Ranger Cookies

If there was one cookie I truly loved it was a cookie, a straight up oatmeal cookie, that my grandma made. I tried to recreate them off of her recipe many years back and they were just not the same. Maybe it was grannie’s touch, who knows. As I keep beating this one down, I am not a sweet tooth, and really do not consider myself to ever have been one. Sure, I liked Jolly Ranchers, would not turn down candy, but I would have to say that during my late teens, through today, I have not had any interest with sweets. But for whatever it is worth, these last few weeks I have wanted nothing more than sweets. I have had an ice cream sandwich, probably each day, candy, and have been making a dessert when energy allows, for my kids about once or twice a week. This recent one probably has many different names, but I’m going with the Ranger cookie recipe on this one.

Ranger Cookie Recipe
Ranger Cookie Recipe

I want one now, they are that good. The only reason I came up with the Ranger cookie recipe is that I wanted to start purging things, you know the half open bags of things that your kids once showed interest in, and essentially toss them into a cookie mixture, bake, and serve.

TRUST ME ON THESE COOKIES. You will have a hard time just eating one, and trust me they are huge. Huge in the sense that you are fitting about 6 on a cookie sheet. A large cookie sheet!

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup frosted flakes
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted coconut flakes
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of nuts (walnuts, cashews, almond slivers), optional

See what I mean about the purge?

Start by getting your mixing bowl ready, and add in the butter. Beat the butter until it is a bit light and airy, only a couple of minutes, if that.

Next add in both of the sugars, continuing to mix on medium-low speed, then add in the vanilla extract, banana, and eggs.

Stop your mixer, then add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Turn your mixer on low and slowly let that flour incorporate into the mixture. If you go back to medium speed, you are going to have flour flying out onto your countertop. Let’s not go that route!

How to make Ranger Cookies
How to make Ranger Cookies

Once the flour starts to incorporate and stick with the rest of the mixture, slowly add in the frosted flakes, oats and toasted coconut. If you wanted to add in nuts, go for it. My kids are not fan of nuts, but my wife and I are, but in this case I was thinking of the kids.

Lastly, add in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and mix until everything is nicely blended.

The trick here is chilling your dough. I think this lends to a crispy, yet chewy cookie in the long run, and those are my favorite type. So place the bowl of dough mixture into the refrigerator for 1 hour.

About 45 minutes in, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. Have I mentioned what a fan I am of parchment paper?

How to make Ranger Cookies Recipe
How to make Ranger Cookies Recipe

Take your cookie mixture out, and spoon, or use about 1/4 cup, of the cookie mixture onto the baking sheet, leaving a few inches in between each cookie. I fit about 6 on my sheet.

Place into the preheated oven, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown, and cooked in the middle.

Once achieved, remove the cookie sheet from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, and carefully remove onto a cookie rack to cool.

Repeat with remaining dough.

I probably ended up with 18 of these cookies, maybe more and they lasted only a couple of days. These cookies are so freaking good, and my kids questioned not once, not twice, but three times as to what was in the cookie. Believe it or not but they got most of the ingredients with the exception of the toasted coconut. Regardless, not complaints, and after about a gallon of milk and a dozen cookies later, I think I made each of those kids happy!

If you are looking for a great cookie, and one that is totally satisfying, give these ranger cookies a try. Hope you enjoy!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

I think I am pretty good at reading my wife. I know when she is hungry, upset, happy, anxious, and I think I have a pretty good idea of what she really loves to eat. She gets me to, but in so many different ways. I know that I am the cook in the house, but I think I am so much more than that. Sure yesterday I rocked out homemade crepes for my wife, a Thai curry fish recipe, as well as a Thai beef salad that I knew would be a bend to her knees on first taste, but I also think that I provide some other good things such as a great sense of humor, a good hug, and an emotion and discipline to guide my kids through their early times in life (and hopefully much longer than that). My wife has introduced me to things, or maybe reintroduced me to things, that I would have probably never had ever wanted again, and this recipe is one of those. It’s the classic spinach and artichoke dip.

This is one of those dips that she fell in love with back in the late 1980’s, or early 1990’s at the chain TGIF. It’s that iconic image when opening their menu back then. The spinach and artichoke dip. Heck, we even recall going out to eat there when I returned home (I wasn’t going to say no) and sure enough that was ordered as an appetizer.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe
Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe

As I have been home or a couple of weeks, I have been purging things in my refrigerator and cupboard (and doing a pretty good job at it), and this was a perfect creation to use up a can of artichokes, cheese, breadcrumbs, mayo, sour cream, and a bag of spinach my kid was so gung ho to use up for lunch. Do you think he touched the spinach? No.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts, quartered, drained, chopped
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, cooked, strained, cooled, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated with microplane
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
  • crackers, bread, vegetables, or other dipping items that you desire

This recipe is way too easy. The hardest part is probably waiting. Waiting for the spinach to cook and cool, or the dip to be  cooked and ready. Seriously.

Start by adding the spinach to a pot. Add in the water and bring this to a medium heat. Basically cook down the spinach until softened, only a few minutes, then strain, press out all of the water, and let it cool.

