Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Cookies!

During the holidays, I love having cookies around to enjoy by the Christmas tree or give as gifts. I've made two great cookies so far, and I "healthified" them a little, although they are still really delicious, don't worry.

Date Walnut Cookies

These cookies have a really wonderful caramel-y flavor from the dates and are pretty chewy and dense, unlike some healthy "cookies," which are more like muffin tops. Make sure you don't skip over the walnuts, they really add great crunch and nuttiness!
Yield: 18-20 cookies

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
2. Mix the flaxseed meal with 2 tablespoons water and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour through walnuts) and set aside.
4. Place the dates in a food processor and process until they become a thick paste. Mix in the oil, milk, vanilla, and flax mixture.
5. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
6. Shape the dough into 1-tablespoon balls and flatten on the baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and set.

Gingerbread Biscotti

These have a real gingery taste and taste exactly like gingerbread cookies, just crunchy and easily dippable. I don't normally like coffee, but these are really good dipped in coffee!
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chopped almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
2. Combine the dry ingredients (oats through salt) in a blender and blend until the oats are ground into a flour and all the ingredients are mixed through. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the almonds.
3. In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients (vanilla through milk) and then add to the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
4. Separate the dough into two logs, about 2 inches wide, and then flatten to about 1/2 an inch thick. (do this with wet hands so the dough doesn't stick to you hands, it makes it much easier to handle)
5. Bake the logs for 20-25 minutes, until browned and firm.
6. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes or so, then slice into 1/2 inch thick slices and lay cut-side down on the same baking sheet.
7. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven off andleave the biscotti in the oven to cool with the oven door cracked open. This will help crisp them up without burning them.

Happy cookie baking!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Catching Up

Hey Everyone!

Sorry I haven't been around for a while, I've really missed blogging. But I've been pretty busy in November with school and traveling to France! I don't have any new recipes to share with you yet, but I'll share some pictures from my trip to St. Remy de Provence in France.

View from the front door--the pool, garden, and olive trees:

Olives from the olive trees in the garden, which we picked and brought to the co-op to turn into olive oil!:

The gorgeous home we stayed in, called Mas de Pitou (you can rent it for a vacation!):

Delicious pastries from one of the local patisseries (this one is called a Sacristain, it's kind of like an almond croissant rolled into a die for):

The "Barrage de Peiroou," a lake within a 15 minute walk from the house, surrounded by Les Alpilles (those gorgeous rocks). Apparently it's more full in the summer and people go fishing here all the time!:

Persimmon tree from the garden that Vincent Van Gogh looked out over during his stay at the asylum in St. Remy, we got to see the room where he stayed, the scenes he painted, and we even picked persimmons from his tree!: 

Beautiful olives fresh from the trees:

Me picking olives:

Some of the Roman ruins in Glanum, just about a 10 minute walk from the house!:

A beautiful view of the countryside and the vineyards at Chateauneuf de Pape, apparently a very well-known vineyard town:

The Pope's Palace, or "Palais de Papes" in Avignon:

View from the top of the terraced gardens in Avignon:

The famous Pont d'Avignon (Avignon Bridge) in the evening, it doesn't cross the Rhone river because part of it was washed away in a flood in the 1400's, but the rest is absolutely gorgeous, especially at night:

Walking into the town of St. Remy from the house, along the canal. This is also where I ran in the morning, it's a lovely path and only about a 20 minute walk:

The town of St. Remy is filed with these old narrow roads with tons of cute boutiques and little restaurants. We probably walked through the town for 24 hours total, finding new things with each trip:

I had many more great adventures in France, but this definitely gives you an idea of what a fantastic, relaxing time I had. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I meant to post some recipes, but couldn't really do that from France, so I'll be sure to post some for upcoming holidays! 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Apple Fritter Pancakes

Yet another apple recipe, since we still have probably 10 pounds left to get through! Doesn't bother me, though...

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I saw on Pinterest, which was apparently seen on Carla Hall's show, The Chew. I tried them without the powdered sugar, and they just weren't right. But with the powdered sugar, they tasted almost as decadentand delicious as an apple fritter, hence the name.

Apple Fritter Pancakes
1 1/4 cups oats
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, water, or apple cider
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 apples
powdered sugar

1. In a blender, combine oats, salt, flaxseed meal, and baking powder, and blend untill it becomes a fine powder.
2. Add the milk and canola oil, and blend until a smooth batter forms.
3. Transfer the batter to a bowl and let it sit while you peel, core, and thinly slice the apples.
4. Heat a pan over medium heat and spray it with cooking spray. 
5. Dip the apple slices in the batter, then place them in the pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until the pancake batter is cooked.
6. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scones and Apple Butter

I realized that I kind of fell out of my gluten-free baking swing, so I decided to get back into it with these scones. I made them both gluten-free and with gluten, and they were both really awesome, so I posted the simple substitution to make them non-gluten-free in the notes after the recipe. Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Scones
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped apples
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and apples.
3. Stir in the oil, honey, and vanilla until a thick dough forms.
4. Press the dough into a square about 1/2 inch thick, then cut into 8 triangles.
5. Spread the triangles out on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and firm.
-Substitute 2 cups white whole wheat flour for the flours + xanthan gum for the non-gluten-free version.
-Brush the tops with warmed honey if you want a sweeter scone, but I think these are delicious as is.
-Use any finely chopped fruit in place of the apples, I've used frozen blueberries and they turned out great.

