Dark Chocolate Glazed Persimmon Cookies

I sung the praises of persimmons a couple weeks ago in this post and here I am to sing them again, this time with a cookie recipe. This dark chocolate glazed persimmon cookie encapsulates fall with a kiss and a bow. They are soooo delicious and healthy too! Perfect for a family get together or a dinner party.

DSCN8202  DSCN8198

A while back I made some Sweet Potato Cookies with Dark Chocolate Glaze that I had trouble calling cookies because they were more fluffy and soft than the traditional sweet. This Persimmon Cookie is highly reminiscent of that one. It is sweet and soft and fluffy and absolutely, fallishly divine. The reason these cookies are not dense and chewy like regular cookies is that they use a fraction of the fat that is used in most cookies. Your classic chocolate chips cookies call for a stick of butter – these persimmon cookies have only a fourth of cup of olive oil, which is a much healthier substitute for butter anyway.

DSCN8210DSCN8208

I personally don’t like cookies in general. Hand me a platter of chocolate chip cookies and I will pass them up without a thought – not because I am on a diet but because I just don’t really like them. But when offered a cookie like this, a soft, biscuity cookie that sings of spice and has just a subtle sweetness – nope, not passing that up for a thing. YUM. I love these cookies.

DSCN8214

Dark Chocolate Glazed Persimmon Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup pureed persimmon (about 3 persimmons)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
dark chocolate glaze:
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tsp milk

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a baking sheet with oil.

2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices into a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix pureed persimmon, honey, oil, and egg until well all ingredients are well incorporated. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir.

3. Batter should be a little lumpy. Using a tablespoon, dollop dough onto the baking sheet, flattening them a little as you go. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until puffy and golden.

4. Let cool completely. While cookies are cooling, prepare your glaze. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips for thirty second intervals until completely melted. Stir in the milk until the mixture is smooth.

5. Frost the cookies and enjoy!

DSCN8211

Orange Spiced Gingersnaps

I’ll always associate gingersnaps with Christmas, so much so that I have a feeling I’d find it wrong to make a batch of these Orange Spiced Gingersnaps any other time of the year. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I grew up decorating gingerbread houses every Christmas break, and therefore that hot, ginger-molasses-y aroma is weld solidly to glittering lights and nativity scenes and a massive Christmas tree taking up a fourth of our piano room.

DSCN2341

The two months preceding Christmas are my favorite time of the year, despite the frigid air up here in tundra land. I think I’ve built it up in my brain so much that it’s more the memories intoxicating me than the holiday itself. It’s been years since my family decorated our house with Christmas lights, and as I’m living in an apartment this year we won’t be able to participate in that small gesture of holiday spirit. But every single year I get so excited to drive at night, simply because there are houses adorned with little lights. I remember how we used to put a timer on ours so they’d come on at the same time every evening, right as the sun hit the horizon, and I always had this longing to be there the moment they turned on. I don’t know if I ever got there in time.

I was always there for the tree decorating, though – if not to help, to watch. Mom was always painfully organized when it came to ornaments – Andrew, Mickey, and I each had our own ornament box (which grew to multiples over the years), because every year we received at least one ornament that would become ours as soon as we moved away and married (which I have, but my box remains in Texas. Of course, I don’t have room for it in this teeny apartment). By the time my brother, sister, and I were in college, the tree was so full of the craziest assortment of ornaments that its limbs hung lower than normal. At least now it will be a third lighter.

The main reason I love Christmas is not because of the lights or the cookies or the decorations, though – it is the general air (to risk sounding cliche) of cheer. The joy that comes from celebrating something that isn’t merely commercial is contagious – there’s a meaning behind this holiday, one that is greater than anything we know. A savior was born, and we can live with the peace of having eternal celebrations in paradise. Even people who deny Him cannot deny the jubilation that permeates every corner of our country during this holiday season. There is a reason we are rejoicing.

Now on to this Christmassy recipe. God bless you all and to all a good night! (Or morning, whatever, you get my drift.)

DSCN2336

Orange Spiced Gingersnaps

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 tbsp orange zest
2 tbsp orange juice
1 egg
Sugar with orange zest for rolling

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt together in a bowl. Stir and set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, molasses, orange juice, and olive oil. Mix on medium for 5 minutes. Add egg and mix on low for 2 minutes more. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until well combined. Fold in orange zest.

3. Add a couple pinches of orange zest to the sugar for rolling. Form dough into 1 inch balls and roll in zested sugar until completely covered. Flatten dough balls a little and place them on cookie sheet. Bake for 13 minutes or until tops crack.

