Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Coconut M&M’s Chocolate Chip Cookies with Almonds Recipe

Coconut M&M Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies 2-28-12

Another cookie I’m in love with!  Now if you don’t like coconut (and I know there are some strange ones of you out there), skip this post, but I must say—these cookies are delicious and full of coconut flavor!  Took a quick little detour to Target yesterday as I was out running errands and Sam announced he needed to use the potty.  Target just happened to be right there.  It isn’t really by our house, so even though I like Target, I don’t get there very often.  I do seem to always make sure I get there when I know they put out all the different holiday candies because I love seeing what might be new or getting some candies that for some reason are just seasonal. 

Here’s the stash for yesterday.

Hersheys Coconut Cream Kisses Coconut M&Ms and White  Chocolate M&Ms

There might have been a few other things in our cart—like the Peeps Sam talked me in to getting and maybe some Reese’s eggs. ;)  I’ve seen and tasted the Hershey’s Kisses with Coconut Crème before, but needed to try them again.  I’ve also tasted the Coconut M&M’s before, but these were speckled eggs, different from the original ones that are just plain M&M’s size, so I felt those needed to be tried.  Then there’s the White Chocolate M&M’s and besides the candy corn ones at Halloween, I hadn’t seen plain white chocolate ones.  I think all three are really good—besides all that, I’m a sucker for cute packaging and just look at that red M&M dressed up like a bunny—irresistible! ;)

I decided the Coconut M&M’s needed to go into a coconut chocolate chip cookies.  I’ve been wanting to put coconut in a cookie again.  I kept thinking about these Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies I made a while back from Cooking Light or these Toffee Pecan Cowboy Cookies that I put some of the original coconut M&M’s in. 

The Speckled Egg Coconut M&M’s are big (probably Almond M&M’s size), so I did chop them to put them in the cookies.  The cookies I made are stuffed full of yummy things like the M&M’s, chocolate chips, toasted coconut and sliced almonds.  If I do say so myself, they really are some great cookies!

Coconut M&M’s Chocolate Chip Cookies with Toasted Coconut and Almonds, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

 2 cups, minus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour (8 1/2 ounces)

1/2 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (5 oz.)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup Coconut M&M’s (Speckled Easter Eggs need chopped)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup toasted sweetened flaked coconut

1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and both sugars.  Scrape sides of bowl.  Add egg and vanilla and beat together until light and fluffy.  Scrape sides of bowl again. Whisk together in a medium sized bowl the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add to the creamed mixture and beat just until combined.  Stir in the M&M’s, chocolate chips, coconut and almonds.  Scoop into walnut sized balls of dough, spread about 2 inches apart on baking sheet.  Press each cookie dough ball down slightly.  Bake for 11 minutes.  Let sit on baking sheet for a few minutes before removing them and cooling them completely on a wire rack.  (Makes about 3 dozen.)

Coconut M&M Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies 2-28-12

Monday, February 27, 2012

Avocado Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Avocado CCC's

When I saw this recipe for using avocado in chocolate chip cookies, I was very skeptical, but at the same time curious enough to give them a try.  I’m always for finding ways to incorporate healthier ingredients into cookies and treats.  I decided to just make half a recipe in case these really weren’t that good.  Turned out that I wish I’d made the full recipe! 

I found the recipe for these on the Haas Avocado website.  I did change a few things from the recipe.  Their recipe actually using cinnamon in the title for these, but there is no cinnamon in their recipe.  I assume it was just forgotten.  I did not add cinnamon to mine.  I also used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour and I lower the amount of sugar in the recipe.  Finally, I used Bestlife 50/50 buttering baking sticks instead of butter—trying to not have as much butter in my diet.  I knew these would be “healthier” chocolate chip cookies and I was fine with that. 

I have to say, though, that they taste great to me and I just would never know that they 1) have avocado in them (avocadoes are full of the good, healthy fat you need in your diet) and 2) that they really are on the more healthy side with the whole wheat flour and less sugar.  I still have some avocado to use up and plan to play around with this idea even more.  Oh, I also thought the avocado would make the cookies too green, but they really don’t look green at all.  The cookie dough looked a little more green, but once baked, the cookies don’t really at all.  Check out the recipe on the Haas Avocado site, but here’s how I made them!

