My First Cookbook

Don't judge a book by its cover.

This book's cover has even worn off the binding. Its edges are frayed and tattered. The pages within, some loosened and falling out from years of use, others smeared with small fingerprints of ages-old batter, butter, jam.

The inscription reads:

To Annie–
with love,
Tio and Aunt Margaret
Christmas 1975

32 years. That's how long I've had this book in my possession. I was 9 years old that Christmas and it was one of the few that my aunt and uncle spent in San Diego.

Mom would turn the kitchen over to me and Celina, my oldest friend who lived next door. I remember countless days over the years pouring over the book together trying to decide which recipe we would tackle next.

Cookies were often high on our list. Besides mom usually already having the ingredients in the pantry, truth be told, baking was the most fun for us. I remember oatmeal for dad, chocolate chip for mom and peanut butter for us kids.

As a kid, peanut butter was one of my favorite foods. I could live on it if I had to! As an adult, it's become a minor obsession. I love using it in sweet and savory dishes. The cookbook has three peanut butter cookie recipes of varying levels of difficulty. Hands down the easiest used yellow cake mix, removing the need for lots of measuring and sifting flour. It was the first recipe I remember learning and wanting to perfect.

Now for the "guilty" admission portion of this post: to this day, this recipe remains in my repertoire – modified for more adult tastes – but basically the same recipe. And you know what? Everyone who tries all my variations of this cookie, love it.
The changes include the following:
  • butter instead of oil
  • in place of water, freshly pulled double shot of Illy Dark Roast Espresso
  • Philsbury Dark Chocolate instead of the yellow cake mix
  • I often add an inclusion such as peanuts, chocolate chips or raisins

I love my homebaked cookies to be uniform in size and shape. I use a Pampered Chef large scoop and a knife to pack and level before dropping the dough balls onto my cookie sheet.

Dark Chocolate Cookies

Makes 3 dozen

1 package Pillsbury Dark Chocolate cake mix
1 cp room temperature peanut butter
2 eggs
1/4 cp cooled espresso
1/4 cp room temperature butter
1 cp dark chocolate chips (I like Trader Joe's brand)

Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

In a stand mixer, mix half the package cake mix, peanut butter, eggs, espresso and butter on medium until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining cake mix and the chocolate chips. Blend on medium until dough forms a ball. Drop level scoopfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Carefully remove from cookie sheet immediately and place on a cookie rack to cool completely.

YOUR TURN: What's your earliest childhood cooking recollection?


  1. Great trip down memory lane, photogirl!! i remember this very same cookbook being in my family's collection (i have two older sisters). Probably have it in my storage unit somewhere since i never seem to throw anything out.

    i can picture the pages, loose and speckled with bits of food and tiny fingerprints. That's the stuff to keep. i'm sure you're glad you still have it.

    That must have been a blast, having a friend to pore over the recipes with you and then make something together.

    As a pre-teen two of my best friends and i used to make "concoctions" from our own cabinets, whipping all sorts of ingredients together in a blender (Worcestershire sauce, ice cream and candy sprinkles, anyone) and daring one another to try what was in it. Ah, memories.

    How fun fun fun to use a cake mix to make quasi homemade cookies. Nice 'n' easy! i love that you still do that, too. It's still homemade - it's made at home, after all. Same thing.

    i love peanut butter too! A vegan staple.

    My earliest cooking recollection... probably using a meat grinder to help my grandmother make the most incredible kosher meatballs and some amazing chopped liver.

    Funny to reminisce - as you can imagine, those are two foods i haven't been near in 25 years!!

    Fun post, thanks for sharing some good memories of your childhood and giving me an excuse to look back at mine.

  2. KP,
    Isn't great to look back at those times? I love it. Mom worked so hard to enure our childhoods would be filld with those kids of happy moments.

    How cool that you used to help your grams in the kitchen. I don't remember working in the kitchen w/ my grams but gramps was a pro baker and I remember watching him bake...

    Good times.

    Thank you for sharing!

  3. The cookbook is one of the most adorable I have ever seen!

    And the cookies look great, too - I'm craving them right now!

  4. Hi Patricia!

    Isn't it though? I still get a kick out of looking through it and smile at the very 70s look to the photos and illustrations. So retro feeling now. I love it!

    Thank you for stopping by!


  5. These look delicious, can't wait to try them out. I love chocolate and these look like the perfect treat with my cup of coffee! :)

  6. Oh my gosh! I've just posted an out of the box betty crocker devil's food cake!

    Those cookbooks are priceless. Such a wonderful trip down memory lane for you. I love the sound of the cookies. Yums.

  7. Hi Meena,

    They are so incredibly easy! And definitely perfect with a cup of coffee in the a.m. :)


    LOL! I read your post and smiled. I've made a decent devil's food but I prefer mayonnaise cake. It's really quite tasty. My sister's birthday is this weekend and I'm planning on making her one. I'll post pictures and the recipe. If I wind up not getting to it, I'll post the recipe for you in a comment on your site.

  8. Those cookies were delicious! Admittedly when I drove home, I ate one on the way back. They were finished between me and CJ in two days!

    Earliest cooking recollection would have to be looking through a cookbook, very similiar like yours and making french toast. I still wish I had that cookbook because it has all the basics as well as fond memories.

  9. Hi Darlene! So glad you guys liked them. And I'm especially glad I gave you guys a tin. I had two left! I had to take them to work to share or I would have eaten them all myself! :) They actually weren't as good as previous batches cuz I was multi-tasking and they baked a minute or so longer than they should have. I like them a little gooey in the middle...then they're really yummy!

  10. Ha! i knew i'd seen this before... check it out when you have a minute!!! It's your cookbook!!

  11. That's too funny. Although, that one she got for a buck is in much better condition than mine is that's for sure! But then, at least mine got that due to lots of love shared in the kitchen! :-)

    Thanks for sharing.


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