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Baking up Christmas

December 20th, 2016

With all the travel, we’re doing a more minimal Christmas this year. We put up a small tree, but the rest of the decorations stayed in their boxes in the closet. We’ll burn candles to add brightness.
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Yesterday I spent some time making a few batches of Christmas cookies: butter cookies, gingerbread men, and date pinwheel cookies. These are some of my favorites. With only two of us in the household, they’re bound to be frozen in batches so we can enjoy them over a longer season before they go stale.

What’s your favorite holiday cookie?

Cookies!!!

December 1st, 2015

Every year, when I come back to Ohio to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, we make cookies with the nieces & nephew. This year was no exception. Yesterday, we made a few and we’ll be making more today.
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I don’t make Christmas cookies at home, with only two of us they don’t get eaten up before we get sick of them. It’s great to make them with the kids, we make bunches, give them to neighbors and eat them with abandon. By the time we leave, I’ve had my fill of cookies. Gingerbread men are my favorite, this is my recipe if you’d like to give it a try. There’s a reason I don’t make these at home, I simply can’t quite eating them.

What’s your favorite cookie during the holiday season?

Spicy Gingerbread Cookies

December 21st, 2010

After many of you asked for the recipe yesterday I figured I’d do a new post with my gingerbread recipe (I have it on my blog from a few years ago). These cookies aren’t you typical gingerbread men/women. If you don’t like spicy things, you will not like this version. This recipe has as least double the spices of most recipes and I always use blackstrap molasses to make the flavor even stronger. If you’re a fan of spicy gingerbread you will really appreciate the flavor in this version.

One of my favorite things about these gingerbread cookies is that they’re not too sweet. If you like your cookies sweeter you can ice them, but I think they’re perfect as is. As with most spicy baked items, they’re twice as good the next day and seem to get better with age. They also keep well compared to a lot of cookies so they make a great option for mailing (I just sent some to a family member in Afghanistan). Bake up some of these and some snickerdoodles and send them to a service member you know, they’ll appreciate the holiday cheer!

MOM’S SPICY GINGERBREAD COOKIES

1 1/2 (or 12 ounces) cups dark molasses *I use blackstrap
1 cup packed dark brown sugar (I use regular sugar)
1/2 cup cold water
1/3 cup butter
1 egg
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons allspice (freshly ground is best)
4 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix molasses, brown sugar, egg, water and butter. Mix in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on floured* board. Cut with floured cookie cutter. Place about 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until no indentation remains when touched, 10 to 12 minutes; cool. *TIP* If you like chewy cookies use confectioners sugar instead of flour when rolling out your dough

Note: Can roll dough 1/2 inch thick and cut with 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake about 15 minutes.

I use all organic ingredients when I make this, since we’re organic eaters. All of my organic spices come from Mountain Rose Herbs, and I get my flour/sugar from a local co-op in big 25 lb bags. This recipe is pretty good for you as far as cookies go, the blackstrap molasses will give you a healthy dose of iron, manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium, B6 and many more nutrients.

All of the various spices added to the cookies are also super healthy and contain all kinds of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Here are links for the health benefits of the various spices: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and allspice. A lot of these spices actually help your body fight off the colds and flu, what a wonderfully tasty way to do so. If you want to make the recipe even healthier try swapping out some of the flour for white whole wheat flour. I’ve successfully swapped out half of of the flour for freshly ground soft wheat flour.

I was going to do gingerbread cookies as my Friday Favorite this week since they’re my favorite cookie, but I decided to write about them today. I will willingly pass over any other kind of cookie out there for a spicy gingerbread man. Second in line for my favorite cookie is the Date Pinwheel cookie, after that spritz or cookie press cookies, and most things after that I don’t eat because I’m not a big fan. My least favorite cookie has to be butter cookies, perhaps it’s the icing, I’ve never been a fan of them even when I was a kid.

What’s your favorite holiday cookie? second favorite? third?

Healthy Carrot Oatmeal Bites

December 1st, 2010

As Mr Chiots and I transitioned from buying packaged food, we needed an alternative to the granola bar. When we’re out filming, we need to have snacks that give us energy and keep us from getting too hungry. I discovered the recipe for these healthy cookies several years ago and have been making them ever since. These little cookies make wonderful on the go snacks. They’re packed full of all kinds of healthy ingredients and you can be at peace knowing there’s no high fructose corn syrup, soy protein isolate, artificial colors, flavors, partially hydrogenated fats, GMO ingredients or any of that scary stuff.

The term cookie is used loosely here, these are not your typically over the top sweet cookie, they’re actually less sweet than any granola bar I’ve ever eaten. If you’re going to make a batch, make sure you double it, these freeze beautifully so you can keep a bag full in the freezer and grab a few before you run out the door. I amended the original recipe to suit our tastes by adding flaked coconut and some more ginger and cinnamon to add even more healthfulness. The cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar and the ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory.

Carrot Oatmeal Cookies
(adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

1 cup white whole wheat flour (preferably freshly ground)
1 teaspoon baking powder (or 2/3 t. cream of tartar and 1/3 t. baking soda)
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
2/3 cup chopped walnuts (or nuts of choice)
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
2 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup real maple syrup, room temperature
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, warmed until just melted
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Preheat oven to 375F degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, oats and cinnamon. Add the nuts and carrots. In a separate smaller bowl use a whisk to combine the maple syrup, coconut oil, and ginger. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. *quick tip* – if you measure the coconut oil in the measuring cup first you don’t have as much maple syrup stick in the cup, most of it slides right out.

Drop onto prepared baking sheets, one level tablespoonful at a time, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. I use a small ice cream scoop and press into my hand, these cookies have a tendency to fall apart a bit so they need some care. Bake in the top 1/3 of the oven for 10 – 15 minutes or until the cookies are golden on top and bottom.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

I play around with the flavors in these every time I make them; sometimes I add raisins and lots of cinnamon, sometimes macadamia nuts, dried pineapple and large coconut flakes. I think some savory ones made with pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes would be heavenly as would a curried one. If you add a lot of extra stuff you may want to add a little more oil and maple syrup. You cold also play around with different oils, some clarified butter in a curried cookie would be great, and maybe olive oil in the tomato pine nut cookie. I’ve never strayed from using coconut oil because I like the flavor it offers and the health benefits as well. I’m guessing you could also use honey or molasses in place of the maple syrup if you’d like, although I’ve never tried to. Since we sugar our maples, I have maple syrup around and use that.

If you’re looking for any more wonderfully healthy cookies check out 101 Cookbooks blog, she has a lot of great choices including these Grown-Up Fig Cookies and these with bananas and chocolate.

Bake up some of these little snacks and tuck them into the pockets of your loved ones when they head out the door, they’ll thank you for it!

What’s your favorite on the go snack?

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About

This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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