Oatmeal Pecan, Cranberry, and Coconut Cookies

IMG_2003First days of new semesters are tough. There is really no way of getting around it. That alarm goes off at 6am, and BOOM (sorry for the elementary sound effect, but that is the best way I can describe it). You are thrown into a whirlwind of lectures, labs, homework that was due yesterday, and weird social shenanigans that you managed to avoid all break.

IMG_2001I am not saying that these oatmeal cookies are a cure-all for information overload, but they definitely ease the tension on the brain while trying to get back into the groove. I enjoyed the largest cookie of the batch last night with a mug of green tea while staring blankly at some Calculus homework. At least I felt somewhat productive.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (or white sugar plus 2 tsp molasses)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup oat flour (grind old fashioned oats in the blender)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter for a minute on high, and then add the sugar and maple syrup and continue beating for several more minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides and mix once more.

In a separate bowl, combine AP, whole wheat, and oat flours with baking soda, salt, and spices. Make sure everything is fully incorporated before adding to the wet ingredients.

Mix dry and wet ingredients slowly until just combined. Add the oats, pecans, cranberries, coconut, chocolate chips, or any other add-ins desired to the batter. The basic dough is great for any kind of kitchen sink/compost cookie!

Using an ice cream scoop, dollop out the dough on a large cookie sheet. For fairly large cookies, it should make about a dozen. Place in the refrigerator for a 1/2 hour, and then bake for 10 minutes. Take out when they are still a bit gooey in the middle and allow to cool for two minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack.

Tip: These cookies taste best when cooled! If you can’t wait that long, take a warm cookie and place it in the freezer for 10 minutes before eating.

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Apple Spice Cake

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Every New Years Eve, we have a party at my house. The party is not, however, held primarily in the spirit of welcoming in the new year. It is to celebrate my dad. For his birthday, we invite a few close friends over, have Valentino’s Take N’ Bake Pizza, and usually remember to celebrate the New York New Year at 9p.m. so that we can head to bed shortly afterward, with full tummies and daunting visions of New Years resolutions dancing in our heads. We savor that last bite of cake, remembering that the next day brings January and high expectations of healthy recovery from the holidays.

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My dad loves spice cake. Other than December 31st, we never eat it, so usually the making of his dessert involves an egg, some vegetable oil, and a Betty Crocker box. But this year I wanted to branch out and make him a cake from scratch. I adapted the recipe from Naturally Ella’s Spiced Apple Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. The cake is very light and moist, and the frosting is good enough to eat alone. It would also be a great option for an indulgent lazy Sunday breakfast or an afternoon snack with a cup of tea.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups A.P. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large green apples, peeled and sliced thin

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup of butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly grease a bundt pan with butter or oil.

2. In a saucepan, heat the buttermilk, spices and vanilla and bring to a simmer. Cut the butter into pieces and then add to the mixture after it is removed from the heat. Allow to cool, making sure that the butter has been completely incorporated.

3. Combine flour, salt, and soda in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the cooled buttermilk mixture, eggs, sour cream, maple syrup, and sugar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well until combined.

4. Peel and core the apples, and slice thinly.

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Once the apples are sliced, add 1/3 of the batter to the bundt pan, and then add one layer of sliced apple on the top.

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Next, add another third of the batter and the remainder of the apples. Add the last of the batter on top.

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Bake for 35-40 minutes until an inserted knife comes out clean.

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5. Remove the cake from oven and let cool in the pan. Then loosen the sides of the cake and flip over, removing the cake from the pan.

6. For frosting: Combine all ingredients in a mixer and mix on high for several minutes. Make sure that the cake is completely cool before frosting.

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Add a nice thick layer – there will be plenty of frosting! We had a little bit leftover.

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Bakery Style Spelt Blueberry Muffins

IMG_3433My dad has been begging me to make blueberry muffins since I have gotten home, and I finally obliged last weekend. I experimented with different flours, leavening agents, and cooking time/heat to create the beautiful top on these babies. It just makes them taste better when they look like that. Okay, there could be a significant psychological component to that.

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