VIP Gingersnap Cookies

Fresh Gingersnap Cookies

I am very popular these days. Not so much out in the big, bad world. But right here in the Terry household, I am the most popular person.

I imagine this will all change someday as my kids get older and start scoring goals in soccer games and getting A’s on important papers. The spotlight will without a doubt shine bright on them, and my role will shift to #1 fan. But for now, everyone fights to hold my hand. They fight if I spend a minute more reading with the other. They keep tabs on kisses and hugs. Even my husbands gets huffy if he doesn’t get time with me.

Speaking of spending time with my hubby, we just went to the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. It’s hard to explain how excited we were about this trip. Well, maybe not. Five days with no kids, no worries, just being in the moment with the love of your life, your favorite band playing and a nice buzz setting in as the sun sets. You understand, right?

Well, with all that excitement it is easy to get caught up in the competition of it all. Magazines and catalogs are full of festival fashion right now. The message is clear- be yourself. And when they say “be yourself” what they mean is be 23 years old, 5’9, 115 pounds, with long wavy hair and a closet full of Free People clothes.

And then of course there is the who do you know and what kind of connections do you have contest. Like a caste system this is categorized by your wristband and where it will allow you to go. Everyone wants to be VIP.

My kids had known for months that Mom and Dad were going on this trip and that they would be staying with Grammy. The night before we left, however, it finally sunk in with my 6 year old daughter that I would be gone for Easter. And while I was leaving them in the hands of two grandmas more than capable of putting together an egg hunt, it would be the first holiday I would miss.

She freaked out! “Mom, you can’t leave for Easter! You’re the most important person!”

Even though she still believes in the Easter bunny, she knows that I am the one who makes all the magic happen. And it is true, there’s a reason why I am popular. I am the organizer, the person who spends hours in the kitchen making holiday treats. I am the person who will drive to a store completely out of the way to find that special something that will add a little more magic to the day.

From past experience I knew they would be in good hands on Easter, but I’m not going to lie, it feels good to know that there is a place in this world where I am the most popular person. In our little family I will always be VIP. No matter who I know, what I am wearing, or how old I get, I will always have backstage, all access passes.

Gingersnap Cookies

(from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook)

makes 36 delicious cookies

2 1/2 cups AP flour

2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

12 T unsalted butter

3 t ground ginger

1 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t ground cloves

1/4 t cracked black pepper

pinch of cayenne

1 1/4 cups brown sugar (packed with as much as possible, obviously)

1/4 cup molasses

2 T fresh minced ginger

1 egg and 1 egg yolk

1/2 cup granulated sugar with a little cinnamon mixed in (cinnamon toast style)

These are my kids favorite cookies. Yeah, I do what I can to maintain my status in our house. Let’s get started. In a large bowl, wisk together your flour, baking soda and salt. If you are using salted butter, that is fine, just don’t add any extra salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl measure out all your ground spices and set aside.

This is the only step that makes me groan a little, but it is really important if you want snaptastic cookies. Get it? (Thanks for that one Sarah) We are going to brown the butter. Why am I asking you to dirty another pan? Butter is 16 percent water and we want to cook out that extra moisture. So in a sauté pan with a wide surface area, over medium heat, we are going to cook the butter, swirling occasionally, until the foam on top cooks off and it just begins to brown and smell nutty.

Begin browning your butter over medium heat

As soon as it begins to brown, transfer the butter to another large bowl and toss in the spices. You want to add all your ground spices while the butter is hot so it will really open up and maximize the flavor of the spices.

Add spices to hot butter

Let this cool down for a few minutes. Mince up your fresh ginger while you are waiting. Then add the brown sugar, molasses, egg and egg yolk, and the fresh ginger.

DSC_0380Mix well, then add in the flour mixture and stir till just combined.

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This is a very thick and somewhat dry dough, so you’re probably going to have to get in there with your fingers to get it all mixed up. Ta-da!

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Next, wrap up the dough tightly in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least one hour or up to 2 days. You could also freeze the dough for 1 month.

After the dough is cold and set you want to preheat your oven to 300 with a rack on top and one in the middle. Get your cinnamon sugar together. You can decide how big you want your cookies. I find that a heaping tablespoon is perfect and a teaspoon is too small. DSC_0403

Roll the dough into little balls and roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar. Line up the sugar coated dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.

