What a great idea—a peanut butter and jelly sandwich disguised as a cookie! The imagination of other people always astounds me! This recipe successfully turns the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich into a delicious dessert or snack for anytime of the day. They are insanely good.

The top and bottom of the cookie are made with five ingredients, yes just five, so there is no excuse for not making them. And I bet you have all the ingredients right there in your pantry. The middle of the cookie is filled with a delightful peanut butter and jelly mix, turning a basic dessert into a decadent, luscious treat. When you bite into this cookie, the happiness you will feel will be infectious. Don’t think for minute you can eat just one!

Are you drooling yet? You should be, because these cookies are beyond description. Fabulous, amazing and incredible are just a few words that come to mind. But don’t just take my word for it; try it yourself. They are quick and easy to prepare. Put your aprons on and make these cookies–you and your family will be so grateful that you did!

This recipe is courtesy of Food52, Baking and will make 12 to 14 cookies that will make any person’s day joyful. 

Ingredients for Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cookies

1 cup peanut butter, plus more for filling the cookies
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Granulated sugar for shaping cookies
About 1/4 cup jelly or jam, for filling the cookies

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, egg baking soda, and vanilla in a large bowl and stir well. (I used my standing mixer for this)

Scoop out teaspoons full of the dough and put them on the lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.

Using a fork dipped in granulated sugar, gently press the cookies down.

Rotate the fork and press again to make the classic peanut butter crosshatch pattern.

The dough is quite sticky, so keep sugaring the fork to prevent sticking.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until the cookies are soft with light colored tops but the edges are set and beginning to brown.

Let cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Turn half of the cookies over and spread the flat side of each with a thin layer of peanut butter, then a teaspoonful of jam, spreading it almost to the edges of the cookies.

Top with remaining cookies.

(For longer storage, keep the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 days, then spread them with peanut butter and jelly right before serving.)

It’s that simple!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you are looking for a creamy, delicious, comfort side dish, look no further.

This side dish contains all the ingredients that will warm you up and satisfy you on these brutally cold winter days. That is, if you live in the northeast, of course.  All you other warm state people should make this also, because it is really delicious.

The pasta is mixed with gooey cheddar cheese, milk and butter. I choose sharp cheddar cheese, because that is one of my favorites, however, you could substitute any cheese you desire. Or mix it up by adding two different kinds of cheeses. That would make it even more hearty and luscious. You can substitute the carrots with red pepper or zucchini. Or just leave the vegetable out. This dish is so versatile it  would be exceptional anyway you choose to make it. It is a perfect side to any main dish. 

This recipe will serve 4 people who will be warmed by the pleasure of eating this cozy dish.

Ingredients for Cheddar Cheese Orzo

2 cups orzo
3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. milk
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese 
3 carrots, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Parsley (for garnish)

Bring a medium pot to boil with generously salted water. 

Add orzo and cook according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium sauce pan and add the carrots.

Cook until carrots are soft, about 3-4 minutes.

Drain pasta and place in a medium sized bowl.

Stir in the butter and carrots.

Add the milk, cheese, salt and pepper.

Garnish with the parsley.

It’s that simple!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! As has become the norm, I will be entertaining about 50 guests. As you can imagine, it is quite an undertaking. The process has forced me to maintain an organized kitchen, and as a result, I have become a much better cook.

I cook everything. This includes six or seven appetizers, soup, two twenty pound turkeys, 12 large turkey thighs (we are a dark-meat family), short ribs and another mystery dish. This year, I will be making veal stew. I also prepare about six or seven side dishes, including sweet potato pie, cranberry relish, and roasted mushrooms. I change the other three or four to add some unpredictability to my menu. 

How do I do this? Firstly, I spend about an hour making some physical changes to my dining room to accommodate everyone. Then, with the assistance of 3 other family members, I set the table, which takes about 3-4 hours. Making the table look different each year is a challenge so I start planning and coordinating my decor very early. My family helps me bring my vision to fruition.

The trick is to do as much as you can as early as possible. I start cooking and freezing about 2 weeks before the holiday. I buy my nonperishables a week before and my produce two days before Thanksgiving. I also prep early on too. Thankfully, I have family members who help me prep and cook on Wednesday, and we always have so much fun. They sleep at my house so they are here Thanksgiving morning, thankfully, (no pun intended).

