Monday, April 30, 2012

Quinoa Cookies with Coconut & Chocolate

Evan's birthday was last week, and I just realized that he didn't get a birthday cake. We went out to a fancy steak dinner on his actual birthday, and then had a night out on the the town the following night (complete with pinball, Street Fighter, a creepy warehouse, and a Seattle street dog). But, after all that, still no birthday cake. What kind of food blogging girlfriend am I!? 

In my defense, I'm convinced that Evan hates cake (trust me, he does), so it might have been my unconscious knowledge of his cake hatery that led to the lack of cake. Regardless, I love cake… so it's amazing and sad that I let a cake opportunity pass in such a way. And he's a twin, so I could have made two cakes. Twin birthday cakes would have been adorbs. What was I thinking…I even baked over the weekend! (Also, how many times did I just write cakes!?)

I suppose a late cake will have to be better than no cake. But in the meantime…quinoa cookies! You're getting older, Evan… time to start eating healthy! Or… at least pretending it's good for you, because it has quinoa in it! Chocolate chip cookies with quinoa are totally health food, right? Right?!? That's what I told myself, when I ate 7 of these yesterday. I was powering up, duh. I'm on the downhill slope to 30 myself, I need to supplement my cookie habit with a bit of nutrients now and then!

Quinoa Cookies with Coconut & Chocolate Chunks
Adapted from this recipe
The quinoa adds an awesomely nutty, chewy crunch and {healthy} boost of texture to your average cookie. I couldn't get over that chewy crunch! Be sure to plan ahead, the quinoa needs to be cooked and cooled before mixing up the dough. Also, buy yourself a bag of desiccated coconut, it's totally worth it. I use it in everything. 

1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1/2 cup desiccated coconut (unsweetened)
1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat oven to 375° & Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In stand or electric mixer, cream butter, sugars, and honey until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, and almond extract, and mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 more minutes. Mix in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in quinoa, coconut, and chocolate. 

Plop spoon size balls of dough onto sheets an inch or so apart, and bake until golden, 12–15 minutes. Cool on wire rack. 
Update: I'm getting a lot of feedback that people assumed these cookies were gluten free. This is NOT a gluten free recipe, the quinoa is simply a delicious addition to a non-gf cookie, not a substitution. However, you could easily substitute gf flours for the whole wheat flour. If you do, please let me know how it turns out! One reader swapped the flour for GF all purpose flour and added 1.5 teaspoons xanthan gum, with great results.  

Update #2: I WON the best quinoa recipe contest at Food52 with these cookies! Go check it out!!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fresh & Green: Spring Pappardelle

Spring Pappardelle

8 oz pappardelle pasta (I like Trader Joe's dried pappardelle)
Butter, olive oil
Half a sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Handful of the sugar snap peas, asparagus, and broccolini
1 lemon (zest & juice)
1 cup trim cottage cheese
Parmesan cheese
Fresh parsley
Pinenuts, toasted
Salt & pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When water boils, add peas, and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove, set aside. Add pasta to water, and cook until done. Save pasta water.

Meanwhile, while water starts to boil, melt butter and olive oil (about a tablespoon of each) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions to skillet, and cook until translucent. Add garlic, and cook for a minute or two, until fragrant (but be careful not to burn). Add broccolini, cook for a minute, then asparagus, cook for a minute. Add zest from lemon. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Add pasta & peas to skillet. Add half of cottage cheese, and about a half cup of the pasta water. Stir until combined, and add remaining cottage cheese and grated parmesan. Stir until sauce is creamy and cheese is melty, adding more pasta water or cottage cheese, as necessary. Toss in pine nuts, and parsley before serving. 


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Good Ol' Springtime Luncheon

Can I just tell you what an amazing, fantastic, sunny, warm, beautiful weekend we had in Seattle!? Cherry blossoms are blooming like mad, birdies are chirping. It's insane. I love it SO much. On Saturday, Amanda and I invited friends over for our annual Easter feast. While we made an absolutely delicious yet totally unspringy entree (Guinness beef pie & potatoes, since we missed St. Paddy's), the rest of the menu was super fresh and springy. Perfect for a little spring luncheon! 

