Friday, January 30, 2009

My Little Cowboys!

Yesterday was Kansas Day.  I don't remember when I was growing up (a LONG time ago) ever celebrating Idaho Day or Colorado Day or any other state day in places I've lived, but having kids in school here in Kansas, a pretty big deal is made every January 29 in honor of Kansas Day.  The kids learn all kinds of interesting things about the state and about famous people from here.  In preschool, Taylor's school had a fun western dress up day in honor of this great state and its history.  They have a little feast of things like hot dogs, crackers and such and do some fun activities.

I don't consider myself any kind of a country western kind of gal, but THIS is one dang cute cowboy!

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Yesterday--------------------------------------------------------Last year, still pretty darn cute!

That little cutie has a pard'ner---------------

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Ya'll come back now, ya hear?!

Hey, Grandma, Sam wanted to tell you that he is such a big boy he doesn't have bah-bahs anymore! (finally)  He got to go pick out two new sippy cups today.

He's been such a trooper about it and though he still wants one, is doing really well.  Even when we put him to bed and naps, he just cries for a very short time.  We're so happy about this.  And (knock on wood!) he's been sleeping all night until we actually wake him up at 8 o'clock  to eat breakfast with everyone before the boys go to school. 

Yeah for Sammie! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TWD--Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

Tuesday's With Dorie this week was chosen by Heather of Sherry Trifle and she chose Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread, pgs. 212-213 in Baking From My Home To Yours.  This was a good one!

But--I actually changed a lot of things about the recipe because I know that a lot of ingredients could be changed to make this gingerbread lower in fat and just a little healthier.  So--get Dorie's exact recipe from Heather's blog and here's the recipe as I made it.

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Chocolate Gingerbread Cake, adapted from Dorie Greenspan by Katrina

2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice (I ran out of ginger!)

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

5 tablespoon 50/50 Blend Smart Balance Butter, unsalted

6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup Egg Beaters w/touch of yolk

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup agave nectar (I didn't have enough molasses and the agave worked great!)

6 ounces Hershey's Special dark chocolate, 2 oz. melted & cooled, 4 oz. finely chopped

1 cup low fat buttermilk

Icing

3 ounces Hershey's Special dark chocolate , chopped

3 tablespoons 50/50 Smart Balance Butter, unsalted

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray silicone rose-shaped bundt pan with cooking spray (any 9x9-ish pan will work). 

Put the freshly grated ginger and sugar  in a small bowl and set aside.

Whisk the flours, baking soda and spices together.   Set aside.  In bowl of electric mixer, combine butter, applesauce and sugar and beat well.  Add Egg Beaters a little at a time and beat well for one minute.  Scrape sides of bowl.  Add molasses and agave nectar and beat until smooth.  With mixer on low, add the melted chocolate and the sugared ginger.  Then add the dry ingredients in three increments along with the buttermilk in two additions (ending with the dry ingredients).  Mix just until incorporated.  Fold in the chopped chocolate.  Pour batter into pan. 

Bake for 40-50 minutes until knife inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then unmold the cake. 

For the icing, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.  When melted, remove from heat and using a whisk, add the butter one tablespoon at a time.  Sift the powdered sugar over the chocolate and stir in.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Ice the gingerbread.

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I didn't want to have too much batter in the bundt pan, so I made five cupcakes.  Baked them for 14 minutes.  They turned out great.

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It is advised when making gingerbread that you check how much ground ginger you have left.  I'm just saying, you might want to check.  Another thing I suggest--how much molasses DO you have?  And as for bittersweet chocolate--I learned when I made Dorie's chocolate cupcakes last October, that bittersweet chocolate just isn't sweet enough for me, so I used Hershey's Special dark chocolate in this recipe.  The cake turned out moist and dense and flavorful with all the changes I made.  Baking it in the silicone bundt pan made for a fun, pretty cake, but I kept testing that thing from the time it had baked for 40 minutes until about 60 minutes before the knife really came out clean.  And with every extra minute, I could tell the edges were baking up nice and toasty and knew I wasn't going to be able to trim off the edges as Dorie suggested with the 9x9 pan.  So, all the little nooks and crannies of edges are a little--crunchy I guess and the rest is great.  I actually don't mind the edges, so it's all good.  I loved the flavor of this gingerbread.  Next time I make it, I already have more ground ginger and the fresh stuff tucked away in the freezer where it is supposed to last.  I'm happy about the changes I made and thanks Heather for this week's great pick!

