Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Shrimp

So I posted a picture of this meal on Instagram and Facebook a week or so ago and you guys blew up my comments section asking for the recipe.  I’m flattered and floored that you all thought it looked so tasty (which it was) so I’m happy to have pulled together this blog post so you can make it at any time!

Like many of my dishes, it really isn’t that complicated but this dish does have a fair amount of seasonings so make sure to review the list before getting started.  Until a year ago, I had never had brussels sprouts!  From what I had heard about them, I figured I wasn’t missing much.  But one day I was at Hy-Vee and they were on sale one day so I thought I’d give them a try.  Oh my gosh!  I totally underestimated how much I would love this tasty, low-carb, winter vegetable!  When prepared correctly, brussels sprouts are buttery, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness!  Sometimes I just halve them and roast in the over with salt and pepper and serve as a side dish, but this dish uses brussels sprouts as the base for a complete, well-balanced meal.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Shrimp

2T butter
2T olive oil
6 cups of shaved brussels sprouts (this was one “bag” from Hy-Vee of whole brussels sprouts or you can totally cheat and save chopping time and buy the pre-shaved baggies from Green Giant)

Seasoning for Brussels Sprouts

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice

Marinade for Shrimp

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1-2 T olive oil

6 extra-large raw shrimp per adult portion, thawed

1 cup of quinoa cooked (prepare per box instructions and use chicken broth instead of water for extra flavor)

Toppings

  • 1 avocado – diced
  • 1 roma tomato – diced
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro – chopped
  • 1/2 fresh lemon to squeeze over the top

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  1. To get started, it really helps to measure out all your brussels sprouts seasonings (except lemon juice) into a small dish, you can just toss them in the pan when it is time.

2. You can mix up the shrimp marinade at this time too and allow the shrimp to marinate while you prepare the rest of the dish.

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3.  Finely slice your brussels sprouts.  I do this by first cutting off the tough stem at the bottom. Then I place the brussels sprouts flat side down (for stability) and slice into thin discs. (This part can take a little time, I used the whole bag of sprouts to equal roughly 6 cups.)  You can save lots of precious time if you just buy the pre-sliced sprouts from the store!

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4. In a large hot pan, add the butter and olive oil. Once the oil and butter are hot, add the shaved brussels sprouts.  Cook with minimal stirring for 5-8 minutes.

5. Stir pan once after 5-8 minutes.  The sprouts should be wilted and getting brown edges (they aren’t burning.. the brown is natural caramelization and will make the sprouts extra tasty).  Season brussels sprouts with spice mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the majority of sprouts are wilted and browned and then add the lemon juice to the sprouts.

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6. Make a well in the center of the sprouts and add the marinated shrimp.  Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 2 minutes.  Remove lid and flip shrimp over.  Cook with lid off for another 1-2 minutes until shrimp are opaque and cooked through.

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Prepare your dinner plate by spreading 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa on the bottom of the plate.  (The quinoa can be cold, room temperate, or hot – your preference… the sprouts will mostly heat it through anyways.)

Top each plate of quinoa with a hearty serving of brussels sprouts and 6 cooked shrimp.

Top each plate with diced avocado, dice tomato, chopped cilantro and a drizzle of lemon juice.

Then take a picture and post it to Instagram or Facebook and enjoy all the lovely comments from your jealous friends!

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This is a delicious, low-carb yet protein packed dinner.  This recipe may look like several steps but basically you slice up the brussel sprouts, season everything and saute until cook through! It actually comes together very quickly – especially if you have cooked quinoa already in your fridge.  If you wanted even lower-carb or quicker preparation you could leave the quinoa out… but it really is pretty awesome with the dish!

Give this dish a try and let me know what you think!

 

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Spiced Roasted Cauliflower

Spiced roasted cauliflower aka your new years resolution’s best friend.  Raise your hand if you made a new years resolution that sounded something like this:

  • I’m going to lose 15 pounds
  • I’m going to do yoga every day
  • I’m going to give up pop and/or alcohol
  • My house will be clean at all times

Many of us make these broad sweeping new years resolutions and then we ultimately get overwhelmed by making huge lifestyle adjustments (usually trying to do all of these things all at once) and then life gets in the way and we give up.  I am no different.  I’ll admit that on January 1st, every single one of these thoughts went through my head (except the one about pop because I’m not really a pop drinker).  But I didn’t want to feel defeated by the second week in January so instead I just promised myself one simple thing:

I’m going to incorporate more exciting vegetables into my meals.

