mangia con me!

Just a college girl who wants to brighten the world with food, photos and fun.

TORTINE PER PASQUA… Berry Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

At Syracuse, the dining halls have (in my opinion) great applesauce cake and zucchini bread. Those desserts are a few of the dishes I actually look forward to when I eat at the dining hall. I haven’t baked anything with zucchini in a long time, so I wanted to try something new with these—Berry Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins!

First of all, this batter smells heavenly. The spices filled my kitchen with a warm, autumn-y aroma, it was awesome. The zucchini and the applesauce keeps the muffins moist, and they were already going to be moist and fresher longer because of the liners (a little tip I learned from Giada on the Food Network—bake muffins in liners because it helps them stay moist). The spices came home in the flavor of the muffins, too, adding that warm autumn-ness behind the star flavors from the berries and the chocolate chips. I loved how bright and slightly tart the berries were, even after being baked, and how their flavors contrasted with the deep, almost roasted flavor from the chocolate chips. And the presentation is just great. I love how the green from the zucchini and the purples and pinks of the berries marble, freckle, and stain the muffins—they look so unique and pretty in their Easter liners.

Berry Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Yields about 18 muffins

Ingredients:

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar (I use 1/4 cup light brown sugar and 1/4 cup dark brown sugar)

1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (about one large zucchini)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup frozen berries, thawed

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preparations:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare muffin tins with liners, or spray with non-stick spray.

2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, applesauce, vanilla, and sugars. Fold in zucchini.

3. Add flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon to wet ingredients. Fold in berries and chocolate chips gently.

4. Transfer batter into muffin tins using a 1/4 cup measure. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Remove and let cool in tins on wire rack for five minutes. Remove muffins from tins and let cool completely on wire rack. Store in an air-tight container.

SAPORITI NUBI… Spiced Pecan Cranberry Cookies

I opened my pantry this morning and discovered a ton of box cake mix in a small, dark, neglected corner. I’m bringing most of the boxes back to school with me for my friends and I to use, but I couldn’t help getting in one recipe with a box of cake mix before I left home—Spiced Pecan Cranberry Cookies!

It was so excited to watch these cookies in the oven because they puffed up so nicely. When I tasted one, I was not surprised to have a fluffy, light cookie, but I was surprised to have the pleasant scent of cinnamon immediately hit my nose. It wasn’t overpowering, but just enough to make you say, “Oh, there’s cinnamon in this.” The cookies have a nice airy consistency, almost like eating a cloud of cinnamon-y, nutty, cranberry-y goodness. I really like the contrast between the fluffiness of the cooke and the crunch from the pecans and the chew of the dried cranberries. Hopefully my friends will enjoy them, too.

Spiced Pecan Cranberry Cookies

Yields about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

1 (18.25 ounce) package vanilla cake mix

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup water

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup roasted pecans, roughly chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

Preparations:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray.

2. Combine cake mix, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl and mix. Add oil, applesauce, water, eggs, and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix slowly to incorporate thoroughly. Fold in pecans and cranberries.

3. Using a tablespoon measure, portion batter onto prepared baking sheets, placing each cookie about 2 inches apart from one another. Bake for 15 minutes, until tops of cookies are firm and turn golden. Remove and let rest on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove from sheets and let cookies cool completely on wire racks. Store in an air-tight container.

RISOTTO CON PESTO… Red Pecan Pesto and Pea Risotto

After being inspired by a recipe in the latest Food Network magazine, my mom and I decide to mix two of our family’s favorite foods—risotto and pesto, and born was this delicious bowl—Red Pecan Pesto and Pea Risotto!

Sorry for the terrible picture. All I had was my Blackberry on hand. But all you really need to know is how well a creamy pesto pairs with a traditional, creamy risotto milanese. In fact, this recipe is basically a typical risotto milanese recipe (saffron is the signature of Milano-inspired risotto) just with added pesto. The pesto deepens the flavor of the risotto, adding a distinct bright, peppery bite. The peas and ham add texture, and the entire dish is nicely colored by the burnt yellow saffron and the vibrant orange-red of the pesto. It’s a very pretty bowl of rice, and I’m almost sad I didn’t take a better picture—but it was too good to eat, so I’m happy in the sense that I didn’t waste any time to dig in!