So, take off that winter sweater and put on a sun dress or a little floral romper (note: if a coworker asks you what a romper is, don't try to google image search it at work to show him a picture. Not. safe. for. work.). Go barefoot! Put a fresh vase of flowers on the table. Pour some champagne or mix up some white wine spritzers. Turn on some sweet, sunny-time music, and open up the doors and windows. It's spring time!

Spring Luncheon Menu

To sip:
White Wine
Porch swing via The Walrus & the Carpenter (pimm’s, gin, lemon, soda, and a slice of apple)

To nibble: 
Crudite: fresh veggies (carrots, asparagus, endive, cucumber) with zippy dill dip
Homemade ricotta via Ina Garten
Asparagus crostini via Epicurious: Swap the goat cheese with homemade ricotta, brush the asparagus with the vinaigrette, and give it a quick grill, instead of blanching
Deviled eggs

To dine:
Fresh Pea Salad (recipe below)

To finish: 
Lemon curd tart via Epicurious


Fresh Pea Salad
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Drizzle of honey
Pinch of fresh thyme
salt, pepper

2 cups fresh sugar snap peas, cut in half lengthwise (but not down the seam)
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
2 big handfuls of arugula
2 green onions, sliced
1 handful of carrot tops, roughly chopped
2 endive spears, thinly sliced

Grated Parmesan 

In a large bowl, whisk olive oil through honey. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining ingredients (excluding parmesan). Toss until salad is combined and coated with dressing. Top with parmesan before serving. 


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Springy Artichoke Chicken Salad

I love-hate chicken salad. I hate that it's called chicken salad, because I always think people will assume I mean a big leafy salad with chicken. And then I think I should follow it up with sandwich, so that people know what I'm talking about. Because chicken-salad-sandwich isn't usually confused with salad + chicken. But sometimes I don't want to serve it as a sandwich, and then I feel all confused and mixed up…and then I end up calling it "chicken salad sandwich filling on crackers," which is way too complicated for such a simple dish. Aside from the name, I also hate how loaded with mayo some chicken salads are. I mean, I love a good creamy chicken salad now and then, but sometimes it's just too much. One time I ordered a chicken salad sandwich, and it had a heavy dose of mayo on the bread, too. Now that's just crazy-town, people. 

What I love about chicken salad, though, is how versatile it is. If you want to cut back on the mayo… or not put any at all, that's doable. Like this super creamy chicken salad with pureed artichoke hearts. It tastes awesome and artichokie (that's totally a word…as in "okie dokie, artichokie"), and the lack of mayo makes me feel better about leaving it on a platter for a party. Along with tangy artichoke hearts, this one has apples and celery, but I also love a good crunchy pecan or almond in my chicken salad. Switch it up, that's allowed. 

I also love that no matter what time of year I eat it, or where, chicken salad reminds me of spring. And of Easter, tea parties, picnics, and bridal showers. It's so lady-like and fun. Especially in an endive leaf, fancy finger-food style. You can also serve it on a cracker, in a pita pocket, or just between a couple slices of good bread. Or with a spoon. No judgement here.

Artichoke Chicken Salad

2-3 cups cooked chicken, chopped (cubed, grilled chicken is my fave for any chicken salad, though shredded rotisserie-style works as well).
1 12oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 apple, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
juice of 1 small lemon
salt, pepper
A handful of arugula

Add chicken, apple, and celery to a bowl. Drain about half the liquid off the artichoke hearts. Puree arti-hearts and remaining liquid, until smooth and creamy. You may have to pick out a few of the really stiff leaves if there are any. Stir in mustard & lemon juice. Combine creamy mixture with chicken until fully coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add arugula and gently toss to combine. 

OPTIONAL: You can add a splash of vinegar if you want it a bit more tangy, or a tablespoon of mayo if you want it a bit more creamy. Green onions and nuts would also be good. 
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