Washington DC Temple Oatmeal Cookies

Pregnancy cravings are the weirdest.  One day I can't eat enough fresh cherries (I normally can't stand cherries) and the next all I want is as many chewy oatmeal raisin cookies my shrinking tummy can fit.  

These oatmeal raisin cookies were famous in my house growing up and for good reason.  At the time, the closest temple to our home in Ohio was in Washington DC and my parents would always bring home an array of cookies from the cafeteria there.  Temple cookies were the only reason we were good for whatever poor babysitter got stuck with us seven kids for the weekend.   All the varieties were worth good behavior, but for me, there was something special about the oatmeal cookies.  
Washington DC Temple Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(makes 5 dozen)
2 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tb milk
1/2 Tb salt
2/3 tsp cinnamon
1 T baking soda
2 1/2 C flour
4 C whole rolled oats
raisins 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease two cookie sheets.  
2.  Beat butter until light then slowly add each sugar until well incorporated.  Scrape down the bowl and add eggs, one at a time mixing well after each addition.  Add vanilla and milk.  Mix and add salt, cinnamon and baking soda until combined.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour then the oats.  Add raisins.
3.  Using a small cookie scoop, place each cookie on the sheets and bake for 8 minutes until brown around the edges.  The cookie will not look done in the middle but they are.  Remove from oven and allow to sit on the cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes until the cookie has set up then remove and allow to cool.

Orange Cream Cheese Muffins

One week left.  Quiet.  Peace.  Productivity.  All gone in a week....

One week until:
"Mom, I'm bored!"
"Mom, tell her to leave me alone!"
"Mom, I need to go to practice!"
"Mom, it's summer vacation and I can sleep in!"
"Mom, we're going to be late for my game!"
"Mom, this house it so boring!"
"Mom, I need a ride to my friend's house!"

Summer break is such a bitter/sweet experience for me.  Most of it is sweet and enjoyable, but those bitter moments sure seem to make me want to run away until Labor Day.
I feel a bit guilty about my honest reflections on summer but what can I do?  When it gets crazy this summer, I'll just hide in the kitchen creating something yummy like these muffins.  Dense, moist and a hint of orange.  Don't be afraid to use the whole peel of the orange as the recipe dictates....they turn out great!

Orange Cream Cheese Muffins (makes 12 muffins)
1/2 small navel orange, cut into 6 pieces including the peel
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 C butter, slightly firm
1 C sugar
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 375 and line muffin cups with paper liners.
2.  Fit food processor with steel blade and process the orange pieces until finely chopped.  Add the cream cheese and process.  Scrape down the bowl and process again.  The mixture should retain some orange texture.
3.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4.  In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and light in color.  Stop the machine and add the cream cheese mixture then mix for one minute.  Add the sugar in a stead stream then blend in the eggs and yolk one at a time, allowing each egg to incorporate before adding another.  Add the vanilla.
5.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing just until blended after each addition.
6.  Using a standard ice cream scoop, portion the batter into the muffin liners and baking for 20-22 minutes until the tops are springy to the touch.  Remove muffins from pan and allow to cool on a rack.

Frosted Pineapple Cookies

What am I going to do in a few months when the new baby comes along and this little trouble maker is left to get into even more trouble?!?!  He asked me for a cup of milk and I needed him to wait a minute.  When I went into the kitchen to fill his cup, this is what I found him doing.  While I should be upset with him, is it as obvious to you as it is to me that apparently, I have other children to are jug chuggers?  Imitation.....that is what this age is all about.
I must tell this little guy at least 20 times a day that it is lucky he is so cute.  I have much more patience for misbehaving when my kids are little and so darn cute.  I'm still working on the whole patience thing when it comes to my teenagers.....
Make sure you pour yourself a glass of cold milk with these cookies.....no jug chugging please.   These are tender and have a wonderful pineapple flavor.  Even my kids who don't like pineapple devoured these cookies.  I should have made a double batch.  My only suggestion for change would be to drizzle on the glaze instead of dipping them because it is a bit overwhelming covered in so much sugar.

