Chocolate Chip Blizzards

Despite a lack of snow on the ground this winter — we had tornado warnings in Iowa on March 6 — this recipe for Chocolate Chip Blizzards looked intriguing when I found it in a community cookbook (Trail Blazers: Favorite Recipes of the Sierra Cedar-Wapsie Group) a few weeks ago.  What makes this recipe different?  There is a can of condensed cheddar cheese soup in the cookies.  Seriously.  Did that used to be a thing people did?  I don’t see recipes that call for this frequently.  But, I had to try it.  My first question was, did two recipes get stuck together, and therefore I was mixing up a recipe that should never have been?  But, the recipe ingredients AND the directions gave mention to the soup, so it had to be planned.  I wondered…will I be able to taste the cheese?  How does that affect the consistency?  When I take them into work, will people notice?  And the answer is, for the most part, folks didn’t notice.  These are a moister and chewier cookie than most.  But, nothing that raised the red flag in terms of tasting cheese in them.  I don’t know that they were so over the top that I’ll make them again, but I enjoy being able to talk about that one time I made cookies with cheese in them and nobody knew…

Chocolate Chip Blizzards

Chocolate Chip Blizzards

2 c dark brown sugar (packed)
1 c shortening
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
11 oz can cheddar cheese soup
2 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 c oatmeal
1 c chocolate chips
1 c chopped walnuts

Cream sugar, shortening, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir in soup.  Add dry ingredients sifted together.  Mix in oatmeal.  Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.  Drop by tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Tomatillo Pumpkin Seed Dip

Recently, I have had a fascination with the tomatillo.  I never ate them much when I was younger, but have started to get excited about salsa verde lately.  When I wanted to celebrate the start of spring with some colleagues, it seemed like incorporating some tomatillos into the menu would be great.  So, when I was reading 2015 Food and Wine Annual Cookbook and came across this recipe, I knew I wanted to make it.  I would get to use several ingredients I rarely use and put it together with some salsa picante and have a nice snack.

Tomatillo Pumpkin Seed Dip

Pumpkin Seed and Tomatillo Dip

1 lb tomatillos — husked, rinsed, and halved
7 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
2 dried chiles, such as New Mexico or guajillo, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds, coarsely chopped
1/8 tsp sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  On a large baking sheet, toss the tomatillos and garlic in 2 Tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tomatillos soften.  Add the chiles and roast 3 minutes longer, until the chiles are toasted.

Scrape the tomatillo mixture into a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Transfer the dip to a medium bowl and stir in the pumpkin seeds, sugar, and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

S’more Chippers

I was looking for a really easy cookie recipe a few weeks ago that I could make without having to put in a lot of effort.  I didn’t really feel like making a mess and measuring out a bunch of ingredients.  Some days I’m just not about the cooking.  I imagine most folks, even professional chefs and bakers, have a day or two when they want to slow down and enjoy life a little differently.  I began flipping through some different cookbooks, looking for an easy recipe and came across this one for s’mores cookies in the Pillsbury Best-Loved Holiday cookbook.  While I’m sure people could be more complicated and use their homemade cookie recipe, in this instance, I went for full-on ease.  I bought the packaged chocolate chip cookie dough and put the cookies together.  They look complicated, but were easy to assemble and easy to eat afterwards!

S'more Chippers.jpg

S’mores Chippers

1 roll refrigerated chocolate chip cookies
18 large marshmallows
Chocolate candy wafers

Heat oven to 350°F. Shape cookie dough into 36 (1-inch) balls; on ungreased cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart.  Bake 9 to 13 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Meanwhile, with kitchen scissors, cut each marshmallow in half crosswise. Immediately place 1 marshmallow half, cut side down, on top of each hot cookie.  Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or just until marshmallows begin to puff. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets. With fingers, gently flatten marshmallows.  Melt candy coating as directed on package. Spoon about 1 teaspoon candy coating over marshmallow on each cookie, swirling with back of spoon to nearly cover marshmallow. Let stand until candy coating is set, about 30 minutes. Store between sheets of waxed paper in tightly covered container.

