Cookie Time! Chocolate Chow Mein Clusters the First

How do you come up with the name for a cookie that you just completely made up? Well, sort of made up.

My mother used to make these delicious, little cookies with chow mein noodles in them. What else? Maybe butterscotch? Yes, yes, butterscotch. What else? I cannot remember.

Call the recipe-ist? Tempting.

However, this was an opening to get into the kitchen to just do. To just put a new twist on an old memory . . . and to give this creation, if it worked, an obnoxious name. Here’s the result:

Chocolate Chow Mein Clusters the First

Maybe now you can use them to act out a play where Clusters the First bears a myriad of sons and one day pisses off Clusters the Second. It’s your play, so you’ll have to think of the conflict, but the end should result in a chow mein catastrophe.

Once I made this recipe, I proceeded to do research because I knew my cookies wouldn’t be lucky enough to be the archetype. Sure enough, endless recipes abound for a recipe similar to mine — all called “____ Haystacks,” usually “Butterscotch Haystacks.” Plenty of people have also thrown chocolate in there, too.

I hereby declare that with this recipe, there are three key differences, however:

a) No need for a double boiler to melt your chocolate. This boiler might sound exciting to use, but I’m working on limited room in my kitchen, so I cannot spare another tool–unless it is a panini maker. Ina Garten said that she loves hers, so I now need one. You can use a microwave to melt chips, if need be, but something about that subtracts from the experience.

b) This recipe includes chocolate. The chocolate part isn’t original, but a chocolate addition to anything sure is delicious. I cannot believe I’m saying this, but to accommodate anti-chocolate lovers, sub in more butterscotch where the chocolate should be.

c) The haystacks stamp is nowhere to be found. Don’t you find the idea of eating a Cluster the First appeals more to your need for power than does eating a haystack? Haystacks are rough and functional; Clusters the First are for real men, women and children who have both a real lust for cookies and a need to snap a twig off of a tree if that twig gets up in their way.

Chocolate Chow Mein Clusters the First

Difficulty level:  Easy       

Total time:  10 minutes prep/2 hours in refrigerator     

Yields:   16 cookies


  • 2 cups La Choy (or similar) chow mein noodles
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or Nestle chocolate chunks)
  • 1 Tablespoon milk (optional, to add creaminess to melted chips)


  1. Pour two cups of chow mein noodles into a medium-sized bowl. You can chop the chow mein noodles with large, sturdy spoon, if desired. (The smaller you make the pieces, the more you can taste the chocolate. The larger, the more you can taste the noodles and butterscotch.)
  2. Add peanut butter and honey to chow mein noodles. Mix enough so that peanut butter, honey and chow mein noodles are rough mixture.
  3. In a small saucepan, over medium low heat, add butterscotch chips and 1/2 Tablespoon milk (milk optional). Stir for about two minutes, until the chips are melted together and are the consistency will be of fairly smooth peanut butter.
  4. Add melted butterscotch to the existing chow mein mixture and stir. This time, look for your mixture to mesh.
  5. In the same saucepan, over medium low heat, add chocolate chips/chunks and 1/2 Tablespoon milk (milk optional). Stir until the chips are melted and are the consistency will be of fairly smooth peanut butter.
  6. Add melted chocolate to the existing chow mein mixture and stir thoroughly.
  7. Drop by the spoonful onto wax paper. You should be able to make approximately 16 spoon-sized balls.
  8. Place in the refrigerator for at least two hours, to firm.

Eat! Happy cooking! Happy eating!


Baking the American Dream . . . Without Another Trip to the Grocery Plus! Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Michelle Byrd’s Weekly Meal Calendar:

Sunday:           Do the BIG grocery shopping trip. Be all content that I have used my time wisely and that our cabinets are now set for the week.

Monday:          Realize on the way home that one little chili pepper would be great to add to tonight’s tortilla soup. (Geez, Michelle, why didn’t you think of that yesterday, you crazy girl?) Swing into the nearest Giant to pick up the tiniest of chili peppers . . . and a pack of gum wrapped in packaging that resembles a maze.

Tuesday:          Oh, crap, who forgot the buns for tonight’s burgers? Gotta have those because Matt always offers notable groans when I mention that we can use regular bread.

