Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

oatmeal peanut butter chip cookies | sunsets on the side

oatmeal peanut butter chip cookies | sunsets on the side

Sometimes it takes only small alterations to turn an original into something different and special.

That’s exactly what’s happened here.  In go the peanut butter chips, out go the raisins, and you have a soft, gooey cookie that tastes both new and familiar all in the same bite.

Make sure you have plenty of milk on hand.  I think you’re going to need it.

oatmeal peanut butter chip cookies | sunsets on the side

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Makes: 4 dozen
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 ¼ cups peanut butter chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) on medium speed, beat the butter together with the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Add the oats and stir until combined.
  6. Using a spatula, gently fold in the peanut butter chips.
  7. Using a medium (1 ¾”) cookie scoop, drop the batter onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 9-11 minutes until the cookies are just barely set.
  8. Cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer carefully to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Quaker Oats.

Blood Orange Mulled Wine

blood oranges for mulled wine | sunsets on the side

blood orange mulled wine | sunsets on the side

All signs point to it being citrus season around here.  Everywhere I look, there are tangerines and clementines and pomelos (oh my?).  I love it.  There’s just something so fresh about the taste and smell of citrus.  And, the fact that so much of it is grown locally is a total bonus.  This week, my favorite produce stand was practically spilling over with grapefruit and orange displays.  It was beautiful.

blood oranges for mulled wine | sunsets on the side

One of my favorite citrus fruits is the blood orange.  Have you ever had one?

They’re absolutely gorgeous, with a dark orange-red peel and thick, red juice.  They have a more interesting flavor than a typical orange.  Blood orange juice is sort of a darker, less sweet, more tart flavor.

It, conveniently, lends itself very well to a cocktail.

Actually, I feel like I can still taste a blood orange mimosa I had on our honeymoon.  A mid-morning brunch we had when we were on Maui is one of my most vivid memories from the trip.  There was an open-air restaurant – overlooking both a golf course and the pacific ocean, smoked salmon eggs benedict, the most perfect roasted potatoes, a warm breeze, my new husband, blood orange mimosas…

blood orange for mulled wine | sunsets on the side

Sorry, I’m sidetracked.  Where was I?

Right.  Blood oranges.

Today, since I’m celebrating citrus, and because it’s winter, let’s make a nice, warm mulled wine, what do you say?  And, while we’re at it, let’s fortify it with our mysterious and delicious blood oranges, some Grand Marnier to punch up the orange flavor, and some cinnamon sticks to spice everything ever so slightly.  This drink will warm you inside and out.

Oh, if I could offer one tip before I go?  Wear an apron.  Blood orange juice is only gorgeous when it’s in your mulled wine.  It is definitely not gorgeous when it’s on your favorite shirt.


Blood Orange Mulled Wine
Makes: 6 servings
  • 6 blood oranges
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle dry red wine
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
  • 1 T. honey (more if you like it sweeter)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  1. Remove the peel from three of the oranges. Set the peel aside and juice all six of the oranges (you should end up with about 1 ½ cups of juice).
  2. Pour the wine into a large pot. Add the blood orange juice, orange peels, Grand Marnier, honey, and cinnamon sticks. Stir to combine.
  3. Bring the wine to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Strain into a pitcher. Serve warm.

Eggnog Cheesecake Ice Cream

eggnog cheesecake ice cream | sunsets on the side

eggnog cheesecake ice cream | sunsets on the side

Eggnog is a mysterious and magical drink that only shows itself for a few weeks each year around the holidays.  It’s thick, it’s (sometimes) boozy, it’s indulgent.  I remember, when I was a kid, my dad and my sister both loved eggnog.  I wanted so much to like it, too.  All these years later, though, I still don’t.

It’s a texture thing to me.  Drinks should not be that thick.  Especially spiked drinks.  But, the flavor?  The flavor is goooood.  So, let’s take the texture issue right out of the equation.  You with me??

I reached back in the archives to revisit my raspberry cheesecake ice cream recipe back from the Summer of Homemade Ice Cream.  I’ve made so many variations of this recipe by now, but I’m still not tired of it.  And, this variation celebrates everything good about eggnog.  It’s festive!  Rich!  Delicious!  And, it plays up the thick texture in a new and entirely pleasing way.

