There is no molasses cookie that tastes better than grandma’s. It’s nearly a thing of legend in the family…and what more fall feeling is there when these fill the house with cinnamon and clove scents?
The thing that makes these perfect is the slight crust on the outside and the chewy inside, amazing spices and they keep really well (if you can save any). These are different than any other cookie recipe I use but they are perfect everytime, so why change it?
Here is the holy grail of recipes. Great grandma with the cow’s molasses cookie recipe. (Note, when my kids were little they needed a way to sort the grandmas….this is grandma from Montana. Their farm was a place of renewal, acceptance, cows and lots of food.)
1 1/2 c. shortening melted (we use Crisco)
2 c. white sugar
1/2 c dark molasses (Grandma’s brand is my favorite)
Mix all together until combined. Add 2 eggs and mix well. Careful it’s not too hot from melted shortening, it will cook the eggs.
1 T. + 1 t. baking soda
4 c. flour
1 t. cloves
1 t. ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
Mix all dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined and then chill for an hour.
Roll into balls and place on a cooking sheet, do not smash the balls, they will flatten as they bake. Bake at 350 for ten minutes, transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy!!
Sweet potatoes have basically been relegated to a Thanksgiving cameo once a year….and I never am the one who makes them or puts them on my plate. Convinced I didn’t like them, or maybe it was the marshmallow smother (gag), I have lived a happy, sweet potatoe free life. Until now.
My daughter, who lived in Mexico for a couple of years, taught me redemptive grace for the oh-so-good-for-you-vegetable. Packed with vitamin A, potassium and fiber, they are a great, low-fat partner in health. In fact, I’m going to plant them in my garden next year – now that is full vegetable salvation!
This recipe is simple (10 mins to prep), delicious as a side dish to chicken or pork, or as a meal in itself. It is gluten-free, sugar-free, can be made vegan, and would also be great for toddlers and kids. Let’s hear it for a vegetable win … and a little swagger on the GF/vegan status too!
Sweet Potatoes and Apples
This recipe makes about 4 medium servings but can be scaled up or down easily.
2 sweet potatoes (peeled) and 2 apples (not peeled) cut into cubes (I do about 1/2 inch bites). Firm varieties of apples work best like honeycrisp or pinks, but any kind can work. The softer apples will just be a bit mushy, but still taste amazing. Also, on apples, the sour types like granny smiths might be a little tart since there is no sugar, but make it your way, you can always add a little honey to sweeten if that is the apples you have.
Mix in 1/2 c of dried cranberries
Sprinkle with cinnamon (about 1 T) and mix
Place all in a greased casserole pan or a lined baking sheet. I use a little butter to grease, but coconut oil works too for you vegans or really conscientious – extra points for less fat! I’m not all Paula Deen level, but I do love me some butter.
Dot the mixture with 2 T butter* cut into small cubes. *See note above about butter and swap out with coconut oil if you prefer.
Sprinkle top with 1/2 cup nuts. I like pistachios or pumpkin seeds, but use what you have on hand. It adds a nice texture and crunch, plus some bonus protein.
Bake at 375 until potatoes are soft when poked with a fork, about 30-40 minutes.
You can make a big batch and use the extras for leftovers. They are great for lunch, transport well, reheat well and last a week or so in the refrigerator. I cook it year round but it has all the fall feels for sure. A Thanksgiving party in your mouth, minus the marshmallows!
Pears are new to me. We have a small hybrid tree with Bartlett and two different types of Asian pears on our farm, so I’m especially in learning mode.
I’ll be honest to say the gritty texture has always had me coming in with a “fine” score for pears. But, pears right off the tree are much more tasty. And the frugal side of me that hates to waste was determined to find a way to use them!
I made a homemade pizza with sliced pears, feta and a balsamic reduction, which was really yummy, but used only a couple. So today I got serious and found a recipe on Ball’s website for Honey Cinnamon Pears. (These were amazing on a salad with feta, toasted pine nuts and the pears with a viniagrette dressing – yummy!) I added extra cinnamon to the recipe, which is no surprise, if you know me. There’s always room for more cinnamon.
