Peanut Butter Carob Chip Cookies + Food Goals for 2012

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Can you believe it? A new year is upon us. In fact, we’re almost two weeks into 2012.

I’m usually not one to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the new one.  I hate making resolutions that I’m bound to break. But sometimes listing goals is a good way to give you some perspective and push you forward. Last year I started a Project 365, but only got to 146 photos. I’m not sorry at all that I started that project; even though I didn’t finish, I still have many moments preserved and I feel that I learned so much from the experience.

So I’ve decided to write down some food goals for myself for 2012; goals I know that I’ll break. But they’ll give me something to works toward.

My Five Food Goals for 2012:

1. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods.

2. Eat less processed, prepacked baked goods.

3. Make new recipes; don’t get stuck in a rut of making only the recipes you know.

4. Try to overcome your fear of sharing your food creations with others. You can’t always please everyone, and sometimes you’ll make something that just isn’t that great. Get over it.

5. Try something new, even if you think you won’t like it. You never know!

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On to the cookies!

I believe that these cookies are a good representation of a few of my food goals. They’re made with natural ingredients (whole wheat flour, demerara sugar, rolled oats, etc.), they contain an ingredient that I was a bit afraid of (carob chips), and I had to overcome my fear of sharing them with others.

You see, Reuben loves carob, but, I must admit, I’m not the world’s biggest fan. Give me a choice between 70% cacao chocolate and carob and I’ll take the chocolate 9 times out of 10. But I wanted to make something that he loved. And I found that the carob chips added a lovely malty flavor that fit these cookies very well.

However, I was so scared that everyone would think they were gross and too “healthy” tasting that I always put a caveat before them: “They’re healthy,” or “They’re made with Carob chips.” To my surprise, no one hated them, and a gentleman even asked for the recipe. Just goes to show that you should get over your ego and share your work.

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Notes:

  • These cookies are none too sweet: just the way Reuben and I like them. If you prefer something a little sweeter, simply add some extra demerara.
  • If you can’t find any carob or you can’t stand it, you can easily substitute it with chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter Carob Chip Cookies | Printable PageMakes approximately 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup demerara sugar or sucanat or rapadura
  • 3/4 cup natural peanut butter (I really like this kind)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour (aka soft white wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet carob chips (we really like this kind), or chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 375 ° F.

2) In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), cream together the butter, sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the butter and sugar mixture. Add the oats and chocolate chips.

4) Form the dough into balls the size of golf balls and place on an ungreased or parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten the balls slightly.

5) Bake in the preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and let the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing.


Lemon Curd Squares + The Winner

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My Dad hates citrus in baked goods. Thus, I have always been leery of cooking with lemons, oranges, limes, etc.

Reuben loves lemon bars. When he informed me of this, I promised to make him some. I searched the internet over for the perfect recipe, and settled one entitled “Lemon Curd Squares.” When I saw that the ingredient list included cream, I knew I needed to make them.

And I wasn’t disappointed in my choice. Reuben loves them. He requested I send several bars in his lunch so he could share them with the other guys. That day he posted on my Facebook wall: “Best lemon bars ever. :)” <— Proudest. Moment. Ever.

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These lemon bars are the perfect medium between overpoweringly sweet and mouth-puckering sour. The crust is wonderfully tasty, enhanced by a smidgen of cinnamon. Dust with a little powdered sugar, and you have an elegant, scrumptious dessert.

Lemon Curd Squares

Adapted from Willams-Sanoma | Printable Recipe | Makes 12 Bars

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used half white, half whole wheat)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used demerara)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For the lemon filling:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used ground demerara)
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (optional)
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. heavy cream
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions:

To make the crust:

1.) Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish (preferably glass) and line with parchment paper.

In a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pulse briefly until blended. Add the butter and pulse until the dough forms moist crumbs and sticks together when pinched, about 1 minute. There should be no trace of dryness. Press the dough into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared baking dish, lightly flouring your fingertips if necessary to prevent them from sticking. Bake the crust until pale golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the filling:

1.) In a bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, salt and lemon zest. Add the eggs, lemon juice and cream and whisk until just blended. Carefully pour the mixture over the baked crust.

Bake until the filling is set but still jiggles slightly when the dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes, or longer if using a metal pan. Transfer the pan to the wire rack and let cool for about 30 minutes. Run the tip of a small knife along the inside of the dish to loosen the crust from the sides, then let cool completely.

Cut into 12 small rectangles (fewer if you want larger bars). Grab the sides of parchment paper that stick out from the pan and carefully remove the bars from the dish. Just before serving, sift a dusting of confectioners sugar over the bars.

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Now for the Shabby Apple Giveaway Winner!

capture31The winner is: Commenter #55: Michelle who said, “Admiral! Why? Because I serve in the Navy and I absolutely adore a beautiful sailor dress that is not too short or revealing. It is beautiful!!!”

