Love: In Smoothie Form

I have a confession to make.

I kill plants like it’s my job. And no I don’t mean pesky weeds, I could probably make those thrive. I mean nice, pretty, joy inducing plants; the kind that sort of breaks your heart when they are all droopy and dead.

It’s been quite a few years now since this started happening. When I lived with my brother when I first moved out we had two plants. They were the most resilient buggers in the world. Every other month or so, Michael would go away to a world cup for two weeks and it would just be me and the plants. The first time, I was completely oblivious to the plants. I did nothing to help them live. When Michael got home, he was all “did you even water the plants ONCE?! Jill, you can’t just leave them to DIE!”.

Nope, I hadn’t even watered them once. In fact, the thought never even crossed my mind.

But they survived, so the next time he went away, I was determined not to let them down. They needed me!

I watered them every.single.day. When Michael got home, again he lectured me on the importance of watering the plants…But I had! Where had I gone wrong! I’d watered them with water AND TLC for two weeks straight!

I had nearly drowned them in all that water and TLC. Turns out you can’t water plants every single day or it kills them. Go figure.

We’ve been through numerous herb plants and I think they are the hardest. They always die, and quickly.

But I’m determined to hone my skills. Fresh herbs are just TOO delicious to have around the house, this time, I can’t let them die. I’m doing everything I can to keep them alive; I’m pruning them, watering them (but not too much), making sure they have sun, but aren’t too close to the window where it’s cold etc. etc. etc. Except reading about caring about plants. Maybe I should try that. 

And so far so good! It’s been five days.

But on to the smoothie love part. I’ve been using my delicious basil plant in smoothies! And it has yet to disappoint.

My smoothie and my basil plant...aren't they beautiful!

My smoothie and my basil plant…aren’t they beautiful!

Strawberry Basil Smoothie

6 large frozen strawberries
1/2 cup plain greek yogourt (or any plain yogourt, that’s just what I had)
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp honey
5+ basil leaves (just grab a bunch, lovingly, and toss em’ in!)

Put all ingredients together in a magic bullet cup or blender and blend! I usually have to add a little water part way through because I don’t put enough liquid, but I like thick smoothies, so I do that sparingly.

And enjoy! The basil takes the smoothie to a whole new level, right?!

Mmmm fresh parsley and basil soaking up the sun. Don't worry! The window isn't too cold and I take them away from that ledge AS SOON as the sun goes away. I'm trying!!!

Mmmm fresh parsley and basil soaking up the sun. Don’t worry! The window isn’t too cold and I take them away from that ledge AS SOON as the sun goes away. I’m trying!!!

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Mindful Farm

Originally from Chiang Mai, we had planned on going to Pai for a few days. Mostly I was just excited about the potential for puns with a name like Pai, but before we left we were diverted. On the wall at Giant House we saw a poster for a place called Mindful Farm which was west of the city. After taking a look at the website, we knew we had to change our plans and go there instead.

Mindful Farm in owned by ex monk Pinan, his wife Noriko and their daughter Nobara. They started it almost two years ago when Nabara was born and have been welcoming guests ever since. It is an organic farm where they mostly live off what they grow and sell what they don’t need. They welcome volunteers to come stay with them for only B200 (about $7) a day, which includes accommodation, and all you can eat.

Like it’s name suggests, Pinan and Noriko practice mindfulness in their lives and encourage the volunteers to practice as well. The days are somewhat structured, which was a welcome change for us after doing whatever we felt like, whenever we felt like it for the past 7 weeks. The schedule was as follows:

6:30 – Wake up/walking meditation for 30 minutes
7:00 – Help prepare breakfast
7:30 – Eat as much as you can (it’s usually that delicious)
8:30 – Clean up/start working
11:30 – Stop working
12 – Eat as much as you can
1:00 – Rest until you feel rested (amazing right – in Pinan’s words “When you feel tired, you must rest. Sometimes I don’t rest at all and sometimes I rest all day”)
Between 2-3 – Start working again
5:00 – Stop working
5:30 – Eat as much as you can
7:30 – Group silent meditation
8:30 – Bed

We followed some form of this for the four days that we were there. All of the food is vegetarian, which made me a little more willing to try everything. I gave up trying to figure out what stuff was (which is my picky nature) and just piled up my plate. There was barely anything that I didn’t like and I found it fascinating how Noriko made such flavourful food with so little. There were even a few things that she admitted to never having cooked before (let alone knowing if they were edible) that turned out delicious. Their attitude is to use everything, and that’s just what we did.

