Heavenly Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am pleased to present my all-time favorite dessert recipe for company: chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

What do I mean, ‘for company’? Well, you remember how in the Little House on the Prairie books, Ma Ingalls made Vanity Cakes whenever ‘company’ (i.e. visitors) came over or when there was a super special occasion? Other times, she made desserts out of things they had on hand, like in-season fruit pies or maple candy. But for company, she often whipped out her vanity cakes because were quick, easy, delicious, and offered an element of fanciness to the gathering.

Continue reading “Heavenly Chocolate Chip Cookies”

Home-ground Peanut Butter

Ah, peanut butter. It’s one of my favorite things on the planet. I’ll spread it on toast, apples,bananas, and squares of dark chocolate; I’ll make cookies, brownies, and cakes with it; I’ll eat it by the spoon…it’s wonderful. It (unfortunately) shouldn’t be eaten excessively, but when consumed in moderation it’s a healthy, protein-filled choice. And it’s delightful.

Here’s the Part Where I Tell You A Story. Feel free to scroll to the “recipe.”

But I learned a long time ago that normal, store-bought peanut butter is full of nasty death oil (aka vegetable oil), large quantities of sugar, and some  not-so-fun preservatives. Check out the label of good ol’ Jif peanut butter here. I wouldn’t eat most of that.

[Note: Jif has improved their ingredients in the last five years…but they still use death oil and plenty of sugar. So I’m still a nope.] Continue reading “Home-ground Peanut Butter”

Strawberry Picking & Preserves!

There are few things I enjoy more on a Saturday morning than visiting a U-Pick farm.

Seriously. I’m not kidding.

I love to pick stuff. Berries, leaves, mushrooms – whatever. Harvesting food is awesome.

It probably comes from when I was a little kid, and would go hiking all over southeast Michigan with my mom. My parents owned property near an area filled with wild raspberries and blackberries, and every time my mom saw any, she would get excited, and we would have to stop and pick them. Even if we were in a hurry. Or if it was raining. Or if the berries were down in a ravine filled with poison ivy.

Well, it rubbed off on me, because I’ve learned to forage for all kinds of things when I’m in the woods. But when I’m not in the woods…I visit U-Pick farms. Continue reading “Strawberry Picking & Preserves!”

Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten & Dairy Free)

Welp, I intended to write a blog post with photos of all the beautiful plants that are sprouting in my yard. After all, the schools in my area on are “spring break” this week, so it seemed perfect!

But…now it’s snowing. Some spring break.

So instead, I decided to make cookies!



I made two different kinds of cookies – peanut butter and double chocolate. The PB recipe comes from my mom, though I experimented by using sucanat/rapadura instead of normal brown sugar (it worked great, by the way). The double chocolate recipe was COMPLETELY made up, and it turned out really well! I want to make it one more time to tweak a couple of details before sharing (okay, I want to make it one more time because I didn’t actually measure things and want to make sure the amounts I wrote down are accurate before publishing the recipe. I’m not good at measuring things. I’m much better at throwing stuff haphazardly in a bowl with a spoon or possibly my fingers).

These are my FAVORITE peanut butter cookies. They are not soft and chewy like most peanut butter cookies; they are more crispy and crumbly and wonderful. They taste like peanuts and sweetness and it is amazing.

As a fun bonus, these cookies also happen to be gluten and dairy free, making them a favorite when I am bringing dessert to a function where somebody has food allergies (excluding peanut allergies, obviously…).

The Recipe: Peanut Butter Cookies. Gluten & Dairy Free

Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time:
15 minutes
Total time:
25 minutes
1 dozen. Double or triple or quadruple the recipe as needed.


1 c. peanut butter
1 c. Sucanat/rapadura (or brown sugar)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (omit if you are using store-bought or salted peanut butter. I use peanut butter that is literally just ground up peanuts, so I need to add salt)
1/4 c. peanuts, chopped fine.


  1. Mix the stuff together. I like to use my hands and then lick my fingers. You can be more civilized if you want to, although I don’t recommend it.
  2. Roll into 1″ balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. I recommend butter, but if you want to keep it dairy free, you can use coconut oil instead.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until just starting to brown on top.
  4. Let cool on cookie sheet before removing. NO REALLY. LET THESE COOL. They will finish baking on the sheet. If you try to eat them right when they come out of the oven, they WILL fall apart. Of course, this may not be a bad thing – you can pretend it was an accident and have an excuse to the eat the whole cookie before taking the batch to your party or family dinner or wherever!

