Hacks from my Happy Place – XI

I think the fact that this is my 11th post related to food, cooking and the kitchen certainly validates my passion for those things, doesn’t it???

People who enjoy baking are gearing up to start all of those goodies for the upcoming holiday seasons. For you, I offer the following information I found online:

This is quite helpful!
Hmm, I have neither whole milk nor unsalted butter in my house!

Meanwhile, the beginning of baking season also signals that I can “officially” start my ‘nesting’. This is the time – every year – that I wish I’d had space to bring my small chest freezer with me when I moved. I toy with the idea of making room for a small upright freezer, and have to remind myself that it’s less expensive to just cook in smaller batches! The last time I visited my brother and took some goodies along, his freezer was almost over-stocked by the time I left him. And my bestie is always willing to reap the rewards when I do make a batch of something. In an ideal world, food banks would take – and be able to store – homemade frozen items for the needy. If that could happen, I could do more than my share to fill the freezer!

Meanwhile, I thought I’d share a couple of recipes with you that I’m trying for the first time. The first is for homemade tortilla chips. Start with large soft tortillas. Cut them into 8 (pie-shaped) wedges. Depending how sharp your knife is, you can cut through several at a time. In a medium to large bowl, combine 1/2 cup melted butter (or margarine), 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (dried is okay), 2 tsp. garlic powder, 2 tsp. oregano and 2 tsp. basil. You can add other spices you like, such as Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, etc. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the tortilla slices in the bowl to coat. Spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool, then store in an airtight bag or container.

This next recipe comes from my bestie, Joanne. I’m calling it Boxed Cake Cookies, and it is super simple! Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine one box of cake mix (brand and flavor of your choice), 1/2 cup oil, 2 eggs and 3/4 cup of your favorite ‘add-ins’ (think flavored chips, nuts, etc.). Drop batter by teaspoons onto parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack until completely cool. Store in an airtight container. NOTE: One of my favorite cookies is Snickerdoodles, so I used a yellow cake mix, added 1 tsp. cinnamon and omitted the add-ins. I chilled the dough so that I could work with it to form balls of dough. The balls were rolled in a cinnamon & sugar mixture, then placed on the baking sheet. I then pressed them down a bit with the palm of my hand to spread them so that they would cook more evenly.

So there! Now even the most novice of bakers can make cookies, and with different add-ins and/or combining add-ins, create a lot of varieties!

Meanwhile, I have the hankering for some meatloaf – or spaghetti with homemade sauce -, so more cookies and tortilla chips will wait for another day!