Oatmeal Creme Pies

There are about five or six food blogs that I regularly “follow”.  I can’t handle too much more than that, because I have to, you know, work and stuff.  Most of the time I follow these blogs and see things that look awesome and say to myself: I’m going to have to try that.  And then I forget about it, and then later I stare at my kitchen cupboards wondering what to make, knowing that sometime I saw something somewhere that looked fabulous.  So sad.

But sometimes something jumps out enough to get me to make it right away.  Or at least to get me to remember it when I’m staring at my  kitchen cupboards wondering what to make.  These cookies fall into the second set of sometimes.

Originally from the kitchen of the Pioneer Woman (and then, a little more recently from mine), come these Oatmeal Creme Pies.  Only she calls them “Oatmeal Whoopie Pies”.  I couldn’t really call them that, because my cookies didn’t really turn out like hers.  Mine didn’t rise to cake-like consistency, but instead stayed rather flat, but still delightfully soft and chewy.  More like Oatmeal Creme Pies (think Little Debbie, only about a million times better).  And I think that I prefer them this way.  I’m not sure what I did wrong following her recipe, but I hope that I do it again next time.  They will probably be very good if they turn out like they’re *supposed* to, but I really hope that I never get to find out.  Practically perfect the way they are.

The thing about the recipe that really jumped out at me, though, wasn’t the cookie portion of the cookie…but rather the creme filling.  It came from a post on the Pioneer Woman’s  recipe sharing site Tasty Kitchen called “That’s the Best Frosting I Ever Had”, and ya know, I think they might be on to something.  It’s also some of the most bizarre frosting I’ve ever had – it has flour in it.  And you start out making it like gravy.  Totally bizarre, but totally amazing.  It’s the main reason I tried these in the first place, and a big part of the reason why I’ll be coming back for more.

Oatmeal Creme Pies
Ingredients (cookies):

2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. butter
1/4 C. shortening
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. boiling water
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
2 C. oats

1. Cream together the brown sugar, butter and shortening.
2. Add the two eggs and mix to thoroughly combine.
3. Add the salt, cinnamon, and baking powder.  Again, mix to combine.
4. Seperately, mix together the boiling water and the baking soda.  Then add to the rest of the ingredients, and mix to combine.
5. Add the four and the oats and mix well.

Spoon by the tablespoonful onto parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake 9-10 minutes at 350.  When cookies are completely cool, spoon one tablespoonful of frosting on to the underside of a cookie, then top with another cookie.   Makes about 25 – 30 sandwich cookies.

Ingredients (frosting)
5 Tbsp. flour
1 C. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. butter
1 C. sugar

1. Whisk together the milk and flour over medium-high heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly until thick.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
2. Add the vanilla to the milk mixture and stir in.
3. Seperately, cream together the butter and sugar until completely combined and sugar graininess is gone.
4. Add the milk mixture to the butter mixture and beat with an electric mixture until combined and texture resemples whipped cream.

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Cheesy Scalloped Potato and Hamburger Skillet

Here it is: my come-back from my not-so-brief off-the-net haitus.  Simultaneously, work has been a tad overwhelming the past few months, and the first trimester pregnancy “tireds” have been in full-force.  Subsequently, I’ve been in bit of a funk.  As a result, we’ve been eating a lot of grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, pasta and store-bought cookies.  And my blog has been sorely neglected.  I’m ready to de-funk myself, and get back into the kitchen and onto the blog.

I thought I’d start with this: a healthy, completely homemade version of a scalloped potato and hamburger skillet meal.  I’ll preface it with saying that it has cheese in it…but, as far as I’m concerned, if consumed in relative moderation, cheese isn’t that bad.  Especially if you make the sauce with pureed cauliflower instead of cream.


