Posts tagged ‘cookies’
To me, oats scream fall. There is nothing better on a chilly, fall morning than a big bowl of hot oatmeal. Oats are also essential to great apple crisps and crumbles, or fresh oatmeal cookies. I love oats so much that I have earned the reputation amongst my friends as “Oatmeal Queen.” I will gladly wear that title. If oatmeal isn’t your thing, than maybe granola is. My goal has been to perfect the granola making process, and I think I am finally getting there! I like making granola better than buying it because you have so much more control over the amount of sugar that goes into your cereal. These two recipes really fit the bill!
Almond Butter Granola is a great option for a fast, no-fuss weekday granola. It takes seconds to prep, minutes to bake, and is so delicious! It is not overly sweet and is a great addition to trail mix or over yogurt!
Like I said last week, this Coconut Ginger Granola is possibly my new favorite treat! I used Smart Balance butter instead of coconut oil, omitted the Brazil nuts, and added a bit of ginger syrup, otherwise following the recipe pretty closely! This recipe makes me never want to buy granola from a store again.
In case those aren’t enough ideas, here are some links to my favorite oatmeal recipes…
…and some more that I have yet to try!
Question: Are you an oatmeal fan?
A week of Christmas cookie posts would not be complete without at least one classic – the Gingerbread man! Gingerbread recipes are abundant, but this is by far my favorite. It is not cloyingly sweet, has the perfect amount of spice, and creates a soft cookie – my favorite way to have gingerbread. My sister and I have been making this recipe for years, and always love the results. The original recipe calls for vegetable shortening, but we forgot to check Mom’s cabinets before we started baking this year. With no shortening and no energy to run to the grocery store, we decided to substitute butter instead. My mom Googled shortening substitutes on her iPad and informed us that this would be okay, but that it would make the cookies soft and a bit harder to work with. (Seriously, what did we do before Google?!) We crossed our fingers and hoped it would work!
The dough has to be chilled at least overnight, but ours ended up staying in the fridge for about 2 days, the outer limit of what the recipe allows. When we finally started to roll the dough out, we definitely saw the difference in texture that the shortening makes. The dough was very soft and sticky, and would stick to the counter and rolling pin without copious amounts of flour. However, my sister’s patience paid off! She came up with a system: The dough was split in two so she could work with one log at a time. She sprinkled a ton of flour under the dough and over the roller, and then worked quickly to cut out the cookies and place them directly on a baking pan. She would alternate between dough logs, keeping the other one in the freezer for a blast chill in the interim. After 10 minutes in a hot oven, we were greeted by the best gingerbread cookies we have made to date! Although the dough was hard to work with, the taste was by far superior to other doughs we have made with shortening. There was none of that shortening aftertaste that can haunt gingerbread recipes, and the texture of the cookie was perfect.
Our final step was decorating. Let’s just say we have come a long way in our piping skills in the past few years! We spooned a classic Royal icing into sandwich bags, cut a small slit in the corner, and piped classic gingerbread men with simple outlines and faces. We used to go all out with colored sugars and candies, but we decided to stick with classic elegance this year. We couldn’t be completely uniform, though, and so had a bit of fun making a few characters! Any cookies that baked into funny positions we turned into named and specially decorated “gingies”. My favorites: a cookie with a “bullet hole” adorned with a Temple T in honor of the dangerous reputation that my sister’s school gets, the running man gingy donning running shoes, a few German gingies with curly hair and lederhosen, and a few wintertime guys with scarves. Still kids at heart, even with our much improved decorating skill!
With so many cookies fresh from the oven, we made up a bunch of plates and boxes to send off to friends and family! A few boxes were put in the mail, a few plates were made for co-workers and neighbors, and the rest were hidden from mindless nibbling in the basement fridge. I think I am baked out for a good while now! Hope you have made a bunch of fun treats to enjoy over the holiday weekend. I am looking forward to enjoying Christmas cookies and spending more time with family and good friends, celebrating the greatest gift of all – the birth of my savior, Jesus. Have a great holiday!