Feast!

Feast!

A pineapple growing...who knew this is how they grow?! Answer: not us!

A pineapple growing…who knew this is how they grow?! Answer: not us!

We slept in very basic (and not super comfortable) bamboo huts with mosquito nets, while other volunteers slept in mud huts. But they were more than sufficient for a decent night’s sleep.

Our bamboo hut

Our bamboo hut

Inside the hut

Inside the hut

Unfortunately while we were there I got a few migraines, which put a damper on my experience, but Keith had a ton of fun and worked very hard, helping to build a new bathroom, making and hauling mud, mixing cement and weeding. I mostly stuck to helping prepare food, and get some vegetables ready for planting, but  also spent a lot of time caring for Nabara so that her parents could work. She was amazing and so much fun to watch as she has only a few toys and books that stay in the house, so every day she explores her world as entertainment. Her creativity and personality are so neat, having been shaped by her unique upbringing on the farm as well as the number of adults that pass through her life so frequently. By the time she starts talking I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up fluent in 5+ languages!

Nobara wanted to help with the chicory. She sat with me for at least half an hour copying what I was doing to process it.

Nobara wanted to help with the chicory. She sat with me for at least half an hour copying what I was doing to process it.

Keith showing off his muscles

Keith showing off his muscles

Although we would have liked to stay for much longer, we decided that it would be best for me to be in the city where I’d be more comfortable and hopefully the migraines would go away.  It was a very neat experience though, and a great option for anyone interested in volunteering (without paying hoards of money to do so). Pinan and Noriko are very welcoming and although it’s a rustic experience, it’s one that is totally worth it!

Making mud bricks. The night before some frogs had laid eggs in here so there were frog eggs floating everywhere in the mud.

Making mud bricks. The night before some frogs had laid eggs in here so there were frog eggs floating everywhere in the mud.

Keith's foot after a hard day's work.

Keith’s foot after a hard day’s work.

This is the eating/meditation area.

This is the eating/meditation area.

Doesn't your heart just squeeze with her cute-ness!

Nobara loved playing with my sunglasses.

Nobara was super into sunglasses.

Doesn’t your heart just melt with her cuteness?!

Noriko, Pinan, Nobara and us.

Noriko, Pinan, Nobara and us.

Baan Thai Cookery Course, Chiang Mai

While in Thailand one of our non-negotiable must dos was take a cooking course. The food is so good so we definitely wanted to be able to take home the skills to make it for ourselves. Not to mention that thai food is super expensive in Canada.

We chose the Baan Thai Cookery School out of the many many options. It seems that pretty much every restaurant in Chiang Mai offers courses (just like every guest house offers treks and every other store front offers massages). Baan Thai was close to our guest house and had some great reviews.

Some of our fresh ingredients from the market.

Some of our fresh ingredients from the market.

We were not disappointed! The morning started off with a market tour by our hilarious Chef Guru after which we chose what dishes we wanted to make and got to work! There were three different classes of eight people going on at Baan Thai that day, and three different dishes that we could chose for each meal. In total we made five different meals and a curry paste. For each meal the people from the three different classes went to whichever dish they had chosen, which made for approximately equal people at each station.

All ready to cook!

All ready to cook!

We each chose one curry, one appetizer, one soup, one stir fry and one desert. I did spring rolls, chicken in coconut milk soup, pad thai, panaeng curry and water chess nuts in coconut milk. Keith made papaya salad, fried cashew nut with chicken, Chiang Mai noodle curry, hot and sour soup and mango sticky rice. Plus they taught us all how to make the different kinds of rice.

Ingredients for one of the dishes.

Ingredients for one of the dishes.

We gorged ourselves all day, eating every dish that we made. The instructors were great, particularly ours who kept telling jokes that I found hilarious. The people in our group were great, and the staff were kind enough to care for the daughter of one couple so that they could participate fully. Overall, while I’m sure most of the cooking courses offered in Chiang Mai are great, I would recommend this one as a delicious and fun option. Now we can’t wait to impress our families back home with the easy, quick and delicious thai recipes that we learned!

And I’m sure that Keith will be making mango sticky rice quite often!!!

