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)

Socca

While flipping through my most recent edition of National Geographic Traveler I came across this 1-page article on Socca (chickpea flour crepes).  Seeing as the picture indicated that this Socca (which I had never heard of before) was a food, I decided to read on.  The ingredient list was simple: chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt.  The intent seemed ideal: to be in rough shards, eaten with your fingers.  How could I go wrong?  So I tried it.

The batter is fairly thin- much like crepe.

Socca batter

Socca batter

There are several options for cooking these- under a broiler (in a fry pan), on a very hot baking stone, stove top.  I opted to make my first three on a baking stone, preheated in a 500 degree oven, and the last in a cast iron pan so that I could see the difference.

Broiled socca: crispy edges and nicely cooked center

Broiled socca: crispy edges and nicely cooked center

I served these as a gluten-free flatbread type of side to lemon-pepper chicken and green salads topped with crispy-fried mushrooms, roasted red peppers and cheddar cheese.

Socca makes a great app or accompaniment

Socca makes a great app or accompaniment

Ingredients:

2 cups chickpea flour
2 cups water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt (or more if you really want to taste it)

Directions:

  • Whisk together the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, garlic, thyme, and salt. Let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours
  • Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with a baking stone in it
  • Give the batter a quick whisk and ladle a quarter of it into the skillet
  • Switch the oven to Broil and let it go for 5-10 minutes, until the top is browned and the socca is cooked in the middle (yet still tender) and crispy around the edges. Use a spatula to remove it from the stone
  • Repeat to make the additional flatbreads
Socca- ready for cutting

Socca- ready for cutting

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

Spinach, Red Lentil, and Green Bean Curry

If you’re in the market for a warm vegetable stew with luscious spices which will reheat well, then I’ve got a dish for you. This is a very mild curry (which you could heat up with some cayanne and/or crushed red pepper if that’s your preference) and it has notes of cinnamon from the garam masala. If that’s not your thing, you could use your favorite pre-made curry spice mixture rather than what’s listed here. This dish can easily stand on its own as a vegetarian main, or be served alongside some lovely spiced yogurt chicken (as Neil and I had it).

Ingredients:

 

1 cup red lentils

1/4 cup tomato puree

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground dried turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths

1 cup mushrooms, sliced thickly

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, grated

4 cups loosely packed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

4 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped

1 (15.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

 

Directions:

 

  • Rinse the lentils well and place them in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Drain and set aside
  • In a bowl, stir together the tomato puree and yogurt. Season with garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and chile powder
  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat
  • Add the onion, green beans and mushrooms; cooking until the onion begins to brown
  • Add in the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute- until you really begin to smell them
  • Stir in the spinach; cook until it’s dark green and wilted
  • Add the yogurt mixture and stir until incorporated
  • Mix in the tomatoes and cilantro
  • Stir the lentils and garbanzo beans into mixture until well combined and heated through, about 5 minutes
Curry

The inspiration for this dish came from this recipe.