Category Archives: closet foodie

closet foodie: Capt’n Jack Sparrow’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies

closet foodie: Capt’n Jack Sparrow’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies
written by Stephanie

Happy President’s Day!  The kids are home from school for the holiday and  are “glued” to the TV,  If it isn’t the TV, then it’s the Wii or iPad.  I can almost see the gray matter in their heads becoming misty and swirling out their ears into the atmosphere.  On some days my 7-year-old daughter, Scarlett, can coerce her 9-year-old brother, Easton, into playing a game of make-believe with her Pet Shop animals.  Of course, this usually ends up with Barbie dolls involved too.  While Easton is a good sport about the girly play, he often finds his way back to the electronics.  You ask, what am I doing while my kids are under the influence of electronics?  I am busy at work at my design table coming up with some new leather accessories for spring/summer.  So, today I put their tushies to work in the kitchen, making pancakes for a late breakfast and chocolate chip cookies for Baking 101 instruction.

The recipe the kids and I decided upon was Bon Appetit’s “Salty Chocolate Chunk Cookies”.

Cap'n Jack Sparrow Chocolate Chunk Cookies

As we gathered the ingredients for the cookies, I discovered in the pantry there was not a chocolate chip in sight.  There was however, my personal stash of dark chocolate in the “Mom’s Only Jar”.  I eyed the chocolate stash, hesitated to grab it and then looked at my kids’ anticipating faces… I caved.  I didn’t have any plain dark chocolate but I did have Lindt’s  Excellence A Touch of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate.

Lindt Chocolate

I was worried this chocolate might make the cookie too salty (read… do I really want to use my chocolate addiction stash).    Well, the sea salt dark chocolate ended up being a wonderful adaptation to the recipe.  The cookies were the perfect mix of salty and sweet.  In future batches, I am going to add chopped pecans to the recipe.  I think the addition of the nuts will add buttery flavored layer enhancing the sweet and salty taste,  The kids proclaimed, “these are the best cookies ever”!  Scarlett asked me if I was going to put the recipe on the blog and what would I name the cookie?   So, I put their “swirling gray matter” to work and the great debate was what sea character or creature would like to eat the salty cookies?  They creatively came up with “Cap’n Jack Sparrow’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies”.

So, here I am sitting down to share this recipe among the PlanetDwell readers and the kids are back to their self-induced video trance.

*Note:  The recipe calls for 10-12 minutes baking time.  I adjusted the baking time to 8 minutes to get that nice golden brown color on the edges.  You can see some of my cookies got too brown; however, they were still delightfully crunchy and delicious.

Cap'n Jack Sparrow Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Cap’n Jack Sparrow’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies
recipe via Bon Appetit

Yield: Makes 24


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla, preferably Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla
2 – 3.5 oz. bars Lindt Excellence A Touch of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate, coarsely chopped
Maldon or other flaky sea salt


Prepare two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375° F.

Whisk flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Add egg yolks, egg, and vanilla.  Beat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-5 minutes.  Reduce mixer speed to low; slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend.  Using a spatula, fold in chocolate.

Spoon rounded teaspoonfuls (I like to use a 1-inch melon ball scoop) of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing 1-inch apart.  Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.

Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until just golden brown around the edges, 10-12 minutes* (the cookies will firm up as they cool).  Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.




closet foodie: flax-coconut pancakes, grown-up, kid friendly and gluten-free too!

closet foodie: flax-coconut pancakes, grown-up, kid friendly and gluten-free too!
written by Stephanie

When I first saw this recipe I was intrigued.  Although, I was almost put off by the crazy amount of ingredients required.  It was apparent this recipe made a much healthier pancake than your traditional pancake recipe or a box mix.  Coconut flour, a great gluten-free alternative to wheat flour, is high in fiber and a good source of protein.  Flax adds fiber, omega-3 and minerals.  Next time I think I will substitute ground hemp seed hearts for the flax.  Hemp is high in protein and fiber with essential amino acids (like flax), vitamin E, minerals and omega 3 and 6.  Hemp seed totally kicks flax in the nutritional butt.  My next thought was, would the kids like the pancakes?  Well, I had a fix for that…chocolate chips. Additionally,  I was concerned about finding all the ingredients at all let alone at one store.  Nonetheless, list in hand, I headed out to my local Wegmans grocery store.   To my delight I found all the ingredients at Wegmans.  Bob’s Red Mill is a good source for the flours and starches.

Floured-up and ready to go, I whipped up a batch of the flax-coconut pancakes on Sunday.  Once the batter was mixed I was ready to use  my new, handy-dandy, batter dispenser bottle for the first time.  I found the bottle at Bed, Bath and Beyond and could not wait to put it to use.  It worked great and I loved the no-drip top.  The pancakes cooked up beautifully, imparting the subtle sweet and toasty flavor of coconut.  The pancakes were crisp on the outside and moist on the inside…perfection!

