Thursday, December 12, 2019

Maple Molasses Oatmeal Cookies

I made these unique, delicious cookies back at the beginning of November. The flavors definitely fit fall season baking (and since I didn't manage anything pumpkin, this will have to be my one seasonal nod), but they also seem right at home for Christmastime baking.


Maple Molasses Oatmeal Cookies

Source: Dough Eyed
Yields about 4 dozen cookies

This is a high altitude recipe; it will work at 4,000-6,000 feet above sea level.

1 1/2 c softened butter
2 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c molasses
3 teas maple extract (I used imitation)
4 c flour (2 c whole wheat flour is nice)
2 c oats
2 teas cinnamon
2 teas baking soda
1 teas salt
1/2 c or more additional sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add the eggs, molasses, and maple extract and stir until combined. Then add the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Beat until a dough forms, and every ingredient is incorporated.

Use your hands to create dough balls about 2 T in size. Then, roll each ball in the additional sugar until fully coated. Bake on the prepared sheets with about 2 inches between the dough balls; 14 minutes was about right in my oven. The cookies should be cracked and set. Let them cool completely.

Holiday Rum (or Root Beer) Balls

Rum Balls are a holiday treat found in multiple cultures around the world. For the home cook they are an easy to make "candy" and come in a number of varieties. Here are three--two with rum and one for kids and those who avoid alcohol.


Chocolate Rum Balls

Yield: between 36 and 48 depending on size

When this recipe was first being tested Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies came in 12 oz. packs but by the time the recipe was printed they were in 11 oz. packs. Cook's Country said using an 11 oz. package was all right for the recipe. However, sneaky Nabisco has further reduced the amount of wafers in the package to 9 oz. and that will adversely affect the recipe. We'll have to buy 2 packs and have left over wafers. 

1/2 c-3/4 granulated sugar
5 c (12 oz) chocolate wafer cookies
1 1/4 c pecans, toasted (for this amount I recommend using the oven at 300 degrees)
1 c confectioners' sugar (4 oz)
6 T dark rum
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/8 teas salt

Place the sugar into a shallow bowl in which you'll roll the balls after forming them. I find that half a cup is sufficient but I have to work a bit harder to get them coated. So use 3/4 a cup for greater ease.

Place the cookie wafers and the pecans in a food processor and run it until they are finely ground. Pour into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.

The mixture may look too crumbly, but it will come together in your hands. Using either a half tablespoon or full tablespoon measure scoop out dough and roll between your hands. Place the rolled balls in the shallow bowl of sugar and swish and shake the bowl until the balls are completely covered by a thin layer of sugar crystals. Place on a tray or plate.

Refrigerate the balls for at least one hour. These can be held in the refrigerator for a week.


Chocolate graham crackers can work in this recipe, too. Or a combination of wafers and graham crackers.

I haven't done this but I think you could substitute vanilla for the rum, but only use 1 tablespoon. You might have to add some water to make up for loss of liquid.


Root Beer Balls

1/2 c granulated sugar
5 c (12 oz) vanilla wafers
1 1/4 c pecans, toasted (for this amount I recommend using the oven at 300 degrees)
1 c confectioners' sugar (4 oz)
1/4 c root beer
1 T vanilla, alcohol free imitation, if you prefer
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/8 teas salt

Follow the instructions above, substituting the root beer for the rum.

Ginger Rum Balls

1/2 c granulated sugar
5 c (12 oz) vanilla wafer cookies
1 1/4 c pecans, toasted
6 T chopped crystallized ginger
1 c confectioners' sugar (4 oz)
6 T dark rum
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/8 teas salt

Follow the instructions above, but include the ginger with the wafers and pecans in the food processor.


I haven't tried this yet but believe you could substitute rum flavoring if you want to avoid most of the alcohol, although the rum flavoring, like vanilla, is often alcohol based.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

These chewy cookies are adapted from a recipe titled "Best Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies" found on The author used coconut sugar which keeps your blood sugar from spiking (hence the "healthy" moniker). I prefer the flavor of granulated sugar so mine aren't quite as healthy. You choose.


Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies

Adapted from
Yields about 32 cookies

adjustments for altitudes of 3500-5500 feet

add 1 1/2 T almond flour
subtract 1 1/2 T sugar
subtract 1/2 teas baking soda
eggs at room temperature

3 large eggs
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/2 c creamy unsalted almond butter (well stirred and at room temperature)
3/4 c almond flour
3/4 teas fine-grain salt
1 1/2 c sugar (granulated or coconut sugar)
1 1/2 teas baking soda
3/4 c chopped walnuts or pecans
3/4 c rolled oats
3/4 c dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate
a bit of flaky sea salt, to sprinkle on top if you desire

Place a silicone baking mat or parchment paper on 2 or 3 baking sheets. Bring your oven to 375F.

Beat the eggs, vanilla, and almond butter in a large bowl until combined. Add the almond flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda, stirring until smooth. Add the nuts, oats, and chocolate chips and stir. This will take a bit of work because the dough will seem crumbly and rather dry, which is okay. (Unless you use a liquidy almond butter, see note below.)

Use a tablespoon or a tablespoon scoop to pick dough up and place in your hands. Roll the dough to compress into mounds and place on the baking sheet. If you used the runnier almond butter, flatten the cookies a little in the center so they look like hockey pucks. If you used a drier brand your dough may not look much like dough, kind of dry and crumbly. I found I could press this type of dough together with my hands and the cookies turned out fine.

If using, sprinkle with the salt.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (for my oven it is 11 minutes). I like them to look just slightly undercooked but you may like them once they are golden brown around the edges. 

Take them from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. 


The original author used coconut sugar and indicated that the quality of these cookies goes down markedly after the first day. So she divides the recipe and cooks only a third. I find that granulated sugar keeps these cookies quite moist for several days.

I've made these 4 times now and each time they've been different (but always tasty). This recipe may be more sensitive to brand characteristics than some baked items. I've used 3 different types of almond butter and have begun to believe my favorite comes from Trader Joe's, but I'll try Costco's Kirtland brand again because it is affordable. If you try these cookies and aren't as happy with the outcome, try again using a different brand of almond flour. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Chickpea and Pomegranate Salad

Grab a pomegranate while you can. They are versatile, tasting great in everything from salads, soups, main dishes, to desserts. Here's a quick salad that can be a side or a light main dish.


Chickpea and Pomegranate Salad

Serves 4-6

for the dressing (you can make this ahead by a couple of days and keep in the fridge):

2-3 T pomegranate molasses, increasingly easy to find in supermarkets, Middle Eastern markets, and online
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (depending on clove size and your preference)
3 T fresh lemon juice
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Mix together in a small glass jar and cover tightly with the lid. Shake vigorously until emulsified. 

for the salad:

1 c plain, instant couscous
1 c boiling water
salt to taste and generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper
1 14-oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 c pomegranate seeds (arils from a whole fruit are preferred)
1/2 c chopped fresh mint
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

In a large bowl, mix the couscous, boiling water, and 1/4 teas salt and at least that much pepper. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes until the water has been absorbed. Remove the cover and fluff the couscous with a fork or a chopstick.

Just before serving, place the chickpeas and pomegranate arils in the bowl and stir. Stir the salad dressing in, tossing until mixed. Taste for seasoning and stir in more salt and pepper if needed. 

Top the salad with the herbs just before serving. 


If you can't find pomegranate molasses you can make your own by reducing pomegranate juice over heat until it is syrupy. Let it cool before making the dressing. If this seems too nerdy, just sub an extra tablespoon of lemon juice for the molasses.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Crispy Chickpeas and Lamb with Greens and Garlicky Yogurt

My Thanksgiving was abbreviated; even so, later this weekend I felt the need for a meal that seemed healthier. Beans and greens seemed just the thing.


