World’s Best Oatmeal Cookies

I’m visiting Mom this week – so I thought I’d share some of my favorite cookie recipes with you while we’re away.

And this is one of my family’s favorites.

I have it on good authority (as in everyone I’ve ever baked these for) that these are the best oatmeal cookies you will ever eat.

I will also confess and tell you it’s not my original recipe. There is a gal that cooks for the scrapbook retreats that I used to go to and this is a modification of her grandma’s cookie recipe. I tried them there and absolutely fell in love with them. There are no oatmeal cookies to compare.IMG_0168

These are a chewy texture cookie. Not crunchy, but not gooey either.  Just right.

You start the cookies the day before you bake them. I think the overnight soak in the brown sugar and oil is what makes these cookies so chewy and good.

I used the blueberry flavored Craisins in the batch I made this year.  I thought they were particularly good, although I’ve used raisins and plain Craisins in the past and they were good, too.

A couple more tips – you really do have to use the parchment paper that is called for. And you really do  need to let them cool thoroughly before you move them off the paper. If you don’t, the cookies will fall apart. Trust me, I’ve tried it and had disastrous results.

Ok, here’s the recipe.  Do let me know if you try them and what your loved ones think of them.



4 cups oatmeal (not instant)
2 cups brown sugar (I have successfully substituted 1 cup brown sugar Splenda blend)
1 cup oil (I have used safflower, vegetable, and canola)


Mix these together in a large bowl or zip top bag. Store in refrigerator overnight.

The next day, transfer to a mixing bowl and add:

3 well-beaten eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup craisins
(optional) 1 cup chopped nuts

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper-covered cookie sheets. They do not spread much so you can fit them relatively closely together.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Slide parchment paper off cookie sheet and transfer to cooling racks. Let cookies cool completely before removing from parchment paper.

Stores for at least a week (if they last that long!) in a sealed container.

Ultimate Granola

I have made three batches (so far) this holiday season of this granola. It started out as “hmmm… wonder how that would taste?” and turned into something absolutely wonderful.

I’ve made batches to give to teachers, friends, neighbors, doctors, bankers and so forth. Everyone loves it and asks for the recipe.


So, I thought I’d share with you.

This is one of those type of recipes that you can adapt pretty easily to what suits your tastes and shopping habits (or pantry stock)  I just happen to have most of the ingredients on hand on a regular basis, so it was easy for me to whip some up.

I think this will become a breakfast staple at my house… it is so good. I had some this morning in a bowl with some milk (like cereal) and it’s also good on top of yogurt and just plain (like a snack mix)

The best part is there is very little “extra” stuff – sugar and the like – and it’s full of things that are good for you.

So, if you’ve ever wondered if making granola was easy or not, I can safely tell you it is SUPER easy and SUPER worth the effort.

I started with this basic recipe and adapted from there.  My recipe is below, but you can make up your own with your own favorite treats.  I’m thinking it would even be good to toss in some whole nuts and marshmallows (!) and butterscotch or chocolate chips for hiking days.


Mixing in the coconut


Adding the flax seeds


adding the molasses/honey mixture


ready for baking


fresh out of the oven


Yum.  My house smells so good right now. I have another batch in the oven as I type!

Ultimate Granola


5 cups of rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds (I used a 6 oz bag)
1 cup walnuts (apprx)
1 cup pecans (apprx)
1 cup flax seeds (I’ve also used ground flax – works ok, too)
2 cups shredded coconut (I used the sweetened kind)
1 cup sunflower seeds
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup honey

1 cup raisins
1 cup craisins
1 cup blueberry-flavored craisins


  1. In your chopper/food processor, finely chop the pecans & walnuts.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. In a LARGE bowl, mix the oats, nuts, coconuts, flax seeds.
  4. On the stove, in a small pot, stir together the oil, honey & molasses. Heat until blended.
  5. Pour the molasses mixture over the oatmeal mixture. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Pour approximately 4 cups of the granola onto the parchment paper and use the back of the measuring cup to spread/flatten the granola to make sure it is evenly distributed and there are no thick spots.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Pull out the cookie sheet, stir and redistribute the granola.
  10. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  11. Remove and do steps 6-10 two more times (or until your are finished with your batch)
  12. Cool the batches in a large bowl or another cookie sheet.
  13. Once the entire batch of granola has cooled (10-15 minutes after the last batch finishes baking) stir in your raisins & craisins.
  14. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

Remember, you can click on any post (the title) to view it alone and get an option to print the post (recipe) if you like!

