Honey Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

My doctor recently scolded me about the abundance of sugar and high glycemic carbs in my diet.  Type 2 diabetes is common in my family and I always start to have blood sugar issues anytime my weight starts to creep up.  She also recommended a dairy and wheat free diet to help my tummy and allergy troubles, but that was just too much for me to process in one afternoon so I’ve started with lowering my family’s intake of processed sugar.

Honey and pure maple syrup have always been my favorite all natural sweeteners.  So when I was craving oatmeal cookies one night I was thrilled to find this cookie recipe which not only has no processed sugars in it, but also is egg free.  You know what that means right?  Yup, we can eat all the cookie dough we want without worry!  WooHoo!

These were wonderful cookies.  Chewy, full of texture and flavor.  They were amazing hot out of the oven and still great two days later.  The recipe is from one of my favorite food blogs, White on Rice and is the newest permanent addition to my recipe box.

Honey Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3 1/2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins (I used 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and 1/2 cup raisins)
  • 1 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Set aside and combine all wet ingredients in a med bowl.

2.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Roll the cookie dough into 1.5 inch balls and space about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.

4.  When the oven is ready bake cookies for 12-15 minutes or until just set.  Let the cookies cool on the sheet for a minute or two before removing them to a cooling rack.

Makes about 30-40 cookies depending on the size of your dough balls.

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Polvorones and A Poet’s Cure for Writers Block

Writers Block sucks.

I took these pictures last Fall and then uploaded them to a new post.

And that is where they sat for the next several months.  Every time I would sit down to write a post to go with these photos my mind would turn up nothing.  I figured something would come to me during December’s Cookie Month, but no.

Just before the New Year my step-dad called to tell me that he is publishing a book of poetry this coming Spring.  My first thought was “Well, it’s about time!”  Dave has been writing poetry my whole life.  His poems are thought-provoking and emotional with a with a touch of playfulness and/or irony.  They make you think, to search your inner depths and question previously held ideals.  Often they thrust you back into your most closely held memories of home, hope, love and loss.

I told Dave of my recent troubles with writer’s block and he told me he had just the thing for me.  He read me one of his poems called Hesitation.  After hearing it I asked him if I could share it with all the writers out in blog land and he agreed!  So without further adieu, this is Hesitation by D.R Ostman.  I hope it chases away your writers block like it has helped chase away mine.

Hesitation

With hesitation, I touch the pen to page.

Confusion abounds as to what to say,

Who, What, Where,

shall I write about today?

Words and subjects all knotted up; like a child’s tangled kite that wont fly.

Focus, focus, instead questions, much like a cup half-full, with confused expectations.

Where do I start and where do I end.

I knew before I started, it was all in my head.

Why won’t it just roll down from my head and magically overtake my fingers

to say what I mean to say, in pigment on page;

something that may be lost forever, if I can’t write, what I want to say;

A treasure lost forever, in the dark and distant caverns,

of my unsure and hesitating mind!

D.R Ostman

One request from the author.  Please do not take this poem and repost it anywhere else without sending me an email and talking to me about it first.  If you do I will request you remove it immediately because of its pending publication.  If you like the poem, we would love it if you could direct your friends back to this site to read it.  I will let you know more about Dave’s book as I get it.  Thank you for respecting the author’s wishes!

Polvorones Mexicanos or Mexican Shortbread Cookies

by Rick Bayless in his great cookbook Mexican Everyday

The recipe is the same as the original except I use a hand mixer instead of a food processor like Rick does.

  • 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened slightly
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Optional toppings – 1/4 – 1/3 cup of any of the following:  finely chopped chocolate, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, candy sprinkles.  You could also just bake them plain and then sprinkle with cinnamon or other spices.

1.  In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt and sugar.  Add the butter and blend with a hand mixer, stand mixer or food processor until crumbly.

2.  Dump the crumbly dough onto your work surface and shape into a ball.  Place the ball between two sheets of plastic wrap and flatten the ball into a disk.  Roll out to 1/4 inch with a rolling-pin while it’s between the plastic wrap.  Transfer to a cutting board or cookie sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F and place oven rack in the middle.  Cut dough into squares or triangles and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle tops with chosen toppings and gently press in.

4.  Bake 15-17 minutes or until lightly browned.  Turn the baking sheet halfway through cooking.  Cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  This is also a good time to sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar.

Store in a tightly sealed container.

