Make-Ahead Cookie Mixes

Cookies in jars

So as our week winds down, how about a sweet note? Everyone loves cookies, and I don’t care that Sesame Street has converted Cookie Monster into a “cookies in moderation” monster. To me, they are still awesome, and deserve their own day on “Make-Ahead Week”. Just like the soups and dressings from previous dressings, these make excellent gifts, and will be accepted with a bigger smile than salad dressing. Make sure if you are gifting these to layer the ingredients as “prettily” as possible, by alternating colours and textures so that it is attractive to both the eye and the stomach! You can print some cute labels and tags on your home printer, and there you go, next thing you know, you have a little cottage industry in your house making cookies-in-a-jar gifts! I wish you much success and in the words of Cookie Monster “Me want cookie!” “Me eat cookie!” “Om nom nom nom”


Applesauce Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup raisins
¾ cup chopped nuts

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
¾ cup butter or shortening
1 egg
½ cup applesauce

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and applesauce and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in mix. Drop teaspoons of dough on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 – 12 minutes at 350°F.


Black & White Chip Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
2 ⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
⅓ cup quick oats
⅔ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
2 tablespoons M&M’s
⅓ cup rice krispies
¼ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup white chocolate chips

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 egg
½ cup butter or shortening

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in mix. Shape the dough into walnut size balls and place 2″ apart on sprayed cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Makes 24 cookies.


Butterscotch Chip Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
1 ⅛ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup rice krispies or corn flakes
¾ cup butterscotch chips
½ cup chopped pecans

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
½ cup of butter or shortening
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and then beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Shape the dough into walnut size balls and place 2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie lightly with a fork dipped in sugar. Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Makes 24 cookies.


Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
¾ cup of softened butter or shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, and then beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Drop the dough by heaping spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes. Makes 24 cookies.


Chunky Chocolate Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup chopped pecans
1 cup jumbo chocolate chip morsels
1 ¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
¾ cup butter or shortening, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in mix. Shape the dough into walnut size balls and place 2″ apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 11-13 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to cooling racks to finish cooling. Makes 3 dozen cookies.


Cocoa Peanut Butter Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ cups packed confectioners’ sugar
¾ cup cocoa
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
½ cup butter or shortening, softened
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and peanut butter, and then beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Shape the dough into walnut size balls and place 2″ apart on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie lightly with a fork dipped in sugar. Bake at 350°F for 9-11 minutes until edges are browned. Makes 3 dozen cookies.


Honey Spice Oatmeal Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
1 cup butter, softened (no substitutions)
¾ cup honey
1 large egg

Whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and honey, and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Cover the dough and chill overnight. Next day, preheat the oven to 350°F. Shape the dough into 1”balls and place 2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie lightly with a cup dipped in sugar. Bake at 350°F for 5-8 minutes.


Molasses Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoonMo cloves
⅛ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
¾ cup butter or shortening, softened
1 egg
¼ cup molasses
sugar, for decoration (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses, and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Shape the dough into 1”balls and place 2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie lightly, and sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake at 375°F for 9-11 minutes.


Peanut Butter Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
¾ cup chopped salted peanuts
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup peanut butter chips
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
½ cup butter or shortening, softened
½ cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and peanut butter, and then beat until mixed. Gradually stir in the mix. Drop the dough by heaping spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350°F for 12-14 minutes.


Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
1 small package raspberry gelatin dessert mix (aka Jewish Jello)
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups chocolate chips
1 ¾ cups flour mixed
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
½ cup butter or shortening, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in mix. Shape the dough into walnut size balls and place 2″ apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 12-14 minutes or until the tops are very lightly browned. Makes 2 ½ dozen cookies.


White Chocolate Cherry Cookie Mix

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup vanilla sugar
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
½ cup dried cherries
½ cup chopped nuts
¾ cup white chocolate chips
½ teaspoon dried lemon peel

Measure all of the above ingredients into a re-sealable jar or bag, and seal, trying to get as much air out as possible. This recipe will fit in a quart jar. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

To Use Add:
½ cup butter or shortening, softened
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Whip the butter or shortening until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until mixed. Gradually stir in mix. Shape the dough into 1” size balls and place 2″ apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes.