For the first recipe in months, here are a few that we made at the cooking school:

Papaya Salad [som tam]

50 g green (unripe) papaya or carrot or cucumber, shredded
10 garlic cloves
1-3 chillies (or 10+ if you’re thai)
½ tomato, quartered
1 chinese long bean, cut in one inch pieces
20 g peanuts
2 tbsp fish sauce
1-2 limes, quartered
1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar if you don’t have palm)

Put garlic, chili, and Chinese long bean in the mortar and pound together (tenderly – their words not mine!)

Add palm sugar, lime, fish sauce and pound until the palm sugar is dissolved.

Put in the papaya and tomato and mix well.

Pour into the dish and top with peanuts!

Keith's papaya salad

Keith’s papaya salad

Panaeng Curry with Pork [phanaeng moo]

75 g pork, cut into ½ cm slices
1 tbsp red curry paste (see below)
1 cup coconut milk
3 kaffir lime leaves with the stems torn off
1 tbsp ground, roasted peanuts
25 g pea egg plant
1 tbsp palm sugar
2 tbsp fist sauce
1 tsp panaeng powder (see below)
2 sliced red chili (or more or less dependent on your spice tolerance)
2 tbsp oil

Heat the oil in a wok over low heat.

Add the red curry paste and panaeng spices and stir continuously until fragrant and oil surfaces.

Add the pork and ¼ cup coconut milk and stir until pork is cooked.

Add the remaining coconut milk and pea egg plant, stirring.

Add fish sauce, palm sugar and ground peanuts and stir continuously until coconut milk becomes thick and the pork is tender (not very long).

Pour into dish and top with kaffir lime leaves, red chili and serve over rice.

Panaeng Powder

1/6 tsp cumin
1/6 tsp cardamom
1/6 tsp coriander seed
1/6 tsp clove
1/6 tsp nutmeg
1/6 tsp black pepper

Pound all ingredients together in mortar.

Red Curry Paste

5 red dried chilies, soaked
3 tbsp shallots, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
50 g galangal (thai ginger), chopped
½ tbsp chopped lemon grass
1 tsp lesser ginger
1 tsp shrimp paste
½ tsp chopped kaffir lime peel
1 tsp coriander root
1 tsp turmeric root

Soak the dried red chilies in hot water for 10 minutes.

Put the garlic, lemon grass, kaffir lime peel, galangal and coriander root in the mortar and pound.

Add lesser ginger, turmeric root and shallots and pound well.

Add red chilies and pound well.

Add shrimp paste and pound until smooth and fine.

This can be kept in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.

Mango Sticky Rice
Serves 3

1 ½ kg cooked sticky rice
6 tbsp palm sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
1 litre coconut milk
1 ripe sliced mango

Heat coconut milk in a pot, add palm sugar and salt and stir well.

Add the sticky rice and cook on low for 30 minutes. Stir one more time and serve on a plate with sliced mango.

Keith's mango sticky rice.

Keith’s mango sticky rice.

Chowing down on his first creation.

Chowing down on his first creation.

My spring rolls.

My spring rolls.

Getting my cooking on!

Getting my cooking on!

Keith's curry dish. What a masterpiece!

Keith’s curry dish. What a masterpiece!

Soooooo fuuuuullllll.

Soooooo fuuuuullllll.

The cutest cute there ever was.

The cutest chef there ever was.

It’s a Miracle!

The weirdest thing happened the other day. Last Friday I posted about how hard homemade caramel is and how many times it’s been a disaster for me. But somehow, miraculously, that afternoon I DID IT.

First Try. 

No mess.

Just golden, scrumptious, smooth, beautiful caramel. 

[Insert kitchen happy dance here]

My 'first try' caramel, in all it's glory.

My ‘first try’ caramel, in all it’s glory.

I was looking for a brownie recipe to make for a night with friends, and like usual, I was drawn to the one with caramel (I can’t help that I loooove caramel!!!). Salted caramel brownies to be exact, curtesy of Smitten Kitchen.

I thought about passing the recipe over for another one (sans caramel) but it was early enough in the day that I thought I’d give it a shot since I had time to toss everything and start over.

And even though I didn’t let them cool long enough so that they were a big gooey mess, they were a hit!

On Saturday, I was heading to a friends ranch for the night and had offered to bring dessert, so to see if Friday’s success was a fluke, I decided to try again…and it wasn’t! I did it again!!!

While I’m sure there will be many more caramel attempts that I ruin, and each time I will learn something new, for now I will celebrate by sharing the recipe with you, and the tricks that I think helped me succeed.

