#NaturalDifference: Mountain Trail Cookies + Family Visit to Vicksburg National Military Park

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A brief overview of our visit to Vicksburg National Military Park as part of the “Make a Natural Difference” campaign for The J.M. Smucker Company.  Plus, a delicious cookie recipe to take along with you to your next outdoor adventure!

Mountain Trail Cookies - pecans, pretzels, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips...I have cookies for you today!  These cookies are the best, especially if you love the sweet and salty mix…and a little *crunch!* here and there!  But, before we get to these cookies, let’s talk about our recent family visit to a local national park.

Vicksburg National Military Park - Vicksburg, MSIt’s been a hot couple of months!  But, that hasn’t stopped us!  About two weeks ago, we headed to a local national park to check it out for the first time.  It’s the Vicksburg National Military Park which commemorates the Battle of Vicksburg and preserves its site.  Since the high temperatures were pretty unbearable that day, we chose to drive the tour road and made stops along the way.

Vicksburg National Military Park - Vicksburg, MSJudah was extremely excited to spot out cannons all along the way.  We jumped out of the van a few times to check out some of the cannons up close, and then hear a tour guide talk a little about the history.  It was beautiful scenery, yet humbling when you started envisioning the soldiers trekking through the hills and trees, others camped out low and shooting their cannons.  Such a perspective!

Vicksburg National Military Park - Vicksburg, MSWe stopped into the Illinois State Memorial to walk the 47 steps (one counted for each day of the battle).  Not only was this also a breathtaking view, but inside, the kids were encouraged to run around and make noise in the hollowed dome.  The volunteer worker there, a sweet elderly lady, told us a “secret” that when you jump right in the middle, the noise sounds like thunder.  So, of course, the boys were jumping up and down… even daddy!

Vicksburg National Military Park - Vicksburg, MSAbout halfway through the tour road is a restored gunboat, the USS Cairo.  Of course, we had to park and take some time walking around the boat and also played a little bit.  The gift shop is located here, too. We bought fake Civil War paper money as a souvenir to take home to the neighbor boys across the street who LOVE visiting this park.  Judah called it “soldier money”.

Vicksburg National Military Park - Vicksburg, MSYou can see Judah was zonked out after this fun morning trip to the park!  Have you visited your local national parks lately?  If you remember, a couple of weeks ago I announced that I teamed up with Smucker’s® Natural Peanut Butter and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) to help spread awareness about the importance of protecting and enhancing America’s national parks.  Just visiting is a way to support them and make a natural difference!  Plus, you get to have fun with your family!

Through this partnership, Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter is encouraging you to Make a Natural Difference and giving you the chance to win (until October 8, 2014) a Sony Digital SLR camera and 18-135mm lens, along with a carrying case, Shutterfly gift cards and jars of natural peanut butter.  Click here for more information on how to enter this giveaway.

I also hosted a giveaway of my own, sponsored by The J.M. Smucker Company, that has now ended.  The winner has been chosen: Congratulations to entry #97, Terri W.!  Please check your email to claim your prize!

Mountain Trail Cookies - pecans, pretzels, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips...Now as far as these cookies go, I created these with an outdoor adventure in mind.  Something about having all of the fun ingredients like pecans, pretzels, chocolate chips and butterscotch chips got me thinking about hiking and mountain trails.  Maybe it’s because when you hike, you tend to pick up a lot of little things along the way.  Especially as a kid, you pick them up and just treasure them!

That’s how I feel about these cookies!  Pieces of treasures picked up along the way and tossed into a cookie dough.  There’s crunch and chewiness, much like you have a crunch from some steps on your hike and other steps are soft (or “chewy!” haha!).

Mountain Trail Cookies - pecans, pretzels, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips...You will love these cookies, I just know it!

Mountain Trail Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 5 dozen cookies

Mountain Trail Cookies

Vamped up chocolate chips cookies with pecans, pretzel pieces and butterscotch chips.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup broken pretzel twists

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, chopped pecans and pretzel pieces.

Using a medium sized cookie scoop, drop dough balls onto a lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through for even baking. Remove pans from the oven and let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


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  1. These cookies look EPIC!!! <3

  2. Love all the yummies tucked into these gorgeous cookies!! 🙂

  3. Lol. Oh, that picture of Judah in the car. I crack up at how kids can sleep like that! My father is a nature photographer, so no surprise that when I was a kid, all of our family vacations revolved around National Parks. I have THE BEST memories and stories. Although, I don’t ever remember my mom bringing along awesome cookies like these!

  4. The cookies are great, and the pictures — LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Your boys are so cute. The sleeping picture-epic!

  5. What a fun trip. Gotta love any time the kids pass out in the backseat. I love bringing cookies along on a road trip, definitely help pass the time!

  6. Well, Nikki, you did it again! As soon as I saw your gorgeous pictures of these yummy cookies, I knew I had to give the recipe a try. We didn’t have the nuts or butterscotch chips, so I substituted some m & ms and extra pretzels. Oh boy! They were sooooo good! Taking some to a picnic with friends today. I’m sure we’ll get rave reviews. Thanks again!

  7. do you know what the carb content is in each cookie

  8. Barbara long says:

    Hi these cookies look so yummy but can I substitute something for the peanut butter as I just don’t like peanut butter. Thanks.

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