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If you can't tell, I drizzled the icing on after putting it in a plastic bag and snipping a little off the corner.

A lot of people on the problems and questions boards were saying they thought the cake was even better the next day, but I loved it fresh and it seemed a little more dry the next day.  It won't stop me from eating little slices of it here and there--after all, I made it healthy, right!  ; )

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Some Cookies with Agave Nectar, Barney Butter and Other Good Stuff

Time for cookies!   Anna recently posted a link on Cookie Madness to a sight with tons and tons of recipes that use agave nectar in place of sugar.  Agave is a  sweetener that is low glycemic, all natural, and you use only 1/3 cup in place of 1 cup of sugar.  It is almost like the consistency of honey, but not quite as thick or sticky.  I have been trying to find ways to use it and so has Anna. 

I was also recently able to purchase some much-talked-about  Barney Butter (a great almond butter!) and set out to find a cookie recipe to use both the agave and Barney Butter.  After searching the link Anna provided, I chose this recipe for some chocolate chip cookies.  You can get that recipe, but I changed quite a bit of things, so here are the cookies I made.  My recent discovery of using pureed beans in place of fat in baked goods also prompted me to try a little in these cookies.  (You can puree a whole can of beans--black for things like brownies and any white beans for things like cookies--basically you just match the color of what you're going to make with the color of beans.  You can add a whole can with the liquid included to a food processor and process until smooth, but I rinsed and drained the white beans and just added a little water as needed to make a smooth puree, I think it only took about 2 tablespoons of water for the whole can.) 

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Barney Butter Chocolate Almond Cookies (with agave)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons white bean puree

1/4 cup Barney Butter (I used smooth)

1/4 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons Egg Beaters with a touch of yolk (or 1/2 an egg)

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3 oz. Hershey's Milk Chocolate w/Almonds bar, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside. 

Combine butter, bean puree, Barney Butter, agave nectar and brown sugar in bowl of mixer and beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix well.  Add baking soda, salt and flours and mix just until combined.  Stir in chopped chocolate.  Scoop dough in balls onto baking sheet.  (I used a small scoop, 3/4 to 5/8 oz.)  Bake for 9 to 11 minutes.  Cool a few minutes on the baking sheet, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

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These aren't cakey, but soft and sturdy and full of great almond flavor, chocolate and nutrition! (Use a dark chocolate and some chopped almonds to make them even better for you!)  Stay tuned for more cookies! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

TWD--Berry Surprise Cake

Our chosen recipe this week for Tuesday's With Dorie from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours was for Berry Surprise Cake and it was chosen by Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen.

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The cake wasn't my favorite.  Just didn't care for the taste, it was too egg-y, BUT I am happy to say that I followed Dorie's suggestions in the recipe to a T and many complained on the TWD questions and problems board that their cakes sunk in the middle, but mine didn't really.  It did just a little bit, but otherwise was spared the crater!  PRETEND that you don't see the flour on the top of the cake.  I know that others mentioned having some unmixed flour in their cake batter, but wanting to be ever so careful folding it in to the delicate beaten eggs, I chose to not overmix and did have a bit of the flour still there.  I'm kind of bummed that the cake just didn't wow me, because the rest did.  Mostly.

I liked the cream filling with the cream cheese.  I did add a little extra sugar to it as many also mentioned it wasn't sweet enough and it definitely needed more sweet to it.  Then, I spent a little bit of an arm and bought fresh raspberries--but THAT was the best part of this.  Loved the hidden fresh berries!  I would totally do this again, but use a different cake recipe.  Also, having grown up on good ol' Cool Whip and not real whipped cream, I just don't care for the real stuff.  I know, I know--no one hate me, please.  But I did use real cream for the filling, but wasn't about to "frost" the entire cake in whipped cream. 

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So I did this.

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I piped some more of the filling around the top and added a few raspberries and called it good.  It was oozing with filling inside and I thought it was plenty.  Not to mention the little hidden treasures.

