Friday, September 30, 2011

Pumpkin Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips (Healthy)


This is some really good Pumpkin Banana Bread!  It is super moist, flavorful and quite healthy.  I made it with whole wheat pastry flour and it has some oats.  It also doesn’t have very much oil and is low in sugar. All that said, it is probably my favorite banana or pumpkin bread to date.  (I’ve made many different recipes before.)  Pumpkin Banana Bread 9-29-11

I took a number of recipes and adapted them but my main inspiration came from seeing Fallon’s Pumpkin Banana Bread she posted recently on her blog, Fallon’s Cucina.  Hers might be even more healthy as she used some egg whites, Stevia and spelt flour.

I am happy with how good this bread was and even more happy that it is good enough that my seven year old asked me if I’d make it again and it’s not even all gone yet (almost though!).  Of course, I added the chocolate chips just for the kids’ sake. ;)

Pumpkin Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips (Healthy), by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

3/4 cup pureed banana (about 2 medium bananas)

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1  3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup quick oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best)

3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x5x2 inch bread pan with cooking spray.

Puree the bananas in a food processor (my favorite way, but mashing with a fork is fine, too).  Put the bananas, pumpkin, oil, eggs and vanilla in a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.  In another bowl, combine together all the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir with a spatula until well mixed.  Fold in the chocolate chips. 

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with jut a few crumbs.  Let the bread cool for 10 minutes in the pan, the run a knife around the edges and turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

DSCF7334 The bread was still just every so slightly warm when I first sliced it—couldn’t wait any longer.  It was delicious and still great the next day.  Have you made anything with pumpkin yet?  The time is now. ;)

This post has been added to Jeanette’s Whole Grain Recipe Roundup on her blog Jeanette’s Healthy Living.  Check out all the goodness!

This post has been added to Katherine Martinelli's Friday Shout Out Pumpkin Blog Hop.  Check out all the other pumpkin goodness, too!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Devil’s Food Cake Mix Cookies and Pumpkin Spice Cake Mix Cookies (Low Fat)—12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies AND Cookie Carnival

Devil's Food Cake Mix Cookies

You might not be ready to hear this, heck, I’m not ready either, but today begins the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies!  Bahhh!  Ready or not, this group is here to help you.  Every Thursday from now until December 15, we’ll share with you another holiday goodie you can make and share with your friends and family during the season—just to make your life that much easier.  Wish we could be there to actually do the baking for you! ;)  This first post just happens to coincide with my post for Cookie Carnival as well.

This year, the group for Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies is being lead by Brenda from Meal Planning Magic.  Thanks, Brenda!

For Cookie Carnival this month, we were challenged to make any cookie we wanted that uses a boxed cake mix.  I have had cookies before that just have a cake mix and pumpkin puree and have been aching to break open a can or two of pumpkin puree now that it’s officially fall.   A friend told me that you just use one boxed cake mix and 15 ounces of canned pumpkin, and bake the cookies at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Most often, these cookies are made with spice cake mix---so I did that.


For the Pumpkin Spice Cake Mix Cookies, I added some chocolate chips and toasted chopped walnuts.  These cookies are good.

Pumpkin Spice Cake Mix Cookies (Low Fat), by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 box spice cake mix

15 ounces canned pumpkin puree

1 cup (6 ounces) semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Put the pumpkin in the bowl of an electric mixer, add half the dry cake mix and let it beat on low speed.  When it starts to combine together, continue adding the rest of the mix and beat until all is combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.  Scoop onto baking sheets with a cookie scoop or spoon.  Sprinkle each cookie with turbinado sugar.   Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for a few minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Pumpkin Spice Cake Mix Cookies 9-28-11

Since I’d opened a large can (29 oz.) of pumpkin, I decided the only thing to do was use it up making more cookies with another cake mix.  You’re probably wondering how a 29 oz. can of pumpkin can yield two 15 ounce portions for each of these recipes.  Me, too.  All I know is that I weighed them on my kitchen scale both times as I was making the cookies and it was 15 ounces each time.  Go figure.


