Saturday, December 7, 2013

PB & J Thumbprints

I always try to find something interesting to make for my annual cookie exchange and I try to pick one certain flavor or element. This year, I liked the idea of fruit/jam. So I thought, "I can make Thumbprint cookies, like my mom always done." But then I thought, there has to be a way to punch it up a notch. And that is when I came across Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprints on Foodnetwork! I couldn't resist, even if it was risky because I made them the day of the exchange and there was NOT a plan B!

PB & J Thumbprints

Yield 24 cookies
(adapted from


1 stick (4 oz) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed, light )
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup  Sugar in the Raw
1/3 cup strawberry preserves


In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar, and blend until creamy; scrape the sides of the bowl. Then add the salt, vanilla and egg, and blend until combined. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the flour in 1/2-cup intervals. Between each addition be sure to completely blend in all the flour and scrape the sides as before. Once completely combined, scrape the dough out of the mixer, add to a container with a lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and, using a tablespoon, scoop out the dough (approx 1oz) and roll into a ball between your hands. Then roll the formed ball in the Sugar in the Raw and place on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat for the rest of the balls, making sure to separate them on the sheet by about 1 inch. 

Once all the balls are on the baking sheet, make an indentation in the center of each using the rounded end of the back of a rounded teaspoon. Fill the center of each with about 1/2 teaspoon strawberry preserves. Bake until lightly golden, about 13 minutes. Remove to a wire rack. Let cool before serving.

These were very easy to make. I did NOT plan ahead for needing to rest/chill them for 2 hours but I found a way to fit it in. I think that step is very important, as the peanut butter would get really sticky. I LOVE the texture the Sugar in the Raw gives these cookies. Even my picky husband liked these...I was shocked! These will now be part of our Christmas cookies making tradition.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Monster Cookie Bars

I LOVE Monster Cookies. There is nothing about them that isn't wonderful. But...they make a big batch and take a long time to make and are a little messy. Then I found this recipe on FB or P and thought, "GENIUS!"

Monster Cookie Bars


1 stick Butter
1 cup White Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
3 Eggs
1-½ cup of Chunky Peanut Butter
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
4-½ cups Oatmeal
1 package (12 Oz. Size) Mini Chocolate Chips
1 package (12 Oz. Size) of milk chocolate M&M's (we prefer Reese's Pieces)


1. Combine the butter and sugars, blend well
2. Blend in eggs one at a time and baking soda
3. Add peanut butter in mix and blend until smooth
4. Then one cup at a time, mix in oatmeal
5. Slowly add in the M&M’s and chocolate chips (if you are using a mixer, don't over mix or candies will break)
6. Spread in a well greased 10x15 pan for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees– do not overbake! These taste better just a little on the soft side. Store in an airtight container.

Since we had friends coming over the next weekend, I even had an "excuse" to make them. They were a HUGE hit...I even made a second batch a few days later. SO much easier than cookies...and just as good (if not BETTER because they stay chewy). Happy eating!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Homemade Bagels

I tried something new today: made homemade bagels from scratch. I love bagels but always thought they were too difficult to make yourself. Well, think again! I found a recipe at my favorite recipe website ( and thought I'd try them. The part that made them "easy" is you make the dough in a bread machine! Yes, please. I HATE kneading bread, waiting for it to rise, punching it down and repeat. So when I found a "Bread Machine Bagel" recipe, I thought even I could do this.

Homemade Bagels (courtesy of

Prep Time: 30 Min
Cook Time: 3 Hrs 25 Min
Ready In: 3 Hrs 55 Min
Yield: 8 bagels

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 quarts boiling water
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg
1 tsp water
3 tablespoons poppy seeds


  1. Place water, salt, sugar, flour and yeast in the bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough setting.
  2. When cycle is complete, let dough rest on a lightly floured surface. Meanwhile, in a large pot bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in 3 tablespoons of sugar.
  3. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a small ball. Flatten balls. Poke a hole in the middle of each. Twirl the dough on your finger to enlarge the hole, and to even out the dough around the hole. Cover bagels with a clean cloth, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully transfer bagels to boiling water. Boil for 1 minute, turning half way through. Drain briefly on clean towel. Dip in cornmeal and arrange boiled bagels on baking sheet. Beat egg and water. Glaze tops with egg mixture, and sprinkle with your choice of toppings.
  5. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until well browned.
The original recipe said to separate dough into 9, yes NINE, equal pieces. Hmmm, unless you weigh that out, I don't think I can even separate by 9. So I changed it to 8, but they make somewhat large bagels (maybe sandwich sized). I would like to try making them in a "mini" size by separating into 12.