DSCN2335

Butternut Squash Pea Pizza

A couple weeks ago my husband and I were playing Scattergories with his parents. The letter was “P” and the category was “Pizza topping.” Naturally, my first inclination was  (no, not pepperoni. I am vegetarian. I actually didn’t even think pepperoni until someone else said it) peas. Yes, peas. Only because earlier that week I had made this delicious Butternut Squash Pea Pizza.

Have you ever had peas on pizza? It’s fantastic! They have this little pop of sweetness that just makes your mouth water for another bite. Married with the butternut squash, spinach, green pepper, and havarti cheese, to this day I have not tasted anything so tantalizing. Of course, there was dispute at the table as to whether “peas” counted as a pizza topping. I argued that I got the idea online from someone else’s pizza experimentation, so it had to count.

DSCN1942

I tend to think of pizza as the kitchen sink of all dinners. Whatever’s leftover in the fridge, just throw on there! And since whipping up a crust is easy as 1-2-3, it’s sort of a go-to when I have produce that needs eating.

Moreover, pizza can make for a pretty healthy meal if you make one of these crusts, Whole Wheat, Flax and Honey CrustCauliflower Crust,  or Sweet Potato Pizza Crust, or simply whip up an oat flour based crust like I did for this recipe. Topped with a generous serving of home-stewed pizza sauce and a ton of veggies, there is nothing really about this pizza that could be classified as “junk food.” See, I’m revolutionizing the ways of FatAmerica.

DSCN1943

Butternut Squash Pea Pizza

INGREDIENTS:

1 half butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 green bell pepper
2 large handfuls spinach
Pizza Sauce
Havarti Cheese
Parmesan
Italian Seasoning
Oatmeal Crust (recipe below)

METHOD:

1. We all know how to make pizza. It’s common sense. But do pop the cubed butternut squash in the microwave for three minutes or so until it is slightly soft. Chop the rest of the veggies into adequate sizes.

2. Proceed with the pizza topping. Bake in a 400F oven until cheese is melty.

Oatmeal Pizza Crust

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cup finely processed oatmeal
1/2 tbsp yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp honey
1 clove minced garlic
Italian seasoning
1 tbsp parmesan

METHOD:

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water, adding honey and oil after about a minute. In separate bowl, combine salt, oatmeal, seasoning, parmesan, and garlic.

2. Add yeast to flour mixture and stir well. Knead for 2 minutes and form into a ball. Let rise in an oiled bowl, covered, for twenty to thirty minutes.

3. After risen, roll the ball flat into a thin circle. If mixture is crumbly, add water and a little flour. Prick crust with a fork, then bake in a 425F oven for 15 minutes. Top with pizza toppings, bake some more, enjoy.

 

 

Simply Spectacular Spaghetti Squash Dinner

One of my favorite things about fall is the bargain prices on squash. As low as 49 cents a pound at Fareway…what could beat that?? It makes for a deliciously cheap dinner. This meal is so simple I am almost embarrassed to make a real post about it, but then again, I like to make people’s lives easier. And this dinner will be sure to make your life easier.

Even my meat-lovin’ husband liked it. And there’s no meat.

As many of you probably know, I hate waste. So when I cut into a scrumptious squash, the first thing I do is salvage the seeds. It is a common misconception that the only kind of seed that is edible is the pumpkin. While pumpkin seeds are the bomb diggity, seeds from all the different squashes are good to eat. Sometimes I like to eat them plain, but this time I decided to top my dish with them. This added that needed bit of both protein and crunch.

DSCN1908

Simply Spectacular Spaghetti Squash Dinner

INGREDIENTS:

1 spaghetti squash
1 tomato
1 green bell pepper
1 head of broccoli
1 can of black olives
2 tbsp parmesan
splash of lemon
Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste
Italian seasoned roasted spaghetti squash seeds

METHOD:

1. Heat oven to 375F. Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds. Place cut side down on a baking dish and fill with a bit of water. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on how big the squash and how mushy you like it (I like it with a little crunch).  While this is baking, you can also roast your seeds. Simply clean then toss in salt and italian seasoning, and roast until golden brown and crispy.

2. Steam broccoli. Chop up the rest of the veggies and toss with lemon juice, parmesan, and seasoning.

3. When squash is done and cooled slightly, scoop out meat with a fork. Toss with prepared veggies and season to taste.

4. Enjoy!

Apple Green Tea Cake with Apple Roses

Hello, world. I am here to report that the treetops are a steady shade of yellow now and a murder of crows has taken residence in my neighborhood. In other news, I made a pretty cake for my grandma’s garden club meeting the other day – Apple Green Tea Cake with Apple Roses. 

