Posts tagged ‘citrus’

October 5, 2013

Grains of Paradise and Cayenne Oatmeal Cookies

Living in Houston I’ve learned that Texans LOVE spicy, hot food.  They serve everything with a side of Tabasco or hot salsa that makes your forehead sweat, and it’s already hot enough without the spicy food.  Eggs, steak, salads, burgers… everything is bursting with heat.  I spent my first few months in Houston downing gallons of milk every time I attempted to conquer the red salsa at our local Mexican restaurant.  Sadly, I never succeeded.  But in an effort to enbrace my new home I’ve tried to incorporate some spice into my classic recipes to satisfy my friends cravings.

Grains of Paradise and Cayenne Oatmeal Cookies

The thing I like about these cookies is that they don’t immediately smack you in the face with heat, it gradually hits at the end and lingers ever so slightly.  I didn’t want to mess with a classic too much, but I do think this takes a traditional oatmeal cookie to a more grown up level.  The cranberries add to the chewy texture of the oats and give it an added sweetness needed with the earthy spices. I purposely left out cinnamon, usually a staple in oatmeal cookies, as I didn’t want it to mask the other spices. 

The secret ingredient in these cookies is grains of paradise, a spice native to West Africa. I crushed the grains with my mortar and pestle which released the most heavenly aroma — a combination of black pepper, cardamom, coriander and citrus with a lingering scent of something floral and woodsy.  If you crack one between your teeth, the flavor follows in much the same order as the aroma.  If you only get one thing from this recipe I hope it’s an introduction to this wonderful spice.  The floral, peppery flavor is going to make a wonderful addition to just about all your favorite foods.  Your grilled steaks, fish, vegetables and potatoes will thank you.

If you’re looking for something a little more special, pop two cookies in the oven at 350 for a few minutes and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you have a perfect ice cream sandwich. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (more if you are adventurous)
  • 1 tsp. grains of paradise
  • 1 tsp.  baking soda
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped and toasted
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups traditional Quaker Oats (not quick cook)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F
  2. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. This helps the cookies crisp by being closer to the heat source or at the very top where the heat accumulates.
  3. Place nuts in a small pan and toast on medium heat for 5-7 minutes.  As soon as they become fragrant take them off the heat and space them on the side to cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cayenne, grains of paradise and salt thoroughly and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, beat butter, white and brown sugar, and vanilla until the mixture changes color and becomes a smooth, pale white… this is what you want so you have light, fluffy cookies.
  6. Slowly add the flour mixture and continue to stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
  7. Add oats, pecans and cranberries and stir until mixed well.
  8. Scoop dough on to ungreased cookie sheets, I use a mini ice cream scoop to make it easier.  I also spray the spoon with pam so the dough doesn’t stick.
  9. Bake for 8-10 more minutes until the cookies are golden brown
  10. Let the cookies cool on pan for 1 minute before placing on wire rack.
  11. Enjoy!

 

September 19, 2011

Zesty Citrus Chicken

I was sitting in my kitchen trying to decide what to do with a bunch of skinless boneless chicken breasts.  That’s when I spotted the bowl of limes and lemons I keep behind the sink (mainly for decoration) but in this case it was my new recipe!  I took 2 limes and 2 lemons and wallah – I have zesty citrus chicken!

Not only is this easy, but it’s also very healthy.  You get great flavor from the citrus marinade, and not a lot of fat since you pan sear it in just a little olive oil.  It reminded me of the beginning of summer as the smell of fresh lemons sifted through my kitchen.  I also love all the specks of color you got from the citrus zest.   It’s easy, healthy and flavorful, and best of all I made it with my kitchen adornment!

Ingredients

  • 6-8 skinless boneless chicken tenders (if you get whole breasts, just slice them in half, this way they take less time to cook and they stay moist and tender)
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion flakes
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Method

  • Combine all the ingredients above (except the chicken) in bowl and whisk
  • Once mixed, add chicken and make sure each piece gets coated.  Cover with saran wrap and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours (I usually leave it overnight)
  • Remove chicken from fridge 15 minutes before cooking, so it can warm up just a bit
  • Heat non stick pan to medium high and add a tsp of olive oil
  • Once pan is hot, add chicken strips (it should sizzle)
  • Cook for 4-5 minutes and then flip; they’ll be slightly golden on the bottom, white half way up and the top will still be pink.  If you’re cooking full breasts, you’ll need to cook them for longer, about 8 minutes per side.
  • Flip and cook an additional 4-5 minutes
  • The chicken is done when it’s no longer pink in the middle (you can take one piece out and cut into it to check)  You can also use a meat thermometer; chicken is done at 165 degrees.
  • Serve with a side of rice or potatoes and some greens
  • Enjoy!
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