Oatmeal Cocoa Chocolate Chip Cookies

Did you ever bite into what you thought was an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, salivating with anticipation, only to discover that those “chocolate chips” were … raisins?! That might be great for some people, but I am not riding the white flour-butter-and-sugar-laden cookie train just to arrive at oats and raisins. But I do absolutely love a fresh, homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and so does my husband. Last night, he requested a dose of¬†homebaked comfort, but couldn’t decide whether the aforementioned cookie would ring his bell, or if it was a chocolate cookie he craved. No problem, we can have the best of both worlds. I threw together this recipe, and proved it.

  • 1 C softened butter
  • 2 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 C flour
  • 3/4 C cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 C regular oats
  • 16 oz. chocolate chips (I used half dark chocolate chips and half semi-sweet, with a few additional white chips for garnish)
  1. Combine first four ingredients, beating well.
  2. Mix together all remaining ingredients except chips, then stir into butter mixture.
  3. Mix in chips.
  4. Bake 9-10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. So good!
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New Mama, New Baby banana bread

My family was recently blessed with two new babies within a month of each other: my brother and his wife welcomed their second little girl, and my husband’s brother and his wife celebrated the arrival of their second boy.

Since both of my sisters-in-law are smart ladies who know all about the amazing benefits of breastfeeding, this loving act is a priority for each of them. But to successfully breastfeed, it’s important for new moms to enjoy plenty of nourishing food, something that’s easier said than done with a newborn babe, another little one to run after and a household to try to maintain.

To that end, I baked up a loaf of nutritious, delicious bread for each mama and her family. I concocted the recipe to include breastfeeding-friendly ingredients to support them in this venture as best I could. Oats, flax seed and brewer’s yeast are all traditionally thought to help increase milk supply. Nuts and whole wheat flour boost protein intake, and chocolate, well that just catapults this rich bread to a whole new level of deliciousness. Of course, though this bread is made with a breastfeeding mama in mind, it’s so yummy that every member of the family will be hacking off hearty slabs.

Selah and Nolan’s New Baby Banana Bread

  • 1/2 C unsalted organic butter
  • 3/4 C packed brown sugar
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 2 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 C whole wheat flour (can use 1 C whole wheat and 1 C white flour for a lighter texture)
  • 1 1/2 C oats
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 2 T milled flax seed
  • 4 T brewer’s yeast
  • 1/2 t salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 3/4 C chopped pecans, walnuts or other nuts
  • 1 C dark chocolate chips
  1. Cream together first five ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients.
  3. Add dry ingredients  to banana mixture.
  4. Pour into two greased loaf pans and bake 45 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven, or until edges and top are set. Cool 10 minutes in pans before turning out onto racks to cool completely.

The Absent Hostess … or the Night Before the Next Morning

How to be a good host when you won’t actually be at home with your guests? That’s the quandary I recently ran into, which I solved with a simple dish: oven-baked french toast. This is a do-ahead treat that you can assemble the night before, pop in the fridge and simply slide in the oven the next morning, with your eyes still half-closed, as the coffee perks. It would work equally well as a hearty hangover breakfast, prepared long before the makings of the hangover are even underway. Whether or not I’ll be imbibing, I’m thinking this will become my new New Year’s Day tradition. In any case, I’ll fall asleep with sweet thoughts of the custardy breakfast bliss that awaits.

Oven-Baked French Toast

  • 1 loaf soft-crust Italian bread
  • 1/2 C butter, melted
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/2 C packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 C 2% milk (use 4% for a richer dish, or go all the way and use 1 3/4 C cream, eliminating the ingredient listed below)
  • 1/4 C half and half
    1. Combine butter, spices and brown sugar in shallow bowl. Briefly dip each piece of bread in butter mixture, using a pastry brush or your hands if necessary to slather each side.
    2. Transfer each piece to a buttered 9 x 13 glass pan, packing tightly and making two layers of bread.
    3. Beat together the eggs, milk and cream, adding in any remaining butter mixture, then pour evenly over prepared bread.
    4. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.
    5. Bake 25-30 in a preheated 375 degree oven and enjoy with Michigan maple syrup.