BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES

I set out to make Cherry Chocolate Chip cookies but discovered a cache of dried blueberries in my pantry–temptation. Yes, I bypassed the dried cherries, which turned out to be a good move. Another good move was cutting back on the flour so I could toss in a bit of oatmeal (love oatmeal cookies). The result: one of those rare cookies that tastes terrific hot, warm, or cold. To wit, had I not foreseen their popularity and stashed half in the fridge for lunches this week, there might not be any left. Score!

3/4  cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1-1/4 cup granulated white sugar

2 eggs

2 tbsp milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1-1/4 cups old-fashioned oats

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole dried blueberries

3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2) In large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy; on medium-low speed, add eggs, milk, vanilla extract, baking soda, and salt; mix until combined

3) On low speed, add oats; gradually add flour and mix until just combined

4) Stir blueberries and chocolate chips into cookie dough

5) Drop cookie dough by overly generous tablespoonfuls onto non-stick cookie sheet; bake 14-16 minutes until cookies begin to go gold; remove from oven and cool 5 minutes on cookie sheets; transfer to wire racks; enjoy hot, warm, or cold

Makes: 36 palm-sized cookies (that would be my girlie palm, not senior’s)

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BERRY-BERRY-MANGO CHICKEN SALAD WITH APRICOT VINAIGRETTE

This salad started out as Mango Chicken Salad, but when I collected the mangoes from the fridge, the fresh strawberries and blueberries on the bottom shelf caught my eye and I envisioned a colorful (and tasty) salad. And that’s exactly what my guys sat down to this evening–and devoured. It was like dessert for dinner.  Junior Too’s Testimonial: “This salad is to me like Chinese Hot and Sour Soup is to bro.” Translation: Big Time Keeper.

Berry-Mango Chicken Salad

4 cups deli-roasted chicken, shredded

2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cubed

3/4 cup fresh strawberries, quartered

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 red onion, quartered and sliced thin

2 stalks celery, sliced thin

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1/2 cup apricot preserves

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp Thai Style Chili Sauce (optional, but gives a nice nip)

1/4 cup cashew halves

1) To large bowl add chicken, mango, strawberries, blueberries, red onion, celery, and romaine lettuce; toss well to combine and set aside

2) To small bowl add apricot preserves, olive oil, champagne vinegar, Dijon mustard, and chili sauce; stir well and pour over salad; toss to combine

3) Divide salad between 4 large plates, scatter cashews over top, and serve

Servings: 4 hearty dinner-sized portions

BLUEBERRY-ORANGE-POMEGRANATE SMOKED SALMON SALAD

Bear with me while I say it again: I’m not a fan of fish, and as for salmon… But since it isn’t all about me, I make sure Senior and Junior Too get their weekly quota of stuff from the sea. Fortunately, I chose smoked salmon for this salad, of which I think I just might become fond. Of course, the blueberries, mandarin oranges, pomegranate seeds, Craisins, goat cheese, and pecans played a big part in making this meal a keeper. Enjoy!

BLUEBERRY-ORANGE-POMEGRANATE SMOKED SALMON SALAD

6 cups romaine lettuce

4 cups spinach

1 cup fresh blueberries

1-11 oz can mandarin oranges, drained and segments chilled

1  cup pomegranate seeds (arils)

1/2 cup Craisins

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

1/4 cup pecans

8 oz smoked salmon, flaked

Dressing suggestion: raspberry vinaigrette (our favorite is Ken’s Steakhouse Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette)

1) To large salad bowl, add romaine and spinach and toss to combine.

2) Scatter over lettuce and spinach: blueberries, mandarin oranges, pomegranate seeds, Craisins, goat cheese, and pecans.

3) Top salad with salmon and serve with dressing

Servings: 4-5

FLOURLESS LEMON-BLUEBERRY POLENTA CAKE

This delicious cake is flourless because almond meal is used in place of flour, is taken up a notch with blueberries because I adore the combination of lemon and blueberries, and is accented with cornmeal (polenta) because it just tastes good–in the words of Senior, “It’s like…like…the best cornbread ever.” Yeah.

CAKE:

1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened (save the wrappers for buttering your pan)

1 cup extra fine white sugar

3 eggs

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

2 cups almond meal

3/4 cup cornmeal

zest of 2 lemons (juice will be used in syrup)

1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)

SYRUP:

juice of 2 lemons

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup blueberries (frozen again)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees; using butter wrappers, butter the bottom and sides of a 10″ tart pan (or you can use a pie pan)

2) Using a blender or stand mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy

3) Reduce blender/mixer speed to low and beat in eggs, baking powder, almond meal, and cornmeal; stir in lemon zest

4) Spoon cake mixture into pan, smooth top flat, and press blueberries (1 cup)  halfway into batter; bake in oven 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean

5) During the cake’s final 5-10 minutes of baking, prepare the syrup: To small saucepan, add lemon juice, confectioner’s sugar, and blueberries; over medium heat, stirring often, cook until sugar dissolves, about 7-8 minutes

6) Remove cake from oven and let sit 5 minutes; using a toothpick, poke several dozen holes in cake top; drizzle syrup over cake; serve warm or cold–it’s delish either way

Servings: 8 biggies or 16 skinnies

Note: adaptation of Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Polenta Cake recipe

BLUEBERRY CHEESE BLINTZES

What’s better than eating dessert first? How about eating dessert for dinner? That’s what we did with this dish, which can be justified (kind of) if you consider that ricotta and cream cheese figure prominently in the recipe. I love spoiling my guys 🙂

CREPES:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tbsp granulated white sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

pinch sea salt

1 tbsp + 1 tsp unsalted butter, melted

non-stick cooking spray

FILLING:

1-3/4 cups part-skim milk ricotta cheese

4 oz light cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1/3 cup granulated white sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, divided (1-1/2 cups for filling, 1/2 cup for topping)

BLUEBERRY SYRUP:

3/4 cup blueberry jam

1/4 cup hot water

1) CREPES: To medium bowl, add flour and sugar; beat in eggs, milk, vanilla extract, salt, and melted butter; refrigerate 1 hour;

2) FILLING: To medium bowl, add all filling ingredients except blueberries and beat until smooth; refrigerate

3) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

4) CREPES: Heat large skillet over medium heat and lightly spray with cooking spray; pour enough batter into skillet to make a 6″ diameter crepe; cook 1-2 minutes each side until lightly golden; remove from skillet with spatula and set aside; make remaining crepes in same manner (you should be able to make 12-16 crepes)

5) Lightly oil an 11×7 baking dish

6) Set aside 1 cup of filling (to be used as topping); divide remaining filling between crepes, spooning approximately 2 tbsp of filling down center of each crepe; set aside 1/2 cup blueberries (to be used as topping); divide remaining 1-1/2 cups of blueberries between crepes, spooning approximately 1 tbsp blueberries over filling of each crepe; roll crepes and place seam side down in baking dish

7) Spoon reserved filling down center of crepes, followed by reserved blueberries

8) BLUEBERRY SYRUP: Mix blueberry jam and hot water until smooth; pour over crepes; bake crepes in oven 25-30 minutes; ring the dinner bell!

Servings: 4-6