Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies

DSCN4752

So, uh, with eight days left until I returned home for Christmas break, I decided to go ahead and bake the bejeezus out of eight sweet potatoes. One potato per day: a perfect plan. My plan, however, was not perfectly executed, and I found myself with six baked sweet potatoes left… and just two more days til returning home to the dirty jerz.

DSCN4748

But, as life so happens, I found myself juggling six sweet potatoes and an invite to a cookie swap party.

Me: “I don’t know what to make… Coconut macaroons it is! Oh wait, I have… one egg… and… no coconut. Hmm…”

Friend (Elaine): “How about sweet potato cookies?”

Dingdingding.

DSCN4754

I laughed it off. Sweet potato cookies? What? Crazy talk!

So crazy, it just might work… (reference: The Master of Disguise.)

And work, they did. I was totally inceptioned. YUM. Other pros: One-bowl, lack-of-mixer-friendly, super easy for grad school.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from this recipe
Two sweet potatoes, baked in the skin for 1 hour at least
Scant 3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup old-fashioned or quick cooking oats
1 cup sliced almonds (or pecans)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I cut up an 85% dark chocolate bar. I think these would also work with cacao nibs!)
Coarse sea salt, for sprinklage

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix butter and sugar together; use a pastry cutter if without a mixer. Mash in the sweet potato (without the skins). Add egg and combine.

Add dry ingredients directly to the wet, and then almonds. Drop by teaspoonfuls on parchment-paper-lined pan. Press out into flat discs slightly, then sprinkle chocolate chips on top (or alternatively, mix chocolate chips in to cookie dough first).

Bake 10-20 minutes (10-12 for original recipe; it took much longer in our defunct apartment oven). Once done, top with some sea salt while still warm.

DSCN4755

They were really flaky and yummy. Crispy on the outside, chewy inside, the chocolate merely a subtle accent without overpowering the sweet potato. They went over well at the cookie party (which was also super fun! And, all the delicious cookies were totally nutritionally balanced by carrot sticks and guac apps. We aren’t in the Nutrition Department for nothing)!

You can brag about the beta carotene content, flavanols from the dark chocolate, heartiness of whole wheat flour, extra minerals of the sea salt (barely enough to make a difference, but whatever)… and just neglect to mention the sugah and buttah. Well, at least, that’s what I did. Enjoy the yams. I mean, yums.

Advertisements

Cooking with Beer: Beer Bread and Vegetarian Chili

DSCN4414

So we had some nonalcoholic beer in the fridge that I purchased to recreate beer-battered squash flowers and beer-battered avocado fries and so, I used the magic powers of Google to find some uses for it (because just drinking it would be boring).

DSCN4407

I found two recipes — a beer bread recipe and a vegetarian chili recipe — that fit the bill. And both are easy as could be–essentially, you just throw everything together, let it cook or bake for a while, and sit back and enjoy an episode of Entourage or two on DVD. Simple.

 Lucky for me, the day I made these was uncharacteristically cold (around 75–it felt like a deep freezer after the >95 week we’d had earlier) and so having the oven and stove running was actually comforting instead of sweat-inducing.

DSCN4410

The bread came out delicious–subtly sweet from the brown sugar, with a delicious crust and tender inside. The chili was a bit of an experiment, and I’m happy to report it too hit the spot–three bean, tofu, spice-heavy. Just what the doctor ordered.

Chili and homemade bread. Perfecto comfort meal.

DSCN4411Without further ado:

Beer Bread

Adapted from this recipe

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

12 ounces beer

Oven: 350°F. Grease and flour a 9.5×13″ loaf pan.

Sift the flours and combine with sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add in the beer and stir to combine. Pour into loaf pan, smooth out, bake 55-60 minutes or until toothpick is clean when inserted and removed from the bread.

Optional: before baking, pour 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top.

Vegetarian Chili

Adapted from this recipe

28 ounces of canned tomatoes (or fresh)

1 15-ounce can garbanzos

1 15-ounce can kidney beans

1 15-ounce can chickpeas

1 cup or half a block tofu, crumbled

1 cup tomato sauce

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons cumin seed

1 tablespoon turmeric

sprinkle of parsley

spices to your liking (ginger, etc)

1 12-ounce can of beer

plain greek yogurt, for serving

Combine everything but yogurt in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes. Serve with a dollop of yogurt.

DSCN4419

This was a really, really good meal. Satisfying. Vegan if you omit the yogurt. See the melty butter (er, earth balance)… mm. It’s melty because that bread is still warm from the oven–what a rare luxury to eat homemade crusty bread. No wonder it’s all gone (within two days). The beer bread goes deliciously with the chili… even if it’s not a cold winter night. Summer has some chilly days too. And the chilly days are perfect… for chili. See what I did there…?

Cacao Nib Cookies …with browned butter, sea salt, and dark chocolate

DSCN1851

Easy as… cookie.

DSCN1854

Crunchy edges and outside; chewy and tender cookie.  Texture, nailed.

Browned butter, a mix of brown sugar and raw sugar, crunchy sea salt and both cacao nibs and 90% dark chocolate (yes, 90%)?  Taste, delectable.

Cacao nibs are crunchy and their bitterness complements the caramel/molasses flavor of the browned butter and sugars. Plus, we’re about 30% over the necessary 60%-minimum for dark chocolate–I think I can justify the stick of butter with the oodles of antioxidants.

Because butter is just so good.

DSCN1865

A perfect Mother’s Day treat… that my father also enjoyed (he ate four).

