Revisiting Trail Mix Cookies

Two great friends came to stay with us last weekend from Chicagoland for a wedding. They decided to extend their weekend trip a bit and take advantage of the great camping opportunities on the Skyline Drive. With the camping in mind, I decided to make Trail Mix Cookies.


But I wanted to improve on my previous recipe. Those cookies had an awful lot going on… much like Everything Cookies. I wanted to tone it down a bit, so I replaced the peanut butter chips and white chocolate chips with additional semi-sweet chocolate chips. This allowed a little more enjoyment of the dried cranberries, almonds and golden raisins with a hint of chocolate.


Please do read my previous post for some information on agave syrup, what I used in place of sugar. It’s a more natural sweetener, especially good for diabetics. It also makes the cookies soft – you won’t get a crunch using agave.


What will throw you off the most about working with agave is that you’ll think you messed up when combining ingredients. Agave doesn’t blend very well at first with the butter and it seems to separate a lot… but when you add in the dry mixture you’ll see that everything is fine. Just have a little faith!


New & Improved Agave Trail Mix Cookies

3/4 cup Nature’s Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola with Omega-3
3/4 cup trail mix (a mix of dried cranberries, almonds and golden raisins. I also threw in some sunflower seeds for fun.)
1/2 cup oats (regular, not instant)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup shredded coconut
7 ounces (slightly more than 3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup agave syrup
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine granola, trail mix, oats, semi-sweet, white and peanut butter chips, and coconut. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine.

Beat room temperature butter until smooth. Add agave syrup, vanilla and egg. Beat well (don’t get discouraged when it looks clumpy and like it isn’t holding together… that’s normal!). Fold in flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then fold in granola, oats, trail mix, chips and coconut.

Use a tablespoon to scoop large balls of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place balls approximately 2 inches apart. Bake approximately 12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely (these cookies cooled surprisingly fast). Store in an air-tight container.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Bakeless Cookies? That's crazy talk!

I remember three years ago sitting among a group of women who were telling me they couldn’t believe I’d never tried, heard of, made, or otherwise been exposed to bakeless cookies – three years later here I finally am! Yesterday for the first time ever I made “bakeless cookies.”


This recipe is straight out of my bridal shower recipe box. A few months before getting married, my bridesmaids threw me a dessert themed bridal shower (they know me well, huh?). They requested that each of the guests bring a dessert recipe, and they collected them all in a cool wooden box painted blue and orange, the colors of my alma mater. I’m looking forward to slowly trying each of the recipes in this box!

recipe box

So back to bakeless cookies – I’m not sure I “get” them. I guess I assumed they would firm up, but they’re still very soft. I can pick them up now without too much sticking to the foil, but the consistency is akin to warm, soft fudge or chewy caramel candies (without quite that level of stickiness). I wanted to just describe them as “little goo balls,” but Edwin advised me against using that imagery… woops? They did firm up quite a bit after I put them in the fridge, but they’ll always be soft.


While sadly I probably can’t pack these cookies up to take to work (because they’re so soft I’d worry they’d just meld together, and I think the consistency might confuse people expecting a typical flour-based cookie), I will say that they’re pretty addicting. I started out with just one, then I snuck back for seconds, and then the cycle continued on. I’m interested to hear what you all think about bakeless cookies, whether you try your hand at these or if you have your own recipe. There’s definitely no confusing them for baked cookies and nothing compares to cookie dough, but maybe they do have a place in the cooking/baking world after all? It’s hard to say no to chocolate + peanut butter, and it’s no secret that I’m a little obsessed with oats. These cookies are very chewy and oaty.


And in DinnerCakes housekeeping news – something big is coming to DinnerCakes tomorrow! If you’re a regular reader, then you may have a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about. Edwin and I are very excited about it – please check back tomorrow to find out what we’ve been working on behind the scenes!