Red Pecan Pesto and Pea Risotto

Yields 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic

1 1/2 cups rice

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup frozen peas

2 slices ham, chopped

5-6 cups broth (veggie, beef, chicken, any you choose)

1 packet saffron (optional)

1/2 cup red pesto (recipe below)

1/3 cup grated cheese (I recommend Parmesan, Asiago, Pecorino, or another salty cheese)

Red Pecan Pesto:

3-4 cloves garlic

1 large roasted red pepper

8-10 sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted in boiling water

1/4 cup roasted pecans

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Asiago cheese (or any salty cheese you prefer)

cracked black pepper

a pinch of ground thyme

a pinch of red pepper flakes

Preparations:

1. Place olive oil in a large, cast-iron pot (or regular pot), and saute the onions. Once onions become fragrant, add garlic and saute until they release aroma. Add ham and stir.

2. Add rice and stir to toast. Once rice becomes semi-golden, add white wine and stir. When all the wine has been absorbed by the rice, add ladles of the prepared broth until the broth just covers the rice.

3. Stir occasionally, and once the rice has absorbed all the liquid, repeat and cover rice again with ladles of broth. Repeat until rice is almost completely cooked, about 20-30 minutes.

4. Make the pesto: place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse in 5-second intervals until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

5. During the last five minute of cooking, first add the saffron and red pecan pesto, and stir until the saffron colors the risotto. Finally, add the grated cheese, stir vigorously to thicken the risotto, and cover the pot. Let cook for the remaining time and serve hot.

PER L’AMORE DEL CIBO INDIANO… Chicken Dopiaza

My family loves Indian food. Well, I should say that my dad loves Indian food, and because of him, we’ve tried some Indian food and we really like it now, too. My mom tried to make a classic Indian recipe a while back, and it was a hit with my dad—that’s how you know it’s good by our family’s standards. My mom made a point to have the ingredients ready for me to make this tasty Indian dish for myself—Chicken Dopiaza!

I feel like Indian food must be so complicated to make, and I’m sure some dishes require more work than others, but this dopiaza is very simple to make. All the ingredients are added in steps, and if you follow the steps and allow the right amount of time for cooking with each, the dish should come out just like your typical Indian-restaurant dopiaza. The best part about this dish for me is the spices—ginger, coriander, cumin, chili powder, oh my! Cumin is one of my absolute favorite spices, and it really comes through in this dish, deepening its flavor and aroma. It’s so warm and satisfying, but not too heavy, which is nice because you can have a full plate and feel like you ate a good dinner, but not too much. I also love the different layers of onions in the dish. “Do” means double in Hindi, and “piaza” refers to the onions. I like having the smaller pieces of onion blend into the sauce, chicken, and garlic mixture, and then having larger pieces of onion that you can still bite into and taste their rich flavor. If and when I make it on my own, I’d try adding a spoonful of Greek yogurt to make the juices even creamier and smoother. Served atop fluffy basmati rice (we didn’t have basmati, so we just used regular rice), and you’re good to go!

Chicken Dopiaza

Yields 3-4 servings

Adapted from Food.com Chicken Dopiaza

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil (peanut or olive recommended)

3 large chicken breasts, cubed

3 large onions, 2 chopped fine and one chopped in large chunks

3-4 cloves garlic

3 bay leaves

8 cardamom pods

4 cloves

3 dried arbol chilies

8 black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup water

Preparations:

1. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and saute the large onion pieces until tender and translucent. Remove and keep aside.

2. Add the remaining oil and saute the bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, chilies and peppercorns.

3. When they crackle, add the smaller onions together with the garlic and ginger, and saute for 3 minutes.

4. Add the ground spices and salt and cook for 3 minutes.

5. Add the water and tomatoes and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken.

6. Add the chicken pieces and continue to cook for 12-15 minutes, until chicken is almost no longer pink.

7. Add the reserved large onion pieces. Cover and cook for a further 8-10 minutes until chicken has cooked completely. Serve over rice.

PROCRASTINAZIONE CON FOCACCINE TONDE… Sun-Dried Tomato and Asiago Scones!

Being home for spring break means quite a few things for me—including cooking. My mom and I have certain dishes we plan on making scheduled out for the week, but these little babies were a spontaneous decision. Unfortunately I have work for school to do over spring break, so I guess I thought the best way for me to procrastinate would be to bake something for dinner—Sun-Dried Tomato and Asiago Scones!

