Tasty Thursday

Filled with delightful treats to share with friends and family throughout the year, this sweet treat from Cookie Swap by Julia M. Usher is just one of MANY fabulous recipes!

No-Hassle, No-Bake Oatmeal Fudge Cookies
Another wise addition to your after-school repertoire, these creamy no-bake cookies go from mixing bowl to mouth in about 30 minutes. Note: It is especially important to have all the ingredients measured and prepped before you start mixing. Once you reach Step 3, you will need to add ingredients quickly before the mixture begins to get firm.

Prep Talk: Though not essential, a candy thermometer is helpful in Step 2. Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week, or in the refrigerator if you prefer a firmer consistency.

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened non-alkalized cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups quick-cook oats
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup pecan halves, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

About 2-1/2 dozen pecan halves, lightly toasted (for topping)

1. Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine the sugar, evaporated milk, butter, and salt in a medium (3-quart) nonreactive (stainless steel or coated) saucepan. Place over medium to medium-high heat and bring to a rolling boil, stirring as needed to make sure the butter has completely melted by the time the mixture boils. Boil about 2 minutes longer, or until the syrup just registers 238 to 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Stir as needed to keep the mixture from scorching on the bottom of the pan. (Avoid boiling longer than specified, or the resulting mixture will harden very quickly and become crumbly and difficult to scoop.)
3. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the cocoa powder, whisking to break apart any lumps. Whisk in the peanut butter and vanilla extract; then stir in the oats, raisins, and pecans. (The mixture should be shiny and loose at this point.)
4. Work quickly to scoop all the dough while it is still loose. (If the dough begins to set as you scoop, the resulting texture of the cookies will be crumbly.) Portion the dough into mounds using a level 15/8-inch (#40) scoop or 1 heaping tablespoon per mound. Place the mounds about 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Top each cookie with a pecan half and press gently to flatten the cookies to about 2 inches in diameter.
5. Freeze the cookies 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely set. (Alternatively, place them on the counter so the kids can watch them turn into fudge. Setting time can vary considerably, depending on the ambient temperature.)

Makes about 2-1/2 dozen (2-inch) cookies


Isn't it time for a Picnic, again?!

CBS Sunday Morning recently re-aired this 2007 segment featuring Picnics.

Watch CBS Videos Online


Tasty Thursday

These mouthwatering burgers from North Bay Farmers Markets Cookbook by Brigitte Moran with Amelia Spilger really hit the spot!

Spicy Cheddar Burgers with Chile Mayonnaise
1 1/4 pounds lean ground grass-fed beef
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons chile powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Chile Mayonnaise
1 lime, juiced
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3/4 teaspoon salt

4 Kaiser rolls
Tomato, lettuce, and avocado slices

Heat a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet to medium-high for 5 minutes. Combine the beef, cheese, cilantro, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; shape mixture into four patties.

Place in a skillet and cook 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare, or to desired doneness. Serve burgers on rolls with the Chile Mayonnaise, tomato, lettuce, and avocado.

To make the mayonnaise, purée together all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Makes 4 servings

NOTE: You can also grill these burgers on an outdoor barbecue.


Harmonic Duo


Tasty Thursday

Full of easy-to-make- snacks, this Thursday's feature, Batter Up Kids: Sensational Snacks by Barbara Beery, is perfect for the kid in your life, or in you!

Chill-Out Cheese Dip
1 cup softened cream cheese
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon freshly grated onion
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 (14-ounce) jar pimientos, drained

1. Place softened cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer at medium speed for about 3 minutes or until the cream cheese is whipped and fluffy.
2. Add cheese, yogurt, garlic powder, onion, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine ingredients. Fold in pimientos.
3. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use for up to 1 week.

Serving suggestions:
Serve on sandwiches, spoon into celery sticks, or use as a dip for pretzel rods, pita chips, whole wheat crackers, fresh veggies, or fresh strawberries.


Freaky Friday!

Introducing Papier-Mache Monsters by Dan Reeder.

From the Editor's Desk: Fun in the Sun Valley

Sun Valley. The place is synonymous with the rich, the famous, and the elite. Then what, you may ask, were three Gibbs Smith employees doing hobnobbing at the little resort town? We were on a literary and culinary excursion.

First stop in Ketchum, Idaho, was Vintage the most delicious restaurant I have ever dined at. No, I’d say dined is the wrong word. Feasted. Tasted. Enjoyed.

To start were the Spicy Cajun Oysters (for the recipe, see page 37 of Vintage Restaurant: Handcrafted Cuisine from a Sun Valley Favorite). That progressed on to a Flatiron Steak grilled to perfection, covered with wild mushrooms and Vidalia onions sautéed in a wine sauce. It was served with Baked Yukon Gold Gorgonzola Smashed Potatoes (page 137, Vintage Restaurant).

But for dessert, ah, now that was The Delights of the Naked Stranger—a chocolate truffle torte with a toasted pecan crust, drizzled with caramel and chocolate sauce, and served with Bachelors’ Berries and a scoop of Mountain Decadence Ice Cream (page 196, Vintage Restaurant).

I’m making myself hungry just thinking about that incredible meal, and even hungrier looking at the sumptuous photos in the cookbook. I’ll have to put that away for now, if only so I won’t drool on the pages.

By then it was time to be off to the concert of the century where you had to have a fortune in the bank, a house in Sun Valley—or an "in" with one of the authors—to attend. That’s right, the only concert of the year featuring The Rock Bottom Remainders happened in Sun Valley last Saturday night, and these three Gibbs Smith employees were privileged to attend as guests of freshman author Sam Barry. His debut book, How to Play the Harmonica and Other Life Lessons, was born that night, so a double celebration was in store.

On hand to honor Sam—and rock the night away for a fundraising gala—were his beautiful wife, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, his brother, Dave Barry, and friends and bandmates Scott Turow, Mitch Albom, and Ridley Pearson, among others. Many songs, dances, and $500,000 raised for the YMCA later, and it was time to rest our heads for a few hours.

The next morning, bleary-eyed but eager for more culinary delights, we headed to Cristina’s restaurant in Ketchum. Smothered in a piquant hollandaise, the Eggs Benedict were marvelous (for the recipe, see page 189 of Cristina’s Tuscan Table). Served alongside seasoned red potatoes and breakfast breads, it was heaven on my tongue.

It was a whirlwind trip by any means, but one that was bursting with fun and excitement. Hmmm. I think I may have to re-create a little bit of that for myself tonight. Now where did I put that copy of How to Play the Harmonica? And those Gorgonzola Smashed Potatoes are sounding incredibly good right now. . .

By Michelle Witte, editor


Tasty Thursday

This fun little book is not only perfect for camping—it can also bring the flavor of the great outdoors to your own backyard! Camp Cooking by The National Museum of Forest Service History is full of mouthwatering recipes that churn up memories of the good ol' days.


Hobo Dinner
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 lb ground beef, shaped into 4 patties
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Cut an 18-inch piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil into 4 squares. Divide vegetables into 4 equal portions. Layer half of each portion of carrots, potatoes, and onions on each foil square. Top with a ground beef patty and then finish by layering the remaining onions, potatoes, and carrots on top in that order. Season with salt and pepper. Fold aluminum foil to seal edges. Cook on a bed of hot coals for 15 minutes on each side.

Serves 4 

NOTE: Breast of chicken or fish fillets can be substituted for ground beef patties, but cooking times may need to be adjusted.