Apple roses are a relatively simple way to make a beautiful and edible decoration for a cake. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Slice the apple reeaaaaally thin (leave the peels on for that hint of color). 
  2. Boil the apple in 4 cups water, 1 cup sugar for about five minutes. Drain. 
  3. Mix up whatever batter you are using, and fill prepared truffle or mini muffin pan (spray generously with cooking oil so nothing sticks) half full with the batter.
  4.  Form apple roses and place in batter. 
  5. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 200 and bake for 2 more hours.

It makes for an impressive (and impressively simple) cake. For the fall season and upcoming Thanksgiving festivities, apple roses are the perfect thing to have up your sleeve!

DSCN1869

Onto a tangent…before Thanksgiving comes, we must celebrate the frightfully delicious Halloween. Halloween is a fantastic holiday – dressing up in creative costumes and parading around the neighborhoods for candy…what could be better?

Working at Target really makes me realize how into Halloween people get. Starting at the beginning of October people were buying skeleton erasers and gummy eyeballs and pumpkin rugs. This week, the thing has been costumes for kids. I’ve seen princess costumes, Iron Man costumes, witch costumes, and minion costumes, just to name a few. Here is my issue – these store bought costumes are sooo cheesy! Sure you can be a witch, but I grew up with the firm understanding that for Halloween we made our costumes. If that meant trolling Goodwill for a few hours to find the perfect black lace ball gown that was waaay to big, then that is how it was. Home-crafted costumes will always be better than the kind you get at places like Target. There is just no creativity in pointing and buying, and isn’t Halloween really just a passive celebration of creativity? I think so. 

But anyway. Perhaps I will make some Halloweenish recipes for y’all. Also, pumpkin carving is a definite must for this year. Pumpkin picking first, though. ❤

DSCN1865

Apple Green Tea Cake with Apple Roses

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups whole wheat flour (for a less nutty flavor, use all purpose)
Contents of 2 bags of green day
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 finely chopped apple

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray bundt pan with cooking oil. Combine flour, contents of green tea bags, baking powder and soda, and salt. Set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, mix Greek yogurt, applesauce, olive oil, milk, and brown sugar. Add eggs and whip. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and mix until well incorporated.

3. Fold in chopped apples. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Top with your favorite cake glaze. 

DSCN1887

I’m Back With Apples and Stuff

I know that in the blogging world being gone for a month is basically blog death. Well, I have resurrected myself and my dear Consider the Peel, and I hope it’s not been too long for those loyal few out there.

What can I say – life is hectic. There’s my part time job at Target, my part-part time job as a transcriptionist, my blog (sadly being dejected of late), my soon to open Etsy store (yes, this is happening!) Peels & Posies, and my endless wifely duties. The apartment is small, but there is always something needing done, and as far as creative things goes, sometimes I’m just so tired after work that all I want to do is stick my head in a hole and hibernate until spring (but then, of course, I’d miss all this beautiful fall weather). Sometimes (read, all the time) when I am grueling the hours away at Target, scanning fifty jars of baby food or struggling to lift cat litter off the belt, I think to myself,  “Is this banality worth the $8 an hour?”

More often than not the answer is Heck No. However, I do struggle with perspective sometimes. The bottom line is that life will always be too busy – I need to stop waiting for a moment and make a moment. I need to make those few minutes of free time between tasks worth my while, because I know that reaching my own potential will not only increase my personal satisfaction but it will do others a lot of good too.

So here’s a little apology for being too trapped in my bubble of inactivity. Hopefully I’ll get back in the swing of things with the help of a daily planner and a renewed spring of inspiration. It’s FALL after all…squeeeee! The absolutely positively most magical time of the year, which means yours truly will be bringing you pumpkins galore, wreaths and fallings leaves, pies, squash, ghosts, and ohhh so much more.

The first thing to report on is the massive amount of apples we currently have sitting in trash bags on our apartment floor. My husband’s parents have three apple trees and have kindly given us more apples than I’ve ever seen in one place at one time. I am not complaining. The other day we had an apple themed lunch: Homemade Honey Lemon Applesauce, Open-Faced Apple Havarti Ham Sandwich Melt, and Celery Apple Salad.

DSCN1662

These three simple elements made for a delicious (not to mention unique) lunch. Of course, Grant laughed at me when I told him we were having an apple themed lunch. “Is that what we’re doing now?” he said. “Themed lunches?” Why, yes, Grant. Themed lunches are the greatest kind of lunches.

