Homemade Oreo© Cookies

Recipe by: Brown Eyed Baker

One word: Amazing. If you have any affinity for Oreo cookies at all, you will happily devour these without looking back. Two chocolate wafer cookies that sandwich a vanilla cream between them – if you close your eyes you may not even notice that they didn’t come out of a blue package. Well, that’s not entirely true. They are better because they’re homemade, of course. The familiar chocolate wafer packs an insane amount of richness and a perfectly balanced flavor, thanks to the use of Dutch-processed cocoa powder. And the vanilla cream in the middle? The texture is perfect and you can easily twist these apart just like you did when you were a kid. Whether you lick off the cream the middle, eat one side at a time, or dunk the whole thing in milk, one thing is certain: you will absolutely enjoy eating these. You’ll feel like a kid again, all while enjoying a grown-up, non-processed version of a favorite cookie.

For the Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Garnish: Decorative sugar (optional)

1. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

2. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in yolk and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms. Divide dough in half and form each piece into a 6-inch square, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, 2 to 3 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two baking sheets or line with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

4. Roll out 1 piece of dough between sheets of parchment paper into a 14×10-inch rectangle (1/8-inch thick). Slide dough in parchment onto a tray and freeze until dough is firm, about 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.

5. Cut out as many rounds as possible from first chilled square with a 2-inch fluted or round cutter, reserving and chilling scraps, then quickly transfer cookies to a buttered baking sheet, arranging them ½ inch apart. (If dough becomes too soft, return to freezer until firm.)

6. Sprinkle half of cookies with decorative sugar (if using), then bake cookies until baked through and slightly puffed, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on sheet on rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely (cookies will crisp as they cool).

7. Make more cookies with remaining dough and scraps (re-roll only once).

8. To make the filling, beat the butter and shortening together at medium speed until combined and smooth. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Increase the speed to high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until the filling is light and fluffy.

9. To assemble the cookies, pipe a heaping teaspoon of filling onto the flat side of the plain cookies. Top with the sugared cookies to make sandwiches. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Yield: About 3 dozen sandwich cookies

(Adapted from Gourmet, December 2007)

That Girl's Rainy Day Cookies

It's pouring rain today and we have company arriving this afternoon...what to make for everyone's enjoyment? How about cookies?!?

I starting grabbing ingredients out of the pantry and came up with this recipe; which is sure to bring sunshine to a rainy day.  It has a bit of everything in it from oatmeal to chocolate chips as well as raisins.  I love using organic sugar (aka unrefined evaporated cane juice) for baking as it creates a nice bit of crispness on the outside and softness in the middle of cookies. We are enjoying some of these Rainy Day cookies with our coffee this morning...we hope you enjoy them too.  Have a great weekend.

That Girl's Rainy Day Cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes; Yields: 48 cookies (4 dozen)

•1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon Mediterranean Sea Salt
•1 teaspoon Ground Saigon Cinnamon
•1 cup Organic Sugar (evaporated cane juice)
•1/2 cup packed brown sugar
•1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
•2 large eggs
•2 tablespoons nonfat milk
•2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
•2 1/2 cups Quaker© quick oats
•1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
•1 cup Raisins
•1 cup chopped Walnuts
•1/2 cup shredded Coconut


PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat sugars and butter in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, morsels, raisins and nuts; mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Diner-Style Strawberry Shortcake

My strawberry plants are growing like crazy and they just keep producing the most lovely of fruit. They are so fragrant, juicy and delicious that I had to find a wonderful strawberry shortcake recipe to make for the weekend.

This is a gorgeous cake and a bit more complicated than I usually try (I'm more of a sheet cake kinda gal), but this just spoke to me. I hope you give it a try and most importantly, enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Wayne Harley Brachman, Retro Desserts, Harper Collins Publishers, 2000

Prep Time:15 min
Cook Time:40 min

•Non-stick vegetable spray, for coating the pans
•1 1/2 cups cake flour
•1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•3/4 cup milk
•3 tablespoons unsalted butter
•1 tablespoon vanilla extract
•1 teaspoon lemon extract
•3 large eggs
•1 1/4 cups sugar
•2 pints fresh strawberries
•1 recipe whipped cream frosting

Whipped Cream Frosting:•1 teaspoon gelatin
•2 cups heavy cream
•1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven. Lightly coat 2 (9-inch) cake pans with nonstick vegetable spray. Line the bottoms with a circle of baking parchment.