Yup – fairly simple, still kind of broad, and I’m sure a new years resolution police would tell me to be more specific with amounts and how many times per day… but I think this is what will work for me.  If you’ve read any of my past posts, you know I enjoy healthy food but also enjoy indulging in the cheesy, carb-y, sweet stuff too.  Life is all about moderation and so should your daily diet.  I’m a pretty firm believer in the 80/20 rule.  80% of the time you make healthy choices and then you indulge other 20% of the time.  However, I have one caveat to the 80% “healthy choices” rule… It still has to taste delicious!  On that principal I will not budge.  So if that means I use butter rather than coconut oil, then so be it.

Since I do a fairly good job of eating veggies on a regular basis, my challenge to myself is to start getting more creative with them.  My poor husband looked at his plate the other day and said, “I just can’t eat any more steamed broccoli.”  Steamed broccoli is a side dish we both really like but it has become my go-to side dish and both of us just couldn’t take any more.  So I’m switching things up!  Enter – Spiced Roasted Cauliflower(You might be thinking that cauliflower isn’t a far throw from steamed broccoli but trust me when I say it is worlds apart!)

This recipe is super easy, full of flavor, and contains many good for you ingredients like turmeric (which is anti-inflammatory) and ginger (which is great for digestion). The recipe pulls together very quickly and only needs one sheet pan, a small bowl, and a hot oven!

Spiced Roasted Cauliflower
  • 2-3 T Olive Oil
  • 1/4tsp tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 tsp of powdered ginger)
  • 3-4 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 T chopped cilantro and parsley

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First, preheat your oven to 400f.  I put my sheet pan in during the preheat.  This allows the pan to get piping hot and will sear the cauliflower when you add it to the hot pan, creating some yummy crispiness to the cauliflower florets.

Next, chop your cauliflower into florets removing the tough stems.  Then in a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, turmeric, paprika, salt, black pepper, cumin, and ginger.

When your oven is preheated and your sheet pan is hot, remove the pan from the oven and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Add the cauliflower florets to the hot pan and begin spreading spice mixture over the cauliflower (you can use a spoon to drizzle or I used a basting brush).  Once all the florets are covered in the spice mixture, move pan back to the 400f oven and roast for 20-22 minutes.

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After 20 minutes you can check on your cauliflower to check its doneness.  It should have crispy dark brown edges and be easily pierced with a fork. Also it will smell heavenly!  At this time, remove the cauliflower from the oven.  Drizzle lemon juice and herbs over the top of the hot cauliflower and serve to your loved ones immediately.  (I like my cauliflower to be very hot.. luke warm veggies are not something I like!) 

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The lemon juice and herbs add a brightness to the earthy spices.  (For anyone that hates cilantro simply use all parsley instead.)  If you haven’t cooked with turmeric before, don’t be scared.  A little goes a long way and it is what gives this dish this gorgeous yellow color.

Side note: if you are looking to purchase some exciting new spices and herbs to jazz up your meals, I strongly suggest you venture out to the East Village in Des Moines and check out AllSpice.  This store could be my home away from home.  The staff are super knowledgeable, super nice, and will answer any questions you might have.

I enjoyed this whole plate of cauliflower for my lunch today (I was eating light as we are going out to dinner tonight) but this would be a great side dish to roasted chicken, pork loin, or even tilapia.  Trust me, this definitely falls in the 80% category but it will taste like a 20% indulgent meal!

Stay tuned for my next exciting veggie adventure!  Do you have any food related new years resolutions that you are working towards?  Share them below!

 

 

 

The Perfect Hard-boiled Egg

I know it has been forever and a day since I’ve posted any new recipes. Our crazy busy fall season got the best of me these past few weeks as I’ve been playing catch up on any outstanding editing jobs, etc.  Please accept my apologies for the lack of posts recently but today I’m bringing you one of my favorites!  The perfect hard-boiled egg.  I know that may not seem super exciting but hard-boiled eggs are so versatile and perfect to have on hand for the busy holiday season.

