Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Easy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Just in time for all that last-minute holiday baking. One of my favorite cookies made light and easy (and gluten-free).

Now, to say I love peanut butter is an understatement. Then combine the creamy, nutty goodness with melted chocolate, and it's like heaven on Earth.

There are so many peanut butter cookies out there — some crispy, others chewy, and yet more rich and dense. These are gluten-free, as there is no flour, as well as dairy-free. Better yet, they don't require any mixing equipment. Whip them up, bake them off, and then you have a light and airy treat in a matter of minutes.

Can't have peanuts? Swap in raw almond butter instead. It's just as good.

Easy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup peanut butter, or almond butter
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Add the egg and beat well with a whisk to combine. Add the peanut butter and combine until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips.

Place about ¼ cup sugar on a plate. Roll dough into ¾-inch balls and then, placing extra sugar in a bowl, roll in the sugar to coat. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, then allow to cool.

Makes: Thirty-two 2-inch cookies
Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Kid-friendly

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Videos for Foodies, Done Easy

I'm a huge fan of these "cooking" videos. Simple graphics, good music, and simple to follow.

I'm sharing two of my favorites - Mojitos, Chips & Salsa... and Apple Galette.

What do you think?

mojitos, chips, and salsa from rachelchew on Vimeo.

the apple galette from rachelchew on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Easy No-Bake Breakfast Cookie

These aren't your mother's chocolate chip-laden, butter-rich, sweet, sugary, melt-in-your-mouth treats you might find at your local bakery or even Mrs. Fields. They are quick and easy to make, don't require any baking at all, taste great, and are good for you, too.

Once you master this basic recipe, begin experimenting, switching out the peanut butter for almond butter, adding in cocoa powder, even shredded coconut or diced mango, if you wish.

Easy No-Bake Breakfast Cookie

1 very ripe banana, mashed
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon coconut oil, plus more for greasing
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups puffed brown rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
1 cup roasted, salted almonds, chopped finely
1/2 cup dried cranberries

In a small saucepan, mash the banana together with the peanut butter to create a paste. Add the oil, molasses, water, vanilla, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over high heat and then remove from heat, stirring until the mixture is smooth.

Line a baking sheet with coconut oil. Place the puffed rice in a bowl and combine with the almonds and dried cranberries. Pour the molasses mixture on top and stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Cut into bars and serve.

Servings: 8
Makes: 16 small bars

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Best Steel-Cut Oatmeal

On days like today, when the weather gets cold, nothing quite beats a hearty bowl of oatmeal. This is one of my favorite winter morning breakfasts (albeit a no-go now because of my sensitivity to oats).

Weekend days, when you have a bit more time to cook than that make, shower, eat, go routine more typical of a weekday morning, steel-cut oats are the way to go.

Begin with the basic recipe, below, adding in fruits like dried plums or cherries into the oatmeal while it cooks, along with flavorings like vanilla or almond extract, cinnamon, cardamom, etc. Garnish with toppings like salted, roasted almonds, toasted walnuts, or mixed salted nuts, sliced bananas - or sweetened coconut flakes.

Basic Oatmeal Recipe
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1 cup milk
1 cup water
Pinch of salt, to taste

Add oil to a pot and heat over medium until melted. Add oats and gently toast for about 2 minutes. Add milk and water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until oats are tender, about 30-40 minutes or until the oats are al dente. Stir, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.

Flavoring Ideas
Dried plums
Dried cherries
Dried cranberries
Salted mixed nuts
Roasted almonds
Toasted walnuts
Almond butter
Coconut flakes
Sliced banana
Mango chunks
Pine nuts

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Blood Orange Spritzer

When it comes to hosting family-friendly holiday parties, few think of offering alcoholic and non-alcoholic variations of the same drink. We developed this blood-orange flavored soda with children, and those who don't imbibe, in mind.
Inspired by the fresh flavors and vibrant colors of blood oranges, which appear in markets just before Christmas, and the unique shape of the red glass bottles of Solerno, this cocktail is simple to make, while the slightly sweet citrus flavor is both refreshing and satisfying.

Solerno is a clear Sicilian blood orange liqueur, made from whole blood orange fruit and essential oils. The bottle is a deep red, like the flesh of a blood orange, and takes on a unique design — the bottom features a punt (the indent on wine bottles) that resembles an orange juice strainer. Just looking at the bottle may make you thirsty for a cocktail.

While the recipe below is for an adult version, you can leave out the liqueur and substitute in sparkling water for a kid-friendly blood orange soda. No one will know the difference.

Blood Orange Soda

2 ounces Solerno liqueur
4 ounces fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
Sparkling water, for topping (for an alcho
Blood orange slice, for garnish

Place three ice cubes in a white wine glass. Add liqueur, then juice. Top with prosecco and serve with a slice of blood orange floating on top.

Makes 1 drink

Photo credit: Flickr/Brianna.Lehman

Homemade Restaurant-Style Pickled Ginger

If you’re a fan of ginger, then you know about the sweet and mild flavor of the pink pickled ginger that accompanies your sushi. Pickled ginger is a flavor-packed treat that is simple to make and will last you a couple weeks. 

This recipe is super-easy, so you can go from a knob of ginger to delicious pickled ginger in about 24 hours. Enjoy with sushi, seared tuna, or simply on its own.

Quick and Easy Restaurant-Style Pickled Ginger

1 1/2 cups ginger, sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the ginger. Return to a boil and cook for 15 seconds. Immediately strain and set aside. In the same saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, and salt. Add the ginger and combine well. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the ginger is submerged. Set mixture aside and allow to cool.

Store ginger and liquid in tightly sealed jars and keep refrigerated for up to two weeks.