Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Best Childhood Memories

Last week I pulled out this recipe because I really needed a good chocolate chip cookie. These are hands down the best chocolate cookies I have ever eaten.  I’m not sure if it’s the cookies themselves, or what they represent in my mind, but they are perfect.  It is funny how something like the taste of a cookie can bring up so many great memories, these do that for me.

This recipe came from a very important person in my life, my Auntie Margaret. Some of my best childhood memories are of the times we spent with Auntie Margaret and Uncle Frank.  When I was pretty young, they lived out in the country in Ortonville, Michigan.  

Every summer over the Civic Holiday weekend we would head to their place so my dad could play in a golf tournament with Uncle Frank.  As a young kid, the three hour car ride there seemed like the longest trip ever, and we had our regular traditions for the drive: stopping in the duty free shop and my dad buying us all sorts of chocolate, pretending to be asleep as we crossed the border to avoid any questions from the border guard, always stopping at the first McDonald’s on the US side for dinner (the Happy Meal toys in the States was always far superior), and playing games with the weird road signs as we were driving down the country roads “Pass with Care” and “Do Not Pass” (not really weird, but when you’re 8 and 5, weird).

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Peter and I with Auntie Margaret and Waldo

 

We would arrive at their house and be greeted by their dog Waldo. We’d run inside and Auntie Margaret would set the cuckoo clock so we could dance to the music, then we’d check out the variety pack of sugary cereals she always stocked up on for us.  When we were there, we’d rent all sorts of movies that we couldn’t get at home, The Jetsons Meet the Flinstones was always a favourite, and Uncle Frank would hook his two VHS players together and make us copies of our favourites to take home. Auntie Margaret would take us to all sorts of places, the farm next door to see the baby calves, the pet cemetery (which we LOVED going to) to see all the dog and cat statues, Toys ‘R Us for some spoiling, all the while driving “crazy” down the country roads while my brother and I rolled around the back of the van (this was the 80’s…there were no car seats).

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Peter and I dancing to the cuckoo clock

 

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Uncle Frank and I

 

Auntie Margaret always (and still to this day) had a batch of chocolate chip cookies in her cookies jar (and her freezer).  We’d eat cookies non-stop, and when we had eaten them all, she’d let me help her whip up a fresh batch.  

Me goofing around in Auntie Margaret's kitchen

I remember being so sad when Auntie Margaret and Uncle Frank sold their home in Michigan to retire in Florida, but we still got to see them when we went to Florida at Christmas, and the cookie jar was always full.  

As I made these cookies last week, all of these wonderful memories came flooding back to me.  I’m so lucky to have grown up with so many loving relatives that have given me so many great memories.  I hope that my own kids have these experiences in their lives that they can carry with them.

Give these cookies a try, you will not be disappointed, in fact, you might become addicted.

Ingredients:

Cream Together:

1 c. sugar

1 c. brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. butter

Add:

2 c. oatmeal flour*

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. Salt

1 ½ c. chocolate chips

Method:

Combine ingredients into a soft dough.  Drop spoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes.

* put 2 cups of rolled oats into the blender, blend until they are a powdered consistency

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Lemon Lavendar Cake

Our wonderful neighbours sold their home and downsized to a lovely condominium. This week, our new neighbours moved in and I wanted to welcome them to the neighbourhood with a little treat.  In briefly speaking to them, we learned that they moved to Ayr from the GTA to get away from the noise and have a more relaxed pace for life.  Whenever I think of relaxing, I think of lavendar; it’s scent just makes you want to unwind.  I’ve been playing around with some different tea cake ideas and was waffling between using Earl Grey and lavendar.  The summer weather we have been having made me want to use lemon, and I thought that lavendar and lemon would be a perfect pairing.  This dense cake is refreshing and goes well with tea on the patio.  It is a modified 1-2-3-4 cake and can be whipped up quickly.  I hope you enjoy it!

 Ingredients:

Cake

1 c. unsalted butter, softened

2 c. sugar

3 c. flour

4 eggs

1 c. buttermilk (I never have buttermilk and just use milk with a splash of vinegar)

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. baking soda

1 Tbs. lemon zest

juice of 1 large lemon

1 generous tsp dried lavender buds

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1 Tbs cream

Juice of lemon

 

Method:

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time fully incorporating after each addition. Stop and scrape down the sides with a spatula and resume beating until the mixture looks like buttercream frosting.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice and buttermilk together.

With the mixer on low, alternately mix in the flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour, in 3 additions. Do not over-mix, just allow the ingredients to come together.

Stir in the lavender.

