2.22.2017

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


I'm in a cooking slump.  I'm longing for summer seasonal fruits and vegetables that can't be found.  I need to pull myself out of it because I have several months to wait until I'm harvesting my garden. Utah's winter has been sooooooo long (whining).  

When all else fails, make cookies.  Cookies are one of my favorite food groups.  You can find it on my personal food pyramid right below chocolate next to chocolate cake.  

Oatmeal raisin cookies is one of the most requested recipes I get from readers.  I have played around with several recipes.  I have adapted this recipe that was given to me by a wonderful woman who rocks oatmeal raisin cookies which rival her raspberry jam made from her home grown raspberries.  


The recipe begins with soaking the raisins in beaten eggs and vanilla.  What?  I don't know why, but I'm not going to question the formula because it makes a fantastic old fashions oatmeal cookie just like your grandma used to make.




The ingredient list:

3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup raisins
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup (like Lyle's) Sorry not pictured, I spaced it
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup walnuts







Stir in the raisins.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.  I like to soak overnight, but who remembers to do that?


This is what the mixture looks like after 8 hours of soaking.


In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter.


Add the brown sugar, white sugar, and golden syrup.  Golden syrup makes everything more amazing. More like golden magic.  Mix for 3-4 minutes.



Sift all-purpose flour, wheat flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.




Add to butter, sugar mixture.


Add rolled oats.  Mix well.  The mixture will be very stiff.


Add raisin mixture and walnuts.


Lick the beater.


I use a 2 tablespoon size ice cream scoop to drop the dough.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

At the point I like to cover and refrigerate at least an hour or even better freeze overnight.  Frozen cookie dough helps the cookie to be thicker and more chewy.

Bake cookies in a 350 degree preheated oven for 10-12 minutes

Just bake a couple of minutes longer if frozen.


I always eat at least one cookie hot from the oven.




Just add a cold glass of milk.


Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies
3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup raisins
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup (like Lyle's) Sorry not pictured, I spaced it
2 cups all-purpose flour (you can use 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour)
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup walnuts

Combine beaten eggs, raisins and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for at least an hour or overnight.  

In a large mixing bowl cream butter.  Add white sugar, brown sugar and golden syrup and mix for 3-4 minutes.  In a medium size bowl sift together the flours, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.  Add to the butter mixture and blend.  Add oatmeal.  The batter will be very thick.  Add walnuts and soaked raisin mixture.  Mix until well blended.  Dough may be refrigerated at this time or drop onto a cookie sheet and freeze overnight for a thicker, chewier cookie.

Drop cookie dough using a 2 tablespoons scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  You may need to bake an additional minute or two if dough is frozen.  Makes approx 32 cookies that are 4-5 inches in diameter.

2.13.2017

Cocoa vs Cacao


Cocoa vs Cacao. What is the difference and why does it matter?  

The difference is in the processing.  They start out at the same place, but the way they are processed can make a difference in the health benefits.    

Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter). Cocoa looks the same but it's not. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that's been roasted at high temperatures.

Cacao powder contains more fiber and calories than cocoa powder since more of the nutrients from the whole bean are still intact. Cacao is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, cholesterol-free saturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, natural carbohydrates, and protein that make it an excellent source of nutrients.  

Cocoa powder is produced similarly to cacao except cocoa undergoes a higher temperature of heat during processing. Surprisingly, it still retains a large amount of antioxidants in the process and is still excellent for your heart, skin, blood pressure, and even your stress levels

And what about Dutch-processed?
Dutch-processed cocoa powder (dark cocoa) is cocoa powder that has been processed with an alkalized solution, making it less acidic and much richer in taste. Regular cocoa powder retains a more acidic nature and bitter taste, and is used in baking recipes with baking soda where Dutch-processed cocoa powder is not since it has already been alkalized. Generally speaking your should add a bit of baking powder to recipes that use dutch-processed. Like wise if you are using Dutch-processed to replace a recipe using regular cocoa powder, you will need to add some acid in the form of baking soda, if the recipe doesn't already call for it.  

What do I use?  All of the above!  What should you use?  Food is subjective so I can't say you have to use one particular brand.  I can only share what cocoa powders or cacao that I love in my recipes.  

As you can see from the photo above, all 4 cocoa powders (all from my kitchen) vary in color.  
I can honestly say they are all my favorite but for different reasons.  

