Olive Oil Lemon Thyme Cookies!

Cookie season is here and I couldn't be happier! I've said this before, but this kind of important thing bears repeating. Cookies make the world go round, as far as I'm concerned. Sayonara candy, cake and pie. 

olive oil lemon thyme.JPG
olive oil lemon thyme 2.JPG

My youngest is dairy free, so over the years I've found some terrific recipes for dairy free cookies that satisfy my cookie craving and are also safe for all 5 of us to enjoy. These Lemon & Thyme Olive Oil Cookies have become some of our favorites! Beyond the flavor, which I can assure you as a cookie snob, is out of this world, the texture is fantastic. I'm making a triple batch of these to bring to a Christmas party.

Here's the recipe, courtesy of Une Gamine Dans La Cuisine. The original recipe calls for almond extract, but my family is nut free, so I've eliminated that. 

Lemon & Thyme Olive Oil Cookies
makes about 28-32 cookies

ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 regular-size lemons) {note: save the lemon}
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely minced thyme
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

topping
1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling

method
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar (1 cup) and lemon zest. Rub the zest into the sugar until it's evenly moistened and aromatic; Set aside to marinate for a few minutes.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and thyme; Set aside. 

Add the olive oil, egg and lemon juice, to the lemon-sugar mixture. Mix either by hand or with a mixer until smooth. (About 3-5 minutes.) Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours - this part is key. 

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

Place the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar (for rolling) into a large, shallow bowl. 

For each cookie, measure out about 2 well-rounded teaspoonfuls. Roll into balls and roll the balls through the bowl of sugar until evenly coated. {Note: Don't worry if the dough is a bit crumbly. If you work the balls of dough long enough with your palms, it will come together.} Place the sugar-coated cookies onto prepared sheets and use your hand or the bottom of a cup to flatten slightly. 

Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will have puffed up slightly but will still look pale. (Mine were just right after 8 minutes.) Remove the cookies sheets from the oven and let the cookies rest for about 3 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Recipe adapted from Mama's Gotta Bake

 

Clementine Cupcakes

Clementines are a thing of beauty. They're juicy, flavorful, high in vitamin C, perfectly transportable, easy to peel, easy to eat. The list goes on and on. Am I right? Plus, they've got to be one of the best accoutrements for a Halloween lunch. Just draw a pumpkin face on the peel and call it a day! 

Clementine Pumpkin

After buying two bags of clementines, I wanted to get creative with them. How about clementine cupcakes? My son was on board immediately. My older daughter and her friend bake together every Monday, so as it turned out, I didn't have any white sugar in the house. I used coconut sugar instead and am happy to report that the slight caramel taste it added worked out nicely for these cupcakes. These cupcakes have a bold citrus flavor, so if you're looking for more of a "hint" of citrus, reduce the amount of zest that you use. I paired it with a chocolate sour cream frosting, (because chocolate) and that recipe is also below. 

Clementine Cupcakes

Clementine Cupcakes

What you'll need: 

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of coconut sugar (or white sugar) 
2 large eggs
zest of 3 clementines (or one tightly packed tablespoon)
1/2 cup of orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Clementine segments for garnish

* Preheat the oven to 350. 
* In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar.  Slowly add in the eggs. Once thoroughly combined, add the zest, orange juice and vanilla extract. 
* In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. 
* Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and use a whisk to make sure there are no clumps. 
* Pour into a muffin tin lined with paper cups and bake for 20-24 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. 

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

What you'll need: 
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Once the chocolate chips are melted and slightly cooled, add the sour cream, vanilla and salt. Mix thoroughly. This recipe will make more than enough for your cupcakes, which is a good thing because it's kiiiiiiiiiind of irresistible! Garnish the cupcakes with clementine segments and enjoy! 
 

6 Ingredient Carrot Squash Soup

I am struck by fall every year. 

fall

Let's face it, the beauty of fall is complex and emotional, and perhaps that's part of it's allure. The whole notion of finding and appreciating such breathtaking beauty amid decay is complicated. The mood is such a departure from the carefree days of summer. 

farmers market squash

The food is also so different. Fall's harvest has such a different look and flavor profile from the bounty of produce that we pick in summer. Think of a delicate raspberry side by side with a hearty pumpkin. So when I stroll through the farmer's market and see long tables of squash and gourds, it officially hits me that summer is gone and it's time to usher in the new season. 

