Monday, August 25, 2014

nutty "raw" chocolate chip cookie dough (the healthy kind)

I, undoubtedly, have a sweet tooth.  In fact (truth be told), I have a mouth full of them!  That is why this recipe caught my eye quickly.  And I just so happened to have all the ingredients on hand, so it was a quick trip to the end of the experiment and, most definitely, worth it!

I won't get too much into my recent attempt to lower my carb intake.  I think I'll save that for later.  But for a variety of reasons, namely joint pain, I have drastically cut back on them the last two weeks.  I would dare say I'm a sugar "addict," so cutting everything out is not an option… nor do I think it's healthy or necessary.  So, I'm constantly keeping an eye open for just this kind of recipe.  It makes my attempt to reduce inflammation, by reducing sugar and flour, a little more palatable, and… well… it's just really, really good.

I recently saw this recipe on a newer Food Network show, The Kitchen.  There was a segment regarding quick and healthy snacks for kids, and the words "raw cookie dough" caught my attention.

Can't imagine why.

I went and searched online to find the recipe and was able to watch the rest of the episode and taste-test  these goodies before I could turn around.  I now keep them in the freezer at the ready, and if I can keep Daniel out of them, I usually enjoy a couple a day.  He thinks they favor Samoas.  I think they favor the perfect balance of sweet and healthy.

Another score in my book!

one year ago: snickerdoodlesapple cider pork tenderloin
two years ago: peanut butter bacon butterscotch cookieschocolate waffleslemon herb rice salad

Nutty "Raw" Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
makes approx. 20 balls
  • 3 dates, pitted
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I use dark or bittersweet)
~ Soak the dates in 1/4 cup of hot water for 5 minutes, reserving water.

~ In a food processor, combine the nuts, coconut, oats and salt.  Pulse until a fine meal forms.  

~  Add the peanut butter, dates, 3 tbsp of the reserved water and vanilla.  Process until the mixture is cookie dough consistency.  

~ Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add chips.  I just mixed in with my hands.  

~ Line a pan with parchment paper and refrigerate 15-20 minutes until set, or place the pan in the freezer and allow to freeze.  Place in freezer bag and store in freezer or store in airtight container in the fridge.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

jen's cucumber salad

I am desperately trying to hang on to the last days of Summer, folks.  It actually used to not be one of my favorites, but after having children and realizing the quality time I get with them during that season - especially after going back to work full-time - it's so incredibly hard to let go.  

When I do get some days off in the summer, I love the care-free nature of them.  I adore the dirty feet of my boys from being outside all day long and having to scrub their knees extra hard to get a full day's play off of 'em.  I love the freeze pops by the dozen and the feel of the air conditioner after getting a shower following a sticky, balmy afternoon.  And I would be remiss if I didn't mention how very much I love the bounty of veggies and fruit that seemingly make their way into our kitchen, whether we planted them or not.  

This year, one of John's students brought us an abundance of small cucumbers.  They were fantastic and not at all bitter.  We both really love keeping a huge Mason jar stocked with them in sugary vinegar brine, sliced onions, and some seasonings.  They are crisp, crunchy, cool, and a perfect side or condiment to so many different things.  They will last forever, unless - of course - you're like us.  Then the jar is empty more than it's full, and we're a little sad until another generous soul passes on their harvest.  

A quick tip:  these can be added to the brine as you get them, but they flavor up much more quickly if you pour boiling brine over them.  I don't know… the slices are infused from the inside-out, and once cooled, they're absolutely perfect!


Cucumber Salad
makes 2 quarts
  • 8 small cucumbers
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp dill weed
  • 1/2 tbsp celery seed
~ Mix vinegar, sugar, water and seasonings in saucepan and bring to a boil.

~ While mixture is heating, slice cucumbers about a 1/4 inch thick.

~ Pour mixture over cucumbers, cover tightly, and let cool on counter.  Place in 
    refrigerator until fully chilled.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

plain ol' vanilla ice cream

It wasn't too long after we started visiting our current church congregation that we took part in their "Ice Cream Supper."  With my love of ice cream and all, you can imagine the points they scored with me when I read that in the "upcoming events" section of the bulletin.

It was everything I imagined it would be.  Old-fashioned.  Homey.  Delicious.  Everyone who brought a freezer full walked in the door a little taller, a little more confident, a little more eager, as if to say, 

"You think hers is good… wait'll you try this!"  

We've continued to have the suppers over the years, and it's a hit without fail.  The event is no respecter of age or level of expertise, and we all know some good milk, sugar… maybe a little fruit here, or a bit of chocolate there... is a winner every time.

At our last get-together a few weeks ago, I didn't take the preparation on as some big challenge out to win a blue ribbon.  I didn't pour through cookbooks or websites to try to find some obscure concoction.  I actually just considered the basics and came up with what I ended up calling, Plain Ol' Vanilla.  I didn't really mean to call it exactly that, but when my freezer was placed amid flavors like Peppermint Cream and Sunshine Berry, I found myself referring to it as Plain Ol' Vanilla with every patron that passed.

I was pleased that many came back and asked for seconds, and when one suggested it was the best vanilla ice cream they'd ever had, I knew I needed to share it with you, because listen to me, friends - it is SO. SO. EASY.  And after it has cured a while in the freezer, it scoops out beautifully.  

I'm milking the last of  the summer days for all their worth.  We're bound to have a few more in the 90's with high humidity, especially in these parts.  If you're needing a cool-down, gather just a few staples you probably already have in your pantry and whip up a batch of this.  I'm tellin' ya.  Plain never tasted so good!  

Plain Ol' Vanilla Ice Cream
makes 1.5 quarts
  • one 8 oz carton whipped topping
  • 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 tbsp vanilla 
  • 5 tbsp confectioner's sugar
  • enough milk to make 2 quarts
~  After whipped topping has thawed completely, in large measuring bowl, mix together 
    topping, condensed milk, vanilla and confectioner's sugar with whisk until fully blended.

~ Add enough milk to make 2 quarts.  

~ Pour mixture into ice cream stand and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Recipe from The Lazy Daisy Kitchen