HONEY LEMON APPLESAUCE

Ingredients:

about 5 pounds of apples (I used a variety, mainly Braeburn and golden delicious)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water, plus more if needed

Method:

1. Peel and chop apples. Place all ingredients in a large pot and heat on medium high. Let boil and add water if mixture gets too thick. When apples are soft enough, mash for desired consistency.

The honey and lemon flavors in this applesauce are very subtle, but definitely there. For more pronounced flavors, simply add more of the desired ingredients.

OPEN-FACED APPLE HAVARTI HAM SANDWICH

Ingredients:

sliced harvarti cheese
ham lunchmeat
sliced apples
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp miracle whip
Oregano and parsley
bread

Method:

Mix dijon, miracle whip, oregano, and parsley together, then spread on the bread. Place meat, then apples, then cheese on the bread. Broil on high for four minutes.

APPLE CELERY SALAD

Ingredients:

1 Golden Delicious apple
1 stalk of celery
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
fresh parsley

Method:

Slice apples and celery thinly. In a separate bowl, mix vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Pour over apples and celery, then top with fresh parsley.

Tomato Basil Bread (Whole Wheat)

DSCN0795 DSCN0796

I’ll take any opportunity I can get to use herbs from my precious little herb garden I planted earlier this year. The leaves are not very big yet, but evidently (especially with basil) using baby leaves is perfectly fine, even good. Baby basil has a strong flavor, and I’m glad for it! It makes a mean tomato basil bread.

What really inspired me to make this bread was strolling around the Ames Farmer’s Market. While it is not very big, I still enjoying seeing all the different vendors, some of them selling very strange products.

For instance: Until last Saturday, I had never eaten bee pollen (on purpose, that is). When I came up to a honey seller’s booth and saw a jar of bee pollen, I exclaimed, “Wait, you’re supposed to eat that?!”

The old man nodded curtly and a small smile churned on his lips. “It’s good for lots of things,” he said. “Allergies, acne, weight loss…”

The list went on and on. While I didn’t completely believe all that he was saying, I instinctively said yes when he asked if I’d like to try some and then poured it out on my hand. It’s a weird flavor. Like honey except chalky and gross. And so far I’m neither dead nor cured of all my ailments (and I ate quite a bit), so opinion pending on its abilities.

DSCN0797 DSCN0798

But anyway. Back to my herbs and this delicious bread I made. It has a very strong tomato-y flavor which is exactly what I wanted. The fresh basil tasted exceptionally delicious in there as well.

I love making bread. Even though it takes a bit of time to knead and let rise and what not, it just makes the perfect addition to a meal. And I feel so much better about eating homemade bread than the stuff from the stores.

DSCN0803

This particular loaf uses whole wheat and oatmeal, and there is a ton of flavor packed in. This bread will make excellent croutons, too. If it makes it that long, that is.

DSCN0804

Whole Wheat Tomato Basil Bread

INGREDIENTS:

1 tbsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup fresh basil (or 2 tbsp dried basil)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 egg
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely processed oatmeal

METHOD:

1. Place yeast in warm water and let rest until foamy. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and oatmeal. When yeast is ready, add  basil, tomato sauce, parmesan, olive oil, egg, garlic, and honey and stir well. Add flour mixture to the wet slowly. Mixture will be dry. Knead on a floured surface for five minutes, until elasticy. Form into a ball.

2. Spray a bowl with oil and place the dough ball inside, turning once to coat both sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for about one hour or until doubled in size.

3. When dough has risen, punch it and then knead for 3 to 4 minutes. Place onto a sprayed cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 30 to 40 minutes more. Preheat oven to 375F.

4. When bread has risen, cut an x shape lightly on top of the bread ball and place in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes.

DSCN0807

Jicama Fries with Lime Yogurt Dip

DSCN0213

I hadn’t even heard of jicama until about a week ago when I was puttering around Wal-Mart and stumbled upon a muddy brown blobbish thing nestled between the mangoes and kiwi. “Jicama – Mexico’s favorite fruit” a sign read. Well. I should know what Mexico’s favorite fruit tastes like!

I was kind of surprised that something that ugly could be anyone’s favorite, to be honest. It looks like the child of a russet potato and a turnip, and is especially bland looking compared to the colorful mangoes, apples, and citrus surrounding it. Nevertheless, I had Wikipedia open on my phone in minutes and read this:

“Jícama is often paired with chili powder, cilantro, ginger, lemon, lime, oranges, onion, salsa, sesame oil, grilled fish and soy sauce. It can be cut into thin wedges and dipped in salsa. In Mexico, it is popular in salads, fresh fruit combos, fruit bars, soups, and other cooked dishes.”

