White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Brown Butter Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

“Hi, Mom.”

“Hi, lovey.”

“I’m at camp.”

“I know.”

“I’m already homesick. The food is yucky. I’m broke.”

“I’m sorry, honey. I’ll send you some money. And cookies … would cookies help?”

“Mom, your cookies always help!”

This was a conversation with my son, Tommy. The same child who is 24, living on his own, and away working at the same camp he has worked at for at least 7 years.

But he wants cookies.

What’s a Mom to do?

Bake cookies, that’s what a Mom’s to do.

So I off I went to the kitchen to bake cookies to ship to my starving, homesick child. Fortunately his favorite cookies will ship well and make enough to have in the house as well.

You can sub cranberries for the dried cherries and white or dark chocolate for the semisweet chocolate.

  • 2 1/2 C rolled oats (Use old fashioned not quick or instant)
  • 1 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 C dried cherries
  • 6 ozs semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C walnut halves, finely chopped
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 C firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Dry Ingredients

Whisk oats, flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; stir in dried cranberries, white chocolate, and nuts.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat until the milk solids turn golden brown, about 4 minutes; take care not to burn.

Browned Butter

Pour browned butter into a large bowl and whisk in brown sugar until combined. Whisk in cinnamon, then whisk in eggs and vanilla, beating well after each. Add dry mixture to wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Mixture will be thick. Drop by generously rounded tablespoon 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.

Bake until light golden brown and just dry to the touch, but still a little soft inside, about 10 minutes.


Slide parchment onto racks to cool cookies completely.

One-Pan Fudge Cake


You’ll have to use your imaginations here …


Me: Hello?

SS: Hi! Whatcha doing for dinner tonight. I know the Dear One is away and you’re home alone. Come over for dinner and a movie. Just me and he kids. This way I won’t have to rescue you after you’ve done something I Love Lucy-esque.

Me: Okay. That’s great.

SS: Well, not just  me and the kids … 4 or 5 other people as well.

Me: Oh? (Wishing I hadn’t answered the phone now) Sure. What can I bring? (when will I learn NOT to ask that question!?)

SS: How about dessert?

Me: Okay. What time?

SS: How about an hour?

Me: See you then.

SS: Andrea? Don’t lock the door when you leave!

AN HOUR? Come up with and make dessert and drive into town IN AN HOUR!? Now what am I going to do?

Suddenly inspiration! I remembered seeing a recipe on Relish.com for a One-Pan Fudge Cake taken from the Junior League of Nashville cookbook.

Simple ingredients. One pan. Quick to throw together. Cools in the pan. Baked in 30 minutes. I.AM.SAVED!

Fudgey and dense, chocolatey without being too sweet, this cake is the answer to any last minute guests or dinner invitations!

Oh, and ice cream. Ice cream is great on top of this cake.

  • 1/2 C (1 stick) butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 C chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 8-inch square cake pan.

Melt butter, sugar and chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat. When melted, add flour, salt and baking powder. Stir well. Add eggs, vanilla and pecans, if using.

Pouring into pan


Stir well and pour into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into squares while hot. Let cool in pan.

Sprinkling sugar

When cool, dust top with powdered sugar.


Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


I had the honor … well, no, privilege of starting and maintaining a fabulous cooking forum. I met fabulous women. I even met some of my very best friends through this forum, all of whom I cherish and miss as I sit here in the frozen springtime beauty of Maine.

We traded our cherished recipes, helped each other with ingredients, shared our family trials, tribulations and successes. Sadly, we mourned together at the passing of some of our members.

We decided that our wonderful recipes needed to be in written in book form and we set out to self-publish our own cookbook. What a joy it was to put together! So many fabulous recipes, everyone jumping in to help test recipes and type. 290 pages of food and friendship!

One of my absolute favorite recipes from the book is Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, shared by jerseygirl. It is my go to banana bread recipe and where all of the bananas we don’t get to fast enough end up.

Continued thanks to all of you for sharing your recipes and time. Becky, I still miss you each and every day.

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 C butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan

Combine all ingredients except chips and nuts in a large bowl. Blend well on medium speed of an electric mixer. Stir in chips and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until toothpick interested in center comes out clean.

Ready to slice

Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a rack.

Roasted Vegetable and Black Bean Tacos


Ya know, it’s much harder to come up with vegetarian meals than initially thought … especially with slightly picky teenagers.

When I saw this recipe I figured it would be something new, in a crunchy shell (which makes everything better) and can have chicken added for my dear carnivore.

LOTS OF CHOPPING! But after the chopping prep there’s just stirring and eating!