I can’t ever seem to just leave well enough alone when it comes to chocolate, so the other cookies I chose to make had a devil’s food cake mix, and more added chocolate chips.  And darn it all, THESE are good cookies.  While I just don’t use boxed cake mixes, I like that these cookies are pretty low in fat, instead of adding lots of oil and eggs, it’s just pumpkin, which is quite healthy with the added benefit of fiber.  I sprinkled these with some fall colored sprinkles, but these would definitely be perfect with Christmas colors, or for any occasion you’d like.


Devil’s Food Cake Mix Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 box devil’s food cake mix

15 ounces canned pumpkin puree

1  1/2 cups (9 ounces) semi sweet chocolate chips

Colorful Sprinkles for decorating

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put the pumpkin puree in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add about half the dry cake mix and start beating together on low until it begins to combine.  Add the rest of the cake mix and beat until all combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula, scraping the sides of the bowl as well.  Scoop on to baking sheets with cookie scoop or spoon.   Lightly flatten each cookie with the bottom of a glass sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with decorations.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.  


Yes, both these cookies are soft and cakey.  I couldn’t help but think about another certain cakey cookie—whoopie pies.  So while I took most of these cookies to a church activity, I had to give the whoopie pies a fair try.  I melted some marshmallow in the microwave and spooned up a couple scoops of it to fill the whoopie pies.

Devil's Food Cake Mix Whoopie Pies 9-28-11

Guess which cookie I liked better—devil’s food or pumpkin spice?   Hmmm.


Pumpkin Spice Cake Mix Whoopie Pies 9-28-11 Any other cake mix flavors you think would be good with the pumpkin puree?  Gingerbread would be.  Probably not strawberry. ;)  You’ll want to try these!  And check out all the other bakers for this first installment of Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies AND Cookie Carnival.  Thanks!  Get your holiday baking on!

Cookie Carnival


12 weeks of christmas graphic

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

TWD—Flip-Over Peach Cake


For Tuesdays With Dorie this week, Becky from Project Domestication chose Flip-Over Plum Cake (page 42).  I made this not long after getting the list of recipes for the month.  We had family over for desserts and I decided to make this cake.

I made it with peaches instead of plums because that is what I had at the time.  The peaches are tosses with a little sugar and spice (cinnamon and ginger).  I omitted the coriander and used 2% milk.  This was definitely a different kind of cake with a very different method of pouring the cake batter over melted butter in the baking pan and then laying the fruit over the top.  Thought I was making some kind of soup there for a bit. ;)  But never fear—Dorie has done it again.  The cake turned out really well.  It was different, but surprisingly good.


The peaches sank down into the cake and the butter made nice crispy edges.  I’m not sure how else to explain it, but everyone actually really liked the cake and it was gone in a flash.  It was easy to make and I’d probably make it again for other occasions.


These are literally the few pictures I snapped before the cake was eaten up!

Becky will have the recipe on her blog.  This is a great on to have in your aresnal.  Give it a try for something different and unique.  Of course the cake was perfect served with a dollop of whipped cream on top.


It will be fun to check out other blogger’s Flip-Over Cakes at TWD Headquarters

Friday, September 23, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Streusel Rice Krispies Treats

Happy Autumn!   These Pumpkin Spice Streusel Rice Krispies Treats are perfect for the season and are my new favorite! 


You may or may not know that I have a thing for Rice Krispies Treats, but I do!  I cannot be stopped. ;)  At the grocery store the other day I was just whizzing around grabbing the things we needed on my list when I spotted something new displayed at the end of the baking aisle--


Had to try them.  I got home and got to work on a treat using these mallows.  There was already a recipe on the back of the package for the traditional treats using these marshmallows.  But I took it a few steps further and came up with a delicious Rice Krispies Treat and I love these.  What I often think of with pumpkin desserts is streusel topping, so I made some streusel and just baked it on a baking sheet.

