Carrot Cake Cookies

One recent weekend Neil and I were invited to a small gathering where the theme of the night was soup.  The basic idea being that the hostess makes two or three varieties of soup to choose from, someone brings bread, someone else brings handheld nibbles, and we eat, drink, and are merry, then run outside into the cold New England evening to watch the annual Torchlight Parade (several towns trim their fire trucks out in Christmas lights and parade down the main thoroughfare).

Since bread had been accounted for, as had corn muffins, southern style red beans & rice, and three varieties of soup, I decided to bring cookies.  While at lunch that afternoon Neil commented “I wish that there were such a thing as carrot cake cookies.” and it was decided that was what we’d make.  What I did to create this recipe was look at existing carrot cake cookie recipes, then cross some of my favorite elements with our family recipe for carrot cake which includes the likes of shredded coconut and fresh pineapple.  The result was a chewy cookie with a creamy and not-too-sweet filling that was very well received by party-goers.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (I like to use a variety: Thompson, red flame, and golden)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup fresh pineapple, diced (see note if using canned pineapple)
  • 1/8 cup coconut flour
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
  • Whisk together flour, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, baking soda, and salt in a bowl
  • Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla until pale and fluffy
  • Mix in carrots, and raisins, shredded coconut and pineapple at a low speed, then add the flour mixture and beat until just combined
  • At this point the dough will be a little too wet to scoop, so add in the 1/8 cup of coconut flour a little at a time until the dough just tightens up
  • Drop walnut-sized balls of dough for each cookie cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, about 12 minutes
  • Pull the baking sheets out and flatten each cookie with a fork in a manner similar to that performed on a peanut butter cookie, then pop them back in the oven for 1 minute to finish
  • Cool cookie sheets on racks for a  minute, then transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely
  • While the cookies are baking, blend the cream cheese, honey and lemon zest until smooth
  • Sandwich the flat sides of the cookies together with a generous helping of cream cheese filling

*Note: if using canned pineapple, your dough will be more wet.  To offset this, add up to 1/4 cup coconut flour at the end to tighten it up to the appropriate consistency.

You could also add walnuts to the cookie dough for depth of flavor.  A great alternative to cream cheese would be a soft goat cheese.  Feel free to omit the lemon zest if it’s not to your liking.

 

Carrot Cake Cookie

Carrot Cake Cookie

My very favorite granola

If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried at least 10 different recipes for granola- each of them ok, but not something that you want to make… and then make again.  With this recipe I’ve tweaked it a few times until I found the balance that makes me happy.  It’s slightly crunchy, a little salty, it has the chew factor, it has texture, the little bit of sweet offered up by the dried fruits, and a teeny bit of heat, ’cause, well, why not?  So without further adiue….

Granola

Granola

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 Cup whole raw cashews
  • 1/2 Cup chopped raw cashews
  • 3/4 Cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/4 Cup grade B pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 Cup canola oil
  • 3/4 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/3 Cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 Cup raisins (I like variety so I use 1/3 Thompson, 1/3 golden, and 1/3 red flame)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F
  • In a 1 Cup liquid measuring cup combine the maple syrup, canola oil, kosher salt, cinnamon and cayenne- give it a real good swirl around in there
  • In a bowl, combine the oats, all of the cashews, and the coconut
  • Add the liquid to the solid and combine the mixtures as evenly as is possible so that you can’t see any bog, dry clumps at all
  • Spread the mixture out on a jelly roll pan, evenly, and cook for an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even brownesss
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes, then add the cranberries & raisins
  • Store in an airtight container in a cupboard for up to 1 week.  Enjoy dry or with your favorite milk (cow, goat, soy, almond, hemp)

A peanut-free version of the Rocky cookie

Never in my life, until just over a year ago, had I known so many people with food allergies.  Now I have adopted an entire family full  🙂  (and I love them all) and have several friends with them as well.  There are allergies to spices, some to raw fruits and veggies, to gluten, to tree nuts, to peanuts, to dairy, and the list goes on.  Then there are the folks who make life choices to exclude certain foods- people who eat paleo, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, etc.  All of this adds up to challenge the “foodie” at each party.  You want to bring a dish that looks good, tastes great, and that everyone will be able to partake in.  It can be a little crazy, but I’m up for the challenge.