Also from the Ball website, I made my own version of salted caramel pear butter. The modifications I made was to make a salted caramel sauce first and then just added a little of it into the final reduction of pears to make a sweet and tasty pear butter to spread on a Turkey sandwich or pancakes. This version used much less sugar and I could control how much caramel went in so it did not completely take over the pear taste.
I like a good cookie, but my sweet husband…he loves, no, he needs cookies, and there is no one else I’d rather bake for than him. Today, since it was a slightly cooler day and I may have put a few fall decorations out, I’m feeling the delicious warm hug of this white chocolate, cranberry, oatmeal cookie….just enough cinnamon to give me all the fall feels.
This recipe is slightly adapted from cookies that used to be served at Shriners Hospital in Spokane where I worked for years supporting that great mission.
Recipe and directions:
Cream together until fluffy:
1 c. butter (room temperature)
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. white sugar
2 t. pure vanilla
Add two eggs and mix well.
Combine together in a bowl, then slowly add to the creamed mixture:
1-1/2 c. flour
2 t. cinnamon (you can cut this in half, but really? why would you?)
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
Stir in, just until combined:
2 c. oatmeal (old fashioned, not quick cook)
1 package white chocolate chips (2 cups)
2 c. dried cranberries (or raisins if you prefer)
Scoop dough onto parchment lined cooking sheets. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes, let cool slightly on pan before transferring to a cooling rack.
Chopping veggies, particularly onions, is not my favorite cooking chore. I have tried every trick in the book to keep from crying and the closest thing I’ve found is working near an open flame (gas stove or a candle – per Martha Stewart) and it seems to help. But this post is about making it really count when you do need to cut or chop onions and veggies…and ultimately to save you time during the week.
For me, when I look at my meal plan for the week, I consider all the meals that need onions or veggies and chop them all at once. Not revelational, I get it, but my real hack is how to store it. Since I rarely use an entire onion in a meal, I used to try to triple bag the remainder in zippered baggies, but inevitably my fridge would smell and everything in it tasted like onions.
Now, when I slice or chop onions, peppers and other veggies, I put them in a glass quart canning jar and tightly close the lid before putting them in the refrigerator. It doesn’t make the fridge or anything else in it smell or taste like onion and they stay fresh and crisp for about a week. You can either have just one for onions to portion out or you can prep a jar for each meal. Fajitas or tacos? One with peppers and onions in it. Chicken and Dumplings? One with mirepioux (carrots, celery and onion). Stir fry veggies? Celery, carrots, peppers, onions….well, you get it. It makes meal prep so fast and the jars can go right into the dishwasher for clean up.
The added benefits of less plastic bag use and only needing to clean onion off the cutting boards once a week are a nice perk as well. Happy cooking!
I’d love to hear your tips or tricks for making meal prep easier.
I love to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients and it’s important to me to prepare good food for our family. I do it all the time. So why then, do the words, “what’s for dinner?” seem to reduce me to an incompetent mush that can not, for the life of me, recall a single recipe or meal? Anybody relate?
I work full time outside the home, with a near 3 hour commute a day, so to get home and then figure out what is for dinner is very at risk of looking like cereal or nachos every night. But here’s the deal, I hatemeal planning.
At it’s root, I gristle against meal planning, feeling it far too constraining or inflexible. I mean what if I get to Tuesday and don’t feel like spaghetti? Perhaps it is some deep seeded rebellion in me that doesn’t want anything else in life to boss me around. “Take that meal plan!” I declare as we eat nachos on hump day. I only partly jest here.
But, I think I have finally found an approach that works for us. I have downloaded every kind of tool, planner, and hack, but found just a list works best. This one is from the $1 bin at Target.