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Start the cookies on the top rack so they develop the crinkles that are so characteristic of a good gingersnap cookie. Cook them for 10 minutes on the top rack, then 10 minutes on the middle rack. After you move your first batch of cookies to the middle rack, you can get your second batch going on the top rack, and so on and so on….

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Oh yum! These are seriously the best cookies ever! Just a fair warning, you might accidentally eat 8 for breakfast.

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Homemade Giardiniera Recipe

My family has an unhealthy obsession with olives, pickles and yes, spicy giardiniera! In fact, I started getting a little concerned by how many store bought jars of this stuff we were going through. I figure, if I make my own pickled vegetable, at least I will know what exactly is in there and what kind of vegetable are being used.

Guess what? There’s no way I can go back to the store bought variety, this is so much better. No surprise there. But really, can something pickled taste fresh? Cause it does.

It’s simple, all you need is a large tupperware or 2 large mason jars if you want to make it look pretty, and a little bit of patience. The patience is the hardest part, I had to talk my husband out of going to the store to buy a jar of this stuff while he was waiting! I told you, unhealthy obsession. There’s worse vices out there though, and we take consolation in that.

What should you do with your jars of giardiniera? Assuming you don’t eat it all with your fingers straight from the jar, you could chop it up on a salad. You could put it on top of a sandwich or maybe on a meatball sub. Yum! You could casually pull a jar out of your fridge when you have guests over and serve it as a little snack. No big deal, this is totally homemade and organic.

Whatever you do, use fresh vegetables, local and organic if possible. And put the vegetables you like in there! I might make my next batch just straight cauliflower for my daughter. You also can control the spice level. I kept it real mild, but next time- it’s on!

Ingredients

cauliflower, half a head chopped into nice size florets

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 red bell pepper

1/2 jar drained sliced peperoncinis

2 1/2 cups white vinegar

3 cups water

3/4 cups sugar

5 TB kosher salt

1 t whole grain mustard

1/4 t red pepper flakes (or more, or maybe a sliced jalapeño pepper, or maybe sirracha!)

Directions

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Get an ice bath ready. You are going to quickly blanch the cauliflower for 2 minutes in boiling water (no more than this), drain, then stop the cooking process by tossing the cauliflower into ice water. Some people blanch the carrots as well but I do not like cooked carrots, I do not like them Sam I Am.

Bring the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, mustard and pepper flakes to a gentle boil and stir until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Let it cool.

Arrange your vegetable in your mason jars or toss them in a plastic bucket with a lid. Whatever. I personally am an arranger. Oh yeah, maybe I should mention in case you were wondering, we’re not canning anything here. I’m just putting them in mason jars for fun, and because I don’t know how to can things. I am going to keep mine in the fridge and we are going to eat them within a week. Ok, probably in 2 days.

Once the liquid is cooled down, pour it over the vegetables, put on the lid and into the fridge they go all pretty and dolled up. Now this is the hard part. You have to give it at least 8 hours for the flavor to really develop and marinate the vegetables. So no touching until tomorrow!

Aloha,

 

 

Brown sugar ginger glazed Salmon

I’m so excited about this recipe! I made it for my husband on Valentine’s Day and it was so yummy. I didn’t even mean to make it this delicious. Some kind of magic just happened once I started cooking.

My husbands favorite dinner of all time is salmon with twice baked potatoes. So since babysitting wasn’t in the cards for us this year on V-day, a favorite home cooked meal and a nice bottle of wine was a must. I normally grill my salmon but it was pouring rain outside and a hungry voice inside kept whispering “broil it”.

I had a vague idea of what I wanted. Something sweet, something savory, something glaze-y, something you would pay $35 for at Nobu in Waikiki with no fighting, tattling children nearby. I got 3 out of 4.

You’re going to start by mincing the garlic, ginger and onion.

Then you are going to lightly sauté these aromatics in butter over medium low heat for 1-2 minutes.

When you add the brown sugar, well, that’s when the magic begins. A lot of great things come from cooking sugar and butter together. Mainly caramel. Your going to keep cooking over a gentle heat until all the brown sugar is dissolved and it’s thick and bubbly and looks like this. Ah yeah.

Then turn off the heat and add the soy sauce a little at a time. Be careful and stir because you don’t want it to bubble over all crazy and make a huge mess on your stove.

You should have a nice glaze for your salmon cooling on the stove by now, and you should be feeling like a total kitchen rock star.