Raw Cacao:  I use primarily cacao in smoothies, protein bars, granola, hot chocolate,  I add a spoonful to my Pero (not a coffee drinker).  Oh I should mention that I don't like super sweet hot chocolate.  I generally add a heaping teaspoon to milk or almond milk with only a pinch of coconut sugar and that's it.  I love dark chocolate so why add sugar?  

Cocoa powder: I have picture above my three favorite cocoa powders and they make killer cakes, cookies and ice cream.  
  • Guittard Dutch-processed is fabulous in all of my cake recipes.  I love the dark chocolate flavor.
  • Scharffen Berger cocoa - Be still my heart!  Have you every made a Scharffen Berger Brownie?  Over. The. Top.
  • Valhrona cocoa - Just take a look at the color.  Notice how dark and rich in color it is?  Fabulous in brownies, cakes, cookies, ice cream (oh ya), Have you ever tried a Valhrona Chocolate Bouchon?  Heaven...absolute heaven.  


Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato Cake



Chocolate Mint Brownies



Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Buttercream



Chocolate Gelato

You will find more chocolate recipes in my recipe index.  I think it's pretty obvious I prefer chocolate cakes.

Have I mentioned chocolate is my favorite food group?



All cocoa powders were purchased from Amazon.

Sources:  One Green Planet, I Quit Sugar, and Paleo Hacks

2.10.2017

Brined Pork Chops with Dijon Fig Glaze for Two


I married a carnivore.  He didn't.  I'm perfectly content being vegetarian, but I can't convert him.
When I do cook meat, I want it to be free of antibiotic, hormone and GMO free.  I was so excited when I came across a site called Butcher Box (this is not a sponsored post).

This is what excited me:

  • Each meat portion was individually wrapped, which means I only have to thaw enough for my husband.
  • Delivered to my door once a month!
  • Grass fed beef that life on pasture.
  • Antibiotic, hormone, and GMO free.
  • I receive cuts of meat that I could never find in Utah, which makes it fun to cook something new.
  • Free range organic chickens.

You can check out their site if you would like to read more about them.  


In my first box I received pork chops.  Something that I haven't cooked in years.  My husband was so excited.  I hope you enjoy this quick and simple recipe that I created for him.

The pork is first brined.  Soaking the pork in a brine not only adds flavor but makes it incredibly juicy.  Brining is a wonderful way to get succulence out of any lean meat.  This step can be skipped, but I highly recommend it.  You will just need to think ahead.



For the brine you will need: 
4 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons coconut sugar, or brown sugar
zest from one orange
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 pork chops


For the fig glaze:
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fig jam
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (not pictured, whoops)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, optional

 

In small sauce pan add 2 cups water, salt, and coconut sugar.  Bring to a simmer and stir until salt and sugar is dissolved.


Pour the hot mixture into a dish or other brining container and add the remaining 2 cups cold water.


Add the orange zest and other brining herbs and spices.


Cool Completely.


Add pork chops to the cooled brine.


Cover and refrigerate.  Allow the pork chops to brine for at least 4 hours.  Because these pork chops are thin cut, I only brined for 4 hours.  If  they were a very thick cut, I would brine overnight.


When ready to cook, remove pork from the brine.  Dry the meat with a paper towel and allow to drain while you heat the pan.

Place a large skillet the the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
 

Once the skillet has preheated in the oven, carefully remove and place on a cook top over medium-high heat.

Add about a tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil.  Add pork chops to the hot pan.


Once they have browned, turn them over and brown the other side.

Return the skillet and pork chops back into the 400 degree oven and cook for about 6 minutes for thin cut about 12-15 minutes for a 2-inch thick chop.


Remove skillet from oven and remove pork chops to a plate and tent with foil.

Add 1/2 cup white wine to the pan.  Bring to a simmer while scraping all those wonderful bits from the bottom of the pan.  Reduce slightly then add 1/2 cup chicken stock.  Reduce by half.


Stir in 1 tablespoon fig jam and 1/2 tablespoon grainy Dijon. Stir until the jam has melted.  Add 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar just to give it a little splash of flavor.


Turn heat off and stir in butter, if you'd like a richer and slightly thicker glaze.  This is optional, but delish.

Pour glaze over pork chops and serve.  This cooking process should take less than 15 minutes.  This is a quick and easy meal.  After the brining, of course.


