Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies {a Recipe Redux}

I know. It’s unusual to find a cookie recipe on Eating Local in the Lou. If you have been a long-term reader of the Lou, you know that I am not a baker. I have pretty much ruined every cake and cupcake I’ve ever attempted. But I can make cookies. 

These Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies remind me of my childhood, standing beside my mom in the kitchen, helping her make holiday cookies (and by helping, I of course mean licking the dough off the beaters!)

There is something about the frigid temps and anticipation of the upcoming holidays that brings many of us back to our beginnings, and makes us reminisce about the days gone by.  So much of what we choose to eat originates from our culture, our customs, our family traditions. This seems to be particularly true during the holiday season. Our tables are set with identical foods, year after year. We might not eat these foods the other 364 days, but boy, do we ever look forward to them when that one day arrives!
Most cookies are not considered health food, but certain ingredients can boost the nutritional value, making them more a “sometimes” treat rather than a “seldom” indulgence. These Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies contain a bit of black pepper and cayenne, both offering disease fighting compounds. Dark chocolate is the star ingredient, offering a plenitude of anti-oxidants. Semi-sweet chocolate works well too, but the higher the cacao percentage is better for your health (and taste if you ask me). I found the original recipe to be too sweet for my taste, so I cut back on amount of sugar.

I’d love to hear what your favorite holiday tradition and/or food is. Please share in the comment section below.

Oh, and before you go…if you happen to live in the St. Louis area (AKA, the Lou), be sure to check out SweetologyLast week, the owners invited St. Louis food bloggers to experience the fun of do-it-yourself cookie, cake and cupcake decorating. 

We had SO MUCH fun enjoying a glass of wine while creating our sweet masterpieces. Here are mine: 
A cookie to represent each of us in the Cowie Clan- a musician, a golfer, a boy that loves the outdoors, and the pink one for the only girl in the house, me!

until next time...

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies (adapted from Cooking Light, Dec '09)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 24 cookies
  • 5 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (ours from Kimker Hill Farm, St. Clair MO)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • dash black pepper
  • dash ground red pepper
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg (ours from Rose Valley, New Hope, MO) 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (try making your own!)
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, level with knife.
  3. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
  4. Combine butter and sugar in a separate large bowl, beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add in egg and vanilla until just blended.
  5. Melt chocolate in a small glass bowl on high for 1 minute. Add melted chocolate to sugar mixture, then slowly add flour mixture and beat until just blended.
  6. Use an ice cream scoop to drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, remove from oven, cool cookies on wire rack.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Glaze

Last Thursday was our last Local Chef StL CSA pick-up for the year (sad face). The Cowie Clan thoroughly enjoyed all of the contents of our bi-weekly mystery food box, especially the “chef specials” that were included each time. 

Although I will miss the CSA over the winter, and soon will find myself yearning for the spring crops to emerge, I am in some ways relieved when CSA season ends. The few months off provide an opportunity to evaluate and use up what I have squirreled away in the pantry and freezer.

These Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Glaze are a good bridge between the CSA bounty that fall provided and a few “impulse buys” that I made when grocery shopping.   The pomegranate vinegar adds brightness and tang to the roasted fall produce and the addition of dukkah adds a salty crunch. 
If you are not familiar with dukkah (I wasn’t either when I purchased it), it's an Egyptian nut, herb and spice blend, often served with bread. This particular dukkah contains almonds, sesame seeds, fennel seeds, coriander, anise seeds and kosher salt. 
 until next time...
Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Glaze

  • 1 small butternut squash (ours from Thierbach Orchards)  
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped (ours from Thies Farm, Maryland Heights, MO)
  • 2 tart apples, chopped (ours from Thierbach Orchards
  • 1/2 white onion, course chopped (ours from Local Chef StL)
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • 2 ounces pomegranate vinegar
  • 1 ounce olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp. dukkah
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Pierce squash with fork and microwave for about 3 minutes to soften skin.
  3. Meanwhile, combine thyme, pomegranate vinegar, olive oil, and honey to make vinaigrette.
  4. Carefully take squash out of microwave, peel and chop into 1 inch pieces.
  5. Add carrots, onion, squash and onion to 9x13 casserole dish. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes, or until vegetables are golden, stirring halfway.
  7. To serve, sprinkle generously with dukkah.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

5-Minute Asian Pea Dip

Disclosure: I received free samples of Libby’s new Vegetable Pouches mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Libby’s and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

As a Dietitian, I get a few frequently asked questions from clients including, “What should I choose: fresh, frozen or canned?” I anticipate soon, clients will be inquiring about an additional option: pouches.

If you have not yet seen Libby’s Vegetable Pouches on your store’s shelves, you will soon. Libby’s Vegetable Pouches are a clever alternative to BPA-lined aluminum cans. They are shelf stable, standing upright in the pantry, are convenient, and save time and dirty dishes as they can be heated and served right from the pouch.

I used Libby’s Pouches Sweet Peas to make this Asian Pea Dip. It took 5 minutes to make and is a perfect appetizer for unexpected drop-by guests. Fresh ginger, soy sauce, cilantro and wasabi are a terrific flavor compliment to Libby’s Pouch Sweet Peas. Spicy radishes as a garnish provide even a bit more spunk and are a light-hearted play on the colors of the holiday season.

Serve this dip warm with rice crackers and watch your guests’ eyes light up like the Rockefeller Center tree.
until next time...

5-Minute Asian Pea Dip

  • 13 ounce Libby's Pouches Sweet Peas
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. wasabi (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh radishes, julienned as garnish
  • rice crackers
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat Libby's Sweet Peas in Pouch according to package directions.
  2. In a blender, combine peas, ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, lime juice and wasabi (optional) until smooth.
  3. Garnish with radishes and serve warm with rice crackers.

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