Rocky cookies

I have a dear friend named Roxanne.  Those who know her well call her Rocky.  Rocky is a giving and loving person, always there to listen to a friend, offer advice, lend her opinion.  Rocky also happens to be famous for her cookies, and I mean that.  She’s been asked to make them for parties at a salon, for people’s backyard shindigs, she’s made them for co-workers.  She willingly shares her recipe and I’ve used it over and over.  In fact I have a family member who swears that Rocky cookies helped her survive through a rough patch of menopause.  My weight-lifting friend asks me to make them as her cheat after competitions.  I’ve made them for constipated children who don’t get enough fiber in their diet, and for adults after surgery.  I make them for myself as a snack.  Unlike conventional cookies, they’re packed with healthy fats and fruits, nuts, and energy-supplying seeds.  No butter, no brown sugar, no white sugar- you get my drift.

This cookie is hearty.  It can be made with every ingredient in the list, or only a few of them.  You can play with combinations for flavor such as pumpkin and walnut, or chocolate and cherries, or sunflower and raisin.  Personally, I love to have a little bit of dark chocolate, lots of different fruits (prune, fig, raisin, cranberry), some wheat berries, a mixture of flours (barley and whole wheat)- a little bit of everything.

The recipe may confuse some as it calls for a handful of this and that ingredient.  It means that, literally.  The dough should not be terribly stiff when complete, but if it’s too runny just add a bit more flour to the mix.

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup steel cut oats

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour (or oat or barley flour)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon cinnamon (can also add a dash of cloves and/or nutmeg)

Sprinkle of sea salt

Handful of bittersweet chocolate chunks

Handful of raisins

Handful of dried cranberries

Handful of walnuts

Handful of wheat germ

Handful of flax seed meal

Handful of seeds if you like them (sunflower, pepitas, flax, sesame, etc.)

the dry ingredients

1 egg

¾ cup real maple syrup (or any variation of, honey, agave, and/or molasses)

¾ cup plain, unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup coconut or olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup canned pumpkin (or a well-ripened banana)

1 large scoop of peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter)

the wet ingredients

  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix

the mixture

  • 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

the Rocky cookie

J

Carrot-Walnut Cookies

Are you a fan of the “morning glory” muffin?  They are the breakfast muffin with a little bit of everything in them- carrots, raisins, apple butter, wheat germ, nuts.  Well this cookie is similar to that.  Packed with fiber, servings of fruit and vegetable, whole grains, and warm spices this cookie has a lot going for it health-wise.  And it’s tasty too!

Ingredients:

1 cup raw, un-salted walnuts

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 carrots, grated

1 apple, grated

1 very ripe banana, peeled and mashed

1/4 cup apple juice

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F
  • Line your baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Combine the walnuts, oats and raisins in a food processor and pulse until ground
  • Transfer to a bowl and stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger

  • Add carrots, apples, banana and apple juice and mix until combined

  • Drop by tablespoons one inch apart on the baking sheet, making about 24 cookies
  • Press down on each cookie with the back of a fork to flatten them a bit (peanut butter cookie-style)
  • Bake until tops and bottoms are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes

Inspired by this recipe by Whole Foods Market.

J

Carrot (and so much more!) cupcakes

A stand-up carrot cake recipe is always a good thing to have in one’s repertoire, in my opinion.  This recipe is stand-up.  It’s flavorful without being over-done.  It’s moist without being heavy or greasy.  It’s loaded with fruits and, therefore, fiber (which must mean that it’s healthy-right?).  And to top it off, it gets frosted with goat cheese.  Yum!

What I will also point out is that this recipe is easier on the tongue than it is on the eyes.  The cupcake is not necessarily what I would call gorgeous, but it is damn tasty.  It holds its shape well, but the frosting on top is definitely what makes it look more appealing.

Cake Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

3 cups grated carrots

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

½ cup moist, plump raisins*

2 cups sugar

1 cup safflower oil

4 large eggs

re-constituting raisins, chopped walnuts & coconut- oh my!

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease & flour your muffin tins
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt

flour, leavening & spices

  • In another bowl stir together carrots, nuts, coconut and raisins (and/or dried cranberries, currants, cherries, etc.)
  • In a stand mixer beat together the sugar and oil until smooth
  • Add eggs one at a time
  • Add the flour mixture and don’t over-mix
  • Mix in the chunky ingredients

this is one chunky batter

  • Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake for 25-35 minutes

be sure not to over-fill your tins

*Note: if your raisins are a bit on the dry side, re-hydrate them in a dish with some warm water (or rum, if you prefer) for 10 minutes before using

Frosting Ingredients:

6 oz cream cheese, at room temp

2 oz goat cheese, at room temp

1 stick butter at room temp

1 pound confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  • In a stand mixer beat together the cream cheese, goat cheese and butter until smooth and creamy
  • Gradually add the sugar and beat until super-smooth
  • Beat in the lemon juice
  • Frost your cooled cupcakes

*Feel free to change the cream cheese/goat cheese ratio or omit one or the other altogether

You could top the frosted cakes with shredded coconut, or toasted coconut, or chunks of walnuts, or even lemon zest

J

Recipe adapted from this cookbook authored by Dorie Greenspan

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Ireland, 2001: courtesy of codebitch

I have always loved the dry and crumbly nature of an Irish Soda Bread.  It’s barely sweet, fairly dry at the crust, moist near the center, and just plain lovely.  Problem is that the way my family recipe read was not very healthy so I set out to re-make the recipe and what I’ve published below is what I’ve used for a few years now.  I’m happy with it.

This bread is typically served, in my family, as an accompaniment to corned beef dinner.  Since there’s so much food, very little of the bread gets eaten at this meal, and boy am I glad because leftovers are fantastic with a cup of tea as a snack, or warmed and buttered, sometimes toasted even.

This loaf freezes very well, so if you’re afraid to make it because you don’t need such a large loaf at once- don’t be.  I’ve made this full recipe for myself before and quartered the baked loaf, and frozen three sections for future use.  Just pull it out a few hours ahead of when you want to eat it and it’ll thaw quite nicely in the fridge or on the counter.

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg at room temperature

1 ½ cups low fat buttermilk*

½ cup honey

1 cup golden raisins (sometimes I use a combination of different types of raisins- Thompson, red flame, and golden, and sometimes I add currants, cherries and/or cranberries too)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 & grease a 9-inch round cake pan
  • Mix together flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda .  Add raisins and stir.  Add egg, oil and honey and stir.  Gradually add buttermilk until you have a firm, but not stiff, dough (it will be slightly sticky to the touch),  and you may not end up using all of the buttermilk
  • Put the dough on a lightly floured board and knead for about 2 minutes (until it becomes smooth)
  • Flatten the dough into a 9-inch round and put it into the greased cake pan
  • Cut a cross on the top of the loaf, in the center, with a sharp knife

pre-baked loaf

  • Bake for 40-50 minutes

*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand (as I never do) and you don’t care to buy it just for this one recipe, you can make your own in 5 minutes by adding one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk.  Let it sit for 5 minutes and use.

Irish soda bread

J