I would have loved to bake something sweet, and I’m sure I will later in the week, but I wanted to make something my entire family could have no matter what Lent-restriction they chose. My parents usually give up sweets, so desserts were a no-go. I decided to make savory scones for two reasons, 1. I haven’t made a scone before, and 2. I wanted something to go with out roasted ham and broccoli dinner. I found a recipe on Savory Sweet Life that I knew I could put my own, special twist on, using the ingredients I had in my kitchen.

This recipe is an awesome basic scone recipe, and it gives you the freedom to experiment with taste ingredients. The dough of the scone is exactly what I was going for—light yet weighty and fluffy in the middle, with a slightly chewy/crunchy, flaky exterior shell. The Asiago really took these scones home by filling the room with the warm scent of cheese, and each bite with distinct flavor. Next time I might try using fresh rosemary because I think the rosemary was a little lost behind the scents and flavors of the Asiago and the salty sun-dried tomatoes. They were a nice, different accompaniment to our dinner, and I’ll definitely be making scones again!

Sun-Dried Tomato and Asiago Scones

Yields 8-12 scones

Adapted from Savory Sweet Life’s Roasted Tomato Feta Scones

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1-2 tablespoons dried or fresh rosemary, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

1/2 cup skim milk

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 – 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, grated

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Preparations:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place flour, rosemary, salt, garlic, and butter into a food processor and pulse in 3-second intervals until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

3. Transfer flour mixture into a large bowl. Stir in milk, Greek yogurt, and egg, mixing the dough with a wooden spoon or by hand until it comes together. Add Asiago and sun-dried tomatoes. Gently mix ingredients until all are evenly distributed. On a floured surface, form a ball with the dough. Flatten into a 1-inch disk and cut into 8 pieces (12 if you want smaller scones).

4. Place scones on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven, and let cool completely on baking sheet on a wire rack.

CUCINANDO AL FORNO CON LE AMICHE… Chocolate Cinnamon Bread Muffins!

Guess what? I got to bake yesterday night at college! Of course, not in any kitchen of mine, but in the kitchen of two very good friends who live just a hop, skip, and half a jump away from me. Before going to the annual Syracuse University Drag Show Finals (one of the most fun nights you’ll ever have in Syracuse—go if you ever get the chance!), three friends and I baked these delicious Chocolate Cinnamon Bread Muffins and made a lovely dinner of red pepper pesto pasta, roasted asparagus, and fresh bread. Yum!

… I should also mention a bag of pretzel M&Ms were devoured over the course of the night. Disclaimer.

My friend Laura found this recipe on My Wooden Spoon for a bread that married two of my favorite flavors, chocolate and cinnamon. In her small yet efficient kitchen, we set to to work on these babies after a much needed trip to Wegmans to pick up supplies for the night. They were surprisingly easy to make, and aside from cutting the recipe in half and adjusting the cooking time to meet the needs of muffins rather than bread loaves, we followed the recipe closely. We were all really impressed with the results—weighty muffins that perfectly balanced chocolatey and cinnamon-y flavors, without being too heavy in the stomach. The insides were soft and fluffy, and the sugary coating gave the tops a nice, tiny bit of texture and added sweetness (especially since the muffins themselves were not super sweet, this was a nice touch). They were the best ending to an equally delicious home-cooked meal—Laura and I congratulated ourselves on a job well done and we will no doubt be baking in the future together! She wants to try making biscotti, and I have a ton of recipes🙂 We’re essentially a match made in culinary heaven, and I think our friends are just as pleased about that as we are!

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread Muffins

(yields 12 muffins)

Adapted from Chocolate Cinnamon Bread on My Wooden Spoon

Ingredients

Batter

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 cup flour

3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup skim milk

2 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cocoa-Spice Sugar Topping

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder

pinch of ground ginger

Preparations:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease one regular muffin tin.

2. Make batter: In a bowl, cream butter and sugar together (in an electric mixer is easiest, but my friend Laura mixed it all by hand—she’s got guns), until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating each completely before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together skim milk, water, and vanilla. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk mixture to butter while slowly mixing. Divide the batter among the muffin tins evenly.

4. Make the topping: In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and ginger. Sprinkle the surfaces of the muffins with the topping. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely, run a thin knife around the sides of muffins to release and remove from pan.

CIBO CINESE DALL’ITALIA… Spicy Chicken & Broccoli Stir-Fry with Fried Rice

Guess who’s back after a long hiatus!