Bakeless Cookies
from my husband’s Aunt Claudia, who received this from her grandmother Louise

2 cups granulated sugar
dash of salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup oleo (same thing as margarine)
1/2 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
3 cups quick cooking oats
3 tablespoons cocoa

Melt margarine in a medium size pan. Add sugar, milk and cocoa; stir constantly. Once the mixture starts to boil, cook for 5 more minutes and then add peanut butter, blending until smooth. Remove from heat and add in oatmeal fast.

Drop by tablespoons onto foil. As they cool they will firm up just enough so that you can pick them up and pop them into your mouth!

Oat & Herb Baked Chicken

If you’re planning a wedding, have recently gotten married or just love weddings in general, then you’ve probably heard of a website called The Knot. The Knot is a spectacular place to find local vendors, get ideas for flowers, dresses, cakes and color combinations and to help out with planning and etiquette questions.


I recently went to The Knot for the first time since my wedding in July 2008 to look up a friend’s wedding website. I was surprised to discover that when you log in after your wedding has passed, you’re redirected to a site called The Nest. The Nest features advice for married people – money tips, decorating your home and saving, love, beauty, babies and dinner recipes.

oat mixture

Of course I clicked first on the dinner recipe tab. It was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Many of the recipes on the site are designed to be relatively easy and healthy, and they’re geared towards serving two people.

One of the recipes that caught my eye was, well, one of the less healthy ones, something called “Herb Oven-Fried Chicken.” What sparked my interest was that instead of using plain breadcrumbs or “Shake ‘n Bake” to lightly coat the chicken, this recipe called for oats! Let me make sure it’s clear – I love oats!

cutting chicken

By pulsing the oats in a food processor, you get a fine powder that adds an interesting and wholesome taste to your chicken breasts. I added a lot more flavor to the coating by including more spices in the oat mixture. I also baked it in the oven (and removed a lot of the oil) instead of cooking it in a toaster oven. I don’t have a toaster oven, but even if I did trying to cook raw chicken in it sounds like an odd idea to me (even though apparently The Nest pulled this recipe from a book solely dedicated to cooking with a toaster oven, my question is “Why?” I understand not having a stand mixer or food processor, but why would you need a substitute for a conventional oven?).

My husband and I enjoyed this chicken with a side of mashed potatoes and mashed rutabaga and baked beans. It doesn’t taste like a typical breaded chicken; if you don’t like oats then you probably won’t like this. But I highly recommend this spicy and unique take on chicken breasts!

chicken breast

Oat & Herb Chicken

adapted from The Nest (who excerpted it from Lynn Alley’s The Gourmet Toaster Oven: Simple And Sophisticated Meals for the Busy Cook)

1/2 cup milk*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup rolled oats (you can use Quaker Quick or Old-Fashioned, but not Instant)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, rosemary, Italian seasoning, black pepper, celery seed and paprika
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon paprika

My 1 lb of chicken breast contained 3 medium chicken breasts. Cut chicken breasts in half longways. In a small bowl, combine chicken, buttermilk, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and oil. I refrigerated this marinade for about 5 hours, but do it for however long you can.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425F. Combine oats, red pepper flakes, the remaining teaspoon of salt, parmesan, basil, rosemary, Italian seasoning, black pepper, celery seed and paprika in your food processor. Pulse until the oats are mostly powdered. Spread oat mixture out on a plate. Shake the excess buttermilk off the chicken gently and lay both sides of the chicken in the mixture to thoroughly coat.

Place chicken in a shallow baking dish (I actually used a ceramic pie dish). Bake for about 15 minutes, depending on thickness of your meat. The crust should be a little crispy. Be sure to test for doneness by cutting into the thickest piece and ensuring that it’s bone white in the center. Remove chicken and serve with vegetable of your choice.

*Note about Milk – The original recipe called for buttermilk, but I used skim milk because that’s what I had on hand and it worked out fine. Buttermilk will give you more of an authentic fried chicken type taste, and next time I make this I’ll probably try out buttermilk. For my calorie-counting friends, give buttermilk a chance! Wikipedia says, “Buttermilk is lower in fat and calories than regular milk because the fat from buttermilk has already been removed to make butter. It is high in potassium, vitamin B12 and calcium.” Yum.