So, now you can see how I accomplish hosting  50 guests and staying somewhat sane. Throughout the years, I have learned a few things, the most important of which is that when entertaining, your guests always come first. Thanksgiving is my families’ favorite holiday. I am honored that everyone chooses my home for this annual celebration. It is a blessing that I will never take for granted. Of course, my family did not start out this large. But nieces and nephews are getting married and having children, so it gets bigger every year. I will always find a place for them. No one misses Thanksgiving at my house. For that, I am grateful.

I will be taking the next week off to prepare for Thanksgiving. I wish all of you a very happy holiday!

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s that simple!

Although the title of this recipe may sound unappealing, the combination of bananas and chocolate chips make this bread truly delicious.

The author suggests that you let the bananas get so ripe that “you can smell them the minute you walk through the door”.  I did not wait quite that long, and the banana bread was still delicious.

This recipe was both quick and easy. After I set up my mis-in-place (and you should too) this bread whipped up in no time. If you love bananas, you will adore this recipe. The mixture of the bananas and the sour cream gave this bread a wonderful, smooth texture that made each bite divine. The very ripe bananas gave it a nice caramelized flavor and the bittersweet chocolate added the perfect amount of sweetness. Of course, the lemony glaze was the perfect topping for me. You can eat it for dessert, breakfast or just for a snack. It is delicious no matter when you eat it.

This recipe is courtesy of Cook This Now and will serve 8-10 people who will go “bananas” for this bread. 

Ingredients for Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1 /2 cups mashed, VERY ripe bananas (3-4 bananas)
1/4 cup sour cream or plain whole milk yogurt
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners sugar
4 tsp. freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease a 9 x 13-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.

Add the chocolate pieces and combine well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream or yogurt, lemon zest and vanilla.

Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until dark golden brown and a tester inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out of the pan completely.

While the cake is almost cool, prepare the glaze.

In a bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar and lemon juice until smooth. 

Drizzle the glaze on top of the cake, spreading it with a spatula to cover.

It’s that simple!

As the years progress, I have somehow inherited the role of hosting most of the holidays at my home. Don’t misunderstand me; that is NOT a complaint. In fact, I enjoy hosting the holidays at my home despite the work. My own family is growing so quickly. Nieces and nephews are getting married and having children. Ten guests have easily grown into 20 over the past ten years. I love having every one of them.

There are some ways that you can make hosting the holidays at your home easier. The most important thing is to be very organized. Plan your meal ahead. Find your recipes and make copies of them. This will keep your cookbook pages nice and clean! Organize your shopping list (read and reread so you do not omit anything) by the location of items in your grocery store (i.e., produce, baking goods). Bring the copies of the recipes with you just in case you need to refer to it while you are in the store.

You can easily shop for your non-perishables a week ahead and your produce 2-3 days ahead. This gives you ample time to run back to the store as needed. (Don’t we always forget something?).

Make what you can in advance. For example, soups, many appetizers and baked goods freeze really well, as does brisket. If you work, you might want to plan your menu around recipes that you can freeze. There are also those recipes that can be prepared the night before, so all you have to do is place them in the oven the next day. Any free time for you is the chance to spend more time with your guests. 

Throwing any holiday or family get-together does not have to be stressful. Create place cards for your guests. Turn off the bright lights and light candles, which will give your room a warm glow. Use cloth napkins and fold them in a special way. Don’t forget to plan the music. This will really help set the mood for your holiday. Do as much as you can in advance (i.e., set the table) and you will find yourself stress-free and enjoying every minute.

Onto the recipe for today. I wasn’t sure about the pecans. Then I thought why not?  I love almost any kind of oatmeal cookie. I love the texture and the chewy inside. It was worth a try.

To my surprise, I loved these cookies. They were crunchy on the outside and chewy and soft in the middle. They are like eating soft, flavorful mounds bursting with all that crumbly goodness.

Again, Ina Garten’s recipe is spot on. This recipe made about 25-30 cookies. I would make the mounds a little larger than 2-inches, as the recipe calls for. But maybe that’s just me. I like my cookies big. However you make them I know you will love them. It made a pecan-raisin walnut cookie lover out of me!

Ingredients for Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/2 cups pecans
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature 
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 1/2 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the pecans on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to cool.  Chop coarsely.

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.

pecan oatmeal cookies butter, sugar eegs vanilla

Sift the flour . baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together into a medium bowl. With the mixer n low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture.

pecan oatmeal flour sifted

Add the oats, raisins, and the pecans and mix until just combined.

pecan oatmeal oats rasins pecans combined 2


Using a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop 2-inch mounds of dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper.

pecan oatmeal on baking sheet

Flatten slightly with a damp hand.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

It’s that simple!