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All in all, it was just okay.  I'm glad I made it, I really almost just skipped this week as Kevin just doesn't like cake, but I wanted to "see" if I could do it.  We had some friends over tonight and it got eaten up and everyone liked it.  I'm glad I bought the raspberries.  Thanks for picking this one, Mary Ann.  I'm sure I'd have never flipped through the book and chose it and it was fun to try a cake like this that I hadn't made before.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

A Great Chewy Oatmeal Cookie

Yesterday, Anna at Cookie Madness posted an article in The Olympian newspaper about an Alaska Airlines pilot who made some oatmeal cookies and brought a box full on a flight and shared them with those on the flight.   It talked about how the flight attendants were so excited about these cookies, because apparently they had had them before and they're good!  I must say, having flown on Midwest Airlines where they bake and serve fresh, warm chocolate chip cookies, this article caught my eye.  There really is nothing like feeling special  as a flying customer by getting fresh cookies while flying!  Well, this Alaska Airlines pilot makes some darn good oatmeal cookies and brings them on his flights.  He also gives out the recipe!  I was in an oatmealy mood, so I decided to make these, but by the time I'd finished, I changed things quite a bit!  The main ingredients are the same as the pilot's, so I am definitely crediting him.  This is a perfectly crisp and chewy oatmeal cookie with lots of good things inside!  Instead of just raisins and walnuts (which I LOVE), I made a few other changes as I was digging through my baking cupboard and finding things that needed to be used--some coconut,  Hershey's cinnamon chips, some Hershey's Premier White Baking Chips.  Here's the recipe from the Alaska Airline pilot and the changes I made are in italics.  I also only made half a recipe.

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Alaska Airlines Pilot Oatmeal Cookies, adapted (you can get his full recipe on the link above)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract   (1 teaspoon pure coconut flavoring--I was out of vanilla)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg (omitted)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, crushed finely

1 cup walnuts, toasted, barely chopped

1 cup raisins (omitted)

1  1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

(1/4 cup sweetened, coconut flakes)

(1/4 cup Hershey's cinnamon chips)

(1/2 cup Hershey's Premier White Baking Chips)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat butter and sugars until creamy.  Add egg and vanilla (coconut flavoring) and beat well.  Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix together.  Add oats, raisins, nuts and any other mix-ins and stir to combine.  Bake on parchment lined baking sheets for 11 minutes.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on size.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Chock Full of Veggies Lasagna and Summer-y Blackberry Bars

Tonight for dinner I made my signature dish--LASAGNA.  I've been making this for years and it is often the meal I make for special occasions, company and when I just really feel like indulging.  BUT, it's made pretty darn healthy and you'd never know it!

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Once again though, I don't follow a recipe and this lasagna still comes out SO GOOD every time!  (It's gotta be because I NEVER put onions in it! ; )  I always use different amounts of veggies and such, so this is just estimates of what I used today.

Katrina's Chock Full Of Veggies Lasagna

1/4 lb. lean ground beef (93% fat free, usually, I only ever buy 90% fat free or better)

green pepper, chopped (about 3/4 of a pepper)

mini baby carrots, chopped, about 1 cup

zucchini, chopped, 1 medium

yellow squash, chopped, 2 small

mushrooms, chopped, about 1 cup

celery, chopped, 2 small stalks

3 garlic cloves, minced

onion powder (okay, I usually put a little in, but powder only)

1--28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1--15 oz. Italian chopped tomatoes

oregano, dried, to taste (about 2 teaspoons)

basil, dried, to taste (about 1-2 teaspoons)  I always use fresh in the summer!

1-2 teaspoons sugar (this cuts the acidity of the tomatoes)

salt and pepper to taste

a little ground red pepper (or flakes)

fat free cottage cheese, about 1  1/2 cups

1/4 cup Egg Beaters w/touch of yolk

Kraft 2% milk mozzarella cheese, about 1 cup, shredded

parmesan cheese, shredded, about 1/4 cup

whole wheat lasagna noodles, about 12 noodles (some think you have to precook the noodles--I never have done that and the noodles always cook just fine in the oven--stop wasting time boiling the noodles first!)

Brown the ground beef, set aside.  Chop all the veggies.  (I LOVE THE VIDALIA ONION CHOP WIZARD (See my post about THE WIZARD CHOPPER)--sure made all the chopping a breeze!--Thanks again, Mom and Dad!)

