Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

I'm not sure where I found this recipe, but it is the best one that I've found so far. You can either use chocolate chips or raisins. I, being a chocoholic, prefer the chips.



  • 1 C unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 C white sugar

  • 1 C light brown sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 Tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 C canned pumpkin puree

  • 3 C AP flour

  • 2 Tsp Baking soda

  • 1/2 Tsp salt

  • 1 Tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 Tsp ground ginger

  • 1/4 Tsp ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 Tsp ground cloves

  • 2 C (12-oz bag) semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchement paper. (I find that the paper works the best and keeps the bottoms from burning.)

  3. Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth.

  4. Beat in the white and brown sugars.

  5. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree.

  6. In a larg bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.

  7. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter.

  8. Stir in the chocolate chips or raisins.

  9. Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Book Review: The Bread Machine Magic Book of Helpful Hints

I love books. I could spend HOURS in the library. I also love to write papers. So, being the nerd that I am, I've decided to write book reviews of various cookbooks and books that relate to food every month.

My first book review came about when I got a bread machine last year for Christmas. I got a few books out, but I didn't start using my bread machine until recently. I finally found an electric knife, which made it easier to cut thin slices. So, I went back to the library and got all of the those bread books out again and decided to try a few recipes. One book stood out among the rest was The Bread Machine Magic Book of Helpful Hints by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway. I almost didn't get it either, because it wasn't a "recipe book." But boy am I glad that I did! When I got my bread machine, I thought that you just threw some ingredients in and pressed START. But I've learn the hard way there is a lot more to it than that!!!

This book has everything you could want in a bread machine book from common problems to recipes and much much more. The book starts off discussing the various types of bread machines. That chapter also went into detail concerning the features on a typical bread machine. I learn a lot about which buttons do what, which in turn enabled me to make better decisions.

The second chapter is an informative chapter discussing the science behind the baking. My favorite part of that chapter was the Conversion Chart. I now know that 5/8 Cup is really 1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons. I also learned that you mustn't scoop flour; you have to spoon it into the measuring cup and then scrape off the extra with a knife. (Otherwise, you end up with a few extra tablespoons of flour and a smaller loaf!)

Chapter three goes into the different types of ingredients that you add to your bread recipe; like gluten or oats. This chapter was very helpful in teaching me how to add extras that weren't in the original recipe. It also gives an indept look at all the different types of flours that are out there.

The next chapter discusses adjusting the recipes to fit the reader's dietary needs. It even included some recipes. This is a great chapter if you are an "alternative" baker.

Chapter five is what the reader has been waiting for and the reason the book was purchased (or borrowed). Almost every common problem that the reader has had with their loafs from loafs that didn't rise to loafs that had a doughy center is addressed. My favorite part included a formula for converting a non-bread machine recipe into one.

And last but not least, chapter six include quite a few delicious recipes. I tried several of them and I was really impressed. My favorites were Herb Bread and Buckwheat Bread. AMAZINGLY GOOD!

I would highly recommend this book. It is definitely worth the trip to the library or the extra couple of bucks. I'm adding this book to my Christmas Wish List.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Quick Carmel Popcorn Balls

I joined a group called Operation Baking Gals and I needed something to make that wouldn't melt. I came across this recipe but I can't remember where I found it. It was super easy and really cheap to make. These were by far the BEST popcorn balls that I have EVER eaten!
Quick Carmel Popcorn Balls
  • 28 Carmels
  • 2 Tbsp Water
  • 2 Quarts Salted Cooked Popcorn
  • 1 Tsp Corn Syrup (optional)


  1. Melt the carmels and water in a double boiler.
  2. Add corn syrup.
  3. Pour over cooked popcorn and toss until well coated.
  4. Shape into balls.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Operation Baking Gals Goodies---Team Baking for Our Troops

I recently discovered a wonderful site called Operation Baking Gals. I absolutely LOVE to bake but I can only send so many care packages to my siblings in college. So, I was thrill to find that I could send cookies and other baked goods to soliders fighting overseas. I have many relatives either are or were in the military, so this especially hits home for me. (I have a cousin going to Iraq soon---Yikes!!)

Here is how the site works. The owner of the blog gets names, bios, and addresses of soliders fighting overseas. She then has bloggers volunteer to be host for a solider and create a team. Then, then she posts the names of the teams each with a solider and his/her bio on the Operation Baking Gals blog. Anyone can sign up to send a package(s) to a solider of your choosing. You sign up by e-mailing the host of that solider. The host then sends you an e-mail with the address and the date that the packages should be mailed out.

After scrolling the soliders, I chose team Baking For Our Troops ( who was hosting Zachary Thomas Sain who is currently stationed in Iraq.