Eggnog Cheesecake Ice Cream
Makes: 1 Quart
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup mascarpone, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup eggnog, at room temp
  • ¼ cup sour cream, at room temperature
  1. In a stand mixer, mix cream cheese and mascarpone on medium speed until completely smooth, about 3 minutes.
  2. With mixer running, slowly add sugar and salt. Mix until smooth. Add vanilla and cinnamon, and mix until combined.
  3. With mixer on low, slowly add the eggnog.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and whisk until eggnog is totally incorporated into the cream cheese mixture. Fold in sour cream.
  5. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.
  6. Pour chilled mixture into the frozen bowl of an ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream is at soft serve stage (which only took about 15 minutes because of the cheese in this recipe), transfer to freezer-safe container and freeze until firm.

Adapted from Cuisinart.

Chewy Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling

chewy ginger sandwich cookies cinnamon cream cheese filling | sunsets on the side

chewy ginger sandwich cookies cinnamon cream cheese filling

I saw the Hershey’s Kisses Christmas commercial the other day.  The one where the Kisses are bells that play “We Wish You a Merry Christmas?”  I love that commercial.  I love it when the little Kiss sighs with relief at the end.  Adorable.  And, I’m almost ready to jump right into the holiday season.

Almost, but not quite.

I’m not ready to give up on fall just yet.  With less than two weeks until Thanksgiving, I’m hunting down every last bit of squash-leaf-orange-acorn-ginger-pumpkin-apple goodness I can find.  I found some in these cookies.

chewy ginger sandwich cookies cinnamon cream cheese filling

Oh, man.  These cookies.

These cookies are packed with fall flavors, they’re fast and easy to whip up, and they make the house smell positively amazing when they’re in the oven.

But, the thing I think I love most about them is their texture.  The cookies are firm but chewy, coated in crunchy sugar, with just the right amount of warm spice.  The icing is packed with cinnamon flavor and oozes out just slightly when you take a bite.

The non-pumpkin-pie fan in me thinks these would make a perfect Thanksgiving dessert.  But, if a Thanksgiving without pie is too radical (I understand), these make a delicious mid-November treat for absolutely no reason at all.

Chewy Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling
Makes: 30 sandwich cookies
  • ~~~For the cookies~~~
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T. water
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ~~~For the filling~~~
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For the cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, ¾ cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Beat in the water and the molasses.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the batter slowly and mix until just combined. Refrigerate the dough until firm enough to roll, about 20 minutes.
  5. Place the remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar into a small bowl.
  6. Using a 1 ¼” scoop, scoop the dough, roll into balls, and roll the balls in the sugar. Place the balls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with your fingers or with the bottom of a glass.
  7. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. For the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer. Add vanilla, cinnamon, and salt, and mix until combined. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and mix until totally smooth.
  9. When cookies have cooled, spread filling onto half of the cookies (onto the flat bottom side), and then top with the remaining cookies.

Cookies adapted from Allrecipes.

No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Mousse Pies

no bake pumpin mousse pies

no bake pumpin mousse pies

As much as I love (almost) everything pumpkin-flavored in the fall, I’m just not a fan of pumpkin pie.  Part of it is that I’d always rather have a fruit pie (preferably blueberry, please!), but part of it is the texture of all that thick pumpkin.  I always feel like it needs…something.

Folding in the whipped topping (or, if you prefer to make your own homemade whipped cream, go for it!) gives these desserts a mousse-like lightness that wipes out the texture problem for me.  But, the warm spices give you what you want in a pumpkin dessert that keeps it feeling oh-so-fall.

No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Mousse Pies
Makes: 10 (6-oz.) servings
  • 9 T. (1 stick + 1 T.) unsalted butter, divided
  • 9 whole graham crackers (1 sleeve)
  • 2 T. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. molasses
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 (8 oz.) container lite Cool Whip whipped topping
  1. Melt 4 T. of butter. Let the remaining 5 T. come to room temperature.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers, with the granulated sugar and brown sugar, until they turn into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process to combine.
  3. Distribute crumbs evenly between 10 (6-oz.) ramekins (or fewer larger ramekins) and press firmly into the bottom and partially up the sides. Refrigerate the crusts while making the filling.
  4. With a mixer on medium speed, combine cream cheese and the remaining 5 T. butter. Slowly mix in powdered sugar until the mixture is totally smooth.
  5. Add the pumpkin and mix to combine.
  6. Add vanilla, molasses, and the spices. Mix until completely incorporated.
  7. With a spatula, fold in ¾ of the tub of Cool Whip.
  8. Divide pumpkin mousse evenly among the ramekins, and top each serving with a spoonful of the remaining Cool Whip. Chill for at least one hour or until ready to serve.