Now that it is back to school time, I have mixed up several batches of the dry ingredients in Ziploc bags.  These keep well in the refrigerator and I don’t have to spend time measuring out the dry ingredients on a busy school morning.  It makes me happy to know I am sending the kids off to school with a breakfast high in protein and omegas, not withstanding the chocolate chips!

Flax-Coconut Pancakes

recipe via Food & Wine
Yield: Makes about twelve 4-inch pancakes
Time: 30 minutes


1/3 cup white rice flour
1/3 cup brown rice flour 
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons potato starch
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
3 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
2 teaspoons baking powder (I like Rumford because it is aluminum free)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature (alternatively, microwave for a few seconds to take the chill off)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus more for the griddle
Mini chocolate chips (optional)
Fresh fruit and maple syrup, for serving


In a large bowl, whisk the brown and white rice flours with the sugar, potato starch, tapioca starch, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs and milk with the 1/4 cup of coconut oil; whisk into the dry ingredients just until the batter is moistened.  Add a tablespoon of milk if the batter is very thick.


Preheat a griddle and brush lightly with coconut oil.  For each pancake, scoop 3 tablespoons of the batter onto the griddle, allowing it to spread on its own.  (I like to use my “handy-dandy” batter dispenser  and I make 3 inch pancakes.)

If you’re making the kid-friendly version, sprinkle some mini chocolate chips on top of the batter.  Cook over medium heat until bubbles appear on the surface, about 3 minutes.  Flip and cook the pancakes until they have risen and are golden brown on the second side, about 2 minutes longer.

Transfer the pancakes to plates and serve with fruit and maple syrup,


closet foodies: poached lemon flounder with lemon herb pasta

closet foodies: poached lemon flounder with lemon herb pasta

written by David and Stephanie

At the end of our gym workout, Thursday night, I asked Stef what she wanted for dinner.  Before heading to the locker room, she announced a salad would be okay.  Upon Stef’s return from the locker room, she informed me that the salad thought had now evolved into a lemon filet of sole with lemon herb pasta. “No problem, I can throw that together”, I said.  Ever since going on an amped-up health kick last year (seriously, turning 50 will do that) we tend to eat fresh.  So, almost every late afternoon or evening we decide what sounds good for the night, we buy the fresh (read: unprocessed) ingredients, and cook to order.  Luckily, our gym is next to the local Wegman’s and the fish monger there is excellent. The fish is always fresh and first-rate.  Unfortunately, last night there was no filet of sole so we opted for one of my all time favorites, FLOUNDER!  My idea, for the night, was to poach the flounder in a little butter, white wine, lemon zest and lemon juice with some French thyme (from the kids’ herb garden) to round out the flavors.  For the pasta, I wanted to keep it simple:  garlic, Italian parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice and fresh peas.

With all the ingredients assembled it was time to get down to business.  NOW, the part of my cooking Stef doesn’t get;  first, I almost never use a recipe and second, I don’t measure, at least not in the traditional sense.  I more or less cook by feel and taste!  I tend to be more like Jamie Oliver.  I mean really, who needs measuring cups and spoons when you can use handfuls, pinches and glugs.  While I’m cooking, I’ll look in the pan or dip in a spoon and if it looks or tastes like the dish needs more wine, butter or whatever…I add it!  Simple!

The ingredients…

1/2 pound flounder filet (or any mild white fish)
zest and juice of 2 lemons
fresh peas, blanched (or frozen peas defrosted if it’s all you have)
big handful of chopped Italian parsley
several sprigs of fresh thyme
3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
a couple, OK maybe a few, tablespoons of butter
white wine (I won’t drink it but it’s great to cook with)
extra virgin olive oil
1 pound of pasta (we prefer gemelli but riccioli was all that was available)
fresh ground pepper
sea salt
freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese

The nitty-gritty…

Gather up your ingredients (Remember to make sure Stef takes the pictures because I do not possess the requisite skills!). Cook the pasta to al dente and set aside, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Don’t forget to salt your water before cooking the pasta as it really helps with the flavor of the dish. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet, on medium high heat, toss in the thyme and some of the lemon zest. Once the thyme is fragrant, add some lemon juice and a good dose of white wine (enough to just cover the fish during cooking). Season the fish with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and slide into the bubbling liquid. I cook the fish until opaque and is still firm. Careful here, if you over cook the fish it will fall apart. When done, remove fish to serving dish and cover. Return pan to heat and cook down the remaining liquid until reduced by half. Pour reduced sauce over fish prior to serving

For the pasta, in separate heavy skillet add a few glugs of good extra virgin olive oil. Over medium high heat add the thinly sliced garlic and cook until light brown. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, sea salt and pepper along with a really good dose of white wine and cook until mixture begins to thicken. Add pasta to the skillet with some of the reserved cooking liquid. Toss pasta to coat with the sauce. Add the blanched peas and several good measures of the freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese and toss again to mix completely. Serve with additional cheese.