Streusel 9-23-11

After that cooled, I whipped up the easiest no bake treat ever (these Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispies Treats) and stirred in the streusel as well.  I left a little for the top as well.  Darn it all if these are not just divine!  I suppose you have to really like streusel, that crispy crumbly topping that is found on muffins and crisps and things—it’s in every bite of these treats.  Who doesn’t love streusel?  Probably my husband (eyeroll and sigh). ;)


I couldn’t even wait for these to set up very long to try them!  And now I need to put them in the freezer or give them away before I eat any more!

Pumpkin Spice Streusel Krispy Treats 9-23-11

Pumpkin Spice Streusel Rice Krispies Treats, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!


1/2 cup all purpose flour (60 grams)

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

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

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Cut in the pieces of butter by rubbing it together with your fingers until it all feels like wet sand with a few clumps.  Mix in the chopped pecans.  Lay mixture on a baking sheet, not too thin, all of it should fit in about a 6x8 rectangle or so.  Bake for 6 minutes.  Scrape streusel up from the pan and mix it around.  Bake for 4 more minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit until cooled.  Break into clumps, some of it will still be sandy, but that’s okay—it’s toasty and good!

Rice Krispies Treats--

5 ounces Pumpkin Spice Mallows (from Kraft) (half a bag)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups (80 grams or 2  3/4 ounces) Rice Krispies Cereal

Line an 8x8 inch pan with nonstick foil (or regular foil) with the edges hanging over the pan.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.  In a large microwave safe bowl (I use a glass bowl), melt the marshmallows and butter.  It only takes less than one minute.  Do 20 second intervals.  Stir with a wooden spoon until melted and mixed together.  Add the cereal and after just barely starting to stir it together, add all but about 1/3 cup of the streusel and carefully stir it all together until it is all coated with the marshmallow mixture.  Put the cereal mixture in the 8x8 pan and just lightly spread it down evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining streusel over the top and then push it down evenly.  (If you do it this way, it will stick better than if you flatten out the cereal mixture first.

Let sit at room temperature until hardened (30 minutes is fine!—or longer).  Remove from pan using foil edges.  Lay on a cutting board and cut into desired size pieces.


You’ll want to bite right into one of these and you won’t be able to resist another and another and another bite!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lee Napoli’s Chocolate Chip Cookies


I'm always up for trying different chocolate chip cookie recipes, even though I have my favorite go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe that I almost always use.  My adapted version of the New York Times/Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie is always a favorite of everyone who tastes it.  I’m never against  trying out another recipe, which is what I felt like doing recently and was specifically looking for a recipe that used egg yolks as I had a few to use up.  Something made me think of  this Lee Napoli Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that I’ve seen a number of places, most notably on Anna’s blog, Cookie Madness.  Anna made these a couple years ago and I swear not long after that I made them as well, but I cannot find anywhere that documents I actually did.  So I decided it was time.  Who is Lee Napoli?  She is a Boston pastry chef who knows a thing or two about chocolate and pastry.  A few years ago, she opened her own shop, Chocolee Chocolates in Boston.

While making this recipe, it made me think of other similar recipes that have melted butter, like this very popular Allrecipes cookie, Best, Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie, which is the recipe my mom uses to sell cookies at their local farmer’s market.  She makes them BIG and sells two in a package for, I think, $1.25!  People love them.  Another popular, well loved chocolate chip cookie that uses melted butter is the Cook's Illustrated version.  One more that I can think of is Alton Brown's Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie.  I agree that they were all good cookies, but for some reason, those were never my favorite.  I thought I just didn’t like chocolate chip cookies made with melted butter.

Until I finally tried Lee’s.  I REALLY like this cookie.  I’m not sure what the difference is, well, except that after checking each of them, none have the same amounts of butter, sugar or flour, which leads me to believe that really does make a difference.  (Okay, I did already know that.) ;)

Want a chocolate chip cookie warm from the oven?