I apologize to readers for not posting in a very long time. I was studying abroad in Florence, Italy, for the past four months, and my free time was limited. Now I plan on getting back into the swing of thing with new recipes and tips as usual! Hopefully some of them will be inspirations from my semester abroad—like this one. You may be thinking, “Um, stir-fry was inspired by a semester in Italy?” Yes. Chinese food inspired from the country of Italy. In an attempt to recreate amazing spicy fried rice from my favorite Chinese restaurant in Florence, I created this homemade Chinese-food dish with a little help from my friends at Food Network Magazine—Spicy Chicken & Broccoli Stir-Fry with Fried Rice!

Believe it or not, Chinese food is really popular in Italy. There’s a ton of rosticcerie (take-out restaurants with hot and cold foods) specifically for Chinese food. My friends and discovered the BEST rosticceria near our campus called Il Panda (Via Fra’ Bartolomeo, before the intersection with Via Masaccio), and I specifically fell in love with their Hot Spicy Rice with Five Vegetables. I vowed to recreate it, or at least try, once I returned to the States, and this is my attempt. I paired it with a Food Network Magazine recipe for Chicken & Broccolini Stir-Fry which I put my own spin on as well.

The rice turned out good, but plain. The chicken dish, actually, turned out spicier than the rice! Mixed all together, both make for a great Chinese food dinner. Thanks to the oyster sauce and cornstarch, the chicken and veggies have that great, thick sauce you typically imagine when picturing Chinese food, and the arbol chilies, red pepper flakes, and chili garlic paste give the entire dish a really nice kick of heat. Just be warned—the prep for this dish takes longer than the dish itself does to cook! Make sure you get all of your veggies chopped and prepped early, and you’ll be all set!

Spicy Chicken & Broccoli Stir-Fry

Adapted from Food Network Magazine—Serves 3-6

Ingredients:

1 egg white

1 tablespoon mirin or dry sherry

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

1/4 cup oyster sauce

2 tablespoons peanut oil

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 bunch scallions, chopped

4 small dried arbol chilies

1 tablespoon chili garlic paste

1 teaspoon Chinese five spice

2 bell peppers (any color), cut into strips

2 small jalapenos, chopped

2 bunches broccoli, cleaned and cut into florets

1/2 cup edamame

1/4 cup cashews

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Preparation:

1. Whisk egg white, mirin, and 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch in a bowl. Add chicken cubes and mix to coat the chicken. Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with oyster sauce and 1/2 cup water in a separate bowl.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil in a large skillet or wok on medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Add chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink, about 4-7 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate.

3. Increase temperature to high and heat remaining tablespoon of peanut oil in the skillet. Add onion, scallions, and chilies and stir-fry. Add chili paste and Chinese five spice and stir. Add peppers and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

4. Add chicken back into the skillet with broccoli, edamame, and cashews, and let cook for another 5 minutes. Cover if needed; if you want the veggies a little bit softer, covering the skillet will allow this to happen faster. Add oyster sauce mixture and reduce heat to medium, allowing the mixture to thicken with the chicken and veggies, about 3-4 minutes. Add sesame oil right before serving, mixing it all the way through; serve hot.

Fried Rice with Five Veggies

Adapted from Il Panda restaurant in Florence, Italy—Serves 3-6

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon peanut oil

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 small bunch scallion, chopped

1 small carrot, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

2 bell peppers (any color), chopped into small pieces

1 teaspoon Sichuan spicy sauce

1 egg

2-3 cups cooked white or brown rice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Preparations:

1. Heat peanut oil on high in a wok. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and stir-fry until fragrant.

2. Add onions, scallions, and carrots and stir-fry until just softened, about 2-3 minutes.

3. Add celery and peppers. Add Sichuan sauce and stir. After 2-3 minutes, move veggies to one side of the wok. Add egg beside veggies and quickly break up the yolk and mix into veggies. Cook and make sure all of the egg is completely done.

4. Add rice and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes. Add sesame oil right before serving, mixing it all the way through the rice. Serve warm.

CUCINARE AL FORNO PER L’AUTUNNO… Date-Nut Cupcakes!

