Sunday, May 27, 2012

chocolate chunk pretzel cookies

cookies with a salty twist
We were having a few friends over for beers on the deck and didn't have any snacks to put out so I thought I better bake something...but somehow chocolate chip cookies didn't quite fit with beer.  I scrounged around and realized I had some pretzels in the cupboard...but not quite enough to put out (you know, all the broken ones on the bottom!) - then it dawned on me - add them to the cookies.  Thus was born the chocolate chunk pretzel cookie.

what you need:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp golden corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup or so crushed pretzels
what to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.  
  2. Combine dry ingredients (except sugars) in a bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon to mix well.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sugars and butter with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Add the eggs, vanilla, corn syrup and mix well.
  4. Roughly chop chocolate into large chunks.  
  5. Add dry ingredients to butter & sugar mixture, mix until batter is smooth.  Add pretzel and chocolate chunks.  
  6. Drop round dollops of batter onto cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.  
  7. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

grilled summer salad

This hearty salad is great on it's own for a satisfying lunch, or serve it alongside BBQ fare.  This salad travels well as long as you keep the dressing, greens and cooked veggies separately -  it is easily assembled on location.  I brought it to my friend Karolina's birthday party over the weekend (4 hour drive!) and it was enjoyed with burgers and sausages...yum to summer veggies!  For the party I used spring mix and green beans - in the photo above I used asparagus and really can use whatever you have on hand.  Instead of grilling you can also place veggies on a lined cookie sheet and roast in the oven until tender.

what you need:

  • 4 beets
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 bunch of asparagus (or equivalent amount of green beans)
  • 1 large bag of baby spinach (or spring mix)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • olive oil
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger (frozen ginger grates easier)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon's zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
what to do:
  1. In a pot of water, bring beets (washed but unpeeled) to a boil and allow to cook for at least 30-45 minutes (depending on how large your beets are), or until you can stick a fork into the beets.  Allow beets to cool, then peel them and cut into bite size cubes (red beet juice stains so don't wear your nice clothes!).  Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven (400 F) or your BBQ grill.  Cut up sweet potato (no need to peel) into bite size cubes.  Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and some salt and pepper in a bowl.  Spread onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or use a iron veggie basket to grill them.
  3. Trim asparagus and also toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cut into 1" pieces.  They will take a little less time in the oven or grill so add them to the heat once sweet potatoes have had 10-15 minutes in the heat.
  4. Meanwhile, combine dressing ingredients in a jar or tupperware and shake well.  
  5. Once sweet potatoes are tender and have some golden brown colour, remove and toss gently in a bowl with the maple syrup.  Return to oven for another 8 minutes.
  6. Once veggies are done (tender with slight grill marks or colour from roasting) - allow to cool to room temperature.  You can store the beats, sweet potato and asparagus in a container in a fridge until ready to serve.  
  7. In a large salad bowl, toss together spinach, grilled veggies, and beets with the dressing.  Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired.  Enjoy!