Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Happy Rainy Hump Day!

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain!" 

I'm so thankful for my eternally optimistic husband who finds as much enjoyment in these cliches as I do (ok, probably not quite as much), but with these cool, rainy days, it's a good time to reflect on that that really means.  

So, in an effort to dance in the rain, during this cold, wet stretch of not so springy weather, I decided to whip up some comfort food last night, rather than go straight to bed and wait for the storm to pass.  

Peanut butter cookies have always been my favorite, but once oatmeal is added, they are amazing!  As in, the best cookies I have ever had.

They have the perfect texture with a light crispy, crunchy edge and soft and chewy middle.

Thankfully these have oatmeal in them, that practically qualifies them as health food!

Starting with 2 1/2 cup of quick oats, add 1 1/4 cups flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, combine these ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Since the oats are so bulky, I do actually get these ingredients stirred up in a separate bowl.

In the mixing bowl, start with 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter and add 1 cup of peanut butter.  I always go with creamy, as that is what my kids prefer.  I'm sure chunky would be delicious too!

And, I never measure peanut butter…just want to go on record saying that.  I eyeball about 1 cup and go with it.  I know there is a fancy plunger-type measuring canister, that I don't have, but I would not waste the time getting an exact measure as half of the peanut butter would be lost in transition anyway.

Once those first two ingredients are creamed together, add 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs and 2 tsp vanilla extract.

Finally, I fold on the flour and oatmeal mixture, just with a wooden spoon.

I have actually experienced breaking off a mixer head while trying to mix something that is too, I've finally learned to error on the side of caution, at least as far as mixing is concerned.

The perfect size for this cookie, which yields 3 dozen, is the medium sized scoop from Pampered Chef.

Drop the dough balls onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 11-13 minutes at 350.  Again, I always go with the lesser amount of time to ensure the chewier texture for these cookies!

The finishing touch on these fabulously tasty morsels, are some chocolates on top.  (Here being executed by the extremely serious Ryker - wish I could share with you his adorable dimple when he smiles!).

Last night we went with mini kisses, which I think are fabulous!  It makes it that much easier to get a little chocolate in at least 3 bites.



2 1/2 cup of quick oats
1 1/4 cups flour
1tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 cup of peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract


Mix up first 5 dry ingredients and set aside. 

Cream together next 6 ingredients. 

Add to the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, fold together by hand. 

Bake cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 F for 11-13 minutes.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lemon Dill Baked Cod

Happy Sunday, if the rain stays away, even though it is cloudy, cool and windy, I will be one happy lady!

More soccer today...and while it is bad enough for the players who have to overcome the elements to play their games, it might be worse for those of us on the sidelines, since we are just sitting there, soaking up the raindrops.

I think it is fair for me to make that statement as I have completed my fair share of runs and rides in the rain and once you get started, it's not so bad to just keep going.  Perhaps invigorating to push on, whatever the conditions.  I have some very fond memories of biking with my dad in the rain, those are the kinds of stories that come up year after year.

Whenever returning from a brisk day in the outdoors, I'm always looking forward to a nice warm, healthy, home-cooked meal and today I've got just the one to fit the bill.

This perfectly flavored Lemon Dill Baked Cod recipe dates back to the days, or should I say, nights right after college when the girls and I would get together for dinner.  My friend Pam would make this dish.  She was always more advanced in her skills...while I was still making ramen noodles for dinner, she was serving delightful meals.

Without further ado, start by layering the baking dish with slices from 2 lemons.  I love how when the lemon juices boil, they burst the perfect amount of flavor into the cod loins.

Layer in the loins over the lemon, I used about 2 lbs of cod to feed my family and there weren't any leftovers...there's a shocker!

Top the fish with coarse sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and butter, before adding the fresh dill sprigs as the finishing touch.

Cover with foil and bake at 400 F for 20 minutes, which is when the cous cous and salad were whipped up.

