Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks

“When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste.” ~Laiko Bahrs

Last year at Christmastime, I had every intention of giving out homemade Christmas treats to all of my family and friends…yeah, that didn’t happen. It was my second to last semester of college and what comes to stomp out any Christmas spirit or plans that any college student may have hoped to have in December? Just a little thing called final exam week. It was perfectly scheduled just one week before the week of Christmas…really, it’s perfect isn’t it?…. :-/

This year I was sure it would be different. I didn’t have school, or final exams to worry about so I thought I would have all the time in the world to bake…wrong again! The weeks leading up to Christmas were some of the busiest I have ever experienced! We were out of town every weekend from Halloween until December 10th when we were both in our best friends’ wedding. The next weekend we were on a plane to Chicago to visit family for the holidays! So my resolution? New Year’s treats. I spent two whole days baking to my little heart’s content.

These beauties came from a recipe in my “Cuisine at Home: Holiday Cookies” magazine. And I know it’s February now, but can’t one enjoy awesome cookies anytime of the year? Besides the little ruby red gems called cranberries could totally be for Valentine’s Day too…Christmas doesn’t own the color red!

Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks (Makes about 4 dozen 4-inch cookies)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract (the real stuff)

3 cups organic old-fashioned oats (not instant)

1 cup dried cranberries

6 oz. good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl, set aside.

3. Cream butter, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer or in the bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture; stir with a rubber scraper or wooden spoon until completely blended.

4. Fold the oats, cranberries and white chocolate into the dough until evenly distributed.

5. Drop dough in 3 Tbsp. mounds (a No. 40 cookie scoop is perfect) onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.

6. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until golden but still a little moist. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

*You can also the freeze portioned dough or baked cookies

Enjoy!

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

“Soup is liquid comfort.” ~Author Unknown

I’m a total creature of comfort. My sister is constantly trying to help give my wardrobe a makeover because all too often I opt for the “comfortable” (ugly) shoes or the plain jane jeans and t-shirt. Sure, I like to look cute here and there but most of the time- it’s not worth the effort to me because I just want to be comfortable! (Side note: I do have to say- I have made quite a bit of progress in my style- big thanks to my fashionista little sister and her awesome hand-me-downs!)

When it comes to food, I’m the same way. I love comfort food. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, apple pie- it’s hard for me to pinpoint my favorite comfort food since I just love it all. One thing is for sure though…if I am sick, cold, or just feeling plain miserable- nothing cheers me up and warms my body and soul more than a nice bowl of homemade chicken soup. This soup was just about the best thing I could make with my always-on-hand frozen chicken stock, my leftover roasted chicken from dinner the night before, and the awesome rainbow carrots I picked up at the Farmer’s Market. I added some wild rice, and voila! Liquid comfort.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup (serves 4-6)

Ingredients

2 celery stalks, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 cup of cooked chicken (I like a mix of white and dark meat), diced

8 cups of homemade chicken stock

3/4 cup of wild rice, uncooked

~ 1 Tbsp. of fresh Italian parsley, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method

1. Dice chicken, veggies, and parsley. (I prefer the chicken and veggies to be the same size so I can get a little bit of everything in each spoonful!)

2. Heat a smidgen of olive oil in a med/large dutch oven (with a lid) on medium heat. Add carrots and celery and saute until soft.

3. Add chicken, stock, rice, parsley, and salt and pepper. Cover partially, and turn up the heat to med/high and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, turn down to med/low heat, cover fully, and allow to simmer for about 50 minutes or until rice is cooked.

4. Ladle yourself a bowl, and enjoy!

*Note: If you don’t have wild rice on hand, you can make this soup the same way with brown rice as a substitute. However, when I use brown rice I only need to let it simmer for 40 minutes until the rice is fully cooked. Both are equally delicious!