“I Want to Marry You” Cookies

Who could possibly resist cookies with this name? (Oh, wait, now that I think about it…). Recently, I was browsing the Cooking Channel website, and Elvis Cookies popped up. I was intrigued by the combination of chocolate, bananas and ten slices of bacon and briefly considered making them (and I’m such a sucker for attention that I’m sure I will make them if even one person asks me to). However, I spied “I Want to Marry You” Cookies at the bottom of my screen, and they seemed to hold more promise. For starters, they are made on the stove-top and do not require dirtying my beloved Kitchen Aid mixer, so they appealed to my lazy side. Secondly, they won some sort of contest, and despite the fact the author of this winning recipe looks like she never ate a cookie in her whole entire life, it is exactly the kind of hype to which I’m powerless. Want to impress me? Just tell me you won a contest. I LOVE WINNERS!

I followed the directions exactly, and the cooking time wasn’t really adequate. I question whether 325 degrees is really the best temperature for these, and I may turn the oven up to 350 next time I bake them. My oven is very well calibrated, and there is no reason they should have been so gushy after 14 minutes. They took me close to 19 minutes. However, the end result was quite good, and I’m still amazed that they were created in a saucepan with relatively little mess. I will definitely be making these again, and next time I may ditch the white chocolate chips in favor of peanut butter. I may also brown the butter (similar to the Perfect Cookie recipe I posted here). The flavor is good, the texture is chewy yet firm, and I declare it a winner.

“I Want to Marry You” Cookies by Melissa Stadler (print recipe here)


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chocolate chips


In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until melted. Remove from the heat.

Add the dark brown sugar and granulated sugar and stir until sugars are incorporated and smooth. Chill the mixture for 10 minutes.

Remove from the refrigerator and stir in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.

Add the flour, oats, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cinnamon and mix together.

Stir in the white chocolate chips and chocolate chips.

Roll by hand into 24 medium-size balls or use a scoop, and place on a light-colored cookie sheet.

Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.

My favorite part of this recipe — only one pan to dirty.

Make sure your cookies are well chilled in the refrigerator before baking. Wine not included.

Beware of marriage proposals when sharing!


Better Than Hostess Cupcakes

Okay, I realize I’m not setting the bar very high with this title. I mean, what ISN’T better than a Hostess cupcake with its waxy chocolate and Crisco-sugar filling? Anyone over the age of twelve will probably agree there are many things better than Hostess cupcakes, and I’m including bonus weight loss caused by a violent stomach virus on this list. But think back to when you were young, and you saw Hostess cupcakes at the store and begged your mother to buy them. Or when you went to a friend’s house after school and her mother served Hostess cupcakes rather than a pear and a bowl of grapes like your mother did. Alas, the dream of Hostess cupcakes was always better than the reality, but they still hold a special place in my heart. You can imagine how excited I was to see them in my new Entertaining from Cook’s Illustrated Spring 2012 magazine.

The geniuses at Cook’s Illustrated set out to create a Hostess-style cupcake that actually tasted good, and as usual, they achieved their goal. The cake itself is so good that I might just use it as my new standard chocolate cupcake recipe. The marshmallow filling was the perfect consistency, and it tasted so much better than the sugared-plastic filling of commercially produced cupcakes.

This recipe was not without its challenges for me, but they were all mechanical. You may recall I struggle a bit with my fine motor skills, so I am not a “pretty” baker. My main problem was overfilling the cream so that the tops didn’t lay back on all that perfectly, and extra globs of glaze didn’t really help matters. They still looked good, but just not picture-perfect. But I will sacrifice good looks for quality product every single time, and aesthetics aside, I was quite pleased with myself. Nate proclaimed it, “The best cupcake I’ve ever had!” He doesn’t get out much, but it is still a nice compliment.

Better Than Hostess Cupcakes

Chocolate Cream Cupcakes

by Cali Rich, Entertaining from Cook’s Illustrated, Spring 2012

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup boiling water
⅓ cup cocoa powder
⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon instant espresso
¾ cup sugar
½ cup sour cream
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons water
¾ teaspoon unflavored gelatin
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1¼ cups marshmallow creme (see note)

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons unsalted butter


1. MAKE BATTER: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 12-cup muffin tin. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Whisk water, cocoa, chocolate chips, and espresso in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined. Whisk in flour mixture until incorporated. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out with few dry crumbs attached, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool cupcakes in tin 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.