Santa’s Surprises

I’m vacationing this week at my Mom’s house – my brother and family are visiting and we’re in full cousin-crazy-playtime here.  I thought I’d share some of my favorite cookie/holiday sweets recipes with you this week while we’re livin’ the good life at Grandma’s house.

Here’s one of my favorite cookies (from my pre-surgery days) –

Santa’s Surprises –

It’s a yummy concoction made of peanut butter, brown sugar and the “surprise” inside:


Now, let’s get baking! (or mixing, as we must do before we can bake!)

In a large mixing bowl you will combine 2 sticks of butter (I used one salted, one unsalted), 1 cup of creamy peanut butter, and 1 cup of light brown sugar (sounds good already, doesn’t it?)


Next, add in 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Mix and add 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.


You will end up with a nice dough like this:


Then, cover your dough and let it chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.

After it’s chilled thoroughly, take the dough by teaspoon-sized pieces and flatten into round circles.

Place one Snickers mini on top of the dough circle and shape the dough around the candy. (your hands will smell so yummy when you are done!)


Place each ball of dough onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 F for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on a cooling rack. 

Note: you will want to let them cool before you handle them too much. I put them on parchment paper on the cookie sheet and I slide the entire sheet of parchment paper onto the cooling rack.  This allows the “gooey” insides to cool and set. If you pick them up too soon, they break open – and, then, well, you have to eat the evidence!

IF you want to go all-out, drizzle them with some melted chocolate. They never last long enough at my house for me to do this, though!


I hope you enjoy!

And, here’s the complete recipe, without my commentary and photography:

Santa’s Surprises


2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag Snickers Miniatures


  1. Cream butter, peanut butter, brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly, add eggs and vanilla (mixer should be on low)
  3. Add flour, baking soda & salt.
  4. Cover and chill dough 2-3 hours.
  5. Divide dough into teaspoon-sized balls. Flatten into circles.
  6. Wrap dough ball around Snickers mini.
  7. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325F for 10-12 minutes.
  8. Cool on wire rack.
  9. Drizzle with melted chocolate (optional).

Oh, and here is a BONUS RECIPE

Oreo Ice Dream

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, softened
1 large tub of Cool Whip whipped cream (I never said it was low fat!)
1 package of Oreo Cookies, crushed

Mix all three ingredients in a LARGE bowl.  Place in freezer to set.

ENJOY.  (and you WILL enjoy.  it is “awesome,” according to the pre-teens in the house)

I’m Baking today

I’m baking today.

Just some simple things for the family – Little Bit’s favorite oatmeal cookies, some fresh bread, and maybe trying my hand at some granola.

Getting my lists together – food to fix for the party on Saturday night, things I want to take to Mom’s next week, final gifts to pick up on my day off, tasks to complete before the holiday break begins… I couldn’t survive without my lists.

That’s what my day is going to be like.

How about yours?

Holiday Baking

I’m still undecided about how much holiday baking I’m going to do this year.

I want to keep the traditions alive, but, honestly, I’m not feeling the motivation or desire to spend a lot of time in the kitchen baking right now. Maybe this will change as the holidays grow nearer, maybe not. I’m going to take it one day at a time. We certainly don’t  need a plethora of sweets in the house, although I want to have my usual holiday goodie bags for our friends (and the kids’ teachers) – it’s just so busy at work these days I’m not sure I’m going to have the energy or time to do the baking in the evenings like I’ve done in years’ past!

I have a back up plan, though, that I’m going to try out this weekend, just in case baking falls by the wayside for holiday gifts. After I try it out, I’ll let you know how it went.

I thought that today I’d share with you some of my favorite cookie recipes. Since this is the time of year when a lot of us are invited to holiday cookie swap parties, I thought it might be fun to share some of our favorites.

If you have a favorite cookie recipe, please share in the comments! I am sure the rest of us would love to try something new!

Here are some of our holiday standbys:

What about you? What cookies mean Christmas to you?

Oh, and I just discovered this new online magazine: FoodieCrush.  They have some beautiful food shots and some even yummier cookie recipes!

Holiday Baking

I’m baking today.

Pies and breads and sweets in preparation for the big day on Thursday.

You’d think we were having an army over for dinner and not just the four of us.

But it sort of mushrooms – you think “oh, I’ll just bake a simple meal.” and then someone asks “but you’re going to make this, right?” and you say “yes, of course!” and pretty soon you have a feast on your hands.

