my new favorite cookie recipe

You know what I miss since going dairy-free? Dessert. (Actually, a lot of things. But dessert definitely ranks high on that list.) Sure, my body didn’t need all that sugar anyway, and it’s a lot easier to say no to things that don’t fit my calorie or macro goals when there’s dairy in them too, and I definitely don’t struggle with decision fatigue anymore since at least three-quarters of the restaurant menu (and probably seven-eights of the dessert menu, basically everything that isn’t a sorbet) is off-limits to me now, but still. Dessert is amazing and I love baking and I don’t love figuring out vegan substitutes and pretending they taste as good as the real thing.

All of which is to say that I made chocolate chip cookies the other day, and they were amazing. They’re vegan, and gluten-free, and probably as healthy as a cookie can get, and L. absolutely loved them. And did I mention they’re easy? One bowl, one whisk, and ten minutes in the oven. Bam. I’ve found my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

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The recipe is from Oh She Glows, and I highly recommend you check them out. The base is rolled oats, which practically makes them breakfast food, right? (Please say yes, since both L. and I had one for breakfast on Saturday morning. hashtag adulting, but not really.)

things I ate that you might like to eat too

After a bit of a cooking dry spell, I’ve been taking advantage of Pinterest and finding some new recipes to try out. Here are my finds:

Grilled Moroccan Chicken with Garlic Sauce. Nope, still not Paleo, so I sub out regular ingredients for the Paleo ones when needed. I didn’t marinate this nearly as long as I was supposed to, since I made it on a whim. Good, though.

Spicy Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Lime Crema. Mwah. It was fine, but we weren’t at all impressed. I’ll have to try a different recipe next time I want fish tacos.

Spinach Pie Quesadillas. Spinach and cheese, what’s not to like?

Creamy Pasta with Prosciutto and Basil. We totally failed on the poached egg thing, but turns out it’s good with a lightly fried egg, too. The prosciutto we got at Costco and it was surprisingly good for the price.

And, of course, an old favorite: chickpeas in tomato sauce with feta and eggs. Not only does L. like this, it also passed muster when my sister was here: she and her boyfriend are both good cooks and foodies, so that’s high praise indeed.

And on the menu for this week:

Apple Cider Sage Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples. I’ve never made pork chops before (I tend to go the veggie route when cooking for myself), but there’s a first time for everything, I guess.

Grilled Chicken with Lemon Basil Pasta. It’s a Pioneer Woman recipe, so I’ll be cutting way down on the butter and cream involved, but if should be good.

things I ate that you might want to eat too

Smitten Kitchen’s warm lentil and potato salad: the dressing is really good. I had it with a boiled egg on top for lunch one day, and I bet the suggested sausage or roast or chops would be really nice too. I skipped the capers, as I’m not really a capers fan, and I just got basic lentils from Smith’s, though you’re certainly free to go the more discerning route. I also forgot the scallions; make of that what you will.

Perry’s Plate’s sweet potato foil packet tacos: I skip the beef, add more spinach, and usually do black beans. I also don’t call them tacos, but sweet potato packages. And since I’m not doing the paleo thing, I sometimes add a tortilla. I get my taco seasoning recipe from here.

Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s skillet butternut squash, sausage and penne pasta: I am a big fan of squash, and this comes together very easily. Note to self: next time, try saving your appetite for the dish itself, instead of snacking on the sausage while you wait.

Closet Cooking’s brussels sprout and mushroom hash: this is a basic hash, and meant for breakfast, but I had it for dinner twice this week. Anything that features runny egg yolk and toast is a good idea in my book.

As an aside, when I went home for my grandfather’s cremation, I brought back a couple books I needed, but also my set of kitchen knives. I have liked cooking so much more now that I have proper knives again. It’s funny: from all my stuff at home, I miss my books and my kitchen supplies the most. (Immersion blender and bake ware, how I miss thee..) Next time I move somewhere overseas, I might have to drastically rethink my approach of what to bring.

what I ate in January

My favorites from this month:

Dijon-braised brussels sprouts from Smitten Kitchen: These were so good. If you like brussels sprouts at all, please go try them! The sauce is really easy to make (and I bet would be good on a lot of other things). I tend to eat a lot of brussels sprouts when they’re in season, as they go on sale for anything from 50 to 90 cents for a bag, so this is a recipe I plan to use a lot.

Baked Ziti from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe: I had pinned this recipe a long time ago but hadn’t gotten around to making it yet. I used a lot less parmesan cheese, heavy cream, and cottage cheese as I find that Americans like their dishes to be much creamier than I do.

Dal nirvana from Budget Bytes: I made a big pot of this and ate it for days. One day, I paired it with Indian-style creamed spinach and rice and ate it as the ultimate comfort food. Only naan could have made it better but I was too lazy to make that that day.

