Kitchen Comfort: When the going gets tough ... make sweets


After spending every spare moment in the pool the last two weeks, it's probably good the weather has turned a little cooler and less humid.

The biggest project this weekend is vacuuming and dusting the house. I don't know why our yellow Lab isn't bald -- I have enough dog fur on our hardwood floors and furniture to stuff an over-size sofa, and that's only from the last two weeks. That estimate also doesn't take into account the daily spot cleaning I've done in the areas where fur "tumbleweeds" like to accumulate.

Sassy loves swimming and spent the same amount of time in the pool as we did. It did keep her cool, but I had to empty the basket on the pool filter twice a day because it was clogged with, you guessed it, dog fur.

After swimming, on particularly hot nights, she would get a frozen dog ice cream treat. I bought the first package at the supermarket and nearly died when I looked at the price -- and the fat content. A friend told me about a recipe for homemade frozen treats and I was off and running. Instead of four treats for about $1 each, I could make 12 -- with far less fat -- for far less money. Although I haven't tried any other flavors, I'm thinking any type of fruit, veggie or meat baby food would also work.



12 servings

32 fluid ounces vanilla yogurt

1 banana, ripe, mashed or 1 (5 ounce) jar baby food

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tablespoons honey

Blend all ingredients together and freeze in small paper cups. Microwave just a few seconds before serving.

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I've had a really stressful week. It seems like everything electrical or electronic I've touched broke or died.

I started a load of laundry the other day and went upstairs to read. I dozed off and woke to the sound of our sump pump going off. I ran to the basement to discover water pouring over the sides of the washer. Whatever gizmo is responsible for telling the washer it's full and to turn off the water was shirking its job. I spent the rest of the afternoon doing water ballet with the shop vacuum and the next morning at the Laundromat.

My personal laptop computer died -- again. The pump on the pool filter decided it was a jackhammer -- so I now have a new pump and another big expense. I turned on the CD player in the living room to drown my sorrows with a few glasses of wine and a private Luke Bryan concert -- and the drawer on the CD player wouldn't open. (I had the wine anyway and I continue to whine.)

So, when the going gets tough, the tough cry a little out of frustration -- and then head to the kitchen to bake something sweet. I'm thinking this weekend will be perfect to make two of my favorite cookies: Butterscotch bars and chocolate chocolate chip cookies. Although with the way my week's going, do I dare risk my KitchenAid mixer and oven?


1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened

1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13-by-9 inch pan. In large bowl cream margarine and brown sugar. Add vanilla and eggs, mixing well. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup, level off. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients and nuts into sugar mixture until well combined. Spread into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into 24 squares (or four if you're stressed out).

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2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine , softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl on medium speed of mixer until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips. Add nuts, if desired. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Makes about five dozen cookies.

Pan recipe: Prepare batter as above. Spread batter evenly in greased 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-by-1-inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 22 minutes or until cookie begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. About 48 bars.

Margaret Button is the city editor of the North Adams Transcript. Send recipes for inclusion in future columns to the North Adams Transcript, 85 Main St., Suite 2, North Adams, MA 01247 or email them to


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