Cross My Heart, Hope to Die, Stick a Needle in My Eye

Today I am posting the most important information that I have ever shared! I guarantee it will change your life. I am so sure about this one that I “Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.”

It is for the greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies ever!

Now trust me when I say, that I have never met a Chocolate Chip Cookie I didn’t like. You just can’t go wrong when you mix brown sugar, butter and chocolate. Heck, I even burnt 2 batches of Chocolate Chip Cookies on my children’s first day back to school this year for their special treat and even those weren’t too bad.

However, I have been baking since I was a small child and have probably been making cookies for over 2 decades but all the Chocolate Chip cookies I have made always had some flaws. I’ve tried numerous different recipes. Some were too dry. Some were too moist. They were never good enough to give to anyone except my immediate family.

Here I am at age 7 with the first cake I ever made! I really thought I did a stroke with this one!!!

Here I am at age 7 with the first cake I ever made! I really thought I did a stroke with this one!!!

Admittedly, I am not a good baker. I make mistakes. I forget how many cups of flour I’ve put in. I don’t take the time to measure correctly. I throw everything in at the same time even when it says to beat separately. I probably should just stay out of the kitchen but nothing beats a cookie straight out of the oven. You just can’t buy that in a store!

In pursuit of having the perfect cookie I went on a crusade and did a lot of research this past year. I combined a couple of different recipes I found and I have finally reached my goal of making a Chocolate Chip cookie I felt confident in giving to people!

I believe the whole secret is mixing the baking soda in hot water. It must make some serious magic in these cookies and create a chewy center with a crisp outside. I also found that a lower oven temperature is key.

So go ahead and whip up some Chocolate Chip Cookies and spread some love. We gave last week’s batches to the crossing guards that the children use on their way to school and home. This week’s batches were given to my parents and to our mechanic!

The Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!

The Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!

The Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever


  • 1 C. butter softened
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1 C. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. hot water
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 C. chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Cream together the butter, sugar and brown sugar until smooth.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Stir in the vanilla
  • Dissolve baking soda in 2 tsp. hot water and add to batter along with salt
  • Stir in flour and chocolate chips
  • Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet
  • Bake for about 10 minutes


There’s An 80 Year Old Lady Trapped Inside My Body

I’m quite certain there is an 80 year old woman trapped inside my body. I’ve known this since an early age when my love of butter pecan ice cream, dates and prunes were not a popular favorite amongst other 9 year olds.

I’ve never considered myself “hip” or “cool” and have never gone out of my way to achieve this status.

I have never bought into the newest fads, trends or technology. I wait years to make sure all the glitches are worked out or that the “newest thing” stands the test of time.

I would probably still be using a 35 mm camera had my husband not insisted 5 years ago that I would save a lot of money using a digital camera due to my habit of taking 1000 pictures a month and the amount of money I was spending on developing costs.

I have no fancy gadgets in my kitchen. I still grate everything by hand and if I need chopped nuts …out comes a hammer.

I did a blog post one day for a recipe for carrot cake. My father was flabbergasted that I made mention in my story that I still grate carrots by hand. He insisted my mother buy me a food processor for my next birthday.

I few weeks ago I celebrated my birthday and my mom came with a wrapped present containing my first ever modern gadget….the food processor.

My mind instantly went to a recipe I had seen on 100 Days of Real Food that I thought looked really good, easy, contained dates but…..required a food processor. I had dismissed the recipe because it required a date paste and there was no way I could make this without this modern gadget!

The recipe was for Larabars.

Now if you’ve ever heard of a Larabar I think it means you’re “hip” and “cool.” I think you can only buy these at “cool” places that I never go to. They are wholesome snacks that generate a lot of buzz amongst the healthy crowd. They are expensive. I would NEVER buy these.

Equipped with my new food processor and a recipe containing my beloved dates I could make these and possibly even call myself a little “cool.”

I had the kids help me execute this recipe last weekend. The kids and I were excited to press the buttons and watch our ingredients twirl around in our new toy. It was magical watching it all spin into the gooey paste.

The outcome was a big disappointment to me though. They tasted nothing like dates. The peanut butter in the recipe took charge. My two older children will not eat them because they don’t like the consistency. My youngest son likes them so he has been the receptacle for all of them. He is “cool.”