Salted Caramel Brownies (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Caramel

1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp butter
Heaped 1/4 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp heavy cream

Brownie

1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Heaped 1/4 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup all purpose flour

To make caramel:

Place parchment paper on a medium sized plate and grease the paper with butter or cooking spray.

Heat medium sauce pan or frying pan (I used a non-stick pan) to medium high heat. I used 6 on my dial and I really think that this is where the difference from all the other failures lies. Spread sugar throughout pan, shaking the pan to spread evenly.

Step away.

Resist stirring.

Give it at least three minutes before you step back to it. At this point you should see it turning into brown liquid. Shake the pan around again to re-spread the sugar. Once the sugar has really started melting, gently and sparingly use a spatula to mix in the remaining sugar until it has all melted into a golden brown liquid. Over stirring is a major cause of screw up for me.

Remove from heat and stir in butter and salt. It will bubble up so make sure you don’t get sprayed by the hot liquid. Stir until the butter is mostly incorporated (however this may be tough so don’t worry too much). Add cream, stirring again and return it to the stove to medium high heat (I just leave my burner on because adding the butter/cream only takes a minute). Bring it back to a simmer, stirring to incorporate all of the butter and cream. Cook for a few minutes more until it is a shade darker.

Pour over parchment, spreading around a bit, and then place in the freezer. Freeze until solidified which takes at least 20 minutes, but the longer you leave it in, the harder the caramel will be and the less it will melt in the brownies.

To review: the two keys that meant success for me this time were melting the sugar at a 6 (medium high heat) and really.resisting.stirring.

To make brownie:

Pre-heat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

In a simmering double boiler, melt chocolate and butter until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, then eggs (one at a time) then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spatula.

To assemble:

Line a 8×8 inch pan with greased parchment paper.

Once caramel is nice and frozen, remove from freezer and chop into smallish pieces. Put about 3/4 of pieces into the brownie batter and gently mix in. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place remaining caramels on top of batter and bake for 30 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.

Cool thoroughly, or not, depending on if you want brownies that will cut well or if you are happy with gooey, messy brownies. Your call! They are both delicious.

Enjoy! And then enjoy a few more to reward yourself for nailing caramel. Or to reward yourself for attempting caramel (even if you blew it).

Chopped up. It was so hard not to eat half of them here!

Chopped up. It was so hard not to eat half of them here!

A little gooey, but oh so good.

A little gooey, but oh so good.

Image 2

Success! I'm unabashedly proud of myself...Jill-1, Caramel - 10. But at least I'm on the board!

Success! I’m unabashedly proud of myself…Jill-1, Caramel – 10. But at least I’m on the board!

Homemade Tortilla Wraps

About a year ago, Keith happened to be looking at the ingredients and nutrition information on a package of flour tortillas and discovered that some brands of tortillas actually have trans fats in them. Generally, we eat pretty well and since we don’t buy a lot of packaged foods, we don’t spend much time reading labels (that’s the great thing about fresh fruits and veggies! You don’t need a label to tell you they’re good for you!). We were both very surprised when he saw this. Luckily not all brands include trans fats so we learned to pick the ones that didn’t.

But it got me to thinking about why we bought them at all. I’m quite serious when I say that we don’t eat much packaged or pre-made food. Our meals generally consist of a piece of meat, a vegetable (salad usually) and on occasion potatoes or rice. Or sometimes the other way around, a big salad and some home made fries (huge staple for us). We barely visit those ‘centre aisles’ at the grocery store where packaged foods lie (except the baking aisle of course!).

Now I am not speaking from a high horse, I think everyone knows that even though we don’t eat store bought junk food, we still eat some junk (and if you need proof check out this, this or this!). And I’m not trying to say that nothing that is packaged is unhealthy, because that certainly isn’t true! But I have found an easy way to cut down on one more packaged item that you might eat…tortillas!

When we first found out about the trans fats we just bought that package that didn’t have them and called it a day. But then I started looking up recipes to check if there was another option. My first try was a bit of a flop. They were more like thin-ish pizza crusts and didn’t bend or roll at all like store bought tortillas. My second attempt was better, but I still knew that there was room for improvement. I thought for sure there was some secret that I was missing, and it turns out I was right!

These are my second attempt and while they look ok, they didn't have the dexterity and elasticity that I look for in a tortilla.

These are my second attempt and while they look ok, they didn’t have the dexterity and elasticity that I look for in a tortilla.

