Annabelle’s Oatmeal Cookies

Drought scarred maple tree and black cat.

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! This morning, I’m looking out at a maple tree that is trying its best to show off, even after forty days straight with no rain. We’ve since had a good bit of rain, but you can still detect the scars of drought on the tree’s leaves.

Can you see the black cat? It belongs to a neighbor, and I suspect it is watching for birds and squirrels at my feeder.

Just in time for Fall, I’m sharing a recipe from Annabelle’s collection. She loves to make these, because her neighbor, Tom Franklin, loves them.

If you’re new here, you may not know who Annabelle is and you may be wondering about it. She’s a sweet, middle-aged lady from the 1950s, who lives in my Kinsman Redeemer series of novels.

What’s so great about this recipe is, you can make the dough and put it in your fridge, then bake them later. You can even freeze the dough. The cookies are thin and chewy, kind of like lace cookies. They are wonderful served with hot tea or coffee. If you’d like a printable recipe, you can download it from my Facebook group page here: Betty Thomason Owens Readers Group.

Annabelle’s Oatmeal Refrigerator Cookies* – an old-fashioned, chewy, oatmeal cookie!

Ingredients:

½ cup lard (I prefer softened butter, but you can also use your favorite vegetable shortening)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1-1/2 tbsp. molasses
½ tsp. vanilla
7/8 sifted flour (that’s ¾ cup + 2 tbsp.)
½ tsp. soda
½ tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups rolled oats

Sift dry ingredients (except the oats) into a bowl and set aside. Combine the first seven ingredients (shortening through vanilla) in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon (you can also use a mixer). Add the sifted dry ingredients and stir well.

Add the oats to the mixture. Using hands, mix thoroughly. Note: Annabelle preferred the hand-mixing method. You can continue with a mixer or stir with a spoon.

Additions: Tom Franklin loves these cookies with raisins, so Annabelle mixes in about ½ cup of plumped raisins (she soaks them in hot water for a few minutes to plump them). You can also add chopped walnuts or pecans at this stage.

Mold the dough into a long, smooth roll about 2-1/2” in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper (or plastic wrap). Chill until stiff. This usually takes about three hours, or you can leave it in the fridge overnight.

Heat oven to 400°

Unwrap dough and using a thin, sharp knife, cut in thin slices 1/8” or 1/16” thick. Place slices on a greased baking sheet. Note: I prefer to use parchment paper on my baking sheets. It’s just easier! And I use a serrated electric knife to slice it. It works best if you have left the dough in the fridge overnight.

Bake until lightly browned (about 8 – 10 min.). Annabelle’s note: Watch these closely, you don’t want to burn them.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

[You can slice these thicker to make larger cookies, but they really spread, so leave lots of room in between]

*This recipe is adapted from one found in the 1950 version of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

Holiday Breakfasts and Brunches

Welcome to a special edition of my blog – I’ve joined a holiday blog tour with my good friend, Tracy Ruckman, and a few of her wonderful friends, to help celebrate the season with memories and favorite recipes. Christmas is a lovely time to celebrate friendship. Here’s my offering—

Breakfast is always a great idea around our house. We love breakfast. On Christmas morning, it’s extra special. When our breakfast table was filled with growing boys, it took a couple of days for this momma to prepare the special foods for the Christmas breakfast. Homemade cinnamon rolls, bacon, a large breakfast casserole, a big bowl of fruit salad, freshly-squeezed orange juice. We feasted!

Over the years, our crowd has dwindled. We have the big family celebration on Christmas Eve. My guys are at home on Christmas morning with their families. Our day is peaceful. Mom is usually camped out in our guest room. My husband sleeps late. Mom and I linger over our morning coffee, enjoying the day and the company. Breakfast has become brunch.

Late morning, I start the meal. I still have a menu, but it’s a lot less work-intensive these days. Sometimes, it’s orange-cranberry muffins (made ahead), and sometimes it’s easy-peasy cinnamon rolls. I have a friend who grinds her own flour, makes the yeast dough, and creates some truly wonderful breads that are quite good for her family. My easy-peasy rolls are not like that. I pop open a can of crescent rolls. It takes about ten minutes from start to oven.

