Chocolate Raisin Chewy Cookies

My daughter is home for the long weekend as we have Monday off - Martin Luther King day. She will leave for school some time tomorrow and I am packing all kinds of goodies for her. I may have to make a second batch of these if there are not enough left by tomorrow.

I do not make cookies often but there are a couple of recipes we like and when I do make the cookies I stick to those recipes. Today I wanted to bake cookies but wanted to try something different. I had cocoa but no chocolate chips. I had raisins so I tried these Chocolate and Raisin chewy cookies using the base cookie recipe I follow. The batter is gooey and sticky from the cocoa powder but on the thicker side. The cookies do not spread much in the oven. The trick is to take them out when they are still soft so you get that soft chewy cookie we all love.

You will need (about 18)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cane sugar (use any granulated sugar you have on hand)
1 egg
1/2 cup flour (all purpose or whole wheat)
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
~1/8 sparse tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Cream the softened butter in a bowl. Mix in the sugar. Now break an egg in the bowl and beat until the mixture is well combined. Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and the salt. Mix everything together. Finally mix in the raisins.

On a baking sheet drop a tablespoon on cookie batter at a time 2 inches apart. You may use a parchment paper or directly place the batter on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes. The cookies should be soft when they are taken out of the oven. Cool and a rack.


Oatmeal Chia Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Today I am posting a recipe with a combination of flavors mixed into a small ball. Rolled oats and chia seeds combined with peanut butter, coconut flakes and honey make a delicious snack. This recipe is quick to put together and is the perfect mid morning snack. Just one of these energy balls and you are good to go for a couple of hours. Energy balls have been on my list of recipes for the blog for a long time. I am glad I was finally able to post it. 

When my daughter came home for winter break she brought home leftover jars of honey and peanut butter. The raw unfiltered honey had turned to a soft solid mass as the temperature had dropped. And unlike the processed peanut butter with loads of additives, the organic peanut butter she had was just peanut paste with very little salt. I had the rest of the ingredients on hand. The oatmeal chia peanut butter energy balls were ready in no time.

You will need (for 16 balls)
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup dry coconut flakes
2-3 tbsp. chia seeds
3 tbsp. maple syrup
3 tbsp. organic peanut butter
1 tsp salt (optional)

Lightly roast the oats and coconut until warmed. Run through a food processor to break down into small pieces. Do not blend to a powder.

Combine with all the ingredients in a bowl. Adjust honey and peanut butter if needed. Take about a small lime size ball of the mixture and using your palm form into a ball. Repeat for the rest of the mixture. You can store it for a week or two in the refrigerator.


Millet, Chickpea and Buckwheat Flour Crackers

I buy whole millets, buck wheat groats, oats and anything else that catches my eye in the Whole Foods bulk bins. I lightly roast, cool and grind each one to a fine powder in my Vitamix dry grinder. I combine all the flours and use as needed mostly for crepes/dhirdi. Lately I have used it to make crackers. When I started experimenting with different flours for crackers this mixed flour seemed like a good candidate. Last month I posted the recipe for Besan or Bengal gram flour crackers and Semolina crackers. This post was supposed to be the third of that series but for some reason I forgot to schedule it to post. So I am posting it today.

I blog with a group of fellow bloggers for a monthly event called Blogging Marathon. Posts are based on themes and one of the themes I picked this month is Elevenses. A quick google search says Elevenses is a meal from the Lord of the Rings. I have read all the books but I could not remember Elevenses. Luckily for me I now have the books on Kindle and there is a search option. The only reference was to the 'expected party' but even that was so vague I wondered why the series show up in a google search for Elevenses. Then I found it has to do with the movies and not the books. As I am a fan of the books let us leave it at that.

So what is Elevenses? Is it food eaten at eleven? The answer is yes and no. If you lived and followed the meal pattern of the country in which Elevenses originated then food you ate at eleven would be Elevenses. This would include a very light snack with a drink like tea or coffee. So would it be okay to have this meal at ten? Of course! Elevenses is really a light mid morning snack. A snack that keeps you going till lunch but is light enough to not ruin your appetite for lunch. This week I will post some light snacks.

You will need (45 crackers)
1 cup flour (I used combination of millets, buckwheat and oats)
1 cup sourdough starter 100%
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp. dried basil or any combination of dried herbs
2 tbsp. oil (I used olive oil)

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and knead into a ball of dough. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. On a piece of parchment paper roll out the dough into a think sheet. Using a pizza cutter or a specialized roller cut into the desired size. I cut the dough into rectangles.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.


