Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are my number one favorite. After many trials and errors, I have finally come up with the perfect whole grain version. Its chewy, chocolatey, and hits the spot even though the sugar is reduced. Warning: although you will be tempted to gobble down the batter (because it is so delicious), do not over-indulge! Eating too many uncooked oats is not fun later.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tbsp. softened butter*
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (entirely unrefined, if possible)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or semolina flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter two baking sheets. Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl. If possible, use butter that has been softened from sitting out, rather than microwaving. Add the honey and sugar and blend. Add the eggs and vanilla and blend once more just until combined. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and mix on low or with a wooden spoon briefly to combine. Incorporate the oats and the chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Cool for one minute on cookie sheets, then move to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in a sealed container.

SERVES
About 16 people or 32 cookies

*I actually use salted butter in this recipe because I like the sweet and salty balance of flavors. But if you like the sweetness to stand out more use unsalted butter.

Platanos Maduros

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Fried sweet plantains, made with platanos maduros, are delicious. They are traditional in many Latin cultures, and are so versatile they can be eaten with almost any meal. Do yourself a solid and learn how to make them at home. It’s super easy, cheap, and requires just a few simple ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 very ripe plantains (platanos maduros)
  • About one cup canola oil or peanut oil (or a blend of the two) for frying
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • Salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Peel and slice the plantains into ½ inch slices and put them in a large bowl. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or medium frying pan. Ideally you will have about a half-inch of oil in the pan. While the oil is heating, drizzle the plantains with your choice of sweetener and sprinkle with salt. Gently roll the plantains around in the bowl to coat with the syrup mixture.

Test the heat of the oil with a small plantain slice. The plantain should sizzle when you add it to the pan. Once you are satisfied with the heat of the oil, add more plantains to the pan until full without crowding. Depending on the size of your pan you may have to cook in two batches. Fry the plantains for six minutes on each side. When you are satisfied with the caramelization on each side, remove from pan and dry on a paper bag (free of dyes) or paper towl.

SERVES
6 people as a side or dessert, 8 people as an appetizer with toothpicks

Grilled Chicken with Ginger & Soy

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My husband Danny rocks at grilling chicken. He knows how to get the skin perfectly crisp-charred while maintaining the juicy integrity of each piece. This recipe is a winner. It’s easy, delicious, and makes for a relaxing backyard barbecue any night of the week.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup gluten free soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup or molasses
  • 4 – 5 garlic cloves, chopped or pressed for more flavor
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped or grated finely for more flavor
  • One whole cut-up chicken or assorted bone-in chicken pieces (3-4 lbs)

INSTRUCTIONS
Add the first four ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl. Get in there with you hands and gently roll the chicken around in the marinade, being sure that every piece is coated. Cover the chicken and put it in the fridge for about four hours (no more than 12 hours, no less than 2 hours). If possible, take it out about halfway through to recoat the chicken with marinade.

Place the marinated chicken on a very hot grill and carefully pour the leftover marinade over the pieces of chicken. The chicken breasts (bone down) and thighs should go in the hottest part of the grill surrounded by the remaining legs and wings. Put the lid back on the grill and allow to sear for 5 minutes.  After the initial sear, the chicken skin should be a bit blackened – don’t worry, this is just the syrup or molasses caramelizing, which is delicious. Flip the chicken and redistribute the least-cooked pieces to the hottest spots on the grill. Cook for another 5 minutes. Lastly, remove the chicken pieces from direct flame if the grill is still quite hot and place in an area where they will cook slower for 5-10 minutes or until done. I usually cut into one of the thickest breasts near the bone just to make sure everything is looking good (no pink). Be careful not to overcook the chicken – you can always put it back on if underdone but there is no saving an overcooked bird.

When done, the chicken will have amazing crispy skin and, by searing the meat, all the flavors and juices will be left in tact. Enjoy!