Nothing says fall like a flavorful soup made from root veggies, so that's exactly what I decided to make recently. But I don't want fall soups that put me into a winter hibernation. We're not there yet. I don't want fall soups that are too heavy or creamy. They should provide comfort to take the slight edge off of the newly chilly air. They also need to be easy and fast, because let's face it: with the general chaos of a new school year, there just isn't time for anything complicated. Carrot squash soup to the rescue!

carrots for soup

This soup has just 6 ingredients, it can be prepped and served in under an hour and though I made the most recent batch with chicken stock, this recipe can be made completely vegetarian.

carrot squash soup

6 Ingredient Carrot Squash Soup

Here's what you'll need:  
2 pounds of carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 pound of butternut squash chunks (from one medium butternut squash, or from a package of already prepped chunks)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
32 ounces of stock (chicken or vegetable) 
2 tablespoons of fresh sage, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnish: fresh sage and croutons

Here's what to do: 
In a soup pot on medium high heat, add the olive oil. After a few moments add the onions and reduce heat to medium. Stir until the onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add the carrots, squash and stock. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft (about 25 minutes). Add the sage. Using a stick blender, puree the soup right in the pot. If you don't have a stick blender, you can puree this soup using a traditional blender, working in batches. Add salt and pepper to taste if you'd like. 

Carrot Squash Soup

Back To School Lunches

So here we are at the end of September. I don't know about you, but for me, September is always a nightmare. Here's something that I hear all the time: "the kids are back to school, we're getting into a routine, things feel a little easier but omg. I can't believe I have to pack lunches every.single.day." 

Yeah, I get it. Lunches don't pack themselves, and it can feel like a chore. I designed the LaLa Lunchbox app to make that chore easier for parents (more about that here) but I also understand that some parents don't want to get kids involved in the lunch packing process. Handing over the reins doesn't mean you let your kid choose from everything under the sun. With the app, there's still division of responsibility; parents control what's available and kids choose from that selection. But of course, there isn't one way to pack school lunch and the world is big enough for all of us. 

Over on The feedfeed, I'm curating the school lunch feed designed to inspire all types of lunch packers. Below is a little sneak peak of what's new there... Hop on over, check it out and share with your fellow lunch packers! We're all in this together. 

Don't forget to follow along on Instagram where I share lunches and other food adventures daily. 

Leftover Pancakes

Leftover Pancakes

Antipasto from @happykidlunches

Antipasto from @happykidlunches

Deconstructed Taco from @onmykidsplate

Deconstructed Taco from @onmykidsplate

Pasta with Eggs

Between work and the early evening shuffling to tae kwon do, gymnastics or whatever else, getting a healthy dinner on the table quickly feels overwhelming at times. You too? One of my go-to weeknight dinners when I'm short on time has just four ingredients, takes less than 30 minutes to pull together and is really affordable. Here's my favorite part: all five of my family members love it! 

Spinach noodles with egg

Spinach noodles with egg

eggs

Pasta with Eggs came about one night when I started making carbonara and realized that I didn't have bacon. The process to make it is nearly identical, but this version has neither bacon nor cheese. Since that evening, this has become a staple in my house and my kids love to take the leftovers for lunch. Eggs are versatile, delicious, and nutritionally dense. One large egg has a satisfying 6 grams of protein and is high in vitamin B2 so even when I'm serving what seems like plain pasta for dinner, it is anything but plain. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that eggs are dear to my heart. (also, collecting them with my daughter on a recent farmstay was seriously cool!)

But back to the pasta... the four ingredients you'll need are pasta, eggs, butter and salt. I'm sharing my recipe with you now and hope that it serves you as well as it has served me for years. You can make it completely dairy free by substituting oil for butter. 

Here's what you'll need: 
1 pound of pasta (fresh or dry will work) 
3 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of coarse salt

Here's how to do it:
1. Cook the pasta as directed, reserve 1/8 cup of the cooking water and set it aside. Drain the rest of the pasta and set it aside as well. Here I'm using fresh spinach noodles, but really, anything will do. I've also made this with gluten free, bean pasta and it's delicious!

cooked and drained pasta.jpg

2. Add the butter to the pot that you used to cook the pasta and turn the heat on medium low. 

melt butter

3. Add the pasta back to the pot and stir to combine the melted butter. Add the reserved cooking water and then slowly add the eggs. 

adding eggs to pasta

4. When you've added the whole eggs and the egg yolk, stir with a wooden spoon to break the yolks, add the salt and combine into the pasta. 

raw eggs in the pasta

5. With the heat still on medium low, keep stirring until the eggs just cook. It will form a rich, creamy sauce. Taste it to determine whether you'd like to add more salt (or add pepper). You might have some small egg clumps. That's okay. They're still delicious! Check to make sure the temperature on your stove isn't too high. 

Stirring Pasta with Eggs

6. Have patience. It takes about 7-10 minutes of low heat for the sauce to set. These are best eaten immediately, but my kids also love them cold for lunch the next day. 

Enjoy! 

Pasta with Egg