black & white peppermint cookies

December 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

BWPeppermintCookie

It feels a little hectic these days. As you can plainly see from the lack of December posts. I was a bit perplexed that I hadn’t written anything since Thanksgiving, which now seems so long ago. The holidays are definitely creeping quite quickly and I find myself nervously excited. I say nervously because the time will go too quickly, I’ll want to do more and then all of a sudden December will be over. And the only thing I’ll have left to do, is try and stay warm for the next three months. It is a bittersweet feeling.

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Thankfully through all the shopping, gifting, parties, wrapping, Christmas TV specials and holiday tunes, I have made time for a little fun. We made a gingerbread house! I haven’t done that since I was a teenager. It’s an ugly little house with icing dripping down the sides and gumdrops stuck on haphazardly. But oh what fun it was to build. Among all the hustle, Ross and I have tried to have moments of calm. We went out to breakfast last weekend and indulged in a chocolate croissant and sat longer than we usually would. But we have also made our lives a little crazier too. We’re heading up to Vermont this weekend to get our family tree. The temperature is plummeting for the weekend and cutting a tree plus decorating actually is a lot of work, but we couldn’t be more excited about the journey.

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I think that is what this time of year is really all about, acceptance of all the moments that make up this season, the busy, the calm, the noise, the family, the errands, the cooking, the eating, all of it. Because it really is quite a wonderful month when you stop and think about it.

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Thus, it only seemed appropriate to share a holiday treat. What I love about this recipe is the combination of both a brownie and cookie profile with sweet white chocolate and a hint of peppermint that tingles on your tongue. The aroma of peppermint always gets me, so this chocolate peppermint combination is indulgent. And it combines the two best things about holiday baking, seasonal flavors plus quick and easy baking, it is sure to please the crowds.

Makes 12-16 cookies
Inspired by Bakers Royale

1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1.5 tablespoons butter
1.5 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking oil.

Place egg and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 10 minutes until the mixture has lightened in color and appears fluffy. Stir in the peppermint extract.

While eggs are beating, place dark chocolate and butter in a bowl. Heat water in a saucepan on the stove top until boiling. Place the bowl of chocolate on top of the saucepan. Stir constantly until chocolate and butter are just barely melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes

Pour the cooled chocolate, flour and baking powder into the egg mixture and stir until just combined. Then sprinkle in the white chocolate chips. Allow the batter to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Spoon heaping tablespoons of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the cookies are crackled on the top like brownies. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for just a minute, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies are wonderful warm, room temperature or even cold from the refrigerator. Store in an airtight container.

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kids thanksgiving with edamame & walnut couscous

December 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

Thanksgiving-1

Like in years past, both my sister and I spent Thanksgiving day with our in-laws’ family. We had the traditional fixings of turkey, mashed potatoes, two kinds of stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce. After lots of chatting, a few more drinks and over-stuffing ourselves with dessert, we hopped back in the car and rode home in the dark. On Friday though, instead of dealing with crowded stores and buying more than we should, my sister, brother and I, the kids, decided to do our own version of second thanksgiving.

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We all gathered at my little brothers new home in Connecticut. We bought a pre-roasted chicken, prepped a few side dishes and relaxed on the couch together. We nestled in with a few blankets, the puppy and a new TV show. We chatted when we felt like it, but most of the time we just enjoyed having a day with no real agenda. When the buzzer rang to tell us the roasted chicken was warm again, we sat down to a very nontraditional thanksgiving meal of chicken, roasted veggies, edamame couscous and garlic bread. It was delicious and simple. We brought some tradition to the table with a classic apple pie and pear and cranberry crumble for dessert.

I know Thanksgivings like this will happen less and less in the future. Lives get busier, people move, families expand and traditions end up changing. And even though this year was so nontraditional, it was wonderful to be with family. I am lucky each year we get to see one another and was very thankful that this year was no different.

Serves 4-6 as sides
Inspired by Sprouted Kitchen

1 (5.8 oz) package of couscous (I used roasted garlic and olive oil)

1 bag (12 oz) edamame beans
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley, packed

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped

Bring a large pot to boil. Add the edamame to the pot and wait for the water to return to a rigorous boil. Once boiling again, turn the heat down to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the cooked edamame into a colander and spray with some cool water to stop the cooking process. Set aside to cool slightly.

Prepare couscous according to package direction.

In a sauté pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once warmed, add the chopped walnuts and fry for 4-5 minutes until the nuts are fragrant and slightly browned. Set aside.

Push out all the edamame beans with your fingers into a food processor, discarding the shells. Add the rice vinegar, lemon juice, toasted sesame oil and parsley. Pulse until the mixture is slightly smooth but still has some chunks for crunch.

In a large bowl combine the edamame, couscous and walnuts. This dish can be served warm or cold.

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