Tag Archives: snacks

Classic Toffee Oatmeal Cookies

It’s Fall and I’m back!  Without explaining my absence let’s just say this past year has been…hmmm…I’ll be positive about it and say it’s been a year of growth.  Fall on your knees and cry out kind of growth.  Ugh.  I despise the process  but I’m pretty sure it’s made me a much stronger and better person.  That said let’s get on with Fall!  The weather FINALLY turned last night and Fort Lauderdale woke up to a cool, crisp 57°.  Here in SoFlo that’s fireplace weather.  This sweet treat is just the ticket with a cup of hot coffee or tea or a cold glass of milk.  These cookies are ridiculously easy to make and will fly out of your house.  I’ve also baked them with coconut chips and raisins.  Yes, they can be made with chocolate chips and I suppose they’re good but I’m not a big fan of chocolate chips in my cookies.  Call me crazy, I don’t care.  These cookies, however, are chewy and rich…the buttery toffee bits complement the oatmeal perfectly.  The cookies travel well, whether in a lunch box or through the mail to your favorite college student.  I hope you enjoy them!

Classic Toffee Oatmeal Cookies

  • Servings: 40 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup toffee bits, found on the baking aisle of your grocery store
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups uncooked old fashioned oats
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl cream together the butter, shortening and sugars.
  3. To the bowl add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well until completely blended.
  4. In a medium size bowl add the  flour, toffee bits, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.
  5. To the flour mixture add the oats and mix until completely combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the butter-egg mixture and, by hand, mix well until all the oats are completely coated and all the ingredients are well combined.
  7. Using a 1 1/2 inch melon baller, scoop the cookie batter evenly onto the parchment paper lined baking sheets leaving 2 1/2″-3″ between cookies.
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes.  The cookies will still be undercooked in the middle.  They will firm up as they cool.
  9. Cool the baking sheets on racks.
  10. To store allow to cool completely then pack the cookies in an airtight container.

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Fried Green Plantain Chips

One of the highlights of our summers in Puerto Rico was our trips into Viejo San Juan, Old San Juan.  Cynthia and I would be taken by our aunt, Madrinita, and, of course, Mama would accompany us.  It was an all-day affair of shopping at my aunt’s favorite jewelry store, always lunch at La Mallorquina, the oldest operating restaurant in the Western Hemisphere and culminating perhaps with a tour of cellist Pedro Casals’ house.  What wonderful times we had!  In and out of shops we went, Mama buying gorgeous French and Belgian sets of tablecloths and napkins, Madrinita giving in to the siren call of a particularly lovely gold bracelet as Cynthia and I stood by watching wide-eyed and highly impressed.  My mother and aunt adored each other and this outing gave them the opportunity to spend uninterrupted hours catching up on family news and their own sister secrets.  Cynthia and I were already BFF’s so we, too, shared our own 8-year-old/six-year-old secrets, whispering that maybe, just maybe, this was the trip Madrinita would buy us some pretty little earrings, a delicate ring or exquisite charm for our bracelets.  As we grew older, Madrinita and Mama strolled ahead of us, arm in arm, chattering away.  Cynthia and I lagged behind enjoying the lazy afternoon, soaking in the beauty of cascading bougainvilla spilling off the balconies above us and the magnificence of the smooth blue cobblestones below our feet dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.  One of our favorite games was to hunt for ruts and grooves cut into the cobblestones by horses dragging canons up to the fort and back.  Puerto Rico was a Spanish territory, a jewel in their crown, and the Spaniards were quick to defend it against land attacks.  We were content with the pleasures of the sun on our skinny, little arms, the soft padding sound of our shoe leather against the rounded cobblestones and the dichotomy between the loud, riot of colors and the quiet, graciousness of the residents.  Toward the end of the day Cynthia and I tended to unravel.  After a day  of walking and getting too much sun we both needed energy, a small pick-me-up to tide us over until we got back to home base: our grandparent’s house.  On every corner it seems there was a minute wooden cart, always gaily painted a bright red, shielded from the searing afternoon rays of the sun by a striped awning or umbrella.  Alongside the cart and in the shade sat the vendor usually on a folded, wooden chair, wearing a straw hat and welcoming us with a brilliantly white and friendly smile.  All the vendors were kind and patient with us, treating us as the adults we had yet to be.  Some sold ice cream, some snow cones shaved from huge blocks of ice and others offered little bags of plantain chips gathered in small, wax paper bags, folded at the top and fastened with one staple in the center of the parcel.  We were, and still are, crazy about them.  Each bag was 10¢.  When enjoying these plantain chips with my husband, Jimmy, he pointed out it gives new meaning to “dime bag”.  But they were a fabulous treat for us and gave us the stamina needed until we reached home.  We loved everything about them, from the “snap” of the first chip down to the bits of salt at the bottom of every bag.  Another perfect ending to a perfect day.