Turn on your broiler. The secret with broiling fish is to put the rack in the middle of the oven so your dinner doesn’t go up in flames.

Spray your sheet pan with nonstick spray. I once tried to do this with parchment paper and set my smoke alarm off. So Pam is a better option for me. Lay out your salmon fillets and brush with the magic glaze.

Into the oven they go. It’s going to cook quick, probably under 5 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your fillets. So stay nearby and keep a close eye on your salmon. You are going to have to use your kitchen intuition a bit to gage when it is done. The goal is to caramelize the top while keeping the inside moist.

I hope you love it!

Ingredients

ginger, 1 inch peeled

garlic, 1 clove

onion, 1 thin slice (about a TB after it’s finely diced)

4 TB butter

5 TB brown sugar

2 TB soy sauce

4 fillets of salmon, mine were about 4-5oz each

cilantro or chives to garnish

 

Carrot Cashew Pate at a Superbowl Party?

My relationship with football started with my Dad when I was a young girl. My Dad loved the Chargers, watching football with my brothers, and drinking Coors Light on a Sunday. I naturally wanted to be included.

When we were kids, if you were going to ask Dad a question, even a simple one, you had better be prepared for a 3 hour seminar. You should’ve seen the way his eyes lit up when I asked him to explain football to me. He ran to get charts, markers, chalkboards, you name it. The X’s represented the offense and the O’s the defense. My Dad suddenly had become an NFL coach.  There was nothing he didn’t know about the game, and he was going to explain every detail to me.

Within the first few minutes of my football lesson, something happened to me. It was really quite magical and I didn’t know I was even capable of doing it. What happened you ask? Well, my brain turned off, and my mind went to my happy place. I continued to nod my head and smile but I was a million miles away and nothing went in. Nothing at all.

My first date with Bill (aka my football fanatic future husband) was to a Ducks football game. I was a freshman in college and he was a junior. The night before the game we were at a party when he asked me if I liked football. “Yes!” I lied, “I love it.”

So bright and early the next morning he was there with his friend Ryan to pick up me and my friend Martine. He was there 4 hours before the game started, mind you! 4 hours! 8am on a Saturday is very early for a hungover college kid, but I really liked him so I got myself up and out of bed. My closet at that time of my life was a colorful collection of black jeans, black t-shirts and black hoodies. Dang, no green and yellow. Strike one. (Wait that’s baseball.)

Over the river and through the trees to Autzen stadium we went. We found Bills’ family at a tailgate party and I kid you not every family member, from wee little babies to Grandma, was dressed from head to toe in green and yellow. Now I know there are a lot of college football families around the country that bleed their school colors, but they’ve got nothing on the Terry family. Nothing!

I stood around in the freezing cold, trying to act like I wasn’t completely out of place, and forced myself to drink a Coors Light. Bill’s family saw right through me. “Who’s your friend Bill? Doesn’t she know to wear green and yellow to a Ducks game?” Strike two.

Finally, we went into the stadium and the game started. We sat in the student section, and when I say sat, I mean we stood. The group of drunk, smelly, shirtless guys behind us wore only body paint to keep warm. They stomped their feet and chanted, and when I say chanted, I mean shouted, “F U CLA!” the entire game. Well…. probably the entire game. I don’t really know because Martine and I didn’t make it through the entire game. We left at halftime. Strike 3, you’re out! Bill and I didn’t go on another date for 2 years.

That was a long time ago. Since then there has been a lot of growth in my relationship with football. Truth be told, more times than not, I’ll be staring at the TV, listening, paying attention when my mind starts to wander to my happy place and I’m suddenly brought back into the moment by the shouts of “Touchdown!” So what if my cheers are a few beats too late.  I’m proud to say that I genuinely enjoy football now, and when I say genuinely, I mean sometimes. I own all kinds of Ducks t-shirts and I wear them (to the gym) with pride. And if nothing else who doesn’t love hanging out with friends, drinking beer and eating?

Which brings me to eating. Have you ever had Carrot Cashew Pate? Delicious! It’s one of my favorite snacks. It’s vegan, creamy, healthy and has a lovely, bright flavor thanks to the lemon and dill.

Should you eat it as a dip instead of hummus? Yes! Should you spread it on a toasted rice cracker and top it with arugula and tomatoes? Yes! Should you try it wrapped in a collard green leaf with sprouts and cucumbers? Absolutely! Should you make it for your Superbowl party this weekend? Ummmm… You know, I might not be the right girl to answer that question.

