Tuesday, November 29, 2011


To tell you my family loves ginger cookies is an understatement. My family LOVES all ginger cookies! Every time I make a ginger type cookie, they always ask for more.

I was originally going to buy gingersnaps for a pumpkin cheesecake recipe. It was one less thing for me to do for Thanksgiving cooking. However, this recipe popped up right before I was about to go to the supermarket. I had everything on hand, and my mom asked about ginger cookies once again :), so I decided to make it. I'm so glad I did, because when I saw the $6 price tag for a small box of gingersnaps that were full of crap, I almost fainted!

I started the recipe on Tuesday in order to be able to use it on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I wanted them snappier because I would be using them for a cheesecake crust, so I baked them for the full 15 minutes. Normally, I'm all for the chewy cookies!

My family also thought this didn't have as much ginger flavor as my previous ginger cookies. I didn't either. It may have been because I was dumb and squeezed the ginger liquid out after I grated it. DON'T do it! Keep all that gingery goodness in!

I used a cookie scoop to measure out the cookie balls. I guess I made them slightly bigger, because I only got an even 3 dozen cookies out of the recipe, vs the 4 dozen from the original recipe.

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/4 cups (281 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 grams) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 to 3 grams) table salt
3 tsp (6 grams) ground ginger
1 tsp (2 grams) cinnamon
1/2 tsp(1 gram) allspice
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 sticks (8 ounces or 227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (96 grams) light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup (79 ml) unsulphured molasses
1 to 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger (with the wet ingredients) or 1 to 2 tablespoons finely minced candied ginger (with the dry ingredients) (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until fluffy, about three minutes on medium. Add egg and molasses and beat until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined. Thoroughly scrape down bowl, ensuring ingredients are evenly mixed.

Transfer your cookie dough to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in fridge for at least two hours, until firm.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Roll dough into 1-inch balls and spread at least two inches apart on baking sheets that have either been greased or lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, which is a long range. In the 10 to 12 range, the cookies will be softer. In the 13 to 15 range, a bit snappier. Allow to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Make ahead: In an airtight container at room temperature, the cookies will soften a bit each day. Cookies keep for one week at room temperature or one month in the freezer.

Makes 3 dozen

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes

To be honest, I sometimes find Gary's palette a little on the bland side. He loves white rice, ketchup, plain brothy soups. If you give him some ketchup, he can eat shoe leather and call it a day. In my efforts to get variety in his diet and be a little bit more creative, I would add different types of fiber and fruits and vegetables. If I don't end up finding a recipe I like, I will adapt the heck out of one. In the end, the recipe wouldn't be too close to the original recipe. When I come up with a flavor combination I want to try, there's no stopping me!

When I made the multigrain waffles, he asked if I can make "regular" ones -- "you know like l'eggo my eggos"? When I made the orange cinnamon rolls, he asked if I could omit the orange next time and make it plain. When I ask him what flavor ice cream he wants me to make, he says chocolate -- although he recently asked for cookies and cream! I'm not saying that all these recipes are bad! They're far from that! He liked them, but just asked for something not too out of the ordinary.

So, that's what I did. I made him 'buttermilk' pancakes. I went with a basic recipe and deviate too much from it. The only adaptation I made was using soy milk and vinegar to make a sour milk instead of using buttermilk. Otherwise everything was the same. These were the most fluffy pancakes I've ever made!

The verdict? "I liked these, but I like the strawberry, coconut and apple better."

So I guess my efforts in making them healthier or coming up with crazy flavors are worth the efforts!

Buttermilk Pancakes
adapted from Better Homes and Garden 14th edition

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 TBSP granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 TBSP vinegar plus enough soy milk to equal 1 1/2 cup total (or 1 1/2 cup buttermilk)
3 TBSP canola oil

In a measuring cup combine vinegar and soy milk. Let sit for 5 minutes (skip this step if using buttermilk).

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.

In another bowl, whisk together the soy milk mixture, egg and oil. Add to the flour, and stir until just combined.

Using a ladle, pour 1/4 cup batter onto a hot griddle. Cook until surface has completely bubbled, then flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with maple syrup.

Makes about 12 pancakes

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

When I first came up with this, I was originally going to mix in some spaghetti so I didn't totally shock Gary when there was no pasta. However, I ran out of spaghetti, so left it as all squash. To my surprise, Gary actually liked it. When I told him all these vegetables were in them, he was surprised as well. I did a good job hiding them! He enjoyed it and gobbled it up even though he knew all these different vegetables were in the dish.