This particular recipe is an adaptation of the Rocky cookie which tastes a bit more tropical and uses no peanut butter.  It’s for Sheila and Michael as she loves her healthy foods and he doesn’t breathe so well when peanut products are near him 😉

Ingredients:

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup steel cut oats

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (or oat flour)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

dash of  nutmeg

Sprinkle of sea salt

Handful of bittersweet chocolate chunks

Handful of raisins

Handful of chopped dates

Handful of cashews

Handful of shredded coconut

Handful of dried pineapple

Handful of wheat germ

Handful of flax seed meal

Handful of sunflower seeds

1 egg

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/4 cup molasses

¾ cup plain, unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

a well-ripened banana

1 large scoop of Tahini

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix
  • Scoop the batter by the tablespoon onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper (cookies will not spread)
  • Bake for 15-25 minutes (depending on your oven).  You want a finished cookie that is golden brown around the edges and a bit on top

Rocky cookies

Coconut rolls

When it comes to rolls, this Honduran staple is a winner.  I initially served these rolls with a dinner of beef tenderloin and roasted garlic mashed potatoes with steamed green beans, and didn’t realize the injustice that I was causing- not allowing my family to really taste the bread which is rich and so very wonderful.  I had this epiphany the next morning when breakfast foods were scarce, there was one roll left over, and I had a steaming cup of coffee looking for an accompaniment.  I’m very honestly considering running out to pick up more coconut milk so that I can make another batch of these tonight to have on Christmas morning.

The original recipe called for a yield of 8 rolls.  I found that this made for far too large a roll and so my version makes 12 smaller ones.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsweetened, finely grated coconut

2 tablespoons sugar

1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons if you buy the big jar) active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

3 1/2 cups flour, plus more for kneading

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup coconut milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

 Directions

  •  Put the coconut, sugar, yeast and water into a small glass bowl and stir together, then set aside for about 15 minutes (so that the yeast can feast)
  • Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, coconut milk and butter and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, stir until well combined
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead,  until soft and elastic, for 5 to 6 minutes
  • Prep a clean, dry bowl by lightly spraying it with olive oil or butter
  • Form the dough into a ball, dust generously all over with flour and transfer to the prepared bowl. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot to let rise until it’s doubled in size (takes about an hour and a half)
  • Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each into a ball. Arrange the balls of dough on a large greased baking sheet or an ungreased baking stone, spacing them 3 to 4 inches apart (these suckers swell as they bake)
  • Set these aside in a warm spot, uncovered, to let rise until doubled in size again (about 45 minutes)
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Bake the rolls until they are a deep golden brown and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes

 

 

Sweet coconut lentils

This recipe has a wonderful (and short) list of ingredients that just drew me in.  I had to try it, although I couldn’t imagine just how it would taste.  I mean- sweet dates, creamy lentils, and savory onion…?  Really?  But I did try it, and it was good.  It was a strange thing for me to eat a sweet dish as a side, but it was lovely nonetheless.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 pound lentils

1 cup pitted dates, chopped

2 teaspoons tamari

1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Directions:

  • In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat
  • Add the onion and cook until it’s soft and beginning to brown
  • Stir in the ginger and turmeric and cook for a minute
  • Add 6 cups of water, lentils and dates and bring to a boil
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for half an hour
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • When the lentils have simmered, stir in the tamari and transfer the mixture to a baking dish
  • Cover and bake for 30 minutes
  • Uncover, top the baked mixture with coconut and bake again, uncovered, until the coconut is golden, about 15 minutes longer

Since I was anticipating the sweetness of this side dish, I prepared it with savory grilled lamb chops that I had marinated in honey, tamari, garlic and vinegar.  This made for a well-balanced plate 😉

The inspiration for this dish came from Whole Foods Market.  They put out some great recipes!

J