A couple of weeks ago we hadn’t had anything with wraps for a while, so I decided to try my hand at them again. I started looking around on blogs for recipes and came across one that looked promising. It talked about the fat in the recipe needing to be a solid fat, not like olive or vegetable oil.

And the fat that it suggested was coconut oil! Keith bought some coconut oil in the fall after visiting a friend in Vancouver studying to be a naturopathic doctor. She raved about how versatile it was and how you could use it for anything from skin care to in baking to on toast! I have to admit I was skeptical because I don’t really like coconut. And while I definitely won’t eat it on toast, and still prefer butter on popcorn, I’ll admit that it is a great staple to add to the kitchen.

These wraps do take a little bit of patience, mostly because you have to stand over the stove for a long time cooking them (each one cooks quickly but I like to make a big batch), but if you get 2 or 3 frying pans going it doesn’t take long. Plus, if you make a big batch you can throw half in the freezer and take them out a few weeks down the road — JUST as if you’d grabbed them off the shelf at the grocery store!

Homemade Tortillas (adapted from The Prairie Homestead)

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 cup warm milk

Measure the flour into a big bowl adding the salt and mixing. Heat the milk slightly, or use powdered milk and warm water as the base (that’s what I did because we don’t always have milk in the house). Measure the coconut oil into the flour and, using your hands, pile the flour over top of the oil.

There really is no two ways about this, you have to use your hands. But since it’s such a large quantity of flour and small quantity of oil, your hands don’t get too dirty (plus, it’s just like moisturizer anyways!). Mix the oil into the flour rubbing the flour between your hands and breaking up any big clumps. There will be some small clumps, and that’s ok, but make sure there aren’t too many.

Gradually add the milk continuing to mix with your hands until it all comes together in a nice ball. Don’t feel that you need to use all the milk if it comes together without all of it. If you dump too much in it will become a stick mess and you might need to add more flour. Knead the dough for about two minutes.

Cover and let stand for about 20 minutes while you prepare your pans and rolling surface (don’t leave them in much longer because they get tough to roll out).

Heat two large pans over medium heat. Clean a big area on your counter and cover with a sprinkling of flour. Get the dough out and split it into about 16 equally sized balls. Take one and roll it out using more flour as needed so it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin. Make the dough as thin as possible without breaking through it. This will take some patience, but you will get used to it and eventually it moves along quite quickly.

Once the pans are hot, place one tortilla in the centre and let cook for about 2 minutes. You can tell it’s done when the edges look a little dry. Flip tortilla and let cook again for up to 2 minutes. You need to keep a close eye on the first couple to get an idea of how long they will take. I find that mine take about 90 seconds give or take. They should be slightly browned and may have puffed spots, which is just fine.

Remove from heat and place on a cooling rack. Once they are totally cool, store them in a ziplock bag with a piece of paper towel in it. I like to throw half in the fridge and half in the freezer and take them stuffed with lettuce, peppers, cheese and mustard for my lunch at school!

Pre-cooking, post rolling. Nice and thin!

Pre-cooking, post rolling. Nice and thin!

Pile of wraps!

Pile of wraps!

ClumPIEst Caramel Ever

Whenever a recipe says “Easy Homemade Caramel” it’s lying. DO NOT believe it. Unless said recipe just calls to melt caramel candies with cream and whisk until smooth (which for the record doesn’t mean that it’s homemade).

Caramel is HARD (pun intended since that’s what it turns when I fail). I’ve failed at it at least three times now. Maybe a couple more that my mind is blacking out for my sanity. Once I failed twice before just melting down some caramels because I was running out of time.

Let me break this down for you...The yellow liquid is melted butter, coating everything it touches. The clumps are Rock.Hard. sugar (obviously coated with butter). What was supposed to be smooth and thick and beautiful was instead gross and impossible to clean. Yuck

Let me break this down for you…
The yellow liquid is melted butter, coating everything it touches. The clumps are Rock.Hard. sugar (obviously coated with butter). And the other stuff is weird butter/sugar hybrid yuckiness. And yes, it is actually this colour. What was supposed to be smooth and thick and beautiful golden brown was instead gross and impossible to clean. Yuck

So just trust me, it’s hard.

And while I’d love to be able to write a detailed post breaking down the recipe and presenting it in simple steps that DO make it easy-er, I can’t. Yet. So instead I will give you the recipe that I used for Salted Caramel Apple Pie yesterday and say that someday I will master caramel. And on that day I will share my secrets!

