Chewy Ginger Cookies

Merry Belated Christmas. I had a great Christmas with my family and Santa brought me some great gifts on top of it all.

Oh yeah, and I got a cold… Fa-La-La-La-La.

This cold has been easier to handle than the usual likely due to the copious amounts of sugar and butter consumed. At Christmas time, my family competes with the best of bakers in our use of butter and sugar. (I’ll be putting a few up here in the next week or so.)

Nothing says wintertime like molasses and ginger. I made these butter and brown sugar delights a few weeks back.

I wanted to do something different so I decided to google what flavors go well with ginger. The list was endless- Soy Sauce, Vinegar, Curries, Honey, Lime…. Most of these would have been disastrous in a cookie.

I mean Ginger Soy Sauce Chewy- my mouth is anything but watering. But Ginger Lime Cookies…. that sounded interesting, so I tried it. Taking a great base recipe from Joy the Baker (see her link in my blogroll) and totally transforming it with a hint of lime.

I even refrigerated the dough overnight until I had time to make the cookies and bake them. It worked out great and I was able to get nice little balls before rolling in the sugar.

The Turbinado Sugar is key. The crunch and texture it adds to the cookies after baking is everything.

I was dying over the perfect roundness when they came out of the oven. I’m a little OCD what can I say. (And yes, I did bake them on foil. A tip I got from a friend of mine. Non-stick, cheaper than parchment, and super easy clean-up.)

Doesn’t this make you want to take a bite too. I just couldn’t wait.

Chewy Ginger Cookies

Adapted from Joy the Baker

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup molasses

Zest and Juice of 1 small to medium lime

about 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar and spices until smoothly blended, about 2 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.  Add the egg, molasses, lime juice and zest and mix until blended and an even light color, about 1 minute.  On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it.

Spread the turbinado sugar into a small bowl.  Roll 2 Tablespoons of dough between the palms of your hands into a ball, toss the ball in sugar to coat and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Continue making cookies, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm but they are still soft in the center and there are several large cracks on top, about 12-14 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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Eggnog French Toast

I have the best friends.

There always there for me. They make me laugh. They like to run. But more importantly….

They like to cook. Not just anything but eggnog french toast.

That’s right, I have friends that make eggnog french toast. Jealous… you should be, you really should be.

After a fun Jingle Bell Run a few weeks ago we decided we needed to treat ourselves to a delicious breakfast. It was a 3 mile run, I ate WAY more than 3 miles worth….

Now you’re thinking… Look at that fruit… maybe this is going to be a nice healthy breakfast….

Just keep reading.

Sipping some delicious coffee.

Don’t worry, I made sure to put them to work. Have you ever seen a happier french toast soaker?!

Yup, that’s a big ol’ bowl of homemade whipped cream. Heavy whipping cream. This makes the fruit taste even better.

We used low-fat eggnog to balance it all out.

Now that is mouth watering….

You’ve got to try it but make it with your friends… it will taste sooo much better.

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. eggnog

Dash of Cinnamon

Dash of Nutmeg

Dash of Salt

1 loaf of bread. We used an artisan bread but challah, brioche, french would all work great.

Syrup

Whipped Cream

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a 9X13 baking dish. Whisk together until combined.

Slice the bread in 1/2-1 inch slices, depending on you’re preference. We went a little thicker probably 3/4 inch, and it was perfect.

Place two or three pieces of bread in the soaking mixture and let soak. While soaking, turn on the stove and begin to heat with a bit of butter (trust me, the flavor is so much better). Flip the bread to soak on the other side until saturated and place in the hot pan.

Once each piece  is browned on one side, flip over and brown the other side. After each piece is cooked, place in a 300 degree oven until the rest of the french toast slices are cooked. Make sure your last few pieces also get a few minutes in the oven. This really helps to get all the flavors baked in and keeps it hot. (I’d never done this before but one of the girls recommended this, and I think I will start doing it from now on too!)

Serve with hot syrup, fresh fruit and fresh whipped cream.

Cajun Lentil Stew For You!

I told you I liked lentils….

As a vegetarian (pescatarian), people are frequently asking me for good recipes and also giving me recipes. So 98% of the time they’re good, the other 2%, well…. let’s just say you won’t see them here.

Anyways, this one from my parent’s neighbors definitely goes in the 98% and I’m going to venture to say that 100% of you will like it if you try it.

Enough with the numbers, let’s get down to business.

