Friday, July 13, 2012

Caramelized Chocolate Chip Cookies - GLUTEN FREE!!!

It has been my lifelong goal to bake a delicious, and beautiful, cookie.  I've never been able to pull them off.  Never.  Seriously.  And so, this past year I resorted to experimenting once a week.  And then, I decided to go gluten free (another post for another day).  So I researched my little heart out, to uncover the secrets of a good cookie (GF or not).  Turns out there's a lot of science behind it...

My definition of the perfect cookie is one that is not too thin, not too thick, not too crisp and not too soft.  Oh, and it has to look good ;)  So, 6 months and five pounds later, I can finally say I've perfected the perfect cookie!  And it just happens to be gluten free.  Yesss!

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 T. (rice) milk
  • 1 c. sorguhm flour (140g)
  • 1 c. tapioca flour (140g)
  • 1/4 c. brown rice flour (35g)
  • 2 T. flax meal
  • 1 t. xanthan gum
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts

This is a very detailed recipe...  It's not necessarily difficult, but it might take some getting used to.  I don't normally take pictures (no camera), and I rarely take step-by-step pictures (no time).  However, I did manage to shoot some pics with my old school iPhone.  The quality is severely lacking, but hopefully they're somewhat helpful.

  1. Cut butter up into cubes.  Combine butter and sugar in saucepan and melt until sugar is completely dissolved.  We're making caramel here, people!  So listen carefully: Once the butter is melted, continue to heat over medium-low heat for another ten minutes.  Be careful not to scorch the sugar, so stir frequently.  Babysit.  You'll notice how the butter goes from sitting on top to being fully incorporated into the sugar.  The mixture also turns from dark to light brown, and the consistency becomes thin like syrup.  And the taste, oh the taste!  Once the ten minutes are up, you'll be able to taste the difference between melted butter-sugar and caramel.  Careful not to burn your tongue ;)
  2. Remove caramel from heat and allow to cool slightly before transferring to mixing bowl.  Allow to cool for 20 minutes
  3. While the caramel cools, measure out the flours with a scale.  Add flax meal, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder.  Mix and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, crack egg and egg yolk.  Add milk and vanilla, but do not mix.  Set aside.
  5. Once the caramel has cooled, beat in egg/milk/vanilla mixture on medium speed until well mixed.
  6. On low speed, add flour mixture 1/3 c. at a time.  Scrape sides of bowl and stir in chocolate chips and walnuts with a spatula.  Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl as you stir.
  7. Place plastic wrap over dough and pat down.  Cover bowl with tin foil and allow to sit in fridge overnight.
  8. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper, or Silpat.  Shape dough into balls (2 T.) and place on sheet.  Flatten dough with your palm to half-inch thickness.
  9. Bake @ 375 for 6 minutes, rotate pan and bake for another 5 minutes.  Allow to sit on pan for 2 minutes to cool.  Transfer to cooling rack.  Devour.

Just because they're gluten free, does NOT mean they're healthy.  They are, by no means, fat free or sugar free.  I felt it was important to nail down a traditional chocolate chip cookie, and that included (lots of) butter.  And sugar.  Now that I've got this little gem in my pocket, I can start tweaking it to see if I can come up with an acceptable, more nutrient dense version.  It might take me a long time, but if this recipe is any indication, it'll be well worth the wait.  *B

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cranberry Cilantro Salsa

I love the freshness of this!  And I love that it's as simple as it is delicious.


  • 12 oz fresh cranberries 
  • 1/2-1/2 purple onion
  • 1 small seeded jalapeno
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1 C sugar (or less to taste)
  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • cream cheese, softened
  1. Give the onion, jalapeno and cilantro a rough chop.  Pulse cranberries, onion, jalapeno and cilantro in a food processor or blender until you've reached the desired consistency.
  2. Mix in sugar and cumin.  Refrigerate.
  3. Spread cream cheese out on the bottom of a really shallow bowl/serving plate.  Then spread the salsa over the top.  Serve with crackers.
This super yummy dish is from my super sweet friend.  Thanks for sharing, Tanilee!  *B

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

These are pretty easy.  They're also pretty tasty ;)


  • 1 can whole water chestnuts, drained and halved
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 2 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. sweet apricot chili glaze/sauce (Fresh & Easy)
  • dash cayenne (opt)
  • microwave bacon, cut in half widthwise
  1. Combine soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce and allow water chestnuts to soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain the chestnuts and wrap in bacon.  Secure with a toothpick and place in a baking dish so that the water chestnuts are exposed.
  3. Combine chili sauce with the cayenne and spoon half of the mixture on top of exposed water chestnuts.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350.
  4. Remove from oven and carefully flip the water chestnuts and expose the other sides.  Add the remaining glaze and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Sweet and salty.  Crunchy and crispy.  And this recipe makes a ton!  Definitely a winner.  *B

Apricot-Sage Glazed Game Hens

I must admit, I'm extremely proud of this recipe!  And our dinner guests seemed pretty pleased, seeing as even the ladies ate more than half of their own bird!  Keep in mind this was our third course...  So I'd say it was a success!  Who says a vegetarian can't come up with an awesome meat dish ;)

