our time together we ate some incredible food.  Carrie made us empanadas with a chicken, black bean and corn filling.  They were crazy good.  The empanada dough is from Smitten Kitchen, but the filling was her own creation.  I envy her ability and confidence in creating recipes without a recipe.  Someday I will be able to break free from recipes and spread my culinary wings…

The chicken filling was good, but Carrie mentioned trying a different filling of roast beef at some point.  On her way to Albuquerque this week, Carrie made a pit stop here and spent a few days with us.  We tried these roast beef empanadas with lovely results.  The flavors are quite different from a traditional empanada.  It reminded me of a cheese-steak, only wrapped in pastry instead of a soft bread roll.  Are you drooling?  I am.



Cheater Apple Dumplings

I haven’t had my camera for a few weeks now, but I’d been doing pretty good remembering to take pictures with my iphone.  Unfortunately, the last few yummy things I’ve made haven’t been photographed before being consumed.  This is one of those things, so here is the picture from The Pioneer Woman’s website, where I got this delicious recipe.

apple dumplings

I usually make fun of recipes like this that use pre-prepared foods like canned crescent rolls.  And Mountain Dew…what is this all about?  But these looked and sounded too good to shun on the basis of a few ingredients.