Cinnamon Crisp Monster Cookies! My Husband's New Favorite Cookie!

Delicious, light, and crisp Cinnamon Monster Cookies.

I had never made and never tasted a "Monster Cookie" so last weekend when I saw Ree Drummond on The Pioneer Woman make them I thought they had potential.  Next I looked up her recipe and thought with a bit of modifying they would have the potential for being a big hit here!

1/4 cup measure for scooping the dough and dropping the cookies to bake.

She calls for the cookies to be scooped up and dropped with a 2 ounce ice cream scoop which I do not have.  That is the exact same size as a 1/4 cup measuring cup so that is what I used.

This makes a beautiful big 4" wide cookie, you will only need one of these!  I flavored these cookies with vanilla bean paste and cinnamon chips for "my" adaptation of them.  I buy both ingredients from the King Arthur Flour Company by mail order.  The vanilla bean paste is thick like syrup with lots of the vanilla bean seeds.  One teaspoon of this luscious paste equals a tablespoon of vanilla or 1 vanilla bean.  The cinnamon chips are the best tasting I have ever found.  The addition of the rice crispies cereal right at the end makes these a light crisp and delicious cookie!

Ingredients for Cinnamon Crisp Monster Cookies:

2 sticks soft butter
1 1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. white sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. vanilla bean paste (or 2 T, vanilla)
1 1/2 C. flour
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 C. rolled oats
2 1/4 C. cinnamon chips
2 1/4 C. rice crispies cereal

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Place parchment paper or sil-pat baking mats on the baking sheets.

Cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs and vanilla bean paste. Beat together well.  Mix the dry ingredients and add them mixing well.  Next add everything except the rice crispies cereal.  Mix until well combined.  At the very end add the rice cereal and mix just until combined.  Do not over mix. 

Scoop the dough onto the parchment using a 1/4 cup measure and pat to a uniform flattened a bit on top ball of dough.  Place only -5-6 on a half sheet baking pan at a tome.  Bake 17-20 minutes until golden brown.   Cool a few minutes before removing from the pans to cool.

Yield 24 large cookies.


Candy Crunch Ice Cream Pie with Warm Chocolate Sauce

Some ordered dessert with warn chocolate sauce and a few without. 

It was delightful and pretty too.
I am making dessert on the fly for this weeks Sunday dinner!  I have a package of Oreo cookies and that will become a chocolate cookie crust.  A portion of two batches of homemade vanilla ice cream and a bunch of candy from Easter I need to use up.  (This was candy I intended to hide in plastic eggs along with $$ for the egg hunt prior to our Granddaughter being injured.)

Now the candy will star in a frozen ice cream pie!  I am planning a chocolate sauce to drizzle over the top at serving time too! Yum sounds good to me!  In fact I am wondering why I never thought of it before now?  Instead of throwing away seasonal candy the bits can be used for seasonal ice cream pie!  Leftover jelly beans and peeps, chocolate bunnies, any of it could be used in this recipe.  And, ice cream is always in season!

I used candy left from Easter!

Ingredients for Candy Ice Cream Pie:

25 chocolate sandwich cookies
1/2 stick melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Crumble the cookies into crumbs.  Use a food processor or a plastic bag and a rolling pin!  Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and stir well to combine.  Pat the crumbs into a 9" pie plate and bake 5-7 minutes.  Cool completely.  I placed mine in the freezer for 10 minutes and went on to make the filling.

Using a butcher knife and a paper plate I chopped the candy with no mess at all.

1 quart soft ice cream (I used homemade vanilla but use whatever you like.)
1- 1 1/2 C. chopped candies or cookies

Stir the ice cream until smooth and add the candy.
Stir the candy in until combined well.
Spread the ice cream mixture into the cooled crust.

Stir together the softened ice cream and the candy or cookies.  Spread evenly into the cooled cookie crust.  Top with plastic wrap and return to the freezer.

1/4 C. heavy cream
1 C. chocolate chips
1 T. corn syrup

Combine the cream, chocolate chips and corn syrup in a microwave proof bowl and microwave at 20 second intervals stirring each time until smooth and perfectly melted adding a few additional drops of cream and stirring until you reach the desired consistency.  Drizzle over the frozen pie.  You can drizzle and return to the freezer or drizzle over each piece of pie as you serve it.  Yield 6-8 servings.

This certainly wins my award for fast, easy, and delicious summer time dessert!


