Chocolate Puddle Cookies

Chocolate Puddle Cookies could be called accidentally gluten-free, because they are gluten-free, but without the weird texture that gluten-free desserts can have. In addition, they don’t require any of the goofy alternative flour products typical of gluten-free recipes. Everything on the ingredients list, I already had in my pantry for baking. The best part is that everyone in the family loves these, both those who are gluten-free and those who are . . . (What’s the opposite of gluten-free? glutinous?) not. This includes my teenage nephew and my own two girls, ages 9 and 11. I use regular table salt instead of sea salt, but otherwise I do these as written.

Looking at the reviews of this recipe, there does seem to be some variation in results in cooking time, perhaps because of brand of confectioner’s sugar, perhaps because of measuring technique, and there is always a possible element of user error as well. I myself make these a bit smaller than in the original recipe, closer to 1 tablespoon drops than to 2 tablespoons, and yet they still bake for the full 15 minute baking time.

Fabulous with a cup of coffee!

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Tequila-Glazed Grilled Chicken Thighs

Tequila-Glazed Grilled Chicken Thighs is a great summer weekend or holiday recipe. It requires a simple rub and a glaze, and grilling takes extra time, but the added effort is totally worth it. This chicken is slightly spicy and slightly sweet, which is one of my favorite combinations. If you can’t find chipotle powder, you can purchase whole dried chipotles, chop them roughly, and run them through a spice grinder. (Our spice grinder is really just a cheap hand-held coffee grinder, kept separate for that purpose) It’s great on every piece of chicken as well, not just thighs. We often just purchase a whole chicken and cut it up. You will need both lime juice and lime zest for the glaze; it amounts to about one lime. Buy a few limes at the store and pair with a wonderful lime margarita!

Beautiful Burger Buns

Beautiful Burger Buns is a great recipe to have on hand because it means you don’t have to go to the grocery store to buy buns. I also like the flexibility of making them any size I want. The resulting buns are the perfect combination of soft and chewy; it’s hard to go back to store-bought once you’re used to these. Instead of the butter called for, I use 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. I use just barely 3/4 cup water. I mix the flour, sugar and salt together well, then add the instant yeast. With the Kitchen Aid running, I add the wet ingredients. For me, the dough always takes closer to 1 1/2 hours to rise. Just before the buns go into the oven, I brush them with egg wash and sprinkle with either poppy seeds or sesame seeds. Unfortunately, these don’t keep well. More than 24 hours after being made, and the buns take on a gummy texture. At that point, you can make them edible again by cutting in half, spreading the cut sides with oil, and toasting under your broiler, or in a pan on the stove.

Rosemary Ranch Chicken

Rosemary Ranch Chicken is a kabob recipe, but I’ve never done it that way. I was introduced to this recipe at a barbecue, and I enjoyed it so much that I asked the host for the recipe. The marinade makes chicken breast tender and flavorful. I appreciate the fact that it calls for an amount of minced fresh rosemary, rather than a number of sprigs. How long is a sprig when your rosemary bush is four feet tall? I use homemade ranch dressing, but there’s no reason not to use bottled if that’s what you have. To re-imagine leftovers, slice the leftover chicken thinly. Spread the cut side of a hamburger bun, perhaps a Beautiful Burger Bun, with olive oil and toast under your broiler. When the bun is just starting to brown, put a slice of white cheese on the top half and continue to toast until the bun is well browned and the cheese is melted. If your chicken is cold, zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds or so. Then put the chicken on the bun and eat. Crunchy and gooey and flavorful!

Peanut Energy Bars

Peanut Energy Bars are an economical way to provide your family with granola bars. This recipe is versatile as well. You have to keep the ratio of “dry” to “wet” consistent, but beyond that you can use any cereal that you have on hand. Based on others’ reviews, I use rolled oats (not instant) and corn syrup (not honey). I don’t think you can leave out the oats because they absorb moisture and help the bars stick together. I do reduce the amount of raisins a bit, just based on my family’s personal preference. You can experiment with different nuts and seeds as well. For just myself, I like to add a bit of ground flax seed, but nobody else in my family cares for that. Raw pumpkin seeds are nice, too. After some experimentation, I also figured out how to add chocolate chips. Before you start, put a healthy 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the freezer on a cookie sheet. When everything else is done, take the chocolate chips out of the freezer and gently stir to combine. When the bars are finished and sliced, I wrap them individually in plastic wrap. You wouldn’t think so, but they freeze incredibly well. I leave out on the counter what we can eat in a week, and the rest go into the freezer in a gallon-size freezer bag.

Who Loves Ya Baby-Back?

Who Loves Ya Baby-Back? isn’t just a tasty way to prepare meaty, juicy baby back ribs, but it’s also a versatile rub recipe that you can use on virtually any protein. We have used the rub from this recipe on chicken, shrimp, various cuts of pork and beef. Fish might be the only thing we haven’t tried it on, but then again, I think it would be great on salmon. It’s a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, and a tiny bit spicy. It’s also an incredibly forgiving recipe. We don’t have the jalapeno seasoning that this calls for, so we add some extra cayenne and throw in a bit of paprika as well. We make big batches of the rub and keep it in the pantry sealed in a container. I find that “times four” is a nice, round number. For crock-pot pulled pork, rub your pork butt with the rub 24 hours before you want to cook it, and add 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke in your crock-pot. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Maple Chipotle Sauce

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Maple Chipotle Sauce is one of two recipes for which I keep canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce on hand at all times. I blend an entire can in the blender — peppers, adobo sauce and all — and then freeze in ice cube trays. For this recipe, we use about 1/2 a cube. We have purchased and used the grade B maple syrup before, but in the end, decided it was easier just to use the regular syrup we keep around for pancakes. It is real maple syrup, but not a special grade. Mixed into the sauce, it’s not really that different. This recipe is also fantastic done with a pork loin. Mashed potatoes make a nice side because you can pour the sauce on the potatoes as well.