Avocado Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Haas Avocado website

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup quick oats

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2  1/2 tablespoons Bestlife butter (1  1/4 oz.) *use can use regular unsalted butter)

1/4 of a ripe avocado

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (110 grams)

1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)

1 large egg

1 cup dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup lightly toasted, chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Cream the butter and avocado together in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add the sugars and cream together again.  Beat in the vanilla and the egg.  In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt.  Whisk together.  Dump the dry ingredients into the mixer and beat just until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.  Drop tablespoonful size balls of dough onto baking sheets about 1  1/2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  Let cool on baking sheets for a couple minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  (Makes about 20 cookies.)

Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies

I agree, these aren’t the prettiest cookies—but they ARE really good!  Dare ya to try them!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Coconut Lime Granola with Pecans Recipe

``Coconut Lime Granola

This is one of my favorite granolas I’ve ever made.  It is made with coconut oil, lightly toasted coconut and the zest of a lime.  I could just live off of it (well, and a little chocolate here and there!) ;)  This granola is great with some Greek yogurt and with blueberries or blackberries.  If you’re looking for a new, different granola recipe, try this out!

Coconut Lime Granola with Pecans, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

4 cups old fashioned oats

1/4 cup flax seed meal

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds (optional)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

zest of one lime

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup agave nectar (you could also use honey)

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, flax, coconut, pecans, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, salt and lime zest.  In a medium sized microwave safe bowl, add the oil and agave (or honey).  Microwave for about 30 seconds.  Whisk together well.  Add the vanilla and whisk again.  Pour the wet ingredients over the oat mixture and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until well combined and all is moistened.  Spread the granola on the baking sheet in an even layer.  Bake for 22 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit on a wire rack until completely cool.  Do not mix the granola while it’s cooling.  Once cooled, break and crumble into chunks and pieces.  Store in an airtight container.

Coconut Lime Granola with pecans 2-21-12

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TWD—Baking With Julia—Chocolate Truffle Tartlets with Oreos and Andes Mints

TWD--Chocolate Tartlets 2-20-12

Tuesdays With Dorie—Baking With Julia today!  This recipe was a little more involved than the first one for white loaves of bread.  The group has decided that each month we’ll just be doing two recipes (instead of weekly) and one will be more difficult or involved than the other.  We all agreed that would work well with our schedules and with Baking With Julia being more involved recipes.  Still having two weeks instead of just one this time around, I waited until yesterday to get to these Chocolate Truffle Tartlets!  When will I learn? ;)

I decided after looking at how decadent this recipe was that I needed to cut it down a bit.  So I only made 1/4 of the recipe, which made two small 3 1/2 inch tarts instead of six!  The recipe called for a little added white chocolate and milk chocolate as well as a chopped up biscotti.  After making a failed recipe for almond biscotti the other day that only had egg whites in it, I decided on some chocolate filled Oreo cookies I had on hand and some chopped up Andes mint chocolates and I thought these tasted great!

Oreos & Andes Mint Chocolate Tartlets 2-20-12

I thought the chocolate crust was good.  Kevin thought it wasn’t sweet enough, but to me it worked well with the sweet filling.  The filling was not really what I thought it would be, I was thinking more of a custard or something.  I thought it was delicious and I’m glad it wasn’t custardy.  It was more like fudge—a nice minty fudge with a little extra crunch from the Oreo cookies!

TWD--Oreo/Andes Mint Chocolate Tartlets

Everyone ate a little tiny slice or two for dessert and the two little tartlets were gone in a flash!

We have a number of bloggers hosting this recipe this month.  You can find the recipe on their blogs.  But I do suggest you just get the book, Baking With Julia.