Uhhhh all right. Can’t live without it.

DSCN0211

Naturally, after I bought it, it started cropping up everywhere (AKA on pinterest). I didn’t know how to use it, but then I saw a pin for jicama fries and I thought, “Bingo!”

Evidently, jicama is a great substitute for potatoes because it has a teeny amount of carbs comparatively, but still captures that iconic starchiness fries and such strive for. I particularly liked the jicama fries because they retain their crispiness and have a subtle sweetness to them that’s similar to a pear.

DSCN0200

DSCN0201

DSCN0202

Combined with the slight tang of lemon juice, herbs de provence, and some salt, that sweetness was the most magical thing I’ve ever tasted.

And since we’re on that topic, herbs de provence is an herb combination from the heavens. It contains savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender and tastes good on just about anything. I think my favorite part of it is the lavender. Not many people think of lavender as edible, but getting that subtle hint on your sweet potato is simply inspiring. It makes me want to just cook with lavender ALL THE TIME.

As for the dipping sauce; it’s not really necessary, but as the jicama is mexican I thought it’d be nice to add a little mexican flair in there with lime. The fries are good plain, and they’d probably also fare well with ketchup, but the yogurt sauce is just the perfect amount of tangy for the softly sweet crisp of the jicama. If I were you, I’d give it a try.

DSCN0209

Jicama Fries with  Lime Yogurt Sauce

INGREDIENTS

Jicama, sliced into fry shapes
Olive oil
Herbs de Provence (or other seasoning, but this is the best)
Garlic, minced
Lemon or lime juice

For the sauce:
Plain greek yogurt
Lime juice
Honey

METHOD:

1. Slice jicama into slender rectangles. Place in bowl and toss with olive oil. Add seasonings, garlic, and lemon juice to taste.

2. Place in preheated 435F oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until golden brown. Flip about fifteen minutes in.

3. For the sauce, combine the three ingredients (equal amounts yogurt and lime; honey to taste) and stir well. Enjoy.

DSCN0214

Summer Squash “Pasta” with Lemon, Basil, and Garlic

DSCN0127

Okay. I am becoming more and more depressed as far as weather goes. My friends in Mississippi are out of school for the summer this saturday, and I’m thinking, “Wow, summertime already! Except it’s FORTY DEGREES AND I HAVEN’T SEEN SUN IN DAYS.” I guess it’s a good thing I still have three weeks of class left (EVER, might I add, as I am graduating at last). It’ll give the world time to cooperate and warm up so I’m not wearing snow boots in July.

Silly Iowa.

But enough of my ranting. Summertime really is just a stone’s throw away. YAY. That’s why I’m making dinner of SUMMER squash. There are lots of things I’m excited about summer for: #1. I’m getting married in July. #2. My feet are suffocating and they need sandals. #3. I miss how sunlight on my face feels. #4. That summer smell. #5. All these Iowan festivals I keep hearing about (Tulip Festival, Watermelon Festival, etc. etc). #6. FARMER’S MARKETS.

These are just a few of the exciting things. No more school for the rest of my life is a big one as well.

DSCN0129

But enough of my hullabaloo. Let’s get to the reason you most likely clicked on this link in the first place. Summer Squash “Pasta.”

DSCN0123
Slicin’ it up

DSCN0124

So I’m not going to claim that this actually does taste like pasta. Because in all reality, it’s a vegetable. However, it is a delicious, easy meal that makes a great substitute for pasta any day. It’s a lot healthier than pasta… And you definitely feel a lot better about yourself after eating a huge bowl of this.

DSCN0130

Summer Squash “Pasta” with Lemon, Basil, and Garlic

INGREDIENTS:

1 summer squash, cut in thin strip lengthwise
Salt and basil
Lemon juice
Parmesan
A bit of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
A couple slices of onion
Cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, and spinach for serving

METHOD:

1. Cut the summer squash lengthwise into thin strips. Put it in a bowl and sprinkle lightly with basil, salt, and lemon juice. Let sit for ten to fifteen minutes.

2. Prepare garlic and onion. Put a nickel-sized amount of olive oil on a pan and heat to medium. Sauté garlic and onion until lightly browned. Turn heat down to medium low and put summer squash in the pan. Let simmer for just a couple minutes (you don’t want to get your “noodles” brown!). Pour more lemon juice over top, and add parmesan to taste.

3. Serve with tomatoes, feta, and spinach.

DSCN0128