Here is the recipe I used and more can be found on 100 Days of Real Food’s website:

Ingredients for our Larabars and my new food processor

Date/Peanut Butter Larabar

1 C. dates

½ C. peanut butter

½ C. peanuts (optional: I threw these in to really see what my new food processor could do!)

2 Tbsp. of flax seed (optional)

2 Tbsp. water or more if necessary


  • Put ingredients in food processor and combine until mixture is of paste quality and no longer crumbly
  • Scoop out mixture onto cutting board and work it with hands to get it all formed into one clump
  • Grab small handful and pat into a square in your palms
  • Wrap each square into plastic wrap
  • Can be left at room temperature or stored in refrigerator

Our Larabars

I personally will be using the remainder of my dates to go make a date pie to satisfy the 80 year old woman trapped inside my body!

I Accept Your Challenge

It’s a long standing joke in my family that I’m not the best cook. It’s a joke that has been rightfully earned after a long series of mishaps. There was the time I showed up at a family gathering with a strawberry pie that was really just soup in a pie shell. I had misread the recipe. I still brought it to the party in hopes by some sort of miracle the pie would set up. A normal person would have just kept it at home and said they forgot it. There was also the time in my life when I thought baking powder and baking soda was interchangeable. It is not. This has produced many rock hard bakery goods that are not edible for human consumption. Even the birds will not touch them. I know because I’ve tried. Even with figuring out my logical mistakes, many things still do not turn out. This is due to my inability to stay on task and read a recipe the whole way through or skip the parts that I just don’t feel are that important.

Needless to say, my family got wise and began requesting jars of pickles or sliced cheese for me to bring to the family gatherings.

I am trying to be better though and miraculously, I’ve been having some success. I make homemade tortillas on a regular basis and a couple of weeks ago I made homemade cinnamon rolls. I told my mom and she couldn’t believe it. I’ve NEVER had any luck with yeast or dough so this was a major accomplishment.

Instead of just patting me on the back, my mom gave me a challenge. Apparently, telling my mom that I made ONE batch of cinnamon rolls that people were able to eat has now launched me on par with a master chef in her eyes.

She handed me a recipe. My jaw dropped when I read the title. It was for Elephant Tracks. I LOVED these as a kid. I requested my mom to make these all of the time. She made them occasionally. She said they were a really big pain in the butt to make. In fact, they must have been such a big thorn in her side that I don’t think I’ve had one since I was 10 years old.

I read the recipe and realized this was beyond my…. one batch of cinnamon roll capabilities… but a challenge is a challenge. I accepted.

I took the recipe home and set to work. The first mistake I made was inviting my kids to help me. My kids generally help me in the kitchen (mainly because I do need help) but this is not a recipe to have kids help with. You need every bit of brain power you have to maneuver your way through this recipe. You cannot be expected to remember whose turn it is to dump the flour in or break up the argument of which kid is better at cracking eggs.

After getting the dough made and shooing the kids out, I collected my thoughts and let the dough rest.

I returned to the kitchen to complete the final task of rolling out the dough and then rolling it up into a spiral…very similar to making cinnamon buns. However, this dough was too gooey and instead of doctoring it with more flour and letting it rest again, I plunged forward and just kind of smooshed it all together. I felt defeated at this point and was shaking my fist at my mom in my head.

I put my Elephant Tracks in the oven and expected I had just started heating up my next joke.

15 minutes later, the timer dinged and alerted me that the culinary gods were shining down on me. I don’t remember my mom’s Elephant Tracks looking like this, but they tasted every bit as good. Somehow, in the oven, my smooshed up dough turned into a crispy, soft, buttery sweet piece of pure delight!

Apparently, there’s just no way to mess up anything containing this much butter and sugar. Go ahead, I challenge you!

