Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies

IMG_2622Double-doses of ginger—fresh and ground—amp up the flavor in these chocolate and spice morsels. These came from Martha Stewart’s website, and I’ve done some updates as dear Martha sometimes takes things a step too far—like  lining every baking sheet with parchment paper and chilling dough not once, but twice, etc. I made them as I’ve recorded below, and they were just fine! And a lot less labor-intensive.Given the amount of spices and overall richness of these cookies, my taste testers thought they would be best served warm with a bowl of vanilla ice cream. But try them yourselves, and you be the judge!Makes 1½ dozen cookies

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1½ tablespoons boiling water; set aside.

Beat butter with brown sugar until combined. Add fresh ginger and mix on high until butter is light in color. Beat in molasses. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Slowly add to butter mixture, with baking soda mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined.

Stir in chocolate morsels by hand. Scoop teaspoons of dough and roll into balls. Roll dough balls in ¼ cup granulated sugar and place 2-inches apart on baking sheets. Transfer to oven and bake until surfaces crack slightly, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Quick Jambalaya

FullSizeRenderOne-pot wonders. They are the saviors of the working woman (or man). The complexities of flavor in this chicken and sausage jambalaya recipe will make it a favorite at your house, just like it is at ours. When I first tried this concoction, we liked it so much I was making it once a week. My son’s girlfriend joined us for dinner a few nights, and this happened to be on the menu every single time! I had to apologize, telling her it really wasn’t the only thing we ever ate. Not sure if she believed me or not. Didn’t matter though—she loved it just as much as the rest of us, and didn’t mind having the dish repeated.

Traditionally, the New Orleans staple has seafood as well as meat, but we love this Martha Stewart quick jambalaya version with andouille sausage and chicken breast. My big cast iron and enamel Dutch oven* is perfect for stewing and simmering this casserole, and it ends up tasting like a dish that’s stewed all day, rather than 30-45 minutes. Sometimes I assemble this before work in the morning, simmer it for the suggested 30 minutes, and then put it in the frig. The whole pot can be reheated in the oven at 350° for about 20-30 minutes at dinner time. If you don’t have that much time to slam down supper, it reheats in the microwave perfectly well, too.

I couldn’t find the Old Bay seasoning from Martha’s recipe, so I subbed in all the seasonings you see listed below. I also found it needed less water than instructed in her recipe, and altered the cooking process a little as well. I’m sure Martha would be proud of me for being my own woman, and making it work for me.

Serves 6

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces**
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups homemade or store-bought chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (or regular paprika)
1/8 teaspoon each dry mustard, cardamom, and ginger
Pinch each of celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, cloves, and nutmeg
1-2 bay leaves
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup long-grain rice, uncooked

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Set aside to cool.

Add onions to pot and sauté for a few minutes alone, then add the rest of the vegetables to pot. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add sausage; cook 3 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in stock, seasonings, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cut cooled chicken into 3/4-inch pieces, and add to pot with rice. Reduce heat; simmer for 30 minutes, covered. Stir one or twice. Serve.

*A cast iron and enamel pot is a great kitchen helper, and you do not have to spend a fortune on a Le Creuset dish to get good results. Macy’s carries a pot for under $75, and you can always use their 20% off coupons on merchandise (if you’re on Macy’s mail list). My work-horse of a pot was a gift from my son Brandon, when he was a poor college student, no less. He found one for under $40 at Home Goods, and it works wonderfully well. Thanks again, Brandon! It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

**NOTE: I use 4 links of andouille sausage, and freeze the additional link in the package for another pot of jambalaya. It’s plenty of meat and flavor, and cuts down on the cost a little.