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Saute in olive oil the peppers, carrots and celery (onion, if you must) for 3-5 minutes, then add the rest-zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms and saute another 3-5 minutes until soft, but not too much.   Scoot some of the veggies aside, add a little more oil and the garlic and saute for 30 seconds to a minute.  Stir all together.  I usually move the veggies to a pot instead of a saute pan at this point and add the tomatoes, ground beef, spices, and sugar and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.  During this time, I put the cottage cheese in the food processor and pulse it up until it looks just like ricotta cheese!  Add a good half of the mozzarella cheese and the Egg Beater and pulse a few times. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Assemble the lasagna in a 9x13 pan.  Layer ingredients, beginning with sauce spread on bottom of pan, then lay pasta over the sauce, spread cottage cheese mixture over noodles and begin layers again--sauce, pasta, cheese mixture.  After the third layer, end with sauce, then sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese on top.  Cover with foil and bake for 40-50 minutes, remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.  Let set for 5-10 minutes to cool slightly.  Serve.

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The corner pieces are my favorite, cheesy-gooey-saucy-flavorful-and HEALTHY! 

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Dessert--I made these yesterday and unfortunately didn't take the greatest pictures, the color/lighting was off, but this is actually quite good.  I got some blackberries at $1 a pint recently (Love those winter sales on summer fruits!) and decided to find something to make with them.  I found this recipe at About.com (Southern Food).  It is simple and more flavorful than I thought it would be.  It is almost more of a cake than bars, but there is a surprise streusel type layer on the bottom.

Blackberry Bars, adapted from About, Southern Food

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup sour cream (I use light)

1/4 cup Egg Beaters with touch of yolk (or 1 large egg)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh blackberries (these were huge, so I chopped them a little)

Combine flour and brown sugar, cut in butter with pastry blender--wait-as I was doing that, I decided a few pulses in the food processor would be much easier.  Pulse to combine in food processor.  Press 1  1/3 cups of mixture in bottom of an ungreased 8 inch pan (I used a round cake pan), a square pan works, too.  Combine remaining  crumb mixture, sour cream, egg, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Mix together until combined.  Stir in blackberries.  Spoon over crust and spread evenly.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.

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The recipe said to sprinkle with powdered sugar, but I thought that seemed a little boring.  So I made a glaze with some blackberries that I stuck in the microwave for about 20 seconds.  Then I mashed them with a fork and added about 3/4 cup powdered sugar, a pinch of salt and about 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.  Stirred together well and drizzled on the "bars".  Mmmm, good!  (Again, sorry about the color of the photo, it's not bad, but just off a little.)

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Couple of Darn Good Cookies and "The" Chicken Black Bean Tortilla Bake

I'd better start with the taco "casserole" I made and showed a picture of with my TWD corn muffins, as many seem to want the "recipe".  Well, I'm sorry to tell you that there is NO recipe.  A LOT of the things I make for dinner are made up as I go along.  This was one of those dishes.  But because I care about ya'll so much, I'll see what I can do---Here's is about what I did.  This is the only picture of it I took.

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Chicken Black Bean Tortilla Bake (this is all estimations)

2 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded

1/2 cup black beans (canned), you can use more, but that's just some leftover I had

1/2 cup green pepper, diced

1/2 cup red pepper, diced

2 large garlic cloves (you can chop up and onion, too, but I hate onions!)

1  15 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

1  8 oz. can of tomato sauce (***The "bake" was actually a tad dry, and I wish I'd have used another 15 oz. can of crushed tomatoes)

1 teaspoon onion powder (omit if adding chopped onion)

a lot of chili powder (1-2 T.???--to taste)

cumin (1 T.???--to taste)

some dried oregano (1/4-1/2 teaspoon???)  See, I just never measure stuff!

I think I also added some ground coriander (1/2 t.???)

a few shakes of cayenne powder

some chopped cilantro (1/4 cup???)

salt and pepper to taste

Kraft 2% Milk cheddar and mozzarella cheese, shredded,  1 cup of each???

tortilla chips  (about half a bag or so)

garnishes--chopped tomato, chopped olives, chopped avocado, chopped cilantro, sour cream, salsa, taco sauce--what do you like on tacos?

