Sunday, September 25, 2011


You know it's a good recipe when the mashed potatoes are lumpy and you don't let the dough rise like the recipe says, but the end product is still delicious!

We grew up on these.  Every summer "we" (meaning Mom) would make dozens of them each week and sell them to farmers for their summer workers.  I don't remember what we were saving money for.  Does anyone else have memories about Spudnuts?

Mom's Spudnuts
2 cups milk, warmed
1 cup sugar
½ cup shortening
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 packets yeast dissolved in 1/3 cup warm water
3 eggs
½ tsp. nutmeg
8-10 cups flour
1 ½ tsp. salt

To hot milk, add sugar, shortening, potatoes, yeast mixture, eggs, and nutmeg.  Stir to combine.  Add enough flour to resemble cake batter.  Let sponge until doubled.  Add remaining flour and salt to make a soft dough.  Mix and knead.  Let dough rise until doubled.  Punch down.  Let rise again. 
Roll out dough on floured surface about 1/3 – ½” thick and cut into doughnuts.  Let rise.  Deep fry in oil heated to 350 – 400 degrees (325-350 was plenty).  Dip in glaze when warm (3 cups powdered sugar, ½ cup water, ½ tsp. vanilla).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This time of year I start craving pumpkin-flavored baked goods. Luckily, Alyssa went on a baking spree recently and made these cookies for us. She used the muffin scoop for the cookies to make giant cookies. We loved them!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

¾ cup granulated sugar (5 ¼ ounces)
¾ cup brown sugar (5 ½ ounces)
3 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ cups pumpkin, canned (14 ¼ ounces)
¾ cup vegetable oil (5 ¼ ounces)
7 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
4 ½ cups pastry flour (1 pound 2 ounces)
1 ½ cups chocolate chips (9 ounces)
1 ¼ cups walnuts, chopped (5 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large mixer bowl mix together sugars, pumpkin pie spice, pumpkin, oil, and eggs until well blended. In a separate bowl, blend baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour; combine with pumpkin mix. Mix together until well blended, then add chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop by spoonfuls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or a well-greased pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Recipe Source: Lion House Desserts

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Boneless Pork Chops Parmigiana

This is a fun twist on Chicken Parmesan. Because the pork chops are thin, the meal comes together very quickly. It is delicious!

Boneless Pork Chops Parmigiana

2 pounds boneless thin-cut pork chops (about 8 small chops)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup fine dry unseasoned bread crumbs
½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
4 teaspoons Creole Seasoning or Emeril’s Original Essence
½ cup olive oil
1 cup homemade or jarred marinara sauce, plus more (heated) for serving with pasta if desired
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
Cooked pasta, for serving

Preheat the broiler, and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Season the pork chops on both sides with the salt and pepper. Set three shallow pans side by side. Place the flour in one, the egg and milk in another, and the breadcrumbs and cheese in the third pan. Season the flour with 1 ½ teaspoons of the Creole seasoning, the egg-milk mixture with 1 ½ teaspoons of the Creole seasoning, and the breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon of the Creole seasoning. Stir the flour to incorporate the seasoning; beat the eggs, milk & seasoning to blend; and toss the breadcrumbs with the cheese and seasoning to combine.

Dredge the pork chops in the flour and shake to remove any excess. Working with one at a time, dip the pork chops in the egg wash to coat, then transfer them to the breadcrumb mixture and coat evenly, shaking to remove any excess.

Set a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, place half of the breaded pork chops in the pan and cook until golden brown, 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the browned pork chops to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pork chops.

Spread 2 tablespoons of the marinara sauce over each of the pork chops, and top each with ¼ cup of the grated mozzarella. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and cook for 2 to 2 ½ minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in spots and the chops are just cooked through. Remove from the oven and, if desired, serve over cooked pasta with additional marinara sauce.

Recipe Source: Emeril 20-40-60 Fresh Food Fast

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I like to make BIG batches of cookie dough.  I then bake a dozen or so cookies.  With the remaining dough, I make balls of dough and freeze them individually on a tray.  Once frozen, I move them to a Ziplock bag and keep them in the freezer.  It's super easy to make a batch of cookies whenever we want from the frozen balls of dough!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
(Adjusted from Taste of Home's More Fast Fixes with Mixes)

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 cups quick-cooking oats
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (5.25 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups chopped nuts, optional

In a large bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in egs and vanilla.  Combine the oats, flour, pudding mix, soda, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets*.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks.