Ginger Cream Bars

This was one of those family recipes I found in the cookbook and couldn’t wait to try.  I had no idea if they would taste good, but I’ve been on a bit of a ginger kick lately, and so it seemed like a great time to try them out.  The fact that the recipe had my grandma’s name on it made it all the more appealing.  Although I was in high school when my grandma passed away, she had been in a nursing home for 12 years.  We visited her frequently, but when my cousins would tell stories of running to her house to get cookies after mass on Sundays, that was not a part of my memory with her.  When an opportunity comes along to try and recreate some of the experience she created for them, I almost always want to take advantage.

Ginger Cream Bars.jpg

Ginger Cream Bars

1 c sugar
2/3 c molasses
1 tsp baking soda in 1 c cold coffee
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c shortening (scant)
2 eggs
3 c flour
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Cream shortening, sugar, molasses, eggs.  Add dry ingredients alternately with coffee.  Spread in large cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees.  Frost with thin powdered sugar icing while still warm.

Pork on the Rocks

On occasion, I have come across a recipe in a cookbook that makes me wonder what it must taste like.  My favorite example of this is a recipe for coffee jello which I have not yet been brave enough to try, but keep reading.  Someday it might come along.

So, when I found myself cooking through the From Minnesota with Love cookbook recently, I had to try this recipe for Pork on the Rocks.  It never hurts when I have all of the ingredients on hand to make something, but this appeared to have some real possibilities.  Mind you, I have never had this recipe growing up and I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a Minnesota-heavy recipe, but I supposed when one is making a cookbook, not every recipe can be connected back to one that continues to be served in the area.

When it came down to it, this pork was a little dry for me.  However, I should have started checking the cooking time a little bit more quickly than I did.  I blame it on user-error and not the fault of the recipe.  So, if you have some booze to use up and are looking to tenderize your meat with it (true fans of alcohol might say this was a waste of it), this recipe is one to check out.  The alcohol did not add significant flavor to the meat when it was all said and done.


Pork on the Rocks

1 c soy sauce
1 c brown sugar
1 c bourbon
3/4 in to 1 in pork chops

Mix soy sauce, brown sugar, and bourbon; marinate pork chops in sauce 4-6 hours or overnight.  Grill chops on Weber kettle about 30 minutes, basting often.  Remaining marinade can be stored in a covered jar in refrigerator; before using, shake well and add a little more bourbon.

Duluth Grill Brussels Sprouts

Of all the Brussels sprouts recipes in all the world…

A few years ago some friends and I went up and ran Grandma’s Marathon and the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota.  When we finished up the day, we headed to the Duluth Grill for food.  It did not disappoint.  So much so that when we were finished, I found myself purchasing the Duluth Grill cookbook.  And, of course, I had to make the brussels sprouts recipe from the cookbook, which comes as no surprise to any frequent reader.


Brussels Sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cleaned
3 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

Cut sprouts in half and tear off outer leaf set.  Toss all ingredients in a bowl and place on a sheet pan.  Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes with the blower off.  Turn the blower on and bake another 5-10 minutes.

Gumdrop Cookies

I was speaking with some students the other day for whom I want to make some treats.  They helped me out at the last minute with a problem I was having and I want to say thank you to them.  When I asked about food allergies or concerns, the students said, “Don’t make us cookies.”  This isn’t an unexpected response, necessarily.  Cookies are almost always available in our dining hall.  These cookies, however, came from our family cookbook and are a little different in terms of flavor — Gumdrop Cookies.  And, when I thought about it, why wouldn’t someone love combining gumdrops and cookies into a single item?

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Gumdrop Cookies

2 c gumdrops, cut into small pieces
2 eggs
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 c Crisco
1 tsp milk
2 c oatmeal
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c coconut

Cream eggs, sugar, shortening.  Add milk and vanilla.  Mix dry ingredients.  Add to egg mixture.  Add gumdrops, oatmeal, and coconut.  Dough will be very stiff.  Bake at 350 degrees for 11 to 12 minutes.  Do not overbake.