Tag Archives: Cookie Recipe

Friendship Cookies and Good Bye Tears

Sometimes there are things that I want to write about, but the moment is a bit too close at hand.  I started to write this post last August after a dear friend from Pella and her family visited us for a couple of days in the middle of their epic road trip from Iowa to British Columbia and then back down to the Oregon coast.

Dinner on the Deck

Dinner on the Deck

Visiting the fairy doors at Neck Point.

Visiting the fairy doors at Neck Point.

We’ve done a lot of moving around, Dave and I.  From various apartments in upstate New York during graduate school through our impromptu academic tour of the American Midwest and now to Vancouver Island.  Most of these “homes” have not lasted for more than two years before we move again following the job market.  In each of these places we have been blessed with some amazing friends.  The kind who we may not see for a year (or more), but the minute you are back in contact it’s as if you were never apart.  Conversations pick up as if we had just been chatting yesterday, and it is this effortlessness that makes it all the more gut wrenching when you have to leave them again.

Learning to skip stones at Neck Point.

Learning to skip stones at Neck Point.

Also checking out the gorgeous sea life in the shallow waters.  Can you see all the tiny crabs?

Also checking out the gorgeous sea life in the shallow waters. Can you see all the tiny crabs?

Sailing cork boats at Transfer Beach, Ladysmith.

Sailing cork boats at Transfer Beach, Ladysmith.

Which brings us back to the post that I started last August.  Little Man still talks about Iowa as a place that he wants to go back and visit.  In fact, he consistently talks about how “tomorrow” we need to catch a plane and go to Iowa then to China to visit his Kung Fu Panda friends.  At first I thought he assumed that all travel must go through Iowa since that is the last place that he traveled from on our move here.  So we pulled out the globe and his map and I showed him how Iowa is in no way closer to China than we are here.  Then Little Man explained to me that the goal was to visit Iowa and his blue home (our house there was painted blue with a scarlet front door), then to travel on to the Jade Palace in China.  Ah…

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When our friends came out to visit from Iowa, it was as if we’d just parted company the day before, not the year it was in real time.  We played, the kids played, and we ate, drank and talked for hours.  It was fantastic.  And as is often the case, the better the visit is, the sadder the departure.  We had already taught Little Man the Turkish tradition of throwing water on the vehicle of loved ones who are leaving to ensure that they must come back soon.  So as they were getting into their car, Little Man was urging me on quickly to grab a container of water to make sure they came back.  We dowsed the car, and are still waiting with baited breath for them to return.

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He was quiet as we went back inside after their departure.  We closed the front door and Little Man looked out the window watching their car disappear around the corner into the woods.  Dave scooped Little Man up and took him to the couch in his arms.
“Daddy, what does ‘sad’ mean?”
Little Man’s head was bowed so all I could see were his golden curls, not his face.
“Sad is something we feel when we are upset.  Are you sad that your friends are leaving?”
A nod of curls followed by, “Do you cry when you feel sad?”
“Yes, some times we cry when we feel sad,”  Daddy said.  “It’s OK to cry when we feel sad.  It’s OK to cry.”  Daddy folded him in his arms as Little Man’s face crumpled into tears.

Paparazzi taking photos of dinner.

Paparazzi taking photos of dinner.

We had to treat our Iowa friends to some locally caught salmon.  This time packet grilled and seasoned with ginger, garlic, chives and soy.

We had to treat our Iowa friends to some locally caught wild salmon. The salmon was packet grilled and seasoned with ginger, garlic, chives and soy.

Dave's famous... I mean, Joe's famous potatoes.

Dave’s famous… I mean, Joe’s famous potatoes (Cabin Grilled Potatoes)

This much sauteed kale with garlic, came from...

This much sauteed kale with garlic, came from…

this much rainbow chard that came from...

this much rainbow chard that came from…

my glorious garden.  I can't wait to see it lush like this again!

my glorious garden. I can’t wait to see it lush like this again!

I stood in the kitchen, “good bye” tears in my eyes, and tried to gain control.  My “plan” had been to hold it together for Little Man’s sake, so I could comfort myself with tears later after he was asleep.  No such luck.  So instead I baked.  The known movements of measuring, portioning and stirring were comforting, as was the aroma from the oven.  For this moment, for me at least, the main point wasn’t the special treat to eat afterwards, but the actions and senses leading up to it.

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That visit spurred me on to try to find Little Man more friends here on our island.  He was only 2 1/2 when we left Iowa, but all of his little friends that he’d known since birth were now far away and it’s hard (even for a little guy) to break into a community like Nanaimo where many people have lived for generations and don’t know what it’s like to be new in a place and friendless.  Now, to celebrate when we make new friends or for special play dates (generally outside ones where errant chocolate chips won’t ruin someone’s couch), I like to make a baked treat to bring along.  Sometimes this means mini-muffins or scones, but what we’ve started thinking of as special treats with friends are cookies.