It really is that easy to have a fresh, healthy meal for your family.

The biggest challenge, at least for me, is in the planning stages, having everything on hand and ready to go.  So, I put the frozen cod loins in the fridge the day before and then picked up some lemons and fresh dill at the store after work.

I can't wait to have my own dill, basil and mint growing on my deck this summer.  Do you grow your own herbs?  What are your favorites?


2 lemons  - sliced
2 lbs of thawed cod loins
1/4 cup butter, in thin pats
Coarse Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper - to taste
Fresh Dill Sprigs

Layer the bottom of the baking dish with the lemon slices. 
Next, add the thaw cod loins. 
Top with salt, pepper, butter and dill. 
Cover and bake at 400 F for 20 minutes. 

Serve with Tzatziki sauce (which I'm working to perfect) and a fresh lemon wedge.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Mini-Meatloaf(s) (gluten free, I might add)

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to the weekend!  We are kicking off our spring sports seasons this weekend with lots and lots of soccer, along with the first baseball game.  I'm planning on beautiful weather and will throw in lots of layers and rain gear, just in case.

Today I want to share with you a recipe for Mini Meatloaf(s).

Do you agree that there is just something so much tastier about mini...well, anything.

I've already told you how I feel about cupcakes, so cake pops would also fall into the same category.

As would mini-hot dogs, mini-cheesecakes, mini-burgers, mini-pizzas, get the picture.

They are inviting, as if to say "Here, I was made just for you!"

Despite a mom's night out for me earlier this week, I still wanted to leave the guys something equally tasty and comforting and the mini Meatloaves were just the answer.

These little Italian beefy bites are pretty quick and easy too! (Which is always welcome).

Started by adding 2 lbs of ground beef, 3/4 cup oatmeal (a gluten free alternative to bread crumbs), 2 tbsp of steak seasoning, 2 tbsp of Italian seasoning and 2 eggs to a mixing bowl.

I have no qualms about mixing this all up by hand, there is something therapeutic about getting my hands dirty, but do what you need to do.

However, if you choose to go the mini meatloaf route, I'm pretty sure you are going to have to, roll up your sleeves and dig in to make up about a dozen mini loaves, one for each reservoir in the muffin tin.

The mini version requires only about half of the cooking time as it's parental loaf. Just 20 minutes at 350 F.

Halfway through the cooking time, pull the pan out and spoon Italian seasoned tomatoes over the loaves, to cook down and soak in, for a little extra flavor and moisture.  (Add a tablespoon of Italian seasoning to a can of diced tomatoes.)


2 lbs of ground beef
3/4 cup oatmeal (a gluten free alternative to bread crumbs)
2 tbsp of steak seasoning
2 tbsp of Italian seasoning
2 eggs
1 tbsp of Italian seasoning 
1 can diced tomatoes

Combine the first 5 ingredients well in a mixing bowl. 
Divide into 12 individual mini-meatloaves. 
Place in sprayed muffin tins. 
Baked at 350 F for 20 minutes. 

Half way through, spoon the Italian Seasoned Diced tomatoes over top. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Homemade Strawberry Balsamic Dressing served over Blackberry, Goat Cheese and Chicken Salad

Even if the weather won't cooperate, I'm ready to start eating like it is summer.

Ready for fresh, flavorful, seasonal salads enjoyed on the deck with a glass of wine while the kids play in the yard.

Maybe it is just a daydream, but even if it is just in my mind, I'm ready for it!

So, for dinner tonight, I was inspired by one of the best homemade dressings that I have ever made, Strawberry Balsamic.

It was so good that I was literally licking the spoon after cleaning up after dinner.  I was thinking that perhaps olive oil and balsamic vinegar are the newest ingredients in a smoothie, just add spinach, blend and enjoy!

The second source of inspiration was goat cheese.  It is so smooth and creamy, pair it up with a variety of flavors and textures and the salad will at least bring summer to my dinner table.

