Chocolate Caramel Bars

I have been working hard to get rid of things I don’t need lately.  Some of this is recognized in my cooking through cookbooks, quilting through items that are in my stash, knitting up dishcloths left and right to get rid of the balls of yarn, etc.  I recently went through my closet and started to get rid of a number of different clothing items that don’t fit, aren’t what I thought they would be, etc, as well as some that have been in the rotation, but which have holes.  While I was looking through some ingredients in my cupboard, I had picked up a jar of caramel sauce and some chocolate chips with the intention of making this dish, so I thought I would take the time to throw the food together.  Plus, with all of my ice cream making as of late, I had the

While I was looking through some ingredients in my cupboard, I had picked up a jar of caramel sauce and some chocolate chips with the intention of making this dish, so I thought I would take the time to throw the food together.  Plus, with all of my ice cream making as of late, I had the KitchenAid mixer out (usually stored under the island in my kitchen) and thought I could put this together.

This recipe came from the Minnesota Catholic Daughters cookbook.

Chocolate Caramel Bars

Chocolate Caramel Bars

2 1/4 c flour
2 c oatmeal
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c cold butter or margarine
2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 c chopped pecans
1 jar caramel ice cream topping

In a bowl, combine 2 c flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Cut in butter until crumbly.  Set half aside for topping, press the remaining crumb mixture into a greased 13×9 pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with the chocolate chips and pecans.  Whisk caramel topping with remaining 1/4 c flour until smooth; drizzle over top.  Sprinkle with the remaining crumb mixture.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours before cutting.

Monster Cookies

In addition to the six-in-one oatmeal cookies I made a few days ago, I found this monster batch of monster cookies and it seemed like a great way to use up a lot of things in my house — brown sugar, eggs, m & ms, etc. — and it seemed like a great recipe to keep ready to bake.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a monster cookie — unless they have a peanut allergy.  This monster batch of monster cookies also came from the Moss Heaven cookbook.

Monster Cookies

Monster Cookies

2 lbs brown sugar
4 c sugar
1 lb butter or margarine
12 eggs
8 tsp baking soda
1/4 c vanilla

Cream the above together in a large roaster pan.

Add:
1 lb M&Ms
1 lb chocolate chips
3 lb peanut butter

Mix in, with a wooden spoon.  Add:

18 c oatmeal

Mix in with your hands.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees.  To make monster cookies, drop with an ice cream scoop and bake for 15-20 minutes.  To make normal size cookies, drop from a tablespoon and bake 10-12 minutes.

 

Six-in-One Oatmeal Cookie

When I was in graduate school in Fort Collins, my colleague and friend Sara and I would find moments to go and spread joy within our department, to our friends and colleagues, and to encourage delighting in the little things.  I took this into my first job after grad school and would, on occasion, walk around or drop off treats for folks.  Over the course of the last ten years, this has continued to evolve, and on my current campus, we often use the phrase “Make people matter.”  It seems a little cheesy sometimes, and in this times of higher education, there certainly is not a budget for this, but when it’s easy to become frustrated by the day-to-day or be reminded of the frustrations, one of my goals for the last eight weeks of the academic year is to do a better job of demonstrating to people that they matter and thank them for doing the parts of their job that are not always fun, but need doing.  And, while it’s nice to do things to acknowledge the work other people are doing because it helps them to know I see their work, it also helps me to maintain a positive attitude when I am intentionally recognizing the hard work of others across the campus.

In order to achieve this goal, I spent some time over spring break mixing up different cookie doughs and freezing cookies so that I could then bake a dozen cookies and bring them to someone when I see them doing something great.  When I came across this six-in-one oatmeal cookie recipe from the Moss Heaven cookbook, I thought it looked worth trying out.  For the batch photographed below, I incorporated a raisin, golden raisin, craisin mix from Trader Joe’s and grated orange peel into the recipe.

