Natural Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

To start off, my family just temporarily moved across the country for the summer months, and we've had issues getting internet, hence the lack of posts (we still don’t have it—hopefully soon.). I have a very interesting (and outdated) kitchen situation in a hundred-year-old house; we are currently without a toaster, microwave, blender, crockpot, and…one of my most prized possessions, my Kitchen Aid
(*moment of silence*)
…not to mention we’re also without a full-sized fridge and oven! I just purchased a mini cookie sheet to fit in the mini oven. Woe is me! I’m sure any 1950’s housewife would tell me to roll up my sleeves and buck up a little.

Thankfully, these delectable cookies were still possible to make, with a little extra time and elbow grease (did I mention I miss my Kitchen Aid?).

And delectable they were.

There's nothing like the aroma of chocolate chips in the oven to make a house feel homey.

Natural Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from Carrie R.

1 ½ cups natural peanut butter* (I like Adams brand (crunchy), which I can only find in the Western U.S., unfortunately)

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 stick butter, softened

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

3 eggs

4 cups old-fashioned oats**

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Mix the first seven ingredients together (peanut butter through salt). Add eggs, beat well, and then mix in oats & chocolate chips. Spoon onto lightly greased cookie sheets & bake for 8-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Makes about 4 dozen.

*The original recipe calls for regular peanut butter. If you use that (such as Skippy or Jiffy), omit the salt.

**Original recipe calls for quick oats, but I prefer the texture (and wholesome-ness) of old-fashioned oats. Use whatever you have!


Cheater's Chicken Noodle Soup

The perfect cure for your springtime cold.

I've seen this recipe in a few different places. Very tasty...especially for how easy it is!

(If you want to be even more of a "cheater," buy a rotisserie
chicken like I did like some people do. :)

Cheater's Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes a large pot

4 quarts water
10 chicken bouillon cubes (I use "Better Than Bouillon" reduced sodium)
2-3 cups chopped carrots
1-2 cups chopped celery*
6 1/2 cups uncooked egg noodles (I use whole grain pasta)
2 cans cream of chicken soup (I use a homemade substitute for this)
3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 Tbsp onion powder
salt & pepper, to taste
8 oz. light sour cream

In large stockpot, combine water & bouillon cubes and bring to a boil. Add carrots & celery and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add noodles and cook for 8-10 more minutes. Add soup & chicken and heat through, stirring over medium heat. Add seasonings to taste. Remove from heat; add sour cream and stir to blend in.

Easy enough, right?

*I've also used green beans or peas in place of celery and it worked out great.


Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

My husband likes to call it dangerously decadent chocolate cheesecake! I make this once or twice a year for special occasions and have yet to take a decent picture of it...but trust me, it's divine. If you're into luxuriously rich, chocolatey desserts, this cheesecake is for you. I like to serve it with strawberries on the side.
And a huge glass of milk.

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake
At least 8 servings

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs*
2 Tbsp white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

In small bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press into bottom and sides of lightly-greased, 9-inch spring form pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Allow to cool. (Sometimes, in a hurry, I'll stick it in the freezer to help it cool faster.)

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened (room temp)
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

In small saucepan, heat chocolate chips and whipping cream, stirring constantly, until chips are melted. Remove from heat.

In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add cocoa and beat well. Add eggs and beat on low until just blended. Stir in vanilla and reserved chocolate mixture until blended. Pour over cooled crust and bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes or until center is almost set. (Cheesecake tip: When the cheesecake is almost done, I like to turn off the oven, crack the oven door, and let the cheesecake sit for 30 min or so. This tends to help prevent cracking...although this recipe has a topping that covers up any cracks!)

1/4 cup heavy chipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In small saucepan, heat whipping cream and vanilla, stirring constantly, until just before boiling. Have chocolate chips ready; pour in the hot cream and stir until smooth. Spread over baked cheesecake and refrigerate overnight (the flavor is better the day after). Serve with fresh strawberries.

*I usually use about 20 oreos (with the filling scraped off) and run them through the food processor to get them really fine.
**Sometimes I half the topping recipe to make the topping thinner; either way is yummy (in the photos above, I did not half the topping--it shows how thick the layer is).


Fettuccine Alfredo (Heart Healthy)

Fettuccine Alfredo is one of those ultimate comfort foods...but unfortunately usually packed with fat & calories. This recipe uses lower fat ingredients but still has loads of flavor! Nutmeg is the secret ingredient that perfectly unites all the creamy flavors together. Yum, yum, yum...

I found this in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. It makes 6 servings.

1 lb spinach fettuccine or linguine (I used whole wheat)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced*
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups fat-free half and half
1/4 tsp each salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg*
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and cook over low heat for one minute or until fragrant.
Whisk in flour, then slowly whisk in half and half until well combined. Whisk in salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and bring to a boil, whisking frequently (this recipe is a great opportunity to perfect your whisking skills!).
Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.
Drain pasta & return to pot. Add sauce and toss to mix and coat.

*Fresh minced garlic is essential for the best flavor!
*I loved the nutmeg but next time I might cut it down to 1/8 tsp or so. Just adjust according to your taste! This is more of a sweet-tasting alfredo.

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