1 of the 3 main ingredients is Zucchini. The other two being lentils and cajun/creole seasoning (see below).

The recipe calls for Cajun seasoning. I didn’t actually know what that was…. I thought it meant Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. I googled it and they aren’t the same but I’m trying to be more adventurous so I went with Tony’s.

However, creole seasoning has a high salt content so I think it was a bit too salty… which I rarely do since I was born with a natural aversion to adding salt due to my need to compensate for my father’s and grandfather’s obscene use of it. Oh and I might be a little paranoid about high blood pressure….

No this isn’t going to a toddler…. I don’t have kids. It’s just a spoon from when I was a kid that happens to be perfect for soup!

I’ll be scraping the pot and warming up the rest for dinner tonight… Yum!

This is also a big moment in my blogging history, as it’s my first with my DSLR (Nikon D5100). My apologies for any excessive bokeh.

Also, I’ve got an arsenal of blogs starting to pile up…. and some real good ones I can’t wait to share, (include some featuring real live people). It’s gonna be good.

Cajun Lentil Soup

Serves 8

Ingredients:

– 7 c. Vegetable Broth

– 1/4 c. Olive Oil

– 1 c. chopped onion

– 2 Tbl. Fresh Minced Garlic (or I used 2 cubes from the frozen pack at Trader Joes)

– 4 oz. Tomato Paste

– 12 oz. Dry Lentils

– 2 lbs. Fresh Diced Tomatoes (or I used 2 cans diced tomatoes, drain 1 and pour in the other as is)

– 2/3 c. Marsala Wine

– 2 Tbl. Brown Sugar

– 1 tsp. Basil

– 1 tsp. Oregano

– 2 Tbl. Cajun Seasoning (1 1/4 Tbl. Tony Chachere’s)

– 1/2 tsp. Salt

– 1/4 tsp. Pepper

– 1 3/4 lb. Diced Zucchini

Directions:

In a soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, tomato paste and lentils. Saute 2-3 minutes. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add tomatoes, wine, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, cajun spice, salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes more. Add zucchini and simmer 10 more minutes and you’re ready to serve.

Sweet Potatoes with Streusel Topping

Thanksgiving was just over a week ago.

The food coma is over. My jeans are still tighter. It’s time for us to get real about the best dish of the day.

Marshmallows are light, fluffy and delicious. Perfect for S’mores and Hot Cocoa…. but not sweet potatoes…

It’s one of the 7 deadly cooking sins. (I don’t know what the other 6 are but it sounds dramatic- this is big time.)

I know it’s not traditional but come take this ‘sweet’ journey with me and there will be no turning back.

The trick to our family sweet potato recipe is the Streusel topping. It’s butter, it’s sugar, it’s pecans (puh-kans not pea-cans), what’s not to love?!

Here’s how it goes:

Sweet potatoes (well actually yams but sweet potatoes are white and boring). Use fresh sweet potatoes, not canned, it makes a HUGE difference.

Streusel goodness.

Sprinkling the goodness, nice and even. If you notice any uneven places, just eat a few of the streusel clumps. I won’t tell.

It’s a popular favorite with our Thanksgiving crowd.

A quick snap-shot of my plate on Turkey Day without the tryptophan.

Sweet Potatoes with Streusel Topping

For the potatoes:

  • 3-4 Medium Sweet Potatoes, cooked and peeled
  • 1/2 C. Butter, melted
  • 1/2 C. Sugar
  • 1/3 C. Milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla

For the topping:

  • 1 C. Chopped Pecans
  • 1/3 C. Flour
  • 1/3 C. Butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 C. Brown Sugar

Cook the sweet potatoes. You can use the microwave or oven, just like you would cook a baked potato. Poke a lot of holes in them and stick them in the microwave for 5 minutes checking softness periodically, or in the oven, wrapped in foil at 350 until softened (30 minutes) or so. Alternatively you can peel and cut the potatoes raw and place them on the stove and boil until tender.

Once the potatoes are cooked, combine with the other ingredients and mix with a hand mixer (or stand mixer) until smooth. Spread into a greased 9X13 pan.

Combine all streusel ingredients together in a separate bowl, using either a fork or pastry cutter. The mixture should come together in clumps. If it looks too dry, you may need to add a bit more softened butter or try using your hands to bring it together a little better. Sprinkle evenly onto the sweet potatoes.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. It will be golden brown and delicious, but very hot.

Helpful hint: You can make it the day before and refrigerate. Just bring to room temp. to cook on the day of.