Spike at Spike Does Stuff

Steph at A Whisk and a Spoon

Jamie at Good Eats & Sweet Treats

Jessica at cookbookhabit

Check out all their tarts!  You can also see a bunch of others on the Tuesdays With Dorie website.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dark Chocolate Brownies to Celebrate 4 Years of Blogging!

Guess what today is?  Four years ago I started this blog!  I know, I can’t believe it either!  It’s certainly been real and it’s been fun.  There’s no stopping me now! ;)

Dark Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts

I made brownies as celebration!  I’ve decided there are two simple treats that I like more than any other—and I’ll bet you’ll never guess what they are—good ol’ chocolate chip cookies—and they have to be good, like my favorite chocolate chip cookies (which are my adaptation of the Jaques Torres/NY Times cookies) and the other favorite is brownies.

I have stuck with my adaptation of this favorite brownie recipe for a couple years now.  Whenever I come up with a new brownies, I use the basics of this recipe.  It’s simple and only used a few ingredients.  I’m always surprised how fudgy it is because the only chocolate is from cocoa powder!  I have made these brownies with caramel and pecans added for a Turtle Brownie as well as with a layer of coconut and sometimes almonds for a Mounds or Almond Joy Brownie.  In my first link for “favorite brownie recipe”, which was the Tuesdays With Dorie Tribute to Katharine Hepburn brownies, I made them four times, four different ways for that TWD post! 

What am I getting at?  Well, I tried another recipe—and I’m tempted to say it might dethrone the other favorite!  I suppose these aren’t the same as my other favorites, since they have melted dark chocolate and more flour, but I do plan to do a side-by-side comparison—you know, just to find out for sure which we like better.  For these brownies I adapted a recipe found at the Nestle’s website, Very Best Baking.  The only real difference I made to the recipe is that I used different chocolate than the recipe called for.  Of course, their recipe suggested using Nestle’s Dark Choc0late Morsels, but I didn’t have those and I always have my favorites, Ghirardelli’s 60% Cacao Dark Chocolate Chips.  So that is what I used.  You could probably use any brand of your favorite chocolate.  Here’s my version of the recipe.

Dark Chocolate Brownies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1  2/3 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao dark chocolate chips, divided use

1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)

1/3 cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons water

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup all purpose flour (150 grams)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with non-stick foil, so that some hangs over the edges.  Lightly spray with cooking spray.

Heat in a medium sized saucepan 1  1/3 cups of the chocolate, sugar, water, and butter on low heat until all melted and combined.  Remove from heat and pour into a medium sized bowl.  After about five minutes rest time, add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each to combine.  Add the vanilla and combine.  Add the flour and salt and stir with a spatula until just combined.  Add the toasted, chopped walnuts  and the 1/3 cup extra chocolate chips to the batter and stir to combine.  Pour into the baking pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Cool completely on wire rack.  Remove brownies from pan using the foil edges.  Peel off the foil and cut into desired sized bars on a cutting board. 

Dark Chocolate Brownies

This picture is the brownies right after they’d just cooled enough and I didn’t chill them in the refrigerator, as I do with other brownies.  Kevin thought they could have baked a couple more minutes (I baked them 35 minutes).  But I think they were prefect!  It will be fun to try these again with other add-ins and see if they compare to my other favorites that seem to work so well with any kinds of additions.

Four years—still can’t really believe it!  I started my blog just thinking I was going to keep my family and friends up-to-date with the boys.  I’ve said it before, I just put some cake pictures of Sam’s first birthday party on here and then for some reason my favorite cinnamon rolls.  Next thing I knew, this whole wonderful world of food blogging opened up before my eyes.  I often say that baking and sharing and blogging are my sanity—which with this house full of boys I often find necessary!   Keeps them fed and me sane.  Sounds like a good combination. ;)  And here I am, four years later with just noticing yesterday that I now have 400 followers on my blog and 200 “likers” on Facebook.  I’m part of a couple of food forums that I often find some of the people as my best friends and favorite people on earth!  Sure hope to be baking and sharing and food blogging for another four—plus!—years!  Catch ya soon!  And thanks for sticking with me!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Homemade Fudge Rounds Recipe (Similar to Little Debbies)