Crispy Chickpeas and Lamb with Greens and Garlicky Yogurt

Serves 4

 for the Garlicky Yogurt

1 c full fat or 2 % Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

for the Chickpeas and Lamb 

1-2 bunches Swiss chard, mustard greens, or kale
6 T olive oil, divided
12 oz (3/4 pd) ground lamb
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teas cumin seed
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teas crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
fresh tomatoes, quartered or roasted tomatoes for a garnish

Make the yogurt (it can be made ahead up to 5 days and kept in the fridge--the garlic will get stronger). 

Rinse the greens and separate the stems from the greens. Slice the stems (except for kale) and tear the leaves into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat place 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the lamb, garlic, cumin, and some salt and pepper (you can test it later and add more if needed). Cook, browning the lamb and breaking it as it cooks until it is crispy and browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb into a bowl. Leave the drippings in the skillet.

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and heat for a few minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Shaking the skillet from time to time, cook until the chickpeas are very well browned and starting to get crisp. Return the lamb to the skillet and stir well. Then place this mixture in a large bowl. Leave a little oil in the skillet.

Stir the sliced stems into the skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cook a couple of minutes (they should be a bit crunchy in the final dish)  and add the leaves and stir until coated with the oil. Cook just until wilted. 

Place the yogurt into the bottom of four bowls and top with the chickpea and lamb mixture and the greens. Top all with some of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired and eat immediately.


I'm sure another bean could be substituted for the chickpeas.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Clementine Cake

If you like seasonal foods, here's a wintry dessert that can brighten your day with its sunny appearance. Don't be put off by the length of the recipe. The cake is as easy as zucchini bread but I've posted several options for topping it.


Clementine Cake

Adapted from Cook's Country Magazine
Serves 8-10

Cook's Country instructs cooks to make candied slices of clementines for garnish. They look very pretty on the cake but I found them awkward to eat. I prefer making a glaze with some clementine zest. I'll give instructions for both.

For the cake:

Altitude (3500-5500 ft) adjustments:

add 1 T flour
reduce baking powder to 1 teas
reduce sugar by 1 1/2 T

Note about almonds and blanched almond flour:

I checked with Cook's Country magazine about using almond flour rather than making your own by processing whole blanched almonds; they prefer whole almonds because toasting the almonds adds extra flavor to the cake. However, you can, and should, toast almond flour, if you use it. It's not hard; just don't leave it unattended for any length of time. Place the almond flour in a 12-skillet over medium heat and cook for 5-7 minutes stirring frequently until the almond flour has darkened in color and smells fragrant. Let it cool for 20 minutes before proceeding with the recipe. Also, make sure you weigh the almond flour since measuring it by cup will be different than measuring whole almonds. I also read on Washington Post that you can toast nut flours for 25-30 minutes in the oven at 250F. I'd advise stirring once or twice and checking as the end of the roasting time approaches.

9 ounces clementines (about five 2-inch diameter) unpeeled, stemmed
2 1/4 c sliced blanched almonds, toasted (or 7 1/2 ounces blanched almond flour, toasted)
1 c AP flour
1 1/4 teas baking powder
1/4 teas salt
10 T unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces and softened
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
5 eggs

Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 325F. Prepare a 9" springform pan by spraying with cooking spray. Then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray or butter the paper and sides of the pan.

Place the clementines into a microwave safe bowl and cover with a lid. Cook on high in microwave until clementines are softened and some juice has been released (about 3 minutes). Throw the juice away and allow the clementines to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Place the almonds, AP flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and run until the almonds are finely ground, about 30 seconds. Move to another bowl. (If you use almond flour, when it has cooled add the AP flour, baking powder, and salt directly to the almond flour in the skillet; no need to move it to bowl.)

Place the cooled whole clementines to the processor container and process until smooth as you can get them, about a minute; scrape the sides down if necessary.

With a stand mixer and paddles, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy for about 3 minutes. (If  you don't have a stand mixer, use a hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar. Or if you've got a Bosch, use the cookie paddles on medium speed.) One at a time, add the eggs and scrape the sides of the bowl down if needed. Beat in the clementine puree until incorporated.