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One of my favorite comfort foods is an old fashioned chocolate chip cookie.  However, the “old fashioned” part has had to be updated a bit for our current dietary requirements.  My goal here was to take that standard recipe for a delicious chocolate chip cookie with crispy edges and a chewy center loaded with chocolate chips, and make it into something that while it would be a stretch to call it “healthy” I could feel good about feeding my child and offering to other children (and parents, of course).  So in my case that meant getting rid of the wheat and using spelt flour, which still has some gluten for texture but has less of the gastro-issues than wheat has, and sneaking in some chia meal to up the “goodness” value.

As I’ve written before, there’s no need to go out and buy a special bag of chia meal.  If you have chia seeds at home, all you need to do is pour some of the seeds into a coffee grinder or food processor and blitz them up.  Creating your own chia meal has the added benefits of making all the great nutrients of chia more easily accessible to your body, and there is less chance of a stray whole chia seed getting into your dishwasher and growing like a chia pet.  If you don’t have chia, but do have flax seeds feel free to use them the same way.  If you have neither, then you can simply replace the amount of chia meal for a flour of your choice, or even oats.

Enough talking, let’s make some cookies…

Not So Traditional Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not So Traditional Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients
:
2 cups spelt flour (or whole wheat)
¼ cup chia meal (see note)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) good quality dairy free margarine (or butter), softened
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°. Set aside an ungreased baking sheet.
  2. Combine the spelt flour, chia meal, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set this aside.
    I was making these cookies more or less in the dark since Little Man was having a hard time nodding off that night.  So if the flash seems a bit harsh, that's because it was the only light source.

    I love how the chia meal always looks like I’ve just dumped a ton of black pepper into a recipe. Trust me, it will work its way in unobtrusively soon.

    See, the chia meal is whisked into the rest of the dry ingredients and away it goes.

    See, the chia meal is whisked into the rest of the dry ingredients and away it goes.

  3. Combine the softened margarine (or butter), sugars and vanilla in a large bowl either by hand or with an electric beater or stand mixer. Make sure the mixture is smooth and creamy.

    There's no need to use any other tool than a large spoon and a little elbow grease to combine the wet ingredients here.

    There’s no need to use any other tool than a large spoon and a little elbow grease to combine the wet ingredients here.

  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter mixture, combining well.

    Adding the eggs, one at a time.

    Adding the eggs, one at a time.

  5. Carefully add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stirring slowly at first so that you don’t create a flour cloud by beating your ingredients too enthusiastically. Make sure that the dough is smooth and thoroughly combined.

    I did the sizing of the bowls backwards in this picture, so this step might look a little different for you.  It will still taste amazing in the end.

    I did the sizing of the bowls backwards in this picture, so this step might look a little different for you. It will still taste amazing in the end.

  6. Add the chocolate chips, stirring just to distribute them throughout.

    I'm surprised that Little Man didn't sense the chocolate being added to the bowl and run out in his pjs requesting a sample.

    I’m surprised that Little Man didn’t sense the chocolate being added to the bowl and run out in his pjs requesting a sample.

  7. Using two spoons (or a small scoop if you are feeling fancy) scoop out and drop tablespoon-sized portions of dough onto the baking sheet, spacing them a few inches apart since the dough will spread while baking.

    The dough is a little glossy here since the cookies had been in the oven for a minute or so before I remembered to take the photo.

    The dough is a little glossy here since the cookies had been in the oven for a minute or so before I remembered to take the photo.

  8. Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes or until nice and golden brown. The cookies should not look wet in the middle, but will be soft when you take them off of the tray.  Don’t worry, they will firm up as they cool. Remove the tray from the oven and let the cookies sit for about 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. They can be cooled completely or served immediately. Just warn little mouths about the potential for hot, melted chocolate chips.
    Perfectly golden.

    Perfectly golden.

    Dangerously ready to eat.

    Dangerously ready to eat.

  9. You can continue baking the cookies until the dough is done, or take any dough that you don’t wish to bake now, form it into a log on plastic wrap, cover it securely and keep it in the freezer until you are ready to slice and bake the cookies. You may need to increase the baking time by a few minutes, so watch them carefully towards the end. The dough can be frozen for up to a few weeks.  Enjoy!
    You can freeze cookie dough to make your own slice and bake cookies, ready whenever you want them to be.

    You can freeze cookie dough to make your own slice and bake cookies, ready whenever you want them to be.

    No, the cookie log does not need to be perfect.  You are just going to slice and bake it so don't waste too much time making the perfect cylinder, unless you have a food stylist snooping around in your freezer.

    No, the cookie log does not need to be perfect. You are just going to slice and bake it so don’t waste too much time making the perfect cylinder, unless you have a food stylist snooping around in your freezer.

Note: Make your own chia meal by blitzing up chia seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor. You can also do the same with flax seeds, or make oat flour by blitzing up whole oats (not instant, please). Store any extra chia meal in the freezer to keep it fresh.

Click here for a printable version of the Not So Traditional Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.

All these need is a glass of milk.

All these need is a glass of milk.

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And a friend.

Walking at Neck Point.

Walking at Neck Point.