"MINECRAFT" Devils Food Birthdsay Cake with White Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting a Tutorial with Pictures.

Happy Seventh Birthday Nate!

Who knew what "MINECRAFT" is?  Not I!  Well that is until a good friend text-ed me and asked if I could make a birthday cake for this Thursday for a little boy turning 7 years old.  After meeting with his Mother I have agreed to take this project on.  I plan to make two recipes of my Devil's food cake and bake each in a 9"x 13" pan with a creamy white filling between the two layers to form a two layer 9"x 13" cake.  Next I plan a butter cream tinted light green with the Minecraft logo in black atop the cake and a birthday greeting piped below.

And lets get started!

Ingredients for Devil's Food Cake:  This is the link to my recipe which I would normally bake in three layers.

Sit the dish on top of the parchment and trace the bottom.

But, today I buttered a 9" x 13" baking dish and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom.  I pressed the parchment on top of the butter then proceeded to butter the parchment and well up all sides.  Lastly I dusted with flour and set the dish aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  (NOTE:  I save all of the butter wrappers as I unwrap sticks and place them in my freezer.  Then when I need to butter a dish or pan it is ready and I have no muss and no fuss.)

Use a sieve as a sifter.

Some of the habits I have developed in baking this cake and others are to let the eggs, butter, and buttermilk all come to room temperature before mixing.  I also like to place all of the ingredients that require sifting into a large sieve over a bowl and shake them through.

This is layer one turned onto a large glass tray.

After letting the cake cool for 10 minutes I turned it out onto a large serving platter.  Now I am ready to bake the second recipe for the second layer!

But first I will start the base for the whipped cream like filling by combining 1/4 C. flour and 1 C. milk in a heavy bottomed but small saucepan.  Bring to a biol while whisking constantly.  Continue whisking vigorously while boiling for about 4 minutes until a thick smooth paste forms.  Scrape the paste like mixture into a small clean bowl and fit a piece of plastic wrap down over the entire surface and refrigerate until very cold.

While it cools make a second devils food layer exactly the same way and the same size as the first.  After cooling the baked layer for 10 minutes invert it onto a cookie sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper.  Cool completely.

Creme filling for between the layers.

When everything is cold proceed with the filling.  Combine in the large bowl of a stand mixer 1 stick of margarine, i/2 C. Crisco, 1 C. powdered sugar, and 1 t. real vanilla and beat at the highest speed about 6 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice.  After it has turned very white and fluffy add the cold flour and milk paste and beat with the whisk attachment about 8 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.  The filling will be very smooth, light, and fluffy.

This looks just like a giant SUZY-Q.

Spread this over the first layer then top with the cooled second layer.  It will look a lot like a giant Suzy-Q and that is a good thing!

Wrapped to tuck away for the night.

Wrap well to store in the refrigerator.  I use a sheet of parchment to lightly cover the cake's surface then wrap the whole thing securely with wide foil and pop it into the refrigerator while starting the butter cream frosting.

Earlier today I went to Target to look for a Minecraft box with the logo and found an empty box that pictured a just the right size logo to use as a pattern.

Ingredients for White Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting:

8 ounces good quality white chocolate chopped (such as Lindt or Baker's)
1/2 C. whipping cream
2 C. room temperature butter (4 sticks)
1 C. egg whites (about 8)
2 1/4 C. granulated sugar
2 t. pure vanilla extract

White chocolate and heavy cream melted together.

Stir the white chocolate and the cream together in a glass bowl over simmering water until melted and stirred smooth.  Do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.  Set aside to cool. 

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy then set aside.  (Use a hand mixer and medium sized bowl for this as you will need the large stand mixer and bowl for the egg whites.)

Done as is French meringue egg whites and sugar is heated to 160 degrees before whipping.

Combine the egg whites and sugar in a large metal or glass bowl.  Set the bowl over a large pan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) .  Whisk until the sugar dissolves and a thermometer inserted into the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. (about 3-5 minutes).  Remove the bowl from over the water.  Using the very clean whisk attachment beat the egg whited with a stand mixer about 10 minutes until the meringue is cool, stiff, and shiny.

Beat the butter about 1/4 cup at a time into the meringue.  Blend well after each addition.  If the frosting starts to curdle place the bowl over hot water again and beat again to soften slightly. Repeat this as necessary.  (I have never had to do this.)

Gradually beat in the cooled white chocolate and add the vanilla.  Chill the butter cream about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before frosting the cake to firm a bit.