2. PREPARE FILLING: Combine water and gelatin in large bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Microwave until mixture is bubbling around edges and gelatin dissolves, about 30 seconds. Stir in butter, vanilla, and salt until combined. Let mixture cool until just warm to touch, about 5 minutes, then whisk in marshmallow creme until smooth; refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Transfer 1⁄3 cup marshmallow mixture to pastry bag fitted with small plain tip; reserve remaining mixture for filling cupcakes.

3. ASSEMBLE CUPCAKES: Microwave chocolate and butter in small bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 30 seconds. Cool glaze to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Cut cone from top of each cupcake and fill cupcakes with 1 tablespoon filling each. Replace tops, frost with 2 teaspoons cooled glaze, and let sit 10 minutes. Using pastry bag, pipe curlicues across glazed cupcakes. Serve. (Cupcakes can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.)

Hold your knife at a 45 degree angle about 1/4 inch from the edge and cut in a circle. Trim off the very bottom of the lid.

Don’t be a dummy like me and listen to the directions! Use only 1 tablespoon of filling, not a big glob like this.

The trademark Hostess squiggly line proved to be my biggest challenge of this whole recipe.

Cousin Beth’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake

One of my earliest memories is of my mother singing, “If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cake, baked a cake, baked a cake…” It’s funny how these early melodic messages worm their way into the psyche, for I firmly believe that one should always have something sweet (and preferably homemade) to offer a guest, and I try to plan accordingly. I also believe that unexpected company, while occasionally delightful, is also somehow wrong. It’s a fun, chirpy little song with a slightly passive aggressive message: “Don’t drop in without calling me first, bonehead. If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cake. Now instead you’re treated to a sink full of dirty dishes and a stale granola bar. Are you happy?”

Recently my Cousin Beth shared with me her tried and true coffee cake recipe. She wrote, “This is the first cake I ever learned how to make, and to this day it is my family’s all-time favorite.” I’ve been waiting for an occasion to try it out, and I was expecting a friend for coffee this morning, so I baked it last night. This is cake is so moist and delicious, and it’s the perfect compliment to coffee and company, expected or unexpected.

1/2 lb. butter
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 eggs
pinch salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
3 cups flour
1 tsp. vanilla
Topping – 1/2 cup sugar mixed with cinnamon and chopped nuts (optional) and  a handful of mini chocolate chips (Note from Dawn and Beth — feel free to be creative with your topping. Brown sugar will work, too. Err on the generous side with the cinnamon!)
Preheat oven to 350.
Cream butter and sugar.
Add eggs and beat lightly.
Add sour cream, vanilla and dry ingredients, beginning and ending with flour.
Layer 1/2 mixture in a buttered angel food pan (I used a Bundt pan), cover with some topping, add rest of batter, and sprinkle with the remainder of the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. 

Kim’s Original Jingle Balls (AKA Cake Pops)

Back in 2001, my friend Kim (that perfect sort of mother who eventually drives most of us mere mortals into therapy with her reindeer food at Christmas and sparkly coins from the tooth fairy — you know the type, right?) was on a website devoted to preschool crafts and age appropriate holiday ideas, and she discovered a recipe that admittedly sounded pretty gross: cake balls. I do believe we all had a good laugh about it. A hot cake smushed together with store bought frosting and then dipped in melted chocolate? What exactly was the thought process that went into creating that? Was this lady seriously PMSing and madly rifling through her pantry in search of something — anything! — to dip into chocolate? Or was she an evil genius? We will never know.

But the recipe haunted Kim, and the following Christmas she did some experimentation. After some trial and error, she shared her technique with her friends. And when we got done laughing, we discovered these things are actually quite good. If you’ve kept up with this story, you have figured out it was 2002 when we christened Kim’s Jingle Balls. 2002! Nine years ago! It took me a couple more years to try them myself, being a bit of a boxed-cake and fake-frosting snob, but I eventually came around. Kim never steers us wrong in the domestic arts.

When last week my friend innocently mentioned that she was buying her daughter a Cake Pop making kit, let’s just say I gave her a look. And my look concerned her a bit. I was trying not to succumb to Cake Pop Rage, but it’s hard when you see the commercialization of a homespun recipe you’ve been making for years. No, I don’t hate America or capitalism. This is probably more of a simple case of, “Hey, world, I’ve been doing this first! Look at me! I’m so special!” I do concede putting a stick in your cake ball and making it a cake pop complete with cutesy-poo decorations is a winning idea.

I realize that the rest of the world has now jumped onto The Good Ship Cake Pop, and you can easily find whole websites and cookbooks devoted to this multimillion dollar industry craft. However, I will share with you my way to make these, the original Kim way. I always tell people these are not so much difficult as they are messy and labor intensive.

My friend Deana calls these high class Little Debbies. I call them hillbilly truffles. Whatever you call them, they are delicious and always a hit.

