“doubletree” chocolate chip cookies

For years I have been foiled by the chocolate chip cookie. I’ve followed recipe after recipe to the letter. I’ve asked people about their tips and tricks–more vanilla, expensive vanilla, different sugar ratios, all just bought/fresh ingredients–nothing has worked. And then–my friend Jess opened my eyes to these. It’s supposed to be the ‘DoubleTree Hotel’ chocolate chip cookies–yes, those. The cookie with the reputation that precedes it, in a great way! I will not lie, for a cookie recipe, this one is rather involved and has some surprising ingredients, but trust me when I say–it’s worth it. Enjoy!


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups semi-sweet, chocolate chips
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts


  1. Grind oats in a food processor or blender until fine. Combine the ground oats with the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and lemon juice in another IMG_2010medium bowl with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and blend well. Add the chocolate chips and nuts to the dough and mix by hand until ingredients are well blended.
  3. For the best results, chill the dough overnight in the refrigerator before baking the cookies. IMG_2018
  4. Spoon rounded 1/4 cup portions onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place the scoops about 2 inches apart. Bake in a 350°F oven for 16-18 minutes or until cookies are light brown and soft in the middle. Store in a sealed container when cool to keep soft.

tara’s tips (and jess’s by proxy): I softened the butter in the microwave, but did not melt it completely like I often do when baking. I only had pecans in the house, not walnuts, so I chopped them up using my food processor. I also stored the big ball of dough wrapped in wax paper in a freezer bag. While ovens vary, I tried baking the cookies 2 minutes past the 18 minute mark, not a good idea. They were still delish, just not as soft and chewy as they can be. The dough keeps for a long time in the frig, but Jess suggests ‘flash’ freezing the portions on a cookie sheet and then putting them in a freezer bag so whenever the need for a chocolate chip cookie strikes, you can just take a few out and bake ’em!


best brownies

IMG_1886Last Saturday I treated myself to the “chocolate brownie a-la-mode” pedicure at Spa in the Valley. It was divine! However, as a result, I was seriously jonse-ing for a real brownie when I got home, but I had no brownie mix in the house. And after this recipe, I don’t know that I will ever buy box brownies again! These were incredibly easy and quick to make and they came out delish. Thank Allrecipes. Enjoy!


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not over-cook.

no-fail blondies

IMG_1856I love a good chocolate chip cookie. Make it a blondie and that’s even better! However, baking either of these has never been my strong suit. Until, now… I think I have stumbled upon the perfect blondie recipe! Thanks Inspired Taste! And above all, they’re moist! Enjoy!



  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips




  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter or line an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. (I buttered)
  • In a medium bowl, stir melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in egg, vanilla, and the salt.
  • Add flour and stir until incorporated then mix in the chocolate chips.
  • Pour batter into baking dish and bake 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out relatively clean.
  • Cool then cut into 16 squares.


IMG_1857tara’s tips: As you may be able to make out in the ingredients picture, I used salted butter–it’s all I had in the house and it was snowing out, so the trek to the grocery store wasn’t happening.

I used a 9×9 pan. (I’m pretty sure I have an 8×8, but I had already buttered the 9×9.)

Recently, while watching the Barefoot Contessa I learned that when making blondies, the toothpick should never come out completely clean. She said it was the secret to making good blondies. So the note above about the toothpick being ‘relatively’ clean–adhere to it.

The blondies should be stored covered in an airtight container up to 3 days at room temperature or up to a week in the fridge. You can also freeze up to 3 months.

And while on the subject of all things chocolate chip…I now have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that comes out delish, every time. Stay tuned for that one!

chocolava cookies

In my quest to try new recipes, I admit I was skeptical about this one. I found it in Prevention, the health magazine. These cookies turned out so yummy, further endorsed by my 83-year old father, that I am now skeptical that they should be considered a ‘diabetic’ cookie. Delish!

Soft in the middle and brushed with confectioners’ sugar on the outside, these cookies look so scrumptious it’s hard to believe they’re diabetes-friendly!


prep time: 20 minutes
total time: 34 minutes
serves: 24

1⅓ c all-purpose flour
1 c granulated sugar
⅓ c packed brown sugar
½ c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ c trans-free margarine or butter, softened
3 lg egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar. Stir in margarine until mixture is well combined and crumbly. (This part can be done in a food processor.) Add egg whites and vanilla extract. Stir by hand just until dough comes together.

Place a few heaping spoonfuls of confectioners’ sugar into shallow dish. Roll dough into 1½” balls, then roll balls in sugar to coat. Place 2″ apart on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until just set around edges but still soft in the middle. Transfer to rack to cool.


Nutrition (per serving) 89 cal, 2 g pro, 18 g carb, 1 g fiber, 1.7 g fat, 0.3 g sat fat, 64 mg sodium

Recipe Roundup: Coca Cola Cake

coca cola cakeI am the girl who ALWAYS asks in restaurants, “Do you have Coke or Pepsi?” And if the answer is Pepsi, I get stick with water or iced tea. Coke has kick and can quench a thirst water can’t sometimes. But that’s just me.

Naturally, when I came across a cake that had Coke in it, well–of course I was going to give it a try. You don’t even need an electric mixer, how new age is that? Came out very moist. And I got to drink the rest of the 20oz. bottle of Coke that wasn’t used. Enjoy!

Coca Cola Cake
I found this recipe on no rules, just happy crafting

Preheat oven to 350, and grease up (I like Crisco) a 9×13 (or so) pan.
(Tara’s Tips: I sprayed a 9×13 glass pan with Pam.)

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda**
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup coca-cola (from bottle is my preference!)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup coca cola

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda**
1/2 tsp cinnamon

** Note: I have made this with baking powder or soda – Either way works. “powder” is what was listed in the recipe I got it from, but soda is slightly better results.–(Tara’s Tips: This isn’t my note, but I followed it and used baking soda, worked like a charm.)

In a saucepan over medium high heat stir this up good until it boils:
1 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup coca-cola (from bottle is my preference!)
1/2 cup buttermilk

Now take off heat and add that to the flour mix & whisk until combined.

Then add:
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix, put in pan, bake it for about 30 minutes. Yes, it’s a quick bake. Don’t over-bake it!

When cake is nearly done make the glaze by mixing in saucepan:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup coca cola

Once that boils, remove and slowly stir in 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar until nice and smooth. Then add in about a cup of chopped pecans, and give it a stir.

Once cake is done and out of oven (toothpick should come out clean), pour this warm glaze right over the top of the hot cake!


Let it set… let it cool for a few minutes at least…

Enjoy warm or cold. (next day/etc. feel free to microwave for a few seconds to warm it up… so good)