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Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

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A picture from our wedding reception.
© Derek Poore – Table design by Jaclyn Journey – Catering by Mirabelle.

The last year was a pretty major one. I bought a house with the cheese-grater extraordinaire, and we got married. Between packing up our only recently merged life and planning a wedding, blogging was at the bottom of my to-do list.

But 2013 is a new year. While making a list of household goals inspired by Apartment Therapy’s January cure, I started thinking about other goals for the year ahead. This is a short list and includes setting a budget with my sous-chef for life, and to keep up my blog.

I don’t have a cooking experience to share today, but I’m instead presenting a list of recipes that have caught my eye over the last year that I want to make soon. By the way readers, how do you save recipes you see online? I try to either star them in my blog reader, or email them to myself. Sometimes I forget to include the link though… So here’s a list of things I hope to cook in 2013 – maybe you will be inspired to try some too.

North End Cafe’s Eggplant Casserole and Spicy Lentils, from the Courier Journal. I love the Wednesday edition of the Courier-Journal because it includes the food and dining section, which includes reader-requested recipes from area restaurants. I love the North End Cafe for it’s eclectic, tasty menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Eggplant casserole is my favorite thing to order at the restaurant and is one of my favorite dishes in the city. It is reliably comforting, spicy, and hearty. I was thrilled to see the recipe printed. The Courier also printed one of my requests for a recipe I submitted last year for El Mundo’s spicy black bean dip. I will be making this soon.

In the winter, sometimes I struggle to figure out ways to incorporate fresh fruit into my normal breakfast routines like oatmeal, peanut butter toast, and yogurt. In the summer, it’s easy to top yogurt and with berries and easy to top toast with apples and pears in the fall. This recipe for Winter Citrus Compote for Yogurt or Oatmeal looks like a great way to use citrus fruit as a breakfast topper.

I’ve been wanting to make Snobby Joes – or meat-free sloppy joes for a while. Maybe 2013 will be the year.

I haven’t made biscotti since I tried it one Christmas break when I was in college. I followed a pretty basic recipe for anise-scented biscotti. I don’t like black licorice and did not realize until after I made the cookies that anise tastes like black licorice. This recipe for Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti looks more promising for my tastes.

Spicy Lentil Wraps with Tahini Sauce – this looks like a great recipe for make-ahead lunches.

We have some CSA beef filets in our freezer. I’d like to make this.

I love this post on making your own birthday cake. I’d like to try making my own birthday cake this year.

I will report back as I check things off my “to-cook” list.

Have a healthy and happy 2013.

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As my readers know, I am passionate about cooking delicious, (sometimes) healthy food. But when it comes to expressing that passion on a blog, sometimes life gets in the way.

A busy workload in October, which included a trip to Baltimore, culminated in the deadline for a major project in November. Then I got word that my grandmother’s death was imminent, and I rushed home to Iowa to be with her during her final days. While my amazing, dedicated, and hard-working coworkers picking up the slack, I was able to focus on my family during a difficult week.

Suffice to say, tending to the blog has been the last thing on my mind. Of course, ignoring one’s blog violates the cardinal rule of blogging.

I figure I’ll start back with a simple classic — chocolate chip cookies. What is it about chocolate chip cookies? They are so comforting and wonderful and there are as many variations as there are personal tastes. After my Nanny died, my mom’s three cousins brought over a lasagna dinner, which included homemade chocolate chips cookies (in addition to salad, bread, and huge pans of lasagna). These cookies were amazing. They were pale in color and crisp, without being hard. They were also thick, without being too dry or cake-like. That evening I asked the cousin for the recipe. She said she uses the traditional, Nestle Toll House recipe, but ups the amount of baking soda and swaps Crisco for the butter.

After the Thanksgiving festivities, Chris and I returned to Louisville Thursday night, and deciding we did not indulge enough in turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, I decided to try the tweaked recipe for the cookies.

They were good, but did not have the same thick, dense, but not too-dense consistency I remembered. They were thinner, like the batter may have been thinner from the start. Next time, I’ll try adding a little more flour and will report back.

Thanks for sticking with me through this.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup Crisco, vegetable shortening

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I actually used Ghirardelli chocolate chips instead of Nestle)

1 cup chopped pecans (nuts are optional, could also use walnuts or another nut of your choice)

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gradually beat in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by overflowing tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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This is my last post before the holidays – and I’m home in Iowa.

Earlier this week, I posted a semi-healthful recipe for whole grain chocolate cookies, made significantly less healthful from the amount of butter in them. The cookies I’m talking about today are similar in that they come together quickly, rely on whole grains, and are tasty. But – they are…. VEGAN.