Elephant Tracks

Elephant Tracks


  • ½ C. scalded milk
  • 2 Tbsp. shortening
  • ¼ C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 pkg. dry yeast dissolved in ¼ C. lukewarm water
  • 2 beaten egg yolks or 1 whole egg
  • 2 ½ C. flour
  • 1 ¾ C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ C.  melted butter


  • Combine scalded milk, shortening, sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm.
  • Dissolve yeast in the water. Add to first mixture.
  • Stir in eggs
  • Add flour all at once
  • The dough should be very stiff and should be worked until smooth
  • Turn dough out on floured board and let rest for 10 minutes
  • Mix together the 1 ¾ C. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Roll dough into rectangle
  • Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture.
  • Roll up and seal edges
  • Cut slices 1 inch thick
  • Working with one slice at a time, place both sides of slice into cinnamon/sugar mixture.
  • Place on greased baking sheet and flatten with hand.
  • Let rise for 30 minutes.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 15-18 minutes

Tomato Popsicles

This year we were lucky to have an abundance of tomatoes thanks to my parents and neighbors. The past couple of weeks our meals have included chili, stews, homemade spaghetti sauce and sides of just plain sliced tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.

Yesterday I was juicing the rest of our tomatoes to freeze because even though my husband and daughter eat them like candy there was even too many for them to go through before they went bad. I will use the juice for future stews, soups and chili.

While I was juicing an idea popped into my head!

Tomato Popsicles!!

One of my first blog posts was Rhubarb Popsicles so I am not a stranger to obscure popsicle flavors.

So into my popsicle mold went some of my freshly juiced tomatoes.

When the kids got home from school I presented them with this new and amazing snack. I told them it was a surprise flavor and they had to figure it out on their own.

Bency, my five year old thought it was watermelon and thought it was REALLY good (he hates fresh tomatoes).

Iris thought it tasted like a vegetable and really healthy and thought it was pretty good.

When I finally told them what it was Bency wouldn’t eat anymore while Iris started devouring it even faster saying it was the best popsicle ever!

Kids are weird. If you find yourself with an abundance of tomatoes try Tomato Popsicles!!

Bency eating a tomato popsicle

We Are Selling Our Cereal to the Supermarket

I realize I’m not the first person in the world to make their own cereal and hopefully after I show you this fun project we did I won’t be the last!

First, we made our cereal. I researched several recipes and kind of came up with my own that would work best for us:

Homemade Granola Cereal:

  • 4 C. old-fashioned oats
  • 2 C. coconut
  • ¾ C. vegetable oil
  • ½ C. honey
  • 1/3 C. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • Nuts, dried fruit or any other extras you desire


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  • Toss oats, nuts and coconut together in large bowl. (I didn’t have any nuts on hand so I didn’t add nuts to ours)
  • Whisk together oil, honey, brown sugar and in vanilla in another bowl.
  • Pour the liquids over the oat mixture and stir with a spatula until all the oats are covered.
  • Pour into a 13x8x1 sheet pan.
  • Bake for 30 min.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool. Stir occasionally so mixture doesn’t stick to pan.
  • Add dried fruit (we used dried cranberries)
  • Store in airtight container or Ziploc bag

All the kids getting ready to help…Cesar soon got kicked out because he wasn’t be very “helpful”








Make sure to use old-fashioned oats

Bency adding the coconut






Iris whisking the liquids

Iris adding the liquid to the dry ingredients







Iris stirring everything together

Our homemade granola cereal baking in the oven










While the cereal was cooking and cooling I gave each of my older kids the assignment to make a cereal label for the cereal they just made.

Iris named her cereal “Crunch, Crunch, Munch, Munch, Lick, Lick.” She drew a picture of our family. My husband and I are eating candy bars, the older kids are eating lollipops and the baby is eating a popsicle. I really think this girl might have a future in marketing. How brilliant to disguise a healthy cereal in a box covered in delectable treats!!

Iris’s cereal box “Munch, Munch, Crunch, Crunch, Lick, Lick”

My son Bency, named his cereal “The Life of Goodnis.” I like this! It sounds expensive (despite the misspelling)! It conjures up thoughts of enjoying a bowl of cereal, eating on a patio overlooking an ocean view!

Bency’s cereal box “The Life of Goodnis”

I put their homemade cereal in a Ziploc bag, put it in an old, empty cereal box and attached their new labels!

My kids really liked this project and they LOVED the cereal! Iris thinks we should present it to the “grocery store guy” and see if he wants to buy it from us!

I’ll let my future marketing executive handle the details!

Red Currant Fruit Pizza

I realize from my last stories you probably think we are at McDonald’s all the time so I felt obliged to set the record straight. I cook!! I cook a LOT!! As a family of five and being on a tight budget I prepare a good majority of our food from scratch. I do this for economic reasons, nutritious reasons and because a tiny part of me actually (cough, cough) likes to cook! I will never be a food blogger because I don’t measure, I don’t write things down…I throw things together and hope for the best. If they’re hungry enough they’ll eat it!