Recipe Notes

  1. Sweetener: I used whole/un-ground Sucanat in this batch, and it turned out REALLY well. I did notice that the cookies appear less brown than they do with regular brown sugar, but I did not notice a taste difference. You can use brown sugar if you don’t have Sucanat. I wouldn’t use white sugar though, because you’ll be missing those molasses-y notes that give it so much delicious flavor. You may want to reduce the sweetener slightly if you are using Jiff or Smuckers or another peanut butter that already has sugar in it. Or you should question why your peanut butter has sugar in it, and go buy better peanut butter.
  2. Size: The cookies do NOT spread out when baking, probably because they don’t have butter in them. They do flatten out, but basically the size and shape you make the dough ball is the size and shape you are going to get.
  3. Substitutions: I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t make these with almond butter/almonds or cashew butter/cashews, although I haven’t done either. I ADORE peanut butter, so I doubt that I ever will. Just know that the flavor of the nut really shines through, so only make it with almond butter if you really like almonds.

Indian Inspired Chicken & Quinoa

I think it’s time to share a recipe on here. A FABULOUS recipe for a 1-skillet meal filled with Indian spices, chicken, and delicious, nutty-tasting, protein-filled quinoa.

However, I really can’t take credit for inventing this recipe. I made a Mexican version of this, which is also very good, and my (now ex) husband used that as inspiration to make an Indian dish. I actually think his is better, though that may be because Indian food is my all-time favorite. Continue reading “Indian Inspired Chicken & Quinoa”

Best Balsamic Vinaigrette 

I already told you that making your own salad dressing is one of the easiest and best things you can do to avoid vegetable oil (read why you should be avoiding that here.) I thought it was high time to share a recipe for one of these salad dressings – specifically, my husband’s favorite…the balsamic vinaigrette!

My bottle of balsamic dressing, ready to go! You can see the salads in the background – as a note, when I make balsamic dressing, my favorite salad toppings are veggies (usually peppers, cucumbers, and carrots), feta cheese, and crushed walnuts. The flavors work perfectly with the dressing! Sorry it’s a little blurry…I think I need a better camera!

Recipe Development

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Best Chocolate Cake Ever

My mom’s birthday is tomorrow, so this weekend I decided to practice an old

A half recipe of delicious chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.
I made a half recipe, which makes a loaf-pan sized cake. This is perfect since there was only four of us! My mom even had about half of it left to eat over the next couple of days.

tradition: Making her favorite chocolate cake recipe.

Conveniently, it’s also my favorite chocolate cake recipe. And now I’m sharing it with you. Continue reading “Best Chocolate Cake Ever”

Meatloaf Pie

I grew up in a blue-collar family, and meatloaf was a staple. Actually, it was a favorite staple – I loved it. I would ask for it if we hadn’t had it in awhile. Is that weird?

Either way, when I became an adult, I took several meatloaf recipes with me, and tweaked my favorite to become perfectly tailored to my taste. There was one problem…

Making meatloaf was annoying, because it had to bake for an hour.

That may not seem like a long time – and it’s not – but when you get off work, get to the gym, then make dinner, you want dinner ready in LESS THAN an hour, from start to finish. I found myself not eating meatloaf as often as I wanted.

That is, until my then-boyfriend (now-husband) invented meatloaf pie. Continue reading “Meatloaf Pie”

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

With a busy week ahead, last night I decided to make a double pot of stuffed cabbage casserole – an easy, delicious, and filling meal that lasts several days. I often serve it with a side salad and fresh bread, though it can be served alone as a meal in and of itself. This recipe serves 4 adults if it’s the only thing on the table, and can serve 6 if accompanied by sides. My husband and I usually get 2 dinners and 1-2 lunches out of one batch of it. This time, I made a double recipe with the intent of eating it all week (no time to cook this week…).

This recipe only takes about an hour total, plenty of built in down time while it is cooking to do other things – like make salad and do dishes. In other words, it’s great for a weeknight! Continue reading “Stuffed Cabbage Casserole”

Irish Soda Bread

Remember how when I shared my meal planning techniques, I told you to be flexible? Well, this week I was flexible! I didn’t intend to make any bread to go with my chicken tortilla soup, but I had the day off (SNOW DAY! Sometimes being a teacher is great), and decided that warm bread with butter would make a nice addition to our dinner. Since this is a SUPER EASY Irish soda bread recipe that takes LESS THAN HOUR (including cook time!!!), I thought I’d share! Continue reading “Irish Soda Bread”