Category Archives: Cookies

Stop the Rumors!

Legendary Cookies


Long before the Internet or social media, an urban legend circulated about a woman charged $250 when she asked Neiman Marcus Cafe for its cookie recipe. Her revenge was to circulate the recipe worldwide. Neiman Marcus is innocent of gouging anyone for a recipe and now prints it online for all to enjoy, but this urban legend persists. You’ll find it in Facebook posts and emails. In fact, I saw it again today on Facebook. 
Stop the rumors! Share this post with your friends.

The cookie recipe is a good one, although I reserve baking these cookies for the holidays. Too rich with calories for me! The first time I baked these, I took them to a covered dish Christmas party at our church. They disappeared quickly, and I had numerous requests for my secret recipe.

Here it is typed from my tattered Xerox copy I got in my Atlanta office in 1991. A tin of these cookies makes a terrific gift.


  • 2 cups butter 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla 
  • 4 cups flour
  • 5 cups oatmeal (blended to a fine powder)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 24 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 8 oz.-Hershey chocolate bar, grated
  • 3 cups chopped pecans (or walnuts)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cream butter and both sugars.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla.
  4. Mix in flour, blended oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips, Hershey bar, and nuts. 
  6. Roll into balls (approximately 3/4″ diameter) and arrange two inches apart on a cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.

Yield: 100+ cookies


Note: This recipe is neither hasty nor healthful, but it sure is tasty!


Filed under Cookies, desserts, Healthful Eating, pastries


All you need!

All you need!

I’m not a great baker, so I’m a fan of cake mixes. I seldom make cakes, but the mixes make good cookies, muffins, etc. During the busy holiday season, I whip up these cookies in half an hour, which qualifies them as “hasty tasty” treats. They’re simple and as reasonably healthful as cookies can be because I use coconut oil. Coconut oil is a good choice for cookies because it is solid at room temperature like Crisco or butter but without the trans fats. Coconut oil is monounsaturated fat. Still, it’s fat and 120 calories per serving, so it isn’t a free pass. Hey, it’s cookies and it’s the holidays. Live a little!


Cake Mix Cookies

1 standard box cake mix
½ cup coconut oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375°.
Combine the oil and the egg (I soften the coconut oil about 15 seconds in the microwave, but no more. You don’t want scrambled egg!).
Add the mix and stir to combine. You can use a pastry blender, but I use my hands. The heat from my hands helps soften the coconut oil.
Press or roll out the dough and cut out cookies (or you may drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto the cookie sheet).
Bake cookies on an ungreased baking sheet for 8-10 minutes, just until they start to brown at the edges.
Remove cookies immediately to a cooling rack.


Hasty Tasty Holiday Cookies

(Makes approximately 3 dozen, depending on how large your cookies. One-inch diameter cookies yield about 3½ dozen)

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A Blonde’s Blondies

My friend Sue (Writer Susan R. Sweet) made us blond brownies for Christmas, and they were awesome! Rich, buttery taste with brown sugar and pecans in the background. Yum. Wickedly delicious. I asked for her recipe, and she generously gave it to me, but I’m no baker. Too much measuring, too many ingredients…a bit too scientific for my once-blond head.

I figured I could make a close facsimile of Sue’s blondies–not as good, but good enough. So I experimented and developed my Hasty Tasty Meals version of blondies. Still naughty and high calorie, but lightened a bit.




1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup egg substitute (Or 2 eggs)
1 box Butter Pecan cake mix (510 g)
1 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray a 9″ x 13″ bar pan or jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray.

With the mixer on its lowest setting, mix butter, oil, and egg substitute into the cake mix. Batter will be stiff. Add a tablespoon of water if too stiff. Add the pecans and mix just until incorporated into the batter.

Spread the batter into the bar pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean. Remove and let cool 5-10 minutes. Cut into squares, and enjoy.


Filed under Cookies, cooking, Recipes

Happy Valentine’s Day

heartlineWant to bake your sweetie something for Valentine’s Day but nothing too unhealthful?  Try my valentine heart cookies. Although I use refined flour and sugar, there’s no cholesterol, no high fructose corn syrup, and only good fats. If you don’t overindulge, a couple of these cookies won’t ruin your diet.  In the spirit of hasty tasty meals, this one skips the measuring of dry ingredients and the mess of food coloring by using red velvet cake mix.  It’s a trick I use for Christmas cookies, too.  Enjoy!


Valentine Heart Cookies
(Makes 3-4 dozen medium cookies)


1 18.25 oz. box of Red Velvet cake mix
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup egg substitute


Mix together into a stiff batter (If too stiff, add a tablesp0on of water) and roll out for cookie dough (approximately ¼” thick).  Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies and arrange on an ungreased stainless steel cookie sheet about ½” apart.

Bake cookies at 375°F for about ten minutes or until barely brown around the edges.  To avoid overcooking, remove the cookie sheet from the oven but leave the cookies for about 5 minutes.  They will continue to cook on the residual heat of the cookie sheet.  Then using a spatula, move each cookie to a rack to cool.

Serve cookies on paper heart-shaped doilies.