Substituting cauliflower for cream in savory sauces has been one of the greatest discoveries in my cooking life.  I think it was around New Year’s 2011, I found it as one of about 25 tips for healthy eating on some website, and thought I would have to give it a try.  Amazing discovery.   I will readily admit that I don’t have the most refined palate out there, but I can’t tell any difference in a sauce made with this or made with actual, real cream.  No fat, and lots of vegetable goodness.  Here’s what I do:  Every couple of months I buy a bunch of cauliflower (if it is in season, I get fresh…if not, I opt for frozen since when its frozen it is picked at the optimal time and then flash frozen, instead of picked early and left to ripen on a truck or store shelf), cook it until very soft, drain (but keep the water), then I use my immersion blender to puree, using the retained cooking water to thin.  Then I store it in freezer bags in about 2 cup portions and freeze until I’m ready to use.


If you want to make this, I have one word of advice: get a mandolin slicer if you don’t already.  I wouldn’t have made it if I didn’t – who on earth can actually cut 1/8 in thick slices of potato with one?  Perhaps if you have mad knife skills you can make it happen.  If not, get one of these.  I got mine at Target.

Here’s how to do this thing:

Cheesy Scalloped Potato and Hamburger Skillet

*This has lots of steps, but isn’t really that scary; nor does it take that long to put together.


1 lb ground beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tsp. minced garlic


1-1/2 Tbsp. butter

1/2 onion, chopped

1-1/2 tsp. minced garlic


1-1/4 Tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. thyme

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or 1/4 tsp. store-bought, pre-ground black pepper)


1-1/2 C. puree’d cauliflower

1-1/2 C. skim milk

1 bay leaf

3 lb potatoes, sliced 1/8-inch thick


1-1/2 C. each: loosely packed Monteray Jack and Sharp Cheddar cheese

Step One: The meat

In a large skillet, brown the beef, onion and garlic. Drain off fat and set aside (I let it side on a plate lined with three or four paper towels to absorb and residual grease.

Step Two: Potato Prep

While the meat is browning, slice the potatoes.

Step Three: Sauce

In the large skillet used for the meat, begin with sauteing the other half of the chopped onion in the butter until translucent (around 3 – 5 minutes), during the last minute or two, add the garlic (it cooks faster and might burn) over medium-high heat.  Add the flour, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.  Add the cauliflower and skim milk and stir until smooth and beginning to thicken.

Step Four: Cooking Potatoes

Add the potatoes and the bay leaf.  Stir gently so that potatoes are immersed in the sauce.  Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, around 15 mintues.

Step Five: Finishing touches

When potatoes are almost tender, add the meat and cook for a few mintues more.  Then, add the cheese and gently fold in to combine until cheese is completely melted.

Let stand about five mintues to thicken and set.

Posted in hidden veggies, meaty main dish | Leave a comment

Welcome to my new home!

After the too-long break from my old blog: sugarcookiesandchampagne.blogspot.com, I decided that I needed a little bit of a change. I felt that “Sugar Cookies and Champagne” didn’t really fit the blog – there wasn’t anything party-ish, at least not the kind of sophisticated parties that serve champagne, and at least half the time the postings were sugar-less…so I moved.  And here I am: From Sugar to Spice, I hope this is a bit of a better fit.


I know that right now there isn’t much by way of “style” going on with this blog…I need to play around with wordpress some to figure out how to add all the bells and whistles that I’d like.  But, you will notice that all of my old postings are transfered here from the old blog (it was easy-peasy to do here on wordpress, but I couldn’t figure out if it was possible or not on blogger….which is why I’m now over here, and not there).


Stay tuned…I’ve got a good recipe coming up for you “Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Hamburger”…delish!

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Sausage and Bean Stew

Things that I can prep or cook ahead of time are an absolute MUST for keeping my sanity.  Which I think is why I am such a fan of crock-pot cooking and one-dish meals.  During the school year, just about everything that we eat is a casserole, stirfry, soup or stew.  Lately Sunday has been our cooking day – we get everything for the week prepped, cook the things we can, and then we are good to go for the rest of the week. 

This Suausage and Bean Stew is one of those meals – easy to make, easy to enjoy.