Whenever I make a salad as my entree, I always want to ensure that there is enough protein to keep me full for a while.  The easiest, obvious choice, is chicken, but can always be beef or seafood.

To get started, I threw frozen chicken tenders in a pan with some oil over medium heat to thaw and cook. Frozen chicken tenders are my easiest go-to, they cook up quickly!  They were seasoned with some lemon pepper while they cooked.

The ingredients of the dressing, 2 cups of strawberries, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp brown sugar and some salt and pepper were tossed into a blender, pureed until smooth.

So easy, almost seemed too easy for the amount of deliciousness that resulted!

One a mix bed of spinach and romaine, the chicken was layer, then the blackberries, goat cheese and sunflower seeds before the sweet, fresh dressing pulled it all together.

The creaminess of the goat cheese coupled with the juicy texture of the berries, the perfect crunch from the sunflower seeds along with the chicken and crisp lettuce made for a salad that will be welcome as a repeat visitor at All Things Libby throughout the summer.  Especially as the seasonal produce evolves...the dressing and salad will evolve as well.



2 cups of strawberries
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
some salt and pepper, to taste

Cooked Chicken Tender - seasoned with lemon pepper
Goat Cheese
Sunflower Seeds

Blend the first 6 ingredients in blender until smooth. 

Prepare salad by layering components and topping with dressing. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fresh and Bright Shrimp Scampi with Gluten-free Pasta

Hope everyone had a great Easter weekend with friends and family.  Thankfully, the weather finally warmed up and was able to celebrate with a friend and mimosas on the deck enjoying the long-awaited sunshine while the kids were continuing to enjoy the holiday by hiding the eggs in the yard.

Hubby finally made it home from work in time for a traditional Easter meal of ham, cheesy potatoes, grilled asparagus and the family favorite Rhodes rolls in the evening and we enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood.  Of course too much sugar was consumed, wouldn't be a holiday without it!

The recipe I want to share with you today is for a fresh, bright, light scampi sauce served with shrimp over pasta.  This was our first adventure with gluten-free pasta and I think it went over pretty well.  Our oldest was the only one who objected.  The rest of us enjoyed it just the same.

With a medley of flavors like this, the fact that anyone even noticed that the pasta was gluten free is beyond me!  I couldn't get over the party that was going on in my mouth!

On with the recipe…Since the sauce itself comes together very quickly, I got the pasta water started first to ensure enough time for the proper cooking.  The 12 oz box of gluten free pasta was Ronzoni and I have no complaints.  But, would always be willing to hear others' recommendations for gluten-free pasta.  

The shrimp scampi started with two tablespoons of butter over medium heat, tossed in one tablespoon of minced garlic and one pound of shrimp.  More shrimp would always be welcome by the gents in my house, so if you've got it, go for it!  Then, top the shrimp with a teaspoon of ground (or crushed) red pepper.

Also, some salt and fresh ground pepper, just a light layer is my definition of "to taste!"  Can always add more later!

I love the mild, underlying, lingering heat in this dish, thanks to the red pepper.

After the shrimp are mostly cooked, seriously, only takes about 5 minutes if they are properly thawed, we can get this scampi sauce under way.

Start with a quarter cup of white wine, I had a Chardonnay on hand that complimented this dish perfectly.

Then, add the juice of half of a lemon or less than a quarter cup of prepared lemon juice.  This adds the brightness to the dish.  Oooooh, I'm salivating at the thought!

While the sauce is simmering, I have to add in my signature vegetable.  This time it was a couple handfuls of fresh spinach, because it wilts perfectly, so quickly.  (Apparently we were in some hurry, but I can't remember for the life of me what could have been so important! Irony at it's finest!)

Other vegetable additions that would work include asparagus, as it is quite seasonal right now, or green beans, as they are always a  popular option.  Just to name a few, but really the options are endless.

Upon draining the cooked spaghetti and serving the shrimp, sauce and spinach over top, the plates were topped with some fresh Parmesan and dried basil (fresh would have been delightful as well...can't wait for the garden!)

