Scenes From Northern Michigan

As mentioned in my most recent post, I spent the past two weekends vacationing with family and visiting with friends. Subsequently, I also spent the past two weekends doing anything but baking. Today, I settled back into my normal routine and spent the afternoon happily re-creating dishes to share with you throughout the week.

While I write up those recipes, I hope you might enjoy a few photos from the time I spent in Northern Michigan. The northwest corner of the state, from Bear Lake to Frankfort to Platte Lake to Glen Arbor, are all places dear to my heart. Though I must also say, as a born and bred Buckeye, this will be the only time you will ever see Michigan in one of my blog post titles without the words “Go Bucks, Beat…” in front of it. I hope you all are having a lovely summer!

Lake Michigan

The Path to Lake Michigan

Gwen Frostic

Gwen Frostic’s: One of my favorite places to spend some dough.

Overlook at Pierce Stocking Drive

Lake Michigan Sunset

Jolene and Her Sand Bucket Hat

Interestingly, she regularly refused to wear her lovely pink sun hat.

Scenic Overlook at Pierce Stocking Drive

Overlook at Pierce Stocking Drive

Cherry Republic

Cherry Republic: Another one of my favorite places to spend some dough.                       Or on this trip, Dad’s dough. Thanks for the treats, Dad!

Flowers at Gwen Frostic

Cake Mix Cookies

Cake Mix Cookies

Yesterday, I returned to my “normal” life after enjoying a relaxing, rejuvenating vacation. I got to spend time with my family, visit with some friends, swim, and read at my leisure. Despite a sinus infection or toothache (culprit remains under investigation) that resulted in a trip to an out-of-network doctor’s office and a pair of broken flip flops that resulted in a mile walk through the city while barefoot, I had a wonderful time.

I also accidentally dropped one flip flop from my remaining (and favorite) pair. It was given away by fellow beach combers to teenagers hiking along the beach before I realized it was missing. That resulted in a slightly broken heart and the need to shop in Mom’s closet.

Oh, and did you hear about that storm called a Derecho? It tore off roofs, took down massive trees, and knocked out everyone’s power. Yet still, I had a wonderful time. It’s amazing what a change of scenery and being around people you’ve loved for as long as you can remember can do to your spirit!

Cake Mix Cookies

I enjoyed reading the comments about where everyone would like to or plans to visit. Thanks to all who entered June’s  round of 2012′s 12 Months of Giveaways, and congratulations to the winner who left comment number 10, Corrie! Not so lucky this time? I plan to cheer you up with a super-delicious cookie recipe made from cake mix. And don’t forget to check back on July 12 for this month’s giveaway.

Now about those cake mix cookies. Just like the shoes from her closet, I pirated these cookies from my mom. She baked them and placed them on a platter. I saw them sitting on the counter unattended and thought, “that’s content I can use while I get back up to speed!” So I snapped some pictures as I sampled more than my fair share. Shameless.

In need of more recipes that make use of cake mix? Then check out my Things to Make With Yellow Cake Mix post or Pinterest board. Enjoy!

Cake Mix Cookies

Cake Mix Cookies
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 Box Cake Mix
  • 2 Eggs
  • ½ Cup Vegetable Oil
  • optional, chocolate or other chips
Instructions
  1. Combine the ingredients in a large bowl and stir vigorously until well mixed.
  2. Place spoonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.
Notes
Suggested combinations include yellow cake mix with chocolate chips (seen here) or chocolate cake mix with peanut butter chips.
 

Vacation Cookies

Yoga Cookies

In Chole’s Kitchen, Chef Chole calls these cookies Yoga Cookies because they are her “favorite after-yoga snack.” I renamed my version Vacation Cookies because I made them before I went on vacation. The cookies could have also been named I Need to Bake Cookies but I Don’t Have Time to Go to the Grocery Store but I Have Most Everything in This Recipe on Hand. But that title would have been much to long.

Yoga Cookies

I liked the many add-ins found in these cookies: oats, coconut, raisins, walnuts, and chocolate chips. I did not have nuts on hand, so I substituted an extra 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in their place. If raisins or coconut are not your favorite things, you could substitute other add-ins in a similar manner, but I must tell you the coconut’s flavor is completely lost within the other ingredients.

Another plus to these cookies is their lack of white sugar. The sweetness of the agave (or maple) syrup, raisins, and chocolate satisfied my sweet tooth just fine. And if one bakes with whole-wheat pastry flour in place of the white flour, these cookies would make a fairly decent snack. A downside was the cookie dough was fairly difficult to pull together, but I just sort of smashed it down as best I could, and for the most part the cookies held together.

Yoga Cookies

I try so many baked goods I sometimes loose my baseline of what tastes good and what tastes not-so-good. I am proud to report these cookies passed the Mom Test. My mom, the best cookie baker in the world (she shares that title with many other mom’s out there, I’m sure), said the cookies were “really good.” And if that wasn’t enough, she asked for the recipe. Enjoy!

Vacation Cookies
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16-18
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup canola or similar oil
  • ½ cup agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • ½ cup raisins (I used golden)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together the oil, syrup, and vanilla.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  4. Fold in the oats, coconut, raisins, walnuts, and chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop 1½ to 2 tablespoons of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, then gently flatten the dough with the palm of your hand.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes until the edges of the cookies are golden.
Notes
The original recipe indicated 1½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour can also be used in place of all-purpose flour. The recipe also indicated maple syrup could be used in place of agave syrup. I opted to omit the walnuts indicated above, and instead used ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and ½ cup milk chocolate chips.