Iced Coffee, Cubes and Syrups

Iced Coffees

So as I sit here in my office, for what seems like the one millionth day without proper air conditioning (today’s issue: blown fuse in the compressor), I am sipping on my regular decaf coffee, only iced, rather than hot. Yes, I am aware that there is the theory that when it’s 10 billion degrees out (give or take a degree) you’re actually supposed to have hot drinks, rather than cold, as it’s supposed to make you in fact cooler. So of course, my next step was to Google that to check it out!

According to the Smithsonian Magazine (www.smithsonianmag.com) their answer, in short: Yes, a hot drink can cool you down, but only in specific circumstances. and I quote:

“If you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body, provided the additional sweat that’s produced when you drink the hot drink can evaporate”

The key is however that the increased perspiration needs to be able evaporate off your skin. If you are wearing a lot of clothing, or you are sweating so much that it’s just beading up and running off you rather than evaporating, then you are not cooling yourself off at all, and are better off going for a cold drink.

So, since we dress quite modestly here in the office, the chances of any overproduction of perspiration evaporating off my skin directly, while not slim to none, is close. So, I’m skipping the hot coffee and going for cold.

Sorry, that was a heck of a long into just to tell you that today is Iced Coffee Day! Since the basic recipe for Iced Coffee is pretty simple, I’m going to play up the variations by giving you recipes for a host of syrups that you can add to make your iced coffee taste just like something you paid $25 for at a store that rhymes with “Carbucks”! I’m also throwing in a recipe for coffee ice cubes. These are great for when you have a little coffee left in the pot, or just brew a pot for this recipe specifically, and then add these cubes to your coffee, and you’re not watering it down!  Enjoy everyone!


Iced Coffee Concentrate (Cold Brew)

Ingredients:
For the concentrate:
2 cup coffee beans, coarsely ground
8 cups water

For your iced coffee:
½ cup iced coffee concentrate
½ cup water
ice
sugar or coffee syrup if desired
creamer such as half-and-half, almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk or coffee creamer

Directions:
Add the grounds and the water to a 64-ounce or larger jar or pitcher with airtight lid. Stir. Put the lid on and put the jar/pitcher somewhere out of the way on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight. Let it sit for at least 6 hours, up to 12.

Line a fine-mesh sieve with a couple of layers of cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Pour the water and grounds over the strainer and discard grounds. Pour the iced coffee concentrate into an airtight jar or pitcher and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will keep for up to one week.

To make iced coffee, fill a glass with ice and add ½ cup coffee concentrate and ½ cup water. Add cream/sweetener as desired and serve.


Coffee Ice Cubes

Ingredients:
black coffee, cooled
ice cube trays

Directions:
Brew a pot of hot coffee in your usual method and allow to cool to room temperature. Use whatever coffee is your preference, but the nicer the coffee the nicer the end result will be, so don’t scrimp on the flavour! If you like your coffee on the sweeter side, add in some sugar or sweetener at this point.

Pour coffee into your ice cube tray and place in the freezer to harden overnight. Place any left over coffee into an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for later. When the ice cubes are ready, fill into a tall glass to serve.


Cinnamon Dolce Syrup

Ingredients:
½ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup water
1 5-inch cinnamon stick

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


Vanilla Bean Syrup

Ingredients:
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup water
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Combine the sugar, water, scraped vanilla beans and pod and extract in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in a jar. I usually don’t remove the vanilla pod and just leave it in for flavor. You can remove it if you wish!


Blackberry Syrup

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries*
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup sugar
* click here to learn how to clean blackberries.

Directions:
Add the blackberries to a blender with the water. Puree until completely smooth and blended, then strain over a fine mesh sieve into a bowl – so all you have is blackberry juice. Combine the juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in a jar. This syrup can get extra sweet due to the flavor of your berries, so feel free to play along with water and sugar ratios.

You can use the same recipe to make raspberry, strawberry or blueberry syrup as well.


