Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate Ginger Sugar Cookies

Happy Valentine’s Day!

chocolate ginger sugar cookies

Today marks the day for lovers across the nation. What a better way to celebrate than with chocolate, sugar, and a hint of spice. However, I don’t really have anything planned other than the cookie exchange I’m hosting at work today. You see, I’ve never really celebrated this holiday. I’ve always considered it a Hallmark holiday, and I don’t like flowers, or wasteful gifts.

Food on the other hand, is always welcome! One late day at work, I threw out the idea of having a cookie exchange. A few of us at work actually really enjoy baking, so we thought it would be fun. The next holiday coming up would be Valentine’s Day, so why not?

Six of us will be getting together to share the cookies with each other, as well as the rest of the company. Since this month is heart healthy month, we will be putting the cookies out and requesting donations to donate to The American Heart Association. We were originally only going to bake enough for the small group of us, but decided to donate the rest for charity.

chocolate ginger sugar cookies1

I packaged the ones for the group in cellophane and tied it with a red ribbon. The rest will be put out for everybody else. I tried this recipe first when I went over to my parents for Chinese New Year. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, so that was my test batch. I’m glad I tried it out first, because the original recipe yielded 4 dozen, meanwhile mine ended up being 3 dozen. Other than that, these had great chocolate flavor with a nice kick of ginger. When I made it for the cookie exchange, I doubled the recipe and got about 70 cookies. Mine were a little bigger since I used my cookie scoop.

I’m not sure if the cookbook had a typo, or omitted a step in the original recipe, but it didn’t mention when to place the ginger in the batter. I added it in to the dry ingredients and it worked out well. I also think the recipe for the sugar/ginger topping ingredients were too much. I’ve halved that to eliminate waste.

Chocolate Ginger Sugar Cookies
adapted from: The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book

 printable recipe

cookie batter:
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP ground ginger
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 TBSP vanilla extract

sugar topping:
2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 2 baking sheets and set aside. In a covered container, add the 2 TBSP sugar and 1 tsp ginger, cover and shake to combine. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, ginger, and salt. Whisk until the mixture is evenly colored. Set aside.

In your mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then beat in vanilla. Turn mixer down to low speed, and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Using your cookie scoop, scoop the dough and roll into a ball. Roll it in the sugar/ginger mixture and place about 1 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for about 12 minutes. The cookies will crackle, but the tops will be soft to the touch. Cool cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Weeknight Pizza

weeknight pizza

Let’s say one day, you’re craving pizza. It’s late, so do you suck it up and order pizza, or do you have time to make your own? If you happened to have the cheese on hand, the sauce on hand, the toppings ready, but no crust! No worries! If you have refrigerated crescent rolls left over in the fridge, you can make this pizza! Hypothetical situation of course!

As I mentioned in my previous post, we were trying out the Daiya cheese. I also bought the mozzarella style to make pizza. Once we brought the package home, Gary was eager to open it up and taste it. He did just that, and everyday afterward, he took a little pinch to eat. I told him I was going to use it to make pizza, and I wasn’t sure if it was enough, and since he opened it already, I had to use it up within a certain time frame.

Since I didn’t have time to make pizza dough, and I didn’t have any premade ones, I used up what I had in the pantry and fridge. This came out great, not as good as real pizza dough of course, but a great alternative if you don’t have any. I used the garlic butter flavor, and believe it or not, it’s dairy free (and possible vegan, I don’t remember)! Since there are seams on the rolls, it made it easy to tear the pizza into pieces so you don’t have to pick up the whole thing at once.

weeknight pizza 2

The Daiya website said that the cheese melts and stretches. I saw that it melted beautifully, but I didn’t notice too much stretch. It tasted like a real cheese pizza, and I will definitely buy this  again and use it on pizza dough. Of course, with any pizza, add as much or little of whatever topping you like! I used some shredded rotisserie chicken and sliced baby bella mushrooms. Gary said it reminded him of the Elio’s pizza he used to eat as a kid.

Weeknight Pizza
a Cathy original!

 printable recipe

1 tube garlic butter or regular crescent rolls
1/3 cup tomato sauce, divided (jarred or homemade)
1 (8 oz) package of Daiya mozzarella shreds

toppings optional:
baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
shredded cooked chicken

Preheat oven to 375° F. Open crescent package and unroll onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Separate down the middle of the middle of the crescents to make 2 rectangles. Press the other seams to close them up.

Spread sauce evenly onto both pieces of crust. Top with cheese, then toppings.

Bake in preheated oven for 12-13 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Makes 2 pizzas.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Basic Vegan Shells and Cheese

vegan shells mac and cheese

One of the things Gary really missed since going dairy free was his mac and cheese. Although I’ve made it once before with tofu, he still missed his blue box mac and cheese. I’ve never been a mac and cheese person, and I’ve probably had a taste of the blue box version when he made it once before.

I had heard about Daiya while ago, long before Oprah talked about it, but never tried it. Gary was a little hesitant because he didn’t like how some vegan cheeses added certain products he didn’t like (even though he thought it was great before). As usual when I first showed it to him, I was all excited, but he brushed it aside, and said he’ll take a look.

Fast forward months (or a year+) later, after I told him Oprah talked about it on her show, he decided to look at the ingredients. His normal routine is to look up every ingredient to see what it is, and how it’s made. He really read up on it, and the fact that it’s made with non-GMO products made it a winner. After reviewing, he decided it was time to go to Whole Foods and pick it up!

We picked up both the cheddar style and the mozzarella style. I told him I was going to make shells and cheese, since he missed it so much. I found a recipe from Alton Brown that I was going to adapt. I ended up working late, and when I told him I was on my way home to make it, he couldn’t wait and ended up making it himself. I came home to the obvious pungent smell of cheese. He had already eaten. As I ate mine, he grabbed another bowl. Needless to say, this was a big hit with him, and he thought it tastes almost exactly like the blue box version!

I called this a basic mac and cheese since there are definitely ways to jazz this up with veggies and meat. If you’re dairy free or vegan, definitely try this out!

vegan shells mac and cheese 2

Basic Vegan Shells and Cheese
a Gary original, inspired by Alton Brown

 printable recipe

1/2 lb pasta shells
1 cup original soy milk
1 (8 oz) package Daiya Cheddar Shreds
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot of salted water, boil pasta per package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, add milk and cheese into a separate pot. At low heat, bring to a boil stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Mix cheese mixture and pasta until well combined.

Serves 3-4

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nutella Crescents

nutella crescents

It’s February 5th. Happy Nutella Day!


Our wonderful hostesses, Ms Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso are at it again today! Today, they’re rounding up everybody’s entries for World Nutella Day!

Normally, I would eat Nutella on some whole wheat bread, or straight from the jar! However this time around, I decided to use up the crescent rolls I had left in the fridge to make these Nutella crescents. These came out beautifully, and is best served warm out of the oven.

Are you craving more Nutella? Click the logo above to go to the Nutella Day page for more awesome recipes. I’ve made ice cream and topped crepes with it myself.

Nutella Crescents
a Cathy original!

 printable recipe

1 package reduced fat or regular crescent rolls
8 heaping teaspoons of nutella

Unroll package or crescents and break apart into 8 triangles.

Place a heaping teaspoon of nutella at the wide end of the triangle, and spread along the length of the triangle.


Roll from the wide end to the tip and shape to a crescent as directed on the package.


Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 8 crescents