Spicy Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate is a very popular recipe with a lot of variations. I don't make hot chocolate often but I wanted to try that chili pepper with hot chocolate and hence this recipe. I made two cups, one for my daughter and one for me. To my cup I also added a pinch of cinnamon. It was the perfect drink for a cold winter afternoon.

Before posting this recipe I checked what I already had on the blog. My first Hot Chocolate post has an intro about snuggling with a blanket, book and cat, except my cat would never cooperate. That year was 2014 and we had a new 3 year old rescue Buttercup who refused to sit on our lap for more than a few seconds. Interestingly four years with us has changed her completely. She is now a lap cat who calls me to sit on the couch so she can nap on my lap. Now on a cold or rainy day I can say I snuggle under a blanket with this hot chocolate, a book and my cat.

I added chocolate chips as well as cocoa powder to enhance the flavor because I happened to have both at home.

You will need (for 2 cups)
2 tbsp. mini chocolate chips
2 tbsp. sparingly filled cocoa powder
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. paprika (adjust based on your heat tolerance)
1 1/2 cups soymilk
1 pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a pan. Heat the pan on medium heat whisking to ensure the chocolate and milk are thoroughly combined and do not burn. When the milk is heated through but not boiling turn off the heat.


Creamy Tomato Soup

When the mercury drops soup and bisque make their way to the dinner table. With the winter storm keeping temperatures in the 30s for the last few days, I decided we needed thick creamy Tomato Bisque, the old family favorite. This soup never fails to provide comfort on a cold or rainy day. We all love the strong garlic flavor in the soup. Serve it with a savory scone or bread.

I was surprised to find that I did not have a tomato soup in the blog especially as this is one of our favorites. This soup has a rich creamy texture and a lovely orange color. I used to make it with canned plum tomatoes for their delicious citrus flavor until I found organic tomatoes that provide the same taste. The regular grocery store tomatoes taste very bland.

I used almond milk in my recipe. You can skip the milk and the soup will taste just as delicious.

You will need
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 pods garlic, minced
3 large Plum Tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tbsp. almond milk

Heat oil in a pan and add the chopped onions. Saute for a few minutes until they are cooked. Add the minced garlic and saute for a few minutes. In the meantime chop the tomatoes and them to the pan. Add the sugar, salt and paprika. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked and thickened. Take off heat and blend to a puree. Return to the pan and simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Turn down the heat and add the cream. Turn off the heat after another minute. Optionally garnish with cream.

Serve hot with bread or savory scones. Enjoy!

Blueberry and Brie Scones

This is my first post of the new year so let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2019. The year here has started with a winter storm. While we got none of the sleet and snow, the temperatures have plummeted into the low to mid 30s (F). This is the time when everyone wants hot drinks and piping hot food to keep warm. Scones are one such recipe. They are great all year around but are especially nice in winter when eaten hot out of the oven. I have a couple of scone recipes on this space but today I have a unique combination of flavors.

Our home is always stocked with fruit. Some blueberries were really ripe and needed to be used up. I decided to make blueberry scones. But then I also had some left over Brie in the refrigerator and so figured I could use that too. On a whim I decided to google if anyone had been adventurous enough to try the two together and I was pleasantly surprised. A lot of people have tried this combination. This recipe caught my eye. Instead of using brie as a filling after baking the scones, it used the brie in the dough. If you have used brie before you will know that it melts well and does not have a savory or sweet taste. This makes it ideal for all kinds of recipes. This is my experiment with  blueberries and brie in scones. I just added these ingredients to my original scone recipe and the results were awesome! This is a keeper.

1/2 cup whole wheat bread (I used King Arthur white whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tbsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup milk
1 small egg or 1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup blueberries, chopped
2 oz. brie (I did not use the rind, you could use it if you like)

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Chop the berries and cut up the brie. Keep aside. On a flat work surface add the flours, salt and baking powder. Add the cold hard butter. Using a pastry cutter or knife cut the butter and combine it with the flours without melting it. The mixture will be crumbly and have small blobs of butter.

In a bowl combine the egg and milk. If using yogurt combine the milk with the yogurt. Make a well in the flour and add mixture to it. Slowly combine the mixture with the flours without kneading the dough. Add the blueberries and brie and pull the dough together. You should get a dough that just about holds together.

Place the dough on a floured surface and cut into wedges. Flatten the scones and place them on a balking sheet. I used parchment paper on my sheet before placing the scones on it. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until they change color. Serve hot with a cup of tea or coffee.


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