Into a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, 3 times. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and lemon extracts. In separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale yellow, and fluffy, and doubled in volume. While still beating, drizzle in the hot milk mixture. Fold in the flour mixture. Spread the batter in the prepared pans and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden, the center springs back when lightly pressed, and a cake tester comes out clean. Set the pans on a rack to cool. Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the cakes to loosen them, and turn them out of the pans.

Whipped Cream Frosting:
In a medium bowl, mix together the gelatin and 1/4 cup of the cream. Let rest for 5 minutes to soften, then place the bowl over barely simmering water until the gelatin has completely dissolved. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool to tepid. In the meantime, in a mixing bowl, whip the cream until slightly thickened. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and whip to the consistency of shaving cream. Fold 1/2 cup of the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture, then fold in the rest.

Wash and dry the strawberries. Pick out the 12 best. Stem and slice the rest. Lay the sliced berries over 1 cake, then spread a 1/2-inch layer of whipped cream on top. Place the second cake over the first. Frost the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream. Top with the 12 whole berries.

Crock Pot Stuffed Red Peppers

If you're a regular reader then you know about my love affair with the crock pot. These beef and cheese stuffed red peppers are cooked in the crock pot and to make things even simpler we used a rice and vermicelli mix from Rice-A-Roni©. Enjoy!

Photo by: Katy Stovall
6 red sweet peppers
1/2 medium onion
1 pound lean ground beef
1 package Rice-A-Roni© chicken flavored rice and vermicelli mix
1 cup frozen organic white corn
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Mediterranean sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Pam© Nonstick cooking spray
1 8-oz can tomato sauce

Wash red peppers and cut tops off. Clean out seeds from inside of peppers. Chop the tops of the peppers and set aside.

Chop the onion.

Saute ground beef in skillet until lightly brown. Drain off grease. Add beef back to skillet and saute with chopped onions and chopped pepper tops until peppers start to soften.

In medium bowl, add Rice-a-Roni, beef mixture, corn, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and cheese. Mix well.

Scoop mixture evenly into the six peppers.

Lightly coat the inside of the crock pot with cooking spray for easy cleanup. Place the filled peppers in the slow cooker. Pour the tomato sauce evenly over the peppers. Cook for 6 to 8 hours on low-heat setting or 3 to 4 hours on high-heat setting.

Arroz con Pollo y Frijoles

Arroz con pollo means "Rice with Chicken" in Spanish. It is a classic dish of Spain and Latin America, with many different traditional ways to prepare it, unique to various countries. An arroz con pollo you find in Cuba may be quite different than one you find in Peru. You can also add chopped bell peppers (cook with the onions) or peas (mix in at the end). It's an easy, stove-top, one pan dish, great for family meals. This juicy golden brown chicken on a bed of tender moist Mexican rice and savory refried beans with cheese is sure to please! Thanks to Rosarita for this delicious recipe.

Rosarita Recipes

Total Time: 35 minutes; Makes 6 servings

2-1/2 pounds chicken thighs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
1 cup long-grain rice, uncooked
2 cans (10 oz each) Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
1 can (14 oz each) chicken broth
1 can (16 oz each) Rosarita® No Fat Traditional Refried Beans
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Season chicken with garlic, salt and pepper. Spray large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Place chicken, skin side down, in skillet. Cook 7 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove chicken from skillet.

Add rice to skillet. Brown rice in pan drippings over medium heat about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add undrained tomatoes and broth; blend well. Place chicken on top of rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken is no longer pink.

Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm.

Drop beans by tablespoons onto rice; sprinkle with cheese. Heat an additional 5 minutes or until beans are hot and cheese melts. Serve with chicken.

Grilled Mahi with Mango Salsa

This is a wonderfully easy recipe to prepare and will please just about everyone. This is a favorite mahi mahi recipe at our home. We use Costco's Mango Salsa sometimes or make our own when we have more time. Enjoy!

1 cup red onion, charred and chopped
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup mango puree
1 quart diced mango
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Dash of coarse ground pepper
Enough fresh mahi mahi steaks for six people

Peel and slice the red onion into two or three large pieces. Char pieces on a grill. Then remove, and rough chop into 1/4" pieces.

Dice the mango and red pepper.

Stir mango, red pepper, and mango puree together then add a dash of coarse ground pepper.

Before serving, heat in microwave or on stovetop for three minutes, then add scallion and cilantro.

Lightly salt and pepper the mahi mahi on both sides. Depending on size of your filets, grill six to eight minutes per side over med-high heat. Make sure not to overcook; fish should still be moist when you poke it with a fork, and flake easily.