  • 2 game hens
  • 4 c. water
  • 2 T. salt
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 2 t. salt (1/2 t)
  • 1/2 t. cayenne (1/8)
  • 1/2 apple, chopped
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 orange, chopped
  • 1/4 t. garlic
  • 2 sage leaves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2/3 c. chicken broth
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 T. apricot preserves
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. onion
  • 1/2 t. garlic
  • 2 T. chopped sage
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • dash nutmeg
  1. Combine water with sugar and salt and brine game hens for 2-4 hours, in fridge.  Remove birds from brine and rinse with water.  Dry with paper towel.
  2. Brush insides of birds with 1/3 salt and cayenne mixture.  Sprinkle w/ remaining spice on outside, and rub in.
  3. Stuff each hen with equal parts apples, onions, garlic, orange, sage and thyme.  Allow to air dry in fridge, uncovered for 30-60 minutes.
  4. While birds dry, prepare the glaze: combine chicken broth with apple cider vinegar, apricot preserves, brown sugar, onions, sage, thyme and nutmeg in food blender and process until smooth.  Add to saucepan and simmer over medium heat until thickened, stirring frequently.
  5. Preheat oven to 350.  Place dried birds in roasting pan and pour glaze over birds.  Bake, covered at 350 for 15 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for another 15 minutes.
  6. Roast hens for 30 minutes more, or until internal temp reaches 165, glazing every 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, covered.
I've made these three times now, with the commitment to make them once a month as a special Sunday dinner.  Twice, my father raved about them, even declaring them to be better than my mother's (sorry, mom).  And when he found out I made it a third time without him, he drooled and wished for some leftovers.  *B

French Onion Soup

This soup is a labor of love...  It takes forever!  But it tastes great.  So don't let the amount of time involved scare you off permanently.  Because it really is worth it!  Unless you don't like onions.

  • 8 sweet onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 2 t. garlic
  • 4 T. butter
  • salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cider vinegar
  • 4 c. beef broth
  • 1/4 c. unfiltered apple cider (opt)
  • pepper, to taste (opt)
  • crusty bread
  • swiss cheese
  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add a layer of onions and sprinkle with salt.  Continue layering onions and salt until pot is full.
  2. Sweat onions for 15-20 minutes.  Do not cover, and do not stir.
  3. Add bay leaves and thyme.  Cook until onions are significantly reduced, stirring occasionally.  It generally takes me about an hour and a half.  Onions will darken and start to fall apart, and will be sweet (almost syrupy).
  4. Remove bay leaves and thyme.  Add chicken broth and apple cider vinegar and increase heat to medium high.  Reduce liquid to at least half, or until onions are back to a thick consistency.  Should take about 15 minutes.
  5. Add beef broth and apple cider.  Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. To make swiss crostinis: Heat oven to 425.  Slice bread into half-inch thick slices and place in a single layer on baking sheet.  Bake for four minutes, then flip bread slices and bake for another four minutes.  Top with slices of swiss cheese and bake for 4 more minutes.  Serve over hot soup.
Might I suggest you taste the soup right after adding the beef broth, but before adding the apple cider.  If you use sweet onions, your soup might have just the right amount of savory and sweet.  Any other onion will work, and you can add or omit the apple cider, depending on your taste.  The first time I made this, I used sweet onions and added four times the amount of cider.  It was way too sweet.  The second time I made it, I used a variety of onions and only added a little bit of cider.  It was perfect.  But then again, I like onions!  *B

The Best Pot Roast, Ever

I think it's every woman's dream to serve the perfect pot roast.  Correct me if I'm wrong!  But really, there's no better way to impress the men, or children, in your life than to have a flavorful and fall apart roast in your cooking arsenal.  And this recipe, it's my atomic bomb ;)

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 3-4 pounds of chuck roast (no substitution)
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1.5 t. salt, divided
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 onions, cut into fourths
  • 8 carrots, scrubbed (not peeled) and cut into fourths
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into fourths
  • 2 c. beef broth, divided
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 t. dried thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 large mushrooms (opt)
  1. Heat stock pot over medium-high heat.  Cover bottom of pot with olive oil.
  2. Combine flour, 1t. salt and pepper.  Coat all sides of roast.  Set aside.
  3. Sear onions on both sides.  Remove and set aside.
  4. Throw in carrots and celery and brown for about one minute.  Add mushrooms and brown for another minute or two.  Remove veggies and set aside.
  5. Add more oil if needed.  Allow pot to get really hot, then sear roast on all sides.  Remove and set aside.
  6. Combine 1 c. beef broth with balsamic vinegar.  Deglaze stock pot.
  7. Remove from heat.  Return roast to stock pot, then add the vegetables.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour on top.  Cover and cook in 275 degree oven for 3-5 hours.  No peaking!
  8. Remove celery and rosemary stalks.  Serve with mashed potatoes.
Just a note:  I've tried this same recipe in a crockpot and it just doesn't hold a candle to the stock pot version.  I mean, the flavor is amazing.  But, no matter how low/long I cook the meat, it's never as tender than when it's cooked in the oven...

Seeing as this is a Fall favorite, I think it's appropriate I mention one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies: Practical Magic.  "There are some things I know for certain: always throw spilt salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for luck, and fall in love whenever you can."  Dried rosemary is just not the same as fresh rosemary...  So plant some rosemary, if anything just to make this pot roast!  And you'll fall in love with it every time.  *B