Cookie Month: Caramel, Walnut and Chocolate Thumbprints

I woke early.  The morning was unusually quiet.  Fog enshrouded our hill and the valleys beyond it dampening any sound.  I put the kettle on the stove, made a fire and then sat on the couch for a while just staring at the landscape, the fog, the apple trees.  Suddenly I was overcome by a desire to walk amongst it all.  To be there in it.  I headed back to the bedroom to change, wrote a note to Tom and headed down the road.  I eventually ended up in a big apple orchard near my house.  It was beautiful.  The leaves were yellow and occasionally the lightest breeze would shake one loose and it would twirl silently through the fog to rest on the ground.

I am amazed by the bounty of life in this place.  Maybe it’s because I was raised in the desert where life is harsh and brutal.  Out there you are more likely to come across a pile of bones than a live animal.  Northern CA is very different.  I found late blackberries still growing on vines near my road.  Mushrooms everywhere.  Those red ones were gigantic and were growing right next to our mailbox.  I found tracks for a small herd of deer, but not the deer themselves.  Starlings have flocked to the vineyards by the hundreds gobbling up everything the pickers have left behind.  With them came extra hawks and turkey vultures looking for the slowest birds of the flock.  Plus we have been on the lookout for raccoons, opossums, and foxes breaking into our bird house.

Its been fascinating to watch the transformation of the vineyards.  The brilliant colors were completely unexpected.  I thought grape leaves just turned brown and fell because that’s what the grapevines back home did, but here is different.  Its been a pleasure to drive past them each morning and watch as the leaves transform from green to yellow to russet and then suddenly vanish overnight in the crazy windstorm we had.  Now the vines are beautiful in their stark barrenness.  Perfect rows of empty brown vines reaching for the sky.  Bright green grass blanketing the paths between and eventually disappearing into the low fog that hugs the foothills beyond.

All this beautiful winter weather really put me into the Christmas spirit.  I started by joining in on the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  You can check out all 500+ cookie recipes through that link.  The cookies I received were awesome and I cant wait to participate next year.

When I was 6 my new step-father moved into our house bringing with him a passion for Christmas cookies that he could trace all the way back to his Ohio born great grandmother.  I have many happy memories of deciphering her 100 year old recipes,  mixing the dough, freezing dough, sneaking bites of dough, and making more cookies than anyone would ever want to make in a weekend.  We would send these cookies out to every person my stepfather had ever met and then sink down with exhaustion and swear not to make another cookie until next Christmas.  Of course, that never lasts.

I asked my stepdad if I could share some of his family’s recipes and got a resounding NO!  Instead I am testing out new recipes for my old favorites starting with caramel, shortbread and nuts.  Any combo of these ingredients and I am in love.  This year I came across an awful recipe for Caramel Walnut Thumbprint Cookies.  I wont say which recipe it was, just know it involved a lot of premade ingredients!  What does matter is that I completely reworked the recipe and came out with something I really liked.  The chocolate cookie base is Alice Waters Pate Sucree recipe I have used before with a little chocolate powder thrown in.  The caramel sauce recipe belongs to David Lebovitz.  His helpful instructions on making caramel were vital to my success.  Hope you enjoy them!

Caramel, Walnut & Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

For the cookies

  • 8 tbsp butter (1 stick), softened at room temp for 15 minutes
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp chocolate powder
  • 1 cup of crushed walnuts

1.  Preheat the oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  In a small bowl stir together the flour and chocolate powder and set aside.

2.  In a medium sized bowl beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth & creamy.

3.  Add the salt, vanilla and egg yolk and mix until completely combined.

3.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until until there are no dry patches.  Form into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap.  Chill for 4 hours in the fridge.

4.  When firm let the dough soften on the counter for 15 minutes then break off pieces of dough and roll into 1 inch balls.  Roll the balls in the crushed walnuts.  You may need to press the nuts into the ball slightly.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart.  Press your thumb into the center of each ball making a crater like depression.

5.  Bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and fill the depressions with warmed caramel sauce.  Bake cookies for another 3-5 minutes or until the caramel smooths out.  Let them cool completely before serving.

For the Caramel Sauce

This is David Lebovitz’s recipe found via The Purple Foodie.

He sure to read David’s Caramel Help Page before attempting to make caramel.

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp sea salt

1.  Spread the sugar evenly over the bottom of a light-colored heavy pot.  I like using my white enameled cast iron pot.  Heat the sugar over medium heat without stirring very much until the sugar is completely melted and has turned a rich amber brown.  Gently swirl the pot or push the sugar toward the middle of the pot if it looks like it is darkening too quickly.

2.  When the color resembles the top photo on David’s help page, a rich amber brown, very carefully take the pot off the heat and carefully add the butter & cream.  Expect foaming and bubbling so stand back and let it go for a few seconds.  When the steam has cleared stir everything until smooth.  Stir in the salt.  Let cool.

Store in a bell jar in the fridge.  It will last for weeks.  Eat from the jar with spoons or put on ice cream, or cookies, or on top of my Chocolate Tart.

Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011: Pistachio Shortbread Rounds

As soon as I heard about the Food Blogger Cookie Swap hosted by Lindsay and Taylor of Love and Olive Oil and Julie from The Little Kitchen I was all over it.  I signed up just in time too!  The cookies we have been getting this week have been phenomenal and I want to send a big THANK YOU out to

Liz from lizdarby.blogspot.com who sent me wonderful Chocolate Hazelnut Shortbread sandwich cookies that we gobbled up by the end of the evening.  I want this recipe.

Kristi from cookinlove.livejournal.com sent me some delicious snowflake cookies with homemade jam in the middle.  Very intimidating, because they tasted so amazing and looked hard to make.  Tom polished these off pretty fast.

And Christy from misplacedsouthernbelle.com, those chocolate chip cookies were just what I needed the day they got here!

The bad part is that we ate all your cookies so fast that I never got any pics of them.  So, if you want the recipes or photos of the cookies I got to try check out those great blogs!

I also want to send a shout out to those bloggers that I sent cookies to.  I hope you all enjoyed them!

Marcy from justacrumb.com

Megan from mlbailey.blogspot.com

Nancy from rivertreekitchen.com

It took me forever to decide on a recipe.  Many of my favorites do not ship well.  After days of going back and forth on several recipes I finally decided on one of my favorites, Pistachio Shortbread.  I kept thinking they were too simple, but perhaps that is what you will need.  A simple, but versatile cookie recipe to help you meet that cookie quota.  These are very easy to make, easy to roll out and bake up fast.  Their subtle pistachio flavor pairs great with ice cream or Nutella.  The recipe comes from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 46 cookies

  • 1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachio nuts
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg yolk

– a 2 inch fluted or round cookie cutter, or if all your cookie cutters are still lost in a moving box like mine use the top ring of a small canning jelly jar.

1.  Preheat oven to 325 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  In a food processor grind the pistachios with 1/4 cup of sugar until fine, or about 30 seconds.  Pour in a medium-sized bowl and add the flour, cornstarch and salt.  Mix until blended and set aside.

3.  With an electric mixer beat the butter and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar at med-high speed until light, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg yolk and mix until blended, scraping the sides as needed.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  The dough may be crumbly at this point.

4.  Scrape dough onto your work surface and knead it a few times until it comes together and forms a smooth dough.  Divide in half and shape into a disk.  Set one disk aside.

5.  Using a rolling pin roll one disk out between two sheets of parchment paper.  Roll to a thickness of 1/8 inch.  Carefully remove top sheet of parchment and loosely replace then flip the dough over.  Remove 2nd piece of parchment and set aside.  Cut cookies using cookie cutter and transfer to prepared cookie sheet placing them 1/2 inch apart.  I used a very thin metal spatula to transfer the cookies without damaging them.  Re-roll the scraps and cut new cookies.  Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 13-16 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges.  Turn the oven light on and watch them through the window during the last minutes because they can go from perfect to overdone in 30-45 seconds.  When done remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Giant Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Giant Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Monday morning felt calm.  Perhaps it was because the sun was shining again after a week of rain and the wind was finally silent.  Sparrows chirped quietly in the trees happy for the warmth of the sun, but still sleepy from the long cool night.  Maybe it was because I didn’t need to take my daughter to school for the next week(winter break) and I was able to sleep in a tiny bit longer.

Calm was needed.  The last month has been turbulent.  We were blessed and challenged greatly in this short month.  The serenity of the morning seemed to be a little gift from the universe and so I made a cup of tea and headed to the patio.  I sat, wrapped in a light blanket, in the warm morning sun, sipping my tea for what seemed like an hour.

It didn’t take long before my mind wandered to food.  Specifically comfort food.  What could I whip up to make this day even better?  What is my most favorite  comforting indulgence?  My first thought was ice cream.  I love ice cream more than any other food.  But I was really in the mood for warm.  Something like cookies.  My favorite, everyone’s favorite, giant chewy chocolate chip cookies.

Giant Chewy Chocolate Chip CookiesGiant Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

The recipe originates from Alton Brown’s Chocolate Chip Cookie #10 from his I’m Just Here for More Food Cookbook.  After making his recipe a few times I began to change a couple of things.  His recipe used 1 cup of butter, I used 1/2 cup.  He uses 3/4 cup of each sugar and I use a little more brown sugar then white.  Things like that.  My version is less greasy and has a richer flavor from the brown sugar.  They are chewy and stay soft for days if kept in a zip top bag.  I love them, everyone I give them to loves them, and I know you will love them.

I made you another printable recipe card which you can find at the very end of this post.

Giant Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 375F.  In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  In a larger bowl whisk the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together.

