Simple Crispy Cookies


I’m a simple person and I enjoy simple things, especially simple recipes. It occurred to me that some of the best food has the fewest ingredients. Fresh whipped cream sweetened every so slightly with a bit of sugar. A summer garden tomato sliced thick with a dash of salt. A piece of fresh-baked bread with a pat of butter.

 This recipe is as simple as simple can be, and very delicious. I made these cookies several times over the holidays and have been finding excuses to make them ever since. Even if you don’t like to bake give these a try.
I found the original recipe on Food 52 and modified slightly making them even easier. White chocolate is incredibly sensitive to heat therefore proceed with caution when melting to avoid scorching the chocolate. By using a white chocolate chip  rather than plain white chocolate, the cookies setup faster and they don’t get “gooey” at room temperature. Not having to chop the chocolate is a bonus too. Don’t skimp on the brand of white chocolate chips, use the best you can find to insure great flavor.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
2 bags (22 oz.)  Ghirardelli White Chocolate chips (or other quality brand)
1 1/2 cup salted, roasted party peanuts
3 1/4 cup Rice Crispy cereal
  • Using a double boiler gently melt the white chocolate chips
  • Remove from the heat and fold in the peanuts
  • Mix in the cereal until combined
  • Using a tablespoon drop the cookies on a lined baking sheet
  • Refrigerate or freeze until set
  • store on the counter in an airtight container
Double Boiler
Double Boiler
Melted White Chocolate
Melted White Chocolate

Vegetarian Chili

Veggetarian Chili
Vegetarian Chili

I am trying to redeem myself after all of my unhealthy posts (ah-hem…monster cookies, peanut butter mousse, carrot cake) Clearly I have a wicked sweet tooth, but in my defense much of what I make are gifts for others.

This recipe is nothing new or inventive, however, it was easy to make as I had everything in my pantry/fridge. It is a healthful option to traditional Chili and surprisingly satisfying. I was also able to bring the left-overs to work for lunch the next day.

This should serve about 2 – 4 people

Mise en place
1 – 2 cans of black beans (or pinto or kidney, whatever you have), drained & rinsed
2 cans of diced tomato, do not drain
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T.+ chili powder
1 t.+  cumin
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
3/4 can frozen corn (fill your empty bean can with the corn)
1/2 can water (fill your empty tomato can with water)
Olive oil – enough to coat the pan
S/P to taste
Sour cream and shredded cheese to garnish – optional

  • In a large sauce pan saute the onion in oil until soft, about 4 min.
  • add the garlic and saute for 1 minute
  • add the chili powder, cumin, red pepper and saute another minute
  • Add the beans, tomato, water and corn. Season with s/p to taste
  • Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  • Garnish with some lite sour cream and 2% milk shredded cheddar.


No more store-bought bread

It sounds impossible, completely impractical and quite frankly, too difficult. After giving this recipe the same criticism, I gave it a shot…and then fell completely in love. Even if you have never made a yeast bread please try this and share your results. I’d love to hear what you think!

A close friend of my parents, John Fitzpatrick, introduced to me this Cooks Illustrated recipe. John is a passionate bread maker and I trust his recipes, I know you will too.


Mise en place
3 Cups all-purpose or bread flour (15 oz. by weight)
1/4 t. yeast
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
3/4 c. + 2 T. (7 fl. oz.)room temp water
1/4 c. + 2 T. beer (fl. 3 oz.) room temp.
1 T. vinegar

Whisk together the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the water, beer and vinegar. Fold together the mixture scraping the dry flour from the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temp for 8 – 18 hours

Lay a large sheet of parchment in a 10 in. skillet pan and spray the paper with cooking spray. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead 15 times. Shape the dough into a ball by cupping your hands at the top of the ball and pulling it toward you, repeat 3 – 5 times to shape the ball. Spray the dough lightly with cooking spray. Cover loosely with the plastic wrap and let it rise at room temp for 2 hours or until the dough does not spring back when poked with a finger.

About 30 minutes before baking, adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, place a large dutch oven with the lid on the rack, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. When the bread is done rising lightly flour the top, then using a sharp nife score the top with a 6 inch long slit about 1/2 inch deep. Remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid. Lift the parchment and dough into the pot, let the excess parchment hang over the edge. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Reduce the temp to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake 20 – 30 minutes longer or until the bread is a deep brown color. Remove the bread from the pot and let cool at room temp for 2 hours.

Black Bean + Chorizo Soup

I made a batch of this soup last weekend and froze half of it to have on hand for a quick lunch/dinner at a later time. This is a slightly modified version of a recipe I found years ago in Gourmet magazine. It is a hearty, satisfying and filling soup that goes great with corn bread, salad, grilled tortillas or a grilled cheese. I prefer to use organic black beans as the sodium content is much lower than regular canned beans.

Black Bean + Chorizo Soup
Black Bean + Chorizo Soup

Mise en place
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
8 oz. link of Chorizo sausage
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 t. cumin
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
32 oz. carton plus 1 can of low sodium chicken broth
5 cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed.

Accompaniments: chopped cilantro and sour cream

  • In a large dutch oven, heat a drizzle of olive oil and saute the chorizo until cooked through.
  • Remove the chorizo from the pan and set aside.
  • Add another drizzle of olive oil and saute the onion, pepper, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes and s/p (to taste), until the veggies are softened – about 10 min. 
  • Next add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the beans and broth and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the s/p as needed.
  • Using a potato masher or hand blender, mash the beans to release some of the starch making a creamy texture. I prefer a rustic texture and therefore do not mix too much.
  • Stir occasionally and continue to simmer uncovered, until the soup thickens and flavor develops – about another 30 minutes.
  • Serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro.

Farmhouse Banana Bread

I had two ripe bananas on the counter and with the cool weather we’ve been having I decided to turn the oven on and make banana bread. This recipe is from one of my mother’s many Iowa farm cook books and unfortunately I don’t have the originators name. I changed the mixing method a little bit to help lighten the texture and also added a tiny amount of vanilla. I love this bread because it is simple and you are not overwhelmed by any one ingredient. The butter is balanced with the banana and sweetness of the sugar to make a tender bread that reminds me of home. Enjoy!

Mise en place
2 c. flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ c. butter (1 stick)
1 c. sugar
2 – 3 bananas
2 eggs
½ c. butter milk*
1 t. vanilla

*You can make a quick buttermilk by combining 1 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar into a measuring cup and fill with milk to the 1/2 c. line with milk to make 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes allowing the vinegar to work its magic.

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Wipe the a loaf pan with the butter wrapper or spray with canola oil. Dust with flour if you are not using a non-stick pan.
  • Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a small bowl and stir with a whisk to incorporate.
  • Combine the eggs and buttermilk in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
  • In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream the butter. Add the sugar and cream until fluffy. Add the bananas and mix until well combined
  • Next add the dry and wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula and begin with the flour mix, add 1/2 c. and mix until barely combined. Next add some wet and mix until just combined. Keep going until all of the wet and dry are combined.
  • Pan and bake for 50 minutes or until the center of the loaf is barely firm.
Banana Bread
Banana Bread