easiest cookie recipe in the world.

cf794850-3de6-438b-b8f3-762a45108a69I have six days left of school, and I am dragging myself through them by the skin of my teeth. The end of the year is my biggest time of the year other than the beginning of it. With 40+ teachers and 800+ students, there are thousands of materials that need to be returned before teachers or students can be “cleared” to leave school. Computers, textbooks, headphones, library books, etc are all in my school’s library system. And as you can imagine, teachers that were given these materials back in August have a hard time tracking them all down come May! And then you have the kids who checked books out a week ago – they have a hard time tracking those books down too. 🙂 I’ve been the nagging bad guy all this and will be next week too. But it’s okay! I can do it! Summer is almost here!

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But in the meantime, cookies, nightly happy hour, my happy baby, and copious venting to my husband are the only thing that are getting me there. Not just cookies, but the easiest cookies that I have ever made. Three ingredients! three! Have you ever heard of such a thing? I hadn’t! I was browsing Pinterest the other day for after school snacks, and stumbled upon this recipe that fit the bill for after, before and in-between school snacking. Follow the instructions for Peanut Butter Cookies all done in about 15 minutes!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg

Here’s What To Do:

Set oven to 350. Mix ingredients together until creamy (with an electric mixer is easiest). Roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Use a fork to put impressions on cookies both ways, and to smush them down. Bake for 10 minutes! Recipe makes about a dozen cookies.

Enjoy!

an adaptable recipe for muesli.

567296ba-4125-465d-a075-19fdfdadb081I’m one of those people who wakes up in the morning and immediately needs something to eat. I’m the person to whom ‘brunch’ really means ‘second breakfast’ because I couldn’t possibly wait until 10am to eat for the first time. I’m married to a non-breakfast lover (other than hearty breakfast potatoes topped with an egg and the occasional french toast on weekend mornings), so I’m left to my own devices during the week. Cereal and oatmeal are all fine and good, but they’re a little uninspiring, right? And while oatmeal fills me up for the morning, it takes a little bit of time to make it when I’m in a rush in the morning. If I have cereal, on the other hand, I find myself snacking by 9am.0e77466b-90f4-48fc-9ce5-df53ec7ff3f4 Muesli is hearty, healthy, filling-me-up-for-the-long-haul goodness. If you haven’t had it before, muesli is very similar to granola, sans sweetener, oil and oven. Essentially, you just throw a bunch of oats, nuts, and dried fruits into a jar, mix it up and leave it on the counter to last for weeks. Did you hear me say that there’s no oven required? With the heat of summer coming our way, you just may find yourself reaching for this recipe as well. I mixed up a giant 12 cup batch in one of my gallon sized jars the other day that will probably last until the end of the school year. All ingredients are dried pantry goods, so there’s nothing that will go bad before then as long as I keep the lid screwed tight to keep staleness at bay. When you’re ready for your bowl of morning muesli, just scoop some out into a bowl, pour over your desired amount of milk, add a dollop of yogurt if you feel like it, and add any sweetener. I like a sprinkle of brown sugar best, but maple syrup or honey are yummy options too.

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Like I said in the title, this is easily adaptable. Don’t like nuts? Add more oats or seeds. Put whichever dried fruits you like best in. I’ll give my recipe for a gallon, but you can easily adjust up or (more likely) down.

Here’s What You’ll Need: 

  • 8 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups mixed nuts and seeds roughly chopped (I used pistachios, pecans, almonds and pepitas)
  • 2 cups dried fruits (I used cherries, cranberries, and blueberries)

Or the formula to remember is: 4 parts grain + one part nuts + one part dried fruits

Here’s What To Do: 

Are you ready? This is ridiculous…Mix it together, put it in a jar. That’s it! And when you’re ready to eat it, just scoop however much you’d like into a bowl, pour over a little milk, a scoop of yogurt and sprinkle some sweetener over. Mix and enjoy!

a recipe: crunchy fridge pickles

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On Saturday afternoons we don’t even have to think about what we’re having for dinner. Just like we eat pizza on Fridays, on Saturdays – we have burgers on the grill. There are few things more satisfying than burgers on Saturday. It makes the weekend feel like a holiday, even if it isn’t. Especially if we’ve spent the afternoon at the beach. We always pick up a big, juicy red tomato (it’s always tomato season in Florida) from the market on Saturday morning along with the rest of our veggie haul for the week. If there’s corn, then we’ll pick that up too to throw on the grill. If there isn’t any corn (unlike tomato season – it’s actually not always corn season) then we’ll slice up a couple potatoes to throw in the oven coated with olive oil, garlic salt, and generous grind of black pepper. Grabbing our plates with our burgers ready to dress, I pull out the holy grail of toppings. The fridge pickles. Burgers, in my opinion, are made by their toppings, and one topping that we can’t go without – are pickles.

