Cinnamon Spiced Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cinnamon Cookies

Homemade chocolate chip cookies are one of the easiest yet tastiest sweets to make. They satisfy almost any chocolate cookie craving. I’m always looking for ways to put a twist on classic treats or maybe just an excuse to make them more often. Oatmeal is one of my favorite variations of this popular go-to cookie. It adds an interesting chewy texture and makes it easier to pretend that chocolate chip cookies are good for you. Raisins and cinnamon are common and natural pairings with oatmeal, especially for a cookie. However, I find it hard to pass on chocolate in a chewy cookie. Also, raisins seem too healthy for a dessert that still contains butter and sugar. The chocolate with the chewy oatmeal and the zip from the cinnamon are worth cheating on that spring beach body diet.

I created this recipe on a whim. I was making dinner for a friend and realized I had nothing planned for dessert. Since my friend is not really a “dessert person,” the dessert was really more for me than it was for him. I wanted chocolate, a cookie, and something easy that I already had all of the ingredients for. A sort of pantry dessert. Chocolate chip cookies were the clear choice and it had been a while since I had made my favorite oatmeal version. I decided to add cinnamon at the last minute when I stumbled over the jar in my cupboard. We definitely consumed more of the raw cookie dough than intended but the remainder that made into the oven, filled the kitchen with an amazing scent of butter, cinnamon, and cocoa. Few cookies made it past that night or even into these photos. The melting gooey chocolate and chewy cinnamon spiced oatmeal was just too hard to resist.

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Cinnamon Spiced Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cinnamon Spiced Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups quick or old fashioned oats
2 cups chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir into wet ingredients. Mix in chocolate chips and oats. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 10 minutes for a chewy. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield about 50 cookies.

Eggs Jalisco

Eggs Jalisco Style

If there’s one type of cuisine my grandmother knew well, it’s Mexican. She and my grandfather took frequent trips to Mexico. While my father and uncle were off misbehaving, my grandmother explored the vibrant crafts and flavorful foods. She learned how to cook both traditional and untraditional dishes, adding her own twist when they returned to New York. Eggs Jalisco is an example of just that: traditional Mexican flavors with a twist …two twists actually because I couldn’t help but add fresh avocado and tomato as well.

This dish includes a simplified version of my grandmother’s refried beans recipe. If you have never made refried beans, it’s a must try – even if you don’t like refried beans. Since it contains a lot of butter (though I cut it down), it’s not the healthiest recipe in the world. I can promise you though, these beans are unlike any you’ve ever tasted and worth the extra calories. And if you really don’t care about your waistline, try replacing the butter with bacon fat. Are you drooling yet?

I made this version of Eggs Jalisco for dinner and I was very happy with the results. It wasn’t until afterwards, when I was reading through the original recipe in my grandmother’s cookbook, “The Art of Good Cooking,” that I realized the tortillas were supposed to be fried. This makes more sense, given the textures and weight of the homemade refried beans and the tomato ham sauce mixture. However, soft flour or corn tortillas are perfectly delicious. If you would prefer to go the hard shell route, simply buy tostada shells – it’s much easier than trying to fry your own. Or, if you’re a bit more ambitious but don’t want to deal with the calories or required energy to deep fry, brush soft tortillas with a little oil and bake them. Whichever form of tortilla you choose, the combination of freshly made refried beans with tomato ham sauce and the runny yolk of a fried egg, is undeniably crave worthy.

Eggs Jalisco

Eggs Jalisco

Eggs Jalisco

Ingredients

2 14.5 oz cans (about 3 1/2 cups) pinto beans
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt
1 cup diced onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
dash of tabasco or hot sauce of your choice
1 1/2 cups chopped ham (optional)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
6 eggs
6 tortillas
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 avocado, diced
1 fresh tomato, diced

Instructions

Place beans in a strainer and rinse under cold water and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, melt a 1/2 cup of the butter. Add beans. With a heavy fork or potato masher, mash beans until they almost form a puree. Season to taste with salt. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally.

Heat another medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of remaining butter. Add chopped onion and garlic. Saute until soft. Add chili powder, a pinch of salt, and tabasco or hot sauce. Add ham and saute for 1-2 minutes to release some of the oils. Add canned tomatoes. Simmer over low heat until flavors are combined, about 20 minutes,

Heat a large heavy saute pan over low heat. Add the remaining tablespoon butter. Fry eggs very slowly until white is cooked but yolk remains runny. Meanwhile warm tortillas.

Spread each tortilla with some of the mashed bean mixture. Spoon a little of the tomato ham sauce on top. Sprinkle with chopped onion, parmesan, avocado, and fresh tomato. Carefully placed a fried egg on top. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately.

Serves 6

Greek Kale Salad

Greek Kale Salad

Have you met my trendy friend Kale yet? This popular leafy vegetable continues to be a health craze. I am admittedly late to the party: this was my first kale salad (gasp). I’ve always been apprehensive about using this high fiber vegetable, rich in vitamins and minerals. Its rough texture seems almost too healthy to hold it’s own as the main leafy part of a salad. Lets face it – no one wants to feel like they’re eating cardboard, right? But the idea of a Greek kale salad seemed much more enticing. I love Greek salad and it just so happened that a friend of mine was serving what she referred to as Greek kale salad at get together. It was brilliant. Classic chunky Greek salad vegetables and feta combined with leafy kale and a lemony vinaigrette. It was the perfect kale salad for those of us that are scared of kale salads.

One of the first tips I learned about working with kale for a salad, is to massage the leaves. Rubbing the leaves under cold water as you wash them will make the kale more tender. This idea along with the addition of quinoa, made me feel more at ease about that rough texture kale is known for. The quinoa has double duty. It adds protein to the salad so that it is filling and can be eaten as a healthy vegetarian light lunch or dinner, but it also helps create a layer of tenderness and contrasting texture.