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook chicken and shred or chop (I had cooked four frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot about 6 hours-they were plenty done, used two for this.)  Set aside.  In skillet or Dutch oven, saute (onion) :(, peppers and garlic  in a small amount of olive oil.  Add canned tomatoes, sauce and spices--to taste.  I like to taste it with a tortilla chip.  Add chicken and beans to sauce and continue to simmer on med-low while you get everything else ready--cheese, chips, chicken, a 9x13 pan, sprayed lightly with cooking spray.

Assemble like you would a lasagna--start with some of the sauce on the bottom of the pan.  Add tortilla chips, crushed slightly, then some of both cheeses.  Layer again with more sauce/chicken mixture, then chips, cheese and any remaining sauce.  End with cheese.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes or so.  I put the tomato, olives and cilantro over the whole thing and served each serving with each person deciding what else they want--sour cream, avocado, salsa, etc.

***Again, this wasn't quite as "saucy" as I would have liked, so maybe use 2  15 oz. cans of tomato (you can use all sauce or diced/crushed tomatoes, whatever you'd like)  Still the flavor of this and all the chicken in it this was perfect.  I really just make things like this as I go along and to taste.  You can too!  ;)

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I've made some cookies over the last few days, but wait, they're pretty healthy!  You gotta try these!  First up, once again, Anna at Cookie Madness has found a great cookie!  She made and shared these on her blog on the first day of the year and I've wanted to make them since.  SO glad I finally tried them and so is Kevin.  He isn't much of a critic with my cooking/baking, he eats super fast and whenever I ask how things tasted he will just shrug his shoulder or say it was fine or good.  That's about all I get from him.  I often tease him that he doesn't take time to really "taste" food.  I do love that he almost always tells me after dinner, "thank you for making dinner, it was good."  And he has taught the boys to be thankful for all my work so they can eat as well.  It is nice to be thanked for my time.  Anyway, got a little off track there. 

After I made these Pecan Chewies yesterday, and Kevin tasted a few, he went on and on about how good they are.  He said he loved the crisp outside and the inside was like a perfect brownie, fudgy and perfectly chewy.  We had some friends over last night and he even convince our picky eater friend to have a few cookies and he even liked them (that's saying a lot!--Hi, Bob!)  Even later, Kevin announced to me that he could seriously eat all those cookies, they are that good and he said these could out do his favorite cookie, Snickerdoodles.    That's saying a lot coming from someone who never really has much to say about things I bake, and I often really want his opinion about things.  So, glad you love them, Kev!

They are GREAT, addicting, simple and even pretty low fat!  Here's the recipe from Anna's blog, but go check hers out on the link above and read what she had to say about them!  I almost followed her recipe to a tee, but accidentally forgot the vanilla!  And I toasted my pecans in the microwave on a plate, for about two minutes, turning them after one minute.   I baked mine 14 minutes exactly and she suggests 15-18 minutes. 

Pecan Chewies

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, lightly packed
6 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons all purpose flour (.7 oz/16 grams)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups toasted and finely chopped pecans (8 oz)**
1 1/2 oz finely grated or chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate (I used some Hershey's special dark)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Stir powdered sugar, cocoa powder, flour and salt together in a bowl

Place egg whites in bowl of a stand mixer and beat just until foamy. Gradually add sugar mixture, scraping sides of bowl so that all of it is added to the whites. Add vanilla. Increase mixer speed to high and beat for about a minute and a half. Mixture will thicken slightly, but it will not be light and fluffy like meringue. Stir in nuts and chocolate.

Drop the dough onto the baking sheets by rounded tablespoons, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies on the middle rack for 15 -18 minutes or until dry on the surface. Slide the cookies, still attached to the parchment onto a wire rack. Let cool completely, then carefully peel the cookies from the parchment.

Store cookies in an airtight container or freeze.

Makes about 2 dozen (sometimes I get fewer).  *I got 28 cookies!

**To toast, spread pecans on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or until they become fragrant and release their oils. Cool completely before chopping.

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You won't know how good these are until you try them!  And you need to!   Besides some sugar, these just have egg whites (I had some egg whites frozen in the freezer and they thawed beautifully), a little flour, cocoa powder (which is full of antioxidants and fiber!), a little dark chocolate (also full of antioxidants!) and pecans (nuts are a good fat in limited quantity).  See, not bad on the "bad-for-you" cookie scale!  Kevin's new favorite cookie!  Thanks you, Anna!