Question: What are your Christmas plans? Does your family have any fun holiday traditions?
adapted from an old church cookbook
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened (original recipe calls for 1 stick butter + 1/4 cup shortening)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 egg whites
Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper through a wire sieve into a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer at high speed, beat the butter, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and egg. Using a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Divide the dough into two thick disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, overnight or up to two days.
On the day you make the cookies, also prepare the Royal icing. Add the egg whites to a stand mixer and begin to beat. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until a stiff icing forms. The Royal Icing should peak and not drip off the beaters when lifted.
To roll out the cookies, work with one disk at a time, keeping the other disk refrigerated. Place the dough on a well floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick, being sure that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface (run a long meal spatula or knife under the dough occasionally just to be sure, and dust the surface with more flour, if needed). For softer cookies, roll out slightly thicker. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and transfer to nonstick cookie sheets, placing the cookies 1 inch apart. Gently knead the scraps together and form into another disk. Wrap and chill in the freezer for 5 minutes before rolling out again to cut out more cookies. Bake until the edges of the cookies are set and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire cake racks to cool completely. Decorate with Royal Icing, spooned into a sandwich bag with a small slit in the corner. Store between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container.
That is how this recipe is saved on my computer, since those are the way I will always remember these cookies. Each year, my paternal grandparents would fly in from the midwest to spend the Christmas week with us, and each year we would make up an enormous batch of pizzelles. It would start out as a fun endeavor, but with a recipe that calls for a dozen eggs, we would soon tire of standing in front of the waffle iron. We would chug through, though, knowing how happy it made my Grandpa to have his favorite cookie on Christmas. We no longer spend the holidays together, but my sister and I still wanted to share this holiday memory with Grandpa. We halved the recipe, broke out the cookie iron that belonged to my grandfather’s mother, and made a batch of pizzelles. Maybe our attention span is longer than it used to be, but the process flew by! We ended up making two batches, sending the first to my grandparents and dividing the second among cookie plates for friends and our cookie jar.
If you have never had a pizzelle, they are like a flattened waffle cone with a hint of liccorice flavor from the anise. They are crisp, light, and not too sweet – a great break from the overly sweet treats that fill our homes this time of year. Our tricks for the perfect pizzelle: lots of anise in the batter, constant attention to not overcook the cookie, and a dusting of powdered sugar! They do require special equipment to make, but a pizzelle iron would be a fun novelty item for any baker. Here is the classic pizzelle recipe from my Grandpa’s family, in case you happen to have a cookie press lying around and begging for good use! (It is halved for the attention challenged, if you are anything like me and my sister…)
Question: Are you traveling to be with family for the holidays, or will you be hosting any out of town house guests?
Grandpa Cookies (Pizzelles)
1 cup sugar
3 sticks butter, soft
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp anise extract
3 cups flour
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Whisk together eggs and sugar until well combined. Add the butter and whisk until smooth. Add vanilla and anise. Stir in flour until loose dough formed. Heat the pizzelle iron. Coat with cooking spray. Add a spoonful of batter to the center of the iron and close. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then check the cookie. The pizzelle should be lightly browned. Remove with a fork to a plate, and then move to a flat surface covered with wax paper to cool. Before completely cool, dust lightly with Confectioner’s sugar. Repeat, adjusting the amount of dough added and watching cooking time as each batch will cook differently depending on how long the iron is in use.
Every family has their classic Christmas cookie. For many, the standard sugar cookie brings back memories of rolling out dough and cutting out fun shapes. While we have great pictures of my sister and me covered in flour and colored sugar as little blonde troublemakers, the cookie that really reminds me of Christmas is my Grandma’s ribbon cookies. They are essentially a sugar cookie dough that is dyed to the colors of the season, then chilled in a loaf pan and sliced into simple, square cookies. They are unassuming on a cookie platter, often hiding behind the more decorative gingerbread men or sugar cookie shapes, but these are a cookie not to miss.
Whether you make the red, white and green for Christmas, or change up the colors for a school sports event or other holiday, these are a simple and delightful cookie. Baking them makes me feel like I am with family, whether they are with us for Christmas or not. This is the second of Grandma’s cookie recipes that I am sharing with you, and contains the modifications that my mom, my sister, and I have made throughout the years to get them just the way we love them. Make sure the butter is soft, but not melted, and don’t overbake these cookies. They are best before they brown, while still soft and just cooked. These won’t stay around for long so don’t worry about storing them!
