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

Jasmine rice pudding

Rice pudding can be a great way to use up left-over rice (unless, of course, you’re me and typically cook your grains in a savory meat stock).    It’s a little sweet and a lot creamy and, this version at least, full of a variety of textures.  I particularly like to use Jasmine rice because of its fragrant floral notes, but really you can use any grain that you like- be it white, brown, or purple.  If you use something other than jasmine rice, I would suggest adding a splash of pure vanilla extract.

Ingredients:

1 cup jasmine rice

2 cans coconut milk (lite if that’s your preference)

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup raisins and/or currants and/or dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped raw cashews

1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Directions:

  • Put the jasmine rice and 2 cups of coconut milk in a small sauce pan with the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, immediately reduce the heat to low, give the rice one stir to be sure that it’s not suck to the bottom of the pan, cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes
  • Place the cooked rice in a mixing bowl, remove the cinnamon stick, and add the raisins/currants/cranberries, half of the cashews & half of the coconut, and stir
  • If the mixture is dry, add additional coconut milk until it looks creamy
  • Scatter the remaining cashews & coconut over the top of the pudding and either serve warm immediately, or cover and chill overnight

Personally, I think that this dish makes a wonderful dessert but is equally as good as a breakfast.  It also travels well and is easy to make ahead.

J

Moroccan Eggplant with Garbanzo Beans

This is a vegetarian dish where there is so much going on flavor-wise, you never even realize that there’s no meat.  Sweet chunks of red bell pepper meet with tart pieces of eggplant and meld together in the spices for a fantastic stew that is rich in vitamin c and fiber.  The chewy little raisins reconstitute in the sauce and add yet another level of texture.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, cut in half and sliced thinly

5 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained

2 cups cooked lentils

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1-1/4 cups + 1 TBS chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup raisins (I used a variety of golden, Thompson & red flame)

1 TBS chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat 1 TBS of broth in a large skillet and sauté the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Add garlic, red bell pepper, eggplant, garam masala, and turmeric

  • Stir to mix it up, and add remaining broth and tomato sauce
  • Stir again, cover, and cook over a medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add garbanzo beans, lentils, red chili flakes, and raisins and simmer for another 5 minutes
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with chopped cilantro

This recipe was inspired by a post on World’s Healthiest Foods.

J