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Copy, copy, copy, sometimes I feel like my seven year old, Parker, always trying to copy Scott, my 10 year old, and do just as he does.  Parker does this A LOT, every little thing he can do to be and do just as Scott does, even down to not deciding on his own which cereal to have until Scott decides or honey or jam with his peanut butter.  Anyway, Anna is such an amazing cookie baker, as I aspire to be and she comes up with some GREAT recipes.  She did it again and I told her I'd make these, especially because they are somewhat healthy and I'm trying to eat healthier, but just can't give up baking!  THESE COOKIES ARE REALLY GOOD--with the whole wheat flour and the extra boost from added protein, that and besides a little butter,  they are low in fat (peanut butter doesn't count, it's a good fat!) and sugar.  So, if you need/want a treat, but still want some nutrition in that treat, you've got to make these!  Check out Anna's post about them on her link below as she gives nutrition information and a great write up and picture of her cookies! Once again, thanks, Anna.

Stir & Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies, by Anna at Cookie Madness, the few changes I made are in italics

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (2.25 oz) – all purpose okay too--I used the white whole wheat
1/4 cup protein powder — I used soy protein
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons unsalted butter — room temperature
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
5 tablespoons turbinado sugar **
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg --I used 1/4 cup Egg Beaters w/touch of yolk
1/4 cup peanut butter (a not-too-sweet type like Smart Balance) I used 2 T. Smuckers Natural and 2 T. Naturally More Peanut Butter (my favorite, but I'm almost out!)
1/2 cup chocolate chips –

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 1 or 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the flour, protein powder, salt & baking soda together in a bowl; set aside.

Beat the butter, applesauce, sugar, molasses, vanilla and peanut butter together in a second bowl. Stir in the egg. I do this all with a spoon.

Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and stir until blended. Add the chocolate chips and stir. Scoop up tablespoons of dough and shape them into neat rounds. If you don’t want to bake all the dough at once, just scoop up what you need and chill the rest. The cookies don’t spread much or change shape much, so try to make the mounds of dough look nice rather than scruffy.

Fit the mounds onto one or two cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes or until cookies appear set. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. These taste good after they’ve cooled. They’re not very good while still hot.

Makes 12 cookies

**Turbinado sugar works very well, but I think packed brown sugar would work well too. Evaporated cane juice would also be a good choice. I also think it might be fun to swap agave syrup for the molasses or use almond butter in place of peanut butter.

Anna mentioned that these don't spread out much, so I decided to flatten these with a fork as is done with traditional peanut butter cookies, I also sprinkled them with just a tiny bit of turbinado sugar.

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Sam loves Bob!  If he hears Tes' name (Bob's wife), he goes crazy saying "Bob, Bob, Bob".  If I tell him we need to get ready for church, "Bob, Bob, Bob."  Every Monday night, Bob and Tes come over for Family Night with us.  If I remind Sam that it's Family Night, he goes crazy saying, "Bob, Bob, Bob."  When he's playing on a toy phone, "Bob, blah, blah, blah, Bob...." and even when our phone rings, "Bob."  We all love you, too, Bob--AND TES!

Singing "Do As I'm Doing" for Family Night (it's an action song)

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TWD--Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins

The recipe for today's Tuesday's With Dorie as we bake our way through the book, Baking From My Home To Yours was chosen by Rebecca at Ezra Pound Cake.  It was nice to have a quick, savory baked good to throw together this week and I really like corn bread/muffins.  In fact when I went to New York City this past November, we ate at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill and in the bread basket with our dinner was the most amazing corn muffins I'd ever had.  They were made with blue corn and had jalapenos and spices and corn inside and were so moist and perfect.  I loved them.  When I got home from the trip, I Googled  the recipe and found it.  Now I just need to find blue cornmeal!  BUT, these TWD muffins ARE really good.  I really liked them.  They have just a bit of a kick  from the peppers and chili powder and are moist and slightly crumbly like cornbread should be.  GREAT recipe, Dorie and GREAT pick, Rebecca!

I made two small mistakes that I was rather bummed about, but all still worked out!

