Gingerbread Cookies

To be honest, baking is not really my “thing.” Casey is much better at it than I am, and enjoys it more (I am more prone to random kitchen experiments and breakfast explorations). But Casey’s cookie brittle, along with the blog-world Christmas cookie take-over, had me itching to bake a mess of Christmas goodies.

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

I planned to make gingerbread cookies, pistachio and cherry biscotti, and something minty and chocolatey last weekend. I even bought the ingredients.

But then, Friday’s tragedy happened, and instead of spending Sunday in the kitchen baking up a storm, I spent it on the couch, snuggling close to my husband, for once not worrying about a to-do list but instead enjoying the comfort of the moment. I hope that you all have had a similar chance to hug your loved ones extra tight this week as we all struggle to comprehend the tragedy in Newtown.

But last night, as I prepared to leave town and spend the holidays with family, I finally got around to making cookies! I’ll be sharing these with one of my best friends today when we meet up for lunch, and with my husband’s family when we arrive at their house tonight.

Gingery Goodness

Gingery Goodness

These crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle little cookies include not one, not two, but three types of ginger (ground, freshly minced, and crystallized)!

crystallized ginger

Crystalized Ginger

I can’t use crystalized ginger without thinking of our dad… One year we were making something that called for crystalized ginger. We sent my dad to the store to pick up a few things, and asked him to get the ginger. When he returned home, he was beaming from ear to ear, carrying a 3 pound bag of crystalized ginger he had personally scooped from the bulk bins.

3 pounds of crystallized ginger is more or less a lifetime supply… I think we still have some of that bag left left in the freezer…

But I digress… back to the cookies!

Christmas cookies

Christmas is for cookies

Gingerbread Cookies

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap (robust) molasses
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 cup raw sugar

Method

  • Preheat to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Whisk flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar and coconut oil in a large bowl, about 3 minutes (this will not get fluffy like it would with refined sugar and butter).
  • Reduce mixer speed to low. Add egg, molasses, grated ginger, and vanilla; beat just to blend.
  • Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend. Mix in crystallized ginger (dough will be soft and sticky).
  • Place raw sugar in a shallow bowl. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out dough. Using a second spoon, scoop dough from tablespoon measure into bowl with raw sugar; turn to coat well. Roll into ball. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with half of remaining dough and sugar, spacing balls 1 1/2″ apart.
  • Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and centers appear cracked, 10–12 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool. Repeat with remaining dough and sugar, using cooled baking sheets and new parchment.
  • Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature between sheets of parchment or waxed paper.
Served with Eggnog

Served with Eggnog

These cookies are absolute perfection. So much ginger flavor, such a great texture, and, thanks to the blackstrap molasses, they are somewhat healthy (blackstrap molasses is very high in iron. Read more about its nutritional benefits on Gena’s blog).

I enjoyed my cookies last night with a glass of eggnog, my indulgence of the week (eggnog as coffee creamer = fabulous). Change the rain that was pounding on the roof to snow, add a gently roaring fire, and it would have been the perfect Christmas-time evening. But even without the snow and the fire, the cookies and eggnog have me feeling much more in the holiday spirit.

We will be taking a break from the blog over the holidays. You can follow me on instagram (@lindzjane115) for photographic evidence of my holiday eats and adventures.

Before we go, however, it’s time to announce the winner of the Awesome Bars Giveaway!

Awesome Bars winner

Congratulations to Val, my Foodie Pen Pal from October!!

See you back here in 2013.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

-L

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Holiday Memories and Recipes

Christmas is coming!

Christmas is coming!

As you probably noticed from our Thanksgiving post, our family goes all out for the holidays.  This year, Christmas is going to be a little different than normal, since I am performing until Christmas Eve, and both sisters will be spending the big day with their in-laws.  Mom and Dad didn’t want to be home alone, so I will be meeting them at my Aunt’s house in Southern California.

