99 Types of Cookies: # 2 Strawberry Pudding Confetti Cookies

These Strawberry Pudding Confetti Cookies are a variation of my Pistachio Pudding Cookies.  My daughter came up with the idea, and after making these she thought they’d be great for a birthday party, which they would!  They are easy, sweet, and chewy.  The sprinkles add festive color and the dough is just barely pink, but you could add food coloring to make it brighter.


The drops of dough look like little balls of strawberry ice cream with sprinkles.


These cookies bake up really soft, so be careful when transferring to a rack to cool.


These cookies are sweet, soft, chewy, and gooey – just like the pistachio version!

Strawberry Pudding Confetti Cookies

Super simple – just mix, drop, and bake and you’ve got a sweet treat.

Strawberry Pudding Confetti Cookie


Strawberry Pudding Confetti Cookies

  • Servings: about 18-20 cookies
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Soft and chewy strawberry flavored cookies with rainbow sprinkles

Credit: 99Taste original by Leslie


  • 1 cup plus 2 Tb all-purpose flour
  • ½ ts baking soda
  • ½ cup margarine, softened (use one with a high vegetable oil content like Land O’Lakes)
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tb light brown sugar
  • ¼ ts vanilla extract
  • 3 Tb instant strawberry pudding, dry
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles
  • pink food coloring, optional


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Beat margarine, brown sugar, and white sugar until creamy. Beat in strawberry pudding mix and vanilla until fully combined. Beat in egg. Mix in flour and baking soda, dough will be stiff.  Blend in pink food coloring to desired color, if using.  Stir in rainbow sprinkles.
3. Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to drop by large tablespoonfuls on cookie sheet.  Bake for about 10 mins, until bottoms are just barely golden.  Cookies will appear underdone, but will set while cooling.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

99 Flavors of Hand Pies: # 1 Sausage, Pepperoni, & Mozzarella Calzones

I’ve made calzones several times over the past year, and each time I’ve tried a different crust recipe and different fillings.  This time, my whole family agreed, they were the best.  The crust recipe is adapted from Fleischmann’s using rapid rise yeast, so you don’t need to wait for the dough to rise.  The entire dinner took 40 minutes to make, which was manageable on a weekday.  The results were amazing.

For the dough, make sure you are using a rapid rise or quick rise yeast.  Add the yeast dry to the flour.  Your water must be very warm – 120 to 130 degrees for the yeast to activate.  You’ll need to knead the dough for several minutes to achieve smoothness and elasticity.


I rolled my dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and 8 inches in diameter.


You can certainly stuff these calzones fatter, or us different fillings altogether.  But I loved the saltiness of the sausage and the gooey-ness the buffalo mozzarella provided.


To seal the edge, I pulled the bottom crust just slightly over the top and then crimped them together.


The egg wash provides just the perfect golden touch.


Tasty perfection.

Sausage, Pepperoni, & Mozzarella Calzone

Try this recipe for yourself.  You won’t be disappointed.


Sausage, Pepperoni, & Mozzarella Calzones

  • Servings: 4
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Credit: 99Taste original by Leslie with crust adapted from Fleishmann’s

Crust ingredients

  • 2 ½ – 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 envelope rapid rise yeast
  • ½ ts salt
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 cup hot water (120-130 degrees)

Filling ingredients

  • ½ cup marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup hot sausage, cooked & crumbled
  • 12 slices pepperoni
  • 2 oz. buffalo mozzarella

Other ingredients

  • Egg wash – 1 egg beaten with 1 Tb water
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix 2 cups flour with the dry yeast and salt. Stir in the hot water and olive oil, then add ½ cup more flour. When the dough starts to come together, transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes. Whenever the dough feels sticky while kneading, add 1 Tb more flour. After the dough has become completely smooth and elastic, cover with a clean dishcloth and let rest 5-10 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into four pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a thin circle. Transfer to the baking sheet. On one half of the circle, spread 2 Tb of marinara sauce, topped with 2 Tb shredded mozzarella, 2 Tb cooked sausage, 3 slices of pepperoni, a little more marinara sauce, and finally several chunks of buffalo mozzarella. Fold other half of dough over and pinch all along the seam to seal. Brush top with egg wash. Repeat with all pieces of dough and remaining filling ingredients.
4. Place the calzones in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush again with egg wash. Sprinkle on shredded parmesan cheese. Return the calzones to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until golden. Serve with extra marinara for dipping, if desired.

99 Flavors of Grains: # 1 Quinoa Salad Stuffed Pita

I think quinoa is my new best friend: full of amino acids, high in protein, and easy to cook. Technically, quinoa is a seed, but for the purposes of this blog, I am grouping it under grains. This Quinoa Salad Stuffed Pita Bread was an amazingly delicious lunch, and healthy too. I’ve been dreaming about it on my other lunch days when I’ve had yogurt and fruit.