Carrot Cashew Pate

3 carrots, peeled and shredded

1 cup cashews

1 TB fresh dill

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 slice onion

1 clove garlic

1/2 lemon

1/2 t salt

pepper

1/4 cup water

Kickoff

I only had raw cashews on hand and I really wanted roasted, salted cashews. So I preheated my oven to 325 and gave my cup of cashews a quick 10 minute toast. You can do this if you want or you can skip it if you’d like to keep the recipe raw, or you can buy roasted cashews from the store.

Next, get your cusinart out and get all your ingredients together. I use the grater attachment on the Cusinart to shred my carrots.

Throw it all in the cusinart with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the juice of half a lemon and a few cracks of black pepper.

Turn it on and slowly add 1/4 cup of cold, filtered water until it all comes together.

Garnish with chopped fresh dill and serve with crudités, flat bread or crackers.

Here’s to another great football season! Until next year,

 

Homemade Mac n Cheese with Cauliflower Crumble

All my New Year’s resolutions seem to contradict each other which has made for a confusing start to the year.

For example…

Resolution #1- Be more natural. By this I mean, use all natural products when cooking, cleaning and bathing. I even want to switch to all natural make up!

Resolution #2- Try something new. (like Botox)

See how that’s not going to end well. It’s hard, even for me, to tell if I’m joking or not.

Resolution #3- Be a more open, smiling, approachable person. You know, the type of girl you might see at the gym and say, “Hey you look nice, want to be our friend and cook great meals together, and paddle board, and go on an occasional ladies champagne lunch?” Does that happen?

Resolution #4- Get a big, badass tattoo on my right arm.  (Sorry mom)

You don’t think that will scare away any potential friends, do you?

Resolution #5- Less waste. In the kitchen, shopping, money, lunch boxes, all around- less waste!

Resolution #6- Substantially reduce the amount of cheese and bread I consume.

I have a somewhat ridiculous amount of fancy cheese left over from the holidays in my refrigerator. In my book it’s not Christmas without a drawer full of cheese and I may have overdone it this year. Now, I don’t want to eat it all, but I can’t just let it go to waste!

What to do? [Read more...]

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Dijon Maple Vinaigrette

We are on the road and it is cold! I forgot how cold the mainland can be. I also forgot how seriously the mainland takes the holidays.  There are lights everywhere with north pole trains and hot chocolate and Santa’s workshops and ice skating! It’s very exciting for my kids. And for me!

Since I’m not in my own kitchen for Thanksgiving this year I have been giving the task of making a side. Which totally means that I get to hang out with family and friends outside of the kitchen! Sounds very relaxing!

There’s been a whole lot of talk about Brussel sprouts going on in my family. Who’s going to make them? Is there going to be enough? Some people want them whole and roasted, some fried with the leaves peeled! It makes me very happy to see my family take the matter of brussel sprouts so seriously. It gives me a sense of belonging to know there are other people like me in this world!

The only reasonable thing to do is to have brussel sprouts done 5 different ways. Here’s how I’m making mine. A shaved raw salad with smokey bacon, nutty broccoli, toasted coconut and a maple Dijon vinaigrette to tie it all together.

Ingredients

10 brussel sprouts, trimmed and washed

2 carrots, peeled

2 cups chopped broccoli

1/4 cup marcona almonds

1/3 cup coconut chips

4 thick slices of bacon (optional, but a very good idea)

1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries

2oz goat cheese

For the Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

2 tb whole grain mustard

3 tb apple cider vinager

2 1/2 tb maple syrup

1/3 cup olive oil

 

And we’re off!

Get out your cusinart and fit it with the slicer blade. You could totally do this by hand, it will just take longer. Since we are eating the brussel sprouts raw you want to make sure you trim the stem and peel away any yucky looking leaves. Into the cusinart they go and ta-da!

Into a nice, large salad bowl the shaved brussel sprouts go.

Let’s start building this epic holiday salad.  Peel 2 carrots and throw them through the slicer, easy.  Heat up a large pan with a little bit of olive oil and toss in the chopped broccoli. Cook over medium heat until nice and toasty. You want to bring out the nutty flavor of the broccoli.

In the same pan, dry toast your Marcona almonds. Now this salad is starting to look good.

Would my Grandpa eat it? Not quite yet… Let’s keep building.