Kim’s Original Jingle Balls

One cake of your choice (I use chocolate)

One jar of frosting of your choice (I use vanilla)

Chocolate chips or chocolate discs for melting (about 1 1/2 regular sized bags of chocolate chips)

Bake the cake in a 13 x 9 inch pan per package directions. When cake comes out of oven, mix in entire jar of frosting while still hot. It will look like a mess. Chill until firm, about one hour. Roll the cake/icing mixture into small balls. Freeze the balls for at least an hour, preferably longer.

Melt about half a bag of chocolate chips in the microwave. Using two forks, dip the balls in chocolate and place on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. After dipping three or four balls, add sprinkles or decorations before the chocolate dries. After about ten cake balls, wash and dry your bowl and melt another half bag of chocolate chips. You may have to repeat this three or four times, but it’s better than trying to dip them all in the same batch of melted chocolate. Trust me.

Here are pictures of my latest batch of Kim’s Jingle Balls:

Step 1: Basic boxed cake in 13 x 9 pan


Step 2: Frosting mixed thoroughly into cake. Note the sludge-like appearance.

Step 3: Form into balls on a cookie sheet

Step 4: Melt chocolate in microwave

Step 5: Decorate and serve

Dawn’s Fabulous (Cheater) Brownies

Sshhhh, I’m going to share with you my secret recipe stolen from The Cake Mix Doctor. No, come back! It’s really good, I swear!

Do you need a fairly no-fuss dessert for a crowd that expects a little more out of life? You’d sooner die than bring anything store bought and yet a boxed mix usually says, “Eh, I’ve stopped trying.” You’ve come to the right place. All of the pizazz, half of the work!

This has been my easy razzle-dazzle go-to brownie recipe for years. It always elicits rave reviews, and you’ll almost be embarrassed receiving compliments over something so easy. Almost…

The key is to use a quality brownie mix, and Ghirardelli Brownie Mix (Double Chocolate) is the only mix I will use for this recipe. I can’t vouch for awesome results if you decide to buy another brand.

Raspberry Swirl Brownies from Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn


I package Brownie mix (remember, Ghirardelli Double Chocolate)

8 T (one stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup water

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 13 x 9 inch pan with vegetable oil. Set aside.

Place brownie mix, melted butter, water, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are incorporated, about 50 strokes. Pour into prepared pan and smooth out with rubber spatula. Drop raspberry jam by teaspoonfuls onto the batter, and with dinner knife, swirl the jam into the batter. Scatter chocolate chips and pecans evenly over the top. Place in oven.

Bake until the outer two inches have formed a crust, 23 to 27 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack 30 minutes before cutting.

When your friends ask, tell them it’s a family recipe from your Mom Mom.

Fine Cooking German Chocolate Cake

This summer Ed got us a subscription to Fine Cooking Magazine. He bought the June issue on a whim and liked it so much he decided to subscribe. I am sure he had the best of intentions. Now, I realize subscribing to a cooking magazine without consulting your spouse is not like buying a car without consulting your spouse, but it felt like a big deal to me. I take my food magazines very seriously, and I’m really only loyal to two: Cook’s Illustrated and Bon Appétit. Inviting another magazine into our home is serious business. I just didn’t know about this and needed some time to adjust. Part of it, too, is the name. Fine Cooking? Seems a little pretentious, no? It reminded me of the SpongeBob episode featuring “Fancy Living Digest.” In fact, I’ve taken to calling it “Fancy Cooking” in my head.

But like all change, I warmed up to it after a few months. Sure, the lasagne recipe is six pages long, and recipes like that will always annoy me, but you can’t be all things to all people. It almost seems like a cross between Cook’s Illustrated and Bon Appétit, both cerebral and high quality, so as usual, Ed was on the right track. Once I stopped being mad at the magazine and started to actually read it, I found quite a few intriguing recipes I look forward to trying.

Yesterday I made their German Chocolate Cake featured in the December 2011/January 2012 issue. First things first, this cake was 100% WORTH THE EFFORT. If you like German Chocolate Cake, I highly encourage you to try this one. In fact, I dub this The Best German Chocolate Cake I’ve Ever Eaten. I consider myself a solid but not advanced baker, so this was definitely one of the fussier and more elaborate cakes I’ve ever made, but I don’t think any advanced skills are required as long as you are patient, read the recipe thoroughly and follow directions carefully. I have documented my pictures and notes below the recipe.

