Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Keeping it warm and bright…

Bring on the cold, winter nights….well, as cold as we can get here in San Diego!  For me, anything below 75 degrees is cold!  I’ll gladly fire up the oven and bake a batch of cookies just to get the house warm.  And that’s just what I’ve been up to today…


 Chocolate Peppermint Cookies (gluten free)

Yields 2 dozen cookies


1/2 cup Earth Balance

3 (1 oz) squares unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 cup organic brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1/4 cup non-dairy milk ( I used unsweetened Almond milk)

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp peppermint extract

1 3/4 cups Pamela’s Gluten-free baking mix (can sub in all-purpose gluten free flour, but you’ll need to add 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp xanthum gum)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup chocolate mint candies, chopped (I used Hershey’s)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare your baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.

In a glass measuring cup, measure your milk and add lemon juice, mix together and let sit.

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate; stir until smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together sugars and egg; add milk mixture and peppermint extract.  Beat in the melted chocolate mixture.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the Pamela’s baking mix and salt.  (Or, if using an all-purpose flour…mix together with baking soda, baking powder, xanthum gum and salt).  Gradually add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly.  Fold in the chopped chocolate mint candies.

Place the dough in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, or until the dough gets firmer.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto your prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm.  Cool for a couple of minutes before removing from the baking sheet onto a wire rack.

 DSCN2053 These tasty morsels are melt-in-your-mouth good!  They have a slight crunch on the  outside and are oh-so-soft on the inside with just the right amount of peppermint flavor.  So hard not to eat the entire batch in one day!!!  I hide them in the freezer, so it’s harder for me to sneak them from the cookie jar!

As you can tell, there’s no doubt that a plate full of cookies will brighten my family’s day and I look forward to bringing some joy (in the form of cookies) to those that surround us this Christmas season!  Anyone want some cookies? 

And now that the night’s are getting colder, it is surely time to bring on the soup!  Tonight we tried something new and it will certainly be coming around again.  It had a little somethin’, somethin’ for everyone….pasta for the picky ones and lots of veggies for mama!  A family-friendly, good-for-you meal that you can cook in less time than it takes to order a pizza!DSCN2099 Spinach-Tortellini Soup

Yields 4 servings


1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 ribs celery, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 14-oz can low-sodium diced tomatoes, with juice

6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups water

3 0z. baby spinach, sliced into ribbons (about 3 cups)

1 package fresh store-bought tortellini (I used cheese, but you could use whatever flavor you like)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Heat the oil in a 4 or 6 quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent and the garlic is softened, another 3 minutes.

Add the carrot, celery, oregano, thyme, and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juices along with the broth and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Add the spinach and tortellini and cook until the tortellini are cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.

This soup will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  Serve topped with Parmesan cheese. 

DSCN2100 This soup was easy to pull together and really hit the spot on such a cold evening!


May the warmth of season fill your home this Christmas!



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