Friday, November 20, 2009

Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

We are going to a little get-together tomorrow night for a friend's birthday and wanted to bring a little treat with us. I suggested my delicious double chocolate cookies (yes Ash and Steph - the famous reverse chocolate chippers, which I have yet to post). To which my husband responded, no, why don't you bring Joanna's cookies. Pfff... as if her cookies are better than mine. Ok, fine, they are pretty good. But still... part of what is so fabulous with this cookies is their enormous size. Don't make tiny versions, as I think for some reason it makes them all that less impressive. These cookies are like the ones you see in bakeries or specialty shops.

2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C unsalted butter, melted (they're better with butter than with margarine)
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 C semisweet chocolate chips (though I use dark chocolate chips and prefer these)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. (ok, I'm clearly too lazy to sift anything other than when making shortbread cookies).

3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 C at a time (yes, you read that right!) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Do not overbake. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Breakfast Muffin Bonanza

A friend of mine just asked me to e-mail her this recipe, which I had brought to her house a few years back, so I thought I would come on and post it, even though I haven't made it in quite awhile and don't have any pictures to go on with it just yet. Enjoy.

1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C oil
1 C buttermilk
2 tbsp. molasses
1 1/2 C natural bran
2/3 C flour
1/2 C wheat germ
1/4 C sesame seeds
1/4 C flax seeds
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 C raisins

1. Preheat over to 400 degrees Farenheit. Spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. Combine brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, egg and molasses in large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Spoon batter into greased muffin cups.

2. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until top springs back when lightly touched.

Makes 12 muffins.

Note: Whether or not you grind the flax seeds is up to you, but you will only get their health benefits if they are ground.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Carrot and Coriander Soup and Cacciatore Chicken

So I went a bit crazy and bought 10 lbs. of carrots a few weeks back. Which I suppose is quite a bit for only two people to eat... I just couldn't restrain myself. They were $3.99... so that explains the abundance of carrot soup recipes I've been making lately. Luckily, I've yet to hear complaint from my husband about the lack of variety of vegetables lately.

This soup freezes well, though you may have to run it through the blender again with a bit of stock once it has thawed. Be sure that the carrots are cooked enough before blending, otherwise it won't blend into a nice purée. Also, you can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian version. Don't make the mistake of using ground coriander instead of fresh, as it is not at all the same thing. I used a ground lemon peel bought in the spice aisle of the grocery store instead of fresh lemon peel, as I rarely have fresh lemons around and that worked well.

Carrot and Coriander Soup

1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and chopped
3 3/4 C chicken stock
few sprigs fresh coriander
1 tsp. lemon rind
2 tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Soften the onion in a large pot. Add chopped carrots, chicken stock, coriander leaves, lemon rind, lemon juice and seasoning to taste.

2. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, occasionally checking that there is enough liquid. When the carrots are really tender, blend or liquidize and return to pot, then check seasoning.

3. Heat thoroughly again and sprinkle with chopped coriander before serving.

Chicken Cacciatore

This is recipe that I used to make whenever I had people over for dinner in undergrad. It used to be my 'fancy' meal, as I was really just learning to cook. I rarely make it anymore, but it's a good recipe and freezes well. I usually use boneless skinless chicken breast, though I'm sure you could use other cuts of chicken as well.

1/3 C all-purpose flour (or whole-wheat)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 lbs. chicken pieces
1/4 C margarine (butter browns too fast)
1 C chopped onion
1 small green pepper, chopped
10 oz. (284 mL) sliced mushrooms, drained
7 1/2 oz. (213 mL) tomato sauce
14 oz. (398 mL) canned tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. basil
grated parmesan cheese, sprinkle

1. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag.

2. Put 2 or 3 pieces of chicken at a time. Shake to coat. Brown margarine in frying pan or large heavy Dutch oven. Remove chicken as it is browned.

3. Add onion and green pepper to pan. Sauté until soft. Add more margarine if needed.

4. Measure in next 9 ingredients and stir.

5. Add chicken. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Cover and simmer slowly for about 35 to 40 minutes until tender.