Question: What cookie reminds you most of Christmas?
from a family recipe, makes 6 dozen cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 ¼ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix next three ingredients. Divide dough into three equal parts. Stir red food coloring into one, green into another, and leave the third plain. (Start with a few drops, and then adjust to get the color intensity you desire). Line a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with waxed paper. Pack green dough, plain dough, and then red dough. Fold waxed paper over top. Press down to smooth layers together. Chill for 12-24 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove dough and cut in half lengthwise, and then slice ¼ inch thick. Put on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes but do not brown.
While I love my family’s traditional Christmas cookies, biscotti might be my favorite cookie of all time. I love getting a big mug of coffee and a biscotti when I am studying at a coffee shop, but have always struggled to make them on my own. With some pistachios and cranberries lying around the house, however, I knew I had to give it one more shot. I am so glad I did, because these came out perfectly!
I found this recipe on Joy of Baking and followed it exactly, so head over there to make these biscotti. The dough has the perfect hint of sweetness to it, and I love pistachio in biscotti for a great crunch. I was worried because the initial cookie log is quite sticky and hard to form, but everything worked out perfectly. The trick to good biscotti is cutting the individual cookies at an angle, and baking them at a low temperature for a long time. They are time intensive, but not hard, so give these a try! The cranberries make them a festive addition to your cookie jar, but they would be great anytime throughout the winter.
If you are looking for other great biscotti recipes, here are some other cookies I have been drooling over. These Gingerbread Biscotti from Rufus’s Guide would make a great holiday treat, as would these Triple Ginger Biscotti from Eat, Live, Run. If you are a vegan, check out these Eggnog Biscotti from Oh She Glows. The Orange Biscotti, also from Rufus’s Guide would be great to make anytime this winter with Florida citrus in season! There are so many great twists to this classic cookie, so give one a try and tell me how it turns out! If I can bake them, then anyone can ;)
Question: What is your favorite treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee?
My Sunday has been spent baking dozens upon dozens of Christmas cookies. Many will be plated up to send off to family and friends, but of course will be lying around our house for some Christmas treats! Over the next few days, I will share some of my family’s favorite cookie recipes. Most of them are from my Grandma, and I have been making them since I could bake. I hope that you try one recipe to add to your cookie collection and enjoy them as much as my family does!
As a kid, I didn’t understand the draw of these cookies. They were fun to make, but they were to mature for my young taste buds. I was a faithful helper, and every year I made these with my mom or Grandma, simply to get them done and move onto the “more fun” cookies. However, these have grown to become my favorite of my family’s traditional Christmas cookies. These tassies are like miniature pecan pies, with a soft, flaky crust and sweet, nutty filling. They stand out on a Christmas cookie platter, and are always a hit at parties. My Grandma always makes them with walnuts, but I like them best with pecans. Use whichever you have on hand, as either way the result is fantastic. Instead of making a whole pie this Christmas, try these cookies as a great alternative. Definitely not any healthier than a pecan pie, but at least you can enjoy just one bite! If you can only eat just one, that is… ;)
Question: Do you have any Christmas cookie recipes that have been passed through generations?
From an old family recipe, makes approx. 48 cookies
8 oz. Neufchatel cream cheese
½ lb. butter
2 ½ cups flour (can mix whole wheat and white)
Cream butter and cream cheese until well blended. Work flour into mixture by hands. Pinch of walnut sized amount of dough and press with thumb very thinly into greased mini-muffin tins.
1 ½ cup brown sugar (half light and half dark)
3 tbsp melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cup chopped pecans (or walnuts, or a mix)
Beat first 4 ingredients with beater. Fold into chopped nuts. Fill pastry shell 3/4 full. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Take tarts out and place on cooling rack close together and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar while still warm. Store in an airtight container.