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1--I had baked something on the almost bottom rack of the oven earlier in the day and popped these muffins in to bake without even thinking about it.  I made six little mini corn muffins and after they had baked for 10 minutes, I went to take them out of the oven and realized the rack was not in the right position!  I fixed that and then baked the bigger muffins just five more minutes.  While I thought the outsides were darker than I'd have liked, the muffins were still good.

2--I totally spaced putting the cilantro in the muffins--even had it on the cutting board ready to add in.  Sigh!  I was so bummed about it, but I was clever and made some cilantro butter to put on the muffins.

These went great with the Chicken Black Bean Tortilla Bake I made for dinner to go with it.

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Sour cream and chopped avocado on top.  I thought it was really good, especially with a savory corn and pepper muffin on the side!

The cilantro butter

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Thanks for the great savory pick, Rebecca!

There was lots of chopping involved with the taco bake and getting these muffins ready--a perfect time to try my new Vidalia Chop Wizard that my parents gave me for Christmas.  This thing, even though I loathe onions and will never chop them in this, worked great for chopping everything from the jalapeno and sweet peppers, to the avocado!  Thanks, Mom and Dad--love it!

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Did You Know?

Did you know, (so I've heard), that if you knock a large Tupperware container of  homemade chicken stock out  of your fridge, that 1) the lid will not stay locked (What's up with that Tupperware?) and 2) that you'll most likely have chicken stock hiding under your dishwasher for a while and your kitchen will smell like chicken for days?  Did you know that?  Just thought I'd share in case it happens to you, you'll know what to expect.  I'm just saying, I've heard this!  ; )

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Brownies, Muffins and Bread and Some Stuff In Between

If I get nothing else done today, I'm happy that besides helping the kids with all their chores, I also got all the Christmas stuff put away!  Quite the accomplishment that I was putting off and dreading.  Sure looks bare in here.  Bye-bye Christmas!  (Sam wasn't thrilled to see it all go away.)

Last night Kevin decided to play a guessing game with a bag of M&M's.  I think it was the 14 oz. size.  He had each of the boys and he and I write down how many we thought were in the bag and also how many of each color, this was a holiday bag, so there was red, green and light green.  Then each of the boys counted a color and we added them all up.

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No, that's not M&M's all over Sam's face, it's pizza from dinner!

And the results of the counting?  First of all none of us were even close.  My guess was just about as bad as the kids, 182 I think.  Even Kevin's guess of 350 won for the closest guess, but wasn't really anywhere near the 540 M&M's we counted!  And RED (279) far out numbered the greens by more than half I think.  Fun and learning!  Let's go count the 45 oz. bag of plain colored M&M's I got Kevin at Christmas!  (NOT!)  He did count a 14 oz. bag of peanut M&M's with the boys the other day and what color do you think has the most?  Just for fun--there were 25% orange, 20% blue, 18% green, 16% yellow, 11% brown and only 10% red.  Red didn't win on that one!  FYI, Just in case you were wondering all this.  I know I couldn't sleep at night thinking about it! jk  Kevin, he's a numbers guy (professor of accounting) and this kind of stuff thrills him!  He also collects M&M dispensers--hence the reason he gets M&M's at all the holidays.

Okay, on to the real good stuff--baking! ; )  More Black Bean Low Fat Brownies!

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I know, my last post was all about this, but would you ever in a million years guess  that these brownies have black beans (pureed) instead of oil?  I wouldn't.  And especially after tasting them.  You. Can. Not. Tell.  I followed the recipe I posted last time exactly again, but I left out the extra chocolate chips and walnuts.  Again, only because Taylor prefers a plain ol' brownie.  I also added Andes chopped chocolate mints to half the 9x13 pan after they came out of the oven, when they melted, I spread it out, you can also just leave them chunky.  After they cooled, I cut them into 24 bars.  Half plain, half with the mint.  I waited a bit too long into chilling to cut the chocolate mint, and it cracked a lot, but darn it, the brownies were/are good.  My goal is to not have any today!  These are very low fat and so good.  They ARE a bit cakey, I've decided, but moist and fudgy and in my opinion, more brownie-like than cakey.  Try them and decide what you think.  You'll be having a treat and getting some extra protein and fiber in your diet!

Moving on.....