German Chocolate Cake by Alice Medrich, Fine Cooking Dec 2011/Jan 2012

For the cakes
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pans
4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (up to 70% cacao), coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup boiling water
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. table salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

For the coconut-pecan filling
7 oz. (about 2 cups) sweetened, shredded dried coconut
4 large egg yolks
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. table salt
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1-1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped

Make the cakes

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Grease the sides of three 9×2-inch round cake pans with butter and line the bottoms with parchment circles.

Put the chocolate in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Let stand for several seconds and then whisk until the chocolate is dissolved. Set aside until cool to the touch before mixing the batter.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper. Whisk the eggs in a small measuring cup.

Beat the butter for a few seconds in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed. Add the sugar in a steady stream and then beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl as necessary, until the mixture is lightened in color and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Still on medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time, taking a full 1-1/2 minutes to add them all. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla and beat just until blended. With the mixer turned off, add a quarter of the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed just until incorporated. Add a third of the buttermilk and mix until blended. Repeat, each time adding another quarter of the flour, then a third of the buttermilk, until the last of the flour is added. Scrape the bowl as necessary and mix each addition only until it is incorporated.

Divide the batter among the pans and spread it evenly. Bake, rotating the pans and swapping their positions, until the cakes just start to pull away from the sides of the pans and spring back when very gently pressed with a finger, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the cakes cool in their pans on a rack for 10 minutes.

Run a knife or small spatula around the edges to separate the cakes from the pans. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and peel off the parchment. Cool completely.

Make the filling
Spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350°F, stirring every 2 minutes, until golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Scrape the toasted coconut onto a sheet of waxed paper and let cool completely.Whisk the egg yolks with the evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a heavy-duty, nonreactive 4-quart saucepan. Add the butter. Set over medium heat and stir constantly with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom and corners of the pot. When the mixture starts to boil, adjust the heat so that it boils actively but not furiously, and cook, stirring constantly, until golden and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the coconut and pecans. Let cool completely.

Assemble the Cake

Put one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread a third of the filling over the top of the cake, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Top with a second cake layer. Spread with half of the remaining filling. Put the third cake layer on top and cover it with the remaining filling. Leave the sides of the cake exposed. Serve at room temperature.

Sifting the flour onto a piece of waxed paper was my first hint this cake might be a little high maintenance, and it’s when the carpal tunnel first started to kick in. Do not skip this step!

It’s really important to get the right level of heat and constant whisking for the filling so it is the perfect consistency. If your wrist didn’t hurt you before, it will now!

Add the toasted coconut and toasted pecans and let cool and thicken. It may not look pretty, but this is the most delicious filling I have ever eaten.

While this cake didn’t turn out cover-model beautiful, it was perfect in every other way.

p.s. Ask Mom Mom is taking a break this week. Is it because someone can’t find her old-school notebook with this week’s column in it? I’ll never tell.

p.p.s. Sorry to my subscribers for the flukey phantom Cake2 post earlier. I am still playing around with my new phone and attempted to upload a photo to WordPress, and I didn’t mean to publish anything. Oops!

Ina’s Lemon Cake

When you last left me, I had just zested 3200 lemons. Okay, it felt like that many. It was maybe more like 32. They were taking up a lot of room in my refrigerator, looking naked without their bright yellow coats, and I knew I had to use them in some capacity very soon. Look at those sad little things!

My attempt at lemon chicken was only appreciated by two out of five family members, and I was one of those two, so I will not bother to share this culinary delight with you, other than to say that ten lemons is probably six lemons too many if you’re making lemon chicken.

I was starting to feel a little resentful about the pressure to use my lemons. I did have book club last night, so I decided to make a lemon cake on a whim. I used to feel like lemon cake was one of the least appealing cakes there is, but I was wrong. Oh, I was very wrong. I should have known Ina would never forsake me.

Unless my book group was just being polite or it was the alcohol talking, people seemed to really like it. And I just polished off a very generous he-man sized piece of cake (shown below), so clearly I have changed my opinion about lemon cake. Thank you, Ina!

Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake


  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Chocolate-Cherry Clusters

Yesterday was a day of two wonderful discoveries:

First, while searching for a buffalo chicken dip recipe (shut up), I discovered yet another fabulous food blog, The Bitten Word. I am trying not to get discouraged at the vast sea of incredibly worthwhile food blogs to read, and I am hoping that you won’t ditch me for these guys, even though they are cuter, funnier and way more talented than yours truly. Make room for us both! (Not that they’re gunning for my ten readers, what with their boatload of fancy blogging awards). Their blog is based on the brilliant idea that I should have thought of ten years ago of cooking recipes from all their food magazines. Leave it to me to hone in on the only two WT recipes on the whole entire blog! Most of their food is rather fancy schmancy, and I look forward to trying lots of their recipes. Definitely check them out.

