Fudgy Chocolate Cherry Cookies

I had an opened bag of dried cherries that was slowly petrifying. I wanted to make something that would bring them back to life but I also wanted chocolate.

I could have replumped the cherries using steam or a double boiler (something I typically do for raisins before adding them to Oatmeal Raisin Cookies) but I wanted to add some flavor. I had a bottle of Cortas Orange Blossom Water that was ideal as cherries, oranges and chocolate go so well together.

The result was chewy cherries in a rich fudgy chocolate cookie with a delicate perfume of orange. Some pecans for nuttiness and the cookies were super delicious!

Fudgey Chocolate Cherry Cookies

1 ½ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons Orange Blossom Water (I used Cortas)
1 stick unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 large egg
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate morsels
½ cup pecans, chopped

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. with the racks in the upper and lower middle positions.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, stir together the cherries and orange blossom water to flavor and plump up the dried cherries. Microwave uncovered on high until the cherries for 30 seconds to a minute. Stir and set aside. The cherries will slowly absorb the liquid.

In a double boiler over low heat, melt the butter. Add the chopped chocolate and the cocoa. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool until barely warm to the touch.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the egg and both sugars until combined. With the mixer running on low, add the vanilla, then slowly pour in the chocolate-butter mixture. Beat on medium until well mixed, scraping down the bowl once or twice. With the mixer running on low, add the dry ingredients, then mix just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips, the pecans and the cherries along with any remaining liquid until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Divide the dough into large spoonfuls and roll each portion into a ball with your hands. Place the balls on baking sheets, spacing them evenly. Bake until slightly cracked on top and the edges feel firm, 14 to 16 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets about halfway through. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack. Cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container.


Chicken Potpie Casserole

A friend forwarded me a video of a recipe for a dump casserole for a no mix chicken pot pie. I’m a fan of bottom crusts on my pot pies, so I wasn’t too convinced that this would be a good recipe. I was wrong – the biscuit mix made for a lovely crust and the flavors all came together for a very yummy meal. Of course, to make it mine I eliminated the carrots and peas and added broccoli, cheese and mushrooms.

I wish I’d gotten a better picture as this one doesn’t do it justice but the hoards had descended. I was able to beat them off long enough to get some for myself and took a picture before folks came back for seconds.

This is a very comforting dish that will definitely go into our regular rotation.

Chicken Pot-Pie Cobbler

1 stick butter
1 rotisserie chicken, about 2 cups picked from the bones and chopped
1 8 ounce can mushrooms, pieces and stems
1 10 ounce package frozen broccoli florets
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups milk
1 box Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit mix
2 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350. Place the stick of butter in a 9-by-13-inch pan and melt in the oven as it preheats.

Once the butter is melted, add chicken into an even layer. Distribute the mushrooms over the top along with the broccoli florets. Sprinkle on grated cheese. Pour in the milk. Sprinkle biscuit mix over in an even layer with the seasoning packet. Pour the chicken stock over.

Place on a baking sheet to catch any spillover and bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Greek Grilled Quail

One of my parent’s neighbors had some extra quail so he gave us four. I like the flavors of the Mediterranean with grilled poultry – so I did a marinade with garlic, oregano and lemon. I set two zone on the grill for direct and indirect cooking and in short order, we had a delicious meal.

Be sure not to marinate for too long as the acid will toughen the bird. Also, don’t cook it too long over direct heat or they will dry out. Finally, eat quail carefully as you don’t want to crack a tooth or swallow some of the bird shot!

I served rosemary sweet potatoes with them – recipe here. I did have to prebake the sweet potatoes for 30 minutes in a 350 degree F oven as the quail cooks so quick. After the prebake, I peeled them and sliced them and tossed them in rosemary butter brown sugar and then finished them on the grill.

Greek Quail

4 quails
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place the quail into gallon size freezer storage bag or a large food storage container. Combine the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Pour the marinade into the bag with the quail, making sure the birds are completely coated.

Marinate for at least 2, but no more than 4 hours. Prepare your grill for two zones with the charcoal on one side.. Cook the quail over direct heat five minutes on each side before moving the quail to a cool part of the grill to finish, about 5 minutes more. Let rest briefly before serving.