*I've been using parchment paper sheets on my baking sheets.  It's super easy to clean up, and it keeps my pans looking brand new!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

A few months ago, Bart caught a glimpse of a television show about Junior’s Cheesecake. He loved the idea of a sponge cake crust underneath cheesecake, and he has been anxiously awaiting his birthday so he can try the combination and see if it is as good as it sounds. Luckily, I received a collection of recipes from Junior’s Cheesecake for Christmas, so Bart was able to peruse the collection and make a selection. He chose this pumpkin swirl cheesecake. The cheesecake was creamy and smooth. It tasted like a really creamy pumpkin pie. The sponge cake crust made cutting and serving the cheesecake very easy. The crust is delicious, and its tender, airy texture blends perfectly with the cheesecake. I’m excited to try more recipes from this collection!

Junior’s Sponge Cake Crust

1/3 cup sifted cake flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 extra-large eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 drops pure lemon extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with aluminum foil (I use 2 layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil), covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides.

In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high for 3 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until thick, light-yellow ribbons form, about 5 minutes more. Beat in the extracts.

Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until no more white flecks appear. Now, blend in the melted butter.

Wash another mixing bowl and add the beaters really well (if even a little fat is left, this can prevent the egg whites from whipping). Put the egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl and beat with the mixer on high until frothy. Gradually add the remaining sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks from (the whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry). Fold about one0third of the white into the batter, then the remaining whites. Don’t worry if you still see a few white specks, as they’ll disappear during baking.

Gently spread out the batter over the bottom of the pan, and bake just until set and golden (not wet or stick), about 10 minutes. Touch the cake gently in the center. If it springs back, it’s done. Watch carefully and don’t let the top brown. Leave the crust in the pan and transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on while you prepare the cheesecake batter.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

1 recipe 9-inch Junior’s Sponge Cake Crust (see recipe above)
Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese (use only full fat), at room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs--at room temperature
¾ cup heavy or whipping cream--at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)--at room temperature
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more for sprinkling
1 recipe Decorator’s Whipped Cream (for garnish if desired)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make and bake the cake crust as directed above and leave it in the pan. Keep the oven on. (Make sure outside of pan is wrapped well in aluminum foil.)

Put one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low until creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl down several times. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Beat in the cream just until completely blended. Be careful not to overmix.

Remove 1 ½ cups of the batter and set aside. On low speed, blend the pumpkin and the 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice into the remaining batter. Gently spoon the pumpkin batter on top of the crust. Using a teaspoon, drop the white batter in small spoonfuls on top of the pumpkin batter, pushing it down slightly as you go. Using a thin, pointed knife, cut through the batter a few times in a “figure-8” design, just until white swirls appear.

Place the cake in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1 inch up the sides of the springform. Bake until the edges are light golden brown and the top has golden and tan swirls, about 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 2 hours (just walk away—don’t move it). Leave the cake in the pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cold, preferably overnight, or at least 4 hours.

Release and remove the sides of the springform pan, leaving the cake on the bottom of the pan. Place on a cake plate. Pipe whipped cream rosettes around the top edge of the cake. Lightly sprinkle the rosettes with a little pumpkin pie spice if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice the cold cake with a sharp straight-edge knife, not a serrated one. Cover any leftover cake and refrigerate, or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.

Decorator’s Whipped Cream

1 teaspoon unflavored granulated gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
1 cup cold heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place the gelatin in a heatproof measuring up, stir in the cold water, and let stand until it swells and thickens (this takes only about 1 minute). Cook the gelatin in the microwave on high for about 30 seconds or over a pan of simmering water for about 1 minutes, until clear and completely melted.

In a medium bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer on high until it thickens and soft peaks just begin to form. With the mixer still running, add the sugar and beat just until the cream stands up in peaks (don’t overmix or the cream will curdle). Beat in the vanilla. Now, add the melted gelatin all at once and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but not more than 1 hour. Use immediately as a cake filling or frosting or refrigerate.