We will be joining friends for dinner tonight, along with our kids, and I was asked to bring a dessert. My standard go-to kid-friendly dessert is my now famous Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, the only chocolate chip cookies worth making. However, I wanted something different (and dare I say, easier) this time, and that led me to wonderful discovery number two, courtesy of wonderful discovery number one, Chocolate-Cherry Clusters. This recipe was originally published in Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine (Jan/Feb 2011). I had no idea such a periodical existed! How long has this magazine been around? And Martha is using CORN FLAKES in a recipe now? Mind. Blown. Clearly prison has brought her back to her blue collar roots, to which I say, “Hooray!” Just don’t cross over into Miracle Whip territory, Martha.

Chocolate-Cherry Clusters

Everyday Food (January/February 2011)

Makes 18
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes + cooling time


  • 3 cups cornflakes
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (1 3/4 cups)

1. In a large bowl, break cornflakes into small pieces with your fingers. Add cherries and toss together.

2. Place 2/3 cup chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until chocolate melts, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining chocolate, stirring until melted. (Alternately, microwave the chocolate in a bowl in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until melted).) Pour over cornflake mixture and, with a rubber spatula, gently fold just until cereal and cherries and completely coated.

3. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto two parchment-lined baking sheets and let set in a cool, dry place, 1 hour. (Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.)

My friend referred to this type of cookie as a “Haystack” cookie, something I’ve never heard before. These are easy but messy to make, and not very pretty. The kids seemed to like them, though, and as a quick last minute dessert, it’s a nice option.  I just love the idea of mixing a few ingredients together and calling it dessert — such a departure from my usual production. As luck would have it, we have another last minute dinner invitation tonight, so I am planning to make them again, and maybe I’ll try adding a little coconut to jazz things up.

Dawn’s Maple Pumpkin Bread

Happy October! Fall is my favorite season. As a homebody at heart, I love the cooler weather, otherwise known as The Baking Season. I was looking for a good pumpkin bread recipe, but none of them seemed quite right. For starters, most recipes had 3 cups of white sugar, and that crossed some sort of self-imposed line of Too Sweet/Too Unhealthy. I may not always be Mrs. Healthy Eating, but I do have my low standards. I decided that 1 1/2 cups of sugar and half a cup of maple syrup should yield the appropriate level of sweetness yet allow me to feel somewhat virtuous. Like Buddy the Elf, I try to stick maple syrup in everything I can think of.

The result was pleasantly sweet but not cakelike sweet. Certain members of this family (hint: not the children) thought it could use just a tad more sugar, so next time I will plan to add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and see how that flies.

To give proper credit, this was the recipe I originally looked at and built upon, although you will see that the additions and omissions are too numerous to mention, and it barely resembles the original (which, by the way, if you do use, be sure to increase the cooking time based on the numerous comments that 30 – 40 minutes wasn’t nearly long enough).

Eat a loaf and freeze a loaf! One thing my mother taught me was to always have something sweet to serve to unexpected company with coffee. Drop by unexpectedly and you might just score a slice.

Dawn’s Maple Pumpkin Bread


  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (optional, use for a sweeter bread)
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 15 ounces canned unsweetened pumpkin
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9 x 5 loaf pans. Stir together sugar(s), maple syrup and oil. Stir in eggs, vanilla and pumpkin. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl. Blend dry ingredients into wet mixture, alternating. Divide batter between two loaf pans. Bake for 50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool.

Banana Bread

I woke up to these three beauties below, and I decided today was the day to bake some banana bread.

I have made lots of banana bread in my life, and while it was always good enough, it was never really gooooood, as in blog-worthy good. Often times the middle would be mushy, and the extra cooking time required to demushify the middle would make the edges too dry and overcooked.

I decided to turn to my beloved Cook’s Illustrated for help, and Google led me to yet another fabulous food blog, First Look, Then Cook, which reviewed the Cook’s Illustrated recipe and determined it was not as good as her Mom’s, which is posted here. Cook’s Illustrated or Mom, who to choose? Mom, of course! No contest there.

This is my new favorite banana bread recipe: quick, easy, great flavor, great texture. I added chocolate chips and omitted nuts. My whole family loved it, and I’m sure you will, too.

Banana Bread from First Look, Then Cook


  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk or buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cups chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups chocolate chips (optional)


Pre-heat oven to 350.  Mash bananas with a fork and set aside.  Mix oil, sugar, milk, vanilla and eggs well.  Add mashed bananas.  Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl, and add to banana mixture with nuts (optional) until just combined well.  Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 x 5″ loaf pans.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from pans while still warm and wrap with plastic.