Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Maple Glaze


It’s been a busy fall, as they always are with back-to-school time, our anniversary, Lily’s birthday, Halloween, and getting ready for winter and the holidays.  On top of the usual, we went to the weddings of both my brother and Jake’s sister (not to each other) and planned a trip to Disney World (that’s still a secret from the guest of honor).  And poor Jake spends every weekend raking leaves, yet there are still more hanging on the trees waiting to fall.  And now it’s already started snowing in Pittsburgh.  How is winter starting already?!

In October, Lily had what she calls “the best birthday ever.”  She turned 4(!) and celebrated in style with a pool party at the local rec center.  We invited her whole class thinking that maybe 5 kids would be available, so weren’t we surprised when almost all of them RSVP’d with a yes.  And then they all actually showed up!  I’ve never been so thankful that we held the party somewhere other than our house.  The kids were adorably happy going down the slide and drifting around the lazy river, and Lily loved having them to play with, so it was a great day for everyone.

Now we are hunkering down and getting ready for two Thanksgivings.  One here in Pittsburgh (topped off with a trip to the Pitt v. Syracuse football game) and one in Syracuse with Jake’s side of the family.  For my own sake at the second Thanksgiving, I hope Pitt fares well at the first!  I’m not responsible for cooking the dinner for either celebration, but I’ve still been trying different recipes so that my oven doesn’t get too lonely.  I’ll try to get them all posted in the next couple of weeks!


Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with Maple Glaze


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pie filling)


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon milk (not nonfat), plus more as needed
2 tablespoons maple syrup

For the cookies:

Heat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.

Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Then scrape down the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the egg and vanilla, return to medium speed, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides again.

With the mixer on low speed, add half of the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add half of the pumpkin and mix until just incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and pumpkin.

Drop eight 1/4 cup dough rounds on the baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between them. Place the remaining dough in the refrigerator.

Bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back and continue baking until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom and around the edges.  For me it was about 5-7 more minutes, but the original recipe said it can be up to 12.

Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a few minutes and then transfer them to the wire racks to cool completely. Let the baking sheet cool to room temperature and then repeat with the remaining dough (you can use the same parchment paper).

For the glaze:

Whisk all of the ingredients until evenly combined. Drizzle in more milk if it’s too thick.  Dip a fork into the glaze and drizzle it over the cookies. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the glaze has set, about 20 minutes.

Source: Chow

No-Bake Brownie Batter Bites

These brownie batter bites (I love a good alliteration) are like liking the spoon.  Dangerously so.  I won’t get into the gory details, but let’s just say that after a batch of them I felt compelled to return to the gym this week for the first time since before my spinal surgery.  In October.  8 months ago!  That’s 8 months of wasting $82 which have now come to an end.  So, really, these bites helped me to get back into shape.  I should make more of them.  Maybe I’ll feel so guilty at the end of my second batch that I’ll train for a marathon!


I know that they aren’t made from scratch, but that’s not the point.  They’re easy, quick, and don’t require an oven on hot summer days.  Taste-wise, they remind me of the chocolate chip cookie dough brownies that I made a couple of years ago (minus the cookie dough, obviously).  And I bought the 6-pack of Ghirardelli brownie mix at Costco, so I can see more experimenting taking place soon.  Look out, gym, here I come!


No-Bake Brownie Batter Bites

1 (18.3 ounces) bag of brownie mix (Ghirardelli is my favorite)
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 instant chocolate pudding mix, dry

Put the butter in a large bowl and microwave until mostly melted (about a minute).  Add in the dry brownie mix and stir until completely combined.  It will be thick and sticky.

Set aside for a few minutes and then stir in the chocolate chips once it is cool enough that they won’t melt.

Roll into bite-sized balls and immediately roll the balls into the dry chocolate pudding mix. Shake off the excess.  Most of the pudding will be absorbed into the ball, so after I finished the batch I re-rolled them in the pudding a second time.  If they are too soft then chill them for a bit.  Enjoy!

You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week (ha! as if they will last that long!).  The fridge will make them stiff, so if you do this let them sit out for a minute before eating.

Source: Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Also, look who I caught sneaking a treat!



Simple Cake Mix Corn Bread


This recipe is almost too simple to be real.  As my coworker was describing it to me, I  wondered if there was any possible way it would work.  You literally just combine corn bread mix and butter cake mix and call it a day.  I really liked the idea, and I’m always on board for shortcuts that save time and effort on a weeknight.  I decided that I wanted to try to make taste more  summery and farm-fresh, so I added in a cup of corn, and was so glad I did.  It made the bread taste fresh, but didn’t take away from the fluffy texture.  We cut up the leftovers and threw them into the freezer, and I can confirm that they thaw beautifully.

Of course, at dinner when we served this bread, Jake and I make the mistake of describing this recipe as a corn bread cake to Lily in order to get her to try it.  She was very disappointed to learn that there was a discrepancy between what she envisioned as cake and what this cornbread is.  Where’s the icing?!  She looked up at me as though she might never trust me again.  But then once we added butter, which this recipe actually really doesn’t need, she was back on board.  I’m not sure where her love of butter came from (certainly not her mother!  ha!)  but for some reason she has a current fascination with it.  So she had butter on top of her cuttery corn bread.  Hey, if it gets her to try new foods, I guess I shouldn’t complain!

Simple Cake Mix Corn Bread

2 boxes of corn bread mix (like Jiffy), prepared to box specifications
1 box of butter cake mix, prepared to box specifications
1 cup corn

Preheat the oven to the temperature that the cake mix box calls for (usually 325 or 350).  Spray a 13×9 inch pan with baking spray.

