Sunday, November 1, 2015

You made cookies? Ugh wait...are they healthy cookies?

     Cooler temps mean more time spent in the kitchen, and it's my favorite! I feel like I can finally cook again after many months of living in the hot-box that is my apartment.  I kind of came out the gates running and was making many new things a week, but then I realized... that's expensive and I have way too much schoolwork to be doing that. So I toned it down a little and am here to share some of my favorites. Also, you'll have to forgive my lack of pictures. I was in this I'm-too-busy-for-anything phase where I thought I wouldn't write about the cookies and things, so I didn't make the effort.

Asparagus Gruyere Pizza with Garlicy Ricotta - My Kitchen, Allston, MA

Asparagus Gruyere Pizza
     This pizza recipe was surprisingly the only one on my pinterest, so when Eric agreed to making a pizza with me, this is what we went with. I was nervous it would be kind of bland, but it was far from bland thanks to the Gruyere cheese and the panchetta, which Rach from Spache the Spatula didn't use. The panchetta (Italian cured pork belly) was Eric's idea, so we cooked it up in a pan and tossed in the asparagus for a few minutes before adding it to the pizza. The gruyere cheese took the pizza to another level far beyond that which mozzarella has the capability to do. It has a very rich and nutty flavor that was just outstanding. Normally I'm not a big fan of ricotta, but once it was whipped up with some garlic and lemon, it was light and delicious. The garlic, lemon, asparagus combination is something I'm quite familiar with and am a big of. Eric approved. Also... never measure cheese when making a pizza. It's all about feel. 

Asparagus Gruyere Pizza with Garlicy Ricotta
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 garlic cloves
juice of 1 small lemon
salt & freshly ground pepper
4-5 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
1/2 lb. thick asparagus spears (1/2 a bunch), shaved or sliced longways
Mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup panchetta, cubed
1 lump of pizza dough, pre-made or homemade

1. In a food processor, combine the ricotta, garlic, and lemon juice. Blend for a few seconds until whipped. Season, to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the ricotta mixture onto your pizza.

2. Top with the gruyere, the asparagus, panchetta and the mozzarella. 

3. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the cheese starts to brown, and the crust is cooked through.


Pecan Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies - My kitchen, Allston, MA

The insides of a pecan butter oatmeal chocolate
chip cookie
     These cookies by Ambitious Kitchen were honestly much better than I had expected. Last time I made a nut butter based cookie recipe, they were good, but you could tell they were mainly peanut butter; just a little heavy feeling and crumbly in a slightly dried out peanut butter way. Anyway, this time I got some pecans, roasted them, threw them in a blender (my food processor sucks) with a little maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and salt and presto... it was gold. I wish I had roasted the pecans a little longer to get a more roasted flavor, but the pecan butter was still delicious regardless, and I wish I had made more for things other than cookies. Also, I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips and I feel like this is one of the best choices you'll ever make in your life. They're exceptional in cookies.
     What make these cookies exceptional was their texture and form. The bottom crisped up, but not from the oils in normal butter, but from the oils in the nut butter and it tasted richer. The edges had a slightly caramelized flavor and feel to them, while the insides were slightly chewy (from the oats?) and steered the cookie away from a dry nut-butter cookie (like I mentioned earlier).

Pecan Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup homemade pecan butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup gluten free oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut flakes, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. In small bowl mix together the oats and baking soda; set aside.
3. In a large bowl beat pecan butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. 

4. Mix in dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop cookie dough by tablespoonful onto prepared cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches of space in between. 

5. Bake cookies for 9-12 minutes and remove when edges barely begin to turn a golden brown. The cookies may look a little underdone, but they will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven. Makes 20ish cookies. Store in airtight container.


Chewy Carrot Cake Cookies - My kitchen, Allston, MA

     Another cookie recipe from Ambitious Kitchen! She does good work. While I think the pecan butter cookies earned a higher grade, I couldn't stop eating these. They tasted healthy, but were by no means lacking in flavor like some other cookies that try to be healthy and tasty at the same time. I've had plenty of experience with those in my lightweight days. This was the real deal. Now I know looking at the ingredients list may be overwhelming, but it's not that bad. They're easy to make, as long as you don't mind shredded carrots all over your kitchen (or you're more graceful than me). My favorite part about this cookie was the influence of the coconut. Anytime I've ever had a dessert made with coconut oil, it's always blown my mind, and this was no exception. The cookie had a subtle coconut flavor from the oil, but you'd also catch very distinct nibs of it when you'd bite into one of the coconut shreds. It was irreplaceable. I loved the fall-like spices, the roasted and nutty pecans, and moisture that the carrots brought to the cookie. 

Chewy Carrot Cake Cookies
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded carrots
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup raisins

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

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. 

3. In a separate large bowl mix together coconut oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until well combined; next fold in shredded carrots. Add in flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Fold in oats, coconut flakes, pecans, and raisins.
4. Drop by tablespoonful on prepared baking sheet. Gently flatten with your hand. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Cool cookies for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.


Quinoa Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash - My kitchen, Allston, MA

(insert beautiful picture here)

     OH boy. These are so pretty looking. Go check them out on Daily Garnish. I feel like I made a meal for the first time in forever. I say that only because this dish seemed like it was more than just a side dish that I've turned into dinner, which is normally the case. However, I took this over to David's family's house for dinner and it was indeed eaten as a side dish, David thought it was dessert, and most of his siblings were too afraid to try it. Hmph. However, it inspired his mom, and I was super happy with it and would definitely make it again. This dish was on the fence trying to decide if it wanted to be savory or sweet. The quinoa, squash and onions brought the savory, and the apples, cinnamon and cranberries brought the sweet. It was a beautiful blend. It was very easy to make too, as long as you have a couple hours. According to Daily Garnish, this makes two large servings, but I used acorn squash the size of my head so it made many more. Also, I used apple cider vinegar instead of the orange champagne vinegar because I felt like it was a better idea (and because I wasn't going to spend the $ on the fancy stuff). My only other alteration was that I screwed up the balsamic glaze and turned it into glue practically, so that part of my recipe was omitted. She includes it in her recipe, but I feel like there are already so many flavors going on, that adding another may make it more complex than it needs to be. 

Quinoa Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 large acorn squash
1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
1 large onion, diced
1 large apple, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

2. Cut a slice off the bottom of each squash so that it can stand up on its own. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds (I roasted the seeds separately - like pumpkin seeds - and they were fabulous!). Drizzle a bit of olive oil and salt into each squash, and then place face-down in a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until fork tender inside. 

3. While the squash bakes, prepare the filling. Rinse and cook. Set quinoa aside.

4. In a large saute pan, cook one diced onion on medium heat until brown and softening. Once the onion has cooked 10-15 minutes, add the diced apple and cook until soft. Add the cranberries and the cooked quinoa, and turn heat down to low.

5. Whisk olive oil, vinegar, cinnamon, and salt together into a dressing. Pour dressing over quinoa mixture, and continue to stir over low heat.

6. Once the acorn squash has cooked, flip them right side up and fill the squash with the quinoa mixture. Pack tightly!

7. Bake 10-15 additional minutes, until the tops of the quinoa is golden and starting to get crispy.

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