Oatmeal Crisps

Oatmeal cookies are the Rodney Dangerfield of baked goods. They get no respect. My son Brandon thinks you’ve got one foot in the nursing home door if you’re snacking on these. But there’s something so comforting about a hefty oatmeal cookie, chocked full of raisins. It’s kinda like a hug from your Mom. Speaking of Moms, I got this recipe from mine, who found it in a Better Homes and Gardens “new” cookbook printed in 1963. (Apparently, I liked these enough to warrant my name being recorded beside the recipe, but I guess I dissed the cup of chopped walnuts. So she used raisins instead. Thanks, Mom!)

Chewy when first baked, these are the perfect after-school snack with a tall glass of cold milk. Once cooled, they crisp up a little, and are great for dunking in a mug of hot coffee or tea. And these would be especially welcome after all that rich Thanksgiving fare, so keep this one handy for after turkey day.


Makes 2 to 2½ dozen

Rating: easy

1 cup shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. In large mixing bowl, cream shortening. Add brown sugar and cream again. Add granulated sugar and continue to cream. Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Add vanilla. In separate medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda, and stir. Gradually add to creamed shortening and sugar mixture, stirring down sides occasionally. Add oatmeal 1 cup at a time with mixer set on low. Remove from mixer stand and stir in raisins by hand.

Drop large tablespoons of dough onto baking sheet, 12 per sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tops of cookies are lightly golden. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Store in airtight container.

NOTE: I like my cookies soft and chewy, and these start out that way if you bake them for 10-12 minutes. If you like cookies crisp (Sherie Lindvall, I’m talking to you…), bake them 15 minutes or more.

Date and Prune Quick Bread

Date-Prune-Bread3-IMG_0644Quick breads are a good way to include fruits, nuts, and herbs in your baked goods, and are called “quick” because they use a leavening agent (baking powder or soda) instead of yeast to rise the dough. No lengthy proofing and punching involved! But you remembered that little factoid from Home Ec classes, right? This bread is loaded with dried fruits, and fills the kitchen with a wonderful, homey aroma when baking. I was reminded about this recipe by my friend and fellow blogger Addis (Ethiomama), who remembered having this at a party we hosted six months ago! It’s that good. We’d served a platter of homemade quick breads and cheeses, and this one was the show stopper. The recipe is from a Lunds and Byerly’s issue of “Real Food” (Winter 2013), and I make it just as the author Serena Bass instructs, except for switching pecans for the suggested walnuts. I also found I had to bake my bread 10-15 minutes longer in order for it to be done in the center. That time adjustment is reflected below.

The sweetness of the bread makes a nice contrast to a goat cheese or other strong, pungent cheese, if you want to pair it with something. It’s great at a brunch, or for bringing as a hostess gift. It will keep for up to two weeks in the frig (if it lasts that long), but it doesn’t freeze well. I’ve kept it out on the counter for the two or three days it takes to consume a loaf, and that’s worked well. Wrap in wax paper or parchment paper once cooled, and then use foil on top of that for a tighter seal. The recipe author says to never use foil right against the bread.

Makes 1 loaf

1 cup dates, cut in thirds (or dried, chopped dates)
1 cup prunes, cut in thirds
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans, toasted (at 350° Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, then chopped)

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Grease a 9″x5″x4″ loaf pan with butter, then line bottom and sides with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place dates, prunes, raisins, and baking soda in a bowl and pour 1 cup boiling water over the dried fruits. Mix together and let sit for no less than 1 hour, and up to 2 hours.

In electric mixer bowl, cream butter, add sugar, and beat 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat another 2 minutes. Slowly add flour and stir until incorporated. Add in fruit and stir slowly to combine. Stir in nuts by hand. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 70-80 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out dry. Cool in pan. Remove from pan and peel off parchment paper. Slice, and eat!



Granola IMG_0628Take a break from the boring box of cereal, or Dickensian gruel. You can whip up a batch of this easy, healthy, and tasty granola in less than 30 minutes. If you’re a fan of Swiss German granola—called müesli—be warned this is the American version, drizzled in melted butter and honey, and baked. A few years back my husband and I visited Switzerland, and found that the “granola” served at the Swiss continental breakfast was raw oats, with no sugar or butter involved. It may have been healthier and fat-free, but I prefer my granola with a little sweetness and crunch to it.

I got this recipe from a friend of mine who was going through treatment for cancer, and she was trying to avoid all processed foods. She pushed the boxes, bottles, and cans aside, and found recipes like this to keep her healthy while she fought the fight. I’m not saying this recipe can cure cancer, but she pulled through, and happily shared this delicious recipe with me.

Makes 8-10 bowls

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup honey
5 cups old-fashioned Quaker oats (do not use quick oats)
1/2 cup shredded or flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins (or craisins)
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit. In medium saucepan, melt butter and honey. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, combine oats, coconut, pecans, and almonds. Pour butter mixture over oats and stir to coat. Put half of oat mixture on a 13″x18″ baking sheet, and the other half on another baking sheet of same size. Bake both pans in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Stir oats on pans, and rotate in oven, and bake for another 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. (Careful not to burn! Coconut takes on an unpleasant acrid odor when burned.)

Scoop toasted oats back into bowl, and add both raisins and golden raisins. Stir to combine. Store in airtight container, but let cool before closing completely. Shake container to break up as granola will clump as it cools. Enjoy with milk, or greek yogurt and fruit.