Spicy Southwest Slaw from A Hint of Honey: I ate this with oven-roasted pulled pork sandwiches, and though I can’t recommend the sandwiches, I can definitely recommend the slaw.

goat cheese cheesecake

On Saturday, I made a goat cheese cheesecake to take to a friend’s house for dessert. I don’t really like cheesecakes all that much, but this one I fully stand behind. It’s rich and creamy, with just a hint of goat cheese, but so subtle it’s perfect. And it has a fancy French name (Tourteau de Chèvre) with which you can impress guests (what more could you want?) I got it from the Lottie + Doof blog, the same blog that gave me my bagel recipe—I love the site for that reason alone.

sorry–I tend to live in dark places that don’t photograph well.

It might seem like it’s a hard cake to make, but it really isn’t. The pastry comes together without any help from you at all since all you have to do is whir it in your food processor. There’s no kneading involved and it’s quite quick. If you can get your egg whites to stand up, you’ve mastered the intricacies of the batter and are ready to go. Just bake it in the oven for a little less than an hour, let it cool off a bit, and enjoy.

goat cheese burgers

The other day, I looked in the fridge and saw that we had four blocks of goat cheese in there. And then I came across this recipe. And then I made dinner. (Quite the scintillating tale, right?)
In the original post, Natalie Perry warned that this really is a burger for die-hard goat cheese lovers. And that’s certainly true, since you stuff the burgers with cheese and then sprinkle them with a goat cheese cucumber cilantro dressing. So consider yourself forewarned if goat cheese isn’t really your thing. (Although I will then have to wonder about you since it’s one of my favorite cheeses.)

Goat cheese burgers, adapted from Perry’s Plate
(makes 6 small burgers)

Ingredients:

Burgers:
400-500 grams of ground beef or lamb (depending on how thick you want your burgers). We had organic, but do whatever best fits your price range and ethics.
salt and pepper to season
75-100 g goat cheese
1-2 tsp lemon zest
1 clove of garlic
1 chopped spring onion

Note: I served these wrapped in lettuce but you can go the traditional way with buns or pitas. Tomatoes would also be good, as would fresh spinach.

Dressing:
100 g goat cheese
2 tbsp sherry vinegar (the recipe calls for cider vinegar, but we were out, so I used sherry vinegar instead. I’d use whatever you have.)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dark mustard
1/3 c shredded cucumber
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/4 c buttermilk or 2 tbsp mayonaise
2 tbsp lemon juice

Note: the recipe calls for buttermilk. I didn’t have that, so I added a bit of mayonnaise. You’re probably not supposed to do that for a myriad of reasons but I didn’t care and it still tasted good.

Directions:

Preheat your grill(pan).

Season your ground beef with salt and pepper in a bowl and gently mix it.
Grab another bowl and combine the goat cheese, lemon zest, spring onion, and garlic.
Divide the meat into the number of patties (in my case, 6 small ones). Instead of making one large patty, you’re going to want to make two flat ones. Spoon some of the cheese mix onto the center, top with the other one and seal it together with your fingers. Repeat till meat and cheese is gone.
Grill the burgers on medium high for about ten minutes. Make sure to flip them at least once.

While the burgers are on the grill, you can move on to the dressing. Grab your food processor (or your hand whisk, whatever works for you). Combine all the ingredients except the cucumber and cilantro until smooth. Stir in the cucumber and cilantro. Add extra mustard, lemon juice, cilantro or salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble the burgers, spooning a little bit of the dressing on top of the burger. You can wrap them in lettuce like I did, or use a bun or pita. We ate them with eggplant and zucchini on the side.

wrapping the burgers

this is about as fancy as I can make it.

If you look at the original you’ll notice I took the recipe and ran with it, using less goat cheese, no buttermilk, adding spring onions and lemon juice. The best part of this is that you can make it into whatever you want. Have fun with it!

strawberry cake

On Monday night, my roommate J. came home with a big tray of raspberries that needed eating. (Thanks, J’s mom!)

So we made a cake. (Of course.) It’s a very basic cake and it’s perfect for an impulsive baking spree on a summer’s night. (Except that part where you have to turn on the oven and the kitchen gets even hotter. Sorry about that.)

I love Smitten Kitchen.

Strawberry summer cake (Smitten Kitchen), slightly adapted.

Ingredients
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Note: yes, this is a strawberry cake. But we used raspberries and it turned out fine. I think any kind of berry would work.

Directions
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9 inch springform/cake pan (you need more room than a 9-inch pie pan is going to give you).

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Beat the butter and 1 cup of sugar until pale and fluffy (about three minutes with a mixer). Mix in the egg, milk and vanilla and then add the dry mixture bit by bit, mixing until just combined and smooth.

Pour the batter into the cake form. Arrange the berries on top of the batter in a single layer, then sprinkle 2 tbsp of sugar over the berries.

Then bake the cake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Reduce the temperature to 325 and bake until the cake is golden brown and a tester (skewer, fork, knife, whatever you’ve got) comes out clean, about 50 more minutes.

Now comes the hard part: let the cake cool on a rack. We failed utterly at this, by the way. Serve with whipped cream if you’re so inclined.