The recipe makes one large, fully stuffed half of a pita, but it could easily be doubled.

Use fresh veggies and cut the pieces small.  I used dark green leaf lettuce.


The buttermilk cilantro dressing is amazing!


The quinoa salad is just as delicious on its own as stuffed in a pita.


I loved this boldly flavored lunch.  Paired with an orange, it was delicious and satisfying.


Quinoa Salad Stuffed Pita

  • Servings: 1
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Quinoa tossed with lettuce, veggies, and feta with a delicious bold buttermilk cilantro dressing, stuffed into pita

Credit: 99Taste Original by Leslie

Dressing Ingredients

  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tb plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 ts garlic powder
  • ¼ ts dried cilantro
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients

  • ¼ cup dried quinoa
  • 4 baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 or 2 Tb red onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup shredded green leaf lettuce
  • 1 Tb feta cheese, crumbled
  • Halved cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • ½ of a pita bread


1. Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.
2. To cook quinoa, bring ½ cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa. Cover with a lid and turn to simmer. Simmer 12-15 mins until all water is absorbed.
3. Toss lettuce, carrots, red onion, tomatoes (if using), and quinoa with dressing until fully coated. Mix in feta cheese. Stuff salad into a pita and enjoy!



99 Types of Cookies: # 1 Pistachio Pudding Cookies

I absolutely love pistachios – both the taste and the color.  These Pistachio Pudding Cookies have the most amazing flavor and texture!  They are easy to make and perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, since they are green, or delicious enough to have any time.

The pistachio pudding mix makes the dough a split pea soup color, so I added about four drops of green food coloring to get a prettier hue.


The cookies bake up perfectly.


Let the cookies cool slightly before rolling in powdered sugar.  Be careful if they are still a bit warm, because they will be soft and fragile.


These cookies are sweet, soft, chewy, and gooey.


Try them for yourself!

Stack of Pistachio Pudding Cookies

Pistachio Pudding Cookies

  • Servings: about 2 dozen cookies
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Soft and chewy pistachio-flavored cookies

Credit: 99Taste original by Leslie


  • 1 cup plus 2 Tb all-purpose flour
  • ½ ts baking soda
  • ½ cup margarine, softened (use one with a high vegetable oil content like Land O’Lakes)
  • 2 Tb white sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tb light brown sugar
  • ¼ ts vanilla extract
  • 1 4 oz. package instant pistachio pudding dry mix
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • green food coloring


1. Beat margarine, brown sugar, and white sugar until creamy. Beat in pistachio pudding mix and vanilla. Beat in egg. Mix in flour and baking soda.  Blend in green food coloring to desired color.
2. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into round balls and place 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until bottoms are just slightly browned. When cookies have cooled slightly, carefully roll in powdered sugar.

99 Ways with the Instant Pot: # 3 Instant Pot Southwest Chicken

This Instant Pot Southwest Chicken is great because it can be made in 30 minutes, plus it’s healthy and only 305 calories per serving.

Every part of this recipe is done in the instant pot, including browning the tortilla strips.


First the chicken is seasoned and saute’d for a few minutes, before adding the flavorful sauce that will create the liquid for pressure cooking.



The pressure cooking for this recipe only requires 8 minutes.  Even the time for the pressure to build up wasn’t long (about 10 mins), since the pot was already heated from the sauteing.  Then a final saute’ to thicken the sauce and a little cheese and the crispy tortilla strips are added to the top, resulting in a flavorful and tender chicken dish.

Instant Pot Southwest Chicken

Instant Pot Southwest Chicken

  • Servings: 4
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Moist and flavorful chicken cooked in the instant pot topped with crispy tortilla strips and cheese

Credit: 99Taste original by Leslie


  • 1 Tb oil
  • 2 flour tortillas, cut into strips (easiest with a pizza cutter)
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb.), sliced horizontally
  • ½ ts salt
  • ½ ts garlic powder
  • 1 ts chili powder
  • ¼ ts paprika
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup salsa or picante sauce
  • 2 Tb apricot preserves
  • ¼ cup shredded Colby and Monterey jack cheese


1. Combine salt, garlic powder, ½ ts of the chili powder, and paprika. Rub each side of chicken breast with spice mixture.
2. Mix water, salsa or picante sauce, apricot preserves, and ½ ts chili powder. Set aside.
3. Turn instant pot on to sauté mode. Add oil and heat for 1 minute. Add tortilla strips and cook 1-2 minutes on each side until crispy. Remove tortilla strips and set aside. Add chicken to instant pot. Sauté on each side until browned, about 3 minutes per side.
4. Pour sauce mixture over chicken in instant pot. Put on the lid and make sure the steam release valve is set to “sealing.” Cancel sauté mode and set instant pot on pressure cook for 8 minutes. Once cooking is complete, quick release the steam valve. Open the lid and set the instant pot back to sauté mode. Cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Change to the “warm” setting and sprinkle cheese and tortilla strips on top of chicken. Serve.



