Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal. Check. Yogurt. Check.

Sounds pretty healthy, right? There’s something about putting the word “oatmeal” in front of “cookie” that makes me think I’m getting a healthy treat. Sort of like how “apple pie” sounds healthier than “chocolate mousse pie.” While I won’t go so far as to call these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies healthy, they are darn tasty with a phenomenal texture and have less fat than traditional recipes.

The key is to use nonfat Greek yogurt in place of some of the butter. This tenderizes the cookies and adds a very subtle tang. But be sure to use Greek yogurt which is thicker than regular yogurt.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: cream butter and sugars Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: add eggs and yogurt Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: cookie batter

This recipe makes five dozen cookies that are best eaten the same day or frozen. In fact, I really like them just out of the freezer – cold, chewy and oddly refreshing.

The best part: you can eat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for breakfast! Okay, maybe that’s just me but they are that good.

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Grandma’s “Tornado Cookies” Offer Calm

Tornado Cookies

Some recipes have a strong personal history, evoking memories of time or people who have passed. For my sister and I, this recipe for tornado cookies does just that.

As children, every year for Hanukkah our grandmother would prepare individual cookie tins for each of her grandchildren. They were filled with all types of cookies – M&M, chocolate chip, peanut butter and our favorite – tornado cookies (basically button sugar cookies), along with the obligatory pieces of gelt.

Measure flour

But they weren’t called tornado cookies back then. I’m actually not sure what we called them, I just remember the dry, crumbly texture as I popped them into my mouth and how the margarine and powdered sugar came together as I chewed.

Cut in butter with a fork

This is my grandmother’s recipe and, although I’m certain it’s not unique to her, I have no way of knowing where it originated. All it says on the pink index card in my mom’s kitchen is “Mom’s Cookies.” I imagine the recipe came from a Jewish cookbook because it uses margarine instead of butter, making it kosher to eat after having consumed meat. But, then again this was also the early ’80s and margarine was pretty popular back then in general.

Mix dough by hand - literally

The name “tornado cookies” came later, probably around the time my grandmother moved to Florida. My sister and I came up with that name after we made them during a spring tornado. I remember starting the recipe, then having to abandon the dough as we ran to the basement when the sirens sounded. Once they ended, we came back upstairs and finished making the cookies. What can I say? That’s just life in the Midwest.

Tornado cookies baking

We don’t make these cookies often, just during Hanukkah and when we’re in need of a comfort food. That’s why I made these for my sister last week. She was very stressed with the end of tax season and having an overall crappy day, so I made a batch to cheer her up. And I think it worked. At least it helped put the day in perspective and gave her a chance to remember our grandmother who was always so proud of her grandchildren.

Toss cookies in a plastic bag with powdered sugar

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Very Mandelly Mandel Bread

Hold onto your hats – and scarves, gloves, etc. (okay, bad joke) – this may shock you: I never really liked mandel bread, or mandelbrot, a quintessential Jewish food. I grew up eating lots of matzo ball soup, brisket, and all the typical dishes, but rarely had mandel bread and when I did I found it too bland and dry.

Wet ingredients

Then, about six weeks ago, I was working on an article for the Pioneer Press Newspapers (read “The Family Cookie“) about a new company that sells only mandel bread. During the interview they offered me a sample to try. I couldn’t believe it – this biscotti-like cookie was delicious! It had a crisp buttery texture (although no butter was used) and was subtly sweet. They offered many flavors but I found myself drawn most to the almond, the traditional flavor (mandelbrot literally translates to “almond bread”). I liked it even better than the chocolate chip, if you can believe that.

Pouring wet into dry Mixing in almonds

I started to wonder if I could make this myself, and if it would be as good. This past weekend I finally had the opportunity to try so I could bring it to my family’s early Hanukkah celebration. And I got my answer: yes, I could make a very good mandel bread that my family quickly devoured, and no, it wasn’t as good as the professionals’.

Dough on floured surface First baking

But it was awfully fun to make. My recipe is below if, like it is for me, the journey is the reward (if not, order yours and make your life easy).

Second baking Cooling mandel bread

The only complaint about the mandel bread was that it tasted sort of like the almond cookies given for dessert in Chinese restaurants, although I believe the relative who said this meant it as a compliment. I have to say I agreed a little – I think I went too far with the almond extract so I changed the recipe to use half as much.

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Baking with Ben: Snickerdoodle Cookies

Reaching for more

Pretty much since he was born I’ve been wanting to cook with my friend Sara’s son Ben. With his third birthday just around the corner, we decided he was finally ready. No, we weren’t going to teach him how to cook an egg, which he said he wanted to do last week. (He actually told Sara he wanted to be a “cooker” and when Sara asked what he wanted to cook he said eggs.) Instead we started with a kid-friendly cookie: snickerdoodles.

Teaching Ben

The original plan was for Ben to help with the entire recipe, including making the cookie dough. However, he took forever to wake up from his nap so we decided to go ahead and make it without him. In retrospect, this was a wise move as the reality is that Ben has the attention span of the three-year-old he is.

Ben making cookies

But he did help with the best part of the process: rolling the dough into balls and then into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. He really enjoyed this, although he did take a break about halfway through to get his “doggy” from upstairs. And when it came time to eat the cookies, Ben was incredibly proud of himself.

Ben likes it

This was a great cookie to make with a kid – it’s virtually impossible to mess up, it’s quick, uses just one bowl, and it’s really fun. Not to mention the cookies were delicious, so much so that my own mother requested the recipe, which was adapted from Betty Crocker herself.

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Making Something Out of Nothing for a Father’s Day Treat

Flourless Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found myself awake early this morning at my parent’s house, who I was visiting for Father’s Day. I decided it would be nice to make my dad a treat and began rummaging around the cabinets and refrigerator for ingredients. As people who don’t often bake, my parents had little to work with – for example just 1 tablespoon butter.

Here’s what else I found: 1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips, flour, hard-as-a-rock brown sugar, baking soda, eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla, grapes, 1 banana, high-fiber cereal, and peanut butter. A few of these ingredients reminded of a recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies that I made once for a group of kids, so I decided to look it up online. Read more of this >>

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