To make whipped cream rosettes, fit a pastry bag with a large closed-star tip (#133) or large open-star tip (#199). Half-fill the bag with the whipped cream and pipe large rosettes all around the top or bottom edge of the cake. For smaller decorative stars and rosettes, use a medium star tip (such as #27, 31 or 35 for closed or #22 or 32 for open). The closed-star tips create deeper grooves and more details than the open-star ones, but both work fine. Put the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes to set the decorations. Transfer to the refrigerator until time to serve.

Recipe Source: Junior's Cheesecakes

White Chocolate-Sour Cream Blueberry Scones

These scones come together quickly if you have a food processor. If you don’t have one, go ahead and make the scones by mixing together the dry ingredients , cutting in the butter, then adding the liquid ingredients. I loved the flavor and texture of these scones—as well as the potential they hold for variations. Next time I’m going to try using dark chocolate and raspberries instead of the white chocolate and blueberries.

White Chocolate-Sour Cream Blueberry Scones


3 cups (13 ½ ounces) all-purpose flour
½ cup (1 ¾ ounces) sliced or slivered almonds, blanched or unblanched
3 tablespoons (1 ¼ ounces) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher or fine-grained sea salt
4 ounces (8 tablespoons, 1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped into small chunks
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup (5 ounces) fresh or fresh-frozen blueberries


1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon Demerara or turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Briefly pulse together the flour, almonds, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the mixture. Pulse until the butter is cut into very tiny pieces, about 30 seconds. The texture should be sandy with very tiny lumps throughout. Add the white chocolate chunks and pulse a few times to mix.

Using a fork, lightly beat the sour cream and egg together in a small bowl. Add this mixture to the food processor along with the blueberries and process until the dough forms itself into a ball, about 30 seconds.

Dust a large piece of waxed or parchment paper with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Pat the dough into a round or rectangle about 1 inch high. Use a 2 ½-inch round plain-edge cutter dipped n flour to cut out the scones. Cut straight down without twisting, which seals the edges and keeps the scones from rising. Transfer the scones to the baking sheets, leaving at least an inch of space between them so they have room to expand as they bake.

For the garnish, use a pastry brush to coat the top of each scone with cream, taking care that it doesn’t run down the sides and under the scones. If it does, wipe it up because it can cause the bottom of the scones to burn. Lightly sprinkle the top of each scone with Demerara sugar.

Bake the scones for about 15 to 18 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time, until scones are light golden.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and transfer scones to racks to cool.

Serve the scones warm or at room temperature.

Recipe from: Intensely Chocolate (by Carole Bloom)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Amerikaner oder Teebotchen (Americaner Cookies)

This is a traditional German cookie recipe that Anthony learned on his mission. They taste kind of like sugar cookies, except that they are fluffier and have more of a vanilla taste to them. You can choose to frost the bottom-sides with chocolate frosting or eat them as-is. Yummy!
(P.S. Because the recipe was all in German and we had to translate it from grams into cups and teaspoons, the measurements are estimates... but we made them and they turned out really good!)

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup + 1 T. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
a little salt (take a pinch)
1 T. + 1/8 tsp vanilla pudding mix
3 T. milk
2-1/4 cup flour
1 T. baking powder

1. Cream butter and sugar. Then add vanilla, eggs, and salt. (<-- This whole mixture is called Teig.)
2. In separate bowl, combine pudding mix and milk to make (really thick) pudding.
3. Mix flour, baking powder, pudding and Teig (the creamed mixture in step 1).
4. On greased cookie sheet, lay 2 T. of dough 1-2 inches apart.
5. Bake 10 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Take cookies out of oven and quickly brush them with milk.
7. Bake 5 minutes more until golden brown.

Icing is an option. You can make this sugar glaze if you like:

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 T. warm water

...or spread store-bought chocolate frosting on, another flavor, or simply just eat them as-is. If you choose to frost them, flip them over and frost the bottom-sides. The bottoms are easier to frost. :)

Makes about 20 cookies. Recipe from Schwester Anton.

Chicken Spinach Pesto Soup

I don't have a picture of this, but IT IS SO GOOD! We got the recipe from some friends. It is a delicious soup with many good, hearty, healthy flavors. Yum-yum! Try it!

