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Chewy Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

Oatmeal cookies have been around since 1896 (first published in the Boston Cooking School cookbook).  The humble cookie has been around since the end of the 14th century where little filled wafers were sold on the streets of Paris.  Renaissance cookbooks were rich in cookie recipes.  Biscuits (aka cookie) became the ideal traveling food because they stayed fresh for long periods. For centuries a ship’s biscuit, an iron-like cracker, was aboard any ship that left port because it could last for months.

Makes about 24 
inspired by Smitten Kitchen 

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (use old-fashioned not quick-cooking rolled oats)
3/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter mixture then stir in the oats, raisins.  Drop cookie dough by the spoonful onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet (spaced 2-inches apart).  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  These were soft, chewy-good!  If you chill the dough before baking, the cookies will be a bit thicker.  Another way to enjoy these is to crumble in a trifle, or layered with yogurt and fresh fruit.  Enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I never enjoyed Brussels sprouts when I was a kid but thankfully my taste buds grew up and became educated!  Perhaps they were a bit too soft for my liking or maybe I just didn’t like the taste.  After experimenting with different ways to enjoy this cruciferous veggie, Brussels sprouts are amazingly good for your health!  They provide nutrient support for the body’s detox system, its antioxidant system, and its inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system.  Any imbalances in these can increase the risk of cancer.  For more details on this super-charged vegetable, click here.

Brussels sprouts, cut in half
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh thyme leaves
lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 180c (350f).  Toss all ingredients except lemon.  Squeeze a bit of the lemon over the sprouts and transfer to a baking sheet.  Roast in the oven 20 to 30 minutes until golden.  Remove from oven and squeeze more lemon juice over the sprouts (optional).  Serve immediately or at room temperature.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Serve these as a perfect snack or as a side dish.  As an alternative, chop up some bacon and toss with the sprouts and bake.  Enjoy!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds with Cumin

I was making a center piece for the table on Sunday which involved removing the seeds from a pumpkin. 

As I was doing this, I thought I would roast the seeds.  I’ve heard their nutritional content as being very good.  I pulled out the seeds along with the attached fleshy strings of the pumpkin.  This was my first time roasting the seeds and was curious as to how it would turn out.  Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of anti-oxidant vitamin E (prevents tissue cells from the free radical oxidant injury) as well as an excellent source of B-complex group of vitamins and a host of minerals.  Click here for more details.

You Will Need:
pumpkin seeds
olive oil
sea salt
ground cumin (optional)
superfine sugar

Preheat oven to 180c (350f).  Dry seeds with paper towel and don’t worry if they’re not bone dry.  If there’s pumpkin flesh attached, leave it on.  Toss the seeds with a splash of olive oil – you don’t want the seeds swimming in it.  Then lightly sprinkle with salt and toss to combine.  Add cumin (about 1 teaspoon) but add more if you like the flavor and you have a lot of seeds.  Finally, sprinkle super fine sugar over the seeds and toss.  Place seeds on a cookie – sheet spread out and roast 20 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

mixed bouquet of flowers
container to hold the water

Cut a small opening at the top of the pumpkin.  Remove the seeds and fleshy-stringy bits inside the pumpkin.  Arrange flowers in the container and place inside the pumpkin.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  These seeds reminded me of popcorn and I liked the subtle hint of something sweet (sugar) and something aromatic (cumin).  Enjoy!

Fava Bean Purée

I can’t say I’ve ever been a ‘real’ fan of fava beans…it stems from my childhood intense dislike for lima beans.  Whenever mom would place mixed veggies on my plate I seemed to always get all of the lima beans – how could that be I used to ask myself when I had three other siblings to share this nasty bean with?  I am shuddering even now as I recall how much I loathed them – talk about a food memory.  It was from there on in that any type of bean that was as big as a lima I would refuse to eat – plain and simple. 

You can teach an old dog new tricks and I am happy to say that the past does not equal the future!   I’ve come away from my own large bean phobia and embrace them all!  Beans of any kind play a role in helping the body stay healthy so why wouldn’t I give it another try?  According to Fruits and Veggies Matter, fava beans are a nutrient-dense food, meaning they provide lots of nutrients essential for proper body function without being rich in calories. In addition to being an excellent source of nutrients that support cardiovascular health, fava beans are high in dietary fiber which can help improve your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Makes 1 1/2 cups
adapted from Fine Cooking

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
2 cloves (large) garlic, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pounds fava beans, shelled to yield 2 cups
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; more to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Place a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup of the oil, garlic, rosemary or thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook until you begin to hear a sizzling sound and the aromatics are fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the fava beans. Stir until the beans are well coated with the oil and aromatics and then add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the water has nearly evaporated and the fava beans are tender, about 12 minutes. Add more water if the pan looks dry before the favas are done. Remove from the heat.

Transfer the fava mixture to a food processor. Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and the lemon juice and  purée until smooth. Season to taste with more salt and lemon juice. Just before serving, drizzle with a little olive oil and garnish with finely grated Parmesan cheese.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  When my husband told me this was good, that’s all I needed to hear! Spread this purée on crackers, as a dip for veggies or in a pasta dish.   Choose small to medium fava beans as they are more tender and sweeter than the large beans.  This will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.   Cheers!