Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Unique and Yummy: Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

This unique and yummy cookie recipe is credited to my great-Aunt; it's been a family favorite for decades. It takes slightly different supplies than a lot of cookie recipes, so make sure you have everything you need before beginning! It's definitely worth a few extra things on the grocery list, though.

Here's the lineup: Oranges (you just need the grated skin), shortening, cream cheese, flour, vanilla, eggs, chocolate chips (we use mini for this recipe), sugar and salt.

First, you'll want to grate your orange peel. You need 2 Tbsp. for each batch. Make sure you wash your orange first!!!

Next, a cup of shortening (I have more because I tripled the recipe - we have a big family!).

Add a cup of sugar.

Half a package of cream cheese (again, I tripled the recipe). I softened the cream cheese slightly in the microwave.

2 eggs for each batch.

And your little heap of orange zest!

Cream together and stir in 2 tsp. vanilla.

Mix 2 cups flour and a teaspoon of salt in a separate bowl and add to wet mixture.

Switch to a bigger bowl because you underestimated how much room the batter would take...and stir it all together. :)

And then...the moment all chocolate lovers wait for - add your chocolate chips! :D Like I said, we traditionally use the mini ones for this recipe. I have no idea why, but it would be just wrong to make them with regular chocolate chips. If you must divert from tradition, just don't tell me about it. :) The recipe calls for 6 oz. per batch, but I used a 12 oz. bag for this tripled recipe and it was plenty.

Stir the chocolate chips in. The batter's pretty thick, so it takes a little arm muscle. Unless, of course, you have a stand mixer, in which case, sit back and relax!

Admire the cool swirly patterns in the batter. :)

Scoop/drop onto a greased cookie sheet. I used a small scoop to make them go further, since this is a little more expensive than some cookie recipes. Bake at 35o F for 12 minutes.

Here they are, done! Pale little fellows, huh? That's something extremely important to remember about this recipe - these do not turn brown! And they hardly rise or spread at all. If you wait for them to turn brown, you will have very crunchy little cookies!

The pale hordes....

They only brown a little around the edges and on the bottom (see below), but they are done. Don't fry the poor little things to death!

These are a little different, but definitely worth it. They're excellent warm, but are even better the next day as the subtle orange flavor settles into the cookie. Keep them stored in an airtight container and they should keep well for a few days. If you're in the mood for chocolate chip cookies but want to break a little with tradition, give these a try! :D

Here's the complete recipe in more compact form:

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 C Crisco

1 C sugar

1/2 package cream cheese

2 eggs

2 T grated orange peel

2 tsp. vanilla

2 C flour

1 tsp. salt

1 (6oz.) pkg. chocolate chips—we traditionally use the mini ones for this recipe.

Cream shortening, sugar, cream cheese, eggs and orange peel. Stir in vanilla.

In separate bowl mix flour and salt. Add to wet ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. (They don’t seem to brown much).


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas Break

Christmas break is one of my favorite times of the year. The college I go to gives us nearly 5 weeks off, so we've had plenty of time to spend with family and get some work done too. This is my last Christmas break - I graduate in May. Hooray!!! :) I'm ready to be done with school and at home hopefully long enough to finish a garden season, see the fall foliage, etc. In the meantime, my sister and I are enjoying the break before classes start up again. I've compiled a random assortment of activities from this break that will give you a small snapshot of our family's life.

1. Here's what I did as a Christmas present this year. I did a watercolor painting of our house and gave a print to each family member, framed. It was a nice gift that was fun to do and mostly only cost time rather than money.

2. We all love to visit the woods near our house. On Christmas day, most of us went for a long walk. We don't have snow to speak of, but there were a few good-sized patches of ice here and there. We spent most of our time sliding around, breaking holes in the ice and even sledding on it! Thankfully no one was hurt, though there were a couple spectacular wipeouts.

3. I attempted to capture "bokeh," which I understand is basically a pleasantly blurred background in a photo. This can be especially attractive with Christmas lights...obviously I need to keep working on this technique. :)

4. I annoyed the cat by taking flash photos - which is how you get the laser-eye effect. Try it - it's really fun! Have the person or animal stand some distance away in a fairly dark place. Then make sure they're looking at you while you snap the picture. This can lead to some hilariously spooky effects! :)

5. I made some ultra-spectacular Peanut Butter cake. You can get the recipe by looking at my previous post. (Try to ignore how many of my favorite recipes involve peanut butter!!!)

6. I ran the Nerf target-shooting booth at our church's New Year's Eve Fellowship. The targets were Haman, Pharoah, Jezebel and two others that I can't remember. We have some surprisingly good sharpshooters in our congregation! It was a time of great fun and fellowship! That's me with the wavy hair in the foreground, awaiting the next customer. The best game was "Speed Quest," which involved riding our chair lift. :)

7. Back to the ice! Some of us went on another walk and discovered that the little swamp in the woods was frozen over - complete with frozen tracks! We think they may be raccoon tracks, criss-crossed by dog pawprints. We skidded around on the ice for a while, and I stuck my foot through along the edge - twice! (Accidentally, I promise; that water is cold!) We've definitely proven many times over that you can have plenty of fun even when it's not snowy.

8. Finally, another peanut butter thing...this was part of my breakfast the other day. It's really easy - plop some peanut butter in a bowl, slice an apple, and dig in! Very yummy and (hopefully) more or less healthy. Another choice breakfast is a good old pb & j! :) We also made our favorite cookies yesterday, Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies - which, of course, rely heavily on peanut butter. We go through a lot of peanut butter in our house!

So overall it's been a pretty spectacular break. Of course, I've barely scratched the surface of describing everything we've done. I've played piano for church, cleaned houses, babysat, read some fiction (yay!!!) books, and helped haul firewood up to the porch. We squeezed reading a 200+ page story into the brief time my brother was home (he's visiting friends for the rest of break) and sat around with all the lights off throwing glow sticks at each other. You can't capture everything from break on film or in writing, but we've built some great memories. I love being home and am excited about another year to learn, grow and love God and my family more!