Lee Napoli's CCC's 

Aw, have two, you’ll find it hard to stop at just one.

One thing Chef Lee mentions is to always underbake cookies slightly so when they cool they’ll remain chewy.  I agree with her, but still added a few minutes baking time to mine and they were still plenty underbaked.  If I’d have gone with her baking time, I would have had raw cookies.  I’m sure that is just the difference in ovens.  After making a couple baking sheets of cookies, I put the rest of the dough into cookie dough balls and froze them to bake at another time. 

I’ve heard before that certain chocolate chip cookies, especially the ones with melted butter, have a caramel taste to them.  I’ve never really felt that way with other recipes I’ve tried, but this one I can definitely tell there is a nice caramel, brown sugar undertone.  The star of a chocolate chip cookie to me is always the chocolate.  My favorite are the Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Chocolate Chips.  LOVE them!  You can find them at just about every grocery store in the baking aisle. 

Lee Napoli’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar (220 grams)

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (110 grams)

3/4 cup granulated sugar (150 grams)

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

3  1/4 cups all purpose flour (390 grams)

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 cups good quality chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Pour the butter in to the bowl of an electric mixer and let cool, 10 minutes or so.  Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a medium sized bowl and whisk together.  Set aside.  When it is just lukewarm, add the sugars.   and beat well.  Beat in the eggs, yolks and vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients and beat just until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets and bake 7-10 minutes.  I baked mine 9 and 10 minutes.  (This recipe is easily halved, I got at least 4 dozen cookies from the full recipe.)

DSCF7142Two cookies not enough for you, have a stack of them!  These are now #2 on my list of favorite chocolate chip cookies.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TWD—Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbreads


Slice-and-bake chilled icebox cookies with a chocolate dough and salt and pepper?  I just wasn’t sure about this.  For one, I knew my husband wouldn’t even try one.  He doesn’t like shortbread or any cookie with that same similar texture (crazy guy!).  I loved these!  Dangerously so.  I purposely only made half the recipe and then after liking them so much, I took them to a little church meeting to pass them out and not have so many left at home.  The half recipe made about 18 cookies. 


Oh, I drizzled the cookies with some melted bittersweet chocolate, because, well, I just wanted to.  The cookies themselves are not very sweet and with their added salt and pepper, really benefitted from the extra chocolate.  I also used a dark cocoa in the cookie dough just because I felt like it.  And can I just say that especially when I’m halving a recipe, I love using my kitchen scale to measure ingredients.  Perfect amounts every time.  I followed the recipe exactly and for half the recipe I melted two ounces of bittersweet chocolate for drizzling on the cookies. 

You’ll want to make these cookies, they would be great for many occasions and would be fun to make people try to guess what that taste in them is.  I didn’t think the pepper was too strong and is not over-powering at all and you can definitely taste the salt, which is great with all the dark chocolate! 

Tia at Buttercream Barbie chose the recipe this week for Tuesdays With Dorie and she’ll have the recipe on her blog.  I can’t believe we’re coming down to the home stretch having almost baked our way through Dorie Greenspan's entire book, Baking From My Home to Yours.  I just found out today that I get the pleasure again of choosing another recipe in October.  Besides needing to get back on the French Fridays With Dorie bandwagon, whatever will we (all us TWD bloggers) do when it’s all over?  I know one thing I need to do is go back and get the recipes I either missed before joining the group or couldn’t do some weeks.  I really love that I’ve almost made every recipe in this book.  How cool is that to be able to say?  Thank you, TWD!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cracked Wheat Rolls and Homemade Hamburger Buns


I don’t like commercial hamburger buns.  I buy them now and then for the family, but I don’t eat them.  I don’t even care for the ones labeled whole wheat. Lately I’ve been making them homemade whenever we’re having some type of hamburger.  Last night I made some delicious Black Bean Patties (I adapted this recipe from Dara at Cookin’ Canuck and it was so good!).  I decided the guys would have hamburgers, but I was excited to try these vegetarian bean patties!  I saw a bag of cracked wheat in my fridge and thought I’d make some cracked wheat rolls/hamburger buns to go with dinner.  The recipe I chose was found at Allrecipes.  It is a perfect wheaty roll but without too much density that you sometimes get from using a whole wheat flour, though this does have some along with the cracked wheat.