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A Tale of Two Parties: Half Moon Cookies

We’re getting there, my friends.  Just two more recipes from Dave’s Graduation party and we’ll be done.

The recipe I am sharing here today is for Half Moon Cookies, or Black and White Cookies for Seinfeld fans.  I first tasted the cookies from this recipe at my bachelorette party when my two bride’s maids made them for my female guests.  The party was amazing, we had a henna artist giving everyone traditional henna tattoos, and a friend who is also a belly dancer and dance instructor gave us all a dance lesson and danced for us as well.  It was an amazing evening topped off with tastes of upstate New York, like the Half Moon Cookies of Utica fame.  Thank you Jen and Georgia for the fantastic evening (I can’t believe that was nearly 9 years ago!), and thank you Jen for the great recipe!

For Dave’s Graduation Party, he immediately thought of these cookies for a dessert, and with Little Man’s love of the moon I thought they were a great fit.  I baked and decorated the cookies the night before Dave’s party, and our home smelled of rich chocolate and sugar for hours and hours.  Warning, you’ll definitely want a nice tall glass of cold milk with these!

Cookies, cookies and more cookies...Half Moon Cookies
Ingredients
:
For the Cookies:
3 ¾ c. flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. butter, softened
¾ c. cocoa powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ c. milk

Fudge Icing:
3 ½ oz. bittersweet chocolate
3 ½ oz. semisweet chocolate
1 tbsp. butter
4 ¼ c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt

Vanilla Icing:
7 c. powdered sugar
1 c. butter, softened
Scant ½ c. milk
1 tbsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. For the Cookies: In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl beat the sugar, butter, cocoa, and salt until it looks like dark, wet, chocolate sand. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating to combine. Add half of the milk and combine. Add half of the flour mixture and combine. Repeat with the remaining additions of milk and flour, blending well after each addition.

    The flour mixture.

    The chocolate cookie base.

    The chocolate cookie base.

    Little Man's curls as he "helped" me beat up the cookie batter.  He's obsessed with all things chocolate, so I had to get those eggs in there fast before he started tasting.

    Little Man’s curls as he “helped” me beat up the cookie batter. He’s obsessed with all things chocolate, so I had to get those eggs in there fast before he started tasting.

    The mixing additions begin with half of the milk.

    The mixing additions begin with half of the milk.

    Then half of the flour.

    Then half of the flour.

    After the first half of the milk and flour were mixed in.

    After the first half of the milk and flour were mixed in.

    Then the last of the milk...

    Then the last of the milk…

    Then mixing in the last of the flour...

    Then mixing in the last of the flour…

    The final batter is quite thick.  Be careful to NOT let the batter get warm.  If you kitchen is warm, keep the batter bowl in the refrigerator between baking batches of cookies.  If the batter gets too warm, it gets soupy and the cookies will melt flattly on the pan, rather than setting up nice and fluffy.

    The final batter is quite thick. Be careful to NOT let the batter get warm. If you kitchen is warm, keep the batter bowl in the refrigerator between baking batches of cookies. If the batter gets too warm, it gets soupy and the cookies will melt flattly on the pan, rather than setting up nice and fluffy.

  3. Spoon the batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 3-inch rounds about 2-inches apart. Six dollops of batter should fit on a sheet.

    Lovely dollops of batter ready for the oven.  I don't have a small scoop for the batter, but if you have one that would be fantastic.

    Lovely dollops of batter ready for the oven. I don’t have a small scoop for the batter, but if you have one that would be fantastic.

  4. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies are set, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time. When done slide the entire parchment sheet onto a rack to cool. Use a clean sheet of parchment for further batches. Once cool remove the cookies from the parchment and set aside until you are ready to decorate them.
    One sheet down... For the number of people coming to our party I had many, many more to go.

    One sheet down… For the number of people coming to our party I had many, many more to go.

    Lots of cookies cooling on the racks.

    Lots of cookies cooling on the racks.

  5. Fudge Icing: Melt both of the chocolates and butter in a double boiler over simmering water (I used a medium-sized metal bowl over a simmering pot of water). Add the powdered sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, salt and 6 tbsp. boiling water (use the water from your double boiler). Mix until smooth, but stiff. The icing should fall in thick ribbons from your spatula. Use more boiling water to thin the icing if necessary, adding it one tbsp. at a time. Be careful to not thin it too much.
  6. Vanilla Icing: In a large bowl beat the powdered sugar, butter, milk, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy.
  7. Decorate the Cookies: Spread about 1 tbsp. of warm fudge icing on half of the flat side of each cookie. If the icing starts to seize up, just put it back over the double boiler until it loosens. Then spread about 1 tbsp. vanilla frosting over the other half of the cookie. Keep going with the rest…
    Cookie Platters 2 (3)
  8. These cookies don’t stack well, so do so at your peril. They do not store well either, so they are best eaten within a day or two of frosting them. This shouldn’t be a problem.

Click here for a printable version of the Half Moon Cookies recipe.

Cookies, cookies and more cookies...

Cookies, cookies and more cookies…