Here are five steps to planning meals that have worked for me:
1. Start with your calendar. Be realistic on what you can do based on life commitments, events, etc. I know that we have guests on Saturday and one of them is a vegetarian, so I’ve planned a quinoa and veggie dish that night. We are at a concert Friday so I get a vacation day. Common sense, don’t try to prepare a high touch meal on soccer practice night, that’s a good night for crock pot. Put the cape away, save your super hero for another opportunity.
2. Give yourself a break. A healthy meal doesn’t have to be four courses and gourmet every night. Let’s be real, how many of our families really like that anyway? Quick story, when we were first married, I found and made this recipe for porcupine meatballs….yeah it tastes like what you are thinking. My husband of 2 months, in his sweetest voice says, “um, can you never make this again?” That is still a good laugh years later, but truth is, those meatballs were a pain in the back end to make, set dinner back to like 8pm and tasted awful. He would have been waaaaay happier with just plain ol spaghetti and meatballs. So bottom line is, plan what your family will eat. Be realistic. I save my complex or new recipes for the weekends when I have more time.
3. Shop for the weeks ingredients all at once. This step was forced by our move to acreage in the country, but saves us a lot of money and time. After I decide what I want to make, I get a list for the “stuff” needed to create them, then head to the store. This also is where flexibility is introduced. If I get to Wednesday and have steak salad planned but we had a client lunch out today with beef, I can make Thursday’s meal because I have everything I need on hand. It sounds so simple but it’s these little shifts and changes that make it workable for me.
4. Cut veggies once for all meals. I have discovered a great way to prep onions and veggies for the week so I’m not crying every day over my meal prep (literally). If you’re anything like me, just the thought of prep time can be enough of a climb when I am tired after work to have me dialing for delivery. Check out my onion and veggie hack that saves me so much time (coming in next post). With this prep out of the way, I can get most meals on the table quickly.
5. Have a few standbys….just in case. There will be days when you just aren’t feeling it and that’s ok. The goal of nutrition should be looked at globally. I plan a week at a time and consider the full week of nutrition, not one meal at a time….because, well that could make you crazy, but sometimes all the kids will eat is macaroni and cheese. So, again, I live by a gospel of grace in the meal planning world. An egg frittata (read a baked egg casserole that tastes like a quiche) which is filled with leftover veggies and cheese is still a very good meal with lots of health benefits. And it’s not cheating that it takes 15 minutes to make and 30 mins to bake. That’s brilliant and we need a few “emergency exit” options on the dinner planning.
I’ll share some of my emergency options for 30 minute dinners in another post. I hope these steps help you with meal planning. I know that for the first time, I am really making it work and knowing there is an idea ready is very helpful to success!
I’m tired and feeling a little uninspired at the moment with just 45 mins to get dinner ready. After a quick flip through the pile of papers and recipes to try, I land on a favorite. Comfort food to the rescue!
This recipe was scribbled on a scratch piece of paper by a sous chef at a four star resort I worked at and it was a favorite at the restaurant. I couldn’t believe it used canned tomatoes and sauce! But that makes this super fast to make. Add a parmesan crusted grilled cheese and night made.
So, I’m going to share my secret recipe because I love you…and you’ll love it.
Tomato Basil Soup (Bisque)
2 T olive oil
1 small to medium yellow onion diced
15 oz can tomato sauce
2 – 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T sherry
4 cups heavy cream (or half and half but it’s a little grainy looking) **I’ll admit I use less, just to save some calories.
fresh basil – chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Sautee onion in olive oil until soft. Add Sherry and cook for a couple minutes until reduced. Then add all tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, cream and half of cornstarch mixture.
Let simmer on low heat until warmed through (about 20 to 30 minutes). Note, don’t try to rush by turning it up, you’ll scald the cream. Add additional cornstarch mixture to thicken as desired/needed and add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix in fresh, chopped basil just before serving and garnish the top of each serving with a little more if desired.
This soup is amazing with your favorite grilled cheese sandwich, but I sneak a little grated parmesan onto the outside of the sandwich (easiest to sprinkle on pan and set sandwich on top of it). The crispy cheese on the outside is an awesome extra little kiss for your mouth and makes your family feel extra special. ❤