Cracked Wheat Rolls 9-14-11

Like all homemade bread, these sure smelled great while they were baking and the wonderful smell perfumed the house all evening!

Cracked Wheat Rolls or Hamburger Buns, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Allrecipes

1  1/4 cups water

1/2 cup cracked wheat

2  1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one .25 ounce packet)

1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/3 cup warm water

2 tablespoons butter substitute (I used Bestlife), regular unsalted butter is fine

1 tablespoon table salt

2 tablespoons molasses

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup warm milk (I used 2%)

1 cup whole wheat flour

4-5 cups all purpose flour

1 egg—for an egg wash

In a small saucepan, bring the 1  1/4 cups water and the cracked wheat to a boil, turn down to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.  (I spread it out on a plate and it cool down while you do the next step, which takes 10 minutes.

Dissolve the yeast in a medium sized bowl with 1/3 cup warm water and the sugar.  Stir together, then let sit 10 minutes. 

Add the cracked wheat mixture, yeast mixture, butter, salt, molasses, honey, and milk to the bowl of an electric mixer and with the paddle attachment, mix together to combine.  Add the one cup of whole wheat flour and two cups of the all purpose flour.  Mix until well combined.  Clean off the paddle attachment, scrape the sides of the bowl and add the dough attachment to the mixer.  With the mixer going on low speed, add the remaining all purpose flour a little at a time until the dough starts coming together.  After two of the remaining cups are added, let the mixer "”knead” the dough for a minute or so.  If it is still sticking to the sides, add about 1/4 cup more flour, let it mix.  Keep adding a little flour at a time until the ball of dough no longer sticks to the sides.  Let it knead for 8-10 minutes on medium-low speed.  Remove the bowl from the mixer. 

Take the dough out of the bowl and spray it with cooking spray.  Return the ball of dough to the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm, dry place for an hour until doubled in size.  Punch down the dough and make 3 ounce sized balls of dough—you’ll get about 15 rolls.  Set them on a baking sheet and cover with a damp tea towel.  Let rise for about 45 minutes.  During the last 20 minutes of rise time, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brush each roll with egg wash.  Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes.  Let baking sheet sit on a wire rack a few minutes.  Remove rolls from pan to wire rack and cool completely. 

Slice open to serve as buns for burgers and sandwiches or serve as rolls.

Here’s the Black Bean Patty I made for dinner with the rolls.  Try out this recipe from Cookin' Canuck.

Black Bean Patty from Cookin' Canuck 9-14-11Between this black bean veggie patty and these cracked wheat buns, it was a great, healthy sandwich!

Cracked Wheat Rolls/Black Bean Patty 9-14-11

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Marbled Choco-Banana Muffins & Crumb Blog’s Granola—Secret Recipe Club


Come on in, sit down—have some breakfast—or a snack!

Amanda contacted me this morning about doing a fill-in post for a blogger who was left out of The Secret Recipe Club posts this month.  I agreed immediately to whip something up from Isabelle's blog, Crumb.  Check out the cute picture of her holding a parsnip in wonder over what in the world to do with it on the link with her name to her bio!  She has a wonderful blog that showcases her love of food!  Browsing through her blog, I came upon a couple recipes and had a really hard time deciding between the two.  Then it hit me—they are both breakfast foods, I’ll do them both!

So it is with great pleasure I present to you Isabelle’s Crumb Granola and her fantastic Chocolate Banana Marble Muffins (I’ve adapted the titles and the recipes every so slightly).