Almond Syrup

Ingredients:
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup water
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

Directions:
Combine the sugar, water and extract in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool completely before storing in a jar.


Toffee Syrup

Ingredients:
¾ cup water
¾ cup sugar
½ cup toffee bits (such as a Skor™ bar)*

*Please note that this will make this syrup dairy.

Directions:
Combine the water, sugar, and toffee bits in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a cup.  Let stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, and then use a spoon to skim any solids off of the top.  Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.


Peppermint Syrup

Ingredients:
¾ cup water
¾ cup sugar
1 candy cane, crumbled (optional, for colour)
½ to 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Directions:
Combine the water, sugar, and candy cane in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup.  Stir in the peppermint extract. Half a teaspoon is a good starting point and then you can add an additional half a teaspoon if you desire.  (Word to the wise – do not take a giant whiff of the still hot syrup unless you want a peppermint burn inside your nostrils.) Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.


Gingerbread Syrup

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon molasses
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Let simmer gently for 10 minutes.  Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Ingredients:
1 cup water
1 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, cut into quarters
2 5-inch cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for another 10 minutes. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl or large jar and strain syrup. Discard solids. Pour into an airtight storage container and transfer to refrigerator. Contents may settle, so just give it a quick shake before enjoying pumpkin spice deliciousness in your morning coffee or latte.

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

Rhubarb BBQ Sauce

So I was asking around the office if anyone had any special requests for recipes, and one of my co-workers was very quick to say “Rhubarb! I want recipes for rhubarb!” So, ask, and ye shall receive. This week will have some sweet dishes, but I also wanted to give some savoury and not so expected rhubarb recipes as well, like today’s barbecue sauce. This is will work great on a variety of dishes, but check using Worcestershire sauce containing fish on meat dishes (see the tips & tricks page).

Ingredients:

4 large stalks fresh rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
1 (12 fl oz) can Dr. Pepper® soda
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce*
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground dried chipotle pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1-2 teaspoons corn starch, optional

* Click here to learn about using Worcestershire sauce in meat dishes.

Directions:

Combine the rhubarb, soda, apple cider vinegar, sweet onion, brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon, allspice, salt, black pepper, cloves, ground chipotle, and garlic powder in a saucepan, bringing everything to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Let the sauce simmer until the rhubarb and onion are very soft, about 45 minutes, stirring often.

Pour the sauce into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel and pulse a few times to get the sauce moving before leaving it on to purée. Purée in batches if necessary until sauce is smooth.

If you wish to thicken the sauce, take the following steps: In a small bowl, mix the corn starch with a couple of tablespoons of the sauce until combined. Pour this corn starch mixture, along with the puréed sauce, back into a saucepan over a medium heat, while whisking until it begins to thicken. Once it thickens, remove from the heat.

Classic Tourtière (Quebec)

Tourtiere

Ahhh…. La belle province! The nickname for Quebec is “The beautiful province” and it is easy to see why. Quebec has a little bit of everything when it comes to its geography, and it has more culture than any one province has a right to! While most major cities are bilingual to an extent, the majority of Quebecois speak French as their daily language. But with French life, comes French food! And there is so much to choose from! Unfortunately, most of this tends to be not kosher, as there is a large amount of pork and shellfish in these dishes, along with the combinations of dairy and meat products (oh, but a REAL poutine would be so delicious!) However, I’ve taken a French classic, a Tourtière or meat pie, and given it a kosher twist, changing the pork to beef, and taking the lard and butter out of the pie crust. It may not be authentic, but I’m sure you’ll love it just the same! This pie will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups cubed peeled potatoes (about 2 medium sized potatoes)
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 1 pound of mushrooms)
¾ cup finely chopped celery (about 1 ½ stalks)
¾ cup chicken stock
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried savoury
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 Really Flaky Pastry (see below)
1 egg yolk

Directions:

In saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and cook potato until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and mash; set aside.

Meanwhile, in deep skillet, sauté the beef over medium-high heat, mashing with fork, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Drain off fat.

