Friday, April 10, 2015

well hello there! wanna cookie?

...Except your parents probably told you not to take cookies from strangers. So how about a recipe for some cookies instead?

I did it: I'm blogging. At least I think that is what I'm currently doing... I am reminded of how Ryan created a basic Word document for Creed (on "The Office") to shield the world from Creed's thoughts, and what I'm typing now looks pretty much like a Word document... Anyway: Here I am, World! There is no Ryan to protect you. He was kind of a slime-ball anyway. You can do better.

So what do I have to say? Well, I hope to post mainly on food (baking is an addiction for me...seriously) and crafts (a fun new venture for me), with maybe a sprinkle of nutrition every once in a while. I'm a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) by education and profession, you see. But that might mostly be to self-validate that there is some nutrition in all the goodies I like to make and eat. That's why I went to school: to tell the world it's okay to eat cookies. Not really, but that's what kinda came out of it.

In the spirit of the name of this blog, I decided to share a recipe of my mom's that I was too afraid of to try as a young child, but when I finally did, WOW! I realized that I had been missing out.

Orange-Carrot Cookies.

Yum. See? There's some nutrition in there. Carrots, people! and oranges (at least the zest). And don't forget walnuts. You've got your beta-carotene, some vitamin C, and omega-3's. Alright, I see that this will get annoying quickly. I promise I won't do that too often.

As a side note, you will notice that this cookie recipe uses shortening instead of butter. I am a self-proclaimed butter snob. And proud of it. 99.9% of my cookie recipes use butter. Butter just makes things taste sooooo much better. I also promise not to get too into food chemistry here, but I like the baking effects of butter as well. With that being said, this particular recipe actually works better with shortening. You can still use butter if you want, but the cookies will be a little more flat, and they won't look quite right. You can always mix part butter, part shortening too if you like. Hey, it's your cookie recipe now.

If you want to use rinsed canned diced carrots in this recipe (instead of cooking and mashing fresh carrots), they'll work just as well and save you some trouble. They're easy to mash because they're already cooked. Or you can cook them yourself; it's not too hard. It's up to you!

On how to cook carrots in the microwave, look here. You may want to add another minute or two in the microwave because you want these carrots to be easily mash-able.  The cool thing about cooking them in the microwave is that they also retain more nutrients in them than if you had cooked them on the stove. But I digress...

You can see from the photo that the carrots don't need to be pureed; just mashed. Some carrot bits in there are good.

After the dough is mixed, I drop it on the cookie sheets (using two spoons) in about 1 1/2 Tbsp.-sized mounds. Although I have multiple cookie scoops (and LOVE them), for this recipe I like the look that the cookies have when they are dropped on the cookie sheet. They look a little too round and perfect if I use a cookie scoop, and I want them to be a little more rustic. There's carrots in them cookies: rustic is good.
Look at all those yummy bits sticking out!

While the cookies are cooling on the rack, I make the orange glaze. This stuff is good. Have you ever had those pre-packaged orange rolls that you pop out of the can and put in the oven? (I admit that those are a favorite of mine). Well, the orange glaze is like the glaze that comes with those rolls, except better. You'll notice the recipe for the glaze includes "strong orange juice." That was how it was written for me by my sister (who copied the recipe for me years ago as part of a wedding gift). I use frozen orange juice concentrate (thawed of course). That seems to give it a nice orange flavor, as does the fresh orange zest you use in the glaze.

And now without further ado:

(Printable Recipe)

Orange-Carrot Cookies

(makes 3 dozen)

3/4 c. shortening (don't use butter or margarine)
1 c. mashed cooked carrots (about 2-3 cups raw)
1 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 c.all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. While oven is pre-heating, cream the shortening and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the egg and beat until light yellow in color (about a minute using a hand mixer). Add the cooked carrots and vanilla and mix well. 
  3. In separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Mix in the walnuts (if using them).
  4. Using two small spoons, drop little mounds of dough (about the size of 1 1/2 Tbsp) a couple of inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes (time will depend on oven and size of cookie). You do not want these to get overbaked; they should just be turning golden on the edges, and should  be puffy when done.
  5. Allow to set on the cookie sheet for one minute before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack. 
  6. Glaze the cookies with the orange glaze while still warm (but not piping hot); you can place paper towels, foil, or parchment underneath your cooling rack to spare your counters. I dollop a little spoonful of glaze with a spoon and let it drizzle down the sides.  

Orange Glaze

1 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. strong orange juice (i.e. use some thawed frozen concentrate if possible)
1 pinch of salt
the zest of an orange (you can add more or less to suit your taste)
  1. Combine all ingredients together and mix. The consistency should be somewhat runny, but should still coat the back of a spoon. This is a glaze, not a frosting. Add more juice if necessary.

And that's it! You're all done! Now enjoy the delicious fruits...and vegetables... of your labor!

Yummy in my tummy!

May these cookies become a family-favorite for your family as they are for mine. And as an added bonus: when others are afraid to try the cookies because of the carrots, it just means more for you! (at least that's what Mom always says)

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