Dark Chocolate Cookies with White Chips

I love any excuse to bake cookies and the holidays are the perfect excuse.  I’m trying not to go overboard this year. Rugelach and ginger cookies are already sitting in my freezer.  So I decided to bake a rich chocolate cookie.

In the past I’ve made a wonderful rich chocolate chip cookie that is labor intensive and kind of messy.  I’m really not up to all that work so I came up with a simpler version with all of the richness.  I’ve also decided to change it a little by adding white chocolate chips.  For the chocolate I used Ghirardelli brand.

This recipe took no time at all to put together.  And the hour the dough sat in the refrigerator gave me time to work on other tasks. The most difficult part of this recipe is not eating the raw dough which is delicious!

 

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces 60 % cocoa chocolate chips (or bittersweet)
  • 11 1/2 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon dark rum (or vanilla)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

In double boiler over hot water, melt bittersweet chocolate chips and butter (or melt in the microwave)

In large bowl whisk eggs, rum, cinnamon, and sugar until thick; stir into melted chocolate mixture a little at a time so the eggs don’t scramble

Stir together flour and baking powder; stir into chocolate mixture. Mix in white chocolate chips and walnuts.

Cover bowl and refrigerate from 1-3 hours.  Take out of the fridge and drop by heaping teaspoons onto a baking sheet

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake 10-12 minutes until there is a shiny top but still seems soft in the middle

~enjoy~

Fresh Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies & Tea

Those of you who follow my Facebook page know that I have been in search of candied ginger.  nearly as easy to find as I thought.  Plenty of candied fruit for those awful fruitcakes but no ginger.  It’s ridiculous, but it got me thinking.  Since I’m a true lover of fresh ginger, there’s no reason to purchase a processed candied version to make some good cookies.  I’m flexible so I searched for a good fresh ginger cookie recipe and then tweaked it to my ownl taste.

As for ginger tea, it’s the simplest thing to make.  Boil up some water, add a 1/2 inch slice of fresh ginger and some honey or agave nectar.  It’s so easy and delicious, and your house smells lovely!  I try to drink this tea often because of ginger’s health benefits.  I use it for its anti-inflammatory proponents but it’s also great for gastrointestinal issues and protects against certain cancers.

I actually have a Zingiber Zerumbet  plant also known as Shampoo Ginger growing in my backyard.  It’s pretty much a long stalk with large leaves growing out of each side.  The picture seen is not of my own since our last cold front hurt it and it’s not too pretty.  I’ll be bringing it inside today before the next cold spell which is due in a couple of days.  As it get’s larger it’s supposed to grow cones that produce a milky liquid that is used in some regions as a shampoo.  The liquid itself is also known for its health benefits.

On to my cookies, they are a little time-consuming because they have to be refrigerated for an hour before baking.  However, it is a simple recipe which can be adjusted for personal tastes.  Personally, I don’t care for spices such as cloves or powered nutmeg so I kept this a basic ginger cookie.  Feel free to add more spice if desired.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used half white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey or agave nectar or a combination of both (I combined)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1.5 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Beat ginger, butter, vanilla and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in honey/agave and egg mix well.
  3. Gently fold in flour mixture until just combined, add chocolate chips. Chill for 1 hour
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  5. Roll dough into 1  inch balls
  6. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets
  7. Bake until edges start to brown and the centers are soft, 10-12 minutes
  8. Let stand on cookie sheets 1 minute and remove to racks to cool
  9. Dust with confection sugar

~enjoy~

Traditional Potato Latkes

I can’t believe it’s the fifth night of Hanukkah and the first time I’ve made potato latkes this holiday!  Sadly, the whole family wasn’t together but we had an enjoyable time.  Last year I veered from the traditional recipe and went with Southwest Sweet Potato Latke’s.  This year I stuck with a very traditional recipe.  I got it from http://www.jewfaq.org/index.htm.  I really like this site, they’ve got some really great info that’s quite comprehensive.

I give my ancestors a lot of credit.  Making latkes before the invention of a food processor must have been an incredible task.  Hand grating several pounds of potatoes is a lot of work.  My mother remembers her grandmother standing in front of the oven frying up fresh batches of latkes while the family enjoyed them.  We always wanted my mom at the table with us so she would pre-cook them and keep them warm in the oven.  Not quite as good of a taste but a better family experience.

With my guilt I did not even invite my parents over. Up until the last-minute I wasn’t even sure if anyone would be home to bother cooking them.  I also wasn’t sure what time we would eat.  With that said, Mom if you’re reading this, sorry!  Also, Ariel if you’re reading this, there’s some leftover’s in the fridge for you and Geoff.  Stop by and grab them!  For my non-Jewish readers (most of you) this me living the phenomenon known as Jewish Guilt!

In my house we celebrate everything.  While deciding this was latke night we were also contemplating our Christmas dinner.  One holiday just flows into another.  When the kids were little there was plenty of gifts to go around.  Many were practical items such as pj’s or toiletries but always fun to have something to open.  This year everyone is grown and I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to buy.  My parents, husband and I have decided no gifts.  I’m so happy with this as I am trying to minimize and get rid of stuff.  At the same time I am trying to recognize what I truly need and stick to purchasing with care.

