Oaty Peanut Butter and Choc Chip Cookies

Home made cookies are always the best – well at least I think so. I love peanut butter, especially crunchy peanut butter with no salt or sugar added – the real deal. And of course, you know how I feel about chocolate, so combining the two seemed like a really good idea. And I wasn’t wrong!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

With 6 weeks of school Summer holidays behind us and the last one starting tomorrow, I can honestly say we’ve had a wonderful time. My little man is a trifle dismayed at the prospect of long lazy school-less days coming to an end. The weather has been a bit mad though, with the current El Niño bringing unseasonal rain and cloud, but keeping the temperatures in the high 20’s, making for very humid days and nights.  Today the cicadas also finally started singing their buzzy tunes, which I hadn’t realised I’d miss until we noticed their absence by the silence outside – only interrupted by lawnmowers, edge trimmers and the odd car or laughing neighbour. I love Summer!

And a big part of Summer is packing a picnic, grabbing a few items and heading out the door to some activity or another. Last night it was an impromptu BBQ on the beach with sunset swims in the lukewarm Pacific ocean which is like a big lake surrounding where we live.

These cookies are easily thrown together in a few minutes, and they use pretty standard pantry ingredients, so no special shopping trips required. Provided you like chocolate and peanut butter, that is.

ingredients:
2½ cups flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
230 g butter (unsalted if adding salt above or leave out salt if salted butter has salt)
½ cup brown sugar
1½ tsp Golden Syrup
1 Tbsp vanilla essence
2 large eggs (room temperature)
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup oats
1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F) and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Sieve dry ingredients.
  3. Combine butter, brown sugar, syrup, vanilla essence and peanut butter in a mixing bowl. Begin beating on low speed, then increase to medium speed until well creamed together.
  4. Add eggs one at a time to creaming mixture.
  5. Add sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and fold in. Add the chocolate chips and oats and combine.
  6. Roll into balls and place on the baking paper. Flatten slightly with a fork.
  7. Bake for 12 – 16 minutes until slightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool in the trays for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

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Loquat Squares

Last Spring I finally beat the Wood Pigeons to harvesting our delicious Loquat fruit so I made jam, following the same recipe I use for Plum Jam. Then, using the Loquat jam, I made these delicious squares. The original recipe called for apricot jam, but any jam will do. They’re an easy and delicious snack.

Loquat Squares

I can’t believe we’re already almost midway through January, but December seemed to literally fly by. You know how it goes; the countdown to Christmas, the end of our school year, trying to get everything finished at work if you’re lucky enough to have a few weeks holiday and then suddenly you are on leave.

It always takes me about a week to slow down and enjoy the time I have at home as there seem to be so many things to catch up on, but this year we didn’t go away, we’ve just been at home enjoying the company of our guest, our home and family time together.

Adding sweet treats like these is delightful to the taste buds, but I can feel the extra few centimetres around the hips and waist line, so soon it will be time to climb back on the treadmill so to speak and loose some of the unwanted excess.

This recipe is taken from one of my original recipe books bought a million years ago titled The Snowflake Book of Baking and as I mentioned, is interchangeable with any jam, whether home made or store bought.

ingredients:
125 g butter
100 g sugar
1 egg
5 ml vanilla essence
280 g cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
about 125 ml jam (approx 160 g if you prefer to weigh it)
icing sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a 20 cm x 24 cm rectangular tin with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar well. Add the egg and essence and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Sift the cake flour and baking powder and then add to the egg mixture. Knead well.
  4. Press about half the dough into the tin, covering the base evenly, then spread the jam over the top.
  5. Coarsely grate or crumble the remaining dough over the jam.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before cutting into squares. Leave in the pan until completely cooled. Remove from the pan by lifting the baking paper. Dust with icing sugar.

They stay fresh in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week but seldom last that long.

Enjoy!

Happy 2016

Today being the first day of 2016, I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope you see it as a new opportunity, a blessing that many don’t get to enjoy. Looking back on 2015 it has been a good year for me. It was a year I needed after the last few. It was the first year since 2010 that I didn’t lose someone close to me and I was able to heal; to find “me” again. To contemplate and accept many of my life experiences and enjoy them for what they had been, but then be willing and happy to move forward into the next phase of my life. I thank my beautiful family and a handful of very dear friends who allowed me to cry and share and laugh at various times over the past few years, but I’m ready for 2016 and the many adventures and opportunities that await.

Manukau Heads LighthouseManukau Heads Lighthouse

We currently have the pleasure of enjoying the company of a good friend who traveled from Canada to spend a couple of months with us. I had never met him in person, but he is an easy and fun house guest. He has been a friend of my husband’s family for many years and my husband last spent time with him about 30 years ago. Skype and social media are wonderful tools for keeping in touch but it’s been so good to get to know him personally and show him a little of this beautiful land we have called home for the last 11 years.

Instead of a cold white Christmas, he’s experienced the warm long evenings of the southern hemisphere, watching the southern cross rise, meeting a few of our friends and generally enjoying day trips around Auckland and surrounds. Seeing one’s home through the eyes of a visitor is always refreshing and makes you stop and appreciate the little things often overlooked or taken for granted in the normal day to day craziness of life.

Yesterday we spent the last day of 2015 on a drive south of Auckland to visit the lighthouse at the Manukau Harbour Heads. A longish trip, a little further than we had anticipated, but the rewarding view was well worth it.

Panorama of Manukau Harbour
Panorama of Manukau Harbour

The last few months were especially frantic while we finished some work on our home, dealt with tradespeople – that’s another whole story in itself – prepared for Christmas, birthdays, end of the school year, the arrival of a house guest and eagerly awaited summer holidays. I had neither the energy nor creativity to spend time on Chocolate Goose, which combines two of my hobbies: writing and cooking/baking. I don’t have a huge following, but thank you to all of you who take the time to read, share or comment on my posts, whether via Facebook, WordPress, Pinterest or the internet in general.

May your 2016 be filled with Peace, Love, Prosperity, Good Health and Happiness.

Angela – aka Chocolate Goose
xx