White chocolate butter cream tinted black.

Before refrigerating I took about a cup of the frosting and placed it in a small bowl.  I added a whole container of black cream food color and whisked it together.

Black frosting rolled between two layers of parchment and frozen.

Next I placed the black frosting onto a piece of parchment and put a second piece on the top and rolled it out about a quarter of an inch thick.  I slid a small cookie sheet under it and placed it in the bottom of my freezer.

Using the pattern to be sure the disk is rolled large enough.

I plan to cut out the little "MINECRAFT" man out from this with a pattern and a sharp knife!  So for now it freezes.  I found an empty box at Target and have laid it across the circle of frosting to be sure I have made it large enough.  I will cut him out of the cardboard and use it to trace into the frozen frosting making a pattern to guide a sharp knife.  I have worried how to make sharp lines and corners.

Frosting the top layer green.

Meanwhile I took about 3 C. of the butter cream and tinted it green with past food color and used it to frost the cake top.

And frosting the sides white.

Next I frosted the sides of this big 9" x13" double layer cake with the plain white chocolate butter cream frosting.

Storing extra frosting for the birthday greeting.

There is about a cup left and I will store it in a plastic bag for now to pipe on, "Happy Birthday Nate" after I affix the the '"MINECRAFT" man, using it like glue to slide it into position.

Cutting out the pattern.

The layer of black tinted butter cream is frozen and I removed it to sit at room temperature for a few minutes in hopes the pieces will not crack or break.  Meanwhile with my sharpest scissors I cut out my pattern.  Next I peeled of the parchment from one side of the frozen disk, loosely replaced it and flipped it over and removed the other side of parchment.  My purpose is to see if one side or the other looks better and so it will not stick so tightly that I will have issues removing it a it softens.

The "MINECRAFT" man is positioned on the cake.

After selecting the best side and positioning it face up without parchment on top, but only beneath, I placed the first piece of the pattern and carefully cut around it with a very thin bladed knife.  Then using a small offset spatula and a very small pancake turner in unison I lifted the first piece into position on the cake.  I repeated this process until all of the pieces of the little man were in place. Whew!  Was this nerve wracking!  And of course I did have a piece break and I did have a speck of the black get on the green!

It was not as difficult as I had supposed to correct by carefully using a clean butter knife and scraping a tiny bit away then smoothing a bit.  I am hopeful that while it is not perfect it will not disappoint!

Meanwhile I removed the white butter cream from the top shelf of my refrigerator to soften so I can finish up with "Happy Birthday Nate" across the cake.

THE REST OF THE STORY:  I am so pleased to tell you that I got a note this morning that the cake was a big hit.  I am always thrilled to hear someone likes what I have made them!


Deviled Eggs & Red Potato Salad, Easy Last Minute Preparations for a Simplified Easter Dinner

Our family loves Deviled Eggs so I allow for about 3 per person.

Yesterday I dyed Easter Eggs and made three dozen hard cooked eggs altogether for the baskets, deviled eggs, and potato salad for Easter Dinner.  This Easter Menu is much simpler than the traditional one I usually prepare.  Because I've hurt my foot I am "cheating" and have ordered fried chicken from our local market.  It is delicious and I really don't think you can ever go wrong with fried chicken for Sunday dinner!

Easter Menu

Fried Chicken
Potato Salad
Baked Beans
Cole Slaw
Deviled Eggs
Vegetable Platter with Dip
Hot Rolls
Iced Tea
Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Cream

So with the chicken ordered and the vegetables and dip in the refrigerator today I made the deviled eggs and potato salad.  Leaving only the slaw, baked beans, rolls, and strawberries to contend with tomorrow. The rolls are made up and in the freeze and the slaw is cut leaving only to be dressed.  I can slice the berries as the beans bake.

Ingredients for Deviled Eggs:

15 hard cooked eggs peeled and halved
1-1 1/4 C. Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
1 1/2 t. yellow mustard
1 1/2 T. pickle relish
1-2 t. sweet pickle juice
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
paprika for garnish

Place the halved eggs on a serving tray or large flat container for storing.

Place the Miracle Whip, yellow mustard, pickle relish, salt, and pepper in the bottom of the food processor on top of the chopping blade.  Next add the egg yolks and pulse until smooth.  Taste and add the sweet pickle juice until the desired consistency is reached.  (I do not like them "dry" and the juice helps.)