The table will be set for less guests than usual, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be having excellent meals!  My aunt already sent out the proposed menu for Mom and me to weigh in on.

Proposed Menu, Christmas 2012

Proposed Menu, Christmas 2012

Looking at these incredible suggestions, I started thinking about some of my favorite recipes from past Christmases.

One of the best desserts was a Tipsy Spiced Fruit Tart with Buttermilk Whipped Cream.  Lindsey and I made this delicious recipe from Southern Living back in 2009.

Tipsy Spiced Fruit Tart

Tipsy Spiced Fruit Tart

In 2010, we started our Christmas dinner with a delicious Arugula-Orange Salad with Pomegranate-White Wine Vinaigrette.  This salad had a wonderful, fresh taste, and beautiful, festive colors.  It looked great on the dining table!

Beautiful salad for Christmas Dinner!

Beautiful salad for Christmas Dinner!

A tradition that we’ll be continuing this year is our family Holiday Party!  After Christmas, the whole family is convening in Texas for our 12th (I think) annual holiday party.  Over the years, we’ve provided food at the party through cooking, catering, and/or Costco.

Party 2009

Party 2009

For the past 5 or so years, we’ve always had a big platter of Caprese Sticks.  This simple appetizer is always a huge crowd-pleaser.

Caprese Sticks

Caprese Sticks

We also always do a special cocktail.  A few years ago, we made Champagne Mojitos, but my poor brother-in-law got so worn out muddling enough mint leaves for 80+ cocktails, that we decided to do something more simple in later years.  One of my favorites is “Special Cider”, apple cider with bourbon.

Big Sis with Champagne Mojitos

Big Sis with Champagne Mojitos

I’m looking forward to seeing what we come up with this year!  Do you have any holiday traditions or favorite holiday recipes?  We’d love to hear about them!

Happy Eating!

-C

P.S. If you have not yet entered our Awesome Bar Taster Pack Giveaway, it’s not too late! We will choose and announce the winner tomorrow morning.

Carrot and Coriander Soup

Mixing in the seasonings and milk

Mixing in the seasonings

It has been cold and gross in San Francisco lately!  I’ve needed my umbrella almost everyday!  Perhaps my Texas upbringing is to blame, but I do not do well with cold, rainy weather.

The combination of lousy weather and busy rehearsals has made me want one thing… Soup!

I threw this big batch of soup together in between teaching and rehearsals today.  I decided it would be nice to have some on hand during this performance week!  Luckily it tastes good, so I’m excited to enjoy it over the next few days.

Carrot and Coriander Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup milk (I used a non-dairy substitute)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Monochromatic pot of veggies

Monochromatic pot of veggies

Method

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter over low heat until butter is melted.  Add the onions and saute 3-4 minutes, until slightly softened.  Add the celery and onion and cook 2 additional minutes.  Add the carrots and cook, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes.  Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 10 more minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent vegetables from sticking to the pan.

Carrots joined the mix

Carrots joined the mix

Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes, until vegetables are tender.  Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the ground coriander and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.  Set aside.

Simmering the broth and veggies

Simmering the broth and veggies

Puree the vegetable and broth mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Return to saucepan, and stir in the milk, coriander and butter, cilantro, and salt and pepper.  Garnish with additional cilantro leaves.

Blending until smooth

Blending until smooth

This is an excellent soup for a cold, busy day.  It was filling, but didn’t feel heavy (when I’m dancing, this is a big concern!).  I loved the coriander and cilantro, and am excited to make this again with other spices.

Ready to enjoy!

Ready to enjoy!

If you have not yet entered our Awesome Bar Taster Pack Giveaway, it’s not too late!

Happy Eating!

-C

You Can’t Fake Awesome: Win an Awesome Bar Taster Pack

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When I was out in San Francisco for Thanksgiving, I discovered a delicious new snack bar one morning when I went on a short walk in search of a latte. I was very impressed by the short list of all natural and … Continue reading