I’ve got a few different cookie recipes to share with you for the holiday season, and I figured I may as well start with my favorite so that you don’t have any excuse not to make them. These chocolate fluff cookies come from the same recipe booklet from America’s Test Kitchen as the much-loved chocolate turtle cookies from last year. I’ve been wanting desperately to make them ever since I got the booklet a year ago. How I’ve resisted that gooey, fluffy chocolate covered center this long is a mystery.
And you would never guess it, but these are actually ridiculously easy to make. The most complicated part of the entire process was clearing out enough space in my freezer to lay a cookie tray in there that would lay perfectly flat. Who has that kind of room in their freezer? Are we the only ones that keep our freezer stocked with everything from leftovers, frozen peas and corn, veggie burgers, the remains of a can of chipotle peppers, nuts, coffee, and backup frozen meals from Trader Joe’s for those days when we only have 15 minutes to prepare and eat a meal before heading out the door? Surely we’re not the only ones. We had to load our cooler up in order to make room, but there was never a doubt in my mind that it would be worth it.
One of the best things about the end of summer is the abundance of fresh, ripe veggies at their prime. Even better is when you have friends trying desperately to unload their gardens’ bountiful yield. So far I’ve been enjoying zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes from friends’ gardens. A coworker e-mailed me a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted some pickling cucumbers. Her CSA’s crop had just come in and they were giving them away. My first thought? Umm..not really. I’ve just been so busy lately and the idea of pickling cucumbers and canning them and everything was just a little too much. But then I learned about refrigerator pickles. All you have to do is make your pickles and let them sit in your refrigerator until you eat them all up in the next month or so. I love pickles, so I figured I should give it a try.
When Patty arrived at work with an enormous bag of cucumbers, I started having my doubts again. I got home and weighed my new bounty and quickly decided that there was no way I could use seven pounds of cucumbers. Seven pounds!! Luckily another coworker was more than happy to take 3 pounds off my hands, still leaving me with an incredible pile of cucumbers.
I have a new favorite quinoa recipe. This southwestern quinoa salad now stands right at the top of the list along with the spinach feta quinoa that I fell head over heals in love with earlier this year. This one’s got some of my favorite ingredients and flavors: black beans, fresh veggies, some southwestern chili spice, and (my favorite) delectable, creamy avocado. Oh, and of course the wonderful nutty and nutritious quinoa with its fun, slightly crunchy bite.
If the ingredients alone aren’t enough to have you running to get your keys to go to the store, consider how easy and healthy this dish is. In fact, we first made this the morning we were heading up to Vermont for the day. As much as Joseph and I love eating out, we’re pretty frugal and besides, we had to save our money to stock up on cheese, maple syrup, and our favorite Vermont pepperoni. We hadn’t thought ahead and planned on making anything, but when I woke up the morning of our day trip, I figured, hey, that recipe looked pretty simple, I bet we could make it quickly before heading out.
I had never heard of pluots before, but when I saw the bright red color (not to mention their low price) I grabbed a few along with a pint of blueberries to make a galette for some Fourth of July festivities. Yes, I know, we’re halfway through July and the Fourth has long since come and gone. I’m embarrassing late telling you about this tasty tart. I’ll spare you the excuses and divert your attention back to the matter at hand: pluots.
Pluots are part apricot and part plum, but a little closer to the plum side. To be honest, I was a little nervous when I cut the first one open and ate a slice. It was incredibly juicy and a beautiful deep red color, but its pizzazz kind of ended there. It didn’t actually taste like a whole lot.