But that is part of what Thanksgiving is about, right? Feasting? Well, it’s become that, anyway. It’s really  supposed to be about GIVING THANKS for all the blessings we have, but somehow it has turned into a day about eating. But, I’m OK with that, as long as we remember to be thankful for the fact that we CAN eat all this food and that we are so BLESSED to have an abundance of food to select from and eat.

But, enough of the soap box. I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’m baking today:


  • Pecan Pie (one of those things that just popped up on the menu, unbidden but welcome) I’m trying this recipe from Tasty Kitchen because it seems very, very close to the one my mom makes.  I used a combination of spiced pecans and plain ones. I saw that on Food Network this past weekend and thought it sounded like a really good idea.

Watergate Salad recipe

  • Watergate Salad (also known in our house as “green stuff”)
    Well, this one is not baked, but I’m making it today.  I’m also making it with sugar-free pudding, sugar-free cool whip and no-sugar-added pineapple so that it will be WLS friendly.  A girl’s gotta have dessert, right?
  • Honey Oatmeal Bread – this is just because I haven’t made any fresh bread in a couple weeks and I thought I’d try a new recipe and see how the family liked it.
  • I’m also planning to bake a mincemeat pie this evening, but I’m cheating and using a jarred filling. It is what my mom always makes and I love it.
  • For Thanksgiving morning, I’m planning to make these for breakfast.Pecan Pie Muffins Recipe

Mom made them a few weeks ago and said they were really good so I’m going to give them a try.

That’ll be enough baking, I think. Don’t you? Smile

Tomorrow I’ll share some of the savory recipes we’re planning for Thanksgiving.

More Sweets for the Sweets

Hi, Sweet things! 🙂

Here’s another favorite recipe of the family. My mom has been baking this cake since I was a small girl. It was a recipe that she loved and received from a friend who I remember as an excellent cook and a wonderful baker.

It is not the healthiest, but I figure you can’t go wrong with apples in a cake. Mom has even substituted pears before with much success. Once you try it I think you will do like I did and add it to your standard repertoire of cakes to make for friends.

It’s great with coffee, tea, or just a big glass of milk.

Apple Nut Cake

1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups apples, peeled & chopped (the smaller the pieces the better)
1 cup raisins

  1. Cream oil, sugar.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Sift flour with salt and baking soda.
  4. Slowly add (in 1/2 cup increments) to wet ingredients.
  5. Add pecans, raisins and apples.
  6. Pour into greased bundt pan.
  7. Bake at 350 for one hour.

Mom sometimes makes this caramel icing to go on top, although my family is not much for icings on cake, so I usually don’t bother. We like our cakes au naturel.

Caramel Icing

1 stick of butter (softened) (4oz for you Europeans)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canned milk
1 tbsp vanilla

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Continue boiling for 2 1/2 minutes. Cool. Pour over cake.


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Saturday Sweetness

Every one needs a good banana bread recipe.


Everyone should have one.

It’s not rocket science to bake and it tastes so good.

And, it’s a great, easy to make, gift at holiday time.

My mom and I used to bake thousands (or so it seemed) during the holidays when I was growing up. She’d use these cute little mini-loaf pans and mini-muffin pans and we’d bake banana bread for what seemed like days. And then we’d give it all away.

Because that’s what we Italian women do. We feed people to show them we love them.

It’s how we do things.

Anyway, I had my great-grandma’s recipe that Mom and I had used for years – my whole life, I think – and I never strayed from that.

Then, I found a recipe somewhere browsing on the web that claimed it was the “best banana bread ever” and I thought I should at least give it a shot and see how it compared to Grandma’s recipe.

Well, all I can say is I hope Grandma forgives me.

It really is the best banana bread I’ve eaten. And when I bake it I can’t seem to keep it around long enough to give it away. My family gobbles it up.

So, if you want a really good banana bread recipe to add to your recipe book, here you go.  I’ve altered it just a teeny bit from the original with the addition of some flaxseed meal to make it a little healthier. I like the nuttiness it gives the bread, even if you leave out the nuts the recipe calls for (Big Girl doesn’t like the nuts so this is my compromise)

You can leave that out (the flaxseed) if you want. It doesn’t affect the texture of the bread if you do.