The remaining ingredients in this salad are at your discretion. I used traditional Greek salad components such as feta cheese, cucumber, tomato (though I opted for grape ones), and red onion. I strayed a bit by adding mixed green olives instead of Kalamata and went with orange bell pepper instead of green. I also used a lemon vinaigrette versus a Greek dressing because I felt it paired better with the kale. If you haven’t tried kale in a salad, I encourage you to give it a go with this Greek version. Between the crunchy fresh vegetables, creamy cheese, and savory cooked quinoa, the multitude of flavors will make you forget you are enjoying that famous almighty healthy kale.

Greek Kale Salad

 

Greek Kale Salad

Ingredients

1/4 lb kale, stems removed, leaves shredded or chopped
1 cup quinoa, cooked per package instructions
3 persian cucumbers, sliced
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup olives
1/2 a medium orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 a medium red onion, sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper

Instructions

Massage kale under cold water by rubbing leaves together. Dry thoroughly. Place kale in a large bowl and toss with cooked quinoa. Add sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, diced bell pepper, sliced onion, and feta cheese. Toss well.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and mustard. Add olive oil, a little at a time, whisking thoroughly to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over kale salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars

Chocolate and peanut butter is a recent classic American dessert combination. By recent, I mean it seems to have surged in popularity in the last 10-15 years or so even though the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup was first introduced back in 1928 (per Wikipedia). We just can’t seem to get enough of this perfect pair. Although it existed when the likes of my grandmother, James Beard, Julia Child, and other great American foodies were making their mark, there seem to be few recipes that utilize this mix of sweet chocolate and nutty creamy peanut butter from that time. Perhaps this was due to the emphasis on sophisticated French desserts and the reputation of chocolate and peanut butter as a simple candy combination with little depth or complexity in flavor. Whatever the reason, that lack of old fashioned recipes has delayed my use of this amazing match on this site and I’m happy to finally introduce it in this simple indulgent bar that still includes a blast from the past.

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Middle Eastern Vegetable Bake

Middle Eastern Vegetable BakeIt can be difficult to eat healthy this time of year. Especially here in the Northeast where we just made it through one of the coldest February’s on record. Heavier fatty foods like mac and cheese or meatloaf and mashed potatoes are often enticing while really fresh produce is harder and harder to find. We have to remind ourselves to “eat your vegetables” like our mothers always said, because the idea of a salad for lunch when it’s 5 degrees outside, just doesn’t cut it. Enter the Middle Eastern Vegetable Bake. This vegetable mélange is the solution to healthy eating and cold weather cravings – with a touch of warmth.

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Baked Sriracha BBQ Chicken

Sriracha BBQ Chicken

Have you heard of a little hot sauce called Sriracha? This Asian inspired chili sauce phenomenon continues dominate condiment sales across the US and seems to be a never ending trend. I’m a big fan so it was only a matter of time before this tasty spicy sauce made into one of my recipe posts. Combining an old fashioned classic BBQ sauce with hot sriracha seemed like a natural step. The sweet and spicy flavors of this sauce and tender pieces of chicken are like long lost friends. This pairing was meant to be.

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Marbled Almond Cake with Espresso Glaze

Marbled Almond Cake with Espresso Glaze

Chocolate. Almond. Espresso. It’s hard to go wrong with this indulgent trio. Perfect with coffee or tea, this lovely bundt cake is my grandmother’s marbled almond cake recipe from “The Art of Fine Baking,” topped with a simple espresso glaze. I like to think of it as a Sunday morning cake. The espresso in the glaze can count towards your morning coffee (I’ll take any excuse to eat cake for breakfast).

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Turkey Chili with All The Fixins

Turkey Chili

Warming one pot meals are a welcome site this time of year. After shoveling multiple inches of snow in the bone-chilling cold, coming home to a hot steaming bowl of chili could not be more comforting. Plus this chili is healthy (bonus!). I used turkey instead of beef for this lowfat version but the spices and an uncommon special ingredient round out the flavors of this dish to make it just as tasty as the beef version. The special ingredient is chocolate. Yes, chocolate. Not the sweet kind but unsweetened and no, you won’t taste it. It simply adds a deep rich flavor to the chili.

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Chocolate Chip Stuffed Marshmallow Mug Toppers

Chocolate Chip Stuffed Marshmallow Mug Toppers

Marshmallow is not just for kids anymore. In the past few years, there’s been a surge of gourmet marshmallows. I frequently see lavender, lemon, and chocolate flavored marshmallows for sale in clear plastic bags with a bow at price that usually exceeds $5. Even the good old Jet Puffed marshmallows from the grocery store have expanded into different sizes and flavors. This may be why I love marshmallows more now than I did as a child. The light fluffy texture is irresistible and when combined with chocolate, it’s easily one of the best confectionary combinations.

Homemade marshmallows take these sweet airy puffs to another level. Not only can you control the texture, you also have some control over the sugar content. This recipe is based on a classic version by David Lebovitz. A process similar to Italian meringue, the use of egg whites makes a super fluffy, almost spongy marshmallow that can easily be eaten on its own. If you’ve never made marshmallows, this is the recipe to try.

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Buffalo Fried Calamari with Ranch Dip

Fried Buffalo Calamari with Homemade Ranch Dip

Beer and fried food – it may be an American cliché but as the superbowl approaches, it’s hard to resist this game-time tradition. Fried calamari has become a favorite restaurant appetizer. It’s often sandwiched between wings and mozzarella sticks on restaurant and pub menus. This buffalo fried calamari recipe combines the best of classic buffalo wings and traditional fried calamari to make one spicy indulgent party appetizer.

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