So what have I been cooking?

So what have I been cooking?

Hmmmmmmm let's see.

Banana Foster pancakes - ham - chicken curry - homemade dinner rolls - pot roast - bean soup - lentil soup - jambalaya - steaks - baked potatoes - a 20 pound turkey - cookies - OH YEAH! The cookies!!!!

So after not seeing each other for almost nine months - I get Debbie and Gail into my new house. Ah, the excitement! Ah, the alcohol!! And we roll and we scoop and we sweat over our cookies and what happens?

Cookie Rustlers!!

Dag Nabit! We turn our backs for one minute and woosh! So if you did not receive you allotment of cookies from me this year - Blame it on the rootin', tootin' varmits!

However, I will not let this dastardly deed crush the spirit of the Cookie Confab.This was a time of togetherness. A time to catch up on the last twelve months and remember what friendship is really about. A time to ooooh and ahhhh over pictures of grandbabies. A time for us to drink pina coladas and Irish coffee while waiting on the timer to ding. But mostly it was a time for us eat all the “broken” cookies and swap recipes.

Who needs elves? Keebler - eat your heart out!

This was a rather rushed affair this year – no pre-Confab planning lunch or shopping trip. Our new work schedules kept us from getting down to that kind of detail this year, but we still managed to coordinate enough that we actually got some baking done.

The cookies weren’t the only thing getting baked!!

We baked some of our old favorites: Gingersnaps, Cut-outs, Pecan Sandies plus few more. Truth be told, I still do not have all my cookbooks unpacked yet, so I was relying on some of my old typed recipes, magazines and Internet sources this year.

Snickerdoodle Roses from Gail

Oh GingerSnaps!

New on this year’s roster was a lemon cut out with pistachio topping. Debbie found the recipe in one of the every present Christmas cookie magazines that start showing up in the checkout lane in October. I think her magazine was from Taste of Home. I was worried they would taste like they had been dipped in Lemon Pledge, but the flavors were just right. Annie kept sneaking in and eating them “to save you from yourselves.” Thank you Annie for throwing yourself on that grenade!

Debbie Cookies

The other recipe I tried was from Better Homes and Gardens. These cookies were supposed to remind you of a certain famous coconut and almond candy bar. The flavor was close, but almost too sweet. The almond flavor was over whelmed by the sweet coconut. The biggest disappointment was the chocolate topping. I melted the bittersweet chocolate as instructed, but it never really set up once it was on the bars. I tucked it into the fridge and the chocolate got so hard you couldn’t cut it without breaking even after setting out for about 30 minutes. I couldn’t help thinking there had to be a better way to do this…maybe something like almond -coconut tassies? More work than a bar cookie, which is one of the reasons I was drawn to this recipe, but the current recipe just isn’t working for me…

However, these were one of the cookies the rustlers favored - so maybe they were worth making a second batch.

Here is the original recipe

Now here is what I did to change it!

Coconut and Almond Bar Cookies - Rosie Style!

Makes 36 bars


2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1-1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter, melted
1 14-ounce package flaked coconut
1 14-ounce can (1 1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk
12 ounces dark chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, leaving enough hanging over the edge to form a cookie sling. Place graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup of the almonds, and the brown sugar in a food processor. Cover and process until almonds are finely chopped. Add butter; cover and pulse with four or five on-off turns or until mixture is well combined. Press crumb mixture onto bottom of the ungreased, lined baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes. Allow to cool until just warm to the touch.

2. Combine coconut and sweetened condensed milk in a medium bowl. Spread mixture evenly over crust. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup almonds evenly over coconut layer. Now sprinkle the chocolate pieces on top of the almonds and coconut. Bake for 10 minutes.

3. As soon as you remove the pan from the oven, spread the now-melted chocolate chips evenly over top of baked bars. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. (If desired, chill in the refrigerator until the chocolate is set.) Once cooled, but before the chocolate gets really hard, pull the bars out of the baking dish using the foil sling. Using a long sharp knife,cut into bars. If your chocolate is too hard, score it with a paring knife along your intended paths of destruction to encourage even breaks. And if you try everything and they still come out looking crappy - the taste will be just fine.

To store: Place bars in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Let stand for 30 minutes before serving.

Reasons why I think my version is better:

  1. I use one less bowl. Less clean up means more time to drink.
  2. I use a single bag of chocolate chips. It means you spend less and you don't have a half bag of chips looking for a use - or ending up as snacks which don't really taste good with pina coldas .
  3. The chocolate is thinner and allows for easy cutting.
  4. The foil sling lets you liberate your pan for another batch of cookie. I don't know about you, but I only have two 13x9x2-inch pans and they are in constant use during cookie season.
  5. I remove a whole step by melting the chocolate on top of the cookies instead of in another bowl. Why is this important? See reason 1.
If anyone would like any of this year's cookie recipes, please let me know. I will be happy to share them with you!

I know...I know...

I know its been a long time since I last posted. To be truthful, I've been having a lot of fun doing stuff instead of writing about doing it. Selfish...totally selfish. Sorry if that hurts anyone's feelings, but there it is.

I still don't quite have the new kitchen up to snuff, but damn...the room...I even have my kitchen bitch Tony slaving along side of me without stepping on each other's toes. Hell, even when the Cookie Confab met up we still had plenty of room with three cooks baking away.

First things first - I finally got Annie to loan me her camera. Mine is still conveniently MIA - being held hostage by the Underwear Gnomes I wouldn't doubt. You damn gnomes cannot have my lacey underalls!!!

Let me give you a tour of the new digs:

This is my new “kitchen” table. I got it at a used office supply place with the original intention of using it in the basement. However, once I got it home, the kitchen seemed like a perfect location. Its sturdy – I had Annie sit on it and hop around. Not a wiggle. Plus I love “putty” as a kitchen color theme, don’t you? Oh and the drawer holds 500 sheets of parchment paper! Ding Ding Ding!! Jackpot!!!

I added three really heavy duty bar stools I rescued from a thrift store. I had Tony hop around on these – still no wiggling. True, they are a little tall for the table, but are perfect for working at the sink or other counter tops.

This is my new stove. I know you were expecting something high end – maybe a Viking or something like that. Nope. Here is the best thing about this stove: It works. The stove at my old place was a no name, cheap-assed electric range. It probably worked fine when it was new – 30+ years ago! Towards the end the oven would vary up to 50 degrees and two of the stovetop elements would barely work. It’s one of the reasons why I stopped cooking at home and started eating out so much. It was depressing to get things prepped only to have them burst into flames halfway through baking time.

These are my cupboards. I think the term you are looking for is “retro” – not damn old. They may be a bit dated but I love them. They remind me of the cupboards in my mother’s kitchen – even down to the handles. Yeah they may be old, but to get the same quality of wood and construction in new cabinets, I would have to spend a small fortune. No MDFB here baby!

And this is my fridge. Once again – nothing fancy, but it works!! It doesn’t leak water all over the inside, the stuff in the freezer stays frozen and it doesn’t wheeze like an old steam engine every time the compressor comes on.

And last but not least - I now have a kitchen mascot! His name is Jim Swine. Loving crafted by my daughter, he holds a place of honor on top of our fridge.

You will get to see more of this facility as I get back into cooking. I am more interested in function than fashion – so don’t expect me to worry about how pretty something is as long as it works.

Next Time: The 2009 Cookie Confab!