99 Variations of Chocolate Chip Cookies: # 1 Truly Perfect Traditional Chocolate Chip Cookies


Well, let me say I’ve baked four batches of chocolate chip cookies the past two weekends.  Even using all three cookie pans that I own yielded different results.

But the last batch of cookies were truly perfect, exactly the type of chocolate chip cookies I love.  Soft, chewy, and crispy all at the same time, with a lot of chocolate chips.  Here are my tips to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  This post is not endorsed; these are only my opinions of the products and ingredients that will create the best cookie.

First of all, I used Land O’ Lakes margarine.  Land O’ Lakes has more vegetable oil content than other margarines and also 0 trans fat (although they can still make that claim with 0.5g of trans fat).  I let the margarine soften until it would just hold a thumbprint, about one hour.  Secondly, I hand mixed these cookies.  One of my previous batches used a mixer and butter.  Those cookies tasted good, but they were flat and after two days they turned hard.


This recipe omits vanilla, which I honestly didn’t miss.  The cookies had a true chocolate chip cookie taste instead of a vanilla taste.  For the chips, I used a whole bag of Ghiradelli semi-sweet.


No annoying chilling is required – who wants to wait that long for chocolate chip cookies?


As for the pan, the one that baked the cookies perfectly, not too puffy and not too flat, with a slightly crispy bottom and a chewy center, was my Wilton cookie sheet.  My dark-coated cookie pan resulted in browner cookies that were puffier on top and crispier on the bottom.  My large sheet pan turned out cookies that were chewy, but a bit too flat.


I think I could’ve eaten the whole pan of these cookies when they came out of the oven.  Nine minutes at 375 degrees on the top rack worked perfectly.


Try this traditional recipe and these tricks for a perfect chocolate chip cookie.  Look at that warm gooey-ness – I think I need to go have another…

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Truly Perfect Traditional Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: about 3 1/2 dozen cookies
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Perfect chewy traditional chocolate chip cookies, no chilling required

Credit: tips & tricks by 99Taste


  • 2 sticks Land O’ Lakes margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ts baking soda
  • 1/2 ts salt
  • 12 oz. high quality semi-sweet chocolate chips, such as Ghiradelli


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie pans with parchment paper (do not use dark-coated pans).

2. In a large bowl, cream softened margarine with both sugars until smooth.  Beat in egg.  In a separate bowl, mix salt and baking soda with the flour.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stirring after each addition.  The batter will become very stiff.  Add chocolate chips and stir until fully mixed.

3. Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to drop by large tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets.  Bake on top oven rack 8-10 minutes (do not over-bake).  Use a separate cookie sheet for each batch (so that the pan is not already warm).




99 Flavors of Mac & Cheese: # 1 Classic Baked Mac & Cheese

Baked Mac & Cheese is a favorite side here in the south. Gooey and cheesy in the middle with a golden crunchy baked top – who wouldn’t like it? I bake the leftovers in a muffin tin with a little extra cheese on top to put in my daughter’s school lunches.

My recipe is adapted from the Mac & Cheese Cookbook by the Homeroom restaurant in San Francisco. I figure they know a little bit about making macaroni and cheese.
Using a high quality sharp cheddar and kosher salt are crucial to bring out the flavors in this mac & cheese. I use Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar since it is available at my local grocery store.



My family loves the crunchy baked topping.

Classic Baked Mac & CHeese

Classic Baked Mac & Cheese

  • Servings: 6-8
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Baked cheddar macaroni & cheese, creamy in the middle with a crunchy topping.

Credit: adapted from The Mac & Cheese Cookbook from the Homeroom

Calories per serving = 312


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 ts kosher salt

Topping Ingredients

  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tb butter
  • ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a casserole dish.
2. Cook elbow macaroni in boiling water with 1 ts kosher salt according to manufacturer’s directions for al dente pasta. Drain and rinse in cold water (to stop the cooking process).
3. While the pasta is cooking, melt ¼ cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add ¼ cup flour and stir or whisk constantly until golden and bubbly. Slowly add milk ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly, until smooth, but thickened. Turn heat to low and add 1 ts kosher salt and 2 ½ cups shredded cheese. Continue stirring until smooth.
4. Pour macaroni and cheese sauce into greased casserole dish. Stir so pasta is covered in cheese sauce. Melt 1 Tb butter and mix with ½ cup panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle all over the top of macaroni followed by ½ cup shredded cheddar. Bake in the oven for 15 mins.