Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Hands down the best oatmeal raisin cookie I have ever had -- chopping and soaking the raisins makes all the difference.

2 c. raisins, chopped
2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. shortening
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. chopped walnuts

Place raisins in a small bowl.  Cover with boiling water;  let stand for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream shortening, butter, and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs.  Combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt;  gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in walnuts and raisins.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets.  Flatten with a glass dipped lightly in flour.  Bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until bottoms are browned.  Wait 5 minutes and remove to cooling racks. 

Golden Clam Chowder

I have a love-hate relationship with clam chowder.  I love the taste, but have a hard time finding one that is a good consistency -- thick and hearty, but not terribly pasty and heavy.  This recipe is a winner.

from Taste of Home magazine

2 celery ribs, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp. butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cans (6 1/2 oz. each) minced clams, undrained
1 bottle (8 oz.) clam juice
1 c. plus 1 Tbsp. water, divided
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

In a Dutch oven, saute vegetables in butter until tender.  Add garlic;  cook 1 minute longer.  Stir in the potatoes, clams, clam juice, 1 c. water, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat;  cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Gradually stir in milk; heat through.  Combine cornstarch and remaining water until smooth;  stir into chowder.  Bring to a boil;  cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in bacon and serve.

Cauliflower Gratin

Another recipe for when the standard sides get a bit boring.

from Everyday Food

1 large head of cauliflower
1 c. heavy cream (I use 3/4 c. low-fat milk)
1 Tbl. flour
1 c. grated Parmesan/Pecorino Romano
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1/2 c. breadcrumbs (I love using Panko breadcrumbs with this)

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large bowl, combine cauliflower, cored and cut into florets, cream or milk, flour, and 3/4 c of cheese.  Season with salt and pepper, tossing to combine.  Transfer mixture to a 2-quart baking dish , cover tightly with foil, and bake 30 minutes.  In a small bowl, combine 1/4 c. cheese and breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle over cauliflower.  Dot with 1 Tbl. butter, cut into small pieces, and bake, uncovered, until topping is golden brown and cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife, 10 - 15 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

My family would probably choose broccoli for their vegetable at every meal, and while I can't complain about that, steaming it in the microwave does get a little old.  I adapted this from a Barefoot Contessa recipe and it is delicious!

A few bunches of fresh broccoli, washed and trimmed into florets
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper (freshly ground is best)
1-2 Tbl. lemon juice
1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan (or...wait for it...Pecorino Romano, my personal favorite)

Heat oven to 425.  "Blanch" broccoli (I usually put it in a covered dish with a bit of water and microwave it for a couple of minutes -- you don't want it completely cooked) and then toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil, sliced garlic, salt, and pepper.  Place on a half-sheet pan or cookie sheet in a single layer and roast for 10-15 minutes, just until the tips start to brown.  Immediately toss with lemon juice and Parmesan and serve.

Lemon Twisted Cheesecake

yummy cheesecake I had a can of lemon pie filling sitting in my cupboard for-ev-er. I’ve been trying to use up stuff I have on hand so when I saw this recipe for cheesecake on the back of the can I thought “Bingo!” So, I made this for Valentine’s day. It was easy and delicious. It made two pies so we have another one to eat tonight.

2 graham cracker pie crusts (you can make your own but I often just buy the cheap store brand ones)


3 8oz packages cream cheese (I used Neufchatel), softened

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1 21oz can lemon cream pie filling (I used Lucky Leaf Lemon Creme)

1 tsp lemon extract (I left this out—you could also substitute lemon juice and lemon zest)

Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Slowly add eggs to creamed mixture while mixer is running. Mix for two minutes or until smooth. Add pie filling and extract and mix thoroughly. Pour into two graham cracker crusts and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Cool completely and then chill. (Center will not set until cooled). Serve chilled with a spoonful of cherry pie filling and a dollop of sweetened whipped cream if desired. Fantastic!