Hawaiian Luau Burger

Hawaiian Luau Burger

So for today’s recipe I was thinking, it’s so hot out, I might as well fantasize a proper locale to go with the heat…. I know, Hawaii! I can picture it now, white sandy beaches, beautiful crashing waves, large erupting volcanoes… ahhh, scratch that last one. Well, most of my heart is in the right place, so I thought why not a burger that is fit for a luau? I knew I wanted the different Pan-Asian flavours, with the ginger and pineapple, and the hit of teriyaki in the glaze will really kick this burger up a notch. Normally, this would be topped with cheese and honey glazed ham, but seeing as we’re a kosher site, we’re skipping the cheese, and using a honey glazed deli turkey instead. I also kinda liked having a drink with yesterday’s recipe, so I thought, why not, and added a mai tai recipe at the bottom today. I figured, no luau is complete without a mai tai! Again, there are alternatives for those you don’t wish to imbibe. Enjoy everyone, hang ten!

Ingredients:
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 pounds lean ground beef
6 tablespoons pineapple juice
6 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
12 slices honey glazed deli turkey
12 slices red onion
lettuce*
mayonnaise
6 big sesame seed hamburger buns

* Click here to learn how to clean lettuce.

Directions:
Preheat your grill to medium-high and oil your grill so that your burgers don’t stick! In a small bowl, mix the pineapple juice and teriyaki sauce together, and then set it aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, ginger and garlic powders, salt, pepper and soy sauce. Divide into 6 balls and form into patties slightly larger than your bun.  Make a slight indentation in the centre of the burger to prevent it from doming up in the centre. The indentation will rise as your burger cooks.

Grill your burgers until they are golden brown and slightly charred, about 3-5 minutes on the first side, and then turning once, cook for 3 minutes on the other side for medium. Baste your burgers with the pineapple teriyaki sauce as your burger cooks. Try not to press down on your burger with a spatula. It will cause the juices to escape and will create a dry burger! While the burgers are grilling, grill the pineapple slices until pineapple have golden brown grill marks on both sides.

Toast the hamburger buns by placing on grill until grill marks form.  Do not walk away during this process; toast can turn to ash in the blink of an eye! Spread mayo on bottom bun, then top with lettuce, burger, grilled pineapple, red onion and the honey glazed turkey. Serve and enjoy!


Mai TaiClassic Mai Tai Cocktail

To make this non-alcoholic, simply omit the rum and top up with a bit more pineapple and orange juice. You can even top up with seltzer instead for a fizzy treat!

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons spiced rum
1 ½ tablespoons coconut-flavoured rum
1 teaspoon grenadine syrup
⅓ cup pineapple juice
¼ cup orange juice
orange slice and maraschino cherries, to garnish

Directions:
In a cocktail mixer full of ice, combine the spiced rum, coconut rum, grenadine, pineapple juice and orange juice. Shake vigorously and strain into glass full of ice. Garnish with a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry.

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.

Moroccan Dry Rub

North African Dry RubThis North African flavoured rub is great on chicken, but equally good when used to flavour vegetarian dishes, like a chickpea stew or tofu. Keep the wet and dry ingredients separate until you are ready to use the rub, as the fresh ingredients will spoil after a while and you don’t want to lose all that good rub!

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:

3 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
5 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons black pepper
4 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons cayenne
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
5 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

If using the entire 1 cup batch of rub at once:
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 lemons worth of zest, minced*

If using one portion of the rub (about 3 tablespoons):
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ lemon worth of zest, minced*

* Click here for my tips on zesting.

Directions:

Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a bowl. Either portion out a small amount of rub, and add your minced garlic and lemon zest, or if using the whole recipe, add the garlic and lemon directly to your mixing bowl. Mix well, so that everything is incorporated.

This is a dry rub, but you can add oil directly to the rub to make a paste, or lightly oil whatever it is you are using the rub on, then apply the spice mixture. This rub can be used right away, or you can let it sit on your dish so that the flavours permeate the food. Without the wet ingredients, this rub can last about 6 months in an air tight container.

Easy Marinades

Marinades 101These marinades use ingredients that you likely have on hand. Remember that they typical ratio for marinades is one part oil to three or four parts acid, with extra ingredients added to taste. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk, then transfer the marinade to a large freezer bag and add your favourite protein. Seal the bag, turning it so the protein is exposed to the marinade, and refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight, for meats or tofu, or about 1 hour to 4 hours for fish.

Honey Barbecue Marinade
Olive oil + Dry Red Wine + Honey + Crushed Garlic + Pepper

Fresh Mediterranean Herb Marinade
Olive Oil + Balsamic Vinegar + Finely Chopped Rosemary* and Basil* + Salt + Pepper

Asian Fusion Buttermilk Marinade
Sesame Oil + Buttermilk** + Ground Ginger + Cilantro* + Soy Sauce + Pepper

* Click here to learn how to clean these herbs.
** Click here on tips for making non-dairy buttermilk.

Tandoori Spice Blend

Tandoori Spice BlendTandoori masala (masala means spice blend) is a mixture of spices specifically for use with a tandoor, or clay oven, in traditional north Indian and Pakistani cooking. The specific spices vary somewhat from one region to another, but typically include garam masala, garlic, ginger, onion, cayenne pepper, and may include other spices and additives. The spices are often ground together with a pestle and mortar.

Tandoori masala is used extensively with dishes as tandoori chicken. In this dish, the chicken is covered with a mixture of plain yogourt and tandoori masala. The chicken is then roasted in the tandoor at very high heat. The chicken prepared in this fashion has a pink-coloured exterior and a savoury flavor. For you kosher readers out there, try making this dish using non-dairy yogourt or water down some non-dairy sour cream to get a yogourt like consistency.

Other chicken dishes, in addition to tandoori chicken, use this masala, such as tikka or butter chicken, most of them Punjabi dishes. Meat other than chicken can be used, as can paneer (paneer is a homemade pressed cheese made out of curdled milk).

If freshly prepared, the masala can be stored in airtight jars for up to two months. The spice blend is also readily available at larger supermarkets and specialty Asian stores, with varying tastes depending on the brand. This recipe will make about 1 cup of spice blend.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl. Transfer to airtight container. Note: If your saffron is really fresh and doesn’t crumble easily, toast it in a dry skillet over medium heat until dark red. Cool; then crumble.

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.