First up—I had just run out of granola, which to me is like having nothing to eat for breakfast.  I eat it everyday with some Greek yogurt and fruit (usually banana unless berries are in season)!  I liked everything about Isabelle’s granola recipe, which she titles Chewy Blueberry-Apricot Granola.  I just needed to make a few changes to the things I put in my granola as to what I had on hand, but this turned out GREAT.  I didn’t get this done in time for breakfast today, so I can’t wait for tomorrow morning to come!

Crumbs Blog Granola 9-13-11 

Crumb Blog’s Granola, by Isabelle, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

2 cups old fashioned oats

1/2 cup quick oats (or just another 1/2 cup old fashioned if you don’t have both)

1/4 cups sesame seeds

1/4 cup shelled pistachios

1/2 cup almonds, chopped

1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/3 cup dried tart cherries, chopped

1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup dry skim milk powder

2 tablespoons flax seed meal

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup canola oil

2/3 cup honey

pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat (foil works, too).  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, flour, milk, spices and salt.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the oil and honey and whisk together to combine.  Pour the oil/honey mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.  Turn the mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet and use your hands to gently press the granola mixture into a large mound in the center of the pan.

Transfer the baking sheet to second from the top rack of the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Using a wooden spoon, gently break up the granola into large clumps (it will still be quite wet at this point).  Spread it evenly over the surface of the pan.

Return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes or until lightly toasted and brown, stirring the granola halfway through to ensure it browns evenly.  Allow the granola to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container (or bag or jar some up to give away!)

Variation—you really can add any nuts and fruit you’d like, just follow the amounts in total in the recipe. 


I’ve never “met” a granola I didn’t really like, but this one is up there with one of the best I’ve made and tasted!

I’m also a sucker for all things banana (you might have known that already), so while I was looking through Isabelle’s blog at what to make, I also ran across these Marbled Choco-Banana Muffins and couldn’t resist making them as well.  I am so glad I did!  These are fantastic and perfectly moist and chocolaty!  They might as well be a cupcake with frosting, they are that good—but I even made a few healthy substitutions and am perfectly happy with how they turned out and they just don’t need that frosting!

Chocolate Banana Marble Muffins from Crumbs Blog 9-13-11   

Marbled Choco-Banana Muffins, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys! from Isabelle at Crumb

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup Bestlife butter substitute, softened (you can use regular butter also)

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup mashed banana (2 medium-large bananas)

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1  1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose) (180 grams)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

3 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s dark cocoa)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line it with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Add the mashed bananas, yogurt and vanilla.  The mixture will look curdled, but it’s okay.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir just until combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Measure out 1  1/2 cups of the batter into a small bowl and add the cocoa powder.  Fold together gently until combined.

Spoon the batter into the pan, alternating between the two batters.  Swirl each with a sharp knife or a toothpick to create a marbled effect.  You don’t want to swirl too much or it will just mix together.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for 5 minutes or so before gently removing them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Crumbs Blog 9-13-11

My four year old just ate one of these moist, delicious muffins for lunch and said, “When I grow up and get big, I’m going to make these all the time!”  Shh, don’t tell him there’s Greek yogurt and whole wheat flour in there! ;)  So glad I was able to bake from Isabelle’s blog, Crumb today as a fill-in for The Secret Recipe Club!

TWD—Classic Brownies with Walnuts

TWD--Classic Brownies

Good ol’ classic brownies are one of my favorite things to bake because you can just whip them up so fast.  I followed Dorie’s recipe exactly except that I omitted the espresso powder.  Oh, and I only used half a cup of walnuts instead of one cup. 

Do you like your brownies fresh (cooled) from the oven?  Or do you prefer them chilled?  The photo above is some that I sliced not long after making the brownies as I needed them for a get together. 