Homemade Fudge Round 2-14-12

If you like Little Debbie Fudge Rounds, like Kevin does, you’ll be happy to have this recipe for a copycat version of them.  I made a batch of them for Kevin for Valentine’s Day.  I just have the hardest time buying manufactured cookies (or anything else).  As a “tradition”, Kevin usually gets beef jerky and Little Debbie Fudge Rounds for all holidays.  He expects them.  It has become sort of a joke now that those are all he gets for the holidays.  He does like the Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies (I’ll have to try to make those next), too, but the Fudge Rounds are his favorite and he prefers them either chilled or even frozen. 

I don’t eat them and am not sure when the last time I even tasted one was, but did a little looking to see if I could find a recipe and sure enough, I did.  Kristan from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen had just what I was looking for.  I did adjust the recipe a bit and I only made half of it as well.  The half recipe made ten Fudge Rounds.  The boys always like when Kevin gets a box of them as well and he usually shares with them.  He shared the homemade ones last night.  They all liked them and I liked that they weren’t processed food.  Kevin said they are very similar, not quite exactly the same (is anything?) and I’m sure they’ll be gone soon!

Homemade Fudge Rounds, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar (150 grams)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1  1/4 cups all purpose flour (150 grams)

6 tablespoons cocoa powder (30 grams)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer.  Once it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes), add the egg and vanilla and mix well until creamy.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and whisk together.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat just until combined. 

Scoop rounded ball of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 9 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheets for a couple minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.  (Makes 20 cookies/10 sandwich cookies.)

Make the filling:

1/4 cup trans-fat free shortening (48 grams)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 pinches of salt

1  1/2 cups powdered sugar (165 grams)

2 tablespoons warm water

Beat together the shortening and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth.  Add the vanilla and mix well.  Add the cocoa powder and powdered sugar and beat just until combined.  Add water and beat on medium high for at least 2 minutes until light and fluffy.  When cookies are cooled, put the filling in a piping bag (or plastic zip top bag with the corner snipped off) and top half the cookies with a dollop of filling.  Press cookies on top of each to make sandwich cookies. 

For the chocolate stripes on top of each sandwich cookie:

1/4 cup milk chocolate chips (1  1/2 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon canola oil

Melt together in a microwave safe bowl in 15 second intervals until smooth. 

Put the melted chocolate in a plastic zip top bag and snip a little corner off and drizzle on top of each sandwich cookie.  Refrigerate until chocolate is set.  Store cookies in an airtight container.

Fudge Rounds

By the way, I love the filling recipe.  I could almost just pipe that right into my mouth.  I didn’t!  It would be a great cupcake frosting.

Only thing I might do different next time is use a dark cocoa in the cookie dough.  I know I’ll be making these again here!  Sandwich cookies always seem so daunting, but these really weren’t hard at all.  Give them a try if you love Little Debbie Fudge Rounds or if you’re just looking for a nice fudgy sandwich cookie.  I think they’d also be fun to make smaller, ooh, with a peanut butter filling!  Yum!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Red Velvet Ice Cream Recipe and Red Heart Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookies

Red Velvet Ice Cream 2-12-12

Woo your significant other for Valentine’s Day with this Red Velvet Ice Cream!

Just for the fun of it, I made my usual favorite chocolate chip cookies the other day, but had the idea to turn the cookie dough red and bake the cookies in a heart shape.  For just making it up as I went along, I was really happy with how they turned out!

Lovely Chocolate Chip Cookies 2-10-12

I made half a recipe of the cookie dough and after beating the butter and sugar together, I added some red food coloring.  It was a perfect shade of red/pink.  I then just scooped the cookies with a cookie scoop and baked them round.  But AS SOON as I took them out of the oven, I used the spatula and scrunched one end together a bit to make the point at the bottom of the heart, then I indented the top to make the two bumps at the top of the heart.  They formed perfectly, just know that you have to hurry before the cookies start to set up on the baking sheet and are too hard to shape. 