2.  With a wooden spoon stir half the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until combined.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until all the flour is absorbed.  Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Giant Chewy Chocolate Chip CookiesGiant Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

3.  Scoop large spoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  About 6 cookies to a sheet.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are golden brown and the center is set.  Let them cool on the pan for a minute then transfer to a wire rack.

Makes 12 large cookies.

Print

Giant Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Click on recipe card to save and print.  It is designed to be printed on 5×7 photo paper or regular printer paper and stuck in a card file, on the fridge or given to a friend.)

A Working Man’s Granola Bar

Granola Bars

“I am starving!  I haven’t eaten for hours.”

I walk in the living room to find Tom sitting on a chair by the door kicking off his muddy boots and peeling back layers of dusty clothes.  He casually drops them at his feet and heads straight for the kitchen.

As he passes me I glance back toward the mess by the door.  That will have to come later.  I know that “I haven’t eaten for hours” means since lunch, which was 6-7 hours ago.

“You know, you really need to bring a snack to work for the afternoons.”

“I don’t have time to clean up and sit down to eat something at 4 pm.  We are getting ready to go.  Then there is the commute home.  No time.  I need something I can eat while I work, that will give me enough energy to finish the day, and it has to have a wrapper because my hands get filthy.” To prove his point he holds up ten stained fingers and heads to the sink with a bottle of orange scrub.

Hmmm, a healthy, non-perishable, energy powerhouse that is hand-held with a wrapper…  Granola Bars, of course!

Granola Bars

Granola Bars

(This recipe is adapted from Alton Brown’s Granola Bars)

  • 2 cups of old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of raw sunflower seeds, without shells
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/8 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of various dried fruit and nuts.  I used 1/2 each of raisins, cashews and walnuts.  But you could use any other dried fruit or nut.  Just chop them up first.
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips for mixing in bars
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chocolate chips for melting on top of bars

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9×9 inch pan.

2.  Spread the oats, seeds and nuts onto a cookie sheet.  Toast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Be sure to stir everything around occasionally for even browning.

Nuts and SeedsNuts and Seeds

3.  While those are toasting combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.  Stir slowly with a wire whisk until the brown sugar is completely dissolved.

4.  When the oats and nuts are done reduce the heat of the oven to 300F and add them to the sugar mixture in the saucepan.  Add the dried fruit and stir well to completely coat everything in the honey sugar mixture.  Add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.  Mix gently to combine.  Its okay if they melt a little just try to keep some chunks of chocolate in there.  Dump everything into the 9×9 pan and pat it down flat.

5.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips over the top.  Let them sit for a few minutes until the have turned a darker color.  Spread the melted chocolate chips over the top of the bars.  Allow to cool on the counter then refrigerate for a couple of hours until the chocolate hardens.  When the chocolate has hardened remove the bars from the pan and cut into 16 squares.  Wrap each individually in plastic wrap and store on the counter for up to a week.

Print

Granola Bars

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

I tend to associate my friends and family with a recipe they have once cooked for me.  One friend is forever tied to an amazing layered ice cream cake she made for a party.  Another will never escape the delicious chunky spaghetti sauce she made one night we came over.  My mom will always be connected to London broil with Secret Sauce.  A recipe she figured out after weeks of spying on the chef cooking at a restaurant where she waitressed.  Peanut butter cookies will always belong with my dad.  He would bake up a batch of cookies when my sister and I visited on the weekends.  Dad’s peanut butter cookies were soft, dense and chewy.  Cookies that would stand up to a good dunk in his coffee while reading the Sports section of the LA Times.  These are not those cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk

His recipe was one of those lost to me when he died and it is one of the reasons behind starting this food blog.  I have tried at least four different peanut butter cookie recipes without finding one that comes close.  This recipe is the result of my most recent effort.  These cookies are nothing like my dad’s instead they are light, fluffy and moist like little peanut butter rain clouds.  They taste like a completely different cookie and are just as yummy dunked in milk.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, all natural chunky
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg, room temp
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 375F.

2.  Stir together flour, baking soda and baking powder in a med bowl.

3.  In a large bowl, combine butter, peanut butter, sugar and honey until mixture is creamy.

4.  Stir in egg and vanilla until you can’t see any more egg.

5.  Stir in the flour mix in three parts to avoid getting it everywhere while you stir.  Mix it in until just combined.

6.  Spoon 1 inch balls about 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets.  You could also just use un-greased baking sheets.  Flatten balls with the tines of a fork in a crisscross pattern and sprinkle with sugar.    Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden on top.

Enjoy with a large glass of milk or cup of coffee.

Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk

Do you know of any dense, chewy, peanut butter cookie recipes?  I would love to find one!