If you’ve followed my newsletter and blog, you know that I advocate a reasonable approach to diet. I’m hardly a health nut. But I do steer clear of a few bad ingredients, i.e. trans fats, added growth hormones, and high fructose corn syrup by carefully reading all labels. I drink organic skim milk and avoid unhealthful fats as much as possible. Lately, though, I’ve seen television ads defending high fructose corn syrup. Lest you be confused, let’s ask the food industry an important question: If high fructose corn syrup is nothing but corn syrup, why does it appear on labels listed separately and in addition to corn syrup? Sorry, but I’m unconvinced of its wholesomeness.

To add to my wariness, I read in EATING WELL magazine a report that according to two studies, HFCS is contaminated with Mercury. Ouch! That’s not appetizing.  If you’re interested in your sweetheart’s health, don’t buy him or her products containing HFCS.  Play it safe.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“Chef Cheri”

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Healthy Holidays!


This year I’ve put into practice the importance of reading labels, excercising caution to avoid trans fats, excessive sodium, high fructose corn syrup, and excessive saturated fat and sugar. I also shun refined grains in favor of whole grain products.

I blame much of the current diabetes epidemic on food additives and processing. Yes, we overeat, but why? Some of these additives confuse our bodies and trigger hunger. I proved this in 2007 by changing my diet. I’ve lost weight and have better control of my appetite.
A friend of mine has been diagnosed with Diabetes and recently met with a nutritionist. Here are the guidelines she was given, which boils down eating for diabetes in simple terms:

1400 calories per day
180 carbs per day [break down into 3-45 carb meals and 3-15 carb snacks.]
Eat NOTHING over 5 gms of fat per serving.

Men and children need more calories, so discuss this with your own doctor. I’m not a diabetic and I don’t want to become one, but I’m following these guidelines, too. Maybe I’ll lose a few more unwanted pounds!


When making your resolutions for the new year, try incorporating a new health habit, such as: To avoid excess sodium; To eliminate trans fats; To replace refined grains with whole grains. My resolution (since I succeeded in eliminating high fructose corn syrup from my diet in 2007) is to reduce my consumption of sodas. I enjoy my Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper, but all soft drinks are rough on tooth enamel and the digestive system. Much as I hate to give up soft drinks, I plan to limit my intake to one can per day. That’s a step toward eliminating all sodas, but I know me well enough to know I can’t go cold turkey!

Whatever your resolution, make it reasonable and achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure with grandiose, difficult goals. Double-digit weight loss is the stuff of reality TV shows but not practical for the rest of us. Still, there are lessons to be gleaned from programs such as The Biggest Loser.

To help you make your cooking healthier, focus on menus with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Make your protein lean and your fats healthy (olive, safflower, canola, or flaxseed oils). For more information on healthful menus, see the December 2007 issue of PREVENTION magazine, featuring “The Biggest Loser Diet” or go to .


Easy Holiday Cookies
Makes 4-6 dozen
Holiday cookies are a tradition, one that’s difficult to avoid during the Christmas season. I’ve tried to make up healthful cookie recipes, but let’s face it—this time of year we want a few indulgences. So here is how I make “cut out” cookies that are festive and moderately improved over the store-bought varieties (I use a “healthy” fat instead of butter or trans fats). This method is also a time-saver.
One 18 oz. size cake mix, any flavor (but Lemon’s my favorite)
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup Canola or Enova® oil
1 Tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Combine ingredients in a medium size bowl. Batter will be stiff. Work with hands to form a ball of cookie dough. Roll out dough on a pastry board or cutting board (or cover your countertop with wax paper) to ¼” thick. Using your favorite holiday cookie cutters or a small glass, form cookies and transfer to an ungreased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper).
Bake for ten minutes or until slightly brown. Remove from oven. Using a metal spatula, carefully lift each cookie from the pan and place on a cooling rack. Serve plain or decorate, if desired.

The next recipe is our favorite, for holidays or any day!

Foolproof Salmon Fillets
Serves Two
Salmon is farm-raised now and is widely available. I buy it flash-frozen because it tastes great when cooked right—low and slow. Try one of the new Mrs. Dash marinades (I like the Mesquite flavor) or make your own. Avoid high sodium products.
2 frozen salmon fillets
¼ cup marinade*
Preheat a 10″ stainless steel skillet over med/low heat. Add salmon (do not try to move the fish once it “sticks” to the pan), top with marinade, then cover. When the lid vapor-seals (meaning moisture makes it difficult to remove the lid; on some cookware, the lid spins freely at this point), lower the heat and time for 15 minutes.
Lift the lid and check for doneness. Do not overcook. However, when starting out with frozen fish, additional time may be needed. Turn fillets, cover, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes (or in 5 minute increments until fillets are done). Remember to use the lowest heat setting possible and don’t remove lid for the first 15 minutes. This “low and slow” method keeps fillets moist and helps you avoid over-cooking.
Serve immediately.
*Marinades are easy to make yourself. Remember to include an acid and a sweetener for balance, i.e. 1 ounce lime juice, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon grated ginger. Or 1 Tablespoon each: pineapple juice mixed with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and honey.

Happy Holidays from Chef Cheri!

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Filed under Cookies, cooking, Recipes, Salmon