SERVES
About 6 people

Pineapple Tofu Skewers

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These pineapple tofu skewers are surprisingly baller. A friend from Thailand brought them to a barbecue and they were a huge hit, so I decided to try them at home. He told me that his family eats tofu (in different forms, consistencies and flavors) for almost every meal, including this recipe. Extra-firm tofu quickly soaks up the flavors of this simple balanced marinade of ginger, garlic, maple and soy. I found it works well to sear the skewers on high heat to get that smokey grilled flavor. Pairs perfectly with the sweet syrupy pineapple!

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup gluten free soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed for more flavor
  • 2 tbsp. of ginger, chopped or grated finely for more flavor
  • ½ of a Pineapple, chopped into cubes
  • 8 oz package of extra-firm tofu, chopped into large cubes
  • 2 slices of thick-cut bacon (optional)
  • Oil for the grill
  • A couple teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • Chopped chives or scallions for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Create the marinade by mixing the first four ingredients in a quart-sized ziplock bag. A bowl will also work but you will have to double the marinade or flip the tofu half way through to ensure full coverage. Add the tofu cubes, which can be on the larger size, to the marinade and “vacuum” the air out of the bag using a straw our your mouth. Marinate for two hours.

Alternate adding pineapple chunks and marinated tofu to the skewers. For me this recipe made four skewers with three chunks of each pineapple and tofu. For a special treat, wrap one piece of tofu on each skewer with a half of a piece of thick-cut bacon before adding the tofu to the skewer. Place the skewers on a hot, well-oiled grill and cook covered for six to eight minutes. Flip the skewers and cook covered on the other side for another six to eight minutes. Remove the skewers from the grill, sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish, and serve!

SERVES
4 appetizers, 2 entrees

Fresh Hummus

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Fresh hummus is way better than any packaged version. And, all it takes to make really good homemade hummus is a little patience and a food processor. This version is light and creamy and achieves great flavor without the addition of oil. Serve with colorful vegetables or spread on a whole grain bread with onions, feta, and cucumbers for a hearty meal.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1¼ cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ⅓ cup tahini
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • About a half cup of cold water
  • Olive oil, feta, olives, or paprika for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
Soak the chickpeas in a large bowl of water over night. The volume of water in the bowl should be about twice the volume of the chickpeas.

Drain the chickpeas and pour into a saucepan with the baking soda. Cook over high heat for three minutes, stirring frequently. Add water to the pan bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to cook until chickpeas are soft, about 20 to 40 minutes (depending on how long you soaked them). Drain the chickpeas.

Pour the chickpeas into a food processor. If your food processor has less than an eight-cup capacity, you will need to process in batches. Process the chickpeas, stopping occasionally to scrape down the edges and turn the paste with a rubber spatula. With the food processor turned off, add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Turn the food processor back on and slowly pour in most of the cold water. Continue to blend for at least three minutes, adding more water until the hummus reaches your preferred consistency.

Spicy Honey-Sesame Slaw

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Homemade coleslaw is worth the effort. This version is light, flavorful, and a great refreshing side dish in the summer. I developed this recipe to pair with the Grilled Chicken with Ginger & Soy recipe, but would be delicious alongside any grilled meat.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup sesame oil (to save money, cut with vegetable or canola oil)
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. gluten free soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • Hot red pepper sauce
  • About 1/4 of a large cabbage
  • About 2 cups worth of crisp shredded vegetables, such as carrots or broccoli stalks
  • One Granny Smith apple
  • Cilantro
  • Scallions or chives
  • ¾ cup roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds or really any roasted nut or seed
  • Scallions or chives for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, vinegar, soy or Braggs, honey, and healthy squirt of hot sauce. Using the mandolin blade for the cabbage (or a mandolin) and the grater blade for the vegetables and apple (or a grater), shred all the produce and pour into the mixing bowl with the dressing. If you’re using broccoli stalks be sure to cut of and peel the entire woody exterior. Chop as much cilantro and scallions as you think looks good, and add them to the salad. Mix thoroughly.

Just before eating chop the nuts (no need to chop seeds), add to the salad, and stir. Taste the coleslaw to see if the flavors are too your liking. Add a little more of any of the dressing ingredients if you find yourself wanting more. Sprinkle with chopped scallions or chives and serve.

SERVES
6 – 8 as a side