It is no secret that I am a poor baker. I am ashamed, since baking is essentially chemistry, and I was a biochemistry major. I should be able to make a basic batch of chocolate chip cookies, right?! Wrong. This time, I can’t even blame it on healthy substitutions. I used the recipe from the back of the chocolate chips bag, and followed it to a T. The point of this baking experiment was to satisfy a pregnant friend’s craving, not to perfect my own version of the classic cookie. So what went wrong?
It is still up for debate, but I have my suspicions. My friend was in charge of dry ingredients, and I made the butter and sugar mixture. She swears that she added enough flour, our first theory as to why these cookies would not stay together.
Accepting Avoiding the fact that I could have been the problem, I am blaming the butter as our culprit. Our cookie baking was impromptu, and the recipe called for softened butter. Nothing a microwave can’t fix… until the butter melts. Knowing better, I incorporated the melted butter into the sugar anyway. The dough looked fine, so we scooped it out onto baking sheets. We anxiously awaited our cookies, only to pull out a cookie lava mess! Don’t worry – even ugly cookies still taste good. ;) (And at least our pumpkin chocolate chip cookies were a huge success!)
Learn from my cookie fail and don’t let melted butter ruin your Christmas cookie baking! The temperature of butter is really important in baking. Cold butter is really important for flaky crusts, room temperature butter for chocolate chippers, but melted butter is rarely a good thing unless called for. Hopefully I can redeem myself with some upcoming Christmas cookie favorites!
Question: What is your worst baking mistake story?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope your day was filled with good food, friends, family, and words of thanks for all of the many blessings we have in our lives. My family is being a bit non-traditional this year… we postponed Thanksgiving! My sister is splitting the holiday with her boyfriend this year, so we agreed to have dinner a day late in order to share her. Plus, I didn’t arrive home until Wednesday evening, and my mom and I wanted plenty of time to prepare a proper Thanksgiving feast together! So my Thanksgiving Day eats might not be what you expect…
I went for a quick 2.5 mi run through my neighborhood this morning, just to get my legs moving again from the long car ride yesterday. I wanted to stay out for longer, but forgot my gloves and my tingly hands told me to give up early!
I enjoyed this lovely bowl of oatmeal over a few cups with my mom as we sat and “solved the problems of the world.” No better time to discuss weighty issues like medical ethics, politics, and family drama like than pre-caffeine, right? This oatmeal was another fall special: apple sauce, cubed apples, cinnamon, sliced almonds and dried cranberries. So good!
The rest of our day was spent cooking for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, making as much ahead as possible. We have a lot of great things on our table this year, and I can’t wait to share pictures and a new recipe or two that we came up with! I couldn’t help but steal nibbles of the roasting potatoes, veggies, and bread cubes, so I wasn’t too hungry for lunch. I had of this morning’s breakfast leftovers and a crumble of cookie, but was too full for a real meal. After finishing our cooking, we took advantage of the warm weather to put up some of the outdoor Christmas lights. Can’t help but sing some Christmas songs when that happens…
Afternoon workout 5:30pm
My mom is trying to incorporate some stretching and weight lifting into her daily routine, so we tried out a 10 minute beginner’s yoga routine (free on Exercise TV on my parent’s cable) and I taught her a simple free weights routine that included high knees, tricep extensions, bicep curls, shoulder presses, and a few more fun exercises. It is simple and takes only 10 minutes, so hopefully it is something she can use on a daily basis!
My mom made some wonderful fall treats, trying out some vegetarian recipes that she found. She has a Whole Foods app on her iPad and bookmarks any veggie recipe that reminds her of me so she has a full arsenal of things to try out whenever I come home! Tonight, she made a fall salad with apple, carrot, beet, turnip and a citrus dressing. We ate that along with a butternut and acorn squash soup, a real treat since she made it with cream cheese! I enjoyed it with some pumpkin ale and bread for a perfect fall meal with my parents.
We were entrenched in a tough came of cards (anyone else play Canasta?), and needed a mid-game treat to pull us through. Good thing my friend and I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies last night! The recipe is at the end of the post in case you need anymore post-Thanksgiving pumpkin! I went from losing at cards badly to winning the game by a tiny margin – cookies for the win? I think so!