I haven't stopped thinking about this dish since we enjoyed it last week.  The brightness of the fresh citrus, coupled with the nutty Parmesan and Chardonnay notes, finished with the lingering heat of the red pepper....I was in heaven!



12 oz box of gluten free pasta
2 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp of minced garlic
1 pound of shrimp
1 tsp of ground (or crushed) red pepper.
salt and fresh ground pepper - to taste
1/4 cup of white wine
Juice of half of a lemon (or less than 1/4 cup prepared juice)
Fresh spinach
Fresh Parmesan


Cook pasta according to instructions.

Melt butter over medium heat in large saute pan.
Add garlic and shrimp, season with red pepper, salt and pepper.
After tossing once, after about 2-3 minutes, add wine and lemon juice.
Bring to a boil.
Add vegetables.

Serve sauce over cooked pasta, top with Parmesan and basil.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Set it and Forget it Shredded Beef (for Burritos and so much more!)

Feels like there have been a few too many treats around the All Things Libby family lately, between Easter coming up and a birthday celebration, not to mention some overripe bananas, so another batch of   Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins were made.  This time with 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed added to continue to challenge the how-much-health-food-can-I-add-to-these-before-you-notice-it threshold. 

Still, ah-mazing!  Nothing, other than deliciousness, detectable.

So, before you are all convinced that we don't eat anything other than gluten and sugar laden treats, I thought I'd bring back a super easy and versatile dinner option.

Ours was made with some of the last remaining venison steaks from our freezer, but is ideal for a beef roast (or chicken breasts) and after a day in the slow cooker, can be used for some sandwiches, burritos or quesadillas, depending on what you have on hand and what you are in the mood for.

Most importantly, I'm thrilled to have finally been able to consistently achieve moist tender roasts in the crockpot.  I was struggling with that for a while and I was worried I my family was going to lose faith in me.

First thing into the crockpot was the meat, seasoned with a salsa seasoning (which can be a source of spicy-ness that my kids weren't thrilled with) as well as steak seasoning.  Then, I poured in a can of diced tomatoes and a half cup of water, which definitely helps with the tender and moistness that was evading me.

After cooking on low for nearly 8 hours, the meat was extremely could-barely-get-it-out-of-the-slow-cooker-without-it-splashing-back-into-the-juices-as-it-fell-apart tender.

The fat, which also aids in the moistness of the meat, was trimmed before shredding.  Then, a few large spoonfuls on the juice from the slow cooker were added back, as much as the meat would absorb upon stirring.

It's a fine line between being dry and being soggy, but I know my family would prefer a little more moist than not enough.

Finally, the burritos were prepared with some shredded cheese, corn and black bean salsa and, of course,  wouldn't be complete without Libby's Chunky Guacamole, finally topped with a dollop of sour cream.

Truth be told, about half way through this meal, I abandon the tortilla shell and just devoured the filling.  Qdoba is on to something with their burrito bowls.

In the future, I'll just leave the tortillas for the Chicken Quesadillas.

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

I don't know about you, but I have always been a big fan of cupcakes.

Not sure why, but in my mind, those individual serve cakes taste so much better than a full size cake.

Perhaps, eating with my hands gives me a license to lick my fingers.  Maybe, the individual serving size carries less guilt.

For whatever reason, they are my favorite form of cake and I am elated when anyone asks for cupcakes in place of cake for their special occasion.

This year Alayna wanted her cupcakes in an ice cream cone for her 10th birthday.  The last time I did that, she was two, so this was the first time she will remember them.

Not only that, she is practically old enough to do it all herself, especially since we took the easy way out and used a box mix.

I do find a certain sense of accomplishment in pulling together all of my own ingredients, especially so that I can hand select them and adjust as I see fit, but sometimes these cake mixes are just the most practical option, especially when I may have left all of the details for the day of.

