About Nana Clare

Cookie baker, brownie maker for 50 years. Mom to three, Nana to five. Married to Mr. Right for 36 years. I'm also a sister to seven women - no brothers - and daughter to parents who have been together for 64 years. I love to bake breads, cookies, muffins, rolls, bars and did I say cookies? I make all kinds of jams and jellies and have a killer hot fudge recipe that goes back several generations in my family. Paired with my husband's homemade ice cream it's always a winning combo. Oh Yes! I also enjoy making soups, stews, stir fries and other munchies. I worked full time when my children were young and discovered many short cuts so that I could still provide healthy meals (most of the time). Catholic for life and loving it. BA in theater and speech, costuming/ Broadcasting school graduate/ MS in journalism and mass communication, emphasis in public relations/ Graduate of the Institute for Children's Literature - beginning and advanced classes - yes, I love to learn. And a graduate of many decorative painting schools. See my page on decorative painting in my home.

Quick Chicken Fingers

chick fingers

I made these chicken fingers for my 90 year old Dad last week and he said it was the best chicken he’s ever eaten.
Of course, he can’t really remember eating any other chicken…

I’m still clinging to the compliment.
With any luck I’ll remember it long enough to tell you how I made it.

As with all my recipes, there are lots of ways to vary this one. In fact, I first learned this as a quick way to cook walleye fish. We were living in the Chippewa National Forest near Leach Lake in MN. Our friends, Fred and Sharon Rapp, loved to fish and had five little ones. They would make piles of this fish and the kids would have a feeding frenzy. At the time, they used a deep fryer. It’s possible to get the same crunchy coating and moist inside by using a bit of oil in a hot frying pan. Be sure you get the oil very hot before adding the chicken.

Yes, you can also bake the chicken, with pretty good results. But I’ve had better luck with the coating staying on the chicken by this method.
chick tenders

b make assembly line

This technique works on:Chicken tenders (shown here)
Chicken boneless, skinless breast meat cut into smaller pieces
Turkey tenderloin, cut into smaller pieces
Fish – the nice, firm fleshy kind
Veggies like zucchini wheels or onion rings
OK, OK, you get it. This is very adaptable. Make a little assembly line.

Ingredients for Quick Chicken Fingers
1 pound chicken tenders (so easy and already the perfect shape)
Flour – ½ cup or so
1 egg with 1 TBS water
1 cup *bread crumbs (or more depending on how much you’re dipping into it)
1 tsp salt added to bread crumbs
1 TBS grated parmesan cheese added to bread crumbs
(Herbs of your choice can also be added to bread crumbs.)
¼ cup canola or olive oil
1 TBS butter (optional, but it adds a lot of flavor)

add a pat of butter

Directions for Chicken Fingers
Place the flour in one bowl and the bread crumbs in a separate bowl.
In a third shallow bowl, beat the egg with a bit of water.
Open the chicken and don’t wash them. This only contaminates your sink.
chick ready

cook till golden

Dip chicken pieces one at a time in the flour, then the egg and finally the crumbs.
Place them on a clean plate until all are dipped.
Heat your oil. Adding a bit of butter adds great flavor.
Gently place the prepared chicken pieces one at a time in the hot oil. Cook on medium high.
Turn over when golden brown – about two – three minutes.
Cook the other side about two – three minutes.
If they are done, place on a clean plate that has a paper towel. If not, put in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking them. (This is likely if you’ve used a more dense meat, such as turkey tenderloin) But if you are cooking small items like chicken tenders, they’re likely done in 4-6 minutes total. Quick.
chicken fingers
Microwave a small potato and serve with carrots and you have dinner.

*Instead of bread crumbs, you can use: cracker crumbs, panko crumbs, crushed potato chips, crushed pretzels, crushed cereal (one that isn’t sweetened), taco chips….
OK, OK, you get it. This is very adaptable.

5 minute Hummus

hummus with sun dried tomatoes

It’s summer in the Midwest. The months we dream about during sledding months. And even during lumpy sledding months. But summer is not to be taken for granted.

veggies and hummus

Trying to hang onto summer is like trying to hang onto an eel in an oil slick.

The solution is to simplify life and squeeze as much fun as you can out of these blissful warm months.
Easy meals and quick cooking.
How does hummus fit into the picture? With a few veggies and an oatmeal cookie, you could call it lunch. At least that’s what I did today.

What is Hummus?

Official definition: a paste of pureed chickpeas usually mixed with sesame oil or sesame paste and eaten as a dip or sandwich spread – Merriam Webster online dictionary

Well, not quite that simple. I like to jazz mine up to make it more interesting. I make a big batch and put it in smaller containers in the fridge. This way, we can bring a bit to work with raw veggies for lunch or snacks.


Chickpeas are also called garbanzo beans. If you add them to your soups, they’ll hold their shape and not become mushy, so they are a favorite of mine.
Sesame paste is also called Tahini.

Why Eat Hummus? To add a bit more protein to a meal or snack. As a scoop for raw veggies, it will help you – and yours – munch a bunch more vegetables. Something we all need, right?

Dip other foods into it as well: pretzels, crackers, chips.
Spread it on your taco before you load on the other toppings. It’s also delicious as a layer in a Panini sandwich….between layers of cheese, apple, bacon or whatever you like.
I make my own because I shun those unpronounceable ingredients often found in store bought foods. Same reason I make my own bread, soups, granola, cookies, muffins, etc. Easy, simple, pure.
You will notice that I add plain Greek yogurt to my recipe for two reasons:
1. Adds a bit of tanginess
2. Adds a creaminess that I really like
You can also go wild with the spices – add your favorites. So this is a starter recipe which you customize according to what you like.
I also use a food processor; however, a powerful blender should work as well.