2 tsp EVOO
1/2 carrot or bell pepper, diced (I like more carrot, so I've been putting 2 carrots in it)
1 cubed chicken breast
1 clove minced garlic
5 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 tsp dried marjoram
6 oz baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 can (15 oz) great northern beans, rinsed (can also use kidney or navy beans, if preferred)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (fresh is probably better, but we've been doing the shaky bottle kind)
1/3 cup lightly packed basil

1. Heat oil in large sauce pan. Add carrot/bell pepper and chicken. Cook 3-4 minutes until chicken begins to brown.
2. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in broth and marjoram. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
3. Add spinach and beans. Boil gently 5 minutes.
4. Stir pesto into soup. Season with pepper to taste and garnish with croutons and/or cheese.

To make the pesto:
In food processor, combine ingredients into coarse paste, adding a little water and scraping sides as needed.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Herb Roast Turkey

HERBED ROAST TURKEY from the episode:  One Great Thanksgiving—America’s Test Kitchen
Another recipe from America’s Test Kitchen is herbed roasted turkey.  We did this with a 9 pound turkey breast.  It had the bone in, but you can purchase turkey breasts without the bone and season it with herbs and bake. We did it in the 12” deep Dutch Oven.  It was absolutely delicious and you could cut the meat with a plastic fork!  We made half the paste recipe and put it under the breast skin, under the turkey breast, and over the turkey breast. We cut off the back part of the breast so that it would fit into a 12 deep Dutch Oven. We took the back part and simmered it in Chicken broth on the kitchen stove until we could remove the meat from the bone and used it in Turkey Noodle Soup. I placed 1 carrot, cut into 1” pieces, 1 celery stalk cut into 1” pieces, and 1 onion cut into eighths, onto the bottom of the Dutch Oven.  I placed the turkey, breast side up on the vegetables, covered, and put 24 briquettes on top and 10 briquettes on the bottom.  It took about 1 hour and 30 minutes.  (We added new charcoal to the lid at the hour mark.)  We baked it to 165 degrees at the thickest part of the breast.  We let it sit for 20 minutes before carving into slices. 

Herb Paste  (For a turkey breast cut the recipe in half)
1 ¼ cups chopped fresh parsley leaves (roughly chopped)
4 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (roughly chopped0
1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)  (I just used an onion)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)  (I used ¼ teaspoon powdered garlic)
¾ teaspoon grated lemon zest, from 1 lemon
¾ teaspoon table salt (we decreased this to about ½ teaspoon)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (we decreased this to about ½ teaspoon or less)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and chopped into 1-inch lengths
1 onion, halved and quartered
1 rib celery, chopped into 1-inch lengths

Pat the turkey breast dry inside and out with paper towels.  Place turkey breast side up on flat wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, 30 minutes. This dries out the turkey skin and will help it brown better.

For Herb paste:  Process parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, shallot, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in food processor until consistency of coarse paste, ten 2-second pulses.  Add mustard and olive oil; continue to process until mixture forms smooth paste, ten to twelve 2-second pulses; scrap sides of processor bowl with rubber spatula after 5 pulses.  Transfer mixture to small bowl.

To Prepare the Turkey:  Remove turkey from refrigerator and wipe away any water collected in baking sheet; set turkey breast side up on baking sheet.  Using hands, carefully loosen skin from meat of breast.  Using spoon (I used my hands), slip 1 ½ teaspoons paste under breast skin on each side of turkey.  Using fingers, distribute paste under skin over breast.  Rotate turkey breast side down and rub 1 tablespoon paste on the underside of the turkey cavity.  Apply half remaining herb paste to turkey skin; flip turkey breast side up and apply remaining herb past to skin, pressing and patting to make paste adhere; reapply herb paste that falls onto baking sheet.

To Roast the Turkey:  Place the chopped carrot, onion, and celery onto the bottom of the 12” deep Dutch Oven.  Place turkey breast side up on the vegetables.  Put 8 briquettes on the bottom in a circle and 24 briquettes on the lid.  Roast the turkey breast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  You will need to add more charcoal to the top and bottom at the hour.  Roast until thickest part of breast registers 165 degrees   (Confirm temperature by inserting thermometer in both sides of bird.)  Transfer turkey to carving board; tent with foil and let rest 20 minutes.  Remove meat from the bone and slice the breast and serve.