Using a spatula scrape the yolk mixture off into a gallon sized zipper bag and push to one corner.  Snip the corner forming a 3/8" to 1/2" hole and push the filling through the hole to fill the cavity of each egg. This really makes the filling of the eggs go quickly! If they are a little pointed just wet the end of your index finger with water and push down a little.  Sprinkle with paprika and store covered in the refrigerator until serving time.  Yield 30 deviled eggs.

This is a very simple but delicious potato salad.

Ingredients for Red Potato Salad:

3 pounds red potatoes. peel and quarter half the potatoes and leave peels on the other half quartering them also.  Boil in a covered pan in salted water until fork tender and drain well.
6 hard cooked eggs. peeled
3//4 C. diced celery
1/2 C. pickle relish
1-1 1/4 C. Hellman's Mayonnaise
1- 1 1/2 t. Grey French mustard
1-1 1/2 T. sugar
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Place the cooled potatoes in a bowl dicing them to bite size as you go.  Add the celery, chopped eggs, and pickle relish.   This is a very basic and simple potato salad and the dressing just makes it!

Mix in a smaller bowl the Mayonnaise,  Grey French mustard, and sugar.  Poor the dressing over the salad, add the salt and pepper and toss well.  Taste and correct seasoning if needed. Refrigerate covered until serving time.  Yield 8-10 servings.


A Beautiful Day for Laying Low and Making up Easter Baskets and Eggs

Maundy Thursday 4/17/14 on the patio at home.

My saga began with forecast lows of 28 degrees F Tuesday night here in southern Indiana.  Of course I told Brian everyone could thank me for that one as I was sure it was because I'd jumped the gun and took all of my jungle of house plants outside to the patio on Saturday! And...he agreed!

Indoor plants blooming outdoors.
Not wishing to drag them all inside again or to lose them to freezing I hatched a plan.  Pulling them all back to the corner closest to the house and the most insulated by a brick wall I rigged up a trouble light and bulb.  The light was positioned down in the center of the plants and pulled back enough to insure that a sheet used to cover the entire debacle would not touch it in any way. (Avoiding the chance of starting a fire I hoped.)  Last of all I covered the entire lot with a king sized flannel sheet and anchored it's ends with logs.

Tropical plants outside.

Late that night, after midnight I would guess, (Brian was fast asleep.) I stumbled barefoot in pajamas, and in the dark down the back stairs to the landing with Molly faithful at my side.  I wanted to check to be sure she hadn't pulled my project apart or that the wind had not come up and blown it all a rye.  All was as I had left it but when I turned.  OUCH!  Somehow I had twisted my foot and a pain shot from my big toe through the arch of my foot.  So I hobbled back upstairs as quietly as I could as not to wake my sleeping husband.

These are Virginia Bluebells in bloom.

Even after reluctantly taking one of the pain pills prescribed for knee pain the pain did not leave me and I didn't sleep all night.  The next morning I found there was no swelling or discoloration and thought I must be a big wimp!  Surly it was not broken as there were no sign.  So.....I pulled out my big clunky walking shoes with the RX prosthetic inserts and there was no pain!  I could walk just fine.  Away I went!  The bank, gas station, grocery, and post office were all on my route.

 All was well until I removed the shoe then OUCH.

I just love these Virginia Bluebells!

Happily I had an easy soup supper planned and could just prop up my foot.  By this morning things are improved and I think if I take it easy today I might well have seen the worst of it.

The candy and baskets have already been gotten down and await me on the bed in the rear bedroom. A  quick visit to Harry Brown the egg man on Monday netted me an additional 5 dozen eggs.  I held back 3 dozen from my last purchase to hard cook for Easter as they will peel easier if the are not just laid.

Molly is checking out the fish pond.

But as I look out on such a lovely day I am certain I will enjoy sitting outside with Molly a good bit today.

The egg colors and a fresh bottle of white vinegar await me.  I am also contemplating an Easter Bunny cake.  More to follow on that one!  Happy Easter everyone.


New "OLD COOKBOOK" a Gift from Aunt Betty

My husband brought home a pleasant surprise last night.  He had lunch with his Uncle Gene.  His wife,  Aunt Betty (Yes, the famous Aunt Betty of the 1-2-3 Cake fame!) sent me a vintage cookbook from the Washington, Indiana Conservation Club.

She knew I was looking for ice cream recipes and shared some very special ones from this book with me.  So. here is a big THANK YOU  shout out to both of them for their thoughtfulness and generosity.  Something that not only flourishes but abounds here in Indiana!