Wednesday:    Hell no, I’m NOT going to the grocery today. We eat our spaghetti without meatballs because in my rush on Sunday, I just forgot to grab them altogether. Also, I just left a girl who cried over the B she’d received on her essay and a boy who told me that school was useless and that if he needed to know anything, he could just turn on his TV. He called Hemingway stupid, too. Do you know that were Hemingway alive today, he just might make you his next hunting target for that?

Thursday:        Okay, so I know I was all irritated yesterday, but I’m craving some of that baby yogurt, and I’ve ripped through all four containers this week. I’ll just quietly stop into Giant.

Friday:             Yes, I spent $32 when I went in yesterday to get YoBaby!. Why do you ask?

Saturday:         Are you serious that tomorrow is Sunday already? I usually make my shopping list on Saturday. Better get busy this week because I will not forget anything. I know I said that last Saturday. Stop bringing it up.

Photo courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot

And so it goes . . .

A conversation I had last year at lunch spurred me to jot down a week-long example of the bittersweet relationship I have with my local Giant. During that lunch, a few of us fine ladies were shoveling food down our gullets in the 27.5 minutes we are allotted to do so. After getting settled, microwaving, chewing and swallowing, we were left with about 11.2 minutes to discuss something. That day, we talked of cookies–eating them, loving them, making and baking them. Usual cookie talk. Most of what we said is extremely general, except for one response. To someone else’s comment, I replied, “Yeah, you know you’ve arrived when you have all of the stuff to make cookies from scratch right in your cabinet.” I’m not 100% confident that the stares I received meant my statement was odd, but that’s how I interpreted them.

Forget the money, the fame, the pride or the freedom. Basic kitchen staples: Keys to The American Dream. When I made my comment, I meant that having these all ready in the kitchen meant I could, on a whim, hearken back to that mythical “simpler time” when people made things from scratch more often, really liked each other, and lit warm fires and cozy candles. (Men were baking from scratch, no one told anyone to “Shut up,” and everyone’s eyes stayed intact even while reading with crumby candlelight, too, which solidifies the mythical nature of my “simpler time.”) Most importantly, having staples in my cabinet meant that the grocery store might as well be a small entity located miles away, just like years ago. Back then, my YoBaby! cravings would just have to wait (for another 50 years or so).

At lunch that day, my version of The American Dream hung out in the nether regions of my cabinets. Today, it still does. I have a hard time even writing that with a straight face because freedom and pride are pretty friggin’ key to The American Dream, for crying out loud. But, hey, the chocolate chip cookie is an American icon and can easily carry the symbolism of The American Dream on its chewy top. So, when you bite into one, raise your cookie high to the sky and revere its symbolic weight. Know that you are doing something right. Finally, if you get a chance, send a box of cookies to a soldier, to a volunteer or to someone you know doing something to maintain some American ideals. With this piece, I have just inspired myself to do the same.

Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from a random internet source that I can no longer find, but I know, via notes, that I’ve made about four changes from the original recipe

*I’ve reduced some of the sugary contents for this recipe because I don’t want to feel sick after eating a cookie. I’ve more to eat after just one, you know. Anyhow, my favorite parts of this cookie are its level of sweetness, its soft and chewy texture, and its subtle aftertaste. If you like your cookies on the sweeter side, increase the sugar to 1/2 cup and the syrup to 2 Tablespoons.

Difficulty:  Easy              Prep time:   15-20 minutes of prep + 12 mins per batch of baking       Makes: 30-36 medium-size cookies


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon backing soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

    My poor, little, one-legged hand mixer

  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon syrup, maple or regular
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In medium bowl, blend flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, oats, and walnuts with fork.

3. In large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar and (regular) sugar together with a hand mixer for 30 seconds or until well blended. Hand mixer should be on medium speed.

4. Beat in egg until smooth.

5. Add syrup and vanilla. Mix on medium high for approximately 20 seconds.

6. Switch mixer to lowest speed and begin mixing in dry ingredients in medium bowl (step #2) 1/2 cup at a time. Continue mixing dry ingredients into wet until you are out of dry ingredients. Continue to mix until well blended.

7. Add chocolate chips and coconut. Mix until well blended.

8. Scoop each “cookie-to-be” on an average-sized spoon. Round slightly and place on pre-greased cookie sheet.

9. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 12 minutes. (I turn the pan at seven minutes.) Ovens will vary. Keep an eye on your cookies. **Your cookies may look slightly underdone, but I like to take them out at this point and have them cook themselves for the remainder. I find that it keeps them chewier longer.

Happy cooking! Happy eating!