In the same pan toast your coconut chips. Keep a close on them cause they toast up real fast. Your should be able to smell a little bit of Hawaii coming through all those fabulous Thanksgiving aromas. Put these toasted coconut chips off to the side and add them to the salad just before serving.

In the same pan (like how I’m saving you from extra dirty dishes, yeah, I got your back) crisp up the bacon. Obviously, adding bacon is optional but I found it to be a very good idea. I’m also pretty sure it is the only way I will get my Grandpa to enjoy a raw brussel sprout salad.

Let the bacon cool down on paper towels.

Full disclosure- I had a very strong desire to go rouge and dump the whole salad in that pan and fry the shaved brussel sprouts in the leftover sizzling bacon fat. I stopped myself but it’s probably going to happen sometime between now and Christmas. Just so you know….

Crumble or chop up the bacon if it isn’t crumbling according to plan.

Bacon, goat cheese, dried cherries and coconut chips top the salad.

Haha, every picture I take the salad suspiciously has less bacon.

For the salad dressing add the dijon, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and olive oil to a mason jar and shake, shake, shake.  Be generous with the dressing and toss this salad before serving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fresh Squeezed Salad and Bucket-Filling

As we were driving home from school the other day I overheard my kindergartner talking about bucket-dipping. Hmmmmm? Have you heard of this before?

“What’s bucket-dipping?” I asked.

Here’s how she broke it down for me:

“Mom, if someone is being mean to you or if they say they don’t like you, that’s bucket-dipping. If you want to have fun and be happy with lots of friends you have to have a full bucket. You can be a bucket-filler too. If you see someone who’s sad and you ask them if they want to play with you, that’s bucket-filling.” [Read more...]

Lentil and Farro “Falafel”

I’ve been trying lots of new things lately in the kitchen and in life.

I find that the older I get the more anxiety I have about this.  It is most important to try new things when you feel a resistance to stepping out of your comfort zone.

Why you ask?

Well for me, it is so I can find the compromise between the person I want to be and the person I actually am.

The person I sometimes think I want to be is a bit of an extremist. She has a clean car, organized closets and she is radiating health from a raw food diet and a day of kayak surfing.

Yeahhhhh.

I made I made a raw, vegan cashew cheese. Have you ever had that before? It’s pretty good. But then I remembered that I’m not vegan and not on a raw diet and real cheese is really just so much better. I made it half a day on raw cashew cheese and salad and then had a feeding frenzy snack attack like none other when my kids got home from school.

And as for kayak surfing, the only wave I caught was the shore break that sent kayak, paddle, hat, and myself scattered along the beach in front of a small but notable audience.  Not exactly the graceful ocean exit plan I had in mind. Luckily for me awkward is the new cool. [Read more...]

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers at Home

Do you ever have a craving for something but you can’t put your finger on just what it is? It’s like when you can’t think of the name of a movie. You can visualize it, you know who’s in it and what happens, but your brain can’t make the connection and the title eludes you. Isn’t it the most satisfying feeling when it finally hits you and you can tie up that loose thread in your mind and neatly stow it away? My friend Sarah, aka the Ohana Mama, would call it an Ah-ha moment. Ah-ha, the movie I couldn’t think of was Raising Arizona and I was craving Basil Gelato! Ah-ha!

Well, I’ve had one of those moments on a big time scale. Yes, yes, I was craving roasted cauliflower with capers but it’s even bigger than that. [Read more...]

Let’s talk about ribs baby

Ahem. Where were we?

Ah yes, I believe I promised you a rib recipe at the beginning of summer, and I have yet to deliver.  Believe it or not, I am actually quite good at keeping promises. Delivering them in a prompt and timely fashion? Meh… I have room for improvement.

But enough about me, Labor Day is right around the corner! Let’s talk about ribs!

Have you ever noticed how competitive people are about their rib recipes? And rightfully so, anyone can grill a steak, but ribs, they take time and skill. Whether you know it or not, every time you cook ribs for a party, you are entering yourself in an unofficial cooking contest. No pressure but baby back ribs are prime Bobby Flay throwdown material. I can’t think of a contest I’d be more proud to win.

When ribs are cooked just right the meat should fall off the bone, but still have integrity. They should be crisp and caramelized on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. Your fingers should be left coated with a sweet and sticky sauce and, of course, you should feel an uncontrollable desire to go back for seconds.

If you are going to go through the trouble of making ribs, then they should be downright irresistible! Right? Right. [Read more...]