Oatmeal Chocolate-Cherry Cookies

posted by harlie in family, food

This past Christmas we visited the Mr’s family. That means tons of fun, food and general awesomeness. It was really great to see everyone, but especially to meet our new nephew who’s only 3 months old. Lil’Man in particular loved meeting him and we were thrilled to see how the two interacted. We still are teaching him to be gentle with his soon-to-arrive baby sister, but it was great to see that he showed a good deal of care around his little cousin.

Anyhow…I was going to talk about cookies and got distracted by the warm fuzzies of seeing tiny cousins together. They were truly adorable. I was so caught up watching them, I never thought to grab my camera. I’m kicking myself for that now, because, cuteness!

ETA: My sis-in-law took few pics of the cousins playing and watching cartoons while the Mr and I were on a movie date.

Right…cookies. Well, Lil’ Man’s Mimi makes some of the best Christmas cookies ever. Plus, the sheer variety of cookies she bakes for the holidays is astounding. It’s not as if she makes a base dough and then makes a few, slightly varied cookies. No, they are all completely different classes of cookies. She claims she cut back this year, but there were still about a dozen types of totally different cookies to choose from.

Usually Lil’Man’s favorite cookies involve chocolate and (as I was saying) he had quite the selection to choose from. Imagine my surprise when he repeatedly selected a cherry-studded cookie over chocolate chip! I was stunned, but pleasantly so. I love that my boy loves chocolate (especially given that the Mr is not a chocolate lover. Yeah, I don’t get it either) but I’m thrilled that he likes more than just the one flavor. Especially the fact that he likes sweet/tart flavors. Yay!

His Mimi also noticed that he loved the cherry cookies, so before we left, she offered to send us off with some of the dried cherries she had left over. I jumped at the chance to take some home. As soon as she offered, I had it in my head that I was going to make a chocolate-cherry bread, but after browsing through recipes, I decided to make cookies. The best bread recipe I found was a sourdough. It looked amazing and I love sourdough, but the Mr decidedly does not. And, quite frankly, I didn’t think that we could finish a whole loaf, what with my not wanting to overload the kiddo with sugar, the Mr not loving chocolate, and my current dietary restrictions. No need to waste deliciousness, so cookies won out.

Oatmeal Chocolate-Cherry Cookies

I saw a sign somewhere that said something like, “Cookies that look like chocolate chip but turn out to be raisin are the reason I have trust issues. ” That is totally me. Oatmeal Raisin being the most common impostor, I always promised myself I’d make my own Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. So, I made these. Turns out they just go above and beyond thanks to the tartness of the cherries. So yummy!

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick or instant oats)
1 cup dried cherries
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or line baking sheets.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a mixer bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extracts.

Gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture just until combined. Avoid overmixing! Fold in oats, cherries, and chocolate. (I ran out of chocolate chunks and shored up my measuring cup with E.Guittard wafers…they worked just fine.)

Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of batter and drop onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bottom edges are lightly browned. Cool on pans for a few minutes (they’ll be too soft to move for a bit), then move to a wire rack to cool completely (they’ll crisp up just a little if you wait).

My little man helped me make these (which mostly involved his watching the mixer and taste-testing along the way). He was Quality Control and sampled the chips and cherries before we added them to the dough. I was worried he might balk at the oatmeal, but he loves these cookies. So far the dough seems to freeze quite well which is a necessity in our house. I imagine that these would work well with any tart berry, so have fun experimenting!


A little late to the wining & dining

posted by harlie in food, fun

The Mr and I didn’t do a full out celebration on Valentine’s Day. We exchanged cards and lots of kisses. Lil’Man got his Pops a card, but was hesitant to sign it (he’s a great crayonist, so I thought he’d be all about weilding the silver Sharpie with authority, but I was wrong). We woke up late after a long night with Lil’Man and had to rush out the door. I think we were both a bit late for work. Then, because it was a Thursday, after work we had no time. The Mr gets home with Lil’Man, feeds him, and put him to bed while I have choir practice until late. I don’t even see my baby until he’s asleep in his crib on those days. And the Mr is an early-to-bed kind of guy. So, Valentine’s Day was a bit of a wash for us. At least Lil’Man had it together — valentines for all his classmates and mugs full of candy for his teachers. How does he do it?

Tonight is a different story though. Lil’Man has a babysitter and we have reservations. We are going to do the whole romantic dinner complete with soft candlelight, items on the menu I can’t pronounce, place settings that offer way too much silverware, and our making ridiculous smoochy faces to each other from across the table. Yeah, we totally do that. There might be an ocean view. There will be dressing up. There will be delicious entrées. There will be a dessert that will whisper sweet nothings to me. There will be wine. And maybe a cocktail. But there most definitely will be wine.

Just in case anyone else is going to be having a late Valentine’s Day dinner, here’s a handy dandy guide for your wine consumption (thank you, folks at winefolly.com!). Personally, I like a good Sangiovese, but I won’t ever say no to a bright, sparkly Prosecco. Of course, there’s also Port and Moscato. Malbecs are good, too. And Pinot Grigios. And Gewürztraminer is as much fun to say as it is to drink! Ack! So many to choose from! Thank goodness for that guide to help you narrow it down, right?

Ok, terrible segue, but I wanted really think this poster is lots of fun. And there’s more great posters where this came from. If you neglected to get a present for the oenophile on your valentine list, maybe you could make it up with one of these (totally unsolicited plug…I just think their posters are awesome sauce).


