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sweet thang

I originally created this recipe as a freelance project for a yogurt company. I first tested the cookie without yogurt to make sure the rest of the ingredients were sound. The result (below) was a chewy, sweet, heavily spiced cookie that is perfect for the holidays (I know, I know–I’m way late! Make them next year…).

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar, plus more for rolling
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation
Preheat oven to 375* F.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves; set aside.

With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add molasses, egg, and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Add the flour mixture in batches and mix until just combined.

Using a tablespoon, form cookies and roll each cookie in sugar. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and press each cookie with your fingers to flatten slightly.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or longer for a crispier cookie.

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1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chia seeds
3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw cashews, roughly chopped
1 cup dried fruit, diced (I used chopped dates and apricots)

1. Preheat oven to 250 F.
2. In a small sauce pan, whisk together oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, and salt. Heat over medium-low heat until sugar and salt dissolve.
3. In a large bowl, combine oats, seeds, and cashews.
4. Pour the oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir to coat.
5. Spread evenly on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
6. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
7. Combine granola with dried fruit and cool, stirring occasionally to break into smaller clusters.

Notes: decrease both oil and chia seeds to 1/4 cup each. Otherwise, flavor was great and texture was what I had hoped: crunchy with some larger clusters throughout. Yum. Could probably decrease sweetness (try 1/4 cup maple syrup).

This past weekend was the first of football season, and–I can’t believe I’m about to type this–I am so excited for its arrival. In the past few years, I have increasingly looked forward to doing just about nothing on Sundays. These days give me an opportunity to cook (and usually drink) all day; it is on this day I experiment with new dishes, or test popular ones I’ve made in seasons past.

One of these recipes is Rice Krispies Treats. I usually keep them traditional, but top them with a spiced chocolate ganache for something a bit more refined. To kickoff the season, this time I stirred in speculoos spread–a flavor that hints at the impending end of summer and transition to the cooler months. So as I prepare to say goodbye to tomatoes, mai tais, and the faint tan I actually achieved this year, I seek solace in Football Sundays.

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Makes 12-15 pieces

4 Tbsp butter
1 10-oz bag mini marshmallows
2/3 speculoos spread
pinch kosher salt
6 cups Rice Krispies or puffed rice cereal
3 Tbsp millet, toasted

1. In a large pot, melt butter and add marshmallows.
2. Once marshmallows are melted, stir in speculoos spread and salt.
3. Add cereal and millet and stir until evenly coated with speculoos mixture.
4. Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch greased pan and press down evenly.
5. Let sit for at least 2 hours before cutting.

Notes: Of course this is delicious–they’re Rice Krispies Treats, for crying out loud. Speculoos was subtle but prominent enough to make them special. Next time: more millet!

For some reason–perhaps it’s the pronounciation–I’ve always shied away from making clafoutis. A recent trip to my local farmers’ market compelled me to purchase cape gooseberries, and figured they would be a great stand-in for traditional cherries in this French dessert. The berries are sweet and tart, with a lingering, almost nagging, tomato flavor.

I used this recipe from John Besh via Epicurious. The only thing I did differently was add a pint of cape gooseberries.

Straight from the oven, the clafoutis is beautiful: puffed like a souffle and a gentle golden brown. In the time it took me to swiftly bring it to the front door for a close-up, it was dead-on-arrival. How did it taste? Kind of like a big, thick crepe, or a sweet, dense pancake. Not bad, but I feel this could use some tweaking in the future, especially since it lends itself to fruits of all seasons. Either way, it was a nice little project that came together quickly and satisfied our inevitable nighttime dessert binge. Next time, this will serve as breakfast in lieu of French toast.

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Not the prettiest dish, but hearty and tasty. I used this recipe for Sauteed Sausages with Grapes and Balsamic Glazed Onions from Fine Cooking, made a few little changes, and served it over raw Tuscan kale.

3 tsp canola oil
4 andouille chicken sausages (I used precooked because it was all I had on hand, but uncooked is best)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup red seedless grapes (if they’re small, leave them whole; otherwise, cut in half)
1 pound Tuscan kale, ribs removed, cut into 1-inch thick slices
Juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Add the sausages and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total.
2. Remove the sausage, lower the heat to medium, and add the onion to the pan. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
3. Deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits, and reduce by half.
4. Add the chicken broth and grapes, and nestle in the sausages.
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by about half and the sausages are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, massage kale with lime juice, salt, and pepper and place on a platter.
7. Serve sausages, grapes, and onions over the kale salad.

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I used this recipe from Whole Foods. Changes I made: subbing coconut oil for butter, going just shy of 1/2 cup for the sugar, omitting the walnuts, increasing chocolate chips to just under 1 cup (mixed in the batter and sprinkled on top). Overall, not bad for a brownie made with black beans. Slightly grainy in texture, and a little too cakey for my taste. Plus, they stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Next time, I will under-bake, and consider swapping mashed banana for the sugar. Perhaps will omit eggs and use a ground flaxseed slurry to make it vegan (with the coconut oil). Needs work.

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