Carrot-Apple Butter
4 lage carrots. sliced
about 12 medium sweet apples, diced
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch cloves
1/2 cup water

1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and heat over high heat until it comes to a boil.
2. Cover the pot and let cook until apples and carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Transfer to a blender, in batches, and blend until smooth.
4. Place the puree in a slow cooker and cook overnight, for about 10 hours or so, on low heat. If you don't have a slow cooker, you can return the puree to the original pot and cook, stirrring frequently, over medium-low heat until it thickens to your liking.

-This apple butter really gets its sweetness from the use of sweet apples, rather than tart ones, so if you use tart ones you may need to add sweetener like maple syrup, agave, or sucanat.
-The added carrots don't add too much flavor, just a gorgeous deep color and lots of nutrients, so they can go undetected by kids if they aren't fans of carrots!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Make-Ahead Meals

As I mentioned earlier, I usually end up preparing meals for the week over the weekends so that I don't end up using my whole night cooking rather than doing homework or more importantly, blogging. So I came up with a few recipes to be made ahead for this week, and there will most likely be more where these came from, so please let me know if there's anything you want me to try to create for a make-ahead meal!

Golden Lentil and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 finely chopped roasted red peppers, from a jar or fresh (see notes below)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups golden lentils (see notes below)
4 cups vegetable broth
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
extra vegetable broth, as needed
1. Heat a large pot over medium heat, then add the olive oil, red peppers, and onions. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until the onion is softened and translucent.
2. Add the lentils and vegetable broth, turn heat up to high, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
3. Puree about half of the soup with an immersion blender or by putting half of the soup in a regular blender. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Store the soup in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to serve it. It will thicken up a lot in the fridge, so stir in more vegetable broth when you reheat it until it is thin enough for you.

-to roast your own red peppers: cut 2 fresh red peppers into large pieces, discarding the seeds and stem. Place them skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet and place under the broiler for 5 minutes or so, until the skin is black and blistered. Transfer the pieces to a container with a lid and let them sit, covered for a few minutes. Their steam will make it easier to peel the skin off.

-I found golden lentils in the bulk section at Whole Foods, but if you cannot find them, I would suggest substituting yellow split peas or red lentils.

Lentil "Meat"balls
3 cups cooked lentils (1 cup uncooked, boiled for 20 minutes)
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce (note: read the labels if you're vegetarian, most brands contain anchovies)
1 teaspoon liquid aminos or soy sauce
1 handful fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until the mixture holds together and is fairly smooth, with a few chunks.
2. Scoop the mixture into 1 tablespoon balls. You can store these in the fridge if you want to cook them later in the week, or continue to step 3.
3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the "meat"balls on a baking sheet, spray them quickly with cooking spray, and bake them for 25 minutes, until they are browned and crispy on the outside.

5. Serve with whole wheat pasta and tomato sauce.

Chestnut and Almond Butter Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 cup cooked millet or other grain (brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, etc.)
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup steamed chestnuts (see note below)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons almond butter
salt and pepper
pinch ground nutmeg and ginger
olive oil

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or a silicon liner, place the squash on the baking sheet, brush them lightly with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and bake for about 20 minutes, until they are browned and tender.
2. In a bowl, mix the millet, chickpeas, chestnuts, mustard, almond butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and ginger.
3. Fill the cavity of each squash half evenly with the millet mixture. At this point, you can save the stuffed squash in the fridge for later in the week, or continue to step 4.
4. Bake the stuffed squash for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
5. Serve with roasted veggies (see note below)!
-You can usually find cooked chestnuts at specialty foods stores in jars in the fall and winter, but they tend to be super expensive. I buy mine in pouches at Asian supermarkets, and they are just about $1 a pouch, as opposed to $15 or more!
-To make that roasted broccoli (possibly my favorite side dish) I cut a broccoli head into florets, spread them on a silicon mat lined baking sheet, sprayed them with cooking spray, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and baked them in the same oven as the squash (425 degrees) for 15-20 minutes. Then, I squeezed fresh lemon juice over them, which makes them the best.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Packable Snacks

I LOVE packing lunches! And I love making healthy snacks over the weekend so that I can add them to my lunches or snack on them throughout the week. Also, I make a lot make-ahead dinners (which I'll post on later) to prepare for the week. With school, homework, and cross country every day it's hard to find time to do my favorite thing--cooking! So I make things ahead of time so that I can enjoy them all week and I don't fall into what my mom calls "cooking withdrawal."

Here are two make-ahead recipes that you can easily separate into individual servings to get ahead on packing for the week.

Edamame Hummus
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed
2 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
water or lemon juice, as needed

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until creamy. Add extra lemon juice or water until the hummus reaches the consistency you want.

Oatmeal Snack Bars
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sucanat
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
2 tablespoons almond butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Mix the flaxzeed meal and warm water together in a medium bowl and set aside to thicken while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
3. Mix together the oats, flours, cinnamon, sucanat, raisins, almonds, and cereal in a large bowl.
4. Whisk the almond butter, applesauce, and honey into the flax mixture.
5. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring to combine.
6. Spread the batter into an 8x8 square pan lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, or until browned and firm.

You can wrap these individually in plastic wrap to save for snacks during the week.

Or you can be eco-friendly and pack them in little reusable containers.

And then you can take embarrasing pictures of yourself depleting the stash of bars for this week...or not...

By the way, if you have any questions, comments, or requests, please leave a comment below!