Pour into 2 loaf pans that have been coated in cooking spray.

Bake at 325 F for approximately 50 mins.

After 5 minutes, remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

When cool, spread glaze overtop.

Sprinkle on some dried lavendar while glaze is still soft.

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The Best Peanut Butter Cookies

There is absolutely nothing more delicious than fresh baked peanut butter cookies.  I like them moist and chewy and it has taken me a long time to perfect a recipe that has this perfect combination.  These cookies are especially tasty dunked in a glass of cold milk.  You life might be forever changed by these cookie, I know the cookie monsters in my house can’t get enough of them!  Enjoy!

Start by putting your softened butter into the bowl.

Add peanut butter to the butter.

Add your sugars and egg.

Cream all ingredients together until smooth.

Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt (in theory you should mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and then slowly add that mixture to your wet mixture.  I never do this, and I don’t find that it makes too much of a difference).

Beat mixture together until uniform.

Using a spoon, portion out your dough into rounds.

Roll each dough ball into granulated sugar.

Place rolled cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Remove promptly from over.  You don’t want to over bake these.  They may look slightly under cooked in the middle, but will firm up as they cool.

Transfer cookies to wire cooling racks.  Let cool (my family snaps them up warm and they are amazing either way) and store in an airtight container.

They’re delicious served with a cold glass of milk!


Yummy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (you could use crunchy if you wanted)
  • ¾ cup sugar + more for rolling cookies
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla

Method:

Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (the parchment paper is key for the perfect chewy cookie).

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter together, with a mixer, until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugars until combined, then incorporate the egg, followed by the milk and vanilla. Gradually add in the flour mixture and beat until thoroughly combined.

In a small bowl, put a few tablespoons of sugar for rolling your cookies. Using a spoon, portion out your dough and roll each ball into the sugar until coated on all sides. Place on baking sheet, allowing room for the cookies to spread out while baking.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, being careful not to overbake. The cookies will look slightly underdone in the center, that means they will be perfect as they harden up as they set.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Monster Cookies! 

So, it’s been awhile again…but for good reason!  Over the last few months, we bought a new home, and so we sold and packed up our first home, and moved into what we hope will be our forever home.  Our new home has an amazingly big, beautiful kitchen, in fact, the kitchen won awards for the builder!  I’m so excited to continue experimenting in my new kitchen.

These monster cookies are pretty easy, quick and delicious.  You will make them a lot.  You can also shrink down the recipe to make a quick batch for 2!  So if the mood hits on a Saturday night, you can whip a few up, and the kids won’t even know come morning (I’ll include these measurements as well).

Try these out and let me know what you think!

Cream your softened butter.

Mix in peanut butter until smooth.

Mix in both sugars.

Mix in egg yolks.

Beat until fluffy.

Mix in dry ingredients.

Mix in oats, chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.

Drop by spoonful onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until edges start to brown up.

Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy with a nice cold glass of milk!

Ingredients:
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
½ cup quick oats
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter chips

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream together your butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar until well mixed.
3. Add in your egg yolk and vanilla and mix well.
4. Add in your dry ingredients, baking soda, salt and flour and stir everything to combine.
5. Mix in your oats, chocolate chips and peanut butter chips until fully incorporated.
6. Bake for about 10 minutes until cookies are set and lightly golden.
7. Allow cookie to rest for about 10 minutes on baking pan before moving to a cooling rack.

Ingredients for cookies for 2:
2 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tbsp. peanut butter
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 egg yolk
¼ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup flour
2 tbsp. quick oats
2 tbsp. chocolate chips
2 tbsp. peanut butter chips

Copycat Starbucks Oat Fudge Bars

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I love Starbucks.  It’s my favourite.  Everything about it feels just a little bit decadent, like I’m treating myself…EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Darren hates my Starbucks habit, and really, with good reason.  A Oprah chai tea and an oat fudge bar will set you back about $8.  That’s CRAZY expensive.  I had seen copycat recipes all over the internet, but none of them tasted just right, so I played around a little bit, and came up with this recipe.  I think it’s spot on.  I’m even thinking about buying one from Starbucks, and getting someone to do a blind taste test for me!  Try it, and let me know what you think!

So here goes…sorry about the lack of step by step pictures.  I didn’t really think I would hit it so close last night, and so I didn’t properly document.  Its pretty straightforward, however.

