No Bake Oatmeal Cookie Balls

I'm headed "home."  Ohio.  I've lived in Minnesota for five years now, but Ohio will always be home for me.  I grew up there and spent 10 of our 16 years of marriage there.  Now if only I could make it home without that long 15 hour drive.  I don't mind the drive so much as the 5 kids in the back complaining about the drive.

I know everyone has great tricks for keeping your kids happy during road trips but we subscribe to the only one that works for us.  Drive at night.  Leave after dinner, the kids are awake for a couple hours and then sleep the night away.  By the time they start to wake-up, we are there!  Yes, Mom and Dad are tired but I'm willing to sacrifice a bit of sleep for a nice quiet drive.
If you are planning a road trip, I wouldn't recommend bringing along these cookies.  They are really messy!  I tried this recipe for the first time about two weeks ago and made them again yesterday for the fourth time.  Soooo easy and cute!  They can be eaten without refrigeration, but I prefer them cold.  I think they taste a lot like uncooked cookie dough, which in my book, is almost better than the baked cookie!

No Bake Oatmeal Cookie Balls
(makes 18-20 cookies)
2 C whole oats
3/4 C white sugar
3 Tb cocoa powder
1 Tb water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C butter, soft
2 Tb peanut butter
1 C powdered sugar

1.  Mix oats, white sugar and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.  Add water, vanilla, butter and peanut butter.  With clean hands, thoroughly combine the ingredients until butters are evenly distributed.
2.  Grab a small amount of dough and squeeze it together firmly in your hand, then roll it into a ball, about 1" in diameter.  Roll in powdered sugar until thickly coated.  Refrigerate at least 20  minutes before serving.

Chicken Tacos with Mango Jicama Salsa

It's just wrong.  All the stores have their back to school stuff out already.  Around here, it began a few days after the 4th of July it and my kids just about started to cry right there in the aisle.  Let my poor children enjoy their summer while they still can.  No need for school to hang over their heads any sooner than necessary.  

In my own attempt to calm their nerves, I promised them we would wait until the second week of August before we loaded up on all the needed supplies.  And with four kids in school this year, I might need to take out a home equity loan to pay for it all.
These tacos are perfect to keep the summer celebration going strong.  Delicious, light and they taste just like a summer meal should.  Our meals will be ruled by soups and stews soon enough so whip these babies up and don't give in to the retailers push to make summer end already!!!

Chicken Tacos with Mango Jicama Salsa
from Cooking Light March 2009
serves 4

2 Tb olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into thin strips
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 C sliced red bell pepper
1 C sliced red onion
1/4 tsp salt
8 (6 inch) tortillas

3/4 C peeled jicama, julienned
3/4 C mango, julienned
1/4 C sliced red onion
1 Tb fresh lime juice
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
dash black pepper

1.  Prepare the salsa by combining all the ingredients in a medium bowl.  Set aside
2.  To prepare tacos, heat 1 Tb oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with chili powder, cumin and chipotle pepper.  Add chicken to hot pan and saute for 3 minutes.  Remove from pan.
3.  Add remaining 1 Tb oil to the pan and add pepper and onion.  Cook three minutes or until they just begin to tender.  Return chicken to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.  Sprinkle on the salt.
4.  To serve, heat tortillas according to package directions and add chicken mixture and salsa.  Add a generous squeeze of lime juice on top of each taco.

Saltine Toffee Candy

So how was the movie?  

You don't know what I am talking about?  You have to know because according to my two teenagers, EVERYONE was going to the midnight show for the new Harry Potter movie.....except for them of course.  We are horrible, strict and awful parents for making them wait until Saturday night when we are taking them to the Luverne Drive-In to see it with family friends.  How dare we!!!

I hope you all enjoyed the movie.
Maybe this recipe will help me win back a few "cool Mom" points.  For me, it is about as close to perfection as a candy can get.  Crunchy, salty, sweet, chocolate and nutty.  Now if you will excuse me, I need soak my teenager frustrations in candy and add a few more pounds to my pregnancy weight gain....