Turn your mixer to low and add the almond/flour mixture in 3 additions until just combined. If needed, scrape the sides of the bowl. Remove paddles (or beaters) from the bowl and use a rubber spatula to stir the batter a final time or two. Move the batter from the bowl into the prepared pan. Smooth the top. Place the pan in the oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Place the finished cake on a rack and allow to completely cool (about 2 hours).

Run a plastic knife around the edge of the pan and remove the cake. Drizzle with glaze and see directions below for optional candied clementines.

For a thin glaze:

1 c confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 -1 teas clementine zest (optional if you are using candied clementine slices)
2 T clementine juice (or water) or more if needed

Mix  ingredients together. If it is very thick add water or juice, teaspoon by teaspoon until thin enough for drizzling. Use a rubber spatula to drizzle over the top of cooled cake. Let glazed cake sit on counter for an hour or so while glaze sets.

For a thicker glaze:

2 c confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 T clementine juice or water, plus extra if needed
pinch of salt
1/2 -1 teas clementine zest (optional if you are using candied clementine slices)

In a bowl, stir sugar, water, and salt together and whisk until smooth. If it is very thick, add water half a teaspoon at a time until the glaze is the consistency of thick craft glue.

Place the cake on a serving platter and pour the glaze over the top. Smooth with an off-set or rubber spatula and let some of the glaze run down the sides of the cake. Let it sit out for at least an hour so the glaze will set.

For candied clementines:

4 clementines, unpeeled, stemmed
1 c water
1 c granulated sugar
1/8 teas salt

Slice the clementines about 1/4 inch thick. Bring to a slow boil  the water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and keep heat at medium. Simmer until the sugar has dissolved.  Place all the slices, excepting the rounded ends, in the mixture and cook the fruit. Use paper towels to make a triple-thick lining on a baking sheet. When the clementines have cooked until softened (6 minutes or so), place the clementines on the prepared sheet. Cool for 30 minutes or more turning them over once.

Just before you plan to serve, choose eight of the candied clementine slices. If there is any excess moisture, blot it away with a paper towel. Place the clementines around the edges of the cake evenly so there will be one candied clementine for each of 8 slices of cake. Serve.

This cake can be kept in airtight wrapping or a container for up to two-three days.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Baked Eggs with Beans and Greens

In a rare cooking success on a busy day this week, I realized ahead of time that I had some wilty, month-old, garden chard in my fridge that would work in this recipe. And some already cooked italian sausage in the freezer from I-don't-remember-when. And some fresh, leggy basil still reaching for the light inside my back door (most of which is a window).

I feel like that basil this time of year: every part of me reaching for the warmth and light, wan though it might be, basking in it before the true cold months set in.


Baked Eggs with Beans and Greens

Source: New York Times Cooking
Serves 4-6

2 T olive oil
1/2 lb sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (optional, or pre-cooked as in my case)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 15-oz can chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes
4 c stemmed and packed roughly chopped greens such as spinach, kale, or Swiss chard
6 large eggs
black pepper
2 T mixed herbs, such as Italian parsley and basil, for garnish
1-2 T grated cheese, such as pecorino or Parmesan, for serving (optional, but very yummy)

Heat the oven to 375. Place olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet and warm over medium heat. If using the sausage, add it to the skillet and cook, breaking it up into bitesize pieces as you stir. Remove the sausage, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible, and set aside.

Cook the onion in the skillet until softened. Then add the beans and garlic, and stir, until the garlic is fragrant, just a minute or so. Sprinkle pan with salt. Add the tomatoes and sausage, then stir to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer, then gradually add the chopped greens, a handful at a time. Stir the greens in until wilted before adding another handful. Season with salt again.

Use a spoon to create a small divet in the sauce, then crack an egg into it. Repeat six times, then sprinkle each egg with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until the eggs are set to your desired firmness. (My kids don't like any gooeyness, so I left mine in for 20-25 minutes.) Scatter the herbs and cheese over the top, and let cool a minute or two before digging in.