Also, I thought it would be better dip the bagels in the cornmeal instead of spreading it on the baking sheet. I spread it and it burned while in the oven and smelled up the house. My bagels also turned out just a little flat, so I would probably let them rise just a bit longer next time (after poking the whole in them).

After they cooled, I decided to make a turkey sandwich with one of the bagels. Super yumm-O, if I do say so myself!

I can't wait until next time to try some different flavors. Cinnamon and sugar. Herbs. Onion. Lots of options!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mixed Rhubarb Pie

I've never understood why people make their own pie crust. I mean, you can easily buy it pre-made at the store, for pretty cheap and it tastes fine. I have tasted homemade crusts before, but the superior flavor was not worth the hassle.

In my attempt to use up the rhubarb that my mom brought me, I decided to make my very first 100% from scratch pie (recipe adapted from I again went to my go-to recipe website and found a recipe for a pie with rhubarb. The crust was a pain to roll out AND my pie plate was too big, so it didn't fit exactly, but I have been converted to homemade crusts! I will for sure make pie again, probably this one because it was AWESOME!


Mixed Rhubarb Pie

Yield 1 - 9 inch pie


1 cup wild blueberries
1 cup berry blend (your choice)
2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
2 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons white sugar


To Make Filling: In a medium bowl, combine blueberries, berries, and rhubarb. In a separate bowl, mix together 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Sprinkle over fruit mixture and stir gently. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.

To Make Crust: In a large bowl, mix 2 cups flour with salt. Mix in shortening and 2 tablespoons butter until texture is like coarse cornmeal. Place 1/3 of mixture in a separate bowl. To the smaller portion, add water and mix to form a paste. Add this mixture back to the rest of flour mixture and stir just until dough forms a ball. Allow to chill and rest at least 20 minutes before rolling out. Divide dough in half. Roll out bottom crust and place in 9 inch pie pan.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Mix 1 tablespoon melted butter and lemon juice into fruit filling, then spoon into pastry-lined pie pan. Roll out top crust and place over filling (or cut into strips and weave, which is what I did due to my too-large pan). Crimp edges and cut steam vents in top. Brush lightly with half and half and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Cool on cooling rack.

I made this pie for friends that were coming over late afternoon...and I had to steal a bite before they even arrived! I did reduce the sugar a little bit from the original recipe because I believe anything made with rhubarb should be a little tart. It was awesome, if I do say so myself. Not a drop was left after our friends departed. My picky husband even liked it, so it is a keeper!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rhubarb Crunch

I grew up in rural MN where rhubarb grows wild EVERYWHERE! So it should come as no surprise that my family and I LOVE all things rhubarb. This recipe is an old family tradition made numerous times every summer. We always say it doesn't feel like summer until we've had some of mom's Rhubarb Crunch! I eat mine warm, covered in milk, but you can eat it as you see fit! Also, you might as well double this recipe because an 8x8 pan is never enough.


Rhubarb Crunch
Provided by: Kathryn Walsh, my mom

Yield: 1 - 8x8 pan

1 C brown sugar
1/2 C shortening
1 C flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 C oatmeal
6 C rhubarb
1 C sugar
1 C water
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp red food coloring (optional)

Mix brown sugar and shortening well. Add flour, cinnamon, and oatmeal. Put 2/3 of mixture in bottom of greased 8x8 pan. Put 6 C rhubarb on mixture.

Cook sugar, water, cornstarch, vanilla and food coloring. Pour this mixture over the rhubarb. Put rest of crumbs on top and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.