So I wasn't planning blogging it. It didn't seem too intriguing, but I took a picture anyway and Gary encouraged me to blog it. It was a half-assed quick pic, so please ignore the craptastic photo above. I guarantee it's quite tasty indeed. I was also super hungry from the time change (an hour really throws everything off!) and couldn't wait any longer to eat. I wasn't sure what I would call this, so since the meat sauce is similar to a bolognese style sauce, that's what I ended up naming it.

If you have some fresh basil or parsley, I would suggest adding that as well. Although this dish was tasty, it was missing a fresh ingredient garnish.

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

1 small spaghetti squash (3-4 lbs)
1 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper

2 TBSP canola oil
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks celery hearts, finely chopped
3/4 lb ground turkey
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I used a tomato basil)

Preheat oven to 375. Line a sheet pan with foil, and lightly spray with oil. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. Place the squash cut side down and bake in oven for 1 hour. Allow to cool slightly before handling.

Meanwhile, on medium-high heat, add 2 TBSP oil. Sweat the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery for 10 minutes. Add turkey and cook until no longer pink while breaking it down with a wooden spoon. Add mushrooms and cook for another minute. Add sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Using a fork, scrape the spaghetti squash into a large bowl. Toss in 1 TBSP olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the meat mixture to the bowl and toss together to combine. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Mixed Berry Fruit Smoothies

Whenever we have a light dinner, we usually chase it down with a a couple of smoothies. Lame, I know, but we're both not too in to alcohol, and sorta watch what we eat. I normally don't eat a lot throughout the day, so it wouldn't hurt to have some extra fruit. I love smoothies, but the mass market ones can also be chock full of sugar and stuff I don't want to ingest. Our smoothies are frozen fruit and juice, nothing else!

These smoothies are great for a morning pick me up. This is a great base for any add-ins such flax or any other boost you may want.

I get aggravated sometimes when we use our mugs and tall glasses for smoothies. They're not really equipped to keep something cold for a long time. When I saw that the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program was offering Tervis tumblers up for grabs, I jumped at the chance! I've heard such great things about them, but I've never actually used one before. I wish I had got one sooner because this thing is awesome! I filled the Tervis with the smoothie and it kept it cold til the last drop. Because of its double insulation, it didn't sweat on the outside and my hands stayed dried. When I get a chance, I'll probably get a few to use at home.

Mixed Berry Fruit Smoothies

1 cup frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries)
1 cup frozen mangoes
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

Add all ingredients into a blender. Blend until combined. If the mixture is too think to pour, add a little bit more juice to thin it out.

Makes 2-3 servings

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a complimentary Foodbuzz Tervis tumbler. All the reviews and opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes

Did you know today is World Vegan Day? I didn't but it's just a happy coincidence that I'm posting this today! Today marks the start of a month long vegan celebration. I guess I celebrated early, since this past month has been primarily vegan recipes!

As I mentioned, I made 2 different cupcakes for our birthday get together. The other one I made was this chocolate mocha cupcake also from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I was set to make a chocolate cupcake, but the notes in the book also had instructions on turning the chocolate cupcake into a mocha one.

I think these turned out pretty good, as a chocolate cupcake. I didn't taste too much coffee in the cupcake, and only slightly in the frosting, even though there was coffee in both the cupcake batter and the frosting. I missed the part where it said to dust with cinnamon or nutmeg, so I think that would have made a difference as well. I also made the mistake of putting too much vanilla in the frosting while halving rest of the ingredients. It didn't taste off, but the extra liquid made the frosting a bit too thin while piping.

Vegan Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes
adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP cold strong brewed coffee

frosting (half the original recipe)
1/4 cup non hydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup vegan butter (rec: Earth Balance)
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP cold strong brewed coffee
cinnamon or nutmeg for dusting

make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Whisk the milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix to combine.

Beat together the milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla extract and coffee in a large bowl. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until no large lumps remain. (batter will be thin)

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

prepare the frosting:
In a stand mixer, beat together the shortening and butter until light. Add sugar a little at a time and beat for 3 minutes until no lumps remain, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Add vanilla and coffee and beat for another 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy.

Scoop frosting into a piping bag or heavy duty zip top bag and pipe from the outside in. Dust tops lightly with ground cinnamon or nutmeg.

Makes 12 cupcakes

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