“Everything in the Pantry” Oatmeal Cookies

Last night I was home alone and decided to bake something. It had just started raining outside and I figured it would be nice for my family to come home to a house that smelled like freshly baked cookies. The only problem was, I didn’t know what to make. I pulled out what we had in our pantry and decided to make a cookie out of anything I could find in our pantry. We ran out of granulated sugar (gasp!) so I had to use Splenda and we only had self-raising flour so I had to use that instead of all-purpose. I decided that I had to document this baking experiment, so I whipped out my camera and snapped a ton of photos while I was baking and made a video out of all my still shots. I don’t have a video camera yet, and my editing software isn’t the best, but it got the job done. Here’s the video: http://vimeo.com/24397671

So what happens when you put together Goldfish Cinnamon Grahams, White Chocolate Chips, Coconut, and Mini Oreos? Oatmeal Cinnamon White Chocolate Coconut Cookies with Mini Oreos. Ridiculous name. Absolutely delicious cookie :)

Oatmeal Cinnamon White Chocolate Coconut Cookies with Mini Oreos

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup white chocolate morsels
  • 1/4 cup coconut (feel free to use more- 1/4 cup is all we had)
  • 1 cup Goldfish Cinnamon Grahams (don’t crush, put the fish in whole!)
  • 1/2 cup Mini Oreos (just like the Goldfish, put in whole!)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a mixing bowl, combine two sticks of softened butter with granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs.

Add in vanilla extract.

Slowly add in flour and oats. Mix well.

Add in white chocolate morsels, coconut, cinnamon grahams, and mini oreos until well mixed.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and drop 2 teaspoons of dough onto the cookie sheet and place 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12 minutes and cool for 5 minutes.

Enjoy with un verre de lait (glass of milk) while the cookies are soft and moist :)

Key Lime Cheesecake

Whenever my family is craving a dessert, they always reach for the Edwards Key Lime Pie we have stored in the freezer. I always offer to make something homemade and they know my feelings on store bought desserts, but they prefer the Edwards brand and always tell me they don’t want me to go to the trouble of making something. After nights of watching my family reach for the store bought pie, I decided to put an end to my family’s store bought pie craving madness. I didn’t want to compete with the Edwards brand, so I decided to make a Key Lime Cheesecake instead of a Key Lime Pie. My mom can’t resist any type of cheesecake and my dad absolutely loves lemon and lime pie, so I figured this had to be a winner.

I tried to win my family over with the fact that my homemade dessert had way less fat than the Edwards brand (22 grams for 1/8 of a slice). I used the 1/3 less fat neufchatel cream cheese for my cheesecake. It tastes just as good as the regular cream cheese but 1/3 less fat! (I promise they didn’t pay me to say that) I’m not saying one is better than the other, but from the looks of it, at the end of the week the store bought pie is still in the freezer and we have only three slices of my cheesecake left :)

Key Lime Cheesecake

(adapted from Bon Appétit)

Graham cracker crust

  • 14 Honey Maid graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Lime custard

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of fresh lime juice or Key lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon of grated lime peel

Lime filling

  • 2 8-oz. packages of Philadelphia 1/3 Less Fat Neufchatel Cream Cheese 
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice or Key lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon of grated lime peel

Preheat oven to 350º F. Butter the sides of a spring form pan (8-inch-diameter and 3-inch-high sides). In a blender or food processor, pulse the graham crackers until they become crumbly.

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and mix in.

Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 5 minutes and cool.

For the lime custard, squeeze the limes for the lime juice and grate the limes to make the peel. Whisk all the ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Cool and set aside.

For the lime filling, combine all the ingredients together in a mixer and blend well.

Wrap a few layers of aluminum foil around the outside of the spring form pan. Spoon the custard into the pan, making sure it makes an even layer on top of the graham cracker crust.

Spoon the filling over the custard.

Set the pan into a baking pan filled with 1 inch of hot water.

Bake for 45 minutes and cool for 10 minutes before running a knife along the edges to loosen the cheesecake. 

Cover and keep refrigerated. Serve with lime slices!

Mother’s Day Lunch

This mother’s day, I got to do all of the cooking for my darling mother. She had a busy day planned out of the house and I had the kitchen to myself to plan a picnic lunch for when she got home later. What comes to mind when making a picnic lunch? Salads…chicken salad, potato salad and fruit salad- all easy, portable and delicious. Oh, and of course cookies :)

I bought a pound and a half of shredded rotisserie chicken at the deli counter at our supermarket and picked up a few stalks of celery and a bunch of red grapes for the chicken salad. I was going to make the potato salad too but my family prefers the store bought brand of potato salad. (I don’t think I could even attempt to make it as good as they make it, so I rest my case)

Colorado peaches aren’t in season yet, so I couldn’t add them to my fruit salad. Instead, I picked out some juicy navel oranges, gala apples and some bananas.

