Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tropical Oatmeal Cookies

I don't know where my brain got this idea from. I've always like coconut in oatmeal cookies. It adds a little extra something in there. Coconut and raisins though? Ehhh, I don't know. The genius struck when I saw the dried pineapple in my pantry. TROPICAL OATMEAL COOKIES!! With coconut! And dried pineapple!! These came out quite yummy. I altered my Nana's original oatmeal cookie recipe and they're nice and crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. I changed 1 cup of butter to 2/3 cup of canola oil (because it's cheaper than Earth Balance), but go ahead and use 2 sticks of EB if you are feeling generous with your buttery spread.

Another ingredient note -- I used a full tsp of fresh ground nutmeg in this. Actually, this is several notes on the nutmeg topic. One is that if you don't like nutmeg, you aren't going to want to use a full teaspoon because you can definitely taste it. It has an interesting little kick that pairs well with the coconut, but if you don't like it, leave it out or sub with cinnamon. Second, CAN YOU BELIEVE I DIDN'T USE CINNAMON IN THIS RECIPE?!? I put cinnamon in everything. Third, really, use fresh ground nutmeg. Grind it yourself. If you don't have a microplane, definitely get one. I love that thing, despite it chunking off pieces of multiple fingers (totally my fault, I'm sure). Fresh ground nutmeg tastes like an almost completely different spice than ground nutmeg you buy at the store. I don't know how to explain it. It's not like dried basil and fresh basil where both are good, but they're different flavors. Compared to fresh ground nutmeg, pre-ground nutmeg isn't good. Being a NutMeg(atarian), I consider myself an expert in this field. That said, if you're not using nutmeg because you think you don't like it but you've never had fresh ground then do yourself a favor and try fresh ground before you make a final decision. If nothing else, the nuts have a really cool swirly pattern inside when you grate them. Do watch your knuckles though!

Tropical Oatmeal Cookies
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp of flax seeds soaked in 6 tbsp water (that is, two flax eggs)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all purpose)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (or 3 cups of either)
3/4 cups unsweetened coconut
1 cup dried pineapple, chopped.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a couple baking sheets (optional, though you can shove one down your gob faster if you don't have to wait for them to cool and release from the cookie sheet :) )

2. Cream together the sugars and oil. Add the flax eggs, vanilla, and coconut extracts and mix until well combined.

3. Add the flour, soda, nutmeg, and salt and stir until just mixed in.

4. Fold in the oatmeal, coconut, and pineapple.

5. Place walnut sized balls of dough on the cookie sheet and flatten with your hand (they won't spread, but they're also yummy golf balls if that's how you roll).

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the cookie sheets.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Two Tomato Soup

Ah, the first day of summer, that can only mean one thing....


Ok, maybe not. This might not be the most seasonally appropriate recipe, but I wanted to make grilled cheese sandwiches with Hickory Cheddar We Can't Say It's Cheese * and I wanted something to dip it in, so I made tomato soup. The other benefit was that it just hung out in the crockpot all day and when I got home from work I just had to puree and enjoy. This is my favorite tomato soup recipe because it gets a bunch of other veggies in there, and sundried tomatoes, which are a nice touch.

And, unrelated vanity, CHECK OUT MY NEW PLATES!! I had a bridal shower, and everyone was very generous, and we got some of the plates we asked for. This is one design, you'll have to stay in suspense for the other one.

Two-Tomato Soup
Adapted from 1001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes by Sue Spitler
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 potato, diced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (dry, not oil packed)
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 cup plain milk of choice
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large sautee pan/soup pot (depending on whether you're making it on the stove or in the slow cooker), heat the oil and sautee the shallots, garlic, celery and carrots until tender, about 5 minutes.

2a. If you're using a crock pot, put the veggies and everything else except for the milk into it and cook on low for 8 hrs... or until veggies are tender (8 hrs covers the work day for me so in it goes)

2b. Add the tomatoes, potato, stock and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover; simmer for 15 minutes or until veggies are soft.

3. Puree soup until smooth in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender. Stir in the milk. Adjust seasoning to taste.

* Have you tried this stuff?? Ohhh man it's good. Hickory Smoked is the favorite in this house. We hope it soon is available in industrial sized tubs.