Nutty Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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OMG, guys…it’s totally almost Christmas and I am SO NOT READY for it this year. Let’s just blame it on the upcoming move…m’kay? Usually, by now, I’ve baked and confected up a storm. My tree and house have been trimmed with glittery everything and I’ve buried myself in a mountain of wrapping paper & ribbon. This year, not so much. There’s no tree, not a single wrapped gift, or even a sprinkling of glitter. There aren’t even that many treats! But, there are some, like this twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie…so I haven’t completely dropped the ball. Oh, and I have watched Love, Actually no less than 4 times. A girl’s gotta keep some traditions alive.

Luckily we are leaving today to visit our families out in Nevada for the next week and we’ve been assured that Christmas cheer is in full effect…so, we won’t be missing out one bit! Plus, these cookies…duh. I always love a chocolate chip cookie and I am a super-fan of a good-ol CCC with some nutty bits strewn throughout. These cookies take it to the next level of nutty goodness with lots of browned butter and not just my standard favorite, walnuts, but also my other favorites: hazelnuts and pecans (I know…I use favorite far too liberally, but I just love ‘em all!). I would even dare to say that these would be a great treat to leave out for everyone’s favorite, jolly, bearded fellow in the cookie-form with lots of butter, sugar, chocolate, and nuts for extra protein…you know, Santa Fuel.

Anyway, whatever you do or celebrate this holiday season, I hope you and yours have a joyous and cheerful time! Toast some drinks, hug your favorites, revel in the happiness of the season…and eat some cookies!

[recipe]

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Nutty Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from THIS recipe.

2 sticks (8oz) unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups mixed nuts (any you like!)

sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Begin by browning the butter in a skillet until the solids become a deep, golden, caramel color and the butter smells nutty like toffee. Pour the butter into a dish and set aside to cool a bit while you gather your ingredients.

In a mixing bowl or stand mixer combine the sugars together with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the browned butter to the mixing bowl and mix to combine. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing the first in well before adding the second, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add in the vanilla and mix to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts to combine. Using a levered cookie scoop, or two tablespoons, scoop cookies onto the prepared sheets, spacing a few inches apart to allow for spreading. Bake the cookies in the center of the oven, one sheet at a time, for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are golden. Remove from the oven and cool about 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack with a spatula. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. [/recipe]

Maple-Pumpkin Granola

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Sometimes, when stressed and trying not to eat a whole pizza worth of feelings, I turn to something crunchy. It’s just so dang satisfying and if I’m going to eat my feelings, my jaw should have to work a little for it.

Enter granola. I tend to make it pretty healthful–reaching for honey or maple in place of plain sugar, and filling it with plenty of seeds and nuts for texture and interest. Granola can be as plain-jane as you want it or as crazy as you’d like–it’s versatile that way. This batch is flavored with lots of maple for sweetness and fragrance, olive oil encourages maximum crunchiness, pumpkin makes a subtle earthy appearance, warm spices and toasty nuts + seeds add depth, thick-rolled oats add great chewy-crunchy texture. This granola makes a great pair sprinkled over yogurt or swimming in a bowl of milk. It’s also great, out of hand, for crunching through some stress.

Maple-Pumpkin Granola

Adapted from this recipe. 

I use Bob’s Red Mill Thick Rolled Oats here, which I find at any supermarket in the natural foods section. I like the more substantial chew of these particular oats, but any brand you like works just as well. The pumpkin isn’t front-and-center in this recipe, it’s mostly a background flavor, as the puree softens the oats and works against that crunchy texture so beloved in granola. Also, I added a variety of seeds and nuts–I usually just add whatever is left over from other recipes–feel free to switch them up or omit as desired. 

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup raw walnuts

1/2 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

3 Tablespoons flax seeds

3 Tablespoons sesame seeds

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 Tablespoons plain pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 325*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl combine oats, nuts, coconut, seeds, salt, and spices. In a large measuring cup whisk together maple, oil, vanilla, and pumpkin. Pour the maple-pumpkin mixture over the oats mixture and stir to coat well. Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet in an even layer and bake 15 minutes, stir, and continue to bake in 10-15 minutes intervals, stirring well between each, until the granola is uniformly golden and no longer moist. The granola will crisp a bit more as it cools. Store completely cooled granola in airtight containers for  1-2 weeks.

 

Good Morning Granola

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It’s nearly a month into this new year and I’ve spent it catching my breath. Last year, 2010, was pretty intense, emotional, and filled with extremes. I got married and saw others I love do the same, I tried to help mend the broken hearts of two dear friends and it broke my heart to see them so fractured, I became an Aunt, and I lost my favorite person on the planet to an arduous battle with cancer.  I learned a lot about who I am and want to be, and came out a little tougher because of it. I couldn’t be more relieved that it is all over and I look forward to a new year. For me, 2011 is like a bright  morning, fresh and new…

A fresh, new, morning calls for a crunchy and wholesome breakfast. Enter granola. If you haven’t ever made granola, you should. Not only is it super easy to make, but it is far more cost effective than pricey, store-bought granolas. Plus, the freshly baked stuff is a whole different experience. For me, along with oatmeal, granola must contain some sort of nut and/or seed. Preferably both. This batch contained the standard oats, some rice puffs, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds. Chia is the herb used to grow the “Chia Pet”, which I didn’t know was edible until I saw it in the bulk bins at Whole Foods. The seeds are tiny and I would liken them to poppy seeds. I love this granola as a topping for greek yogurt…they make good friends. I keep add-ins like chocolate chips and dried fruits out of the bag so that my husband and I can customize each bowl.

Good Morning Granola

adapted from La Tartine Gourmande

As far as add-ins, add and omit as you like. Some good ones are: dried cranberries, dried blueberries, banana chips, white or dark chocolate chips, coconut, poppy or sesame seeds, and dried spices.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup rice puffs

1/2 cup each: slivered almonds and pepitas

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1-2 Tablespoons chia seeds

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 300 F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Place oats, rice puffs, almonds, and seeds in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan heat butter, sugar, salt, honey, spices, and water together, simmering until sugar has dissolved. Stir into oat mixture to coat.

Transfer mixture to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden.

Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.