Oat Fudge Bars

Ingredients:
• 1 c. butter
• 2 eggs
• 2 c. brown sugar
• 1/3 c. milk
• 2 tsp. vanilla
• 2 ½ c. flour
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 1 tsp. salt
• 3 c. oatmeal
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together:
• 1 can sweetened condensed milk (I used the low fat Eagle Brand version)
• 1/3 c. butter
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used the PC decadent chips)

Method:
• Mix the butter, eggs and brown sugar.
• Add vanilla and milk.
• Slowly incorporate the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix well. I used my hand mixer, but it is quite a thick mixture.
• Spread 3/4 of the oat mixture on the bottom of a greased 13×9 pan.
• Pour chocolate mixture over top and spread.

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• Then spread the rest of the oat mixture on top in spoonfuls (won’t cover completely, but leaves cool designs).
• Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. The top can get done before it’s completely cooked, so you can put aluminum foil over it for the last five or so minutes of baking if it looks like it is browning too much.
• Let cool, otherwise it won’t set and will just run when you cut into it.

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Let’s be honest, we couldn’t wait for it to cool last night, and ate it when it was set enough, but still warm and gooey.  DELICIOUS.

The Best Banana Muffins You Will EVER Eat!

It has been awhile!  Life got busy!  We bought a new house with an amazing kitchen, my dream kitchen in fact, and I can’t wait for July to cook and bake my summer away in my new kitchen!  But the past few months have been a blur of keeping our current home in a clean and pristine state for showings, my return to work after a year maternity leave, and trying to balance life as a working mom of two beautiful children. I’m still experimenting in the kitchen constantly, but haven’t taken the time to share any of it with you.

My comeback had to be this recipe, as I make it every single weekend.  These muffins take minutes to prepare, but are absolutely delicious.  Try them out and you won’t be disappointed.

Start with very ripe bananas, you get the best taste if your bananas are starting to get brown and soft.  You’ll need about 4-5 medium bananas per batch.

Ripe bananas are key

Peel the bananas and break them into pieces into your mixing bowl.

Mash your bananas.  Sometimes I use a hand masher (like you would use for mashed potatoes), and sometimes I use my hand mixer.

Get your bananas to a nice smooth consistency.  Add your sugar and eggs, and continue to beat.  Then add in your melted butter and beat a little bit more.

I like to switch over to a wooden spoon when I add and mix in my dry ingredients.

At this point, you can leave the batter as is and pour into lined muffin tins.  I like to add some extras.  A favourite in our house is frozen wild blueberries or chocolate chips.  I’ve also beaten in a tablespoonful or two of peanut butter for a kick of flavour.  Lots of options.  All of them yummy.

Spoon your batter into lined muffin tins.  One batch makes about 12 muffins.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven after 20 minutes, or once they are browned.  Today I also made some mini muffins (without the chocolate chips) for Hunter to eat for snacks.

Best Banana Muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups mashed bananas (4-5 medium)
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chips or blueberries (optional)

Method:
• Mash bananas. Add sugar and slightly beaten egg.
• Add the melted butter and mix.
• Add the dry ingredients and mix.
• Add in chocolate chips or blueberries and mix.
• Fill lined (or greased) muffin tin and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

* Yields – 12 medium muffins

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake…a.k.a. Heaven in a pan

It’s been awhile. I don’t feel happy about that fact and I’ve sat down many times in the last few months to post an amazing recipe. Life with an almost 4 year old and an 11 month old is BUSY! I’m cooking lots and experimenting so much, but it seems like I haven’t been able to document as I go or find the time to write up and post recipes.
But it’s a new year, and I’m going to make a better effort. I promise!
Today I made one of my favourite cake recipes. It pretty much takes 5-10 minutes to mix up, and 45 to bake. It is easy. It is delicious. It is good to bring to a friend who is sick, or had a baby, or went back to work. You’ll make this often. I know I do. I didn’t take pictures of the process today, but it’s pretty straight forward. I think you will enjoy it.

 

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cake
Ingredients:
1/2 c.softened butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sour cream
2 tbsp. milk
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1package of chocolate chips
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar

Method:
Grease a square baking pan (I have a nice ceramic one I like to use). In a medium bowl cream together the sugar and butter, and then add eggs until the mixture is light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream and milk and set aside. Sift together, the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and add alternately with the sour cream mixture, to the butter mixture, until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan (it will be thick, you’ll have to use a spatula to spread it to the edges). Combine the cinnamon and ½ c. sugar and sprinkle the mixture over the batter. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. Cool before serving (this is a favourite in our house and we often cut into it while still warm).

Fresh out of the oven.  Yum!

Fresh out of the oven. Yum!

 

Hunter's face after trying a nibble!

Hunter’s face after trying a nibble!