Aronia Berry Oatmeal Cookies

IMG_3223Aronia berries are a fun ingredient to experiment with. Sunset Valley Organics’ Aronia berries are unique in that they are so packed full of nutrients that the brix (natural sugar content) is actually a lot higher than average (which is around 15-18, while Sunset Valley Organics is averaging 22), and this makes the tannins in the berry not so much at the for front of the taste. Instead a sweetness starts to come through, which is highlighted more through any heating process. Not just baking, but also jams, syrups, or juice. 

Typically this is a good indication of nutrition in our foods across the board; nutrition=more flavor. Have you ever had a strawberry that was really bland? What about a carrot? Or if you’ve ever grown your own garden there is a huge taste difference, that would be from the minerals in your soil compared to the soil of the farmer selling to the supermarket. 

So I’ve been baking, and experimenting with Aronia berries, since they are so foreign to so many. I’ve developed two yummy recipes for Aronia berry oatmeal cookies. One is a super healthy, gluten free version, but today I’m starting off with a twist on a classic. The Oatmeal Rasin Cookie get a little make over! (I’ll post my gluten free recipe next week sometime.)

Ingredients:IMG_3220

  • 1 C. All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 TSP Baking Soda
  • 1/4 TSP Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened to room temp
  • 1/2 C Brown Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 TSP Vanilla Extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Old-Fashioned Oats
  • 1 C Dried Aronia Berries

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar for 1-2 minutes until well combined. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until fully combined.
  3. Slowly mix in the flour mixture and continue mixing until just combined, then mix in the oats and raisins until fully combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  4. Cover the cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside. 
  6. Once the dough is chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and scoop out 2 tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough and dropped onto the prepared baking sheets. Make sure to leave a little room between each ball of cookie dough as they will spread a little while they bake. 
  7. Bake in separate batches at 350 F. for 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly golden brown and the top is set. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. 
Notes: 

-Prep time includes 30 minutes of chilling time 

-Cookies may be stored on the counter in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

What’s For Dinner: Pancetta & Asparagus Puff Pastry

I have been having the longest work weeks for the last two weeks now and haven’t really been all that inspired to do anything but consume coffee and sleep. But Friday bring freedom, I have class all afternoon so that means I only have a half day of work. On my way home from class I stopped and got a few things because our fridge was empty-I’m not exaggerating, all we had was milk, carrots, and left over pizza.

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I love the textures of this dish!

I think my inspiration for this came from a pic I saw on instagram, all I know is it is super simple to make, is versatile for function, makes great for left overs, and doesn’t take that much time. This dish is perfect as a snack, an appetizer, an entree, and as leftovers.

 

I think my favorite thing about this dish is how the salt from the Pancetta brings out the flavors of the asparagus, and all the ingredients just marry so well together.

What You Need:

  • 1-2 Sheets of Puff Pastry-Thawed
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 TBSP Water
  • 1/2 C. Diced Pancetta
  • 1/2-3/4 C. Italian Blend Shredded Cheese
  • 1/2 lb. Asparagus- Cleaned & Trimmed
  • 1/4 C. Roughly Chopped Mushrooms
  • Parmesan for sprinkling

*Note: You could also try adding olives, yum!

For Sauce *Optional*:

  • 2 tsp. Mustard
  • 2 tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp. Honey

What You Do:

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  1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prepare baking sheet with either parchment paper or non-stick spray.
  3. Lay puff pastry on prepared baking sheet (depending on the size of baking tray you can use either one or two puff pastry sheets, I used two in my photos), fold edges about 1/2 inch inward. Press down with fork to secure. Puncture inside of puff pastry square several times with fork.
  4. Layer half of the Italian cheese blend on the puff pastry. Then arrange the asparagus evenly on top of the cheese. Next evenly distribute the pancetta, and roughly chopped mushrooms. Add the rest of the Italian cheese blend, and top with a sprinkling of parmesan.
  5. Mix egg & water together, brush edges of puff pastry with egg wash.
  6. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
  7. To make the sauce: combined mustard, lemon juice, & honey.
  8. Use paper towel to blot away any liquid released from the asparagus.
  9. Let cool 5 minutes.
  10. Drizzle with honey mustard sauce if desired, serve & enjoy!

We barely had any left overs but those we did have we ate the next morning with a scramble, it was so delicious!

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Nutrient Dense Energy Bites

Energy Bites are the perfect afternoon snack for me at work. My job is often so busy that I forget (or don’t have time for) lunch so having these little power balls on hand makes things a lot easier! And, bonus: they are silly easy to make- my secret is I make a double batch then split it into however many add ins I want to make. This week I split my double batch into five.

I did have an extra motive for doing a double batch this week.  At work we got some new products in- berry powders! Berry powders are a great way to get the concentrated nutrition from the berries-and the powders are very versatile. So I wanted to play with them a bit, and I also needed a food “prop” for some product photos that I worked on this week for the shop’s website.

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