Adapted from Joy the Baker and A Family Feast.

Prolonging the Season

fall recipes to try

fall recipes to try

| 1 – Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins (Brown Eyed Baker) | 2 – Easy Butternut Skillet Shells (How Sweet Eats) | 3 – Pumpkin Gruyere Gougeres (Foodie Crush) | 4 – Maple Bourbon Cider (Martha Stewart) |

You might call it procrastination, but I choose to think of it as allowing my favorite season to linger.  And, this time, I let it linger for almost a full 365 days!

Score?  Not really.

Regardless, I have a bunch of recipes that have either been sitting in the “to try” pile in my recipe binder or staring at me longingly from my Fall & Halloween Pinterest board.  In the spirit of ‘better late than never,’ here are the top four recipes I’ve been meaning to try since last fall.

If you’re looking for a fall-inspired breakfast, lunch, dinner, or cocktail, these aged-like-a-fine-wine recipes have got you covered!  I can’t wait to give them a whirl myself.

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies



It’s sort of remarkable how many memories a single cookie can hold.

I’ve been making this sugar cookie recipe since I was small enough to need a stool to reach the kitchen counter.  My Mom would help me use the rolling pin and then push the cookie cutters through the dough.  We’d decorate cut-out hearts with pink icing and candy cupid arrows on Valentine’s Day, pumpkins with orange icing and candy corn faces for Halloween, and trees and snowmen with red and green sugar for Christmas.  When I was old enough, I took charge of rolling out the cookies for Christmas every year, and I haven’t stopped making them since.

A few years ago, I started adding a sprinkle of cinnamon make leaf-shaped cookies look even better for fall.  Not only did they look more like fall, they tasted (and smelled!) more like it, too.

A couple things about these cookies…

I make my own colored sugar for decorating.  I just prefer it to the sanding sugars you can buy in the store.  They’re too….I don’t know….crunchy (?) for me.  I use regular, granulated sugar, food coloring, a spoon, and a little elbow grease to mix everything together.  You can actually make a lot of great shades with those regular McCormick colors.

coloring sugar

colored sugar

Also, it’s best to have a light hand with the cinnamon, especially if your cinnamon container has dangerously large holes like mine does!  (You can see my ‘whoops’ in the corner of the photo below).  A little bit goes a long way.  Too much, and the cookies can become bitter after they’ve been baked.  I sprinkle the cinnamon first and then decorate with colored sugar on top.  I usually make some without the cinnamon, too…for the purists.


Finally, I really only bake these cookies for about 7 minutes, which puts them just at the very brink of doneness.  That’s how I like my sugar cookies…barely done, soft, and chewy.  I know that some people like their cookies on browner end of the spectrum, though, so if you’re one of those people, just add a few more minutes to the baking time.

This recipe is highly adaptable: cinnamon or no cinnamon, icing instead of colored sugar, rolling dough into balls instead of doing cut-out shapes.  Whatever you like!

Cinnamon Sugar Cookies
Makes: 4 dozen
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • Food coloring
  • 1⅓ cups Crisco
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 8 tsp. milk
  • Cinnamon for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place ½ cup granulated sugar into a small bowl (or divide it among as many bowls as colors you’re making). Drop food coloring into the sugar and mix completely with a spoon. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat Crisco and the remaining 1 ½ cups sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well combined. Add vanilla and almond extracts and beat to combine.
  5. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the batter. Beat just until incorporated. Add the milk and mix to combine.
  6. Divide dough in half and wrap each section in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours or overnight. (If you chill it overnight, it may need to warm up slightly before rolling out).
  7. Working in batches, roll dough out on a floured surface to ¼” thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Place onto a baking sheet that’s been greased or covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle cut-out cookies lightly with cinnamon and then with with colored sugar.
  8. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and place onto cooling racks to cool completely.