While the breakfast casserole has morphed into an omelet, a couple things have remained the same. Bacon has always been present at our Christmas breakfast/brunch, and the table setting. I’m not fancy. At all. But here, nostalgia holds a place. I serve up the food on my blue English ironstone plates. It’s not my best china, but I love it. I bought those, one place setting at a time, when I was a teenager. For my “hope” chest, later dubbed my “hopeless” chest (by me), but not for long.

I’m glad I held onto them, because they help make the meal special. But Christmas morning brunch is special anyway. It’s a time to remember all the blessings over the years. Though our table is smaller, I can still hear a distant echo of children’s laughter. Now, I treasure the moments spent with Mom. This is her 85th Christmas. I thank God for every holiday spent with her. Maybe this year, I’ll make her favorite mixed berry scones for brunch. She’ll like that.

Orange-Cranberry Muffins

½ cup softened, unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
¼ cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup plain yogurt (I use Greek)
2 tsp vanilla
Orange zest from 2 oranges
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 Tablespoons orange juice
2 Tablespoons milk
1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries (rinsed & drained)

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Spray a twelve-count muffin pan (or use cupcake liners).
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on high until creamed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Then, beat in the orange zest until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly mix with a whisk. Add the orange juice and milk, gently whisking until combined and little lumps remain. Fold in the cranberries with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling them all the way to the top. Top the batter with an additional cranberry or two, for looks if desired. (I like the pop of color on top of the muffins in doing this.) Bake for 5 minutes at 425F degrees, then keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350F degrees and bake for 18-20 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total baking time will be about 23-25 minutes.
  5. While the muffins are cooling for a few minutes, make a glaze by whisking together a cup of confectioner’s sugar and 3 tablespoons of orange juice. Drizzle over warm muffins. Allow to briefly cool before serving.

*Recipe adapted from https://sallysbakingaddiction.com

Easy-Peasy Cinnamon Rolls

1 can Pillsbury crescent rolls
¼ cup softened, unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg (if desired)
1/8 tsp ginger (if desired)
2 Tablespoons chopped pecans (or English walnuts)
1/4 cup of dried cranberries or raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8- or 9-inch cake pan (you can also use a cookie sheet). In a small bowl, whisk the spices into the sugar and set aside. Chop the nuts and set aside.
  2. I carefully unwrap the crescent roll dough. Don’t break it into sections. It will look a little like a rectangle. Lay it flat on a sheet of parchment paper, or you can use the countertop dusted with flour. You may need to pinch the sections together so they don’t pull apart when you roll the dough.
  3. Carefully spread the softened butter evenly over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with the sugar and spice mixture, followed by the nuts and fruit.
  4. Roll up lengthwise (starting on the long side) and cut into 1-inch sections. Set the rolls in the prepared cake pan or on a cookie sheet, close together to keep their shape.
  5. Bake for approximately 10 – 15 minutes (ovens vary) until they’re evenly brown and fragrant.

You can top these with a quick glaze of your choice, or dust with confectioner’s sugar.

It’s Christmas morning at your house—what foods will you enjoy? Do you have traditional favorites, something besides pop tarts with red sprinkles? 🙂

Next stop on the blog tour is: Holiday Main Courses – Sheryl Holmes

FRI, Nov 30: Holiday Appetizers – Tracy Ruckman
SAT, Dec 2: Holiday Beverages – Rachel Hartsfield
MON, Dec 3: International Holiday Foods – Peggy Cunningham
TUES, Dec 4: Holiday Breakfasts & Brunches – Betty Thomason Owens
WED, Dec 5: Holiday Main Courses – Sheryl Holmes
THURS, Dec 6: Holiday Sides / Potluck / Buffets – Tracy Ruckman
FRI, Dec 7: Holiday Sweets – Rachel Hartsfield
SAT, Dec 8: Holiday Recipes Master List – Tracy Ruckman