Crackle Top Ginger Molasses Cookies

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Nothing reminds me of the holidays more than spiced cookies. For this special Secret Recipe Club Cookie Carnival round-up for the winter, I was paired up with Cindy from Hun… What’s for Dinner?, a stay at home to 2 children. It was pretty much a no brainer when I saw her recipe for Ginger Molasses Cookies, a perfect way to take the edge off on a chilly day. My favorite way to eat these cookies are after they’ve been warmed over the a cup of tea — soft and chewy center with crispier outer edges.

These cookies bake uniformly and are pretty to look at with the crackly tops. Since we like our cookies on the softer side, we baked them for only 10 minutes and set them to cool on parchment paper. The molasses in these cookies keeps them soft for days after baking. My husband baked these for me one evening and I brought them into work 4 or 5 days later and they were still very soft and flavorful. This is also the first cookie I’ve heard of that used oil instead of butter; how these would bake into cookies seemed like a mystery to me.

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Classic Mini Waffles

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Waffles are one of my favorite things to eat. I always order them over pancakes or French Toast when I’m at breakfast or brunch. The reason is that I can’t make them at home. I don’t have a waffle iron, let alone a waffle recipe or mix.

That’s why I was excited for this month’s Secret Recipe Club pair-up with Rebekah from Making Miracles. Rebekah had not one, but two recipes for waffles! I chose to go with her “Classic Waffles” because Not only does this recipe whip up in a jiffy, but it is a tried and true “Family Favorite” from Rebekah’s family.

This recipe also gave me an excuse to use my parents’ “Circus Waffle Iron” to make some mini-waffles. Because of that, I halved the recipe and still was able to get around 12 mini waffles from it.

Check out Making Miracles for more about Rebekah’s family, food, and memories and the Secret Recipe Linkup below to so who else participated in this month’s reveal.

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Spring Coconut Macaroon Nests

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Macaroons are light, almost meringue-like cookies that originated in Italy, France, and Belgium. They were originally comprised of mainly almonds, similar to the Italian cookie amaretti. But once North America got its hands on the cookie, by way of Scotland, we swapped the nuts for coconut and made it our own. The coconut macaroon is popular in Australia, the United States, The Netherlands, and Germany.

Macaroons are a favorite treat in my parent’s household because they are on the lighter end of the sweet scale, especially when homemade. Made this way, they are also highly customize-able. You can choose different fillings (chocolate & almond spread for my in-laws, lemon curd for my side), to dip or drizzle with chocolate, or to eat them plain (my Dad’s favorite way). The shredded coconut I use is a little bit drier than the common “blue bag” (Baker’s Angel Flake) brand, and I also supplemented it with a little unsweetened shredded coconut to tamper the sugar level even more.

Besides decorating these to be cute nests, the best part was getting to snack on the leftover sweetened condensed milk, a tradition in my family. And since I was making these at my condo, I didn’t have to beat anyone at rock-paper-scissors for the rights to do so.

I saw this recipe linked to in an Easter Dessert Recipe Round-up  at Rachel Cooks, which led me to two different variations on Two Peas and Their PodCoconut Lemon Macaroon Nests & Nutella Macaroon Nests. My personal favorite was eating them plain, followed by the chocolate ones. It may have been the lemon curd I used, but the lemon versions were a bit too sweet. And, I almost killed my sister because I forgot that these were tropical jellybeans that had “strawberry” as one of the flavors! (She’s allergic to strawberries).

If you want an even easier version, you can look at Danny’s Macaroons, or a quick white-chocolate dipped version I made a while back for my Dad.

Fast & Easy Black Bean Soup

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For some reason I don’t make too many soups. Something about them just seems daunting. This soup is fast, easy, and healthy. The best part is that it only uses one pot and one blender (or food processor). If you have an immersion blender, then this is truly a one-pot meal.

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I’ve made this soup several times in the past month and it’s easy to customize. It’s also pretty cheap to make, especially if you stretch it by adding some rice or quinoa to it. I’ve also added frozen corn and peas to it to add some more nutritional value. As it is, it’s under 500 calories per warm, hearty, bowl.

The version pictured here has vegan chorizo in it instead of dried chorizo, and is topped with some chopped gouda and sesame seeds.

Homemade Filet-O-Fish

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This year our household made a decision to decrease our meat intake. This means leading a mostly pescatarian lifestyle. I’m particularly choosy when it comes to seafood. It’s amazing and one of my favorite things to eat when done well. The other side of the coin being that it is so easy to mess up and boy have I been burned in the past.

250px-McD-Filet-O-Fish I have never liked fish sandwiches. Sure, I ate fish sticks when I was growing up, and I eat fish & chips now, but I have never ordered fish at a fast food restaurant.

Why would you order something when it looks like this? –>

These homemade sandwiches use a sustainable fish and are much healthier than what you’d find at a fast food restaurant. You can make these as healthy or indulgent as you choose. Swap the bun out for whole wheat and toss with a side of baked chips, or go all out and slather it with cheese and eat with some french fries. I like these sandwiches with a little bit of green on the top and a nice schmear of wasabi mayonnaise on one bun to give it a little spice. The mayonnaise, which I picked up at our local Trader Joe’s, is a modernized version of tartar sauce. Feel free to omit it or replace with the traditional tartar sauce if that’s your preference.