My mom loves dried cranberries, white chocolate, and coconut, so I decided to make her cookies using those ingredients.

Homemade Chicken Salad

  • 1 1/2 lbs. of shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 2-3 bunches of red or green grapes
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • Mayonnaise

Chop the chicken with a knife into bite-sized chunks and place in a big bowl. Slice grapes into quarters (once in half, then in half again) and add to bowl. Chop up celery into small pieces and add to bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (my family prefers less mayo) and toss together. Serve on bread or on its own. Easy!

Fruit Salad

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 3 navel oranges
  • 2 gala apples
  • 2 bunches of red grapes

Chop up each fruit and put in a bowl (feel free to add more fruit to your liking). Squirt a tablespoon of lemon juice into the bowl to prevent the apples from browning. See? Easy again.

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Coconut Cookies

(adapted from Ocean Spray’s Craisins recipe) 

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

  • 2/3 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups Craisins
  • 2/3 cup white chocolate morsels
  • 2/3 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a large bowl or electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one by one, and mix well.

In another bowl, mix together oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture.

Add in craisins, white chocolate morsels and coconut until well mixed.

On a lined cookie sheet, scoop a teaspoon of dough onto the sheet and place 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12 minutes and cool for 5 minutes.

I also made my grandmother an Orange Tea Cake (her secret recipe). Although I cannot disclose the family recipe, here is a picture.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Cinco de Mayo dinner

One of my favorite things about being home for the summer is being able to cook for my friends and family again in my own kitchen. No more faulty oven and cheap baking equipment! I am finally reunited with our KitchenAid mixer. Nothing says home quite like an ultra power stand mixer, at least to me :)

Last week, our house hosted my sister’s varsity tennis team dinner on Cinco de Mayo. They just finished up their Regional competition and would be coming to our house after they finished their matches. The mission: Feeding 12 hungry varsity tennis players about to go to State, making a filling but healthy and festive Mexican dish, and making it in under 3 hours. GO!

The solution: Chicken Enchiladas, Spanish & Jambalaya rice, and black bean, corn and tomato salsa. The enchiladas and rice would keep the team happy and full and were festive enough for the occasion, and the salsa was a light and fresh side dish to the meal. We did it all in 3 hours (multi-tasking, of course) and were able to enjoy our delicious Mexican dinner with the team outside on our backyard patio.

Chicken Enchiladas

  • 2 lbs. fully cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 19 oz. cans of mild Old El Paso enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian blend cheese
  • 24 extra thin corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

Chop and sauté the yellow onion with a little bit of olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat.

Put the shredded chicken in a large bowl and pour the chopped onion on top of the chicken once the onion is translucent.

Coat the bottom of a round glass pan with a ladle of enchilada sauce (this will be the dipping station for the tortillas). Coat a 9 x 13 in. casserole pan with a ladle of enchilada sauce.

Take a corn tortilla and coat each side in enchilada sauce in the dipping pan.

Scoop a generous tablespoon of chicken and put onto tortilla. Sprinkle cheese on top and roll tortilla tightly. (If you have more time, microwave the tortillas for around 30 seconds so that they are softer and won’t tear as easily when you roll)

Place rolled tortillas in a row on the bottom of the casserole pan.

On top of the first row, ladle enchilada sauce and sprinkle a layer of mixed cheese. Create another layer of rolled tortillas and put enchilada sauce and cheese on top. (You may have extra ingredients left to make another casserole)   

Bake for 30 minutes until cheese melts on top. Serve while hot. 

Spanish & Jambalya Rice

We decided to mix two different types of rice together for a zesty flavor: Zatarain’s Spanish Rice and Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix. Add water according to the boxes and cook in a rice cooker. We added a can of crushed tomatoes since Jambalaya usually calls for tomato sauce. Cook in a rice cooker for 25 minutes and serve with enchiladas.

Black bean, corn and tomato salsa

  • 3 cans of black beans
  • 4 ears of fresh corn
  • 2 green onions
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Cumin

Rinse the black beans in a colander and put in a large bowl. Wrap each ear of corn in a damp paper towel and microwave each for 3 minutes and then run under cold water. Once the corn is cooled, stand the ear up and cut the corn off with a sharp knife. Toss the fresh kernals into the bowl with the beans. Add 2 tablespooons of olive oil to the bowl and sprinkle with salt and cumin. Feel free to add more cumin to your liking.

Chop two green onions and 3 roma tomatoes. Mix in with beans and corn. Serves around 12.