Monday, August 17, 2015

Nestle Toll House Cookies

A friend of mine was asking me today about Toll House cookies and me in my usual, very honest way about cookies admitted that I think it's one of the worst recipes--it comes out sometimes and other times it doesn't come out at all.  I've found this multiple times when I've tried the recipe over the years and I've heard it from others too!  Most of the time everyone seems to think it's them that's the problem--not the recipe.

I think it's the recipe that's the problem.

Recently, though, my daughter Sami was working on a regions report and her project for the Northeast US was to make a regional food.  She picked Tollhouse cookies over a fluffer nutter sandwich...

Thankfully, we found a recipe that actually worked for us!  It's on the blog,  If you click on the name of the blog, it should take you to the blog post that has a download link for a fun printable version of the recipe for kids.  I compared it to the recipe on the back of the bag and the only difference is the distribution between brown and white sugar.

There are a couple of other things that I think help make a successful cookie.

1) I don't soften butter unless a recipe specifically says so.  All of my cookie recipes, minus one, just call for butter.

2) Cream the butter and sugars together until there NO lumps.

3) I use half size bun pan cookie sheets for my cookie sheets with half of sheet of parchment.  Every few years, I order a box from

The quilon parchment paper can withstand temps up to 425, which is fine for every cookie I make and biscuits.  A box usually costs about $35-$40 for 1000 sheets (which can be torn in half to cover 2 bun pans).  I usually divide the box up among a few friends.  It does take me several years to go through a box (3-4 yr), but the cost savings is worth it because 1 roll of Reynolds parchment paper is equivalent to 30 pieces (or 15 full size pieces).  A roll of Reynolds paper cost about $4.50 at Target the last time I checked.  So, 100 sheets from the box cost the same as 15 sheets from the roll.  

4) Use a kitchenaid mixer.  It makes cookie making so much easier!  Kohl's is the best place to get one around Christmas time--combining coupons can make them a much less daunting purchase.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Beans and Rice, My family's style...

Yesterday, my girls had some friends over for a book group discussion and us moms got to talk.  We talked about cooking for a little bit and one of the moms mentioned cooking by looking in the fridge and deciding what to cook based on what was in her fridge.  I took a cue from her last night and went downstairs to my freezer.  What I had planned for dinner wasn't going to work, so I needed a new plan.  I saw some sausage on the top shelf and remembered my husband saying a few days before that he loved beans and rice.  So, I thought I'd try my hand at a makeshift version.  My kids don't like spicy things, so 

Rice and Beans, My family's style

1 -15 oz. Can black beans, rinsed 
1 -28 oz. Can baked beans, rinsed 
1 small onion, chopped in small pieces 
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped 
3 cloves garlic, minced 
2 stalks celery, chopped finely 
½ tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp dried sage 
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped 
1 pound Italian sausage
1 tsp. seasoning mix...
                 the seasoning recipe: ¾ tsp paprika
                                              ½ tsp garlic powder
                                              ½ tsp black pepper
                                              ¼ tsp thyme
                                              ¼ tsp ancho chile powder
                                              ¼ tsp onion powder
                                              ¼ tsp oregano
                                              1/8 tsp salt
                                              1/8 tsp ground mustard powder


  1. Brown and cook sausage through. Then, cut into half length wise and then slice each half. Place in a bowl and set aside.

  1. Saute onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery in 2 Tbsp olive oil for 3-4 minutes until softened.

  1. Rinse beans and add to onion mixture. Add spices and parsley. Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes.

  1. Add sausage to mixture and warm through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over rice. My kids like to sprinkle it with a little soy sauce.  My husband liked it even without adding any heat (cayenne pepper) which was quite surprising to me!