Question: What are you thankful for this year?
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cup pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp milk
2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
Mix together wet ingredients in one bowl and dry ingredients in other. Stir dry into wet mixture until well combined. Add chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto greased cookie trays. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Store in a sealed container.
Everyone gather close… I have a secret to share. Is everyone ready? Do you promise not to tell? My confession…
Not everything I cook and eat is healthy.
Well, that feels better. Now, it may come as a shock. I know my friends and family are always surprised when I grab another slice of pizza or agree to share a less-than-healthy appetizer. They always question any baked good I share with “what did you hide in there this time?” But, be real with me here, sometimes you just want the real deal. And sometimes that means cookies with only two redeeming features – butter and sugar. I only do this when I have unsuspecting friends to unload them on, or else I could sit there and eat the whole batch. But I guess that makes another point, that a healthy lifestyle is all about balance. It is unrealistic to think that you will begin a diet tomorrow in which you will never again touch sugar or fat or carbs or X or Y or Z. Whether you slip once a week, month, year or decade, that is okay. It is better to treat yourself to a cookie or two once in a while intentionally than deprive yourself and accidentally binge on a whole batch. If you fall off the healthy wagon, intentionally or not, use your next decision about a snack or a meal to get right back on track. A healthy lifestyle is a journey, not a one-time choice. So for any healthy and not-so-healthy eaters out there, make these as your next special treat. Enjoy in the company of friends, and savor the moment.
Some notes about these cookies: the dough is pretty crumbly, and is rather difficult to form into balls. They can be pretty free form, since you will flatten them with your palm before baking them. They can also be difficult to get off a cookie sheet once baked, which is why it is best to line it first with parchment paper or tin foil (just watch your baking times). The resulting cookies will be crispy, thin, caramel-y and delicious, just as good as Grandma’s or the church lady’s used to be!
Question: What is your unhealthy eating confession?
Cinnamon Oat Lace Cookies
Adapted from Epicurious, makes 24 cookies
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature (I’m sure you could use buttery sticks as a vegan substitute here)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until well blended. Beat in flour, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir in oats. Cover and refrigerate cookie dough 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Roll dough by tablespoonfuls between palms into loose balls. Spread out on a baking sheet. Using the heel of your hand, flatten cookies to rounds. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 11 minutes. Let cookies remain on sheets 1 minute. Using spatula, transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.
I have a love/hate relationship with bananas. I never ate them growing up, despising their texture and judging their affinity towards getting brown and spotty way too quickly. I didn’t eat bananas until I spent one summer working as a nanny. My friend’s daughter loved them, and I would dutifully slice one up each afternoon we spent together. On the afternoons when she didn’t want the rest, I took to nabbing a slice or two. I found out that I really liked the taste, and the slices helped me to get over the texture! Next thing I knew, I was buying bananas for myself and finding out new ways to enjoy this good-for-you fruit. I still doubt I will ever be one to snack on them, and am still weary of the spotty ones. No need to let them go to waste though… (or have endless loaves of banana bread!) There are plenty of other ways to use ‘em up: smoothies, oatmeal, pancakes, monkey bites, and introducing no-bake cookies!
This recipe was inspired by another one of Chocolate Covered Katie’s creations. I have had great success with her Samoas Babies, and with her Chickpea Blondies. I love her dessert recipes because they are healthy and fun, and usually simple to make. She has turned me onto using bananas as a natural source of sweetness, allowing delicious baked goods to be a lot lower in added sugar without being short on taste! These bites are perfect for hot summer evenings, afternoon snacks, or even a morning pick-me up. Super simple to make, healthy (protein packed, filled with fiber, no sugar added, vegan) and fun to eat… what’s not to love!
Question: What is a food you have recently learned to like?
No-Bake Peanut Butter Banana Bites
adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie, makes 14 small cookies
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup oat bran
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
1 banana, mashed
Mix together all ingredients. Roll into bite-sized cookies and place on a sheet in the freezer. After two hours, transfer to a sealed container for storage.
NOTE: If your teeth don’t love frozen foods, microwave these treats for 15-20 seconds to turn them into cookie balls!