Monster Cookies

For Christmas day, there’s nothing like Monster Cookies, the best in over-indulgent cookies. I found the recipe five years ago in Paula Deen & Friends: Living It Up, Southern Style. I made them for the cookie exchange at work that year, and have returned to the recipe whenever I want the perfect treat. Monster Cookies are the twenty-fifth of my 25 Cookies of Christmas.


  • 3 eggs
  • 1¼ cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 12-ounce jar creamy peanut butter
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • ½ cup M&M’s
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4½ cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Mix eggs and sugars in large mixing bowl.
  4. Add salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Add baking soda and oatmeal, combining well.
  6. Stir in M&M’s, chocolate chips, and raisins.
  7. Drop cookies onto prepared cookie sheets.
  8. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to overbake.
  9. Let cool 3 minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Store in tightly covered container.

Time Required: 45 minutes

Servings: about 3 dozen

Paula Deen’s Magical Peanut Butter Cookies

These aren’t exactly the kind of cookie that you typically associate with Paula Deen—they’re sugar-free, and there’s not a stick of butter in sight! I have no idea why the recipe works (where is Alton Brown to explain it?), but it does. The original recipe is available from The Food Network. Magical Peanut Butter Cookies are the twenty-first of my 25 Cookies of Christmas.


  • 1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
  • 1⅓ cups Splenda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Mix peanut butter, 1 cup Splenda, egg, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl, combining completely.
  4. Roll the dough in your hands, into about 1″ balls.
  5. Place on cookie sheet.
  6. Dip fork in remaining Splenda, and press on balls to create criss-cross design.
  7. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle cookies with some of remaining Splenda while still warm.
  8. Cool several minutes on pan before removing (to avoid breaking).


  • For a crunchier cookie, stir ½ cup chopped peanuts into the batter.

Taco Soup

We loved this soup so much that the first time we made it, we ate it three days in a row. It’s one of those meals that sits in the crockpot on the kitchen counter taunting you all day long.
A definite treat for a cool fall or winter day, the soup can be easily modified to your tastes—just add or remove any of the ingredients. Because several family members have difficulty with spicy foods, for instance, we modified the recipe to make it a bit less spicy than Paula Deen’s original recipe. This is how we serve it at our house.


  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 1 (15 1/2-oz) can pinto beans
  • 1 (15 1/2-oz) can red kidney beans
  • 1 (15 1/2-oz) can black beans
  • 1 (15 1/4-oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (15 1/4-oz) can white corn, drained
  • 1 (14 1/2-oz) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2-oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (4 1/2-oz) cans green chiles, diced with no seeds
  • 1 (4.6-oz) can black olives, drained and sliced
  • 1 (1 1/4-oz) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (1-oz) package ranch salad dressing mix
  • Corn chips
  • Sour cream
  • Grated cheese
  • Chopped green onions


  1. Brown the ground beef and onions in a skillet. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot.
  3. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, black olives, green olives, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix.
  4. Cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove.
  5. Garnish bowls with corn chips, sour cream, cheese, and green onions. Add tabasco sauce, if desired.

Time Required: 6 hrs

Servings: 10–12

Rating: 5 stars (★★★★★)

Corn Casserole

When I saw Paula Deen make this side dish, I knew it would become a family favorite. Every time I make it, someone remarks, “Your father would have loved this.” He would indeed have gobbled this casserole up and asked for more.
Similar to a corn souffle but much less fussy, versions of this recipe have been circulating for at least as long as they’ve been making Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix. This particular recipe is adapted from Paula’s Home Cooking, episode “Country Cooking—Southern Sides.”


  • 2 (15 1/4-ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded Cheddar


  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Grease 9 by 13-inch casserole dish.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the 3 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter.
  4. Stir in 1 to 1 1/2 cups of Cheddar.
  5. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and top with remaining Cheddar.
  8. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  9. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.


  • If you’re short on canned corn, thawed frozen corn can be substituted.
  • To add a bit of color, add a cup of sliced carrots with the cans of corn. If you’re using frozen carrots, allow them to thaw beforehand.
  • To make the casserole a main dish, add sliced kielbasa, cubed ham or little smokies. Lightly brown the meat, and allow to cool 5 minutes. Add with the corn and other ingredients. Mix and bake as usual.
  • Like things a little spicier? Substitute Green Giant Mexicorn for the whole kernel corn, and add 1/2 cup of diced jalapenos.

Time Required: 75 mins

Servings: 6–8

Rating: 5 stars (★★★★★)