For my kids, I would like some fun relaxing shopping trips where they can pick what they want/need and hopefully we will simply enjoy the time spent together.  In the past I have taken the items bought together, hid them (sort of) and wrapped them for either a Hanukkah or Christmas gift.  If I was lucky the forgot I bought it and were excited for something they barely remembered, or they feigned surprise which was just ridiculous.  I’m hoping the new tradition of just hanging out together and having a fun shopping trip works out well.  It’s much less work and stress for me and the kids don’t have to wait for their gifts.  Ultimately, for a non religious person as myself, it’s all about time well spent together.

Since I haven’t deviated at all from the original recipe I am pretty much cutting and pasting right from http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday7.htm, video and all.

Makes approximately 12 palm-sized latkes

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup matzah meal (flour or bread crumbs can be substituted)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. each salt and black pepper (more or less to taste)
  • vegetable oil
Watch in full size on YouTube

Shred the potatoes and onion into a large bowl. Press out all excess liquid.(if using a food processor, use the chopping blade for 2 or 3 seconds after pressing out liquid to avoid stringy fly-aways). Add eggs and mix well. Add matzah meal gradually while mixing until the batter is doughy, not too dry. (you may not need the whole amount, depending on how well you drained the veggies). Add the baking powder, salt and pepper and mix well. (don’t taste the batter — it’s really gross!). Don’t worry if the batter turns a little orange; that will go away when it fries.

Heat about 1/2 inch of oil to medium-high heat. Form the batter into thin patties about the size of your palm. Fry batter in oil. Be patient: this takes time, and too much flipping will burn the outside without cooking the inside. Flip when the bottom is golden brown.

Place finished latkes on paper towels to drain. Eat hot with sour cream or applesauce. They reheat OK in a microwave, but not in an oven unless you cook them just right.

Me again, personally I only reheat in the oven, I don’t like them microwaved at all!!

~enjoy~

 

Rugelach

Rugelach is one of my all time favorite cookies.  They are like tiny rolled crescents filled with a raisin & nut mixture.  Today they are easily bought in any bakery aisle but don’t let the store-bought varieties fool you.  They lack the rich flaky dough as well as the sweet and savory filling that make them so addictive.  I don’t make rugelach very often because it’s a bit time-consuming.  Years ago I started to double the recipe because it’s easier to make more than make it more often.

Rugelach רוגעלך is a Yiddish word which is interpreted as “little twists” which refers to the shape of the cookie.  There are many different recipes, some with no dairy products, some with a sour cream dough and others with a cream cheese dough.  I prefer the latter, the combination of cream cheese, butter and flour make a delicate cookie with appropriate flavors to compliment the filling.  Fillings can vary as well.  Ultimately, you can roll pretty much anything that will fit in this.

I tend to make smallish Rugelach, they bake evenly and are easier to work with.  Most often I make them for Jewish holidays.  They freeze well and actually taste great frozen.  I made a large batch to split over Thanksgiving and Hanukkah but forgot to serve them last Thursday.  It’s ok this way there’s more for me!  The recipe also works best if you make the dough, split it into balls and refrigerate for a short while.  I find the dough rolls easily then.

My Rugelach do not come out evenly sized and shaped but it doesn’t matter.   They should be similar enough in size to bake evenly.  Once I roll them out I use a pizza cutter to make the circles and then cut them into triangle pieces like a pizza.  I doubt this is the way my great-grandmother did it but it works for me.

Dough

2 cups flour

1 8 oz block cream cheese (light is fine)

1 stick of butter room temperature

Mix the 3 ingredients together and break into 6 equal sized balls, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to an hour

Filling

This part is truly a rough guess, I’ve never measured it!

3/4 – 1 cup each raisins and chopped walnuts

8-10 oz apricot preserves or jam

1/3 cup of sugar

cinnamon to taste ( a little nutmeg if desired)

Mix these ingredients together set aside

More flour and sugar will be needed for rolling

Directions

Take a ball of dough and roll it into a circle about 1/4″ thick and approximately 10″ round, use flour and sugar as needed so dough doesn’t stick

Using a pizza cutter trim ends of the circle and cut into 6-8 even pieces depending on desired size

On the wide end of each triangle add a small amount of the filling so that it spans the width

Roll it up from the filled side to the narrow end and gently push the narrow end to stick to the dough, it should stay easily

Place on a pan (sometimes I gently grease, sometimes I don’t) and bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes until golden brown on the outside

Repeat with each ball, I often take the scraps and toss them into the bowl in the refrigerator holding the dough, usually there’s enough scraps to make 1 last circle of cookies

~enjoy~

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I originally found this recipe while reading Dr Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live.  The book was interesting enough but this recipe by far was the best thing I got out of it.  I don’t actually remember the original recipe, so this is my own rendition of it.  I’m not sure at this point what the specific ingredients were but I like my version quite well.

