Christmas Cookies: Cranberry Rosemary and White Chocolate

Christmas Cookies
Every year since who knows when, I’ve been making these lovely little biscotti that have a wonderful marriage of sweet, tangy and savory all packed into one crumbly bite.  This year I decided to turn my biscotti into a soft sugar cookie and I absolutely loved the results.  I took the batch to my knitting group and it got rave reviews – and those ladies are hard to please!  I just love this combination – it’s so Christmassy in color and taste.  A bit of pine essence from the rosemary and the in-season cranberries with a little snow-capped action from the white chocolate.  If you wanted a more festive presentation you could skip adding the white chocolate chips and drizzle the tops with melted white chocolate!  These are easy and bake up beautifully – perfect for your Christmas cookie exchange and more unique!

Christmas Cookies - soft sugar cookies with cranberries, rosemary and white chocolate

Christmas Cookies*
makes 2 dozen give or take

2 cups (10 oz) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS light brown sugar
1 large egg
1.5 tsp vanilla
2 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary in a medium bowl.

Cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined.  Add the cranberries and white chocolate chips and fold in until just combined.  Scoop out onto baking sheets into about a 2 tablespoon sized ball and lightly press down with your fingers to flatten out the top.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake 15 to 18 minutes, rotating halfway through.  Cool the cookies for a few minutes after they come out of the oven and then transfer to a cooling rack.  Serve with coffee and enjoy!

*base sugar cookie recipe from The New Best Recipe

Cranberry Rosemary White Chocolate Cookies

 

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Rosemary Pork Chops with Grapes and Parsnips

rosemary pork chops with parsnips and grapes
Yesterday was rainy and dark.  A cold front moved in yesterday afternoon and cooled everything down a few degrees and it put me in the most severe autumn mood.  I bought the ingredients for this dish at the beginning of this week because the forecast said there was a chance of rain every day and it just felt like fall had officially arrived!  I found this extremely autumnal recipe a few years ago in an issue of Martha Stewart Living and it became a very frequent dinner occurrence for us.  It takes literally 15 minutes from start to finish – maybe 20 if you include peeling the parsnips.   It’s perfect for a family on a budget as I can usually find discounted pork chops no matter when I go to the grocery store.  Parsnips may be hard to find at a mega grocery store, but if you can’t find them, you can substitute in carrots.  Parsnips are like carrot’s albino cousin.  Maybe slightly more bitter, but they mellow out while cooking.  The combination with the sweet grapes is perfect, though, so if you can find them, branch out and try them!  For babies, simply steam come cubed up, or puree after steaming with a little water or chicken stock!

pork chops with grapes and parsnips

Pork Chops with Parsnips and Grapes*
serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless pork chops, about 1/2″ thick
salt and pepper
2 or 3 large parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 cup red grapes
3 tsp fresh chopped rosemary

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season pork with salt and pepper and add to skillet along with parsnips. Brown pork and parsnips on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Add grapes and rosemary, and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until pork is cooked through, parsnips are tender, and grapes have just burst, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve pork with parsnips, grapes, and pan juices.

*recipe adapted for quantity from Martha Stewart Living

Rosemary Crusted Pork Chop with Coconut Milk Braised Carrots

Rosemary Pork and Carrots006

This is a good meal for many reasons.  The pork chops were actually a good thickness, and lean, and were buy one pack, get another pack for free (4 really thick chops in each package.  I get ridiculously excited for discounts in the meat department.)   I bought a 5 pound bag of carrots two weeks ago, and so I am currently looking for different ways to prepare them, and found a stunningly simple and flavorful way on one of my favorite blogs, French Foodie Baby.  Say what you will about my French obsession, but those people KNOW their food, and from a very loving depth that centers around family and love of pure ingredients.  Helene, from FFB, is one of the best writers in the myriad of food blogs out there. I literally exhale with relaxation when I read her posts.  She challenges me and inspires me and makes me want to be better at being thoughtful about what I put on the plate for my family.

The braised carrots in coconut milk was from her blog and I just took the concept and did it in a much bigger batch on my stove so that I’d have leftover finger foods for Olive for the week.  And so I could use up the never ending bag of carrots.  I swear that thing is multiplying.

I don’t know much, but I do know that pork and rosemary are best friends.  So when I saw that Helene put rosemary in with her coconut milk to braise the carrots, I thought: instant pan sauce!  And it turned out wonderful!  The extra sauce from the carrots made an amazing garnish for a thick, crispy, rosemary-infused pork chop!  I was happy with this meal and wanted to share its simplicity and comfort-food qualities with you today!

Rosemary Pork and Carrots002

 

Rosemary Pork and Carrots005

Rosemary Crusted Pork Chop with Coconut Milk Braised Carrots
serves 4-6

4 boneless pork chops, thick cut, if you can find them (the ones I found were about an inch thick)
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper – about a half teaspoon of each
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary – I would think dried would be fine, but it wouldn’t be as aromatic
4 tbs butter or olive oil for pan frying the chops

For the carrots:
1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped into half inch rounds
1 can of coconut milk
2 cloves of garlic, crushed but left mostly in tact
two sprigs of fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Get the carrots on the stove to braise first, as they take the longest.  In a deep skillet, heat the coconut milk over medium heat along with the cloves of crushed garlic and the rosemary sprigs.  Add in the carrots and let it simmer on the stove until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.  I put a lid on halfway through as to not lose too much moisture.  When the carrots are done, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

For the chops: pat them dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.  Put the flour and rosemary and a few dashes more of salt and pepper in a bowl and toss well to combine.  Coat each side of the chops in the flour mixture and set aside.  Heat the butter or olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering (or bubbling if using butter) and add in the chops, cooking about 5-6 minutes per side.  If they are browning too quickly, reduce the heat after you get a good sear/crust on each side of the chop.  If your chops are really thick, you may need to transfer them to a preheated oven to finish cooking.  I had to do this for one of the chops because it was way bigger than the rest and wouldn’t cook through without burning the crust.  At any rate, you need a meat thermometer for this because we no longer have to cook our pork to death to be safe.  Some farmer told me that no one’s gotten sick from pork in years, but everyone is still cooking it like they could.  A pink center is fine – I made sure mine got up to 150-160 and called it good, regardless of how the centers looked.

Place the chops on plates and for the sauce garnish, move the carrots to a bowl, reserving about a 1/2 cup of the coconut milk in the pan.  Taste for salt and season as necessary.  Remove the rosemary sprigs and the cloves of garlic and spoon the sauce over each chop and serve alongside the carrots.  If you don’t cook the chops too much, they will be soft enough for a baby to chew, given she has at least 3 molars, which mine does.  She loved the carrots (she’s 15 months old) and ate a few pieces of pork and called it good.  And lately, that has to be good enough for me!  For smaller babies, the carrots would be IDEAL pureed or just left in tact for finger foods.  They are so soft, sweet and a little salty – perfect! I would have blended up the pork with some coconut milk back in the 6-9 month days for Olive.

Enjoy!