Cacao Nib Cookies

Adapted from The Food Yenta

1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of sugar in the raw
1/3 cup of light brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks (I used 90%… if you’re a dark chocolate aficionado, this totally worked; feel free to substitute)
1/4 cup cacao nibs
sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown it (check out this post for some visuals and instructions… or just Google it). Carefully watch it; butter might take a while to brown but once it does it’s almost instantaneous and will definitely burn if not removed from the flame right away. (Uh… this didn’t happen or anything)
In a bowl, combine the sugars and add browned butter and combine. Add egg and vanilla extract; mix. Sift in the flour and baking powder and combined. Fold in the cacao nibs and chocolate. Dollop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheet by the tablespoonful. Be careful, these things will spread, so leave ample room (at least 2 inches, depending on the volume of dough you drop). Sprinkle some sea salt on each cookie. Bake for 8-12 minutes (depending on size of cookies), let cool on a wire rack, and savor every delicious bite. I got about 13 cookies but I made mine kind of large.

DSCN1870

These were so good and relatively easy after the browning of the butter was done (which you really don’t have to do, but it gives such a nice flavor). Perhaps next time I might add some roasted, chopped pecans… I feel like they would go really well with the brown sugar. Mmm. Now I want another cookie.

Spiked Cranberry Sauce

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I just remembered I never posted the cranberry sauce I made over Thanksgiving.

 It was spiked. With red wine. So … even more antioxidants, right?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spiked = factor in not remembering?

I hope not. Because it was super delicious.

Spiked Cranberry Sauce

Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck

3/4 cup port wine (or red wine)
1/2 cup water
12 whole cloves
12 oz. fresh cranberries
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar

Combine wine, water, and cloves in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.

Simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes, and then strain out the cloves.

Stir in the cranberries and sugar and bring to a boil again, raising the heat to medium-high.

Once at boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer 12-15 minutes until all the cranberries are popped (may take longer than 15 min).

Cool completely in a bowl, then refrigerate before serving.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was a really yummy addition to the Thanksgiving table. It’s definitely on the more tart side than sweet side, but I liked that… and super-flavorful from the cloves and the wine. Having grown up on the gelatinous can-shaped cranberry sauce (which I still love) this was definitely a change, but a good change! Yum. I love cranberry sauce.

 

 

Brown-Sugar-Mustard-Glazed-Salmon with Edamame-Cauliflower Puree

TGIF! Okay, well, a day late. TGIS! In fact, TGITW (the weekend). Woo!

For real.

Bobby Flay did not steer me wrong. He hasn’t won Iron Chef 1580153 times for NOTHING.

A lot of my love for this recipe is for this little gem.

Crispy blackened salmon skin. Hardly anything gets better than that. Okay, well, maybe 100% dark chocolate chips in homemade mint chip banana soft serve… or Coach rainboots… or perfectly ripe avocado… or getting a handwritten letter/postcard in the mail… but I mean, crispy salmon skin is HIGH on the list.

And if you love crispy salmon skin in forms other than sushi (which, I have yet to try such a roll–AHHH!), then I recommend the following:

Brown Sugar Mustard Glazed Salmon with Edamame Cauliflower Puree

Adapted from Bobby Flay (Food Network)

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup dijon or spicy brown mustard

1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced ginger

4 salmon filets

vegetable oil for grilling

salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan on medium heat, melt the butter with honey and brown sugar. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, minced ginger. Season to taste if desired, or add more soy sauce (I cut way back on the soy sauce and it was 100% delicious; however, feel free to peruse the original recipe).

Heat a grill pan on medium heat.

Rinse off the salmon if thawed from frozen-ness and pat dry. Spread vegetable oil on the skins. Once pan is hot, placed salmon skin-side down; spread mustard glaze over the flesh part. Save remaining glaze. Grill 6-8 minutes (it will splatter at you so use a mesh cover). Flip if desired, probably unnecessary, around 5-6 minutes in. The skin came off on mine but my dad and I feasted on the charred crispy skin (my mom gagged inwardly and happily dug in to the pink).

For edamame cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into small pieces, steamed until fork-tender

1/2 cup edamame beans, cooked

sprinkle of garlic powder

dash of salt and pepper

a few huge dollops of 0% Greek Yogurt (optional, for creaminess–you really don’t taste the tang at all!)

Using a handheld immersion blender or food processor, process everything until smooth and creamy. Season to taste. The result? A really yummy and protein-packed, low-carbohydrate alternative for mashed potatoes.

To serve, simply plate a filet, a bit of crispy salmon skin, some cauliflower puree, a spoonful of leftover glaze, and a small side salad with orange-yet-sweet grape tomatoes. Divine!

Am I a weirdo for liking salmon skin? Is it a half-Asian thing? My mom recoils at the thought but my dad (Chinese) has always eaten it and taught me to eat it too. I ain’t arguing. The skin is where the bulk of salmon’s healthy fats lie! Maybe it’s not that healthy to eat the skin that’s crisped to a black char but… it’s… so… yummy…

This dinner ROCKED. So good! The cauliflower edamame mash complimented the salmon well, and the glaze was perfect. I kept “taste-testing it” by the spoonful even prior to spreading it on the salmon (butter and brown sugar, can you really go wrong?) and it really couldn’t be easier to make this healthy, delicious, filling meal.

Sure beats meatloaf and potatoes any day. Well, meatloaf makes me  recoil in disgust; I guess we all have our loves and our hates.