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.

Squaw Valley

Emma here. My sister and I were on spring break this week, the last spring break that we will share as I will have a new collegiate schedule somewhere next year. Ever since I was eight, our family has spent a week skiing at Squaw Valley, in Tahoe. There is something about making turns off of Shirley Lake, Granite Chief, and KT-22 (best chairlift in America) that make me feel at home; Squaw was where I went from bunny slopes to my first black diamond, groomers to heading off of the beaten path. It has been a week each year that I cherish like no other. Facing possibly our last year to carry on this week-long tradition, my parents took turns pleading Olympic Village Inn to allow us to bring along our precious ten week old pup, Scout Louise.

She is our family’s bundle of love and joy, and when the OVI staff said no, we decoded that we could not leave her for an entire week. To compromise, my dad and sister and I decided to make a quick two-day trip followed by a preview day at UC Davis for me. My mom, a little under the weather anyways, offered to stay at home with Scout.

This year’s trip definitely wasn’t the same as in year’s past, but it was still so special in its own way. After weeks and weeks of warm weather and quite a few rain showers at Squaw, we didn’t expect to get too lucky with the snow conditions. Well, we got more than lucky (thank you La Niña weather cycle). We were blessed with two days of winter wonderland: a fresh blanket of snow covered the slopes in the time it took to go back up the lift.

As we do love to share our food findings on this blog, I must share a few of our special traditions with you. If you are ever near Truckee or Squaw Valley, I highly recommend them.

Our favorite aprés ski spot is Fireside Pizza Co. in the Village at Squaw. In my opinion, Fireside is the best pizza on the planet earth. Of course, I am sure this is a highly controversial claim. Nevertheless, I am standing behind what I say, because their pizza is out of this world.

You really can’t go wrong on the menu. This trip, my dad and I ordered the Fireside Roasted Medley – thin crust pizza topped with roasted garlic and onions, peppers, tomatoes, basil, and normally goat cheese. (I, for one, am a huge fan of goat cheese. My father gags at the site of it. The omission was a huge labor of love on my part.) Fireside’s cheese is a medley of  mozzarella, provolone, fontina, and parmesan. It is in perfect proportion; not too much, not too little. And DELICIOUS second day. We ate leftovers in our condo the second night, mine cold (my favorite way to eat pizza) and my dad’s heated up in the microwave.

Our other personal favorites from Fireside are the Mediterranean and Pear and Gorgonzola pizzas, both equally scrumptious. May I also highly recommend their Pear and Gorgonzola salad, and of course a mug of root beer to accompany your meal. I am not a big soda fan. But the root beer here is just too good to miss, especially in their unique jugs.

If you like to keep things plain and simple, my sister swears by Fireside’s garlic cheese bread and their plain penne pasta topped with butter and parmesan.

After our second day of skiing, we crawled off the mountain sore and exhausted, with aching cold fingers and toes. This, however, didn’t stop us from ordering Le Waf’s and enjoying them by the fire for a while.

What are Le Waf’s, you may ask? At first glance, they appear to be extremely expensive and overly glorified European waffles. But in reality, they are utter perfection. Sweet and gooey, soft on the inside while crispy on the outside – did I mention, utter perfection? Stop by the EuroSnack cart at Squaw or a few of the other Tahoe resorts to pick one up. And be prepared to go back for another in the very near future, unless you are able to exercise an inhuman amount of self-restraint.

On our way out of town the next morning, we made a stop at our favorite Wild Cherries Coffeehouse in Truckee.

Wild Cherries is quite the popular place in the morning, for locals and out-of-towners heading up to the mountains. We have numerous Wild Cherries souvenirs around our house. This year, we added two water bottles and yet another coffee mug to our collection.

We ordered bagels to go: Dad got a sesame bagel with egg, ham and cheese. Livvy, our simplist (is that a word?), had a plain bagel with cream cheese and bacon. Brokenhearted that they didn’t have their chocolate chip bagels on the menu, I got a wheat bagel with cream cheese and topped it with blackberries – still delicious.

We rounded off our order with a large coffee and two Kitchen Sink cookies that were devoured several hours after breakfast. Wild Cherries’ Kitchen Sink cookies are a new discovery of ours. Basically every nut and dried fruit you can think of plus oatmeal and chocolate and I have no idea what else thrown into a cookie. You taste a slightly different flavor with every bite. Watch out on our blog for my attempt at recreating these morsels – I am sure I will discover a halfway decent recipe with some experimentation in the kitchen over the next few weeks. Although I’m not sure anything will ever top Wild Cherries’ version.

We are back home now and just had a relaxing day shopping for Easter presents in Santa Barbara and enjoying the sunny weather and beautiful blue ocean water. Although I already have an empty spot in my heart, yearning to go back to Squaw Valley. I suppose I will have to hang on until next year, when hopefully we will get to sneak up there as a family for a few days again.