I don’t gravitate toward vegan baking really – I don’t really see a need since I don’t have much problem consuming things like butter, eggs, and milk. However, I saw this recipe featured one day on The Kitchn and thought they sounded fabulous, vegan or not. After agonizing over what to bring to the cookie exchange I attended last week – I gambled, and decided to make these, even though I had never made them before, and even though the thought of baked-goods induces some skeptics to gag or roll their eyes.

Combining ground almonds with maple syrup, oats, and flour and topping that with jam, I had a feeling these would turn out to be a hearty, sweet, cookie and would be a departure from other richer options, like the chocolate-toffee cookies I brought into the office.

If you, like me, are somewhat of a vegan-baked-good-skeptic, try these. They are pretty good. And you can feel less guilty about eating some with your morning coffee.

“Life-Changing Vegan Thumbprints”

makes about 4 dozen 2-inch cookies

2 c, whole almonds
4 c.  oats
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. flour, divided
1 c. canola oil
1 c. maple syrup
jam of your choice – I used raspberry

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a food processor, whirl around the almonds until they are chopped finely. Dump the almonds into a large bowl.

Using the same food processor bowl, grind the oats with the salt into a fine meal and add to the almonds. It is ok for it not to be a uniform, finely ground mix. Add 1 1/4 cup of flour, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup.

Next, measure he canola oil and pour into the bowl, followed by the maple syrup. Measuring the oil “greases the way” for the maple syrup, so you aren’t left with stubborn syrup clinging to your measuring glass/ cup.

Mix with a wooden spoon until combined. If the dough seems too wet, add the additional flour but don’t worry if it is too soft, as it will harden a little as it sits.

Scoop the dough onto your prepared cookie sheets using a tablespoon. (I used heaping tablespoon-sized scoops) The dough will be slightly wet but surprisingly not too sticky. The cookies can be fairly close together because they don’t spread  much while baking. In fact, the baked cookies look very similar to the unbaked cookies.

Using the back of a round quarter-teaspoon measuring spoon, make an indentation in the top of each cookie.

Wipe the spoon clean and use it to fill the indentation with jam.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown slightly. Remove from oven and let cool on the pans. Don’t try to move them too soon because they are fragile while still warm.

Like I said, these are sweet, wholesome cookies and just as good with your mid-morning coffee as they are for dessert.

This is my last post until after the first of the year. I hope you and your friends and family have a lovely holiday time.

See you after the New Year.

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I am drowning in cookies, as are many of us this time of year. My lovely friend Sara hosted a cookie exchange on Friday evening – where everyone was asked to bring a batch of cookies to share with everyone else. With 10+ people there, everyone left with a hefty amount of  several different kinds of cookies. Then my bf and cheese-grater extraordinaire returned from his weekend away with some delicious chocolate chip cookies he commissioned his aunt to make. More cookies. And I made cookies for a birthday at work.

These are not the cookies I brought to work, nor are they the ones I brought to the cookie exchange. I will post the recipe for those Thursday. These are the cookies I made a few weeks ago before I was drowning in cookies. When I was craving something sweet and rich. These are my go-to cookies for those situations, and… they are healthy!

Not really. But containing lots of whole grains, you can pretend they are!

My old roommate and great friend, Jess, first made these when we were going to grad school in Bloomington. They are whole grain cookies that contain whole-wheat flour and oats and are egg-free. They do, however, contain lots of butter. They come together pretty quickly as well, although the dough can be difficult to work with.

If you are in need of a last minute cookie recipe, or are not drowning in cookies like I  currently am and want some around, these are great. I imagine most recreational bakers will have the ingredients on hand.

Whole Grain Chocolate Cookies, from the New York Times

2/3 c. whole wheat flour

1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)

1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/4 c. rolled oats

1/3 semisweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Put butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Or do what I did and use an electric mixer. This is a stiff mixture and will take a while by hand. Add vanilla and continue mixing thoroughly.

2. Next, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl – whisking together lightly.

3. Add flour mixture to butter and sugar mixture. The dough will be quite firm at this point. Add the oats and mix evenly, along with the chocolate chips. I actually had to mix it in by hand – carefully kneading the dough directly in the bowl.
4. Scoop up balls of dough with a tablespoon and put on prepared cookie sheet, about two inches apart. The dough will result in 18 to 20 cookies. Once you’ve finished scooping the dough, flatten each ball slightly with the back of a spoon.
5. Bake the cookies until the top is set and cracked, about 14 minutes. Set on a rack to cool and serve.
These will keep well in a tightly sealed container for at least 4 days.

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