  • 1 medium yellow squash, chopped into small chunks (1 cup)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped into small chunks (1 cup)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, de-seeded, ribs removed and chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One (10-ounce) can original Ro-Tel (tomatoes + chiles)
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 to 12 taco-sized corn tortillas
  • canola or vegetable oil
  • To serve with tacos: avocado, shredded cheese, lettuce, sour cream, lime wedges

NOTE: I used crunchy taco shells, the ones that stand on their own … it’s the preferred thing here, and I have enough battles without taco shells being one of them.

NOTE NOTE: Nope, next time there will be NO Ro-Tel, but a can of diced tomatoes. This packs enough flavor without all the heat which makes some of the delicate palates here frown!

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.


Add all of your vegetables to a large bowl and toss with the olive oil. Spread the veggies on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes, stir, roast another 15 minutes, stir again, and roast one more time for 15 minutes (45 minutes total). The veggies can be roasted ahead of time, just refrigerate until ready to make the tacos.

In a medium skillet, heat the black beans and tomatoes over low heat.


In a small bowl, combine the spices (cumin through pepper). Sprinkle the spices over the beans and tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the roasted veggies, stir to combine and continue to heat until the mixture is completely warm.

All that’s left is to assemble the tacos! Around here the veggies were int he pan with bowls of avocado slices, limes, lettuce, and shredded cheese. Grilled shredded chicken on the side for those who like more protein!


Mussels in White Wine and Garlic


“It’s a beautiful day,” says he.

“I know!” I respond, “FINALLY!”

“We really should get out and about.”

“Oh, yes, please! That would be great.”

It’s one of the first truly nice days of spring. The sun is shining, there’s a light breeze, it’s warm(ish). I want to get out and feel the sun on my face. A nice walk in Acadia National Park. Oh, Sand Beach, I haven’t been there yet. My head was filled with places on Mount Desert Island I wanted to explore.

The Dear One, however, had other ideas in mind.

See, there’s a tree. A tree he cut down. A tree destined to be cut and split and stacked and dried for the wood stove for the winter.

THE WINTER? Seriously, Dude? It’s April! I’ve barely had time to recuperate from this past winter much less think about NEXT winter.

Well, you see, he explains, it has to be cut and split and stacked now, and covered in plastic so that it dries out to be ready for next winter.

Now, back to that tree … it’s down a ‘slight’ hill, on the opposite side of the house from where it needs to be stacked, and looked MUCH smaller standing upright.

“Okay, I’ll take the big part of the trunk. You take the branches. Whatever is too small to cut for the wood stove, throw on the wood pile.”

This is when I realized that the man of my dreams is completely OFF.HIS.ROCKER! Has he not seen these delicate, little hands? Has he not seen me struggle to pick up heavy grocery bags? Most importantly, has he NOT SEEN MY TIARA!? A princess, I tell you! A City princess, at that, carrying a tree? Stacking wood? Surely you jest.

Jesting he was not. But I princessed up, rolled up my sleeves and heave ho’d. I threw branches and stems on the burn pile (wait, ce qui es une BURN PILE … oh, I am so new to this planet!), carried big branches up to some God awful contraption so it could be cut into logs, and stacked up wood that Mr. Lumberjack split.

I smelled. I dropped a birch branch on my toe. I dropped a birch log on my ankle. I was covered in sawdust and dirt and YUCK. Every single inch of my body hurt … except, perhaps, a 1/4″ spot on my left ear.

AND I WAS STARVING. I needed a HOT shower and a hot, quickly made dinner.

I sent Simon Legree the Dear One off to the market to pick up dinner … mussels, garlic, parsley … while I stood in a scalding hot shower trying to wash away the memory of the day.

In the time it took to boil a pot of water, shallots were sliced, garlic was minced, parsley was chopped. When the pasta was dropped into boiling water, the shallots, garlic and white wine simmer, after about 5 minutes the mussels were added, another short 5 minutes, added some parsley and butter. Everything done at the same time. 15 minutes from start to finish.

A few slices of toasted Italian bread, glasses of fabulous red wine, and I was a happy, though still sore, camper.

It doesn’t really get easier than this dish. Next time I may add some arugula in, or perhaps halved grape tomatoes, the possibilities are endless.

  • 2 C dry white wine
  • 4 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 4 pounds live mussels
  • 1/3 C mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chervil, or basil, chopped
  • 6 T butter, cut into pieces

Rinse and scrub mussels under cold running water. Using your fingers or a paring knife, remove beards (strings that hang from the mussels’ shells), and discard.

