A way to de-stress

Maybe you’re nervous about the upcoming Knox year—the classes, the social events, events planning, making the grades. You need a way to de-stress, relax and take a break. You could try listening to music, watching a Netflix show, or you could bake. Baking can be methodical and slow or topsy-turvy as you scramble to gather ingredients. I prefer the first option because of the memories and calming process it evokes.

As a child, I used to bake cookies, pies and even soda bread at my family friend’s house. She showed me how to scrape the top of the flour in the measuring cup with a knife to even it out and how to pack brown sugar. Since then, I was hooked. Cooking for me has always been calming because it allows my perfectionist side to flair. I’ve tried simple no-bake recipes such as haystacks and experimented with candy making and fancy pastry. Complicated and elegant recipes catch my eye, but the simple, quick ones are the ones my stomach appreciates.

If you’ve chosen baking, your next question is probably “What should I make?” Take it easy and try something simple yet yummy. Try these two recipes: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cranberry from www.foodnetwork.com. Both take about 30 minutes of combined prep and baking time. Virtually no time, in the cooking world.

In a fit of back to Knox nerves, I baked 64 pumpkin cookies and 24 oatmeal cookies. Can you say tons of cookies? The process of measuring, mixing and tasting went a long way in doctoring my frazzled brain, and taking me back to a state of relaxed summer happiness. Though I won’t deny the smell of the cookies baking may have had a helping hand in my Zen-like state.

And what’s not to like about these two recipes? Chocolate is always good (one of my favorites) and pumpkin is an essential fall ingredient (pies, bread, muffins). Even Starbucks is pulling out the pumpkin spice latte, so why can’t you get into the season?  If you’re looking for a healthier option the cranberry oatmeal is the one for you. With just one stick of butter (a minimum in most baking), tart, nutritious cranberries and oats, it’s a winner!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookiescookies 1

From http://bit.ly/3rMhJT


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves- can use allspice as well
  • 2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet
  • Nonstick cooking spray or parchment paper


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper.

Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.

Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips.

Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges.

Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookiescookies 2

Adapted from http://bit.ly/hYSgro


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries


Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 cookie sheets with non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Gradually add the flour mixture.

Add the oats and cranberries Mix until just incorporated (dough will be stiff).

Use a small spoon to scoop out dough (you will get 24 small dough balls).

Using the back of a spoon, flatten the tops slightly and bake until the cookies are slightly golden on the edges, about 13 to 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes before serving.