Autumn + Cookies = Perfection

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Warm up the fire places!  It is the first day of fall.  School is back in full force, the catering business is getting ready for high season, and all is well with the world.  Well, all is good minus the Republican candidates for Presidency, but we aren’t getting into politics!

I just recently had my first menus printed.  I know that may sound crazy since we have been in business for 4 years (yes, FOUR years!).  But, everything has been either word of mouth, the website, or individual menus that are emailed.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to hold them and pat them and pet them!  They are really so beautiful.  Thank you to the fabulous graphic artist, Jenn Streck!  It is funny how a menu makes me feel all professional inside, as if I haven’t been catering for weddings of 200 plus people.  This is a prime example of the littlest, simplest things that can matter so much.

Another thing that can matter so much is a simple delicious cookie.  And at this time of year, cookies are very important.  We can make them and store them in the freezer for the moment we need them most, like that school function we forget about or the random kids that end up at our house on a Friday night.  I love how baking a batch of cookies warms up the house with the oven temperature and the aroma.

So, let’s get baking.  My two favorite cookies this fall are  the lovely and ever so simple Chocolate Chip Cookie and the spicy, soft Ginger Molasses Cookie.  Today we will get the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe out.  Look for our Ginger Molasses next week if I can get my blogging life together.

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G&H’s Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 cup Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line your baking pan with parchment paper.  In a standing mixer, mix your melted butter with your three sugars.  While this is mixing on high-speed, in a separate bowl mix together your flour, baking soda, and salt.  After the butter and sugar mixture turns a pale brown, about 5 minutes, add in your eggs one at a time and then your vanilla.  After this is incorporated, turn the mixer to low and add in your flour mixture slowly.  Don’t over mix, just until flour is incorporated.  Turn mixer off and hand mix in your chocolate chips.   Drop a tablespoon size of cookie dough on your parchment paper and bake for 13-15 minutes or until toasty on the sides.  Lastly, try not to burn yourself when eating them too soon after coming out of the oven.

I hope you all enjoy the beautiful Autumn weather immensely with a good simple cookie.  Here’s to the best Chocolate Chip Cookie!  Cheers!

 

 

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A Lighter Side

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Asian Slaw

Someone told me before I moved here that Atlanta is really just a big forest.  I thought he was exaggerating, but this past week,  I’ve witnessed the forest bloom into existence. I wake up to bird babbles and pollen soaked everything. Spring has taken over the city.  I’ve even spotted some forest dwellers on their back patios sharing food and drinks, a sure indicator of warmer weather, longer days, and lighter fare.  Last week, I made an Asian inspired slaw–a delightful companion to any barbecue or sandwich.

You can use bags of pre-chopped slaw, or you can buy a head each of red and green cabbage. I prefer the latter for a few reasons. 1. It just tastes better. 2. The road to freshly chopped cabbage is much more exciting. If you take this route, PLEASE remember to stop and marvel that a red cabbage cut in half looks like a Van Gogh painting, even more than his own cabbage still lifes.  Here is the recipe!

Asian Inspired Slaw

1 head Red cabbage

1 head Green cabbage

OR a bag of pre-chopped slaw (the boring shortcut)

2 carrots, chopped or shaved

3 large scallions, sliced

2 tablespoons cilantro (chopped as  garnish)

Dressing

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2  tablespoons brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional ingredients:

1/2 red onion, chopped

1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1-2 teaspoons chopped Jalapeño, if you’re feeling hot

Directions:

Chop the vegetables and whisk the dressing separately, then unite in a big bowl. Garnish with cilantro.

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So Delicious that it Can’t be that Healthy!

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Shiitake Mushrooms and Dinosaur Kale

Shiitake Mushrooms and Dinosaur Kale

Ingredients

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms sliced

1 bunch dinosaur kale chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tablespoon miso paste

Directions

In a saute pan, add kale, shiitake, and oil and sauté on medium high heat until kale becomes slightly wilted.  Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  Lastly add miso and 1/4 cup water and mix well.  When the water is mostly evaporated, you are done!

This is a great snack, a fabulous side dish, or a great addition to soups or an omelet.  And, as you see, so simple and easy.  But hold on, let me tell you about what I have learned about the health benefits of these ingredients.  I have been making this because I think it is delicious.  Then, I was given this list of healthy foods to cook and eat for 2015 and guess what?  Every one of these ingredients where on the list!  Phew, I feel so grateful not to add eating healthy to the long list of resolutions.  We were already on our way to healthy eating!