While I was making the cookies, I stuck some cookie dough in some small ramekins and put a chocolate inside, to mimic my most popular Molten Lava Chocolate Chip Cookies

Red Velvet Ice Cream on a ccc 2-10-12 I was in a Valentine kind of mood.  The boys came home from school and ate the heart shaped cookies up.  Then between Kevin and Scott, they later ate almost all of the six, BIG RED Molten Lava Chocolate Chip Cookies I’d made.  I had fun with some photos after deciding these cookies needed some Red Velvet Ice Cream on  top.  I just made up a recipe and I actually think it turned out pretty well!  I’ve never even seen or heard of Red Velvet Ice Cream before, though I’m sure it’s been done before.  I really just took my favorite vanilla ice cream recipe, added one tablespoon of cocoa powder and some red food coloring.  It tastes like red velvet to me!

Red Velvet Ice Cream, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

3/4 cup granulated sugar

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 cup heavy cream

1  1/2 cups half and half

1/2 cup 2% milk

1 tablespoon red food coloring

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a medium sized saucepan heat sugar, salt,  cocoa powder  and the cream over medium heat until well combined and sugar is dissolved.  In a large bowl, combine the half and half and milk (*you can use any combination, 3 cups total of cream, half and half or milk that you’d like, this is just what I had at the time).  Whisk in the heated sugar, cocoa and cream mixture and combine well.  Stir in the red food coloring and vanilla.  Set bowl in a larger bowl with ice water to make an ice bath.  Stir every few minutes until the mixture is cold.  (It only took 10-15 minutes!).  Pour into bowl of ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions, about 20-25 minutes.  Remove ice cream from bowl and store in an airtight container.  Freeze for a couple hours.

Big Red Velvet Ice Cream and Chocolate Chip Cookie

And after all of that, Kevin doesn’t like red velvet (I already knew that), so he won’t even try the ice cream.  He’s a chocolate ice cream kind of guy, which is fine by me!  I love him no matter!


(Okay, so I must admit, Kevin and I don’t take enough pictures together.  This one is from our anniversary in June 2009.)  Let me see, there’s got to be something more recent……

Here we go, in October of last year, so just a few months ago, Kevin and I went to a cute little beefalo burger place (owned by some neighbors of ours), called The Bomb Diggity.  Kevin took a challenge and ate a 2 lb. burger—1 pound patty and another pound off all the fixin’s and bun. 


During the time it took me to eat my little slider size burger and my mom and dad to eat their regular size burgers, Kevin ate that thing.  This next photo is Kevin, my mom and I all taking our last bite together at the same time!


So there—a more recent picture of the love of my life and I.  (And you’re welcome, Mom, for leaving you in the picture.  I could have cropped it.)  But I wanted to leave her in the photo.


A couple other great ideas for Valentine’s Day treats I’d thought of are linked here--

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake with Chocolate Cookie Crust

Chocolate Truffle Heart Cakes

Fudgie Wudgies Cookies—just because it’s so fun to say and they are delicious and would be great for any chocolate lover in your life.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Homemade Cream Puffs and Pastry Cream Recipes

Joy of Baking Cream Puffs and Pastry Cream

It was our friend, Bob’s birthday last week.  He’s more like family around here.  He comes to all our family things and is always here Christmas Eve and spends the night to see the boys on Christmas morning.  We “adopted” him in to our family back when we lived in Arizona (before Kansas) and he just keeps showing up wherever we go. ;)  We sometimes call him Uncle Bob. 


So I have to admit it--this picture of Bob is from his birthday last year.  I stink and didn’t take any people pictures this time.  I really feel horrible about that.  I was more in the mode of finishing the cream puffs and snapping a few photos before they got eaten up.  I’m going to be better about taking more pictures of people and not just food!

At Christmastime, Bob told me he wanted cream puffs for his birthday.  Tall order—for a couple reasons.  I don’t like making cream puffs and I don’t like eating them.  BUT—I always love a challenge and I was up for this one.  I don’t mind making things I don’t care to eat, since that means I won’t be tempted by them.  I just think the cream puff shells don’t really have a taste and I don’t care for the texture.  Then besides that Bob told me he wanted REAL pastry cream, none of this fake pudding stuff (that I really like!).  Well, I don’t really like pastry cream either.  It’s too eggy.

