Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Macadamia Butter Cookies with Dried Cranberries

Hours and hours in the kitchen. Family members kept peeking in to see where the good smells were coming from.    The counters were loaded with macadamia nuts, cranberries, hershey kisses, peanut butter, walnuts, and powdered sugar. This year I made Peanut Butter Blossoms,  Macadamia  Butter Cookies with Dried Cranberries, and Meltaways. A few of our Christmas favorites. One of the key ingredients to a successful night in the kitchen is the music. Tonight I shuffled my Christmas collection on my Ipod. Everything from Ella Fitzgerald to She & Him to one of my favorite soundtracks, Mixed Nuts. Sure makes for a fun night.

Macadamia Butter Cookies with Dried Cranberries
2/3 C. macadamia nuts
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 C. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/2 C. sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
sugar, for dipping (about 1-2 T.)

Preheat the oven for 375. 
In a food processor, process nuts until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Combine nut butter and both sugars in a bowl and beat with mixer. Add vanilla and egg. Beat well. Lightly measure flour, level. Whisk together with soda, salt and nutmeg in a separate bowl. Add dry to sugar mixture. Beat at low speed just until combined. (Should be thick!) Stir in cranberries. Chill 10 minutes. Place dipping sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into balls (makes about 30), pressing each bowl into sugar lightly and place each ball sugar-side up on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Gently press top of each ball with a fork to form a criss cross.
Bake about 8-9 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from pan to a wire cooking rack. 

 At this point I'm about ready to call it a night. It's a lot of work to make Christmas cookies, but it's something I look forward to every year.  
After noticing how quickly the cookies are disappearing I think I can confidently say that they are all a success! 
I'm always looking for different recipes to try, if you have any to recommend let me know! Any family favorites you can share? I would love it. 

I hope your having a fun week preparing for Christmas! Don't let this time of year stress you out. Take time to relax, even for a few minutes. Stop a second and embrace the cheerfulness that this season brings, the giving spirit amongst most and do something to bless someone you don't even know! If you're in a drive-thru, pay for the person behind you, pay for someone's gas, or just wish someone "Merry Christmas" with a kind smile... it can make the biggest difference in someone's day.

Blessings to you all!

Chef Teebs

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hazelnut Pizza Dough & Hazelnut Spinach Pesto

So my friend Ro had a baby girl! (See the pizza I made for her baby shower here.) I signed up to bring them dinner, my turn came, and I thought, "Ooo i should try one of my hazelnut recipes!" My parents and I have been craving roasted vegetable pizza and I had a recipe for hazelnut dough I could use! I've never cooked with hazelnuts. I've had them in mouth-watering Godiva Chocolates...sounded so interesting to me to use them in a pesto and especially a pizza dough! Intrigued and excited to begin this adventure, I grabbed my recipes and headed to the kitchen. I made the pesto, the pizza dough, and then began roasting whatever veggies I had on hand. I threw together a salad with this vinaigrette and made a dipping oil with some herbs and evoo to serve with bread. I brought the pesto along with some al dente pasta and roasted vegetables, bread and dipping oil, the salad and some sweetened iced tea to their door. They loved it! 
 Chris, Ro's husband, doesn't like pizza so I made them pesto pasta. My parents and I ate the pizza. And it was deeee-licious!! You can find the recipe for the hazelnut pizza dough here. I topped the pizza with lots of sauce, piles of roasted veggies and sprinkled the top with nutritional yeast. Didn't even miss the cheese. Here's the pesto recipe from Rachel Ray:

Hazelnut-Spinach Pesto

1/3 C. EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
1-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 sprig rosemary
1/4 C. peeled hazelnuts, toasted
12 oz. spinach, woody stems discarded
freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

In a small sauce pan, heat the EVOO, garlic, and rosemary sprig over medium-low heat and steep for 5 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then discard the rosemary and pour the oil and garlic into the food processor. Add the nuts and spinach and process into a thick paste. Season with salt, pepper, and the nutmeg, if using. 

I had some pesto left over and used it to make roasted veggie sandwiches with spinach leaves. It was amazing. Soo easy but only quick if you have the veggies handy. I like to roast a large amount and keep them in the fridge for the week. 

How's your Christmas plans coming along? I got all my shopping done. Just anxiously awaiting to hand these gifts out!! I love it. 

Chef Teebs

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Composed Salad of Roasted Broccoli, Romaine, Chickpeas and Walnuts

Went to Stiles Vegetable Farm to get their last picks of the season. My mom and I ended up getting a bargain: a whole basket of squash for $5! So I thought I would try a spaghetti squash recipe. I've always found it amazing how God made spaghetti squash. It's incredible... after you cook it, cut it in half and just fork through it and you have what looks like noodles! What an awesome Creator! We got home, unloaded the vegetables, and I began searching through my mass amount of recipes. I found this recipe for Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato "spaghetti" from Vegetarian Times. I was very disappointed with it. The recipe is currently in the garbage next to a dead spider I crushed and some used kleenx. Spaghetti squash is my least favorite squash. I may try it again with a different recipe. But never this one again. Luckily I made a delicious salad that everyone enjoyed! First time making a salad with roasted veggies in it. Yum!! After I began preparing the dinner, I realized both recipes called for chickpeas. So I substituted black beans in the squash recipe. 

Composed Salad of Roasted Broccoli, Romaine, chickpeas, and Walnuts (From Martha Stewart Living)

For the broccoli
  2 small heads broccoli, trimmed & cut into large florets
  3 T. EVOO
    coarse salt & fresh cracked pepper

For the chickpeas
  2 T. EVOO
  1 shallot, thinly sliced (I used onion)
  1 can (15-oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  coarse salt
  1 t. sherry vinegar (I used rice wine)
For the goat cheese puree (I omitted)
  1/2 C. (3 1/2-4 oz.)fresh goat cheese
  2 T. water
  2 T. EVOO
  1 T. sherry vinegar
For the vinaigrette 
  2 T. dijon mustard
  1 T. plus 1 t. sherry vinegar (or rice)
  1/2 t. honey (or for vegan, agave nectar)
  1/2 t. coarse salt
  1/4 C. EVOO
For the assembly
  1 head romaine lettuce (or 2 hearts any lettuce), leaves separated  
  candied walnuts (recipe follows) or 1 c. toasted nuts

To make broccoli, preheat oven to 450° Toss broccoli with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until broccoli begins to soften and brown, about 15 minutes. 
To make the chickpeas, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot, and cook, stirring until translucent, 5 minutes. Stir in chickpeas, and season with salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add vinegar, and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute.
To make the goat cheese puree (if making), combine all the ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth, scraping down sides once. Puree can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.
To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk (or in a mason jar, shake) together mustard, vinegar, honey (or agave) and salt. Pour in oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. 
To assemble, Toss broccoli with 2 T. vinaigrette, and toss romaine with 2 T. vinaigrette. Arrange on a platter with chickpeas and walnuts. Serve with puree and additional vinaigrette on side.

Candied Walnuts
 makes 1 cup

1 C. walnut halves
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 T. honey (or agave nectar)
1 T. plus 1 t. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. coarse salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven 400°. Combine all ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet, and spread out mixture. Roast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
 My whole family loved the salad. It was definitely a delicious change. When I served the salad, the broccoli, chickpeas and nuts were at room temperature. So the temperature thing wasn't weird and actually the taste of the caramelized broccoli was the best part! Give it a try and let me know how you liked it! Also, if you try it with the goat cheese I'm curious how different that makes it...

Happy Christmas shopping:) I'm almost done! Yay!!

Chef Teebs