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.
Each year during the holiday season, I prefer to give comestibles. These edible gifts have the bonus of not only not arriving with a price tag, but it’s a reflection of time and effort instead of just checking someone off of a gift list.
Hot chocolate and s’mores are some of my favorite things to consume. Nothing like sitting by a fire (or a video of a fireplace) and sipping cocoa or chomping on a burnt marshmallow. This recipe is incredibly easy and customize-able. I like to use higher-quality, locally made marshmallows, but you can also drink with mini-marshmallows. I filled each jar with 5 servings (180g) and the larger with 8 servings. Some have peppermint marshmallows from Bread Furst and some have vanilla marshmallows from Fleurir.
Here are some different packaging styles I’m gifting:
For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired up with Sally from Bewitching Kitchen. Sally is a super smart and fit biochemist transplant from Brazil by way of California, Paris, and now Manhattan. There are many recipes on Sally’s site, including Carrot Orzo, Farfalle with Kale Pesto, Biscoff Oatmeal Cookies, Speculaas, Pumpkin Espresso Loaf, Nutella Drop Cookies, Snickerdoodles with a Twist, Butterscotch Brownies, Pumpkin Shrimp Curry, Sabu’s Spicy Coconut Chicken, Lemony Chicken Curry, Bon Bon Chicken, and Clay Pot Pork. I could tell through my recipe selection that I was really in the mood for curry, so I chose Green Curry Pork Tenderloin. Instead of buying green curry paste for this recipe I used the yellow curry paste I had in the pantry.
This was a very good recipe that tasted great. It did take a little while to get all of the recipe components prepared and we still needed to make a supplemental side to go with the protein. The pork was cooked perfectly and went great with the sauce. The marinade was easy to make, though we substituted the reduced sodium soy sauce with regular soy sauce diluted with water. We don’t have a grill in our building so we roasted it in the oven and finished with the broiler. I must admit that I was intimidated when it came time to make our own curry sauce, but it came together pretty easily. The sauce was quite mild so we would up the heat next time, especially since this recipe made tons of extra sauce.
The best thing about this dish were the candied nuts on top. We couldn’t find pumpkin seeds so replaced them with shelled pistachios. The nuts were quite addictive and we used the leftovers to top a salad the next day.
For October’s Secret Recipe Club, I was paired up with Nora from Natural Noshing. Nora is about the same age as me and has “a passion for nutrition and eating natural, real food — nothing too fussy, over-processed or complicated.” The fact that she avoids gluten and limits her sugar intake seemed a bit daunting at first (I am, after all, a carb-avore that loves sweets), but my worries went away when I started perusing her recipes.
Between Almond Joy / Mounds Pancakes, Chicken Vindaloo, Fire Roasted Chicken Enchiladas with Squash and Red Peppers, Kickin Cashew Chicken, Red Thai Tofu Curry, Pineapple Upside Down Cake for One, and Spicy Kabocha Soup, I’ve bookmarked quite a few recipes to try out later.
One of our comfort foods during while were were dating was Kung Pao Tofu from a local Chinese restaurant. Because of this, it wasn’t hard for my husband to decide on this dish as his SRC pick. Not only did he pick this dish, but he also made it for us one day while we were working from home together.
This recipe won’t solve your craving for Chinese take-out style because it is much lighter and less greasy. It tastes fresher, especially with the crunch of the red bell peppers. Since the dish is relatively easy and quick to make, next time I’d like to try boosting up the spice as well as swapping the chicken for tofu.
Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been gone for so long! I’ve been quite busy the last few months. I got married in September and just got back from my honeymoon to Maui, O’ahu, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Before all that happened, I took an impromptu trip up to Pittsburgh to visit my bridesmaid, Stephanie. I was a bit hesitant to make the drive all by myself, but after a grueling bus trip last October, I was convinced that driving would be better.
Stephanie’s birthday is also in August, so I took the opportunity to make an attempt at a super cute Pocky cake from Sprinkle Bakes. My version turned out pretty well, though when frosting the cake I accidentally mis-aligned the layers, which affected the way the pocky sticks stacked.
I like a strong green tea flavor, so I used about a cup of organic matcha powder between the cake and frosting. Paired with the dark chocolate and yuzu filling, this was the perfect light and refreshing cake to snack on after a long drive.
About the matcha I used: Sugimoto America is a complete supplier of Japanese green tea and a subsidiary of Sugimoto Seicha, a Japanese green tea company founded in 1946. Based out of Seattle, they were nice enough to send me some great samples of their product, including some powders to bake with.
Their tea is grown and harvested on the mountain slopes of Shizuoka, the tea capital of Japan. All of their tea is blended, roasted, and packed by Tea Maestro Sugimoto, who received the Agricultural Minister Award in 1986.