Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I made these cookies to have during the drive to Branson. I had wanted to try them for quite a while, but just hadn’t baked them yet. As far as I can remember, this is the first time that I’ve ever made oatmeal raisin cookies. The go-to cookie in my house has always been chocolate chip cookies, but recently I thought, “oatmeal raisin cookies sounds so good, I have to make some.” In my opinion, they made a great road trip snack.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Any dried fruit can be substituted for the raisins. Be sure the cookies are completely cool before storing in an airtight container.

Yield: Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter with both sugars, and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, milk, and eggs, and mix well. Add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Remove bowl from the electric mixer, and stir in oats and raisins. Place dough in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. Scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough, and shape into a ball; place on one of the prepared sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing balls 3 inches apart. Press down to flatten into 2-inch diameters.
  3. Transfer to the oven, and bake until golden but still soft in center, 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the pans between oven shelves halfway through baking. Remove from oven, and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

The dough was very tasty cold, right out of the refrigerator!

All lined up and ready to go!

All that's left is to wait 20 minutes 'til I can try them...

My first homemade Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!

Recipe Review

These cookies were wonderful! They were thick, and soft, and chewy, and delightful in flavor. I made mine with a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I stored them in a freezer bag with a couple of slices of bread to keep the cookies moist and they were still good a week later, just as the recipe says they will be.

Star Rating

4 out of 4

Recipe courtesy of MarthaStewart.com, recipe title doubles as link to the recipe.

Dreams May Change, Cookies Will Always Be Delicious

Photo courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

When I was around 13 I was really into baking. I loved Martha Stewart, I still do, but back then I thought I wanted to be just like Martha. She is a pretty impressive woman, after all. Am I right? I thought it would be so fun to be the next “Martha Stewart.” However, even though I was always prone to romanticizing, I was never completely unrealistic, so I set my sights on one day becoming a baker. What could be a better job for me?! I loved baking, I loved bakeries, I loved eating baked goods! It was obviously the perfect career for me. Then I became aware of the cold, hard truth of the matter. Bakers have to wake up early. Really early. That was the deal breaker.

Though I no longer have the desire to be just like Martha or to be a baker, my love of baking, bakeries, eating baked goods, and Martha Stewart has stayed with me to this day. Now, I sometimes wonder if I might like to have a bakery of my own someday. Of course, I know I would still have to get up early, but I might be more willing to do that for something I really love, which may, or may not be being the owner and manager of a bakery. For now, I will continue to enjoy imagining owning my own bakery, choosing wonderful bakers and staff, and decorating a building to turn it into the lovely bakery I have pictured in my head, and of course, envisioning all of the delicious recipes that would be made in that bakery!

What is a dream that you’ve had that has changed?

I baked these cookies back in January for my New Year’s Resolution to make one new dessert recipe each month, instead of baking the same old favorites over and over again. I have wanted to try a recipe for double chocolate cookies for quite a while now. I wanted them to be soft, and chewy. Naturally I looked to Martha (MarthaStewart.com, to be exact) to be my cookie guide. This recipe fit the bill.

Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

Do not bake the cookies to a crisp; they are meant to be soft and chewy. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for two to three days.Note: Don’t worry if the batter seems thin. It should look more like a brownie batter than a cookie dough.
 Everyday Food, Volume 5 September 2003  
Prep Time 20 minutes 
Total Time 45 minutes 
Yield Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate.Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.
  3. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes; with a thin metal spatula, transfer to racks to cool completely.

My Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

Recipe Review

These cookies were, indeed, soft and chewy, just as I hoped they would be! They are what any chocolate lover could want, rich and delicious. Perfect with a glass of milk. The only thing that I did slightly differently for these cookies was use regular semi-sweet chocolate chips, instead of the chocolate chunks the recipe called for. They definitely need to be stored well, because by the third day they started to get dry and crumbly. I was storing them in a container by themselves, next time I would add a slice of bread to help them stay more moist. I also thought I might make them when I would be sharing them with a group, so that they wouldn’t make it to the 3-day mark. All in all, I thought they were great, and I would absolutely bake them again.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I had gotten a few butternut squash from someone a couple of months ago. I hadn’t used them yet because we don’t really eat butternut squash in my family, so I wasn’t sure what to do with them. Serendipitously enough, I came across this recipe for Butternut Squash and Apple Soup while flipping through an issue of Williams-Sonoma catalog (one of my favorites) and decided to make it the first recipe I cooked this year.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 jar (2 lb.) butternut squash puree