This recipe is barely a recipe since you only need three ingredients: eggs, water, and baking soda.

The Perfect Hard-boiled Egg

  1. Get a deep pot 2/3 full of water and add 1 1/2 tsp baking soda. Bring to a rapid boil.

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2. Using a slotted spoon, slowly and very gently drop each egg into the boiling water.  (I usually add about 8 eggs for this size pot.  You don’t want to be overcrowded.)

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3. Set a timer and boil for 12 minutes. (During this time you can vacuum your living room, fold laundry, do the dishes or do what I do and waste 12 minutes fiddling on Instagram or Facebook!)

4.  When 12 minutes are up, turn off your burner and move the hot pot to the sink.  Run cold water into the pot for a few minutes (or until the pot is cool to the touch).  Then let the eggs rest in the cold water for 5 minutes.

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5. Once your eggs have rested, dry them off with a towel and mark them with a “H” so you know what you are reaching for in the fridge!

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Finally a few words of wisdom when it comes to cracking your eggs.  Its like the story of Goldilocks… you don’t want to do it too soft or too hard, you need to do it just right.  I hold the egg in my hand and with moderate force, hit it to the flat counter top.  Then with an open palm, I use moderate pressure to roll the egg back and forth.  My shells come off in one piece about 95% of the time!

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Also, occasionally an egg shell may crack when you add it to the boiling water.  Don’t worry about it!  A little egg white will seep out but the boiling water with cook it all so rapidly that the egg is still fine.  It may look a little less then pretty but it will still be edible and tasty!

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This egg cracked a little when added to the boiling water. But he is still fine to eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Hard-boiled eggs are perfect to have on hand any time of the year.  They make a great protein-rich snack, a quick on-the-go breakfast, a protein boost to salads, and can easily be turned into deviled eggs for holiday entertaining.  I hope you find this recipe to be an easy addition to your weekly food prep!

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The egg halves on top are from the egg whose shell cracked slightly in the boiling water. You can see they have a little divot in their whites but are still cooked to perfection!

I am the Grinch of Halloween

It is true.  I hate to admit to this since, in general, I very much enjoy holidays.  I like decorating and cooking and dressing up and all sorts of festivities.  Therefore, I think I should enjoy Halloween but truly, I am the Grinch of Halloween.  The holiday is at a horrible time of the year for me.  Fall is when I am most busy with photography and farming.  Plus, Aaron and I don’t have kids so I don’t have any cute little costumes to get excited over.   I’m so busy that I barely decorate the house.  I haven’t dressed up in years.  Also, we live in the country so no one comes trick-or-treating at our home so no need to buy candy.  So I accept that this holiday is my least favorite and I try not to wallow in my Grinch-ness.

However, for the sake of my cute little niece and nephew, I wanted to have some treats at our house this year.  Both kiddos are still too young for candy so I decided to make them cookies as a treat instead.  I’ve been dreaming of oatmeal raisin cookies for the last few weeks but my hubby is not a fan of raisins.  So I decided to cut out the raisins, throw in some chocolate chips and create a soft, chewy, chocolate-y treat.

Although the little ones in my life are getting these as Halloween treats.  This cookie is delicious any time of the year!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I always choose Nestle over generic)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350f and gather together your ingredients.

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2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and white sugar.  Then whisk in softened butter.  Beat for 1-2 minutes until pale and fluffy.  (I think it looks like soft-serve ice cream at this point)

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4.  Beat in eggs and vanilla and whisk for another 1-2 minutes.

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5.  With a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until combine.
(Leave a little bit of flour in the bowl for the chocolate chips.)

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6. Toss the chocolate chips in the remaining flour mixture.  (Coating your chocolate chips in flour keeps the chocolate chips suspended in the cookie while baking.  This keeps the chocolate chips from settling at the bottom of the cookie.)

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7.  Stir the oats into the dough and mix until combined.

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8.  Finally, stir the chocolate chips and any remaining flour into the dough until just combined.  Then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to chill the dough.