This would make an excellent main course for a Thanksgiving dinner.  I like that it’s served in perfect single sized servings!  The acorn squash with nuts, pineapple and cranberry will make any plate look festive.  I also enjoy taking leftovers to work.  It makes a great lunch and people always comment on it.

Ingredients

2 acorn squash

1 can crushed pineapple drained

1/2 cup both cranberries and chopped walnuts

4 tablespoons of chopped dried apricots

A small amount of butter or vegan spread for each half

Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom to taste

Directions

Gently prick each acorn squash in 2-3 spots and microwave them for 4 minutes to soften

Cut them in half and scoop out seeds, place face down in a baking dish with 1/2 inch of water and bake at 350 for 30 minutes

While that is baking mix together the rest of the ingredients and let them sit

After baking the squash, remove from oven, drain the water, turn over the squash

Rub a little butter or spread on each piece and then add 1/4 of the stuffing to each half

Top with a little additional cinnamon and return to the oven for 20 more minutes

~enjoy~

Mom’s Saltine Stuffing Vegetarianized!

My family has been eating this stuffing recipe my entire life.  As a kid I didn’t even realize that stuffing is supposed to be made with bread!  I had never seen it done that way.  Making a saltine stuffing saves the bother of buying a nice loaf of bread and letting it go stale.  Thanksgiving morning you just open the box of saltines and get started.

There was a couple of Thanksgivings where I’ve actually made a different recipe with both cornbread and saltines.  My husband, kids, and I all liked it very much.  But once my family moved down to Florida, they took one look and wondered where the “traditional” stuffing was!  Personally, I enjoy both but this one saves a lot of time so I’m happy to make it for them.

My mom’s stuffing was made with chicken broth and drippings.  I’ve made a simple change by using Knorr’s  dry soup called Spring Vegetable which is not tomato based.  You could just use vegetable bouillon cubes in place of that.  The soup mix I use has lots of little vegetable flecks in it which I don’t mind at all.   I also use butter rather than the drippings, you can easily use a vegan butter spread in place of butter.

This recipe works well when you assemble it early in the morning and then cook it before serving.  You could probably assemble it the night before if you eat early enough.  There is an egg in it so I wouldn’t refrigerate more than 12 hours prior to baking.  I’m sure a vegan can easily use an egg substitute with good results.

Ingredients

1 box of Saltines

4 onions chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

1 stalk celery

1 package of Knorr Spring Vegetable soup or 4 veg bouillon cubes

1 egg or vegan equivalent

Butter or vegan spread to dot the top (up to 1 stick depending on preference)

Salt, pepper and seasonings to taste

Directions

Saute the onions until translucent or lightly browned (I prefer browned) add in the garlic and celery for the last 2 minutes

Make the soup mix according to directions (strain out veggie flakes if desired) cool

Place saltines in enough broth to absorb fully and feel moist but not overly mushy, add some water if needed,

Mix in the other ingredients and seasoning

Place in a well-greased 9″ x 13″ pan

Dot with butter or spread and add more towards the end of baking

Bake uncovered for 1 hour

~enjoy~

 

Super Easy Cranberry Dressing

I’m not even sure if this qualifies as a recipe.  It’s really just a few ingredients that work well together and there are so many possible add in’s depending on your personal taste.  I adapted this from my mom’s cranberry dressing which is made with gelatin, therefore not vegetarian.

I don’t really understand her method.  She drains out all of the canned berries liquid that had gelled on it’s own and then adds the gelatin to it.  It’s very good but not at all worth the bother.  Her version takes hours of setting etc.  My version is just as good, personally I’d say better and takes about 5 minutes.

I’m looking forward to this Thanksgiving.  My nephew and his girlfriend will be flying in to join us and I always love company.   The only part I don’t like is where I’m the one who cooks the turkey.  My mom and I actually have it worked out where she purchases it, cleans it up, and removes the utterly disgusting baggie of insides etc.  Thanksgiving morning she’ll drive it over to me and I’ll pop it into my oven.  She cooks up whatever’s in those baggies to prepare the gravy and then finishes the gravy at my house once the bird is done.  It’s not ideal for me personally but it’s a good compromise.

Thanksgiving is the one meal where I actually don’t want a main course.  Even as a kid I barely touched the turkey.  My family goes way overboard with all the yummy side dishes and I’d much rather enjoy a variety of veggie dishes than any one main dish.  This cranberry dish is a favorite of mine.  I can imagine many possible ways to change it with a few different ingredients but my family likes holiday foods the way they’re used to them so I’ll stick to the basics once again!

Cranberry Dressing

2 cans of whole berries

1 small can of crushed pineapple drained well

1/2 cup of crushed walnuts

Just a little cinnamon

 

Just toss them in a pretty bowl, give them a good mix and refrigerate until ready to serve

Possible add ins:

Chopped apple or pear

Orange segments

Jalapeno & onion for  a salsa version

Chopped strawberries or blueberries

A larger can of pineapple which is what a lot of people use, personally I don’t like the pineapple to overwhelm so I stick with the little can

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