Six in One Oatmeal Cookies

Six-in-One Oatmeal Cookie

1 c margarine
1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
3 c quick-cooking oatmeal

Variations (mix in one of these):
1 c coconut
1/2 c chopped nuts
1 pkg chocolate chips
1 c cut up gum drops
2 Tbsp grated orange peel
1 c raisins
1 c cut-up dates

Drop from a teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Blizzard Bars

Being from the Midwest, there is no doubt that the weather is a frequent discussion item.  We joke, but ti’s pretty easy to talk about rain, or the need for rain, or how the crops are doing, or if snow is expected, among other things.  One such type of weather is the blizzard.  For those of you unfamiliar with the blizzard, it’s a combination of snowfall and wind in a way that makes visibility challenging, and often times resulting in the cancellation of classes, church, or community gatherings.  So, when I came across this recipe for Blizzard Bars in the From Minnesota with Love cookbook, I knew I wanted to make it.

Blizzard Bars.jpg

Blizzard Bars

1 c butter, softened
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
4 c rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla

Frosting:
6 oz chocolate chips
3/4 c peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all bar ingredients until crumbly; press into 15x10x1 inch pan.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes; cool.  Heat frosting ingredients in double boiler over hot water until chips are melted.  Spread over bars; cut into squares.

Honey, Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Cookies

I was walking through a used bookstore and came across a cookbook from the Amana Colonies.  Since the Amanas are a local delight, I had to pick it up.  Oma’s (Grandma’s) Family Secrets: Generations of Amana Cooking was a cookbook I needed in my collection.  There are a number of recipes in here which look delightful, and a few that I’m not sure I need to make (like one for squirrel), but part of what is great about the recipes in this book is that they are all handwritten.

I knew I needed to make these cookies because I had all of the ingredients for them, and I was thinking about the holidays coming up and wanted to try a few more recipes out in preparation for the days.  These were nice because they were super chewy cookies, and they weren’t overly sweet.

honey-oatmeal-and-peanut-butter-cookies

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Cranberry Multi-Grain Bread

I was testing some different recipes for the holidays and this cranberry multi-grain bread from the Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook looked to have some nice fall flavor in it.  I found the dough to be incredibly sticky to work with as I was putting the recipe together.  I would like to try it again in the future and see what I can do.  I’m thinking the yeast might not have been proofing correctly and it maybe needed more flour, but we’ll see next time.

Cranberry Multi-Grain Bread.jpg

Cranberry Multi-Grain Bread II.jpg

Cranberry Multi-Grain Bread

Proof in large mixing bowl:
1 Tbsp yeast
1 1/2 c warm water
1/4 c powdered milk
1/6 c shortening
1/4 c brown sugar, packed

Mix in separate bowl:
1/6 c ground flax
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 c oatmeal
1/2 Tbsp salt
1 c dried cranberries
2 -2 1/2 c flour

Add flour and flax mixture to the proofed mix and knead 8 to 10 minutes.  Cover and place in a warm spot, let rise 30 to 40 minutes, then form into 2 round loaves.  Put parchment on a cookie sheet and sprinkle cornmeal on the parchment; set loaves on the cookie sheet.  Let rise 30 more minutes.  Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

Note: A sprinkle of coarse kosher salt on the top of the loaves before baking adds a nice contrast to the cranberries.

Raisin-Oatmeal Brickle Cookies

When I made cookies to take into some folks last week, I also saw this recipe my cousin Katie had put into our family cookbook.  At our start of the year kickoff meeting at work, we were celebrating ten years of a meeting where our campus staff get together and share the “news you need to know.”  To celebrate, I volunteered to make some “sweet treats” for door prizes and one of the departments had said oatmeal raisin cookies might be what they wanted for their prize.  This recipe that had a little twist — golden raisins and bits of heath bit-o-brickle — added a little bit of fun to the traditional oatmeal raisin cookie.

Generally, when I’m making cookies, I don’t spend much time worrying about putting parchment paper down before baking.  However, with the bit-o-brickle in here, it added another level of sticky to the cookies and I found the parchment paper to be a necessity.

These cookies get pretty sweet.  That added toffee adds another dimension of sugar to the already-sweet cookies.  I also thought they spread better when I rolled the cookies into balls instead of really dropping them onto the pan to bake.

raisin-oatmeal-brickle-cookies

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