Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love a good chocolate chip cookie.

This is the recipe that I grew up on. In my mind, these were the be-all, end-all.

Until I met the cyclist.

He baked his cookies for me and I was blown away to find that I could equally love a chocolate chip cookie with NO oatmeal (of course, I could have just been hypnotized by his charm and good looks).

But these are still a favorite.

(Do NOT ask me to pick between the two.)

Mom's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 pound butter, softened or 2 cups shortening
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 T vanilla (if you know me, you know I swapped some almond extract for a bit of the vanilla)
2 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t salt
5 cups oatmeal
4 cups flour
1 bag chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla. Mix in soda, baking powder, salt, oatmeal and flour. Add chocolate chips.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 9-10 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Let cool on wire rack on pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

French Bread

This is a SIMPLE, SIMPLE French bread recipe. It takes two hours from start to finish (only about 5 minutes of that is hands on time). I got the recipe from our neighborhood cookbook. My family gobbles up an entire loaf hot out of the oven. The second loaf is generally made into delicious French Toast on day two.

6 Cups flour (maybe more)
2 T yeast
3 T sugar
1 T salt
2 1/2 Cups warm water
1/3 cup oil
1 egg, beaten
sesame seeds

Put 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the water and the oil. While the food processor is running, slowly add the water/oil mixture alternately with 3 additional cups of flour (or more if needed). Process until a soft dough forms.
Leave dough in food processor for an hour and push the pulse button every 10 minutes.
Divide dough in half and form into two elongated loaves. Place on cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. Let rise for thirty minutes then slash tops on diagonal, brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds (if you plan to save a loaf for French toast, omit the sesame seeds). Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

Pineapple Pound Cake

Before we get into all the holiday baking, I have another vacation inspired recipe. (Lindsey--I'm working on a macadamia nut ice cream so you can make your own shave ice. I'll let you know how it goes.)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cup + 2 T sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup pineapple juice (I got enough from draining the crushed pineapple)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 t vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
2 1/2 c + 1 T flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour 2 loaf pans. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl between each. Add vanilla, pineapple juice, pineapple and sour cream. Add dry ingredients and mix until only just combined. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean (about 45 minutes).

Brownie Pudding

My oldest turned ten yesterday.

I officially have a "Tween".

We listen to a lot of Hannah Montana, Aly and AJ, Jonas Brothers, and (much to her father's dismay) her new discovery: Michael Jackson. She is my mini-me (but goofier) and I love to have her around.
She picked this for her birthday dessert. It is mouth-watering. Rich, fudgy, perfect with ice cream. And so simple to make. It's like a brownie, but crack through the top crust and you will find warm, gooey, molten chocolate.

Brownie Pudding
adapted slightly from barefoot contessa back to basics

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature (if you forget to get them out, put them in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes)
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder (I use Hershey's...Ina would probably frown on that)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean (I get mine at Costco...the best deal I've found so far)
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (As I learned from Luke, a dessert is not a dessert without a scoop)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. (I used a rimmed cookie sheet.) Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish (I think it is easiest to put the brownie in the oven and then add the water to the cookie sheet with a teapot) and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Allow to cool to room temperature and serve with vanilla ice cream.

POST EDIT TIP: Don't throw out the vanilla pod after you scrape out the seeds. Toss it into an airtight container and top it with sugar (I added 5-6 cups). The next time you make a pound cake or the like, use the vanilla sugar. The sugar turns a little clumpy, but smells and tastes divine.

Post Bathing Suit Cookies

You may have noticed that there has been a bit of a baking embargo in my kitchen. Something about me trying to squeeze my body into a swimming suit (the cyclist parades around in spandex most of the time, so he is very much at home in a Speed-o).

Well, we just returned from Paradise. No more bathing suits until summer.

Get out your mixers and preheat your ovens!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
2 c white chocolate chips
2 c lightly salted, roasted macadamia nuts (coarsely chopped)

Combine flour, soda and salt in a small bowl. In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate and nuts. Chill dough thoroughly (about 4 hours). Preheat oven to 375. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

While in Hawaii, Luke and Bunny introduced us to the "eat a large dessert every night" lifestyle. We ate all sorts of tasty treats. Chocolate lava cake, macadamia nut tarts, caramelized pineapple upside down cake, bananas foster bread pudding, mango cheesecake, shave ice with macadamia nut ice cream...

This recipe is for you, Luke, to help you use up the two suitcases worth of macadamia nuts that you brought home.