Joy of Baking Cream Puffs 2-4-12

But I was game for Bob’s birthday “order”.  After looking over a few different recipes, I settled on making the cream puffs from the Joy of Baking website.  I’ve always been a little intimidated by pate choux.  But this went off without a hitch.  The recipe, which you can get from the link that I made exactly as written, made 12 regular sized cream puffs and about two dozen mini size ones. 

Mini Cream Puffs 2-4-12

  They turned out perfectly hollow inside ready for filling.  I ended up making the pastry cream recipe from Joy of Baking as well.  I followed it with the directions for using vanilla extract since I don’t have any vanilla beans.

Cream Puffs with Pastry Cream 2-4-12

I drizzled some of them with chocolate ganache.

Cream Puffs w/chocolate drizzzle

I also filled all of the mini puffs and some of the regular ones with whipped cream.  We went to Bob’s apartment and served these to him and a bunch of his neighbors.  I was happy with how they turned out and everyone ate them up.  I didn’t taste a single one.

At the last “minute” that morning, Taylor and I decided to make a cake also to take for Bob’s birthday.  I’m glad we did!  I think we would have run out of cream puffs with all the guests and the chocolate cake (though, shhh, it was from a box mix) was well received and eaten up!

Taylor frosting Bob's birthday cake 2-4-12

Taylor did a great job frosting the cake.  I used this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe from Savory Sweet Life.  It was great, I might have tasted a lick or two of the frosting. ;)

Chocolate Cake

Frosting a cake pretty is not my biggest strength, so between Taylor crumb coating it and my smoothing it out, I thought we did a pretty good job!

Check out this fun picture of Taylor on our way to Bob’s place (it’s a 45 minute drive).  I turned around and saw he was watching a movie in the car like this--

Taylor watching a movie in the car 2-4-12

Kills me.  Happy Birthday, Bob, we’re happy to have you around!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

TWD—Baking With Julia—White Loaves

It’s here and while I’d say it has been a great little break with January off from blogging commitments, I’m happy that TWD is back!

White Loaves 1-17-12

I love making homemade bread and was happy to see that this was the first recipe chosen for our new Tuesdays With Dorie adventure to bake our way through another of Dorie Greenspan’s books, Baking With Julia.  I have had this book for a couple years.  This will be such a fun challenge as I’ve actually never made anything from it!  I’ve flipped through it many times.  I even used to watch Baking With Julia on PBS years ago—before Food Network became so popular.  And who knew, Dorie herself was behind the scenes of that show right there along with the great, Julia Child.  Love them both.  Baking With Julia (obviously reruns) are on PBS again right now on Saturdays.  I’ve been recording them. 

If you knew me at all from the previous TWD, I had a hard time following recipes exactly and would always put my own spin (or alternate ingredients/healthy, etc.) on them.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to stick with every recipe with this new book just as they are written, but I’m going to try.  I’m off to a good start—I made the White Loaves exactly as written and followed the instructions to a tee!  And by doing so, I got some great loaves of bread!  The recipe said you could use all purpose flour or bread flour and I used bread flour. 

First TWD-BWJ White Loaf Bread 1-17-12 The bread had a perfect crisp crust and was soft inside.  The day I made it, we made sandwiches for dinner and I gave one of the loaves to a neighbor.

TWD White Loaves

Can’t wait to bake some more from this book!  See ya in two weeks!

Here’s the link from Jules at Someone's in the Kitchen for the recipe!