We paired our meal with an excellent Malbec from Otium Cellars. Yea, I know red wine with fish is some kind of faux pas but as I said earlier, “White wine, great for cooking…we drink RED!

Bon Appetit!

closet foodies: coconut agave granola… it’s not for hippies anymore

closet foodies: coconut agave granola… it’s not for hippies anymore

written by Stephanie

I love granola.  I could eat  the yummy whole grain goodness for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I remember from my childhood my mother making homemade granola.  It was nothing like today’s granola mixes but one that I relished on vanilla ice cream.  The original home food delivery service, Schwan’s, would bring to our doorstep the 2 1/2 gallon container of vanilla ice cream.  It was cause to celebrate.  So, we would break out the homemade granola and Grandma’s canned, homemade peach sauce!  We would pile on our homemade goodies atop scoops of vanilla ice cream… yum!  Fast forward to today… I miss that treat and I have no idea how my Grandma made that peach sauce (sadly, nor do I venture into canning).  I stick to a more grownup version by adding granola to my morning Greek yogurt or as a treat on frozen yogurt.  I am fond of Bear Naked Granola but at the price and 12 oz size, it’s not economical for my family.  So the inner child in me sought out a recipe  I could be happy with and a few adaptations later… voilá!

Coconut Agave Granola

recipe adapted from shutterbean.
This recipe can be made gluten-free by using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free products
Yield = 4 cups
Oven 350° F
Baking Time: 18 min.


The ingredients…

3 cups rolled oats (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
3/4 cup raw almonds or I love already toasted pepitas
3 T raw shelled hemp seeds
1/3 cup coconut oil, (melted)
1/4 cup agave
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/2 t sea salt

The nitty-gritty…

Gather up your ingredients.

Combine oats, coconut flakes, coconut shreds, pepitas or almonds, and hemp seeds in a large bowl.

Get in there and give it a good mix by hand…

Add the melted coconut oil and agave and mix well to coat.  Next, stir in the brown sugar and salt.

Spread granola mixture into a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir the granola, folding in the browned granola from the edges to the center.  Return to the oven and bake another 8 minutes or until golden in color.  Remove from oven and let cool before storing in an airtight container.

blueberry and lemon zest scones

blueberry and lemon zest scones
written by Stephanie

A friend recently sent me an email telling me about a wonderful “pick your own” blueberry farm called Eagletree Farm right here in Loudoun County, Virginia. I have lived in Loudoun County for years and I had no idea this wonderful farm was nearby and had been open as a pick-your-own farm for 6 years. So, I piled the family into the truck and we headed to Eagletree Farm for a little berry pickin’! I was delighted to find the bushes full of color and bursting with berries. This farm is totally organic and uses no pesticides so, you KNOW what that means… almost as many berries went directly into our mouths as made it into our baskets. The berries where fantastic. Ripe and full of flavor! It didn’t take Easton and Scarlett long to figure out which berries to pick, the darkest blue ones, and then it was a race to see who could pick the most! After about an hour, we had 8 lbs of berries in our baskets, at least 8 lbs of “eat-as-you-pick” berry weight spread across the 4 of us and our wallet was lighter by $32.

A gorgeous picture of our blueberry bounty!

Blueberry and Lemon Zest Scones

recipe adapted from the smitten kitchen website.

The secret to making delicate scones is handling the dough as little as possible. Scones are at their best when eaten the day they are baked.

Yield = 12


2 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour (I prefer White Lily)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder (Rumford)
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces of very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I use Plugra european-style butter)
1 cup (1/2 pint) fresh blueberries, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of lemon zest, finely chopped or grated
3/4 cup of low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons of low-fat buttermilk
turbinado or white sanding sugar for sprinkling


Preheat oven 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside

In a bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or the back of a fork until the mixture has the texture of coarse cornmeal and the biggest pieces of butter are like large peas. Fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

At this point, I like to transfer my ingredients to my standing mixer and use the paddle attachment. Pour the buttermilk into the flour mixture and using the lowest speed, mix until the dough just comes together but a small amount of flour remains in the bowl. (Alternatively, you can drizzle the buttermilk over the flour mixture, and stir lightly with a fork or wooden spoon until the dough comes together.)

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With lightly floured hands, gently press and pat the dough into a rectangle, 1 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, pastry wheel, or bench knife cut the rectangle into 12 triangles (reference picture above to see how to).

Transfer scones to prepared baking sheets 2″ apart. Brush scones with buttermilk, and sprinkle with the turbinado or sanding sugar. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer scones to wire racks to cool. Serve warm or room temperature. My family and I enjoy our scones with a large dollop of lemon curd!