Congratulations, Michelle!

Thank you to all who entered my giveaway. Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

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Wishing You All…

…a very Merry Christmas!

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

1 John 4: 9-11

 

Here’s what we’re serving this evening:

Molasses Spice Cookies

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Homemade Lefse

What are ya’ll fixing/eating this weekend?

 

 

14 Responses to “Wishing You All…”

  1. Sereina says:

    Have a wonderful Christmas, Erica!

  2. Eliana says:

    I’m lucky enough this year to be spending the holiday with family in the Dominican Republic. No holiday is complete here without roast pork. I normally make it at home but today had the chance to enjoy some that came fresh from my uncle’s farm.

    Hope you and your family are having and continue to have a great holiday.

  3. Flavia says:

    What a beautiful post, Erica! I love the first picture of the star light bokeh. Dreamy. May you and your family be blessed with a joyful and peaceful Christmas and a healthy New Year. I am so happy to have befriended you this year–am thankful for new friendships! Many blessings, Flavia

  4. Tonight: Cheese & onion enchiladas with homemade salsa.

    Christmas breakfast: Honeybun cake

    Christmas dinner: Turkey & all the fixings, mashed potatoes & gravy, croissants, veggies, and a buffet of pies *eep!*

    All of my family is here, including my brother who was able to take leave from his Naval post. We have a warm house, plenty of food, and are able to give each other gifts. Most of all, we celebrate a Savior who has blessed us eternally.

    Merry Christmas, Erica! :)

  5. Erica Lea says:

    Thank you, Sereina!

  6. Erica Lea says:

    Eliana: Roast pork? Fresh from the farm? Sounds amazing.

  7. Erica Lea says:

    Flavia: Thank you! That photo was so much fun to capture. Yes, I am happy to call you a friend! Hope we get the chance to talk more. Merry Christmas!

  8. Erica Lea says:

    Amy: Oh my. That sounds incredible. Love the sound of: ALL OF IT! Sounds like you are richly blessed. Merry Christmas to you, too!

  9. rachel says:

    A very merry Christmas to you also, Erica! May God richly bless you and yours!!

  10. Erica Lea says:

    Thank you, Rachel!

  11. cathy x. says:

    Mmm.. Those cookies look delicious :P* I’ll have to read up about unsulfured molasses, wasn’t even aware that different types existed! I’ve just pulled baked custards out of the oven that have been sprinkled with nutmeg and cooking slowly all afternoon. I’m trying out a recipe I got from a chef whose restaurant we went to for our work Christmas party. I wish you could taste the sourdough bread that he makes in a tiny room out the back of his equally tiny kitchen by the beach. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. It’s the most amazing, flavoursome stuff. anyway I hope you’re having a wonderful evening with the family. Merry Christmas! :)

  12. Erica Lea says:

    Ah, that custard sounds so good. I love sourdough bread! We had a wonderful evening. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

  13. Andrea says:

    My family cherishes our lefse for Christmas Day dinner every year! My mother currently owns my great, great Grandmother’s lefse sticks. She and my father work together to prepare if for the family each year. I will inherit the sticks when she passes (or decides she doesn’t want to do it anymore).

    Lefse is my husband’s favorite food on the table, and that’s saying something! I posted our Christmas Eve table pictures and a few recipes on my own site. Check it out!

  14. Lovely photos, and sounds like some delicious food. We had roast pork tenderloin, caramelized brussels sprouts, and sunchoke soup. Christmas cookies for dessert.

Product Review, Recipe, and GIVEAWAY!

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A few weeks ago Tate’s Bake Shop asked me if I was interested in tasting a few of their cookies. Um, yes. Who in their right mind would refuse cookies?

Overall I was quite impressed with the quality of their products. Let me share with you what I found:

Packaging:

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The cookies arrived in this lovely box.

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Inside are three beautiful boxes of cookies: Macadamia Nut, Oatmeal Raisin, and Chocolate Chip. I love how festive the packaging is.

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Inside each box are two sealed packages of cookies. Which brings me to my only quibble with the packaging: there were at least one broken cookie in each top package. However, the taste completely makes up for this:

Taste/Texture

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I must admit that I generally avoid pre-packaged cookies. These are an exception to that rule. There was no strange, chemically taste as there usually is in “store-bought” cookies.

I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed all the flavors of cookies, even though I usually steer clear of oatmeal raisin. The macadamia nut were perhaps a bit sweet for my taste, but they had a lovely flavor. And the chocolate chip faintly reminded me of cookies my grandma makes.

The list of ingredients is also impressive. No weird ingredients that I wouldn’t add to a batch of my homemade cookies.