Mix the corn bread mix and the cake mix according to what their boxes say (usually you need eggs, oil, butter, etc).  Combine the two mixes in a large bowl.  Fold in the corn.

Put the mix into the prepared pan and bake according to the cake box directions, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Slice and serve warm.

Source: A woman from my work (I’m not sure where she heard about it from!)


Loft House-Style (Soft Baked) Sugar Cookies


I’ve been looking for an excuse to try making loft house-style sugar cookies, so when I saw cute green and white sprinkles at the grocery store, I figured there was no time like St. Patrick’s Day for cookies.  You need something sweet to offset that salty colcannon and sauerkraut , right?  My dad had us over to his house for corned beef sandwiches (I had a grilled cheese made from swiss cheese, tomato, and thousand island dressing and it was actually pretty delicious!) so I brought these cookies.  They got thumbs up from everyone, as did the ones I took to work on Monday.  So, I guess this recipe is a keeper!


I like them because they are soft and fluffy (and because when you make them yourself, you can use as much frosting as you want… read: a lot), but it’s also nice that they are so easy to make.  I didn’t chill the dough in the fridge because I figured that since they weren’t going to be cut-outs it wouldn’t really matter.  And it didn’t.  Which is glorious.  They were mixed and baked within half an hour.   I made the frosting while they cooled, and then they were ready to go.  These are like the cookie version of a quick bread (which, to me, is perfect in every way).


Loft House-Style (Soft Baked) Sugar Cookies

For the cookies:
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400º.

Mix the dry ingredients and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat until they are well combined. Add the dry ingredients in slowly and mix well. Form dough balls (about 2 Tbsp. each) and flatten into thick circles with your hands.

Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8-10 mins or until just the edges of cookies start to turn a very light golden brown. Don’t over-bake!  Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 Tbsp milk
Up to 6 cups powdered sugar (thicken to desired consistency)
food coloring

Whisk butter, vanilla, milk and egg yolk together. Slowly mix in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. If it gets too thick, add more milk in very small amounts.

Source: Hostess with the Mostess

Waffle Iron Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Bean Glaze


I almost accidentally murdered my brother and his fiance, Lea, last night.  They were staying in our guest room while in town for the Arcade Fire concert, and came home well after I was already asleep.  As it turned out, they opened the front door at the exact moment that I was having a nightmare about someone breaking into the house to steal Lily (yes, I might need a therapist).  So, the door chimed loudly as it opened, Buster jumped off the bed and started barking, and I went straight into full panic mode.  Like, screaming bloody murder.  In that moment, I truly thought that I was in the middle of a baby-snatching invasion.  Jake took my screams as a sign that something was dramatically wrong, so he jumped into action, too, sprinting toward the staircase and screaming himself.  By the time we were both awake enough to realize who the intruders were, we were halfway down the stairs and they were plastered against the wall with shocked faces, wondering what the heck was wrong with us.  They’re lucky I didn’t have my pepper spray in hand (and they’re really lucky I don’t keep a loaded gun under my pillow)!  I have a feeling the next time they are in Pittsburgh, they’ll couch surf at my dad’s house.   I wouldn’t blame them.  


Before the concert and subsequent home invasion, they kept Lily home from school yesterday to play with her and to practice taking care of a 3-year-old.  Which I loosely compare to when a wealthy, well-fed person spends a week doing the food stamp challenge: the participant feels accomplished in the end but leaves with very little knowledge of the actual situation they are trying to emulate (she didn’t even bother to puke, pee her pants, or throw a major tantrum in a public place).  BUT, in this specific situation, it all worked out for the best because Lily had a great time, Dan and Lea experienced enough booger picking/eating to last them until they have a kid of their own, and Jake and I woke up to the kid crying this morning because she is going to miss them so much.  Super cute.


SO, after all that, I think everyone deserves a cookie fresh from the oven waffle iron.  While one could argue that making them on a cookie sheet in the oven is just as easy, I would argue that it a) isn’t as good in the summer when you don’t want to turn the oven on, b) doesn’t have the nooks and crannies to hold the vanilla bean glaze, and c) needs to be rolled and cookie-cuttered (?) to look this cool, which is decidedly not quick and easy.  So, there you go.  But if you are making these, you’ll have to play around with your waffle maker to see which heat settings work best.  Once you have that down, you really can’t go wrong!


 Waffle Iron Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Bean Glaze

For the cookies:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup unsalted butter (1½ sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze:
2 Tbsp whole milk
1 vanilla bean
pinch of sea salt
1 cup powdered sugar
Sprinkles for topping

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.

In an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat the butter on low until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue beating for until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for about 30 seconds after each addition (scraping the sides as needed). Add the vanilla and combine.

Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and carefully mix until just combined (don’t over-mix).

Preheat your waffle maker to medium-low.  Place a heaping spoonful of batter onto the center of each waffle segment.  Close the lid and bake the cookies for about 1-2 minutes (depending on your cookies and waffle maker.  You will need to experiment with your machine to see what works best). Remove the cookies when they are just starting to turn golden.  If you overcook they will get hard quickly, so keep an eye on them.  Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

In a separate bowl, combine milk, salt, and vanilla bean seeds until combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar until everything is well combined.  Drizzle the glaze over the cookies and top with sprinkles while they’re still wet. Allow glaze to dry before stacking.

Source: The Blonde Buckeye