Autumn is my favorite time of year, especially when it comes to baking. I get a weird kind of high when pumpkins are in season and the aroma of cinnamon, apples, nutmeg, and cloves fill my house. For me, autumn is the season of warmth, crisp weather, and love, and since I’m going to be away all autumn long on an adventure in Italy, I had to get in some fall-inspired baking before I left. With help from Martha, I made these scrumptious cupcakes that taste and smell just like my favorite season… Date-Nut Cupcakes!

I love cooking with dates, probably because I love eating them by themselves. As cliche as it sounds, they really are some of the best candy nature has to offer; sweet, chewy, and really satisfying. Putting them into cupcake batter may make some people raise their eyebrows, but it makes perfect sense to me. The dates in this recipe help break up the cupcake batter, so when you bite into it, you get the soft cake and then that chew from the dates as added texture. The toasted walnuts provide the true bite and crunch for the cupcake, and help to flavor the batter with a hint of nuttiness. Combined with the warmth from the cinnamon and nutmeg, the dates and walnuts give these cupcakes a wonderful autumn feel. And topped with classic cream cheese icing, how can you go wrong?!

Date-Nut Cupcakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

10 ounces plump, dried dates, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Icing

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons nonfat milk

7 ounces cream cheese

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

cinnamon sugar (optional)

chocolate sprinkles (optional)

Preparations:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices in a bowl.

2. In another bowl, combine dates with boiling water and applesauce. Stir until dates are soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in sugars, egg, and vanilla until well incorporated. Add flour mixture and stir with a spatula until combined. Fold in walnuts.

3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until testers come out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to wire rack and let sit for five minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin tin and let cool completely on wire racks before decorating with icing.

4. Make icing: Combine vanilla extract and milk into a small bowl. Cream the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer, about 4-5 minutes until completely incorporated. Alternate adding confectioners’ sugar and vanilla-milk mixture* while mixer continues to run until a thick icing forms.

5. Pipe icing onto icing with a plastic bag or icing bag. Decorate with cinnamon sugar and/or chocolate sprinkles, if desired.

*Don’t worry if you don’t use all the vanilla-milk mixture, I didn’t! You want to be left with more of the vanilla-milk mixture and use all sugar, this will ensure a thicker icing.

“Food Tip” del giorno—Fava Beans!

courtesy of gastronomersguide.com

Store fava beans in their pods for up to five days in a plastic bag the crisper section of your refrigerator. When ready to cook, remove beans from pods, blanch beans to ensure easy removal of their outer shells, and then cook as desired.

Check out this recipe for Brown Risotto with Summer Squash, Favas, and Mint from Serious Eats!

UNA RICETTA PER LA ULTIMA SETTIMANA AL LAVORO… Chocolate ‘n Spice Cookies!

This recipe came from a Bob’s Red Mill mix that has been sitting in my pantry, neglected, and a few dashes of my own spiced love. And it will be the perfect treat for me to bring in to the office for my last week of interning at The Pohly Company… Chocolate ‘n Spice Cookies!

Of course, these cookies were super quick to make—ah the joys of baking mix! It’s literally mix wet, mix dry into wet, shape, bake, done. My friend from college gave me this bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cookie Mix because she knew she wasn’t going to use it, so I finally dug it out of the pantry and put it to the test. I’m always a little skeptical about baking mixes, just because I like to make my recipes from scratch. But there’s nothing wrong with cheating on time a little, right?

And it was worth it. The cookies are unique in texture and flavor, but don’t skip on tastiness just because they’re gluten free or from a mix. In fact, I think the flours the mix uses—a mix of garbanzo flour, fava bean flour, potato starch, among others—give the cookies a texture similar to oatmeal raisin cookies; soft, chewy, with a little bit of grit, yet very airy and almost fluffy in the middle. I added a mix of spices because I wanted to create a spiced chocolate chip cookie, something you don’t see very often. I think the combination of the spices and the cocoa sweetness from the chocolate chips gives the cookies a nice balance of flavors and aromas.

Chocolate ‘n Spice Cookies

Yields about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 egg

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 package Bob’s Red Mill GF Chocolate Chip Cookies Mix

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preparations:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

2. Whisk applesauce, egg, water, and vanilla in a large bowl.

3. Add cookie mix, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to the wet mixture and mix with a spatula. Dough may be hard to mix once well incorporated.

4. Using a spoon or a melon-baller, place cookies on prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch or two between each. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Remove and let sit on wire racks for 5 minutes. Take cookies off sheet and let cool completely on wire racks. Store in an air-tight container.