It’s a not-so-secret love in my life. Pickling things. I’ve pickled most things that people are in the habit of pickling – onions, cucumbers, radishes, green beans, even asparagus. We eat them piled on sandwiches, burgers, tacos (pickled red onion or radishes- yum), and straight from the jar (pickled green beans or asparagus with a cold beer –  yum). Pickles just taste like summer to me, and when you live somewhere that actually is summer year round – you eat a lot of pickles. I grew up loving Claussen’s pickles, and while I spent a few years using a heated pickle recipe, around last year, I found an even easier way – no heating required. This recipe reminds me so much of Claussen’s. It’s a riff on Deb’s for Refrigerator Pickles, and by far the best and easiest I’ve found.

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A note about my pickling habits: I don’t pickle in bulk. I like to do small, one jar at a time, 10 minute sessions. This means that I avoid processing jars for hours over a boiling pot of water, and I’m not spending hours slaving over the cutting board. We only make what we’re going to eat within the next couple of weeks (or days).

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Fridge Pickles

Makes 1 pint sized mason jar.

What you need:

  • 2-3 small cucumbers (we prefer Persian cucumbers, but many like Kirby the best!)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • pinch crushed red pepper

What to do:

Slice cucumbers to desired size. Add vinegar, salt, and other seasonings to mason jar. Add cucumbers. Fill to the top of the “Freeze Line” with water. Screw on lid, and shake vigorously.

Put in the front of the fridge, and shake again over the next few hours whenever you open the fridge. You can eat after an hour, but they’re best after 6-8 hours.

*Will keep for 3 weeks, but if you’re anything like us, they won’t last that long.

** We’ll use the brine for two batches of pickles. Once you eat the first batch, just slice up a couple more cucumbers, put them in the same jar, and refrigerate. Enjoy!

a recipe: anything granola bars

I’m staring down the tunnel of testing season at school. Which means tomorrow I’ll either be quietly locked away in my office finishing up my collection development plan for the end of the year or I’ll be suddenly called to do my duty and proctor a test for third grade should some teacher call out sick (I did hear that one third grade teacher has hand foot mouth disease so I’m fearing the latter). Testing season in the elementary school brings with it both stress and anxiety for both teachers and students in the morning and then the extreme, almost delirious relief of the afternoon when the tests are over for the day (only to know that section two comes the next day). A combination of both celebration and the camaraderie of doing something no one wants to be doing for the day. I have a hard time mustering up any real emotion about it either way. All I’ll be thinking about (in addition to the spending of my library budget – Fiction? Nonfiction? Graphic novels? Dare I throw it all at picture books?) is Charlie giggling hysterically over toes tonight before bed. I mean hysterically. Toes!

On to the real topic for today. I discovered the best recipe for granola bars a few weeks ago. I loved them so much I’ve made them twice for us, once for the neighbors across the street who just welcomed a new baby and I’m planning another batch to be whipped up this week. They’re quite possibly the easiest thing because they are an “anything” recipe. Whatever you happen to have on hand you can throw in. Those are my favorite kinds of recipes. Flexible and forgiving. I’ve been playing around with an “anything” bread (or maybe some would call it cake 😂) that I’ll share when I get it just right. But today I wanted to put his here for my own future reference and yours when the mood may strike.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 1/4 maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup mix-ins of your choice (I used dried tropical trail mix here)

Here’s what to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square baking dish with parchment paper or foil.

Place oats and nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Place them in a large bowl.

Combine syrup, butter, and brown sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat until butter and sugar are melted.

Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla. Pour over the oat and nut mixture.

Mix in any of your extras, saving chocolate.

If adding chocolate, let mixture cool for about fifteen minutes then add.

Use a rubber spatula to press into your pan. Chill for about two hours then remove from pan and cut!

I hope you try them! So yummy.

a recipe: caramel corn with a kick

b2a843d7-e759-403d-993a-eb065b1ad7f6Nights these days are ruled by routine. Doing the same thing every night makes Charlie a happy baby, and it makes me feel like a more put together human. Every night this week, after Charlie is all snug in his bassinet with his sweet breaths going in and out as even as a metronome, I make my way to the kitchen to do my final nightly ritual of bottle washing, getting bottles ready for the next day, putting together my own lunch, snacks, and filling the coffee for the morning. But first, before all these very necessary duties, I unscrew the giant jar of this caramel corn sitting on the counter for a sweet victory snack. Victory because we’ve made it through another day. And you guys. This caramel corn. It seriously does have a kick! It’s so unbelievably good. It’s like a sigh of relaxation at the end of a long day. I still have things to do, but my most important task is slumbering like an angel in the next room.