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9.  After the dough is chilled, scoop 1inch balls on to a silpat lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350f for 10 minutes, rotating the sheets at the 5 minute mark.

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10.  Remove cookies from the oven when the edges are lightly browned and middle is barely set. Let rest on the cookie pan for 5 minutes and then move to a cooling rack.

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I suggest serving these warm with a large glass of milk!  They are near impossible not to gobble right up!  Always store your cookies in an air-tight container with a slice or two of bread.  I’ve said it before but bread is the best kept secret for keeping super soft cookies!  The bread will get stale and crusty but your cookies will stay soft and chewy for days (not that they ever last that long in our house)!

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While I’ll be celebrating this holiday from the comforts of my couch, I wish your little ghosts, ghouls, and goblins the happiest Halloween!

Award-winning Butternut Squash Soup

Yes!  You read that correctly.  This soup has won an award!  A very legitimate award that came with a certificate and everything.  Back when I worked in the corporate world, our department had a soup cook-off and this lovely recipe won against 6 other top-notch soups.  This soup has been requested many times by family members and even my squash-hating husband enjoys it!  I love this recipe (it is near and dear to my heart) but it is a little time consuming to roast all the vegetables, simmer, etc… So I had a hankering for this soup the other day (plus my mother-in-law has an overflowing butternut squash vine in her garden) but I knew that I was going to be too busy to do all the work it required.  Then I had a lightbulb moment.  Why not try to make it in the slow cooker?

So with a little research and tweaking, I got it into the crockpot and crossed my fingers.  Would it be as good as always? Would skipping the roasting step take away some of the natural sweetness?  Answer… it was amazing!  Half the work and all the flavor!  Since we are all busy and fall weather is finally upon us, I thought this would be the perfect time to share this recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup
  • 2 medium-large butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 large sweet potato (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 green apple (peeled and cubed)
  • 1 roasted bell pepper (jarred is fine)
  • 1/4 cup white cooking wine
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Several fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup cream

I like to prep my vegetables the night before.  Prepping squash does take a bit of time and the point of a crockpot dinner is that it is easy to throw together in the morning and enjoy when you come home from work.  So I peel and cube my squash and sweet potato the night before and just store in the fridge.  Then in the morning I peel and cube the green apple and add everything except the cream to the crockpot.

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Set your crockpot to low, cover tightly with the lid, and enjoy your day knowing you are just minutes away from dinner when you get home.  (8 hours of cook time on low is sufficient.)

When you get home, your veggies should be soft and tender.  Very mashable.

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This is the fun part!  You can use your regular blender (in small batches) or an immersion blender but go ahead and blend the heck out of the soup.  You have full control over how smooth or chunky you want it.  Aaron prefers the smoother version so that is how I make it.  Also, at this time you can judge if the soup is the right thickness for your preferences.  If it is a little on the thick side, just stir in some more chicken stock.  Also, at this time taste for seasoning preferences.  Each sweet potato/butternut squash will have a different sugar content and is a different size.  So you may need to add more salt/pepper depending on your exact soup.

Once everything is blended and seasoned, you are ready to go!  You can enjoy the soup right away or turn your crockpot to warm until dinner time.  You’ll want to stir in the cream right before serving.  This adds a delicious, rich flavor but you don’t want to add it too early otherwise it can curdle or separate in the soup.

Since my husband (and most likely yours too) believes that soup isn’t a meal by itself, I paired this chicken sausages and a side salad.  A great quick and easy crockpot meal that the whole family will love.

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(Side note:  I believe that soup, especially a rich and satisfying soup like this one, can be a meal by itself.  It was my lunch today!)

I so enjoy crockpot meals during my crazy busy fall shooting/editing/farming time.  I saw this meme the other day and it made me smile.

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Comment below with your favorite crockpot meals or if you have any requests for a crockpot friendly meal you want me to develop!

Sausage-stuffed Acorn Squash

So… hopefully you read my Facebook post last night.  Seriously, farm life is “colorful” at times!  If you haven’t read my latest Facebook post hop on over there and have yourself a giggle.  The reason I bring this up is because the pictures accompanying today’s post are not my finest work.  Please forgive me. I promise I’ll take some extra fabulous pictures of the next recipe!