The texture of all the cookies is crispy. I enjoy both chewy and crisp cookies, so if you’re a chewy fan, keep this in mind.

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I also had the privilege of testing out the Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook.

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There are some really fun recipes that I’d like to try.

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There’s a pretty photo section.

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And a section on healthy alternatives!

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I have generously been allowed to share a recipe from Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook with ya’ll! I baked these chocolate biscotti as written in the recipe. Another time I would add a pinch of salt and a splash of vanilla. But they were overall very easy and had a good texture. They have a not-too-sweet, grownup flavor. My little brother really enjoyed them.

Chocolate Biscotti

From Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook

Printable Page

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-processes cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup chopped milk chocolate
  • 3/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used all bittersweet)
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped small, blanched or unblanched

Directions:

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets or line them with Silpat.

2) In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars till the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and beat it in for 2 more minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition

3) Stir in the flour and baking powder until they are just combined. Stir in the chocolates and almonds. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

4) Divide the dough into two equal parts and roll each piece into a 10-inch log. Place the logs on the prepared cookie sheets and flatten them to 1-inch thick by pressing them gently with your fingertips.

5) Bake them for 25 minutes. Then cool them for one hour on the cookie sheet.

6) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut each log into 1/2-inch-wide diagonal slices. Place the slices on an ungreased cookie sheet, cut side up, and bake them for 10  minutes. Turn the cookies over and bake them for another 10 minutes. Cool them on the cookie sheets.

Makes approximately 40 biscotti

And now for the giveaway!

The folks at Tate’s Bake Shop are allowing me to host a giveaway!

tates-cookbook

You’ll have the chance to win the delicious package of cookies pictured above, plus the Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook.

Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • [Mandatory] Leave a comment on this post, telling me about your favorite kind of cookie.
  • For extra entries, become a fan of Tate’s on Facebook. Come back and leave a separate comment saying you became a fan.
  • For more entries, tweet, blog, or post on Facebook about this giveaway. Make sure to leave a separate comment for each extra entry.
  • For more entries, subscribe to my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, or become a fan on Facebook. Make sure to leave a separate comment for each extra entry.

Rules:

Only U.S. residents are allowed to enter.

Giveaway ends Friday, December 17, at 11:00 p.m. Central Time. No comments will be considered after that time.

I will select one (1) winner using random.org.

Good luck!

Even if you are not so fortune as to win this giveaway, you can still purchase some cookies of your own at a 15 % discount by using coupon code cookie valid through December 31st. They would make a lovely Christmas present for a foodie friend, or anyone who enjoys cookies!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. No further comments will be considered.

On Molasses Spice Cookies + Sisters

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Cooking can be solitary or shared. When the kitchen is cleared of clutter and people, you are free to create as you wish. It is very calming. However, throw two very different people into a kitchen and ask them to make a meal together and you have a potential disaster on your hands.

But if you never cook with someone you love and trust, you lose so much. Working and producing with your best friend is very rewarding and really brings out your character.

My favorite people to cook with? My sisters.

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No strings attached. Just a common goal: creating something delicious.

These cookies were made by my sister and I for a party. As I rolled the balls of dough in sugar, I realized how easy it is for me to work with her. How blessed I am to be able to work with my sister without going crazy!

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But lets talk cookies. These big, soft cookies have a wonderful level of spice and sweetness. Perfect with a tall glass of cold (whole) milk.

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Daring Bakers, July 2009: Milan Cookies

This is my very first Daring Bakers Challenge! I am very excited.

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

The host gave us the option of choosing only one of the two to make. I was feeling a little daunted at the thought of homemade marshmallows, so I decided to just make the Milans.

They were absolutely delicious. And so cute! I decided to only make half a recipe, so every one disappeared the same day.

The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of lemon extract. This seemed like an awful lot to me, so I downsized to just 1 teaspoon. This was a mistake as the cookies were not quite “lemony” enough. Also, the recipe called for orange zest in the chocolate filling. Since I didn’t have any on hand, I substituted orange extract. I thought it gave it wonderful flavor.

I’ll definitely keep this recipe…it would be perfect for a Girls-only Party or an Afternoon Tea.

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Ingredients:

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a cookies sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto the prepared cookie sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

 

5 Responses to “Daring Bakers, July 2009: Milan Cookies”

  1. Lauren says:

    Yum!! Your cookies look amazing =D. Beautiful job on your first challenge – I’m glad you enjoyed them!!

  2. anda says:

    Congrats on your first challenge. They look verrrry good.

  3. Christina says:

    Wlecome! You did a wonderful job on your first challenge!

  4. isa says:

    Welcome to the Daring Bakers!
    Your cookies look delicious!
    Nicely done!

  5. Michelle says:

    Welcome to the Daring Bakers! You did a great job with your first challenge!!