This week's column is dedicated to Louise and Dan, who are experiencing "empty nest" syndrome.


I'm sure you have seen plenty of cookies in the past week but this one was a big hit with my "taste testers!"

Brown Sugar Cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

1 large egg

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, optional

1 cup toffee chips, optional (I used both the chocolate chips and toffee chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg. Whisk (or sift) together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix into the butter and sugar until combined; scrape the bowl, mix for a few seconds more. Stir in chips if using.

Scoop by tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 8 to 12 minutes, just until the edges turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the pan for crispy cookies; for chewier cookies, transfer to a rack.


Breakfast or dessert?

Cornflake Custard

2 cups milk

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped dates

1 cup corn flakes (not sugared)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees; Lightly grease four 10 ounce ramekins or 6 silicone baking cups.

Whisk together the milk and eggs. Mix in the sugar, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, raisins, dates, and cornflakes and divide evenly between the prepared ramekin or baking cups. Bake for 20 minutes, until the mixture is set an inch from the edge of the cup; the centers should still be wobbly. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack; the centers will finish cooking through as they cool. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.


Biscuit and Sausage Bake

2 cups biscuit baking mix

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

6 fully cooked breakfast sausage links, thawed if frozen

warm maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat 8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk baking mix, milk, egg and vanilla in a medium bowl. Gently fold in blueberries. (Batter will be stiff.) Spread batter in prepared pan. Cut each sausage link into small pieces; sprinkle over batter. Bake 22 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Cut into squares; serve with maple syrup.


Our thought for the week: "In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy." — David Stindl-Rast