We know that kale is good for us and it is packed with fiber.  It is all over the place right now as the new health trend.  It’s a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and cancer-fighting phytonutrients says Men’s Fitness Magazine.  The Shiitake  Mushrooms are just as beneficial.  I have heard a number of times from people who thought mushrooms where just a fungi that added calories with no health benefits.  This is far from the truth.  The American Cancer Society mentions that there are more studies that need to be conducted but that they should be a part of our diets.

Studies in animals have found antitumor, cholesterol-lowering, and virus-inhibiting effects in compounds in shiitake mushrooms….Shiitake mushrooms are promoted to fight the development and progression of cancer and AIDS by boosting the body’s immune system. These mushrooms are also said to help prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and to help treat infections such as hepatitis…

Garlic has been around for 1000 of years as has Shiitake Mushrooms.  Reader’s Digest says that garlic is another antioxidant but may also keep mosquitos away if you want to rub it on your body.  I am going to go a step further and say that it may keep some people away if you want to go bathe in it!

Lastly is the health benefits of the miso.  Now, I don’t usually add miso but its fermented soy sister tamari (no wheat soy sauce).  But because my best bud took my tamari from the fridge and hasn’t returned it, I only had red miso paste.  I like the miso better but if you don’t have any handy, use a dash of tamari.  Miso has vitamins and minerals and studies show it is good for digestion.

Now if I haven’t convinced you to make this dish with all the health benefits, you must because it just tastes so dang good.  Go for it!  Be crazy in 2015 and feel great while doing it!  Enjoy and cheers!

 

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Envisioning a Wonderful 2015

It’s New Year’s Eve!  I am thinking about this past year feeling extremely grateful for everyone and everything.  I am getting really excited about 2015 too.  There are so many new things coming up personally and professionally.  As I think about upcoming events, like moving from my home of 10 years, I am super excited about the next kitchen that I will move into.  I am envisioning a wonderful new workspace and living space for 2015.  It isn’t big or extravagant.  It is simple, warm and charming with lovely patinas.  I am envisioning happy healthy clients living their dreams with Grits and Honey’s help.  As the New Year approaches, I feel more excited about all the wonderful things that are on the horizon.

As I read through different cookbooks, like David Lebovitz’s  My Paris Kitchen, I feel so inspired to try new recipes and play with different spices.  I feel so heartened that I am on the right path of living and eating well.  I love these little inspirations and I want to sway those around me to go get inspired!  Let’s do it together.  I don’t want to make this another year gone by with dreams undone.  Let’s begin living those dreams even if it is just one simple one.  And let’s gently remind eachother when we find ourselves off track.

This past week, I decided to eat healthier before the 1st of the year so that I could get a head start on feeling good.  I also just felt like crap from all the sugar, booze and family drama I had been consuming to get through the holidays.  I find that I go through peaks and valleys of healthy eating.  The valleys are a little less and maybe that is why they affect me so greatly.  When I do eat crap, I can really feel it.  I don’t really believe in diets though.  I believe in lifestyle changes.  Life style changes won’t happen by feeling restricted or deprived.  At least, it doesn’t work for me.  Sometimes I want a little family drama and booze.

But back to being healthy…let’s take Guacamole.  An avocado is rich in so many vitamins, minerals and healthy fat.  I am hesitant to include the “fat” in the sentence because of the stigma that comes with it.  Do you know how important that fat is?  Most importantly, we need fat to live.  I am not talking about saturated fat.  I am talking about good fats from avocados, almonds, salmon, etc.  The kind of fat that makes your skin look good, lower cholesterol and improve your thinking.  Some of you already know this, but there are so many that are misinformed about food.  That topic is for another blog.

Back to the Guacamole. This snack is so easy to make, delicious, healthy, and simple.  4 ingredients plus your veggies to use for dipping.

Ingredients

2 Avocados

1/2 fresh lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

salt to taste

Directions

You have two choices on direction. 1)add all ingredients into a food processor and blitz or 2) chop up your garlic finely then mix in other ingredients by mashing the avocado and lemon juice into the garlic.  The later direction will make your guacamole a little more chunky but both are delicious.

You could leave the dip as is or if you have other ingredients you want to use, throw in that cilantro, jalapeño, tomato, or cayenne pepper.  Go crazy, or not, depending on your mood.  There is a time and place for both.

Dont always use it as a dip for corn chips!  Use it for dipping carrots, celery, or raw zucchini.  This is a great healthy filling snack or appetizer for yourself and the family.

Envision making more of this in 2015 and it will happen.  Envision yourself as healthy, happy and living your dreams and it will come true, sometimes with a better outcome than you had imagined.  Happy New Year and here’s to making and living our dreams!  Cheers!