Month: November 2012

Cranberry, White Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Cookies

 - by Elizabeth

I found this on the web, and decided to try it out for my monthly treat for the ladies at church.  That’s usually never a good idea, but it turned out fine.  I do think, though, that these could benefit from a little something or other to make them pop: maybe a touch of cinnamon?  nutmeg?  If you figure it out, leave a comment and let me know.

I had just purchased a huge bag of fresh cranberries and wanted to bake something using them.  I found scads of recipes on the web using dried cranberries, but few with fresh cranberries.  I adapted one to make these cookies.

I think these bake up best when the dough is cold, so if you are going to have everything at room temperature, please leave time to chill the dough before baking.

1 cup cold butter, or barely softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
rind of one orange, grated (about 1 Tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 bag (12 oz) white (or vanilla) chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, washed & picked over, then coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.

Measure out cranberries, then place in a wire mesh strainer and rinse, picking out the wrinkled or barely ripe berries.  Place in a food processor and pulse one or two times, or until coarsely chopped.  If you don’t have a food processor, it can be done by using a heavy knife, but it is tricky.  Be of good courage.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until it is light, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add in vanilla extract and orange rind.  Mix well, then add in oatmeal.  In a separate bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Add to the butter mixture until blended, but don’t overbeat.  Add chopped fresh cranberries, walnuts, and white chocolate chips, stirring well to incorporate throughout.

Drop by large tablespoonfuls onto parchment-covered cookie sheet about 2 inches apart; cookies will be about the size of a small plum.  (I put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator at this point to chill before baking, but if you chilled the dough after mixing, you should be fine.)

Bake for 19 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown.  Let set 1 minute outside of the oven, then drag the parchment sheet with cookies on it, onto a rack to let them cool.  Yield: about 24 large (3″) cookies.

Cook’s Note:  Parchment paper can be purchased at any grocery store. I noticed that Costco carried it last time I was there.  One recipe said you could just grease the pan, but be vigilant during baking so the cookies don’t burn.

Mediterranean Chicken

 - by Elizabeth

This dish hails originally from Martha and I pretty much make it like she says, but don’t worry so much about the proportions.  If I think it needs more tomatoes, I add a few.  Likewise with the olives.  This goes together quickly and is good for a crowd.  Once I served it to over 50 people, and they all liked it (although I did see a few olives left on plates–guess they didn’t like those).

Cook’s Note: Like I’ve said before, I think the chicken breasts these days are beyond one person’s serving size, so I “fillet” them into thirds by slicing them on the diagonal, with the blade closer to horizontal than vertical.

This is the yield from two chicken breasts.  While the recipe originally called for 4 chicken breasts, I find that by filleting the chicken and leaving the amounts of the vegetable mixture the same, this will feed four nicely.

Ingredients:
2 cups grape tomatoes (1 pint)  *I like to cut some of mine in half, the long-way. I have used Roma tomatoes cut into large thumb-sized chunks and that works just fine too.  Different flavor, though.*
16 Kalamata olives, pitted and drained *The ones from the grocery store are bigger than the ones from Trader Joe’s, so use 20-25 of the Trader Joe’s olives.*
3 Tablespoons drained capers
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (although Martha calls for chicken breasts with skin)
Salt and Pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Toss tomatoes, olives, capers and 2 Tablespoons oil together in a medium bowl.

Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over high hot until hot.  Add 1 Tablespoon oil and heat until hot, but not smoking.  Place chicken in skillet; cook until golden brown, then turn chicken over to sear the backside briefly.

Place chicken in oven-proof baker.  Add tomato mixture all around.  Roast until chicken is cooked through and tomatoes have softened, about 18 minutes.

Note: Martha says to use an oven-proof skillet, then you can just add the tomato mixture to the pan and pop that in the oven.  Now you have options.