Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

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Each time a new year rolls around people make resolutions to lose weight. I’ve done this before, and last year actually had some real success. The secret to losing weight isn’t that difficult, more calories out than in. You don’t have to make huge dramatic changes to your lifestyle. Just get off the couch and do something that is going to elevate your heart rate, and eat less. For many of us that just means eating smaller portions. Also, don’t swear off any food. Eating several slices of pizza everyday isn’t good for you, if you have a slice on a Friday night it won’t derail your weight loss hopes. Sometimes you need to give into your cravings, in a controlled manner of course. For example, if you crave something salty, have some popcorn instead of a whole bag of potato chips.  If you crave something sweet, have one of these delicious cookies.

When I first tasted these cookies I was impressed with myself. You can taste the cranberries and the oats. You also can taste the orange, ginger and a hint of vanilla. All the ingredients stand out and work so well together. These cookies are sweet and delicious, and with only 92 calories per cookie, you won’t have to spend hours in the gym burning off those calories.  If you are concerned about those calories, my friend Jessie has 20 great ways to burn them off.

*If you are not concerned about calorie content, I would recommend adding some white chocolate chips to the dough. I haven’t tried it yet, but when I first took a bite I thought white chocolate chips would be really good in this cookie.

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OATMEAL CRANBERRY COOKIES
Yield: 18 cookies

1 1/4 c oats
3/4 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger
6 T smart balance, softened
2 egg whites
1/2 c brown sugar
2 T honey
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange peel grated
1/2 T squeezed orange juice
3/4 c dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a separate bowl mix together oatmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger, set aside. In your mixer cream together Smart Balance and brown sugar until mixed uniformly. Add egg whites,  honey, vanilla, orange peel and orange juice. Slowly mix in dry ingredients. Take your bowl off the mixer and stir in the dried cranberries by hand. Drop about 1 1/2 T of cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies look golden and crispy at the edges. ENJOY!

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Gingerbread Men and Women

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This year I made real gingerbread people. Last year I made them from a dry mix I bought in a box. The real deal is no comparison, these little cookie people get better each day. The girls and I had some friends over for a cookie decorating extravaganza. I think everyone involved had lots of fun. I told the girls that we were going to “paint” the cookies with frosting, this excited Sasha (2 1/2) and our friend M (almost 2). We used popsicle sticks as our paintbrushes, which worked wonderfully for our needs. The cookies may not win any awards for beautiful design, but I think they are the best looking gingerbread cookies I’ve ever seen.

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My girls kept eating the cookies. As you can see Sasha hardly has any frosting on her cookie, just enough to say she frosted it.

I got the recipe from Martha Stewart’s website, and it was delicious. This week I will be making more gingerbread people for our families. We also made cut out sugar cookies, I will post the recipe tomorrow.

Martha’s Gingerbread People

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The frosting is a powdered sugar, a tiny splash of vanilla, and a splash of milk. I used Wilton’s Icing Color in red, blue, green and yellow.

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Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Bars

I love chocolate and I love pecans, and cookies aren’t so bad either. These cookie bars are simply delicious. My sister had a friend whose mother made the most delicious chocolate chip cookies, she used a package of pudding in the batter to give the cookies a soft, moist texture. I took that idea and applied it to my bars. The result was a cookie bar that was soft and moist and gone in an instant. These cookies can be easily adapted. I think they would be delicious with white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

2 sticks butter, soften
3/4 c dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 c white sugar
1 package french vanilla instant pudding
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 c sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 c chocolate chips –I used bittersweet baking chips
1 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In mixer beat on medium speed butter, sugars, pudding and vanilla until blended. Add eggs and mix well. Add flour and soda in small batches until all incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans by hand. Press into a well greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely. Cut into 24 bars and ENJOY!

*** For cookies *** Drop dough onto cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 9 minutes, or until golden brown in color. Cool on a wire rack. ENJOY!

Giant Crunchy Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies


Sasha all bundled up.

It has been extremely cold here in Iowa. We have received about 10 inches or more of snow in the last five days. This morning when I woke up it was -17 and with the wind chill it felt like -30. BRR that is really cold. Needless to say, Marley does not enjoy going outside when it is that cold. When he is outside he does his business and he does it fast. I have been cooking all the comfort foods this week. Including Chicken Noodle Soup and Chunky Potato Soup (I will include those recipes in a separate post).

On Monday I felt like turning on my oven and do some cookie baking. I came across this eggless cookie recipe on Patricia’s website. However she calls her cookies Chocolate Chip Whoppers. You need to use both your hands to eat these cookies! I added crushed pecans to my cookie dough. My cookies came out EXTREMELY crunchy, so I changed the name. I may have accidentally left out a cup of flour, which could have caused the cookies to become so crunchy. I will try to make these cookies again and see if the result is the same. Alex and Sasha love these cookies, and that makes me happy. In fact, Sasha has become a pro at saying “Cookie. Please.”

Giant Crunchy Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly–I used salted butter and omitted the tsp salt
1 c sugar
½ c packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 T water
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips –I used milk chocolate chips
1 c crushed pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and place rack in the middle of the over. Mix flour, soda and salt together. In separate bowl cream butter and vanilla with sugars. Add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. The dough will look crumbly. Mix in the water. The dough will become soft and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Using 1/4 c measuring cup, scoop dough onto baking sheet and smoosh until 3/4 in. thick. Place cookies at least 3 in. apart. Bake for 15 minutes, or until tops are browned with a few cracks.

Makes about 16 giant cookies.

Christmas Baking and Candy Making

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Sunday evening Alex, the girls and I started a family tradition (hopefully). ‘Tis the season to stuff ourselves with sugary treats. We put on some Tchaikovsky and let Sasha dance away while we made Christmas treats. Alex dipped pretzels in vanilla almond bark and I whipped up some chocolate creme de menthe cookies.

When I was shopping the other day I saw a package of Ande’s baking chips. They are chopped up Ande’s creme de menthe pieces. I decided to use these baking chips in a chocolate cookie. It has been years since I’ve made chocolate cookies, and I could not remember the recipe I used, so I searched Google for a chocolate cookie recipe. I came across several, and decided to use a recipe from www.extremechocolate.com with my own substitutions. These cookies are minty and delicious. I will upload photos really soon.

Ultra-Chocolate Creme de Menthe Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 package Ande’s creme de menthe baking chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt in one bowl. In another bowl mix together sugars, butter, eggs, cocoa powder and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture until well combined. Stir in baking chips. Using tablespoons drop cookie dough onto greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute before moving to baking rack. ENJOY!