My photos aren’t that great as my computer wasn’t letting me edit them.  sigh

This photo is taken the next day after the brownies spent the night in the fridge.  I prefer them chilled, but these are good both ways.  This recipe makes a pretty dark chocolate flavored brownie.  These have a lot of bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate in them. 

I have a favorite go-to brownie recipe, which are also my take on a Dorie BFMHTY recipe, the Tribute to Katharine Hepburn Brownies.  I’ve simplified the recipe, but use it for every kind of brownie I make with all kinds of mix-ins.  One thing I like about this recipe is that it is more frugal, since the only chocolate is cocoa powder.  (Besides the addition of chopped chocolate or other mix-ins.)  I know this recipe by heart.

Katrina’s Go-To Simple Brownies, adapted from BFMHTY Tribute to Katharine Hepburn Brownies

1/2 cup unsalted butter (4 ounces or 1 stick)

1/2 cup cocoa powder (41 grams)

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup all purpose flour (30 grams)

1/4 teaspoon salt

any mix-ins you’d like

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray (or use non-stick foil).  Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt together the butter and cocoa and stir to combine.  Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.  Add the eggs and whisk to combine.  Whisk in the sugar, then the vanilla.  Fold in the flour and salt just until combined.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool completely on wire rack.  Chill in refrigerator for a couple hours—is ideal.  Remove from pan with foil edges and peel the foil off the brownies.  Cut into desired sized pieces.


Do try Dorie’s Classic Brownies recipe.  You can get the recipe for it on Anne’s blog, Anne Strawberry.

Tuesdays With Dorie—it will be brownie heaven over there!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Uma’s Orange Cake with Raspberry and Whipped Cream Topping—Secret Recipe Club

Uma's Orange Cake--SRC 9-4-11

September Secret Recipe Club is here!  I’ve got another good one for you.  The blog I had this month was Elana, the Cooking Rookie at Cookbook of Trial and Error.  I was not familiar with the blog, but I spent some time scouring the blog posts and from the looks of the photos and all the yummy recipes, I had a hard time deciding which recipe to make.  I love that she mentions that last year she lost 55 pounds in 7 months and a lot of her recipes are tweaked with substitutions to save on calories and fat—yet the food and recipes still look delicious.  Some might not know that from Sept. 2007 to March 2008 I lost 40 pounds doing The Biggest Loser online plan.  Still could lose another 20 or so, but am proud to at least be holding on to that 40 pounds gone AND have THIS blog. ;)

After choosing to make the orange cake, I was then surprised by the instructions for the cake.  The recipe calls for one egg and two egg whites and the egg whites are beaten with the sugar until it forms peaks—almost like a meringue.  I have folded beaten egg whites into cake batter before, but not with all the sugar added to it.  I was actually a little apprehensive, but decided to follow the recipe instructions.  Even once the cake baked---

DSCF6834      I was thinking it was just going to be “meh” and have that lower-fat texture to it that I often don’t care for.  I was happy to find out that it was actually very moist with a nice crumb and super flavorful with all the orange in it!

The recipe included nonfat yogurt (I used Greek) and also had margarine—for that I used Bestlife buttery baking sticks, which are a 50% less fat than butter, no trans fat, no hydrogenated oils “butter” that I’ve really been liking lately.  I have baked a number of things with Bestlife and have not been disappointed with any of them!  The orange  cake gets a lot of its moisture from a half cup of freshly squeezed orange juice also.

I was thinking that the cake would be a little boring to just serve with its light glaze over it, so I whipped up a little raspberry filling (frozen/thawed raspberries and a little sugar, cornstarch and water, cooked on the stove until thickened).  While the cake was definitely delicious served with the raspberries on top (think strawberry shortcake, but with raspberries) and some whipped cream—oh and some chocolate shavings, of course--


It was actually really good by itself, too!

SRC--Uma's Orange Cake 9-8-11

Sometime when I make it again, I’ll use whole wheat pastry flour as well for a little extra fiber.  (I have a 50 pound bag of it!)  I also used a different recipe for the glaze than the one she posted.

