I’m calling these “version 2” since they are not Nini’s version, which is my standby.  Wanted to try a different recipe, which was labeled “crispy, chewy choclate chip cookies”.   I actually think Nini’s recipe is chewier – these were definitely very very good, but were a bit cakier.  They did not taste good straight out of the freezer, unlike Nini’s cookies, so should be kept at room temp.

Chocolate chip cookies

I used this cookie recipe base with the holiday themed / colored Nestle Toll House chocolate chips.  I liked them better with those than with M&Ms. 

Cookie recipe

This was delicious. I used the melted butter rather than the butter flavoring.

Here’s the recipe.


This was delicious and even great leftover the next day – I made a few changes as noted below:

–substituted walnuts for the pecans (just because I like them better)
–added some dried cranberries
–added some chopped red onion since I had some extra sitting around
–I roasted the sprouts instead

Next time I may try a balsamic vinagrette rather than the red wine vinaigrette or even just a balsamic syrup on the salad.


The kids were asking for muffins randomly so I decided to make some pumpkin muffins.  I took the muffins and glaze (slightly adapted – see below) from this recipe but didn’t have the energy to do the struesal topping – although I am sure it makes them more delicious).

Pumpkin Muffins

For the glaze (which was a bit runny, my fault – didn’t measure the milk), I added in a splash of maple syrup – inspired by this recipe

Glaze (and alternative recipe that I must try)

Update:  Carl deemed this “not blog-worthy” for what it’s worth 🙂  Admittedly they were good but maybe not great

These were amazing – Carl thought they were the best cupcakes that he has ever had!  Found them on a recipe blog that I love but note that they are adapted from Barefoot Contessa.  We of course had to add pink and purple food coloring to our frosting.  Picture to come….


Here’s the recipe for my mom’s amazing banana bread (aka “Nini bread” by my kids).  I usually get about 1 cup of mashed bananas from 2 very ripe bananas.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup of sour cream (the secret ingredient!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts (optional – I usually omit so the kids will eat!)

Cream together first 3 ingredients in a mixer with paddle attachment.  Add mashed bananas and vanilla.  Lightly mix in dry ingredients and sour cream.  Stir in nuts if using.  Bake for 1 hour at 350.

Pioneer Woman’s flank steak

I think this is my favorite so far – but I think I say that every time!  This turned out particularly well for some reason – could have been the marinate or just the quality of the steak.  We also grilled some green onions with it – got that idea from another recipe that I can’t seem to locate now.

Black Bottom Cookie Bars

These are incredibly simple and use ingredients I usually have on hand.  Great for when you want something quick, easy and delicious.


Made this tonight and it was amazing.  I had a feeling I would love it as it includes so many of my favorite ingredients.  I thought the cilantro might be weird in the salad but it was really good (if you like cilantro). I used a mixture of Boston lettuce, baby arugula and baby spinach.  We also added crumbled blue cheese.  Some of my other tweaks are noted below.

Dressing – I thought 1/3 cup of sugar seemed like an awful lot so I did a scant 1/3 cup.  Even still, the dressing was quite sweet so I will probably take it down to 1/4 a cup next time.  I didn’t use the minced onion (because I didn’t have any!) and I didn’t include the sesame seeds (seemed like an unnecessary addition that would compete with other flavors).  I also just used olive oil instead of a mix of vegetable and olive oils.

For the nuts, next time I think I will leave out the cinnamon.  While tasty, it just seemed somewhat of an odd flavor with all of the rest of the flavors in the salad.