Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Gingerbread Cookies

My sister and I had a day of holiday baking after my recent return to the Pacific Northwest.  This means I baked, and she sat on the counter eating dough.  Still, sister bonding time is wonderful since we rarely see each other.  On our list was Gingerbread cut-outs, Holiday Fudge, and Mexican Wedding Cakes. Gingerbread is by far the least fattening of the three, hence its appearance on SG.

Gingerbread cut-out cookies are a beloved holiday treat, and one of the healthiest options.  Granted, this is stretching the word healthy, but when compared to your standard butter or sugar cookies, gingerbread uses spices and molasses for flavor and moisture which replace much of the butter and sugar.  These cookies are not too sweet which allows for copious frosting if desired, and they are on the spicy side.

Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour plus ¼ cup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup unsulphured molasses (to prevent from sticking: spray measuring cup with cooking spray prior to measuring)
1.       In a large bowl, combine 2 ½ cups flour, salt, baking soda and spices
2.       Beat butter and sugar until creamed (light and fluffy)
3.       Add egg and continue beating until combined, add molasses and continue beating until fully combined
4.       Gradually add flour and spice mixture until all combined. 
5.       Add last ¼ cup of flour or less until dough begins to clump together, but is still slightly sticky
6.       Make into two balls, and refrigerate 1 hour
7.       Roll out to ¼ inch thickness and cut into shapes
8.       Place on baking sheet and bake 6-8 minutes at 350 degrees

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • confectioner's sugar
1.       Beat together butter with milk.  Add confectioner's sugar until desired consistency.  If too thick, add more milk. 
2.       For a cheaper pipette: cut the corner off a sandwich bag, and fill with icing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Black Bean Soup

Firstly, I would like to apologize to my faithful readers (all 7 of you), these grad school finals have kept me from my beloved kitchen.  My other love, the mountains, has also been pulling strongly.  Not to worry, only one more final to go, then 3 weeks of holiday cheer.  Get ready for some marginally healthy baked goods!

Last week I did use some procrastination steam to make a lovely black bean soup. Soup is wonderful for busy and frugal types: it takes minimal prep time, it freezes well, and its cheap.  This soup is hearty and healthy, and it tastes good. It is adapted from a recipe in The New Laurel's Kitchen, which I recently acquired for $.97 (plus $2.95 shipping), and is a great resource for any aspiring vegetarian cook.

This makes about 9 cups or about 6 servings, I would recommend doubling it if you have a seemingly bottomless significant other and want some leftovers for freezing.

Black Bean Soup
Adapted from the New Laurel's Kitchen
  •          1 ½ cups black beans (dried)
  •          4 cups water
  •          2 cups vegetable stock
  •          ½ onion, diced
  •          2 tablespoons olive oil
  •          2 large cloves garlic
  •          2 stalks celery
  •          2-3 small red potatoes
  •          1 carrot
  •          1 bay leaf
  •          1 ½ teaspoons oregano
  •          ½ teaspoon chili powder
  •          1-2 teaspoons cumin
  •          1 teaspoon salt
  •          Black pepper
  •          1 lemon, juiced

1.       Rinse the beans and place in large pot along with water and vegetable stock, 
       cover loosely and bring to a boil then reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally.
2.       After about 1 ½ hours, sauté onion, garlic, and celery in oil until soft.  Add to beans. 
3.       Wash potatoes well, and chop along with carrots into small pieces, add to beans along with all the seasonings. 
4.       Allow to simmer another 1- 1 ½ hours, or until beans are soft.
5.       Stir in lemon juice
6.       Puree ½ of the soup to thicken the broth.
7.       Remove the bay leaf and serve.