So much to be thankful for

posted by harlie in family, food, fun

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

We don’t have family nearby, so we spend the day with friends. This year, we spend the day with our best man, Luke. He and his family were gracious enough to let us join them for the day.

We arrived early — at about 1pm. Plenty of time for us to help out with the cooking and general prep. The family always makes two birds: one fried, one baked. This year, it was fried turkey and baked goose. Lil’ Man really wanted to be join the big boys outside as they fried up the turkey, but I think we’ll wait until he’s a LOT older.

We also watched a bit of football, as is also traditional. Lil’Man didn’t like it quite so much as Elmo, but he did cheer for Dallas and Houston. There’s a little bit of Texan in that boy after all!

Finally, it was time to eat. The spread wasn’t very pretty, but it was darn tasty. Turkey, goose, stuffing, green bean casserole, yams, mashed potatoes, cranberry-raspberry delight, rice with veggies and sausage and gravy over everything (at least it was on my plate). All topped off with apple and pumpkin pie.

As my contribution to the dinner effort, I slightly tweaked Martha’s Hot Spinach Dip. It was a great appetizer for people to munch on while they sipped on wine and cooked the real food. It was delicious and very well recieved. Plus, it’s totally easy to make, so I highly recommend it. Sadly , I didn’t take any photos of the dish or its prep, but it looked just like the spinach dips you get at restaurants, only better.

Hot Spinach Dip
adapted from Martha Stewart recipe

2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for baking dish
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds fresh spinach, cleaned, trimmed, and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup whole milk
6 ounces cream cheese
5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp paprika (optional)
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add half the spinach and let it wilt before adding the second half; cook until completely wilted, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a colander; drain, pressing to release all excess liquid. You can make this veggie mix up to three days in advance, cover and refrigerate.

In the same pot, warm milk over high heat. Whisk in cream cheese until melted, about 3 minutes. Add spinach, Worcestershire sauce, paprika and 1/2 cup mozzarella; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a lightly oiled 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.

Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot with baguette slices, crackers, breadsticks, pretzels, or whatever else you feel like using to transfer this cheesy goodness to your tastebuds.


A little tipple for your trouble

posted by harlie in day-to-day, food

A friend of a friend recently traveled to Japan. While there, he and his brother-in-law decided to go whiskey tasting. He loved the Suntory Hakushu distillery whiskeys, so as he was rushing through the duty-free shops, he looked for a bottle, found one and paid for it on his credit card. He thought he had spent $95 — not a terrible price for a good whiskey. However, this wasn’t a good whiskey…this was a very, very good whiskey. And it didn’t cost $95. It cost $950. Plus international credit card fees.


Yes, he missed one of those darn pesky zeros and didn’t realize it until he was filling out his customs forms about an hour into his flight back to the States. In his defense, he was in a rush to catch his plane and the price was in yen (¥75,000 = $950). All those extra zeros can throw you off. After getting over the post-purchase sticker shock, full-on buyer’s remorse set in. Also, his wife was furious.

He tried to find a buyer for the bottle, but it seems no one was willing to shell out $950 for a 25-year-old Suntory Hakushu Single Malt. I suggested that he hold a whiskey tasting and charge whatever he needed per ounce to recoup enough to adequately finance his “Save My Marriage Fund.” He was desperate enough to give it a shot.

So, for about $45, the Mr and I (and about 14 others) got to taste this very expensive whiskey:

It was delicious.


Lil’ Man is One!

posted by harlie in family, food, fun

Our little gentleman turned one this past Friday. It was a big weekend all around for the family — we had two birthday parties for Lil’Man and the Mr’s Bavarian club celebrated it’s 7th anniversary. They observed the occasion with food and dance throughout the weekend. We invited all our family to come and join us in the festivities. Most, understandably, weren’t able to come. Happily, all the grandparents and his Aunt Ferfer and Uncle B were able to make the trip out.

We had tons of fun all weekend long. The tyke received many gifts, but the one that bears mentioning is the toybox his Grandpa W made for him. It is GORGEOUS. The Mr and I had known for a while that he was making it since he asked us to pick out colors for the veneers and such, but STILL I cried when we unwrapped it. It’s truly heirloom quality and I hope Lil’Man appreciates it as he grows older. He certainly liked it when he saw it.

In fact, he loved it. He explored it for a little while, placed a couple of his toys inside, and ran to hug his grandpa when he saw him. It’s too big to really fit in his room, but we’ve moved it to a corner of our living room which we are slowly turning into a play area for Lil’Man.

And of course, there was the birthday party. Or parties. The first, which was actually on his birthday, was at his daycare. I made mini cupcakes for the kids (not very sweet cake, topped with purèed blackberries folded into whipped cream) and brought apple juice. It was more fun than you’d expect. The cupcakes were a hit with all the kids and, most importantly, the birthday boy. Lil’Man ate three cupcakes (which sounds like a lot until you realize that a lot of each one ends up on the floor).

Of course, that is nothing compared to what he was allowed to eat at his big birthday party a couple of days later. At first, he wasn’t sure what to do with the enormous amount of food I had just placed in front of him.

So, I placed a little bit of the whipped cream on his hand…

he tried it…

and it…



Oh yeah!

How did I do, Pops?

We could tell he was done when he started methodically dropping cake on to the patio stone. His pop took him out of his chair and hosed him down. This is, naturally, why we had the smash cake outside.

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