Here is his bio:

This round of home-baked goodies could not come at a better time for him because homesickness is getting pretty rough. It has been tough to hang on to a little piece of home, and his contact with loved ones last month cost him a 4-figure phone bill to prove it!!! Now, let me tell you a little bit about him. He is 19 years old and graduated from high school in Champion, Ohio in 2006. He has three siblings back home (Amanda 17, Jeremy 14, and Bailey 12) and his mother, Jacquetta. He is an animal lover and has a golden retriever named Sampson. Zach loves listening to the "oldies" as well as new music. He is into cars and rebuilt a 1977 Jeep with his dad, Joe, before he passed away. Zach loves to go muddin' in his Jeep and also enjoys target shooting. He is even a member of the American Motorcycle Association. As for the future, he hopes to return home from service and continue serving his community as a police officer.

Now before I was a stay at home mom, I was an English/Public Speaking Teacher at huge high school that had "little bit of everything." My favorite type of students were the "redneck kids." They delighted me with stories of huntin', trappin', and muddin'! What is muddin' you ask? Well, it is where you take your jeep and drive around in big mud puddles. Why? I have no idea! I don't get it, but the kids seem to love it...even the girls! So, as soon as I read that he liked to go muddin' I knew that he was the solider for me! That poor kid was older to have been a student of mine!! 19! I can't image. At 19, I was goofing off at college...thinking about boys and well food---I definitely gained the freshment 15....and then some! ;-) This poor kid is dealing with some awful stuff.

I wanted to make him stuff to remind him of October/Fall/Halloween. So, I made a few goodies and then bought some halloween type candy. It only cost me $8.00 to send the package too! You can get a flat rate box, but it is really really small and was $9.00. Luckily, the post office guy weight my stuff and gave me a bigger box and a cheaper price! Wahoo---I saved a dollar!!! ;-) But I really needed the bigger box too. I had a TON of cookies and candies.

Here is the the list of stuff I made. Some of the recipes can be found on my blog. I hope to add the other recipes as I find more time!

Carmel Popcorn Balls

Dark Chocolate Dream Cookies

Dark Chocolate Mexican Biscotti (Day of the Dead was my thinking on that one)

Buttery Orange Sugar Cookies

The candy included: Candy Corn, Smarties, Sour Gum, and Cheesy Chex Mix. Plus, I send a Thank You card with a nice message.

I can't wait to see who this month's soliders are. This definitley something I am going to do for now one. I also plan on added my cousin to the list when he goes. So, if you like to bake check out the site!

Super Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

I made this for a package that I was sending to a solider overseas. I needed to send something that wouldn't melt and this was the perfect gift! I got the recipe out of the my husband's Pillsbury Complete Cookbook.

I cut the microwave times in half for this recipe. I tried using the times that were in the book but the mixture ended up buring. It was awful! I opened the microwave and the mixture was black and my whole house filled with smoke!!! It was a huge pain to clean too!!! So, make sure you keep an eye on it.

But once I did it again and cut the times in half it went much better. This was amazing good brittle too! And it was fairly cheap to make.

Super Easy Microwave Peanut Brittle

  • 1 C sugar

  • 1/2 C light corn syrup

  • 1 C roasted salted peanuts

  • 1 Tsp butter

  • 1 Tsp vanilla

  • 1 Tsp baking soda

  1. Grease cookie sheet.
  2. In 1 1/2-quart microwave safte casserole, combine sugar and corn syrup; mix well.

  3. Microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes. (I only did 2 minutes)

  4. Stir in peanutes. Microwave for 3-5 minutes or until light brown. (I did 3 minutes)

  5. Stir in butter and vanilla; blend well.

  6. Microwave for 1-2 minutes. (I did 1 minute)

  7. Add baking soda; stir gently until light and foamy.

  8. Pour onto buttered cookie sheet.

  9. Cool for 30 minutes.

  10. Break into pieces.

Dark Chocolate Dream Cookies

I found these recipe in a french cookbook a few years ago. I have since modified it and have included a few variations. This is a super rich dark chocolately indulance! A perfect way to get that chocolate fix!!! ;-)

Dark Chocolate Dream Cookies

1 1/2 C All Purpose Flour

1/2 C Unsweetened Cocoa

1 Tsp Baking Soda

1 Tsp Salt

5 Oz Dark chocolate

3 Oz Milk Chocolate

4 Oz Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

1 1/2 C Tightly Packed Brown Sugar

3 Eggs

1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 Sticks of Butter

1/2 C White Chocolate Chips

1/2 C Semisweet Chocolate Chips

1/4 C Pecan Pieces


Grasshopper Dream Cookies

Omit vanilla, white chocolate chips, semisweet chips, and pecan pieces and add:

