February 22, 2017

Chewy Hermits

If you've ever spent any time in New England, you might have had a Hermit.  These are chewy, spiced cookies with big plump raisins that remind you of the holidays.  Hermits can be found in New England at any time of year, they are favorites there.

When I married my husband and went to visit New England for the first time, I was quickly introduced to these, as well as other New England favorites.

They've quickly become favorites of mine.  My husband already loved them and now our daughter does too.

I've discovered that these cookies can be made in three basic shapes.  The regular cookie, the bar cookie and the long thick rope shape that is then cut into half moon slices.  All are good, trust me.

In my research I discovered that Hermits were added to a local cookbook from the Trinity Church out of New York called Champlain Valley Book of Recipes, where this recipe was called Miss Perloa's Hermits in 1880.  Miss Perloa had a cookbook called "Appledore Cook Book" in which she had some cookie type recipes but none were labeled as a "cookie".  That same year another cookbook was published with her recipe for Hermits called "Miss Perloa's New Cook Book".

Since the time of the original recipe, it's been revised countless times.  I personally have never come up with my own version of this recipe but I'm glad I get to experience other people's masterpieces. I loved this recipe by The Lemon Bowl.  Nice and chewy, tons of flavor and lots of raisins. Delicious!

Chewy Hermits
Recipe from The Lemon Bowl

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup dark molasses syrup
  • 1 large eggs
  • 2 cups raisins
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Spray a standard jelly roll sheet (cookie sheet with sides) with non-stick spray, set aside.
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. The flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, salt and cloves.
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the butter and the brown sugar and mix until light and fluffy on medium speed.
  5. Add the molasses and mix.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time and mix.
  7. Slowly add the dry ingredients with the mixer on low speed. Once blended add the raisins.
  8. Spread the dough out on the prepared sheet pan and level out so it's the same thickness throughout. Use your hands.
  9. Bake for 17-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  10. Let cool before cutting into squares.

February 13, 2017

Apricot Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, there I was, munching away on dried apricots, when it hit me!  The flavors for my next cookie! Chocolate and apricot are a match made in heaven. So is orange and chocolate. So why not incorporate them into a delicious chewy cookies with little chewy chunks of goodness. 

The base of this recipe came from Pinterest.  I knew I wanted this to be a chewy cookie.  I also knew that I'd be using chocolate chips, so the base of this cookie is a yummy chocolate chip cookie that I found and have made once before.  Then it was just a matter of adding in the other flavors I wanted. 

I was able to control myself long enough to wait until they cooled out of the oven.  This is needed in order to achieve optimal chewiness. Mission accomplished!  Perfectly chewy, large, full of flavor.  The orange flavor is not too strong but pairs well with the apricots and the chocolate chips.  The small chunks of apricots are a wonderful addition.  I'm in love with this cookie.  

Apricot Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies
Modified from Host The Toast

  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 tsp orange juice
  • 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup dried apricots, finely diced
Cooking Directions
  1. In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, orange zest and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the sugars and cooled butter and beat for 1 minute.
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and the orange juice. Mix.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients in and mix until combined.
  5. Add in the chocolate chips and apricot pieces and stir until combined. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Let your oven preheat to 325º
  7. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper
  8. Scoop out 1/4 cup of dough and place on a cookie sheet. Leave room for them to spread out while cooking
  9. Bake for 12-18 minutes, rotating once halfway through. Remove when the edges are golden brown
  10. Let sit on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack

February 8, 2017

Panera Bread Macaroni and Cheese

As part of my ongoing quest to make homemade macaroni and cheese that my daughter will actually eat, I tried this new one last night. 

I figured this was a sure winner, since she loves Panera Macaroni and Cheese. 

I was wrong about her liking it, but I LOVED it. 

Is it wrong that I'm actually happy she didn't like it, so I can have the rest? Her reasons for not liking it were: The consistency was thicker than the store version.  So, the flavor was a match but because I let it cool down (and it thickened) she wouldn't eat it. This is the story of my life.  Do you feel sorry for me? 

Well, obviously you just have to add a little more milk to get the consistency to thin out but she'd already determined that it wasn't right and therefore nothing would change her mind. 

It's OK, I'll eat it. 

Panera Bread Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe from Food Folks and Fun

  • 16 oz rigati pasta
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (2% or whole)
  • 6 slices American cheese (white) cut into strips
  • 8 oz extra sharp cheddar (white) grated
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce
Cooking Directions
  1. Boil the pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute. Add the milk and whisk until thick. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Now turn off the heat and add the mustard, salt and hot sauce.
  3. Add the cooked, drained pasta and stir well.
  4. Serve hot