The real novelty in this recipe was a new process.  Rather than the obvious approach of pouring the batter into the cones and struggling to keep them upright while loading them into the oven, we used the cupcake tins, well sprayed, I might add, filled them with batter and then topped them with an inverted cake cone.

Despite being slightly lop-sided, they still stood just fine and were much easier to manage than the last time I made them, using the more conventional method.

So, she whipped up the batter, according to the box instructions.

Sprayed the cupcake pan well, to ensure the easy release out of the oven.

Placed an inverted cone over the half-filled reservoirs.

Baked according to instructions.

Cooled, frosted and served.

Thankfully they are almost all gone so that I'm not tempted to eat anymore of those tasty little bites.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cut Out Cookies (with just 7 ingredients)

**Don't forget to Pin for future use!**

Updated pictures and recipe, 
but entry from April of 2014 remains the same. 

Yay for spring!  And for Easter right around the corner.

Just in time, I wanted to share the easiest recipe for cut out cookie dough that I've ever seen and I love that the number of ingredients are minimal and household staples and, of course, they always turn out…delicious!

Along with the change of seasons comes a change of schedule and routine around this Bailey household.

Trying to figure out the best times to feed the family and how to have it ready when they are hungry is the latest challenge around here, which has made it nearly impossible for me to blog about any meals from the last week.

So, before I get to the super simple cookie recipe, I'll share with you what we ate last week, since I was completely MIA, floundering in the chaos of the new schedule.

Sunday - Grilled venison and veggie kabobs
Monday - Throwback to Classic Chicken and Dumplings (Alayna's request)
Tuesday - Home made pizzas (Landon's request) with a Gluten free crust for Jerry and me
Wednesday - Hamburgers on the grill for the guys, while I met up with the girls for a bite to eat
Thursday - Grilled chicken tenders on a bed of romaine

Friday - Broiled Lamb Chops (Ryker's request) with roasted potatoes
Saturday - Chicken with cherry wine sauce from Iowa Girl Eats

With spring break ahead of us, we should have a little more time for meal preparation, but we also have a 10th birthday party for Alayna at Helium Trampoline Park and an overnight at my brother's horse farm, Sublime Saddlebreds, so I'm sure the week will go fast!

Before we could launch into spring break, there were some treats needed for school, including these cookies to wrap up Landon's week of being STAR Student and some birthday treats for Alayna.

Now onto the cookies that Landon requested.

Blend 1 cup of sugar into 3/4 cup of softened butter until creamy.

Then add 2 eggs and 1/2 tsp of vanilla and beat well.

For simplicity purposes, I added the dry ingredient directly to the wet ingredients.
2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt  
Mixed the dough on medium until everything was well blended.

Mold into one large dough ball and refrigerate for an hour or so, 
until the butter in the dough starts to harden again.  
Makes for the best texture for rolling, cutting and baking.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, cut out the cookies of desired shape, 
fitting as many cookies as possible onto the dough.

Bake at 400 F for 6-8 minutes, 
I generally error on the side of less time for chewier cookies.

Once cooled, frost with icing of choice and sprinkle immediately.

Slacker alert…
I bought this icing at U-bake this week, as I knew time would be tight.  
Don't tell my mom!

Luckily, since I work at Landon's school now, 
I was able to meet the qualifications for a taste of my own masterpieces. 
 And they were yummy, (which should go without saying)!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Fridge Time: 1 hour, minimum
Makes: Depends on the size of the cookie, only about 1 dozen eggs, but closer to 2 dozen hearts. 

1 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of softened butter
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt 

  • Cream together sugar and butter. 
  • Fold in eggs and vanilla until smooth. 
  • Measure out the flour, baking powder and salt. 
  • Combine all ingredient well and refrigerate until firm, minimum of 1 hour. 
  • Roll the chilled dough out on floured surface to desired thickness. 
  • Cut out cookies and bake at 400 F for 6-8 minutes. 
  • Frost and decorate.