Add mushrooms, celery, stock, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, savoury, thyme, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until almost no liquid remains, about 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Mix in potatoes. Let cool.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 of the pastry discs to scant ¼ inch thickness. Fit into 9-inch pie plate. Spoon in filling. Roll out remaining pastry. Brush pie rim with water; cover with top pastry and press edge to seal. Trim any excess dough from around the edges, and crimp them to create a tight seal.

If you like, you can use the leftover scraps of dough to cut out nice shapes to decorate the top of your pie. Mix egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of water. With a pastry brush (or your fingers) brush the egg wash over the top of the pie. Cut steam vents in the top of the pie. Bake in bottom third of a 400 degree oven until hot and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Really Flaky Pastry:

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cold unsalted margarine, cubed
½ cup cold Crisco or other vegetable shortening, cubed
1 egg
2 teaspoons vinegar
ice water

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk the flour together with the salt. Using a pastry blender/cutter or 2 knives, cut in the margarine and the vegetable shortening until the mixture forms coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

In liquid measuring cup beat the egg with the vinegar and add enough ice water to make ⅔ cup. Drizzle over the flour mixture, tossing with fork until ragged dough forms. Divide the dough in half, pressing each half into a disc shape. Wrap each disc tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. If you like you can make this dough up to 2 days in advance.

Non-Dairy Butter Chicken

Butter ChickenWell, our travels now take us to India, and the city of Bombay, or what is now known as Mumbai. This is a classic Indian dish that is local to the region, but often unattainable to those keeping a kosher diet. Here, with the replacement of dairy with coconut milk, you get the best of both worlds! This recipe will serve 6, and despite the long list of ingredients, is very simple to make! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes

Tandoori Marinade:
⅓ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Butter Chicken Sauce:
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon chili powder
1-2 bay leaves
2 (740ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder + 1 ½ cups warm water
⅓ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
⅓ teaspoon sea salt
⅓ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons minced fresh cilantro*
1 ½ tablespoons potato/corn starch (if needed)

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:

Place cubed chicken in a large gallon re-sealable bag, and set aside. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Pour the marinade mixture our over top of the chicken. Seal the bag, taking out as much air as possible. Using your hands, mix the chicken up with the marinade through the bag, flipping it to help combine. Marinate in the fridge for 8-24 hours. The longer you marinate the better, but do not exceed 48 hours.

Once marinated, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Place the marinated chicken on the sheet, spreading it out so that they cook evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Remove from the oven and allow to sit.

Meanwhile, prepare the butter chicken sauce by sautéing the oil, onion and garlic in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat for 10 minutes until onion is brown. Add the ginger, garam masala, cumin, chili powder and bay leaf. Cook for 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes, chicken bouillon powder, water, coconut milk, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

If you find that your sauce needs thickening, remove about 3-4 tablespoons of sauce into a small bowl, and mix in the potato or corn starch. Once the starch has been thoroughly combined with the sauce, return the sauce to the main pot and mix through. This will thicken up the sauce. Add the cooked chicken, cilantro and remove the bay leaf, and serve with hot basmati rice.

Chocolate Banana Fried Won-tons with Boozy Caramel Sauce

chocolate banana wontonsIngredients:

For Won-tons:
2 very ripe bananas
⅓ cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ (14 ounce) package won-ton wrappers
oil for frying

For Boozy Caramel Sauce:
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon brandy-based orange liqueur (such as Grand Sabra Orange Brandy), optional
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

To make the filling:

Place the bananas, chocolate chips, clove, cinnamon, and vanilla into a mixing bowl, and mash until evenly blended. Alternatively, chop the mixture in a food processor until the chocolate chips have been reduced in size. This will help prevent the chips from poking through the won-ton skins as you handle them. It will also change the texture of the filling – you will not have pockets of melted chocolate in the won-tons.

To make the won-tons:

Separate and place the won-ton wrappers onto your work surface. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the banana filling onto the centre of each wrapper. Use your finger or a pastry brush to lightly moisten the edges of the won-ton wrappers with water. Fold one corner of the wrapper over the filling onto the opposite corner to form a triangle. Press the edges together to seal. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Fry the won-tons in the hot oil a few at a time until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn the won-tons over halfway through cooking so they brown evenly. Remove, and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

To make the sauce:

Prepare the sauce by combining the butter, brown sugar, orange liqueur, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is smooth, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

To serve:

Serve the won-tons warm with the caramel sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons chocolate chips to garnish.

