Friday, July 24, 2015

Cookies, and Quinoa and Crafts, Oh My!

   Whatever you do, don't look at the date of my last post. Seriously. Ok, now we can move on. Because the most important thing here, is the food. You guys are getting a two-for-one here today. Mostly because I've been getting requests for two specific recipes. One is a newer quinoa salad I tried recently for a grilling and games night. The other is a cookie recipe I've been working on over the course of a year or so tweaking a bit every time I go. At the end I have a few recent craft pics to wrap it all up with.
      The first recipe is a quinoa veggie salad with a bit of a Mexican flavor flair. It was a Pinterest find that was altered. I know, you're shocked. I was afraid it wouldn't be a hit when I started out because it just seemed so healthy....haha. Thank goodness they thought it was delicious before they realized it was good for them. :) Unfortunately, I have no pictures for you of this one. *See below for added pic from a later batch* Luckily for you, all it's a dump everything in a bowl recipe!

     Quinoa Veggie Salad 


1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa (I always cook it in chicken broth- way better taste!)
1 diced cucumber
1 chopped red pepper
3 chopped scallions
Corn chopped off of two corn cobs (or a can of corn- I just love the fresh summer corn!)
1/2 can of black beans

1/4 cup olive oil
Juice from one whole lime
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cayenne

    After you toss all of the veggies into the quinoa, make the dressing on the side. All of the dressing ingredients get mixed together and tossed into the salad. This was a great side for grilling in the summer. It has great fresh flavor and a lot of perfect summer veggies that are in season.

    Now it comes to the most important recipe. I'm serious. It's going to rock your world. Nobody believes me when I tell them that something this delicious doesn't have flour or butter in it either! They are phenomenal. When my colleagues at school know I've been baking, I get classroom pop-ins all day long. It's my favorite treat for my friends that are trying to avoid gluten as well. I love the smiles on their faces when I tell them they can really eat the cookies. YAY! On to the fabulousness of double chocolate cookies... This recipe makes about three dozen smaller sized cookies.

3 room temperature egg whites (temperature matters!!!!)
1 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cups of Ghiradelli 60% Bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
Non-stick baking spray if you don't have fun silicone baking mats (best purchase ever!!!)

     Start out by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Put one cup of the chocolate chips in a bowl and melt them in a microwave. It's best to do this in 20-30 second intervals so that your chocolate doesn't seize up. This can go to the side for right now. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together one cup of the confectioners sugar, the cocoa, cornstarch and salt. This can stay to the side for right now as well.
     The rest of the main work can be done with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer. I go straight to my bright purple kitchen aid stand mixer. She's the best. (no judging!) Beat the three egg whites until they form soft peaks. (aka making a meringue base) Once the egg whites can hold their shape a bit, put the mixer on a slower speed and mix in 1/2 a cup of confectioner's sugar. When it looks like marshmallow fluff it's done! Next you're going to mix in the other sifted dry ingredients. Do this a little bit at a time so that you don't have a big powdery mess in your kitchen. (Not from all...) Once that's been mixed in you can put your hand mixer away, or just take the bowl out of the stand mixer. Add the remaining half cup of chocolate chips to the melted chocolate and then fold this whole mixture into your meringue base. From here it should start to stiffen and become a more solid cookie base. I use a silicone baking mat and cookie scooper to form and bake my cookies. If you don't have the mat, use your baking spray on cookie sheets. Using a scooper or spoon, form the batter into balls and place on the cookie sheet. Now the original recipe included rolling the cookies in more powdered sugar to give them a crinkled look. You can absolutely do this. I've found I like them more without. (My great uncle LOVED these cookies and prompted the exclusion of the powdered sugar) Alright- back on track- bake your cookies for ten minutes and let them cool for at least ten minutes. You're good to go. Try not to eat them all at once. I swear.
Most recent batch!
These are what they look like with the crinkle cookie look
     Finally, here is a sneak peek of the craft I did recently. I wanted to upgrade my olive and vinegar set because, let's be honest, it was just the bottles they came in. So I found plain glass bottles at my local Bed Bath and Beyond for about $4 each and went straight to my sketch book! 

     Once I had a design that I liked, I grabbed my paint and brush. I went with a black and white look so that each design would stand out against the contents of the bottle. Black is the olive oil and white is for the balsamic. The great thing about painting acrylic on glass is that if you make a mistake you can either wipe or scratch it right off. (This can also be a downside too...oops) The completed bottles got a clear coat that can technically go through a dishwasher. I don't know that I'm brave enough to really try that, might go straight for the hand washing route. 

     Ta-da! Here's the final look! I really ended up loving them and they went straight into the kitchen. I may or may not be able to be bribed for your very own set. 
     Alright folks, that's about it for tonight! Try the recipes and give me a shout if you have any trouble or improvements!