At a recent visit to my mom’s house the kids were looking for something to do (2 acres of open land to run and play and they can’t find anything to do…eyeroll anyone???). Nana gave them each a bucket and told them to go pick currants. With the kids busy, my mom and I discussed this mysterious fruit. She had made currant jam 4 years ago. It wasn’t the best alone on toast. I guess it can be good on lamb but neither of us cook lamb. What can you do with currants??? We had to find out quick because the kids came back with an ice cream pail nearly full of currants…..this is a time consuming job (great for kids)!!!!

Cesar, our almost two year old, picking currants

I looked on the internet and couldn’t find many ideas. There was a recipe for currant syrup which my mom made and is very good. I put it over the kid’s plain yogurt for sweetener and over waffles. When I looked up the health benefits on this berry I was astounded at how nutritious it was and put myself on a mission to do even more with it! Here is what I “threw” together!

Red Currant Fruit Pizza

Ingredients for crust:

1/2 C. butter, softened

3/4 C. white sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

Ingredients for cream cheese layer:

1 (8 ounce) pkg. cream cheese

1/2 C. white sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for currant sauce:

1 1/2 C. currants

1/4 C. water

2 Tbsp. corn starch

1/4 C. white sugar (you can increase or decrease this to your liking)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 C. sugar until smooth. Mix in egg. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Press dough into an ungreased pizza pan or 13×9 pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool.
  4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 C. sugar and vanilla until light. Spread on cooled crust.
  5. In saucepan add currants and 1/4 C. water and 1/4 sugar. Bring to boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Once the currants have cooked down add cornstarch bring heat up to medium and stir until you have a thick sauce. Let cool and spread over cream cheese layer. Add fresh fruit on top of filling if desired and chill.

Notes: If you are not a fan of seeds you will need to cook your currants down and then put through strainer. I don’t mind seeds so I left them in.

P.S. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of how beautiful it was! I rarely take pictures of our food but trust me it was gorgeous and delicious! A must take on your next get together!

Rhubarb Popsicles

My parents were generous enough to give me the majority of their rhubarb from their garden this year; partly because I asked nicely and partly because I expressed my children’s new addiction and I NEEDED it!

I grew up loving rhubarb pie. ( I once entered a contest as a child with a local ice cream company for a new flavor…rhubarb custard…I didn’t win…they sent me a pencil…I felt they made a BIG mistake.) Over the years all of my kids and my husband (he hails from New Mexico and never had rhubarb until he met me) have claimed rhubarb pie as their favorite.

This year, my mom gave me a handful of stalks to take home and make my pie. A few days went by and when I didn’t see a trip to the grocery store in the near future to get a pie crust I decided to make rhubarb sauce (think applesauce but only with rhubarb).

It was an instant hit with the kids so I went and got more and more to make this nutritious (I looked it up..rhubarb has tons of vitamins and health benefits) dish for the kids.

As I mentioned before, I am NOT a perfectionist. I do not measure when I cook. I have a LOT of things that do not turn out like they probably should. Over the years I have become a master at “fixing” and improvising. Anyway, when one batch of rhubarb sauce went awry when I added too much water I made popsicles.

My children were over the moon with this concept and had me check every hour or so to see if they were frozen. When they finally got one they were in agreement it was the best popsicle they ever had! The next morning they asked if they could have one if they ate all their oatmeal. I agreed and they felt they had really pulled one over on me; which they have been known to do on my really tired days (chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, sure why not).

My mother said it perfectly….”When life hands you runny rhubarb sauce, make popsicles”


Recipe for Rhubarb Sauce:

  1. Add chopped up fresh or frozen rhubarb to a pot (as much as your heart desires)
  2. Add a little water (not too much if you don’t want to make popsicles)
  3. Bring to a boil and unload the dishwasher
  4. Add a couple spoonfuls of sugar to give it a little sweet taste but keep it healthy
  5. Put to simmer and stir
  6. Change a diaper, get the mail, break up an argument between the older kids
  7. Stir again and let cool. Store in refrigerator and serve cold