Friday, January 15, 2010

Music, Cookies and good friends!

I have been very remiss in blogging since the New Year. Hard to think I am so busy when I am not working, but it is surprising how much you can find to fill your days when you want to!

I am super excited for tonight's festivities! We are attending a Dave Stamey concert (not my first, but Matt's first). Dave is an amazing Western singer (different than country/western) and is not only talented, but super humorous! The stories he tells between songs keep the tears of laughter in your eyes and the goodwill permeating the whole room. He's a kind, down to earth, honest kind of man and it shows in everything he does!

I volunteered to be the "Official Baker" for this event and make refreshments for sold out crowd of 120 people attending the concert in the intimate Elgin Club. I didn't know what to make at first...wanted to impress and create something that would bring some attention to my baking efforts, but when baking for 120 people I had to be realistic. My friend and music connoisseur, Patty Wands, who puts these lovely concerts on for us, requested something easy to serve and able to eat with a napkin...translation...keep it simple!

So, I decided that cookies were an easy way to feed the masses and keep it simple. I researched many recipes and decided to make 3 different kinds of cookies and about 30 dozen for the event! It took some critical math skills to decide on the portions, but with Matt's mathematical brain it was pretty simple to decipher! Boy, I love having a brainy husband! I can save my remaining brain cells for more important things than blogging! My choices in cookies came from the type of people attending this concert. People who enjoy the western lifestyle and like to keep things simple rather then fancy. Cowgirls and cowboys, ranchers and locals. I was going to bake to my demographic!

Luckily for me I also had a secret weapon in my arsenal! My best friend, Della. She is also exploring her baking skills and interested in learning more like me, so when I mentioned what I was planning for this concert she jumped on board and offered to make one of the recipes for me. I gave her a choice and she chose the recipe with the most ingredients and the toughest to put together, but I knew if anyone was up for the challenge it was her! She loves to make baked goods that are intricate and have lots of ingredients. I am good at making the simple recipes taste like heaven, but she likes the challenge of making the tougher recipes seem easy to make and simply delicious! Together, we make a formidable team in the kitchen!

So without further are the three recipes.

Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies

Makes 36 HUGE cookies or 6 dozen "non-Texas" sized cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tblsp baking powder

1 tblsp baking soda
1 tblsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tblsp vanilla extract
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened flake coconut
2 cups chopped pecans (or walnuts as Della used)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. In an 8-quart bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add in sugars, beat to combine, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat in vanilla extract. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Add in chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans. For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup dough onto ungreased baking sheets (this is the Texas size one...), spacing 3 inches apart. Bake for 17 to 19 minutes, until edges are lightly browned, rotating sheets halfway through. Remove cookies from rack to cool. Makes about 3 dozen cookies. FOR 6 dozen smaller cookies, use 2 tablespoons dough for each. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.


Paul Deen
These are actually bars...SUPER rich and sweet.

1 16-oz box of Graham crackers
12 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cup shredded coconut

2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tblsp butter
3 tblsp milk

For the filling:
Line a 13"X9" glass pan with whole graham crackers. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add sugar. Beat the egg and milk together, add to butter mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the nuts, coconut and 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs.

Pour this mixture over the graham crackers in the pan. Cover with another layer of whole graham crackers.

For the topping:
Beat all the ingredients together and spread this topping over the top layer of graham crackers. Chill. (preferably for several hours). Cut into squares.

Helen's note: FYI - These are SUPER rich, so I cut into very small squares...that should be more than enough!


Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies
Paula Deen

Makes about 2 dozen

1 brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 box moist chocolate cake mix
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so you can roll the batter into balls. Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in powdered sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes. The cookies will remain soft and gooey. Cool completely and sprinkle with powdered sugar.