best ever chocolate chip cookies

by jani on March 11, 2013

HB has been perfecting his chocolate chip cookie recipe for over 40 years. Each time he’s made these, our kids have always proclaimed, “Dad, these are the best ever!” This last batch, I can honestly say are, “the best ever!” These babies are to die for!

choc chip 3Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 c  flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c packed brown (we prefer dark brown) sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (actually, adding the extra vanilla makes the recipe!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup butter. softened
  • 2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 c toasted slivered almonds

Toast slivered almonds and pine nuts on cookie sheet at 325 F for 12 minutes (or until light golden brown). Let cool. Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine flour baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips  and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 12 minutes or until light golden brown.

choc chips 2My absolute favorite part is testing the cookie dough… over and over again!

choc chip 1These really are fabulous. The combination of toasted pine nuts and toasted slivered almonds just make these the perfect complement to the chocolate chips!

choc chip 4

I hope you enjoy these cookies. I welcome any comments!


auntie julie’s candied walnuts

by jani on December 21, 2012

These candied walnuts are a super quick  and easy treat; they only take about 15 minutes to make… and there are only five ingredients!

candied walnuts 9

I loved my Auntie Julie. She was perfect in every way. She was always stylish, had an adorable laugh and was so kind. She was also one of the best cooks I ever met! My Auntie Julie had been widowed during  WWII, when she was pregnant with her twin girls. She married my mom’s bachelor brother when the twins were five years old and I became the instant cousin of twins. It was so cool. Never did I realize that we would be blessed as well with twin girls one day!

Each year at Christmas,  Auntie Julie brought us an amazing cookie plate . Oh, how I looked forward to that plate and especially her cinnamon candied walnuts! I devoured as many as I could. So, in my adult years, I asked my aunt for the recipe. Below is a picture of Auntie Julie and Uncle Herbie as well as the original recipe that she gave me back in 1973!

candied walnuts Collage 1


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1-5 oz can of evaporated milk
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups walnut halves

Mix first four ingredients in large saucepan. Boil until soft ball stage (it will be foamy; drop a tiny bit into cold water, if it solidifies, but is still soft, it’s ready). Remove from heat. Add 1 tsp vanilla and approximately 4 cups walnut halves (or enough walnuts to absorb most of the liquid, as in photo below). Stir until mixture hardens (turns a bit white and dry). Turn out onto waxed paper and separate nut halves when cool enough to handle.

candied walnuts Collage 2

It will only take a few minutes before you can separate the walnut halves. You need to do this with a spatula while they are still warm. Let them completely dry on the waxed paper.

candied walnuts 10

Once dried, they are ready to add to your cookie plate!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have – as I’ve carried on my Auntie Julie’s tradition of cookie plates for my neighbors and loved ones! Happy holidays to all! 


daddy’s apple dumplings

by jani on October 8, 2012

My grandma died long before I was born. Actually, she died long before my mom and dad were married. Grandma was born in Kentucky at the beginning of the Civil War. I grew up hearing all kinds of fun stories about my dad’s childhood. His  favorite dessert were the apple dumplings  his mom made. The problem was – no one had Grandma Mattie’s recipe. So Mom started her years long search for just the right apple dumplings. She never made them quite like Grandma Mattie – but Daddy decided that the following recipe was the closest. The best part about the search was… we got to eat a lot of old fashioned southern apple dumplings!


  • 6 medium Granny Smith apples
  • 1 – 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 – 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 packages refrigerated pie crust (or make your own)

Roll pastry into rectangle (if making your own) to 1/8 inch thick . Cut into six squares. Peel and core apples.

Bring 1 cup sugar, 2 cups water, 3 Tbls butter and 1/4 tsp cinnamon to boil. Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon, place cored apples on pastry square. Evenly fill apples with cinnamon sugar mixture and dot with remaining butter. Encase each apple in pastry square, moisten with water to seal. Optional: cut out leaf pattern from remaining pastry and use a knife to score a line and cross with horizontal scores to resemble leaves. Place a few inches apart in casserole baking dish. Pour hot syrup around dumplings. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes on middle rack in oven. Mine were completely done after 30 minutes so watch closely.

Serve warm with cream, whipped cream or ice cream. These will be very sweet so be careful not to add too much sugar to your whipped cream.

These are so yummy on a cold fall evening. They were really easy to make and trust me… I’m not a fancy baker but these were a fun treat to make!

With the apple harvest here, there are all kinds of recipes. This just happens to be a childhood favorite of mine! What are some of your special apple treats? I’d love to hear!


grilled peaches with almond yogurt creme

by jani on September 24, 2012

A few weeks ago, I posted a yummy blueberry-peach cobbler with almond whipped cream. It was really good. But in looking for a healthier alternative, we came up with this fun recipe. It seems that we never know what to do with our peaches. Well, of course we can sit by the sink and spend hours preparing canned peaches… I know, I used to do this years ago. But now it’s just eat them fresh or freeze them for later. Our Utah peaches are just so large and juicy this year that grilling is a quintessential solution.

Ingredients for glaze:

  • We used two peaches for our mid-day snack. If you’d like a light dessert, 1/2 peach per person will work perfectly.
  • 1 Tbsp apricot or peach preserves
  • 1/2 Tbsp Nakano rice vinegar

Combine preserves and vinegar to make a glaze. Set aside. Heat grill (to about 350 degrees)

Ingredients for Almond Yogurt Creme: Serves 2-4

  • 8-oz (1 c) Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • approx 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 packets of Truvia sweetener (optional) or to taste

Combine all above ingredients in bowl and mix thoroughly. Chill if desired for later use.

Brush flesh of peach with glaze and place them flesh side down on hot grill. Grill for approximately 10 minutes (criss crossing for grill marks).

Spoon a couple of dollops of Almond Yogurt Creme onto each halved grilled peach.

This is just a delightful dessert and is healthy as well… that makes for a perfect combination! It’s a great time of year to be grilling – not too hot and not too cold. HB will grill all winter long (as long as there’s not a blizzard outside!)

How about you? Are you still enjoying your barbecue? I’d love to hear!