1 Tsp Mint Extract

1/2 C Mint Chocolate Chips

Dark Strawberry Dream Cookies

Omit vanilla, white chocolate chips and pecan pieces and add:

2 Tsp Strawberry Extract

1 C Semisweet Chocolate Chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.

  2. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

  3. Melt chocolates in a double boiler. Remove from heat.

  4. Cream brown sugar and butter in a large bowl.

  5. Add eggs, one at a time.

  6. Add vanilla. (or other extracts)

  7. Add the melted chocolate.

  8. Add sifted flour mixture.

  9. Scoop heaving tablespoons full of dough onto greased cookie sheet.

  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Super Soft Chocolate Chip Blondies

I aquired this recipe from my husband who, as a teenage, use to get recipe cards in the mail from Easy Everyday Cooking. It is by far the best blondie recipe I ever tasted! I have been using this recipe when I make gifts for people.

I put mine into a metal pie pan, which is why they are "pie" shaped.
  • 1/4 C Butter
  • 1 C Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 C All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1 C Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease bottom of a small pie pan.
  3. Cream together butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  5. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
  6. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat until just blended. Do not overmix.
  7. Add semisweet chocolate chips. Stir until well blended.
  8. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  9. Bake 10-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  10. Cool before cutting.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cheesy Updates

I figured since there a few of you who decided to join me, everyone should get a say in what cheeses we try each month. I would hate to come off as being bossy. So, I've added a What Cheese Should We Try? Poll. The poll will be which cheese we will try for the NEXT month. The poll will appear each month and end at 7 pm of that month. For example: It is now October, so the poll you see now is for which cheese we will try in November. The voting will end at 7 pm the last day of October.

I also have included a list of Cheese Sites that you might find helpful or, at the very least, interesting. If you find any links you will like to add just e-mail or leave a comment here and I will add it.

If you have any other suggestions just let me know!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October's Cheese of the Month is….

Another month another cheese to sample. This month’s cheese will be pretty simple to find. I decided to go easy on ya! Cheddar. I’m giving you a lot of options and room for creativity here. You can choose any type of cheddar you desire. Mild, Sharp, Extra Sharp, White, Smoked, Pepper Jack…as long as it has Cheddar in the name you can use it.

Remember that you can always make more than one dish and make anything from desserts to soups to dips to anything your heart desires! Please don’t forget to e-mail me when you are done.

What is Cheese of the Month? Go here to find out:

Good Luck fellow Cheese Heads!

September's Cheesy Results

September’s Cheese of the Month Results

Asiago was the cheese of September. I was very excited to find some fellow cheese heads who were interested in joining in my quest of deliciousness. However, I think I chose a cheese that too hard to find, so only one gal was able to participate this month. So without further ado here is the one lovely but lonely gal who joined me with her recipe:

made a delicious Satsumaimo (Japanese) Sweet Potato with Asiago Cheese. Its an unusal twist on the old Potato Gratin. The pairing of sweet and the sharpness of the cheese was an excellent idea. You can get the recipe and read about her discovery here:
I love trying new things, so I think this is one that I will definitely try for long as I can find the Satsumaimo. My family loves unusal foods like that. :-)

And finally, it is my turn…

I had a ton of recipes that I wanted to try but I came across one that required the use of a bread machine. I got a bread machine for Christmas last year and haven’t used it much this month. Mainly because I had no way of making smaller slices, until I came across an electric knife at our local thrift stores. I love thrift stores. I do a lot of shopping there. You never know what you are going to find. So, anyways I found this recipe that use both Asiago cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, which I had a jar of. I stole it from my dad and wasn’t sure what to do with it. My dad’s basement is another one of my favorite shopping places. He is always buying the neatest things. If you have to buy a jar yourself, you can get it CHEAP at surplus stores, Ollies, or Big Lots. If you buy a jar at a “regular” grocery store they are $8!!! My dad only paid 0.50 cents for his jar.

After reading the recipe and the comments that people made, I decided to combine all of their comments and tweak this recipe. This is by far the BEST bread recipe that I have EVER had. It has got a nice kick to it too and my daughter couldn’t get enough of it. My friend Moriah came over and she couldn't stop eating it!!!

(The yeast was old, so the first loaf didn't rise but the second was much better and so yummy)

I give this recipe 5 out of 5 Smiling Cheeses.

And now here is my recipe submission:

Sun-Dried Tomato and Asiago Cheese Bread

1 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons instant powdered milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
½ Jar Sun-Dried Tomatoes, drained and diced
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
½ cup grated Romano Cheese
1 tablespoon Tuscany Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast

Place all ingredients into bread machine in order given.
Bake according to bread machine directions. Set crust to light.

The original recipe can be found here:
…but I think you find that mine is better. J