Sausage and Bean Stew

1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves minced garlic
4 slices bacon
1 lb chicken sausage (any flavor – we used roasted red pepper)
2 cans navy beans
1 can red kidney beans
2 C. frozen sweet corn
1Tbsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
2/3 C. water (use the water from rinsing out the cans of beans)

If the sausage is not fully cooked, then brown before using.  Cook the bacon until crispy and cut into pieces, set aside.  Cut the sausage links in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices.  Dump all ingredients (except bacon) into a crock pot and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.  Add bacon with about 10 -20 minutes left.

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Birthday Cake

My husband is addicted to Skittles.  He keeps a giant jar of them in his desk at work.  He keeps a giant jar of them above the refridgerator.  The external motivator that we used to potty train our daughters was Skittles (aka “Daddy Treats”).  Skittles are, to him, the perfect snack, ending to every meal, and solution to any sort of hunger twang or bad taste in the mouth.  With one exception – he picks out all the yellow ones. 

Yes.  You read that right.  I am married to a man who buys gigantic bags of Skittles, opens them, and picks out every. single. yellow skittle and tosses it before he fills up his Skittles jars.

So for his birthday, I decided to make him a “Skittle” themed cake.

This is very similar to the cake that I made last year for my girls’ birthday…but that was before I started this blog.  Maybe I’ll post a pick at some point, it was a caterpillar, and pretty cute (if I do say so myself).  But the best thing about this Skittles cake is the fuity frosting.  Yup.  That’s right.  White cake, fruity frosting.  Delicious.

I used the “White Cake” recipe in the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook.  I will post the recipe at some point, too.  But not now.  Now I want to focus on the frosting.  Very, very easy.  And very, very good.  It pairs perfectly with the cake.  A spot-on combination that I would urge you to try:

Jello-Cream-Cheese Frosting

Beat 4 oz. of softened cream cheese (use the real, full-fat stuff) until smooth.  Add 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/8 c. granulated sugar, and 1 box of your favorite flavor of jello and beat until smooth.  Add 1-1/2 C. heavy whipping cream all at once and beat until stiff peaks (start on low or it will splatter everywhere).  For vibrant color, add some food coloring.

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Dried Tomatoes

What do you do when you have about eight pounds of tomatoes that you need to use quickly…before they die in the bag that your grandmother-in-law brought them over in??

I made dried tomatoes.  Just like Sun-dried Tomatoes that you can buy all fancy-like at the store.  Except mine were dried in an oven, not with the sun.  It was a good thing I decided to go the oven route – the day I did this the sun decided to hide behind giant rain clouds.

Cut the tomatoes in half (mine were “plum” tomatoes, so they were small, you may want to cut in fourths or eighths if your tomatoes are large).  Dump into a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, stir to coat. 

Arrange in a single layer on cookie sheets/jelly roll pans (you’ll want it to have and edge).  Bake at 250 until dried out and shriveled, around 6 hours or so.  Enjoy in chili, stew, pasta, etc.

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Punched-up Pasta

When my husband and I cook, we try to add in some “healthy extras” whenever we can.  For the sake of our girls (who hesitate to eat anything green), and for the sake of our own health as well.  Sometimes it is as simple as sprinkling some ground flax seed on our oatmeal or adding a few tablespoons of wheat germ in with the flour when making brownies or cookies.

And sometimes it is as simple as this pasta.

We started with the “Piccolini” pasta made by Barilla:

It’s this cute little pasta – just the right size for little mouths (my daughters’, not mine).  And – bonus – they have some that is made with veggies cooked into  the pasta, so it has a serving of veggies right from the start.
Then, we browned some very lean (93/7) ground beef with about half an onion and a green bell pepper (both diced small) and a big spoonful of  minced garlic.  Add that to your favorite bottled pasta sauce (we like Target’s Archer Farms brand), and then stir in a half a can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling, just the pumpkin), about 2 cups of frozen corn, and a can of diced tomatoes.  Add about a 1/2 tsp. or so of Italian seasoning and let simmer for just a couple minutes to get everything cooked/heated through. 
Mix it all together and — voila a quick and healthy dinner.  Serve with cottage cheese on the side and you’ve got all your food groups covered!
Posted in hidden veggies, meaty main dish, pasta | Leave a comment