Snickerdoodle Squares

I love Snickerdoodles and these squares are a delicious update on the classic cookie! Add a little white chocolate for a twist.

Snickerdoodle Squares

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups white all-purpose flour

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray containing flour.

In a large bowl cream together the melted unsalted butter with the light brown sugar. Beat in the large eggs and pure vanilla extract.

Add in the baking powder, ground cinnamon, salt and baking soda and mix until combined. Fold in the white all-purpose flour.

Pour into prepared pan and smooth out the top evenly. Sprinkle evenly, on top, a mixture of 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely before cutting, serving and enjoying.

CHEW THIS! Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, October 21st 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Chicken Nuggets are Dressed to Please!
Blaise Doubman

I love chicken nuggets and remember when I was about 12 years old winning a contest to see how many chicken nuggets I could eat! How many did I eat? I will not write about it here because I simply do not want to scare you but let me just say I ate away the competition! Ha! As I grew up and discovered what fast food chicken nuggets really were, not that edible, I decided to see if I could make my own! How hard could it be!? I tried using several cuts of chicken and types of chicken meat and decided that chicken breast was the easiest and tastiest.

When it came to the breading I tried several different “crumb” mixtures but decided I liked the simplicity and taste of the buttery RITZ cracker. When you start adding chicken seasoning, garlic, rosemary and additional kinds of peppers it really takes away from the flavors of the meat. I wanted something that reminded me of my childhood but was updated and at the same time very easy to prepare. Chicken breast, cut with kitchen shears instead of a knife, keeps the work clean and easier. I also prefer the taste of melted butter as a dredging instead of egg because after all, who doesn’t like butter? I really believe these may be the best chicken nuggets I have ever had and the homemade honey mustard dipping sauce that I share below really takes them over the top! Highly recommend that you try these!

Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

You can replace the RITZ crackers in this recipe with regular saltine crackers, but I must warn you that the color and taste will be different. The nuggets will not be as golden, and the taste will not be as buttery. This is the perfect recipe for chicken to get into the kitchen and help! Just be careful and watchful of the sharp kitchen shears.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
3 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed fine

Start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Cut the chicken breasts into large bite-size pieces. I find that using sharp kitchen shears is the easiest method. Place the bite-size pieces into a bowl.

In a large bowl, pour in the melted butter. Stir in the salt and black pepper.

In another large bowl, pour in the finely crushed Ritz cracker crumbs.

Take a handful of the chicken pieces and dip them into the melted butter mixture. Be sure to coat the chicken well. Shake off the excess butter and place into the crushed RITZ crackers. Be sure the chicken is well coated in this mixture too, followed by shaking off the excess here as well. Place the now coated chicken bites onto the prepared baking sheet.

Continue to do this until all the chicken is coated and on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.

Remove and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Serve alongside the honey mustard dipping sauce.

To make the honey mustard dipping sauce simply whisk together ¼ cup honey with ¼ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon white vinegar and a pinch of black pepper. If you would like more sauce than what is prepared, this recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Ask and Answer: A lot of local people write to me and wonder what my favorite pizza place is in the area. I love pizza and hate to single any one pizza place out, but I would have to say the “Royal Feast” at Pizza King is hard to beat! I also really enjoy Mancino’s and 1000 Degree Pizza as well. I have fond childhood memories of Pizza King so that also plays into my enjoyment.

Banana Bread Cookies

I love banana bread and these “bites”, or cookies, satisfy that craving without having to bake – and eat – and entire loaf of banana bread! Feel free to replace the chocolate chips with walnuts or simply add both – or leave both out. Totally up to your tastes!

Banana Bread Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed bananas or 3 bananas
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups white all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl beat together the soft unsalted butter with the white granulated sugar and packed light brown sugar until the mixture is light in color and fluffy in texture. This will take about 4 minutes.

Beat in the large eggs and mashed bananas. Beat in the pure vanilla extract, baking soda, ground cinnamon and salt.

Fold in the white all-purpose flour and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Place in tablespoon size dollops onto the prepared baking sheets and leave about 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 13 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before enjoying.

Magnolia Table Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of “fixer upper” shows because let me be honest, I am not sure I would know which end of a hammer to use! Ha! Much less how to rebuild a bathroom, tear down a wall or build on a whole other level to a house! Are you kidding me!? So when Joanna Gaines released her debut cookbook, “Magnolia Table” I skipped it. That all changed when I found a copy at my local Cracker Barrel store and decided to give it a look. I was impressed! The first recipe I tried – for her chocolate chip cookies – was fabulous! I have several more recipes marked to try but had to rush in and share the chocolate chip cookie recipe with everyone! This cookie has zero white sugar – and all light brown sugar. Less butter too, which surprised me. The cookie is a bit crisp outside and tender inside. The dough is possibly the best I have ever had too! Luckily there was enough dough left after my snacking to bake a few off! Ha!

Magnolia Table Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups white all-purpose flour
Heaping teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line several large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the white all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt.

Beat the soft unsalted butter with the packed light brown sugar until lighter and fluffier than starting – and combined.

Beat in the large eggs followed by the pure vanilla extract.

Once the mixture is smooth and silky add in the flour mixture all at once and beat until slightly crumbled but combined.

Beat in the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Place larger tablespoon size balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving some room between each dough ball.

Bake, one sheet at a time, in preheated oven for 12 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.

This recipe was adapted from “Magnolia Table” by: Joanna Gaines. All rights reserved.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I remember my ex-boss, Angela, bringing this cake to a team meeting when I worked at a local library and it was seriously fabulous! I have made this cake ever since and it is based off of a recipe from Food Network Star Katie Lee and her debut cookbook. Wonderful!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white all-purpose flour
2 cups white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
18 oz smooth peanut butter

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray containing flour.

In a large saucepan over medium heat combine the unsalted butter, buttermilk, unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 cup water. Stir constantly until bubbly. Once bubbling slightly remove from heat.

In a large bowl whisk together the white all-purpose flour, white granulated sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat in the large eggs and pure vanilla extract.

Slowly beat in the chocolate mixture and beat until smooth and combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Once baked, remove and while the cake is still hot, spoon the smooth peanut butter all over the top, spreading evenly. Allow the cake to sit for a couple of hours to cool and the peanut butter to harden slightly.

When ready to frost the cake combine 1 stick unsalted butter with 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and 6 tablespoons buttermilk in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until bubbly. Once bubbly remove from heat and add 16 oz powdered sugar. Stir quickly together. Pour evenly over the top of the cake and spread evenly.

Allow to sit for an hour before cutting.