Serves 4 to 5 (though I find it makes much more).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Red Lentil and Carrot Soup with Coconut and Spelt Biscuits

I can't quite recall where I got this recipe. The soup is made in the slow cooker, which is super practical for a work day. It's great for cold winter days and is filling as a meal on its own. I usually make it with light coconut milk instead of regular. Don't omit the fresh coriander if at all possible, because it really makes a big difference.

Red Lentil and Carrot Soup w
ith Coconut

2 C dry red lentils
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes, including juice
6 C vegetable stock
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 long red chili pepper or 2 Thai chilies, finely chopped (or hot pepper sauce)
thin lemon slices (optional)
finely chopped coriander

1. In a colander, rinse lentils thoroughly under cold running water. Set aside.

2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil, breaking up with the back of a spoon. Stir in reserved lentils and stock.

3. Transfer mixture to slow cooker stoneware. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 or 5 hours, until carrots are tender and mixture is bubbling. Stir in coconut milk, lemon juice and chili pepper and cook on high for 20 to 30 minutes, until heated through.

4. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and top with lemon slices and cilantro, if using.

Serves 8 to 10 as starter or 4 to 6 as a main course.

Spelt Biscuits

I got this recipe off of the All Recipes website last year when I was trying to find wheat-free recipes. These are a bit crumbly but really good.

2 C spelt flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. butter
2/3 C milk

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Farenheit.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually stir in milk, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You may need to adjust the amount of milk. Pat out on a floured surface to about 1-inch thick. Cut into biscuits and place on a baking sheet.

3. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Almond Butter/Peanut Butter Cookies

I made these cookies when Heidi came up to visit last weekend. They're fairly healthy and quite filling as a snack, however, they're a bit costly to make. I buy MaraNatha natural almond butter at Costco for $6.99 for about 750 grams. Which compares to about $5.99 in health food stores for a container that's not even half the size as the one at Costco. So that makes them a bit more affordable, since the recipes calls for a cup of the almond butter and makes a relatively small amount of cookies as compared to other recipes.

1 C natural almond butter or natural peanut butter
1 C brown sugar (I use 1/2 C of brown sugar or brown sugar Splenda mix)
1 egg or 4 tbsp. of egg whites

1.  Mix together and roll into balls.

2.  Press lightly with a moistened fork. 

3.  Bake on a nonstick baking sheet at 325 degrees Farenheit for 15 minutes. Do not overbake.

Optional: you can stir in 1/2 C raisins, dried cranberries, dark chocolate chips or chopped dried apricots

I like to mix in chocolate chips or mini M&Ms or mini Reeses Pieces when I make the peanut butter cookies and prefer raisins when I make them with almond butter. Don't make this with non-natural style nut butters, as the cookies aren't nearly as good.

And no, it is not a mistake that there is no flour in this recipe.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

French Onion Soup and Ceasar Salad

I made this for dinner last weekend. It is one of my favourite winter meals - classic comfort food. This is what we always have for Christmas Eve dinner with my family and we all love it. The soup recipe is my mom's and the salad recipe is my dad's. And both are delicious. So good, in fact, that I have rarely had either a French onion soup or ceasar salad as good as these two recipes when I eat in restaurants. Though you have to like both vinegar and garlic to enjoy the salad.

Mom's French Onion Soup

4 onions
3 cans of consomme soup
french bread
shredded mozzarella, cheddar and monteray jack

  1. Cut up the onions and saute in 1/2 C of water for 25 minutes (bring the water to a boil and then simmer).
  2. Add 3 cans of consomme soup and 2 cans of water and simmer for one hour.
  3. Put toasted buttered bread in French onion soup bowl and add soup.
  4. Top with mixture of cheeses and broil until cheese is melted.
Dad's Ceasar Salad Dressing

1 crushed garlic clove (I usually use considerably more)
1 egg yolk

Mix together and then stir in:

4 tbsp. olive oil

Progressively add, while stirring:

dash of tabasco/hot sauce
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. parmesan (or can mix in later with the lettuce)
freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix with romaine lettuce.

bacon bits
additional parmesan