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

1 pie crust (I used a crust I had leftover in the freezer from in December when Nancy and I made pie crust)
3 gala apples, peeled and sliced
1 granny smith apple, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp dark rum (optional)
3 tbsp white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

For the caramel:
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/3 light corn syrup (I know, I know, not good for you, but I was in a time crunch ok?!)
6 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt (preferably flaked but I didn’t have any so I just used regular)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Start with the caramel, because if you botch it (don’t worry, I won’t judge!) you don’t want your apples sitting out browning. Mix the sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt into a heavy pot over medium-high heat and let melt. Cook for about 9 minutes until the mixture is bubbling vigourously. Stir only in the first 2-3 minutes (hint: I set a timer so that after three minutes I was cut off from stirring – sometimes I get too keen with the stirring). Once it has been about 9 minutes and the mixture is bubbling, remove from heat and carefully stir in 1/4 cup of the cream. Be careful because it will bubble up and can spray you, which hurts A LOT because the sugar is so hot! Stir in the remaining cream and let cool until just warm.

Pre-heat the oven to 300C.

For the apples, preferably use a corer so that you can cut them in perfect circles. It makes the pie super cute. Unfortunately I don’t have a corer so my was less than cute (still yummy though!). Once they are cored, peeled and sliced, toss them in a large bowl with the lemon juice, flour, sugar and cinnamon (and rum if using). Get your pie crust out of the freezer (that’s where mine was coming from, or just grab it from the other counter) and try to artfully arrange the apples. I just dumped mine in and then worked to arrange the top ones nicely but next time I think I’ll try a little harder because it could have been a lot prettier.

Take your cooled caramel and pour it all over the apples. The pie plate will get really full so it’s a good idea to put it on a cookie tray for spillage. Bake the pie for 25 minutes before turning the temperature up to 350C for another 35-40 minutes. It is done when the crust looks golden brown and the caramel is all bubbly. Don’t worry when you take it out as it will look a little runny, but let it cool for 5-6 hours and it will firm up. Unfortunately I didn’t let mine cool long enough and it was basically just mushy pudding, but it still tasted amazing and I didn’t get any complaints!

The GOOD caramel. I definitely used an easier recipe, but I'm just glad it turned out!

The GOOD caramel. I definitely used an easier recipe, but I’m just glad it turned out!

Pre-oven pie. I totally forgot to take a post oven, or a plated shot so you'll have to use your imagination.

Pre-oven pie. I totally forgot to take a post oven, or a plated shot so you’ll have to use your imagination.

I took this over to Jess’s for supper with her and her boyfriend Adam, and Adam took one bite and said, “Yup, this is a thirds dessert” (yes, his mind went straight to thirds haha). It was yummy! We served it with home made vanilla ice cream (by Keith). And it’s a good thing it was so yummy, because it was the only thing keeping me happy as I got my butt kicked in Catan:).

A cookie a day keeps the doctor away: final part!


Last Christmas I discovered a secret ingredient. One that takes a chocolate chip cookie from ordinary to extraordinary. It turns out a rich cookie that makes you feel like your eating something much more decadent than a mere cookie.

The secret ingredient is not what you might be thinking. It’s not some expensive chocolate or a mixing technique…

Ok ok I can’t keep this up. It’s rum! Dark rum! I just replaced the vanilla with dark rum! It makes the cookies really sweet and more complex than the vanilla does.

Without further ado!

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white
1 large egg
2 tsp dark rum
2 cups flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cranberries
3/4 cup white chocolate

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and pre-heat the oven to 350 celcius.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy and light.  Mix in egg and rum.

Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in a small bowl or measuring cup. Slowly add it to the sugar/butter mixture and mix on low. Add cranberries and chocolate and mix by hand until fully combined.

At this point you can chill the dough for 30 minutes or up to three days. This will increase the chewy-ness of the cookies. Alternatively you can just drop small balls onto the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes until barely golden brown around the edges. Resist the urge to leave in for longer if you want to maintain the chewy texture!

Let cool on pan for 3-5 minutes before moving to cooling rack to cool completely.

A few notes:

– Cornstarch helps to make the cookies chewy
– You can use dried or real cranberries. I use northern cranberries that are nice, small and tangy. If you were using regular fresh or frozen cranberries I suggest cutting them into small pieces.
– You can also add some lemon zest to add a little more kick

photo

All wrapped and ready to go!

All wrapped and ready to go!