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Grandma Gin. Typical Swedish grandmother. Quiet. Reserved. Never a bad word about anybody. She had tea cups and coffee or glasses of milk with sweets sitting at her kitchen table. One would peer out past the breeze fluttering through the pale window curtains. We would chat there or converse while gently bouncing in the chairs on the back patio. Talking about the things of life. She fed us all. Figuratively and literally. Among her many masterful works in the culinary world was this little gem: her chocolate chip cookie. In our entire family, there is no better cookie. If you make them. They will disappear. Within minutes.

When Grandma Gin first gave me this recipe years ago, I failed at duplicating them. I followed the recipe exactly and several times I might add. Still not quite the same. So one day I told Grandma Gin that I wanted to watch her make them. She prepared each step just as she had outlined on her hand written recipe card. After she took them out of the oven, she removed them from the cookie sheet and placed them on a flour sack towel. Voila! The recipe had said to cool, but nothing about a flour sack towel. I eventually realized that the towel pulled the excess moisture out of the bottom of the cookie and made the bottom crispier than the rest of the cookie. It was genius.

I've since learned I can duplicate this by just leaving the cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet for a few minutes after taking them out of the oven. Funny how the smallest change can make the world of difference in a recipe. Thank you Grandma Gin for the cookie, for taking time to show me the recipe, and for all the times you feed me and the rest of our family with your wisdom, guidance, and culinary acumen.
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda 
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

  • 1/4 Cup Softened Butter (1 Stick)
  • 3/4 Cup Crisco Shortening
  • 3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 2 Unbeaten Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Teaspoon Hot Water

  • 1 Cup Chopped Nuts (Walnuts Or Pecans)
  • 2 Cups Quick Oats
  • 4 Cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (2 - 12 Ounce Packages)

Preparation
  1. Sift first three ingredients (flour, soda and salt) in medium sized bowl.
  2. Combine the next seven ingredients (butter, shortening, sugars, eggs, vanilla and water) in a large bowl and cream until fluffy. I use a silicone spatula. I'm sure grandma used a wood spoon.
  3. Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture a third at a time.
  4. Chop the nuts in a food processor. You will end up with various sizes. The largest should be a bit smaller than the size of a chocolate chip. Grandma did this by hand with a knife.
  5. Stir the nuts into the batter.
  6. Add the oats and stir into the batter.
  7. Add the chocolate chips and stir into the batter until completely incorporated. This will seem like a lot of chips and very little batter, but trust me this is accurate.
  8. Refrigerate dough for about 5 minutes.
  9. Drop dough onto parchment lined light colored aluminum baking sheets. I use a melon baller and make a rounded ball.
  10. Bake at 375 degree Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Please note that this can vary depending on oven temperature (most fluctuate), dough temperature, size of dough balls, and darkness/material of the baking sheet. If you are using warm dough on a dark sheet it could take only 8 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and either cool on a flour sack towel or on the parchment lined baking sheet for several minutes.

Tips
  • The cookies should appear under cooked with a slight browning starting on the bottom when you take them out of the oven
  • Refrigerate the dough for a few minutes between each batch to help with the dough not becoming too sticky.
  • Definitely use parchment paper and a light aluminum baking pan. The one my grandmother used was made by my grandfather, so good lucky finding an exact match!
  • Make sure the baking sheet cools down completely between each batch or the cookies could burn on the bottom.
  • I  use a 1/4 butter to 3/4 Crisco shortening ratio for the fat. I know my grandmother used just about whatever was available from margarine to butter to Crisco. I have made these with all butter (much softer) and all Crisco (much firmer). I prefer the combination or 1/2 and 1/2 would work too.
  • Make sure your baking soda is fresh.
  • I use pecans or walnuts. I'm sure my grandmother used walnuts.
  • I use Kirkland semi sweet chocolate chips, my grandmother used Nestle.
  • Get a good vanilla. I like Kirkland or Williams Sonoma.
  • They can be stored for several days in plastic bags or tightly sealed containers. They also freeze well.

Makes
Makes approximately 85-90 cookies.

Nutrition
Seriously, they are cookies.


© Russell W Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 9.11.14
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The first time the Trophy Wife took the kids swimming on her own, I played a little trick on her. I let her do all the prep work herself. The minute the kids were out of the pool, they were starving. She had no food along and wasn't prepared to get any either. So she learned the first law of Boy Scouts:
  • Be prepared. 
She also learned the first law of at home parenting:
  • Children are always starving. 

So be prepared with this great after school snack, because I can guarantee you the kids will be starving the minute they walk in the door.

Ingredients
  • 4 Large Slices Of Good Crusty Stale Bread Cubed (See my bread in a pot recipe.)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla

Preparation
  1. Spray oil  4 ramekins.
  2. Mix all ingredients together and pour into ramekins.
  3. Bake 350 degress F for 30 minutes.

Nutrition
About 350 calories per ramekin. 

Notes
  • These are large ramekins. You could probably use 6 smaller ramekins and cut the cooking time down to 25 minutes.
  • The puddings will raise a bit during cooking so don't over fill them.
 