Asian 5 Spice Blend

Five SpiceFive-spice powder is a spice mixture of five spices, used primarily in Chinese cuisine but also used in other Asian and Arabic cookery. While there are many variants, a common mix is:

  • Star anise (bajiao, 八角)
  • Cloves (dingxiang, 丁香)
  • Chinese Cinnamon (rougui, 肉桂)
  • Sichuan pepper (huajiao, 花椒)
  • Fennel seeds (xiaohuixiang, 小茴香)

Other recipes may contain anise seed or ginger root, nutmeg, turmeric, Amomum villosum pods, Amomum cardamomum pods, licorice, sichuan pepper, Mandarin orange peel or galangal. In South China Cinnamomum loureiroi and Mandarin orange peel is commonly used as a substitute for Cinnamomum cassia and cloves, respectively, producing a different flavour for southern five-spice powders.

Five spice may be used with fatty meats such as pork, duck or goose. It is used as a spice rub for chicken, duck, pork and seafood, in red cooking recipes, or added to the breading for fried foods. Five spice is used in recipes for Cantonese roasted duck, as well as beef stew. It is used as a marinade for Vietnamese broiled chicken. The five-spice powder mixture has followed the Chinese diaspora and has been incorporated into other national cuisines throughout Asia.

Although this mixture is used in restaurant cooking, many Chinese households do not use it in day-to-day cooking. In Hawaii, some restaurants place a shaker of the spice on each patron’s table. A seasoned salt can be easily made by dry-roasting common salt with five-spice powder under low heat in a dry pan until the spice and salt are well mixed. This recipe will make about 1 cup of spice blend.

Ingredients

5 tablespoons star anise powder
2 ½ tablespoons ground pepper (can be regular peppercorns or Sichuan)
2 ½ tablespoons ground fennel
2 ½ tablespoons ground cloves
2 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 ½ tablespoons Himalayan salt (or regular salt)

Instructions

Use a mortar and pestle to grind any herbs necessary. Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container. This blend will last at least a month in an airtight container.

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

Chewy Ginger CookieThese big, soft cookies are extremely addictive! You have been warned! This recipe will make about 2 dozen, though I suggest doubling it due to the aforementioned addictive quality!

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water, orange juice or liqueur of your choice
¼ cup molasses*
2 tablespoons white sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water and molasses. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the molasses mixture. Warning, this is a very sticky batter. It is best to let the dough sit for a bit (maybe 30 minutes or so) so that the sticky factor gets toned down some. Alternatively you can stick them in the freezer for about 10 minutes, or use a little bit of oil/oil spray on your hands when rolling them.

Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an un-greased cookie sheet, and flatten.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

* A quick tip for when measuring molasses (or honey or other sticky ingredient), lightly coat your measuring cup with oil/oil spray first. This will let the molasses slide easily out.

Gluten Free Chewy Ginger-Molasses Cookies

Ginger CookiesNormally, I wait until the end of the week to give you a dessert recipe, but these are so good, I couldn’t wait! I’m sure you’ll forgive me! Most of these ingredients will be found either online or in specialty stores, but even some of the larger supermarkets carry them these days. If you can’t find them though, substitutions are okay! Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups chickpea flour
1 ½ cups gluten-free oat flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
5 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
1 ½ cups coconut sugar (or light brown sugar)
4 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons almond/soy milk
large grain sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, and set them aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices; set aside. In another large bowl, cream the oil and sugar with an electric mixer, then beat in the molasses. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk, and beat until combined.

A little at a time, add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine with electric mixer on medium-low until all flour is combined and no lumps remain (batter will be thick and sticky at this point). Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from refrigerator. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop balls of dough out onto prepared baking sheet, spacing each cookie 2 inches apart. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until they darken a bit and are fragrant. Place cookies on a rack and let them cool before eating. Cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 or 4 days.