French Chicken in a Pot

I saw this a few years ago on America’s Test Kitchen.  It seemed to me to be a very good way to get baked chicken without a lot of fuss.  I use my porcelain Dutch Oven.  I can always get a whole chicken whereas I have to travel to Pocatello to get a rotisserie chicken.  I usually purchase two chickens at a time and cook them both in one day, just before garbage day.   (That way I have the mess in one day and can have the garbage pickup the next day.)  I remove the meat from the bones, divide it up in quart sized freezer bags, then put it in a gallon freezer bag and label for future use.  I use it in casseroles, in soups, and in sandwiches.

(From America’s Test Kitchen)
Serves 4
1 whole roasting chicken (4 ½ to 5 pounds), giblets removed and discarded, wings tucked under back
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped medium (about ½ cup)  (I use a whole onion and just chop it into 8ths.)
1 small stalk celery, chopped medium (about ¼ cup)
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed  (I generally don’t have garlic cloves, so I omit this part)
1 bay leaf
1 medium sprig fresh rosemary (optional)
½ to 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon

    Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 300°.   Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking.  Add chicken breast-side down; scatter onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary around chicken.  Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Using a wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird, flip chicken breast-side up and cook until chicken and vegetables are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove Dutch oven from heat; place large sheet of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid.  Transfer pot to oven and cook until instant-read thermometer registers 160° when inserted in thickest part of breast and 175° in thickest part of thigh, about 1 ½ hours.

    Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with foil, and rest 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, strain chicken juices from pot through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator, pressing on solids to extract liquid; discard solids (you should have about ¾ cup jus).  Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan and set over low heat to reduce it.  Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to saucepan.  Stir lemon juice into jus to taste (about ¼ teaspoon lemon juice for every ¼ cup).  Serve chicken, passing jus at table.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Diaper Cake

You don't eat a diaper cake!  You give it as a gift or use it as a centerpiece at a baby shower.  Super easy and really fun to make!  I followed the directions at

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dipped Gingersnaps

These are the gingersnap cookies I brought to Heather and Anthony's wedding reception, except I didn't dip them.  I made them again today and was reminded how delicious they are.  This time, I even had some vanilla baking chips, and they are delicious dipped!

Dipped Gingersnaps
(From 1998 Taste of Home Annual Recipes)
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking soda
1 T. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
Additional sugar
2 packages (12 oz. each) vanilla baking chips
1/4 cup shortening

In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar and oil; mix well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in molasses.  Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Shape into 3/4" balls and roll in sugar.  Place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until cookie springs back when touched lightly.  Remove to wire racks to cool.  Melt vanilla chips with shortening in a saucepan over low heat.  Dip the cookies halfway; shake off excess.  Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets to harden.  Yield:  about 14 1/2 dozen cookies

Fresh and Easy Alfredo Sauce

I got this recipe from Valerie a few years ago, and we LOVE it!  Cream and butter... what's not to love?

Fresh and Easy Alfredo Sauce
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (probably from 1 lemon)
6 T. unsalted butter, no substitutes
1-2 tsp. grated lemon zest
pinch freshly grated nutmeg (I leave this out because I don't like it)
9 oz. fresh fettucine (I used a 12 oz. purchased package rather than homemade)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (if you were wondering, the stuff in the green canister is NOT fresh!)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly chopped basil, garnish

In a large, heavy skillet, mix 1 cup cream and lemon juice.  Whisk together.  Add butter (in 1 T. pats).  Heat over medium heat until butter just melts.  Stir in zest and nutmeg.  Remove from heat.

To skillet, add cooked pasta, remaining cream, parmesan cheese, and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper.  Toss over low heat until sauce thickens slightly (about 1 minute; salad tongs work great for this).  Taste to adjust seasoning.  Garnish with freshly chopped basil, if desired, but HIGHLY recommended, especially if you've got some growing in your garden! Serve immediately.  Makes 6 first-course servings.

Note:  I added 1 grilled and sliced chicken breast (seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning), but 1 1/2 - 2 breasts would have been better.  For seafood lovers, grilled shrimp would also be a  delicious addition.

And, if you'd like to try your hand at making fresh pasta, here's one of Valerie's recipes for that:

Homemade Pasta
2 cups all purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
water (1/2 tsp. at a time, add just enough until dough forms a ball)

Mix ingredients in a food processor or by hand.  Once dough forms a ball, wrap ball of dough with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes to 2 hours.  Divide dough into 4 sections, thinly roll out each section, cut into desired shape/size, and cook in boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  Serve immediately with desired sauce.