Saltine Toffee Candy
1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers
1 C butter
1 C dark brown sugar
2 C semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 C chopped pecans

1.  Line large jelly roll pan with silpat liner or nonstick spray.  Line the bottom of the pan with a single layer of crackers.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  In a medium sauce pan, bring the butter and sugar to a boil and boil for 3 minutes.  Stir well then pour evenly over the saltines.  Spread it as best as you can.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and be sure each cracker has the toffee mixture over top if it.  
3.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.  Spread chocolate evenly over the candy then sprinkle with nuts.  Cool completely and break into pieces.


We pay our older two kids $8 to mow the lawn.  Unless of course, you're my twelve year old son who prefers to mow the grass for free because he is being disrespectful and sassy.  While my wallet appreciates the free mowing, I would appreciate respectful teenage children even more.  Can anyone tell me how much that costs???  
I don't believe in physical punishment with my children, but would chucking one of these bagels at my son's head count?  Though.....why should I waste such a delicious baked good?This was only my second attempt at bagels in my lifetime and I really should whip these puppies up more often!  I LOVED the sea salt on top because they reminded me of soft pretzels, especially when you slather them with cream cheese.  This recipe was perfect to make in the morning because you do most of the work the night before and they proof overnight in the fridge.  I'm looking forward to playing around with this recipe with different additions and flavor variations.  I'll post my outcomes!
Homemade Bagels
(makes 8 bagels)
4 C high-gluten flour
2 tsp salt
1 Tb barley malt syrup
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/4 C water (at 80 degrees)
sea salt, optional
cornmeal for dusting the baking sheet

1.  Mix the flour, salt and barley malt in the bowl of a mixer with the dough hook.  Add the yeast and water ; mix at low until it comes together then increase to medium-low until the dough is cohesive, smooth and stiff, 8-10 minutes.
2.  Turn the dough onto counter and divide into 8 equal portions.  Roll into smooth balls and allow to rest, covered, for 5 minutes.
3.  Form each ball into an even rope 11 inches long.  If your dough isn't easy to work with, slightly dampen your hands to roll.  Shape into a circle by overlapping and pinching the ends by about 1 1/2".  Place on a large baking sheet dusted with cornmeal.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
4.  Remove bagels from refrigerator.  Adjust oven rack to middle and preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Bring 3 inches of water to a boil in a large pot.
5.  Working 2 at a time, drop the bagels into the boiling water, stirring and submerging them with a slotted spoon for about 30-35 seconds.  Remove from water and transfer them to a wire rack.  If using, sprinkle on sea salt while still wet.
6.  Transfer the boiled bagels back to the baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown, about 14 minutes.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

We just returned from a wonderful Jones Family Reunion in Denver and it was a blast to see our kids with their cousins again.  There were 18 kids, ages 14 and under and it was a hoot!  The only downfall is coming home and realizing how long it will be until we see them all again.  We wish our kids had their cousins close by because there's nothing as wonderful as a house packed with family!
If you have a house full of kids and looking for something to do, these cookies are perfect for getting the kids to "help" in the kitchen.  They are easily mixed by hand and they love to roll them in the powdered sugar.  The hardest part is keeping them from licking their fingers in between rolling each cookie......

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
makes 30 cookies
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 C plus 2 Tb unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
2 Tb cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 C semisweet chocolate chips
powdered sugar, for rolling

1.  Melt chocolate and butter in microwave for 1 minute and stir well.  If needed, microwave for 20 more seconds.  Set aside to cool slightly.
2.  In a large bowl, beat together sugar and eggs for several minutes until thick and smooth.  Mix in vanilla and melted chocolate to combine.  Add all the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Cover dough and refrigerate about 2 hours.  
3.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Using a small 1 1/2" cookie scoop, make the balls of dough and drop into a bowl of powdered sugar.  Roll around until completely covered in sugar.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until they just begin to firm.