Dairy & Egg-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Our neighbors, the Ellinger’s, just moved back to North Carolina, and we miss them! But they gave me a recipe upon parting that’s really good! These cookies are both dairy and egg free (from when her kids were allergic), but they are delicious even if you don’t have those limitations! You know the recipe is good by how it looks on the page!

EllingerCookies

The Best Cookies

I hosted a new book club at my house recently, and one of my guests brought me a bag of cookies instead of wine. My kind of girl!! I was dieting and dutifully put the bag in the freezer. When I’d lost weight, they were the FIRST thing I ate. Hint – they are great with a cup of coffee in the morning! The original recipe is from Ina Garten, but I replaced some of the nuts and raisins with chocolate chips. Winner!!

1 cup pecans
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. kosher salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup raisins
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the pecans on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes, until crisp. Set aside to cool. Chop very coarsely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together into a medium bowl. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add the oats, raisins, chocolate chips and pecans and mix just until combined.

Using a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop 2-inch mounds of dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with a damp hand. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

Unforgettable Chicken Casserole

My best friend Jennifer is one of the world’s best cooks. So when she says something is unforgettable, I believe her! This sounds like an amazing cheat meal!

Makes 6 to 8 servings

3 cups chopped deli-roasted chicken
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup (4 oz.) grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can reduced sodium cream of chicken soup
1 (4-oz) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
11/2 cups French fried onion rings

Stir together first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Spoon into a lightly greased 11- x-7 in. baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 40 min.  Sprinkle onion rings evenly over top. Bake 5 minutes or until bubbly around edges. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Oh how I love this recipe. It’s so versatile and I’d say dangerous if it wasn’t so darn healthy! It all mixes up in a food processor and will make any Mexican dish better. Or one could sit and eat it for breakfast with chips. Hypothetically.  It would be a great topping for chicken or fish tacos, along with some queso fresco. Please make it and tell us if you woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it.

1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno seeded
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
juice of 1 lime
kosher salt

Mix all ingredients in a food processor and taste for salt. Eat with a spoon like nobody’s watching!

Kendra’s Sausage Dressing

I’m not sure how this could possibly not be on this site, considering I’ve made it every time I’ve made a holiday meal for years. I like it because it isn’t mushy, but you can make it more so by adding more chicken broth. It originally came from Southern Living. 
1 pound ground pork sausage
1-2 onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (and toasted in a dry skillet if
you have time)
8 oz herb seasoned stuffing mix
16 oz package cornbread stuffing mix (or one recipe of cornbread)
2-5 cans chicken broth (totally depends on how dry you like it)
2 t. poultry seasoning
Sage to taste
½ t. salt and some pepper
A couple beaten eggs (as a binder)
Cook first 4 ingredients in a big pot (hopefully overproof) over medium high heat, stirring until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain well and return to the pan, or put in glass dish if pan isn’t ovenproof. Stir in nuts and remaining ingredients.
As far as broth, add enough so everything is moist but to your texture
preference. It always seems to take more than you think, but take care not too stir too much, or it will get mushy.
Now you can either stuff this in the turkey or cook it in a pot. If you cook it in a pot, you can cook it between 350 and 425 (depending on what else you have in the oven at the time) for between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. Taste to see if it has the consistency you like. You don’t want it to be too wet when you serve it.

Delicious Lasagna

I made this lasagna for my family when they came for Christmas 2016, and it was really yummy! I’d had it at book club and never forgotten it.
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds,
Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6
noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Baked French Toast

I’ve made Overnight French Toast (also on this site) for years, but I’d heard about this recipe, and it sounded so good. I love the topping element of this one, and I will say it’s a great use of a stick of butter. I made it for my family when they came to our house for Christmas 2016, and it was a hit. 

Serves 8

FRENCH TOAST
1 loaf crusty sourdough or French bread
8 whole eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T. vanilla

Topping
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 stick cold butter, cut Into pieces
Warm syrup
1 cup fresh blueberries

For the French toast: Grease the baking pan with cooking spray. Tear the bread into chunks, or cut into cubes, and evenly distribute in the pan. Crack the eggs in a big bowl. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly and store in the fridge until needed (overnight preferably). Or you can make it and bake it right away—delicious no matter what!

For the topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and some nutmeg in a separate bowl. Stir together using a fork. Add the butter and with a pastry cutter, and mix it all together until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the casserole from the fridge and sprinkle the topping over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture or for 1 hour-plus or more for a firmer, crisper texture.

Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with warm pancake syrup and sprinkle with blueberries.

Thumbprint Cookies

I’ve used the same thumbprint cookie recipe for years (also on this site – butter cookies two ways), but I decided to mix it up this year and use a new recipe that was very well-reviewed on Epicurious. They were great!

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup jam such as raspberry, strawberry, or apricot
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and a second rack in the lower third then preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture, and stir until just combined. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic, and chill at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Using your thumb or the round end of a small pestle, make a well in the center of each cookie. Using a teaspoon, fill each well with jam, being careful not to overfill the wells. Bake, switching the cookies between the upper and lower racks about halfway through baking, until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Continue baking cookies on cooled baking sheets.

These cookies can be baked ahead and stored, in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.