During this time, get a mixing bowl. If you want to use your electric mixer feel free. Add in the chopped artichokes, half of the cheese, mayo, sour cream, garlic, and salt. Give this a good spin or mix. Yes, we are still waiting on that spinach to cool.

As we wait, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and get your casserole dish out. OK, now that the spinach is cooled, and chopped, toss this into the mixing bowl, and give another good mix.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe
Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe

Scoop the mixture into the casserole dish, add the remaining cheese to lightly cover the top, then sprinkle on the breadcrumbs.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until that top is nice and golden and bubbly.

Get ready. You know that molten hot dip you know you shouldn’t dig into but can’t resist? Yeah, this is one of those.

This dip is a crowd pleaser. It’s best served right out of the oven, scorching hot, or warmed. As much as my wife loves it, I will admit that I like it to in moderation. With that said, it’s a dip that is hard to walk away from. You might say things like ‘That’s it for me’, ‘I’m out’, ‘Get that away from me’, but one thing is for sure, I will find you coming back for another swipe of a veg, cracker, or chip. Yep, it’s that good. I hope you enjoy!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizers
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts, quartered, drained, chopped
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, cooked, strained, cooled, and chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated with microplane
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup fine bread crumbs
  • crackers, bread, vegetables, or other dipping items that you desire
Instructions
  1. Start by adding the spinach to a pot. Add in the water and bring this to a medium heat. Basically cook down the spinach until softened, only a few minutes, then strain, press out all of the water, and let it cool.
  2. During this time, get a mixing bowl. If you want to use your electric mixer feel free. Add in the chopped artichokes, half of the cheese, mayo, sour cream, garlic, and salt. Give this a good spin or mix. Yes, we are still waiting on that spinach to cool.
  3. As we wait, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and get your casserole dish out. OK, now that the spinach is cooled, and chopped, toss this into the mixing bowl, and give another good mix.
  4. Scoop the mixture into the casserole dish, add the remaining cheese to lightly cover the top, then sprinkle on the breadcrumbs.
  5. Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until that top is nice and golden and bubbly.
  6. Get ready. You know that molten hot dip you know you shouldn’t dig into but can’t resist? Yeah, this is one of those.

 

Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa)

I know that recently Cinco de Mayo excites the gringos, but I could go for what everyone gets excited about that day, everyday. See, I may be like you and could seriously eat tacos, Tex Mex, or anything in between those (enchiladas, burritos, taquitos) on a regular basis. I’m not going to be shy about it. But in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to whip up some really easy, and excellent tacos. Tacos I knew my wife and kids have never had, and ones I have been wanting to make for years. Welcome tacos de papa, or Mexican Potato Tacos.

Mexican Potato Tacos Recipe
Mexican Potato Tacos Recipe

These tacos could probably compete with one of my all time favorites, tacos al pastor, and as you can see how much I love Mexican as well as Tex Mex food, well these come straight to top ten, and that’s no joke.

These are just way too easy to make and the result, however basic they may be, are so super satisfying that they have you thinking about leftovers for breakfast, or a gentle reheat in the oven for next day’s lunch.

Let’s get started.

  • 3 whole russet potatoes, cleaned, skins peeled and removed
  • 1 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin, to taste
  • 1 package sturdy corn tortillas
  • 1 cup of canola oil
  • crumbled queso fresco, optional
  • 2 whole serrano or jalapeno chili pepper, thinly sliced, optional
  • salsa verde, optional
  • optional sides (Mexican rice, refried beans, guacamole)

The focus here is really on the tacos. The fixings are up to you. I loaded my plate up Tex Mex style with all of the fixings because, hey that’s how I like to roll on my Mexican platter. The only thing it was missing was a great chile toreado!

Start by quartering your cleaned potatoes. You can go smaller if you want. I had some time on my hand so quartered worked fine by me. Add these to a pot of cold water, along with the garlic, one roughly chopped serrano chile, and add the teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until fork tender, about 40 minutes.

Once the potatoes are tender, drain, return them back to the pot on medium heat an and cook to remove any excess water.

Once the water is evaporated, you have a couple of options. My first option is to always use a potato ricer for my potatoes. If you don’t have one, use your favorite masher, heck even a couple of forks. You want the potatoes smooth, but if you like some texture, then heck by all means get some texture into those suckers. If you want to remove the garlic and chilies, then go for it. Me? I mash them into the potatoes. Once mashed, add some salt, cumin, pepper, butter, and milk. Give a good stir, taste, and adjust any salt or cumin if needed. Set aside to cool.

How to make Mexican Potato Tacos
How to make Mexican Potato Tacos

When you are ready to get these things going, heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add in the canola oil, and let it come to temperature for a couple of minutes.

Lightly heat up your corn tortillas in the microwave, or in a separate pan. The goal is to make them flexible for folding. Corn tortillas out of the bag are no bueno.

Once the oil is heated, and you have some workable corn tortillas, take a nice spoonful of the potato mixture and slather it into the tortilla. Fold the tortilla over, using the potato as the glue to pinch around the edges, and gently lay into the skillet. Repeat with a couple of more tacos. I think I fit about 3 tacos per cook.

