Monday, December 15, 2014

A Cookie Recipe Everyone Should Have :)

Cowboy Cookies 

This recipe comes from a cookbook I received as a wedding shower gift a long time ago.  It is the St. Elizabeth and St. Helena Circles Sacred Heart Church in Oxford Junction, IA cookbook.  The cookbook is one of those cookbook that contains simple recipes for simple, wonderful dishes; there are no ingredients such as imported chocolate, fancy mushrooms, or other exotic ingredients requiring exotic equipment and procedures.  These recipes are tried and true by women who worked hard, loved much, and took great pride in serving family and friends the best these women had to offer from their gardens and simple pantries.

I am not sure where the name of the cookies originated, but it is what the kids' Grandma Brunscheen called them :)

This recipe has been prepared hundreds of times as it was a favorite of the kids and their friends.  I would often bake a batch and take the cookies to wherever they were gathered as the cookies came out of the oven.  It was years later that Stacy figured out that I brought out the cookies one pan full at a time because it allowed me to interact with them and their friends in a very positive way.  Who does not welcome someone bearing a plate full of hot chocolate chip cookies - even if it is your mom?

Here is the basic recipe with variations though beware of baking the raisin version as it may cause trust issues:

Cream together until light and fluffy:
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter

Beat in until light and fluffy:
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp soda
2 tsp vanilla

Stir in:
2 cups flour
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
2 cups chocolate chips (12 oz package)

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 - 13 minutes.

These are streamlined directions designed to enable you to have the dough mixed together before the oven has finished preheating :)


Chocolate Chips cookies:
Eliminate the oatmeal and increase the flour to 3 - 3 1/4 cups flour

Sugar cookies:
Eliminate the brown sugar and increase sugar to 2 cups, add 2 tsp cream of tartar, and eliminate the oatmeal and increase the flour to 3 - 3 1/4 cups flour.  Let the dough cool for a couple of hours, so you can shape the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll those in sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 11 - 12 minutes or as long as it takes for them to start to brown on the edges.  They will puff up in the oven and then settle as they cool.  They are best when they have been slightly under baked.  They freeze very well--if they make it that far :)

Oatmeal Raisin cookies:
Eliminate the chocolate chips and add 2 cups raisins.  You can add 1 tsp to the flour mixture if you would like - that is how my Dad likes them.  You can also add 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups raisins, but my kids will tell you it will create trust issues.  They do not like raisins and do not like to be disappointed when they think they are eating a chocolate chip cookie only to discover there are raisins in the cookies :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Crackle top Ginger Cookies

Crackle Top Ginger Cookies

 These will always be one of my favorite ways to welcome my favorite season - Fall :)

1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg, beaten
1/2 - 1 cup sorghum or molasses (I used sorghum most often because it is not as strong and only used 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp soda
1 - 2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon (opt) I usually put that in because I love cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
4 - 4 1/2 cup flour.  The dough will be sticky until you cool it for a couple of hours.

Roll into balls and roll in sugar.  Slightly flatten before baking or they will not flatten out like they should.
Bake at 350° F just until set; these freeze well - if they make it that long :)

Chocolate Sauce that will permanently change your life

Chocolate Fudge Sauce
¼ cup cocoa
1-cup sugar
½ cup whipping cream (I use the whole Half pint)
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla
Measure cocoa, sugar, cream, syrup, butter and salt into a heavy saucepan, about 1 ½ quart size. Stir until blended. Bring to a boil over moderate high heat. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and add the vanilla.



In a pan (if using the stove) or a microwave safe bowl, mix:
2 cups milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
3 Tablespoons of corn starch
1/2 tea salt

Stove: stir constantly over medium heat until mixture starts to bubble

Microwave - cook on high for 4 minutes; take out and stir and cook another 4

Remove from microwave or stove and add:
1 egg that has been mixed with 1/2 cup milk or half and half

Stir and:

Stove - stir over medium heat until mixture starts to bubble

Microwave - cook on high for 2 minutes

Remove from stove or microwave and add:
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 tea vanilla

Banana - You can take out the cocoa and add a sliced banana when you add the butter and vanilla.

Butterscotch - add brown sugar instead of sugar and cook over low heat

Vanilla - take out the cocoa and add 2 tea vanilla

Aunt Evelyn's Christmas cookies

Aunt Evelyn's Christmas cookies

Some of my fondest Christmas memories as a child are going to Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Harold's place for New Year's Day to watch the parades on TV.  Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Harold had a color TV, so it was something wonderful to see all the beautiful floats in color!!!  One of Aunt Evelyn's holiday specialties was her frosted sugar cookies.  Baking and decorating the cut cookies will always be some of my fondest memories - even though most of the kids hated decorating them :)  One of the funniest memories was watching Shane and Stef try to teach some missionaries the find art of decorating cookies correctly.

Aunt Evelyn’s Christmas Cookies

Cream together:
2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup sour cream
Beat in:
2 eggs
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla
Stir together in a small bowl:
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking power
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour
Add the dry ingredients to creamed ingredients
Add 2 additional cups of flour, one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding 2nd cup
Let cool 1 – 2 hours –do not cut this step
Roll out to about 1/4 inch – these are a little thicker than normal
Cut and bake at 350°F just until the edges start to take color.
This batch makes lots of cookies!

Cool and frost with the following:

2 oz cream cheese - softened
1/4 cup – softened
1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
Enough powdered sugar to make thin frosting
Add coloring as desired

The cookies are better after they have been frozen.  It is tradition to add red hots as part of the decorations :)

Christmas Caramels

The original recipe was a Christmas gift from the Tray and Tammy Thomas family.  Tray was our home teacher for many years and faithfully filled that responsibility; he and his family will always have a fond place in my memories.  

3 cups sugar
3 cups white Karo syrup (corn syrup)
1 cup evaporated milk (do not substitute regular milk as the extra milk solids help the caramels to set)
1/2 cup butter
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups heavy cream (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla (use the best quality you can find)
2 cups chopped pecans

Mix together the sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk, butter, and salt in a heavy Dutch oven pan (4+ quart).  Bring to a boil and cook to 220°F.  Stirring constantly, add cream slowly so the mixture does not cool enough to quit simmering.  Continue stirring until mixture reaches 242°F or so.  Spoon a little caramel into a cup of ice water to check if the caramel is done.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and nuts.  Pour into a 10”X15” buttered pan.  Let cool and cut.

11/2014 - Shane, Paul, and I used organic sugar and the cooking time was shortened.  The caramel was had a very delicate flavor well worth the price of the organic sugar J