Thumbprint Christmas Cookie!

Well, these may not be Christmas cookies, but they do have a hint of red. It’s a stretch, but I’ll take it.

I found a recipe for healthified thumbrpint cookies on the Whole Foods website. I followed the recipe, but next time I am going to try to substitute some of the oil for apple sauce. If it works, I will post it.

Makes approximately 15-18 cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds or pecans
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup safflower or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons fruit juice sweetened jam (I used rasberry – yum!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put almonds and oats into a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.

Transfer to a large bowl and add flour, oil, syrup and salt. Stir to combine well.

Roll walnut-sized balls of the dough in the palm of your hand to form each cookie and arrange 2inches apart on a very lightly greased) cookie sheet (I just used a tiny bit of cooking spray. They may not stick, but better safe than sorry).

Press your thumb gently down into the center of each cookie to make an indentation. Spoon a drop of jam into each indentation. I used a bit too much the first time around and the jam ran down the sides. I suppose it depends on the jam you use. The runny ones may not have looked pretty, but they tasted delicious.

Bake cookies until golden brown and just firm around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to let cool completely – yeah, right – eat one right away. They are just really soft.

Nutrition:

Per serving (2 cookies): 210 calories (110 from fat), 13g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 9g sugar), 4g protein

Note: the fat content is deceiving. They are packed full of almonds, which are a healthy fat. Perfect for a sweet treat!

Cook-off #1: Pizza

Who loves pizza?! We do, we do!

Once again, festivities full of good friends and delicious food brought us back to Niagara Falls (my hometown). My oldest and dearest friends and I share many things in common, one being food! If this all sounds familiar it is probably because you read the post about Chiara and Jason’s engagement party.

In honour of Carly’s very belated birthday, we decided to have our first cook-off and pizza was our first challenge. There were two restrictions. We all used the same gluten free crust and goat or sheep’s milk cheese.

Team 1: Chiara and Jason

These two are seasoned professionals. There pizza was creative and absolutely delicious! The pizza included olive oil, honey, pear, toasted walnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil and rosemary and Yukon gold potatoes.

Team 2: Carly, Katie and Adam

They played the meat card and it was amazing. The pizza was topped with chorizo sausage, roasted heirloom plum tomatoes, chili flakes and manchego cheese.

Team 3: Marc and I

We wanted to do something different and when I started looking for combos they were inspired by goat cheese. I found the topping combination on a blog called East Village Kitchen.  Our pizza was topped with olive oil, fresh basil, goat cheese, caramelized onions, granny smith apples and had a balsamic reduction drizzled on top. It was great and we were happy with the combo.

We set some ground rules for the contest, no team was allowed to judge their own creation and that each pizza would be rated on three categories – presentation, taste and creativity. After a round of voting there was a tie between two pizzas and sadly, neither of them was ours.  We all cast one more vote to pick the winner, and the winner was…….. TEAM 2!

Carly and Adam worked really hard on creating the trophy! It was awesome. At first, Marc and I were ok with coming in last, but once we saw the trophy, we switched to sad because we wanted to take it home… sore losers I guess.  Next time, the trophy is ours!

Congrats to Team 2! (Carly, Adam & Katie)

Parsnip Fries

Two words, delicious and easy!

I love french fries. Marc is indifferent because he says he ate too many as a kid. I think they must have been of the fast food variety, because I seriously can’t turn down fresh cut fries. Regular doused with malt vinegar, poutine, chili fries… love them!

Over the years I have experimented with a variety of different substitutes for potatoes – sweet potatoes, turnip, carrots, etc. But, parsnip fries are my favourite. Parsnips are a root vegetable, similar to carrots, but sweet and spicy in taste.  They come out crispy even though they are baked. They are also easy to clean and cut, which is what I like the most. The last time I made turnip fries I got quite the workout.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 parsnips ( I find the thinner ones sweeter)
  • 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil (or just enough to lightly coat the fries)
  • Coarse salt and Pepper – to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Clean and trim parsnips. If you are not used to cooking with parsnips, you just need to peel them like carrots and trim the ends.

Slice parsnips into fries. It is important to try to make them the same thickness so they cook evenly.

Toss in oil and season with salt and pepper.

Spread evenly on a baking sheet.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping the fries halfway through. Keep an eye on them at the 25 minutes mark. They should be a nice golden brown and tender.

We ate these fries with Marc’s famous burgers – so good!!!

9 Things You Can Do With Paper Towels

I’d like to add a tenth thing, clean up spilt liquids. (link)

A New Way to Reheat Pizza

We love day old cold pizza, who doesn’t? But there are times when I want a warm pizza again.  You could try to microwave it but that just leaves the bread soggy and chewy.  Lately I’ve been putting it in our toaster-oven for a few minutes but next time we have leftover pizza I’m going to try a reheating it with skillet. (link)

Homemade Burgers

It took me a while to realize that most people don’t make their own burgers, they prefer to buy frozen ones from the store.  This concept still baffles me to this day.  Why buy them when they’re so easy to make?  Ok, I guess I could make an exception if you’re entertaining because it’s cheaper & easier to just buy it, but if they’re for personal consumption, you gotta make them.  They taste so much better and you can make them with whatever ingredients you want and the size you want.

I have to thank my mom for teaching me how to make my own burgers and they’ll always hold a nostalgic place in my heart.  Whenever my mom would go to make a new batch I would always be willing to help out, I mean who doesn’t love the feeling of ground beef squishing through their fingers?

It’s not just me that loves these burgers, Nat does too.  She spent a lot of time as a vegetarian (I try not to hold that against her) but she absolutely loves these burgers.  Whenever we eat one at a restaurant she likes to remind me that it’s not as good as the ones I make.  There’s just something about a burger made with your own hands that make it taste better.

Anyways, below is my base burger recipe and from there you can add whatever extra ingredients you want.  It’s a highly customizable recipe.

Ingredients
(makes about ~16 burgers)

  • 4 lbs lean ground beef (I’ve tried using extra lean but the burgers end up slightly drier when cooked, the extra fat that lean has helps keep them moist)
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 dashes of hot pepper sauce

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
    Pro Tip: Take the meat out of the fridge before you start chopping/mixing the other ingredients, and then add it last.  That way the meat will warm up a bit before you use you hands to mix it all together.  It’s a first world problem, but mixing cold meat with your hands isn’t fun.

  2. Tear about 16 squares of waxed paper.
  3. Use you hands to make a ball (between golf ball and a tennis ball in size) and then flatten in out into a disc on a piece of waxed paper.  The size of the ball and thickness of the disc depend on had big a burger you want to make.  Keep in mind that they will shrink slightly when you cook them.
  4. Wrap individually in waxed paper and then put in a couple large ziplock bags for freezing.

 

Cooking

  • When cooking them I tend to defrost them in a microwave (low setting so you don’t cook them) and then toss them on the BBQ.  The best way to cook them.
  • They’re usually done cooking once you notice them shrinking in size.

Appendix

You can adjust the seasonings according to taste but you will always need the eggs to ensure everything sticks together.  Over the years I’ve tried a few variations, some better than others, but one of my favourite is adding curry powder.  I know it’s not a logical addition but the tast if gives is amazing.  It takes a fair bit of powder, I tend to cover the ingredients (minus the meat) in the bowl with a layer.  It’s not an official measurement.

Other variations I’ve tried is mushroom burgers, green pepper burgers, dijon mustard burgers and cheese burgers.  They were good but curry powder was the best.  Keep in mind that having a stronger tasting spice will be more noticeable then a subtle flavour (like green peppers) and you might have to add more than you expect.

If you come up with any other variations that you like be sure to share in the comments!

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