The Carnivore likes potatoes on the side.  I like a big bunch of steamed broccolini.




Brined Pork Chops with Dijon Fig Glaze for Two

Brine: 
4 cups water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons coconut sugar, or brown sugar
zest from one orange
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 pork chops
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil

Glaze:
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fig jam
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, optional

In small sauce pan add 2 cups water, salt, and coconut sugar.  Bring to a simmer and stir until salt and sugar is dissolved.  Pour the hot mixture into a dish or other brining container and add the remaining 2 cups cold water.  Cool completely.  Add pork chops to the cooled brine. Place in refrigerator and allow chops to brine for at least 4 hours or more for thick cut.

When ready to cook, remove pork from the brine.  Dry the meat with a paper towel and allow to drain while you heat the pan. Place a large skillet the the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.  Once the skillet has preheated in the oven, carefully remove and place on a cook top over medium-high heat.  Add oil to hot skillet and brown chops on both sides.  Don't fully cook, just brown them then return to 400 degree oven and bake for 6 minutes.  Return the skillet to a burner set on medium heat.  Place pork chops and a plate and tent with foil.

Add white wine to the hot skillet and deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits on the bottom.  Add chicken stock and reduce by half.  Stir in Dijon, fig jam and vinegar.  Stir until jam has melted.  Turn off heat and stir in butter, if desired.  Pour glaze over pork chops.  Serves 2


Print recipe


1.27.2017

Chocolate Hazenlnut Ice Cream (Vegan)

 

I realize it doesn't make any sense to do an ice cream post when it's frigid outside.  The truth is I wanted to post this recipe for my son and his wife (you're welcome, Ry).  The other reason is that I'm in that Valentine Chocolate mood.  You won't believe that it is dairy and egg free.  It's just as creamy as any dairy based ice cream that I make.  I happen to have some Lactose intolerant members of my family along with a couple that are vegan.  This recipe keeps everyone happy.  Best of all my husband can't tell the difference and we aren't going to tell him...are we?

My next post will be on the difference between cocoa powder and cacao powder.  Is there a difference and which one should you use in recipes?  You'll have to stay tuned for next weeks post for the answer.  For this recipe I will be using raw cacao powder for health and taste reasons.  I love it!


All you will need is a blender and an ice cream maker.

You will need:
2 (14-oz) cans of coconut milk (do not use lite)  
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
3/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons agave 
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped



In a blender or a mixer add the coconut milk, cacao powder, cane sugar, salt, vanilla and agave.


Turn blender on slowly until mixture is pretty much mixed together.  Then turn it to medium/high speed and continue to mix for 1-2 minutes to allow for the sugar to dissolve.


Pour into a container and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.


When ready to freeze remove mixture from the refrigerator and pour into your ice cream maker.  If you are using a container that needs to be frozen, remember to freeze a good 24 hours.  Then follow the manufacturers directions for your particular machine.





Add chopped hazelnuts.  You can add more or less that the amount I use.  Continue to run ice cream maker just until nuts are mixed in.


Scoop ice cream into a container and freeze until ready to serve.  I personally like the soft texture that it is just as it completes freezing.  If making ahead, plan on letting the ice cream sit out at room temp for about 10 minutes to soften a bit.  Coconut ice cream freezes harder than dairy ice cream.


Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream (Vegan)
2 (14-oz) cans of coconut milk (do not use lite)
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
3/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons agave
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

Place all of the ingredients in a blender, except for the hazelnuts.  Slowly turn on blender until the mixture comes together.  Increase the speed to medium/high and blend for 1-2 minutes to help dissolve the sugar and make everything nice and creamy.  Pour into bowl and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

Freeze in an ice cream machine and follow the directions for your particular manufacturer. Once the ice cream has frozen, remove to another container and place in the freezer.  Eat right away or freeze for later use.  Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Inspired by Bi-Rite Creamery

Print recipe


Here is a behind the scenes shot with my daughter holding the ice cream.  Yes, she is wearing sandals and a down coat and yes, she is in the snow.  We're crazy.  Such fun.

I shoot most of my pictures in my garage because I really like the lighting. It was probably 20 degrees outside while shooting.  The up side is that my ice cream didn't melt...at all! No dripping.  No putting the ice cream back in the freezer to reset.  The ice cream stayed the perfect.