 
Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines? This is the dilemma I faced standing in the baking aisle at the grocery store. My mom made store box cakes all the time. They are pretty much full proof for the novice cook. I've baked both. Neither is particularly spectacular, but there is an advantage to having a quick box cake handy in the cupboard. Although, honestly they taste sugary, a little airy, and a bit chemically. Also, the texture is so light it almost seems like there is nothing there.

I really want a rich cake with some substance to it. So after a few trial and errors I've come up with this recipe that seems to be pretty full proof and consistent. I hope you enjoy. (If you are looking for a comparison of store bought versus home made there is a good summary at the Ktchn called: Make Or Bake? Cake Mixes vs. Homemade.)

Pre Preparation
350 Degrees F
Butter and flour two 8 inch round baking pans.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups and 1 tablepoon all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (I prefer dark.)
  • 1 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • butter to grease pans
  • flour to dust pans

Preparation
  1. Sift first 5 ingredients onto a piece of parchment paper or a large bowel with a pouring lip. 
  2. Cream the remaining ingredients in a bowl.
  3. With the beaters on low add the sifted ingredients to the wet mixture that has been creamed. Incorporate fully.
  4. Turn the beaters onto medium and beat for 3 minutes.
  5. Pour and divide the batter equally into the two round pans.
  6. Bake at 350 degress F on middle rack for about 30-37 minutes. The middle of the cake should spring back when touched and a toothpick test should be clean.
  7. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes on wire rack.
  8. Loosen the cake from around the edge of the pans. I use a small plastic spatula that I got with my small food processor.
  9. Invert each cake onto a plate and then revert onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
  10. Cool fully before layering and frosting. Shave off the tops with a fine serrated knife if necessary
  11. I like to use my chocolate butter cream frosting for this cake, but I'm sure other frosting would work just as well.

Nutrition
It's cake. Really, you have to ask? Well, o.k. Typically chocolate cake is about 150 calories per ounce of serving which includes the frosting. A slice could easily be 500-600 calories. So watch it!

Tips
Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting Recipe Link.

I prefer to use my stand mixer for this recipe, but you can use a hand mixer just as easily.

One nice thing about this cake is that the top doesn't rise too rounded, so that if you layer it you rarely have to cut off any of the top of the cake.

There are a couple of tricks to frosting a layered cake. First, put a bit of frosting down on your plate to help stabilize the first layer of cake. Secondly, you should do a light round of frosting around the cake first. This is usually called the crumb frosting. Then do the next layer of frosting after it has set up a bit.

If you are in a hurry, you can just dump all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix for 3 minutes.
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Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

Ingredients
  • 1 cup plus 1/2 stick butter (2 1/2 sticks total)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 4 tablespoons half and half

Preparation
  1. Cream the butter in your mixer on medium for 2 minutes. 
  2. While the butter is creaming, sift the dry ingredients onto parchment paper or into a bowl with a spout.
  3. With the mixer on the lowest speed add the sifted ingredients until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the vanilla and half and half. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.
  5. Adjust consistency by adding either a bit more sugar for stiffness or half and half for dilution.

Tips
You should have a bit of frosting left over.
Save the Date
 
 
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This past Monday Stiletto2 got up and made me a breakfast of banana pancakes and coffee; and served it to me in bed. I think it was the best gift a stay at home dad can get on a Monday morning. After that I took her out to practice driving in the school parking lot where we drove over two curbs and a pylon. I didn't blow a gasket and after she got to go to the Twins game with Pistol2, her boyfriend. Perhaps she had a successful plan with her pancakes in bed scheme? So today, I got up and made her pancakes in return. A new one which she liked very much. I hope you enjoy it too. I promise, I had no scheme with the Nutella, bacon, or chocolate...really.
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Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Cool Water
  • 1 1/8 Cup Krusteaz Pancake Mix
  • 4 Slices Cooked Bacon Diced
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons Nutella
  • 1/2 Hershey's Chocolate Bar Chopped
  • Butter For Topping
  • Non Stick Spray Or Bacon Fat For Cooking

Preparation
  1. Cook bacon and drain until cool.
  2. Dice the bacon.
  3. Heat the Nutella in a microwave approximately 15 seconds.
  4. Combine the Nutella and water with a whisk.
  5. Add the pancake mix and stir with a fork until combined. Do not over sir.
  6. Add the chocolate and bacon and stir to combine.
  7. Add water or pancake mix to adjust thickness.
  8. Cook in nonstick spray oiled pan or fry in bacon fat. Cook until first side starts to bubble then flip for another minute or so.
  9. Serve with butter as is or with an egg and bacon side.

Servings
3 servings

Nutrition
About 240 calories per serving cooked in non stick spray without butter topping.

Tips
If you want more bacon flavor, definitely fry the cakes in the bacon fat. However, you will need to adjust the calories upward.
 
 
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There are those mornings when you want to make something good for your kids that doesn't take up all of your time. Here it is: Caramelized Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes. The secret is in how the pancakes are assembled in the pan which makes the bananas caramelize and the chocolate melt just right. It took me years to perfect this - that's the real secret. Enjoy!
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