I had three (small) very ripe bananas on the counter (I actually usually always do, I buy extra on purpose).  Not wanting to make my usual low fat mini banana muffins, I did a quick (as in I found these without even looking) search for something to do with the bananas and found none other than Nick, The Peanut Butter Boy to the rescue.  I whipped up a half batch of his Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bread (link above) and made 8 large muffins.  These are whole grain and low fat and they are yummy!  I used Gharidelli 60% Cacao chips and those are huge, so I chopped them up a little to distribute the chocolate a little more.  I wanted a bit of crunch, so next time I'll either use crunchy peanut butter or add in a few chopped peanuts, maybe even peanut butter chips--then you're getting into the not-as-healthy category, but....Thanks, Nick!

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Do you think I should do some laundry?

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This is just one closet full, Taylor helped load them up.  Uh, we needed another basket!  Sigh!  I love laundry.  Please hear the sarcasm in my voice.  Back to baking!  : )

Go read this NYT article by Jim Lahey all about this amazing bread.  It is so good and SO effortless!  This is the kind of crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-flavorful-on-the-inside bread you often get at restaurants.  I LOVED it, so did Anna from Cookie Madness who got me interested in trying it.  I will probably never knead bread again.  Okay, maybe, because this is different from a good old fashioned loaf of bread, but it's great when you just want to throw a dough together, forget about it for a day and then bake it!  Did I say it's good?  It's GOOD!  (Dad, you'd love it!)  If you are subscribed to Cooks Illustrated, they also have a No Knead Bread that is good, too!  I have adapted a version taking some ideas from both recipes.  

No Knead Bread adapted from a New York Times article from Nov. 2006, by Jim Lahey and Mark Bittman  Read the article for the how to and their recipe.  Here is what I did.

No Knead Bread My Way

1  1/2 cups bread flour

1  1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1  1/4 teaspoons salt

1  5/8 cups water, room temperature

cornmeal

In a large bowl, combine flours, yeast and salt.  Whisk together.  Add water and stir until combined.  The dough will be sticky!  Cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Let dough rest in a warm place for 12-18 hours.  The dough will look bubbly.

Lightly flour your work surface and place the dough on it.  Add a little flour and knead the dough over a few times.  Cover  with plastic wrap and let it rest on work surface for about 15 minutes.  Using a little more flour, shape dough into a ball.  Sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal on a cotton towel.  Set dough ball on it and cover with towel.  Let rise for about 2 hours. 

About a half hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees.  Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot in the oven as it heats.  (Cast iron or enamel is best, but Pyrex or ceramic works--of these, I only have a Pyrex dish and that is what I have used--A cast iron Dutch oven is on my wish list!)  Remove pot from oven.  With hand under towel, turn dough into pot, seam side up is okay.  Shake pan to evenly distribute dough.  It's okay if it's rustic!  Cover with lid and return to oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove lid and bake another 15-30 minutes, until loaf is nicely browned and crispy.  Cool on a wire rack. 

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Look at this airy, chewy, crispy bread!

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I made this loaf, too, following some of the ideas from the CI recipe, it uses some lager or ale in place of some of the water, but I used all water (1  1/4 cup),  3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar with the 1  1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon yeast.  Seems a little daunting, but mix this up, forget about it, shape it to rise and bake.  It's really so easy.  This all white flour loaf I made was even better than the wheat loaf!  The crust was PERFECT and the inside, even MORE PERFECT!  I can't even tell you, you need to make this bread!

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DID I MENTION THIS BREAD IS GOOD?!

I've got another loaf in it's 18 hour "rising" stage right now that I've used 1  1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, 1  1/2 cups Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour, 1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Cereal Mix.  Can't wait for this one to be baked!  I'm scared to try all whole wheat flour, but that eventually is my plan--gotta get those good carbs in!  Thanks to Anna for opening my eyes to this recipe I hadn't seen before.  Some others who have made the bread and blogged about it are Jaden at Steamy Kitchen (how cute is her son whipping up a batch of the bread!!!), Karen at Family Style Food (added herbs to the bread, yummy!) and Sue at Basically Baked (awesome looking loaves--one with walnuts and dried cranberries added--gotta try that!).

Get ya'self some buddah and make this bread!

How would you take this bah-bah away from this cuteness?!

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He was just walking around with the blankie wrapped around his head and plopped down on the floor in total happiness!  Sigh.

And now, I'm signing off.  I started this post this morning and now at 11:00 p.m., I must go to bed!