Ingredients for Big batch of 5 Minute Hummus
2 cans salt free chick peas, rinsed and drained
½ cup Tahini paste (stir it well before you measure it.)
¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes
1 tsp garlic powder
Put into a food processor and blend for 3-4 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Divide into containers or store in one large covered bowl in the fridge. Snack Away!

For spicier hummus, add curry powder, basil, black or white pepper or any Mrs. Dash spice blend.

Hummus made without the tomatoes will have a lighter look, but it’s still delicious.


Cookies for a Queen-Sized Sweet Tooth

Creating the perfect cookie is my life’s dream. I recently heard myself tell my chubby hubby that if I could only discover the right cookie recipe then it would revolutionize our diet and catapult us toward health. A cookie so nutritious it would clean our intestines, remove cellulite from our thighs, give us whiter teeth, add years to our lives and increase the value of our home.
Eating well’s Healthy Cookie is one example.

Clare’s healthy little bite

I’ve used this argument since man landed on the moon. I’m actually over the moon about chocolate and sugary treats. Dipping into a bag of dark chocolate chips makes me smile, but baking them into treats with peanut butter, pecans, coconut or oats really floats my boat.
In fact of the nearly 290 recipes on this blog, there are 67 recipes for cookies or bars.

Recently I grabbed my Betty Crocker Cookbook circa 1972. It fell open to the only section I’ve used – the “scratch and taste” cookies and bars pages. But for the first time, I noticed this quote:

shortbread cookie with wafers

“And always cookies in the cookie jar! Is there a happier symbol of a friendly house? Cookies for children to share with their friends. Cookies for the family watching TV. Cookies for an afternoon tea. Cookies for a hike, cookies for a picnic, cookies to comfort a boy who’s had a bump, cookies with a glass of milk. Cookies ‘just because.’”

This was the philosophy I grew up with. Later, when I was a mother of three, I read about a family who fed their children green peppers and water for after school snacks. No cookies? Scandalous! Akin to child abuse!

Cookies have always occupied more than a nutritional place in my life. When I was five, I bribed a boy to walk me home by offering him cookies. An older boy was hounding me and I wanted protection. My mother found me elbow-deep in the cookie jar and I had to confess the goodies were my way of dealing with life’s problems. A pattern that has never changed.
By ten, I learned to bake and became my family’s official cookie maker. With seven sisters, I had lots of tasters who encouraged me to dabble in dough. This may partly explain the weight problem that has plagued me since I was 13 and stopped growing – upward at least.


As a teen, I recognized that perhaps if I stopped baking and eating cookies, I might shed enough weight so that my thighs wouldn’t create friction as I walked to school. But my plans to reform always had a parachute – usually a sweet, edible one. Somehow even on a diet, I convinced myself that if I could reward myself every day with a few light treats, this would keep me on track. I would know each morsel’s calorie count, so I purchased wafers with crisp, thin layers sandwiched between vanilla, chocolate or strawberry flavored icing. The first day my diet consisted of a boiled egg for breakfast, a grapefruit for lunch and skinless chicken and veggies for dinner.
But while doing homework in my room that evening, those wafers called out to me. “It’s OK,” I cooed to no one but me. “They’re only a few calories and I’ve been so good all day.” When half of the “diet” wafers were gone, I stuffed the remaining cookies into my sock drawer, only to awaken in the night and devour the rest of the bag.

In my twenties, I swapped out sugar for honey, thinking this would shine my halo. I baked softer cookies that may have been healthier but didn’t budge my pudge.

honey chip cookies

In the 1980’s science revealed that fat was our problem, not calories. If we ate fat, we got fat. That news propelled food manufacturers to crank out fat-free foods by the fistful. I embraced the new nutrition information with glee and hunted for cookies which promised to clean my arteries and undimple my thighs. I tried box after box of crater-like cookies, but my weight kept creeping upward.

black bean brownies

Wading into the waters of sugar-free cookies – the next big revolution – calories didn’t matter; sugar was the only evil. With the freedom of sugarless goodies, I thought I could indulge to my stomach’s content. I brought home bags of the wonder treats and ate to abandon. Signs of “intestinal distress” soon crashed on my dreams; my stomach swelled up like a baby Buddha and an unpleasant grey cloud lingered above me. I researched the chemicals contained in these noxious treats which confirmed what I didn’t want to admit: sugar- free was not for me.

My quest has brought me full circle. I’m now baking cookies “for my grandchildren.” At least this is what I tell myself. I add wheat germ, a little flax seed, and whole wheat pastry flour, to assuage my conscience. But I’m still on a quest for a sweet treat that I can call “healthy.”

Maddy and Liam tasting “Greenies”

Gluten free cookies have found their way into my repertoire – at least flourless. Flourless Peanut Butter-Oatmeal-Chocolate Chunk Cookies Looking for treats to appease my son and friends who cannot eat gluten.

Peanut butter oatmeal chippers – flourless

But what about the daughter who abhors animal products? Cookies without eggs or butter?

Oatmeal banana bars – vegan

More experiments continue as the challenges of the modern diets evolve.

Chia Seed Chipper

“And always cookies in the cookie jar! Is there a happier symbol of a friendly house?”
(Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, 1972)