Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Cookies and Cool Beans

These are probably my husband's favorite cookie. We include them in our holiday cookie baking, but also make them at other times of the year, as well. They are a little bit wholesome, a little bit decadent, completely delicious, and it wouldn't be Christmas at our house without them!

Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Adapted from the recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray Craisins bag

Cream until light and fluffy:
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar

2 eggs

Combine and add:
2 c. quick-cook rolled oats (if you buy the thick old-fashioned kind like I do, half or partially grind them in a food processor)
2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda

1 1/2 c. craisins (sweetened, dried cranberries)
9 oz. Baker's White Chocolate, chopped (best if chopped rather chunkily and not too fine)

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake 350-375 for 10-12 minutes until golden.

I realized last night that, besides foisting bean cookbook recommendations on complete strangers, beans were rather prevalent in this past week's meals: Mediterranean-style lamb and lentils; lamb burgers and baked beans; salmon with pasta, pesto and fava beans; honey and soy sauce glazed lamb ribs, Sara Jane's Chinese noodle salad, and (frozen) edamames; latkes and applesauce (our one beanless meal!); and last night's roast chicken, baked squash and Italian lentil salad. The Italian lentil salad was really good -and satisfying in the same way lentil soups are. Beans really are a perfect food. There are a a bajillion types of beans, and many different ways to cook them. Louis Armstrong signed his letters: Red Beans and Ricely Yours, showing his love and devotion to his favorite bean recipe. Tonight, I think I'm going to take a break from cooking with beans, and make the Swedish Meatballs from Simply Recipes, something I've never made or eaten before, but they look and sound simply scrumptious. Tomorrow though, I'll probably make black beans and rice burritos. As my friend Wendy would say, Cool Beans!

Italian Lentil Salad
Adapted from Bean Banquets by Patricia R. Gregory

Cook separately:
1/3 c. brown rice
1 c. brown lentils
Cook lentils until tender BUT firm. I know that's a complete contradiction of terms, but you know what I mean: just until they are tender to the tooth, but before the begin to lose their shape. 'Do not wander off while they are cooking' is what I kept reminding myself.

Meanwhile, saute in 2 T. olive oil until golden:
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove

half a 14 oz can (or pint home canned) diced Italian tomatoes (or 2 diced fresh tomatoes, during the 2 weeks in August when our PNW garden has ripe tomatoes)
1/2 t. Italian seasoning
Cook 5 minutes or so, until its dried out a bit.

Remove to serving bowl. Add:
1 T. pesto or 1 T. fresh basil, minced
2 T. red wine vinegar
1-2 T. more olive oil
drained tender lentils
cooked rice
1/2 t. salt or to taste
pinch cayenne (or 1 t. crushed red peppers)
Adjust pesto, vinegar, and salt to taste. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Variations: I think some cooked diced carrots, diced red peppers, or crumbled feta cheese might be tasty additions. The rice can be omitted and is not in the Bean Banquet recipe. I actually started following a completely different recipe that included rice. I started cooking the rice and lentils, then realized I was missing most of the major ingredients, so I changed recipes.

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