Cook the tacos for a few minutes, then gently flip over to crisp the other side. Question? Can I spray these with cooking spray and place into a 375 degree oven, turning once and going that route? Yes, but I think the texture is slightly different. If you want to go that route, go for it. You can probably fit more on a baking sheet!

Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa) Recipe
Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa) Recipe

Once the tacos are cooked, remove and place on a paper lined sheet to let any excess oil drain. Now you have choices. You can carefully open these up and stuff them with things such as cheese, salsa, beans, or whatever you like, or you can roll like I did.

Add the Mexican potato tacos to a serving plate, lining them up nicely, and ladle on some warm salsa verde, shower with cheese, and lay around your fixings. I like mine spicy so I showered mine with more chilies.

Sure, I made the kids a batch of chili lime slow cooked chicken tacos as well (only thinking what I could use for leftovers the following days), but these Mexican potato tacos were it! I laid them on the table, not discussing much about them only that they were potato tacos (you should have seen their looks), and those were the only tacos I had on my plate.

I think that curiosity drove my wife, daughter, and one of my boys interest, and as soon as they took a bite they were totally sold!

Guess who had leftovers the following morning? Well, me of course (take one, lightly crisp it up in the oven while you make an over easy egg and place that on top (thank me later)), as well as my wife who I think took down another two for lunch.

Easy. Super delicious. Something that should be on every Mexican menu but I have yet to see nor order. Just saying. If you are looking for an awesome taco idea, give this one a shot. Hope you enjoy!

Rhubarb and Blueberry Streusel Recipe

First and foremost my apologies for not posting in some time. Unfortunately I got diagnosed with leukemia back in March which has prevented me from creating more recipes in my kitchen. I could go on and on as to how I could improve hospital food, only if it were as simple as a spice or two, but I am not going to go there. I’m just happy to be home with my wife and kids, and to be able to be back in the kitchen when my energy permits, and this past week was probably one of those good weeks with as much energy as I think I may have over the next few months.

It’s funny the first thing I did when I came home was make a meal for my family. Thai basil chicken to be exact. Granted we were blessed to have family and friends bring over meals for my family as I was laid up in the hospital, whether that be of gift cards, casseroles, or other homemade goodies; my wife and kids (and I) were so very thankful in receiving all of the gifts during the challenging time, but being able to whip something up in my kitchen felt oh so good, and let’s just say my wife and kids loved the spice and flavor impact of the Thai food.

So I had a small amount of time on my hand this past week, and I decided to whip up a dessert I knew my wife and daughter would love (and hoping my boys would take down), and that was a rhubarb and blueberry streusel.

 

Rhubarb and Blueberry Streusel Recipe
Rhubarb and Blueberry Streusel Recipe

This recipe is so easy to make, and makes excellent use of rhubarb, something that is perfect right now and is in season this Spring.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint blueberries, washed and cleaned, strained
  • 2 cups rhubarb, cut into roughly 1/3-inch-thick pieces, exterior skin removed
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, divided (plus a little extra for sprinkling)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Butter. I know. It probably makes this recipe so delicious. Not only that but the combination of rhubarb and blueberries, along with the light brown sugar brings this one together. Cut into bars, these are addicting. Trust me.

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.  Line it with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. This helps with removal and slicing when it is done cooking.

Combine the blueberries, sliced rhubarb, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a large bowl. Set this aside to macerate while you make the crust and streusel. I love macerating.

Place 2 1/2 cups of the flour into a food processor. Cut the butter into large chunks and add to the flour along with the cream cheese, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup of the light brown sugar. Pulse to combine the mixture until moist and crumbly, with no chunks of butter remaining.

Remove about 1 2/3 cups of this crumbly mixture from the food processor and set it aside for the streusel topping.

How to make rhubarb and blueberry streusel
How to make rhubarb and blueberry streusel

To the rest of the mixture still in the food processor, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, whole egg, baking powder, and vanilla. Blend until it just starts to come together to form a dough. This should only take a minute or two.

Press the dough evenly into the lined pan (it’s easier to do this if your hands are slightly damp). Bake for 10-15 minutes. I use a glass 8×12 pan a few inches deep.

Strain the macerated fruit to remove the excess liquid. Spread the fruit in an even layer over the surface of the partially baked crust. Sprinkle the reserved streusel topping over the surface of the fruit and then sprinkle on a little more light brown sugar. Bake again for 40 to 50 minutes until the topping is golden-brown.

Let the pan cool for 20 minutes before lifting out of the pan using the parchment paper. Let the streusel cool, then slice into squares.

Rhubarb and Blueberry Streusel Recipe
Rhubarb and Blueberry Streusel Recipe

Take square. Take a bite. BACK AWAY FROM THE STREUSEL. THEN BACK UP TO IT AGAIN AND GRAB ANOTHER SQUARE. This is how it goes with this dessert, it’s that good.

If you are looking for a super simple dessert, one that is seasonal, and one that is darn right addicting, you will have to give this rhubarb and blueberry streusel recipe a try.