Not only are there ice cream recipes but a really good looking one for French dressing, just what I have been looking for!  Plus I came across several for cooking squirrel, rabbits, and venison.  All of which I have cooked at one time or another but none of which I make on a regular basis!  I always am intrigued by these recipes and these types of cook books!  I find them fascinating.


Chicken Taco Salad with Fresh Corn and Ranch Dressing (Dinner Salad for Six)

Fresh corn, tomatoes, peppers all abound at our local market!  I have never tried chicken a chicken taco salad made at home so today is the day!  I am pulling out the stops with a fresh an tasty salad Sunday dinner.  We have spent Saturday working outside and a fresh and  easy meal for Sunday is just the ticket!

Ingredients for Taco Chicken Salad with Fresh Corn and Ranch Dressing:

6 fresh boneless skinless chicken breast halves (3 whole)
6 ears fresh corn (leave in the husks)
4 tomatoes, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
corn chips
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
taco seasoning
ranch dressing or other dressing you prefer
2 T. canola or olive oil
2 T. butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

When the oven is hot place the corn in the husks directly on the center rack of the oven and leave for 10-12 minutes.  Next start the chicken.

I like to split the chicken breasts in half longways to make them thinner by placing the palm of one hand on top of the breast to hold it firm and using a filet knife to slice the thickness into two thinner filets.  Do this slowly until you get the hang of it.  OR buy smaller chicken breasts and you will not need to bother.  These are so large!  They are at least a pound for a whole one!

Season the pieces of chicken well on both sides with Taco Seasoning.  Here is the link to my recipe for making your own Taco Seasoning.

Melt the butter and add the oil to the skillet and brown the chicken filets over medium high heat until done.  About 4-6 minutes a side.  

Meanwhile the timer should go off for the corn.  Pull the ears out and place them aside covered with a kitchen towel until the chicken is done.  CHANGE THE OVEN SETTING TO 175 to 200 degrees
F and leave it to preheat.

Remove the chicken from the skillet and keep warm in a covered pan or casserole dish in a 175-200 degree F warm oven until you are ready to slice.

Remove the husks from the corn.

Place a smaller bowl upside down inside a much larger ovenproof bowl to form a platform to place one end of the corn onto.  Place one end of the shucked corn atop the inverted smaller bowl and slice from the top down rotating the ears.  Slice the kernels from the six ears of corn.  Fish out the small bowl and cover the larger bowl of corn either with a lid or foil.  Place the corn in the warm oven with the chicken and hold them while you cut the vegetables.  Pull out the chicken and slice it across the grain about 1/4" in thickness, place back into the warm oven covered.

To assemble the salad place a bed of corn chips on individual plates or a very large platter.  Next scatter the chips with shredded cheese then the warm sliced chicken.  Sprinkle generously with the warm corn kernels, lettuce, tomato, and onion.  Top with ranch or your favorite dressing and serve.

Here are two links for making your own ranch dressing recipes that we especially like.  One is made with all fresh herbs and the other with dried herbs and seasonings.     or   

I hope you enjoy these.  This salad yielded 6 man-sized portions.


Marinaded Vegetable Salad

This too is an old recipe.  Many years ago I tasted this at a Church picnic at the Old Lock and Damn Park.  I regret that I do not recall the name of the lady who made it, served it, and so graciously gave me this recipe.  I was a young mother and she had grey hair much as I do now!

It is made with common pantry items and just gets better as it marinates in the refrigerator.  I have doubled her recipe and used "crisp" corn rather than the white shoe peg variety.  I adapted it further by using cut green beans and using half cider vinegar. and half white vinegar.  It is delicious either way and I love to make it every spring when I get "crazy" for salads!

Ingredients for Marinaded Vegetable Salad:

2 cans white shoe peg corn drained
2 cans French cut green beans drained
2 cans baby peas drained
1 jar pimentos drained
1 C. diced celery
1/2 C. onion diced small

Place the above salad ingredients into a container you can seal or with a lid to marinade in the refrigerator and set aside while you make the dressing.

1 1/2 C. sugar
1 C. white vinegar
2/3 C. oil
salt and black pepper to taste (I use a very good sized pinch of each.)

Combine the dressing ingredients in a medium size pan and bring to a boil stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat and pour onto the drained vegetables.  Stir to combine.  Store covered in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving.

Yield 16 servings.