Best-Ever Banana Bread

4 whole, overripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 whole egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. Put the peeled bananas in a bowl and mash with a wooden spoon or potato masher.
  3. Add melted butter and mix together.
  4. Add sugar, egg, vanilla.
  5. Sprinkle baking soda, salt & cinnamon and mix together with banana mixture.
  6. Add flour and combine.
  7. Finally, add flaxseed and pecans.
  8. Pour into well greased loaf pan. (you can use one 4×8 loaf pan or 3 small loaf pans)
  9. Bake for one hour (the large loaf pan)
  10. Cool on a rack before serving.

(if it lives that long – mine always “mysteriously” has a slice cut out of it (or two or three) before it cools)


I’m thinking cookies

Every year, I bake dozens and dozens of cookies for the holidays. I used to host a cookie swap party and invited 20 or more ladies. We would all go home with five or six dozen cookies of ten or fifteen different varieties. In addition to that, I have always baked “goodie bags” for our close friends and the kids’ teachers.  I fill them with all sorts of baked treats.

I like to show my love that way.

It’s all my grandma’s fault. She taught me, as any good Italian grandma should, that the way to show love is to cook for people.

But, I digress.

As part of this baking bonanza, I try to find at least one new cookie recipe to add to my repertoire each year.  I scour cookbooks and online recipe sites looking for something that has a high yield, low component cost, and doesn’t require hours of effort and toil on my part. Not as easy as you might think, given that most holiday cookie recipes are the sort that are designed to “wow” people with their finished product.

I’m all about “wow-ing” people with the flavors, not the fancy icing or cutouts.  But that is just me.

So, I’m starting to ponder what my new cookie recipe will be this year.

I’ve been looking at some websites –image offers a cookie countdown with a new cookie recipe every day in November.

This Mudslide cookie looks really good and reminds me of a “chocolate chewy” recipe I used to adore from a local bakery where I grew up. also offers a daily cookie recipe but I think it doesn’t begin until December 1st (or maybe after Thanksgiving).  This one you can subscribe to receive in your email as well. also has a wealth of cookie recipes. I love the fact that I can read all the reviews (written by normal cooks like you and me) and then see any adaptations people have made. I like the feeling of empowerment I get to “tweak” a recipe myself and see how things turn out.

They have even identified their top cookie recipes in one place to make it easy to pick one out.

This year, I’m thinking about biscotti.  I made some years ago and they were a big hit. I have a few Weight Watchers biscotti recipes and I may dig those out and make some more.  I think those would be fun to make with my junior bakers’ assistance. 

Taste of Home also has a great cookie section. I love their recipes because they are submitted by “normal” people, too, and are usually just awesome. These Sour Cream biscotti sound pretty good – and like something you could use as a base and add other ingredients to for different versions.

I’m also a huge fan of the traditional butter cookie and the shortbread cookie, but I’ve never made those myself. I may have to dig up a recipe to try there, too.

What are your plans for holiday baking? Do you bake cookies?

Any good recipes to share?

I am planning to share some of my favorite cookie recipes in the next few weeks, so if you have any plans for baking yourself and want to try something new, you may want to check these out.

If you have any cookie favorites, send the recipes on over! I'd love to share yours with everyone, too!

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Breakfast Goodness

Many of you have asked for my baked oatmeal recipe. I used to make one that was so, so good, but not so healthy. I happened upon a recipe on the web on a WLS board and have been tweaking it for the past few months until I reached a point where it was reliably making the same moist, yummy goodness I had enjoyed in the not-so-healthy version.

This is a great breakfast bar. I usually eat one (almost) every day. They are great to make ahead and freeze or refrigerate. I make a batch about every two weeks, refrigerate my squares and warm one a day in the microwave.

The little princess loves them, too, as does SuperMan.

If you don’t have protein powder, you might have to fiddle with the moisture levels. I had to increase the moisture (adding the Greek yogurt) to get it the right consistency after baking with the added protein from the powder.  I have a non-WLS friendly recipe, so if you are interested in that, let me know in the comments and I can put it up here.

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Oatmeal

Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Ready In: 1 hour
Servings  12
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce (one single serve cup)
  • 2 scoops protein powder (I use vanilla)
  • 1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup craisins
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 small container Greek Yogurt (~1 cup)
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Mix all ingredients, adding raisins & craisins last.
  3. Mixture will be soupy.
  4. Pour in greased 9×9 casserole.
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if desired.
  6. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.
  7. Let cool & cut into squares.

This is easily refrigerated or frozen and can be reheated. I usually make a batch and refrigerate until ready to eat. Then you can warm a square in your microwave for about 30 seconds and it tastes just-baked fresh.


And here is the link to print it out via