c11842ea-9e1b-4402-871c-a7aca17b3ef5Mike snatched a great big taste test of this caramel corn when it was freshly coated, still warm and malleable from the melted caramel and he almost died. I kid you not. Both of us are lovers of spice, but the cayenne in this may knock your socks off if you’re not careful. The rest of the batch was pretty tame having just a bit of warmth at the back end, so he must have gotten a little non-mixed in cayenne bite. That’s what happens when you sneak a bite before it’s ready. I only die of happiness every time I take a bite. I discovered this Smitten Kitchen recipe when Deb shared it on her Instagram the other day. She can do no wrong in my book. I want to make every single thing that comes out of her kitchen. I’ve never been disappointed by yet, but I don’t know how anything that involves sugar and butter can be a bad thing.

98a11843-a5c9-4db1-8192-2f5de35a4e1aI haven’t been keeping myself to only nightly nibbles of this stuff. It turns out that half a cup of kernels makes a lot of popcorn. I put bits in little jars to take to school as a bright snack at my very unglamorous desk. I put Mike’s in a large jar to have for the whole week at his more glamorous desk. He has the self control to make it last all week. I need portion control. Also, anything in tiny jars just makes me happy to eat. All about the eating experience here.

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**A note about the cayenne: just leave it out if you’re not sure about some warmth! I used only 1/4 teaspoon which really isn’t much.

Here’s what you’ll need: From Smitten Kitchen’s archives.

  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like spice!)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Here’s what to do:

Lightly coat two large, heatproof rubber spatulas and two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or a thin slick of oil.

In a large pot with a lid, coat the bottom of the pot with a thin layer of oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped.

In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and cayenne pepper.

Have the two large baking sheets ready. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt and 1/2 cup water. Cook over high heat until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, 10 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the baking-soda mixture if using (the mixture will really bubble up).

Quickly pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn. Use your spatulas to toss the caramel and popcorn together (Deb says as if you were tossing a salad) until the popcorn is coated.

Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheets and quickly separate them into small pieces while still warm if you can. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

the friday post – vol. 2

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I did a bad thing this morning. I spilled coffee all over the floor this morning as I was running out the door to school, and I didn’t even clean it up. I left it on the ground for Mike to deal with. EEK! The whole week has been a little like that. It all passed in kind of a blur between sickness, business at work, and just general day to day chaos. We had this gigantic to-do at school on Thursday that required the library (and the entire school) to be both beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean. It went off without a hitch, thank goodness, so I feel like today was a little sigh of relief to end the week on.

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We have zero plans for the weekend other than the normal things (grocery, cleaning, etc) which seems to be the common theme these days. Charlie’s cold is so much better. I had already made an appointment for him earlier this week, so I still swung by the doctor with him after school today to get checked out. They said that his cough is probably going to sound bad for a few days and to come in for a second check up next week. But basically. Just a standard baby cold here. Even though he’s better, we’re still probably going to lie low and hang out at home to get him lots of good naps and downtime. He just started rolling over at daycare, but not yet for us so *fingers crossed* we’ll get to see some rolls this weekend!

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Did you see that we’re going to do $25 a week for groceries for the month of February? I’m so nervous about it. I feel like Mike and I may have some conflicts on what is truly necessary on our grocery list every week (“But I need ice cream this week.”) It’ll be a fun challenge to try though. All I know is that after January’s low carb challenge, I’m so incredibly excited for real pizza tonight.

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I didn’t work out even once this week. I was so proud of myself last week, and this one? Zilch. We even got new tennis shoes last weekend. I’m obsessed with mine. But next week is another week and I’m hoping to get back on track. I made a deal with myself that once I drop another couple baby pounds I get new running shorts to go with the shoes. Mike keeps telling me I don’t need to lose anything which is sweet, butttttttt I’m still going to.

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I’ve seen more than a few recipes that I want to try lately. Not least this show-off of an onion tarte tatin. I find reading recipes so relaxing, especially on food blogs. People that love to cook are my kind of people, and I love the little stories of life that pepper the pictures of food before the recipe. This perspective of mid-winter the writer shared with the tarte tatin I thought was nice, “The holidays have passed; everything has slowed down; my inbox is the cleanest it will be all year; my Pinterest boards are full of new ideas; I’m spending lots of time in the kitchen…” I always think that after the magic of Christmas, the year seems to stretch bleakly on until Spring Break, but that sentence made me shift my perspective a little bit. Other drool worthy recipes lately here, here and here.

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What are you up to this weekend? Whatever your plans, I hope you kick up your feet, relax, and enjoy it! xx, em