This is one hors d’oeuvre you won’t often see here in the states unless you are at a gathering with Latinos.  Plantain chips are easy and quick to prepare.  And although they are fried, you will find that properly stored, the chips stay fresh and crisp for two or three days after preparing…if they last that long.  In fact, I find their flavor almost deeper the following day.  Plantain chips are typically served as an appetizer or snack but my family and I love them crumbled over shrimp, fish or mixed green salad.  We like them sprinkled with sea salt or drizzled with a little chimichurri sauce. They marry exceptionally well with all manner of sea food.  This recipe may be doubled or tripled and if not serving immediately, do not need to be reheated. Just serve them at room temperature.  The thick, hard peel of the green plantain has to come off, easily done but not as easy as peeling a yellow banana.  Plantains stain your fingers so I always wear disposable gloves.  The following is how I peel them.  You will find 3-4 ridges running lengthwise on each plantain.  Using a paring knife cut through the peel down the length of the plantain taking care not to cut into the flesh.  Starting at the top, slide your finger under the skin and pry each section away.  I run the paring knife lightly over the surface of each plantain to scrape off any bits of peel left behind.  You’ll see the flecks of peels as they will turn gray in color making it easy to scrape off any missed.  The chips are thinly sliced into a 1/16″ thickness.  I use a lightweight mandoline that makes slicing the plantains a snap but obviously a sharp kitchen knife will work just fine.  Some people then give the sliced plantains a quick rinse of salted water, drain them well, then fry them.  The rinsing keeps the starchy slices from sticking together.  However, I find no matter how well I drain them there is always a certain amount of moisture causing the hot oil to pop so I don’t rinse.  It’s up to you.  I keep my gloves on while frying, also, to avoid any stains as my fingers touch the slices while dropping them into the hot oil.  Last of all, and this is important, the very second you take the chips out of the hot oil and drain on paper towels sprinkle them with sea salt.  The tiny bit of oil on them will help the salt to stick whilst the oil drains off.

Fried Green Plantain Chips

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 green plantains
  • vegetable or canola oil
  • sea salt
  1. Peel the plantains and cut into round slices 1/16″ thick, about the thickness of a quarter.
  2. In a frying pan heat about 2-3 inches vegetable or canola oil to a little lower than high, about 375°.
  3. If rinsing the slices do so now.  Fill a large bowl with salted water, put the sliced plantains in the water, swirl with your hand and drain in a colander.   Pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Carefully drop the chips into the hot oil in batches.  I typically fry one sliced plantain at a time.
  5. As the slices hit the hot oil, stir with a spider or slotted spoon to keep the chips from sticking together.
  6. Fry until golden, about 3-4 minutes, gently stirring all the while to ensure even cooking.
  7. With the spider or slotted spoon, remove the chips and transfer to paper towels to drain.
  8. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt and serve.
  9. If serving another time, store the cooled plantain chips in an airtight gallon freezer bag or plastic container.

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Pumpkin Pie Fritters

It feels like fall, y’all!  We’ve had major rain here in Lauderdale and the temperature has plummeted to 82°.  It’s 3:00p.m. and the street lights are on…as well as the AC.  Well, a girl can dream.  And when I do, at times it’s of pumpkin.  Nothing says autumn like pumpkin.  Pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake and, especially, pumpkin fritters.  They’re like crunchy and soft bites of warm and sweet pumpkin pie.  These fritters are quick, easy and cheap.  You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry.  It’s a great treat for your family or dessert for the casual drop-by company.  There aren’t really any do’s or don’ts.  After mixing it all up, letting the batter sit for a while undisturbed does enhance the flavor.  And I found using a small melon ball scoop to drop the batter into the hot oil gives consistent size fritters which will cook evenly.  They’re best served immediately after dusting with powdered sugar but I haven’t seen any refused the following day after preparing.

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Great with a cup of coffee or hot tea, these fritters welcome all the spices you like in your pumpkin pie.  Don’t care for cloves?  Don’t add them.  If you’re not a fan of powdered sugar, roll them in cinnamon sugar.  And if you’d like to fancy the fritters up a bit, warm some caramel sauce and drizzle it over the platter as you’re serving them.  You might want to try serving them with fresh fruit, such as strawberries or blackberries, which cut the richness and really add to the flavors of the pumpkin pie spices.  Hope you enjoy them!

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Pumpkin Pie Fritters

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin, plain not pumpkin pie mix
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, I use light brown
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, store-bought or homemade
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • canola oil, enough to cover 1″ up the side of your pan
  • confectioners sugar to coat when serving or
  • cinnamon sugar to sprinkle when serving, optional or
  • caramel sauce to drizzle on when serving, optional
  1. In a medium bowl mix the pumpkin, brown sugar and egg until completely combined.  Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt making sure to break up any lumps.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  4. Set the batter aside for 15-30 minutes for the flavors to develop.  You don’t have to if you’re pressed for time but the flavor is better.
  5. Pour canola oil into frying pan deep enough to cover 1″ up the side of your pan and heat the oil to medium-high.
  6. Using a small melon ball scoop, drop the batter balls into the hot fat taking care not to crowd the fritters.
  7. Fry 4-5 minutes.
  8. Carefully turn each fritter over and fry 4-5 minutes.
  9. Test for doneness by taking a fritter out of the pan and quickly splitting open with a fork and sharp knife.
  10. If not quite cooked through, return to pan and cook 1-2 minutes more.  Turn each fritter over if necessary.
  11. Remove fritters from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  12. Dust well with confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately.
  13. If serving later reheat for 5-7 minutes in a 350° preheated oven.  Sprinkle again with  sugar.

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