Frosted Pineapple Cookies
(makes about 2 1/2 dozen)
Cookie
1/2 C butter, room temperature
1 C brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
10 oz crushed pineapple
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 C flour

Glaze
2 1/2 - 3 C powdered sugar
1/4 C reserved pineapple liquid

1.  Drain pineapple well, reserving 1/4 C for glaze.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Beat butter until light then add sugar.  Scrape down bowl and add egg.  Mix well then add vanilla and pineapple.  Add baking powder and soda, salt and flour.  Mix until well combined.
3.  Form cookies using a small cookie scoop and bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet for 8 minutes.  Stir together glaze while cookies bake.  Remove cookies from pan immediately and frost while still warm.  The cookies are delicate so be gentle!

Homemade Oreos

I had been doing so well.  Isn't that how pregnancy weight gain usually goes?  The first 16 weeks and I don't gain an ounce and then one bad week of indulging while our guests are in town and BAM!  FOUR pounds....and that was with working out every morning!

Of course, I have to get on the official scale at the doctors office in a few days.  I loathe that stupid thing and the pathetic look my skinny little nurse gives me.  It completely reads, "It's OK sweetie.  Just breast-feed and it will all come off after the baby is born."  Which, by the way, is completely a LIE!!  

Don't blame my four pounds on these yummy little treats.  I made these a couple weeks ago :-)  I think it was the cinnamon rolls, cookies, cupcakes, hamburgers, and hot dogs I devoured in a five day span that did me in.

Homemade Oreos
(makes about 25 sandwich cookies)

Cookie
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 C sugar
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg

Filling
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 C shortening
2 C powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla 

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In your mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, thoroughly mix flour, cocoa, soda, powder, salt and sugar.  On low speed, add the butter then the egg.  Continue mixing until the dough is thoroughly moist and comes together, about 3 minutes.
2.  Scoop rounded teaspoons (small cookie scoop is too much) of batter on a parchment lined baking sheet two inches apart.  Slightly flatten the dough and bake for 9 minutes.  Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
3.  To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl and beat until combined.  On low, gradually beat in sugar and vanilla.  Turn mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
4.  Spread the filling on a cool cookie using a knife or a pastry bag with 1/2" tip.  Place another cooled cookie on top and lightly press to work the filling evenly to the outside of the cookie.

Roasted Chicken Salad

We are getting visitors!  Guests!  Family!  Yippee!!!!  My in-laws are coming for a visit from Arizona and we are so excited.  They have been on a mission for our church for 18 months in Spain so it has been a long time since we've seen them.  As far as guests, last summer was the time our guest bedroom was occupied and we have been very, very lonely for those we love.  (Hint, hint.  Nudge, nudge to all those who's visit to Minnesota is long overdue!)

I hope our gorgeous weather holds out for our guests over the weekend because it has been absolutely beautiful.  There is nothing like a Minnesota winter to truly make you appreciate spring, when it finally decides to get here that is.....
This recipe is perfect for a warm spring night out on the patio served with some homemade bread or rolls.  I personally find this chicken salad way above and beyond your normal chicken salad.  Roasting the chicken gives the meat great flavor, while the lemon and parsley add a great freshness.  Feel free to swap out other veggies for those I have chosen, but this version is my personal favorite.

Roasted Chicken Salad
(makes about 1/2 gallon)
3 lbs bone in, skin on chicken breasts
canola oil
salt and fresh ground pepper

3/4 C almonds, toasted
1 1/2 celery ribs, diced small
2 green onions, diced small
1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded then diced small
3/4 C mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip!!)
2 Tb fresh lemon juice
2 Tb minced italian parsley
salt and fresh ground pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large sheet pan with foil and lay the chicken on the pan, skin side up.  Brush with canola oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Roast in the hot oven until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 160 degrees, about 35 minutes.  Cool to room temperature.  Remove skin and bones then hand shred meat into bite size chunks.
2.  In a large bowl, mix together the shredded chicken with all the remaining salad ingredients.  Taste and add needed salt and pepper before serving.  (I find it usually needs a bit of salt and a pretty generous grind of pepper)
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