Despite the pictures, I think you’ll still find this recipe looks very yummy and is so easy to make!  Baked acorn squash, stuffed with sausage and topped with melty cheese is a meal all to itself.  But to round it out you can add a sliced apple and side salad!

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 lb pork sausage ground
  • 2 slices of Gouda cheese
  • 1-2  Tbsp real maple syrup
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

**This recipe feeds two adults**

1.  Preheat the oven to 400f.  Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out the “innards”.  Drizzle squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place squash in a baking dish and cover with tin foil.  Bake squash in preheated over for 40 minutes or until flesh begins to soften.

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2.  While the squash is roasting, brown sausage in a non-stick pan until cooked through

3.  When squash is tender, remove from the oven.  Drizzle with maple syrup.  Then fill the squash cavity with ground sausage.  (Not all the sausage may fit, depending on the size of your squash so you may end up with some leftovers.  Refrigerate the leftover sausage and make a yummy omelet in the morning.)

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4.  Top the sausage-filled squash with a slice of Gouda cheese and return to the oven (uncovered) for another 8-10 minutes or until the cheesy is bubbly.

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This is a yummy, slightly sweet, very filling dinner for hungry farmers and hungry families alike.  It does take about an hour from start to finish but a lot of that is roasting time where you can help your little ones with homework or fold that final load of laundry.

I hope you enjoy a beautiful weekend with this lovely fall weather!  I have more farmers to feed and back-to-back photo shoots filling my days!

Celebrate National Homemade Cookie Day

I bet you guys didn’t realize today was a national holiday!  Well, neither did I.  That is until my husband pointed out that today is National Homemade Cookie Day.  That statement was then followed up with, “So… what cookies are you making today?” Color me shocked to find out I totally neglected this holiday!  Monday was National Drink a Beer Day.  Tuesday was National Coffee Day.  With all the celebrating I’ve done this week, I thought it was all over.

Alas, I had to make some cookies to celebrate National Homemade Cookie Day.  Since it is also the 1st day of October (and finally feeling like fall), I thought I’d make one of my most favorite cookie recipes – Gingerdoodles.  My sister found this recipe surfing Pinterest one day and we have been totally hooked ever since.  The cookies are a delicious cross between a snickerdoodle and a gingersnap.  Seriously, they are amazing.  We make them all the time during the holiday season.  If you’re like me and you are already over the pumpkin pie spice frenzy that occurs every fall, these gingerdoodles provide the perfect amount of warming spice without being cloyingly sweet.  Plus the texture is unmatched.  They have a slightly crisp outside with a soft, chewy inside.  You will be addicted!  Not to mention they are so easy to make!

Gingerdoodles

  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 2 tsp cinnamon (to make cinnamon sugar to roll dough in)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350*.  Gather together all your ingredients.

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2. Cream together softened butter, sugar, and brown sugar.

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3. Stir in egg, vanilla, and molasses.  Whip for 1-2 minutes or until light brown in color.

Molasses is so pretty!

Molasses is so pretty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Stir in remaining ingredients one at a time mixing thoroughly between additions.

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5. Rolling tablespoon size ball of dough into small ball.  Roll ball in cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake on a parchment lined (I use Silpat mats) baking sheet.  Bake for 7-9 minutes.

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6.  Remove from oven when cookies begin to “crack”.  Do not over bake.  Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to finish cooling.

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7.  Enjoy cookies with a large glass of milk (or large glass of wine… I won’t judge)!

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These cookies will seriously change your life!  My absolute best cookie baking tip has nothing to do with the baking process and everything to do with storing your baked cookies.  To keep ANY baked cookie soft and scrumptious (rather than dried out and crumbly the next day), store your cookies in an air-tight tupperware container with a slice of fresh bread.  The bread is the magic component.  I don’t know the science as to why this works but I swear to you that it will.  The bread will become dried out and stale but the cookies will stay so soft.  Change out  your piece of bread every couple of days (if your cookies last that long… they don’t in our house!).

Well I know some hungry farmers that are going to enjoy this treat!  Off for a special delivery!

Tell me – do you have any extra special cookie tips?