Uma’s Orange Cake from, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1  1/2 cups (180 grams) all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda (my addition, the original recipe did not have any—Katrina)

1 large egg, room temperature

2 large egg whites, room temperature

pinch of salt

2/3 cup (132 grams) granulated sugar

1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, room temperature

1/4 cup butter substitute (I used Bestlife buttery baking sticks), room temperature

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

zest of one large orange (about 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon lemon juice (I put it in, but am not really sure it’s necessary—Katrina)

Orange Glaze--

juice of 1/2 an orange (was about 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Whisk together in a small bowl until no lumps of powdered sugar remain.  Set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 inch round cake pan with cooking spray.  Set aside. 

Beat the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer with a wire whisk attachment until soft peaks form.  Add the salt and beat for a minute or so, then gradually add the sugar a little at a time while beating.  After about one minute of beating once all the sugar is in is probably plenty—to firm, but not too stiff peaks.  Scrape the side of the bowl a few times in between additions.  Put the beaten egg whites with the sugar in a medium bowl so you can use the mixer bowl again.  (I didn’t wash it out.) 

Combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of the mixer, combine the butter substitute, yogurt, whole egg, orange juice, zest and lemon juice.  It will look curdled, but is okay.  Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the beaten egg whites, carefully folding them in with a spatula. 

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Let the cake cook 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then carefully remove the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.  When the cake has cooled, drizzle it with the glaze.  You can smooth it all around the top of the cake with a pastry brush.

Serve with raspberry filling and/or whipped cream—and a little chocolate shavings for that "Katrina” touch!


Elana didn’t say much about this cake when she posted it, just that it was her friend’s mom Uma’s cake with her “calorie saving” substitutions.  I was drawn in by its simplicity and its calorie saving-ness. ;)  Check out Cooking Rookie's blog Cookbook of Trial and Error—everything looks so good, I find it hard to believe she’s a rookie!

The Secret Recipe Club is a great place to be—lovin’ it!

 The Secret Recipe Club'

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Surprise Cookies

Surprise Cookies 9-4-11

One day last week, our internet was down ALL day.  Thought I was going to go insane (not really).  During that time though, I actually got quite a lot done around the house that needed to be done.  I was also forced to look through some of my cookbooks, rather than play around on the world wide web.  ;)  While thumbing through Martha Stewart’s Cookies book, I stumbled upon some cookies called Surprise Cookies and kept going back to that page.  So I decided to make the cookies. 

I liked the cookies a lot more than I thought I was going to like them.  I ate more of them that I care to admit, here and there over the course of a few days.  The cookies are a perfectly textured soft chocolate cookie.  After a short stint in the oven, a marshmallow is placed on top of the cookie and it is baked for a few more minutes.  Once the cookies are cooled, the tops are frosted with a chocolate frosting to hide the marshmallow—hence the name Surprise.  The marshmallow became more like a filling.  I would even go so far as to say that the cookies were even better the next day.


One of the reasons I decided on the Surprise Cookies was because I had a bag of star shaped marshmallows that were blue, pink and white and wanted to use them.


  I thought it was fun to not know if you’d bite into a pink, blue or white filled surprise.

DSCF6832 You can find the recipe for these cookies at Martha Stewart's website.  The only thing I did different from her recipe is use 2% milk instead of whole milk in the cookies and the frosting, I also didn’t use the full amount of milk called for in the frosting recipe.  I just added the milk a tablespoon at a time until the frosting was the consistency I liked.  I really liked this frosting recipe.  It is simply made with melting butter and cocoa together and adding it to powdered sugar and some milk and a little vanilla.  In fact, I liked it so much that I made more and baked a yellow cake to frost it on.  We invited some family over for dessert Sunday night. 

Again, I really liked these cookies and will make them again for sure.

DSCF6817Surprise someone you love with these cookies sometime!