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 small bay leaves

3 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup crème fraîche

1/4 tsp. ground coriander (optional)

1/4 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger (optional)

Fried sage leaves for garnish

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until soft but not browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the butternut squash puree, apple, broth, bay leaves and salt and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and discard. Add the crème fraîche. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot until smooth. Stir in the coriander and ginger.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with fried sage leaves and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

I did make a couple of changes to it. I didn’t want to make puree with my butternut squash, so I decided to use Williams-Sonoma’s recipe for Cream of Butternut Squash and Apple Soup as a guide. In that recipe you are supposed to chop the butternut squash into 1 inch cubes, so that’s what I did for my soup. I also used sour cream instead of crème fraîche, and I skipped the sage leaves and pepper (I am not a pepper person).

Here’s how it turned out.

Delicious butter, check!

The onions are under way.

Add butternut squash and apple, check.

Broth and bay leaves added.

Sour cream added.

Blended and, oh, so smooth!

Voila!

Recipe Review

This soup turned out to be pretty thick and didn’t have as much apple flavor as I was expecting it to have. Overall, I liked it, but if I ever make it again I would definitely add more chicken broth and more apple.

Star Rating:

2 1/2 out of 4

The Pain Was Worth It in the End

I love skiing.

There’s just something about gliding down a snow covered slope that fills my heart with a sense of easy peacefulness.

A couple of weeks ago I went on a ski trip, but I wasn’t planning on skiing; I decided to give snowboarding a try. Not so much because I wanted to… okay, not at all because I wanted to, but because my generous sister was going to let me use her old snowboard, which would mean I would be saving money by not renting a pair of skis.

This was my second time snowboarding. My first time was last year. But that only lasted for an hour, because we mistakenly got to the ski place right before they were going to close, so I was basically starting from the beginning all over again this year.

Last year I had liked the idea of trying something new; I thought it would be fun to know how to snowboard. So for that hour that I spent boarding, I had fun. This year was a different story. This year all I wanted to do was go skiing. It had been a while since I’d been skiing, and I missed that peaceful, easy feeling (no pun intended). I didn’t want to have to put so much effort into learning to snowboard. I didn’t want to work, I just wanted to have fun.

I had been trying to ignore how I felt about boarding, but once I got to the top of my first hill of the season, I wasn’t able to ignore my feelings anymore.

I had cheerfully gotten all of my gear on and walked to the hill where I sat down in the snow to put on my board. It was at that point that my cheerfulness turned to anxiety. The hill was far too steep for my liking. I did not want to go down that hill. But with encouragement and instruction from my sister I managed to make it down the hill safely.

It turned out that not only did I not want to snowboard because of the afore mentioned reason, but I was also somewhat afraid of snowboarding. Skiing had come pretty easily to me. I mean, sure, I’ve taken some falls over the years, but for the most part I have felt in control while skiing. With snowboarding I feel a complete lack of control.

What I am most afraid of is hurting myself. I have this scary picture of myself loosing control, falling off a ledge somewhere and breaking some part of my body. I have never broken a bone to date and I do NOT want to start now!

Well, I didn’t break anything. Thank goodness. I did however take my fair share of spills along the way, and with those came plenty of sore muscles.

The scariest moment was when I twisted my knee after panicking and throwing myself to the ground in a lame attempt to rescue myself from what I thought was inevitable disaster. According to my sister, it was not inevitable disaster. She seemed to think that my reaction to my imagined impending danger was quite comical. And after hearing her recount the event in the way only she can, I could see why.

It was after the knee incident that I had the last of my meltdown that was gradually coming on at the top of the first hill. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I cried. I was feeling sorry for myself. My sister gave me a much needed pep talk during my meltdown. One of the things she said to me was, “You’re so much braver than this.” I remember feeling surprised to hear that. I think my response to her was, “no, I’m not.” But I think maybe I am. I’ve been feeling so completely the opposite of brave lately, but I did used to be brave. And I still am brave sometimes, I just need to remember that I can be.

Something popped into my head after that exchange with my sister. It was the title of my blog: Setting the Bolder Course. I realized this was an opportunity for me to be bold and I couldn’t let it slip away.

During my sister’s pep talk she told me that I could have fun snowboarding, but I needed to change my attitude.

Well, I did change my attitude. And I did have fun!