In a large stockpot set over medium heat, combine wine, shallots, garlic, and salt. Simmer 5 minutes. Add mussels. Cover, and increase heat to high. Cook until all mussels are open, about 5 minutes. Stir in herbs and butter. Remove from heat. Divide mussels and broth among four bowls. Serve immediately.

NOTE: We were STARVING so I threw this over pasta. If you serve the mussels without pasta toast some bread, rub it with garlic for dipping.

Pistachio Dried Cherry Torrone ~ March Daring Bakers

Done 3

The March 2014 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt. She challenged us to learn to make classic nougat and to make it our own with our choice of flavors and add-ins.

It’s been a terribly long time since I’ve been able to join in any cooking or baking events. I’ve missed it.  I am so pleased to be able to join in BOTH Daring Kitchen challenges this month.

I have had this Martha Stewart Torrone recipe on deck for a LONG time and made my own changes to it, but felt the base recipe was easy enough for me to handle!

Done 2

And you-know-who is screaming WHY? And in the same breath WHERE’S MINE??

This was a bit fiddley. I was a bit hampered by not being in my own kitchen. I used a hand mixer that’s affixed to a bowl that turns, so it was a semi-stand mixer type piece of equipment … but not really.

It needs to sit and ‘dry’ a bit more, but man oh man, this is tasty stuff!

  • 2 pieces edible rice paper, (9 by 13 inches each) wafer paper
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 3 T light corn syrup
  • 1/2 C water
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C shelled salted pistachios, (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 1/3 C unsweetened finely shredded coconut, (about 4 ounces)
  • 3/4 C dried cherries

Place 1 piece of rice paper in a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet; set aside.

NOTE: I lightly buttered the sides of the baking dish. You’re going to trim them off anyway so it just makes removing the Torrone easier.

Put sugar, honey, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture just begins to simmer and sugar has dissolved, about 6 minutes. Continue to cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.

NOTE: Aside from the no stand mixer problem, I also suffered from a no CANDY THERMOMETER problem. 300 degrees is hard ball stage. Drop a tiny amount of the boiling sugar into a cup with cold water, when it becomes a hard, crunchy mass once in the water, you’re done.

Meanwhile, put egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Raise speed to high. Pour hot honey mixture into egg-white mixture in a slow, steady stream, and beat until mixture has cooled and thickened and begins to stick to whisk, about 10 minutes.


Reduce speed to medium-low; beat in vanilla, pistachios, coconut, and cranberries.

Working quickly, spread mixture into prepared dish. Place another sheet of rice paper on top; press down to flatten and spread evenly. Let cool on wire rack at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Ready to cut

Cut around edges of Torrone to loosen. Remove from baking sheet; transfer to a cutting board. Trim edges to be straight. Using a long, sharp knife, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch slices.

Watercress Composed Salad with Citrus Dressing ~ March Daring Cooks


I haven’t been living in one place for a long enough period of to really concentrate on joining any cook-alongs. It’s been over 6 months with this back and forth stuff! I’m so excited t his month to not join one of The Daring Kitchen’s challenges, but TWO!

For March’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge, Ruth, Shelley and Sawsan asked us to totally veg out! We made salads and dressings, letting the sky be the limit as we created new flavors and combinations that reflect our own unique tastes.

I’ve always made my own dressing. Probably because my mother always made her own dressing and my grandmother always made her own dressing. I will occasionally buy a dressing in a bottle, if I want a quick marinade for something, but otherwise I just find them … hmmm, ICKY! Thick and gloppy and off-tasting.

This challenge was right up my alley!

Many, many moons ago, Erie and I went to a Spanish restaurant in Queens (the name escapes me at the moment and perhaps she will chime in and let us know). We had the most wonderful composed salad – and I was surprised as I’m not usually a fan of composed salads.

Since then, this is my go to company is coming, steak themed dinner, salad. It’s simple with lots of great ingredients.

  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1 can hearts of palm
  • 1 shallot
  • juice from 1/2 an orange, lime and lemon
  • 3 t extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • s&p

NOTE: I used plum tomatoes, use whatever tomatoes make you happy.


Wash watercress thoroughly and cut off stems. Place watercress on a platter

Quarter hard boiled eggs into wedges.  Scatter over watercress.

If using Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges. If using other tomatoes, cut into chunks. Scatter over watercress.

Slice hearts of palm into 1/4″ rings. Again, scatter over watercress.

Thinly slice shallot into rings. Scatter over salad.

Dressing salad

In a bowl, whisk together citrus juices, oregano and s&p to taste. While whisking, stream in olive oil. When ready to serve salad, drizzle dressing over the top.


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