Monday, February 06, 2012

Healthy Double Chocolate Banana Muffins—Secret Recipe Club

Healthy Dbl Chocolate Banana Muffins

I made muffins from my Secret Recipe Club blog, Veronica's Cornucopia this month.  In fact, I liked the muffins so much that I’ve made them twice and they are now definitely a go-to for overripe bananas for me.  Veronica’s blog was another new-to-me one to get as my secret blog this month.  It was really fun to read through her blog and see all the things she has posted over the years.  It was a fun way to feel like I got to know her.  If you haven’t seen her blog before, check it out.  She’s married and can sing great and has a cute dog that loves to be in pictures with them. ;)  Not only does she make and post some great things, but I enjoyed her writing.

Just like usual, I had a hard time deciding what to make.  I’d marked a few things that were possibilities and started with these Double Chocolate Banana Muffins.  I made a few minor changes to them and LOVED them.  The first time I made them, I made six large muffins tops with my muffins top pan.

Double Dark Chocolate Banana Muffin Top--SRC 1-18-12

I’ve had the muffin top baking sheet for a while, but this was the first time I’d actually made muffin tops with it.  I’ve only used it for cookies in the past.  Sam ate one of the big muffins tops one morning and declared they were the best thing I’d ever made!


Taylor ate one after school that day and also loved them!  (These pictures were taken Christmas morning with my new iPhone that Kevin is in love with.)

DCBMT 1-18-12


With that first batch, I made six of the big muffin tops and 11 mini muffins.

Dbl Chocolate Banana Mini Muffins

That batch of muffins was eaten in no time.  I actually found myself impatiently waiting for the bananas on the counter to ripen so I could make them again.  You know, usually you turn around and find bananas overripe.  This time it seemed like waiting for a pot of water to boil!  But as soon as I had more bananas, I made the muffins again.  I really only made a few changes from Veronica’s recipe.  She used some all purpose flour and some whole wheat flour, but I decided to use all whole wheat pastry flour.  You’d never know!  I like that these muffins have no sugar (ok, besides the chocolate chips, but you could easily leave those out!).  The only sweetener, besides the natural sweetness from the bananas is agave nectar!  These muffins are so moist they could easily be used as a healthy cupcake with just a little frosting on top. 

Healthy Double Chocolate Banana Muffins, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Veronica’s Cornucopia 

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

1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (41 grams)

1 tablespoon ground flax

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup mashed overripe bananas (about 3 medium)

1/2 cup agave nectar

1/2 cup low fat buttermilk

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (and more for sprinkling on tops)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffins tins (or muffin top baking sheet) with cooking spray.  (Since there isn’t a lot of fat in these muffins, I decided not to use paper liners, as I find they usually stick.  Veronica did line hers with paper liners and didn’t mention they stuck.)

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, flax, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk together to sift.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the banana, agave, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.  Stir the wet ingredients into the dry just until moistened.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Divide evenly between muffin tin cups.  Bake the mini muffins and/or muffin tops for about 12 minutes.  Regular sized muffins take about 20 minutes.  Remove from muffin tins when cool enough to handle.  Let cool completely on wire rack.

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins 1-18-12  SRC

The second time I made the muffins, I made them all mini size and put three big, dark chocolate chips on top of each.  Made for a fun look to the muffins!  These made a great snack or preworkout little energy boost for me.  Most of the boys really like them, too!  My little non-chocolate liker, Parker, didn’t even try one.  Sigh. ;)

I just happen to have three more overripe bananas ready to be turned into some great chocolaty muffins right now!




Sunday, February 05, 2012

World Nutella Day 2012—Pretzel Nutella Chunk Cookies and Nutella Frosted Nutella Brownies

Nutella Chunk Cookies

Today is World Nutella Day!  Nutella lovers all over the world are celebrating their love of Nutella Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and sharing it on their blogs, on Twitter and on Facebook.  I’ve joined in the love the last few years and couldn’t resist doing so again.

Thanks go to World Nutella Day creators Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso.  They came up with this great idea and it’s been delicious to participate in it. 

I made two delicious Nutella-filled treats to share today.  First—Pretzel Nutella Chunk Cookies.  Darn—these are GOOD!  The only chocolate in the cookies are chunks of Nutella.  Chunks, you ask?  I never even thought about making Nutella into pieces and recently saw this brilliant idea from Recipe Boy.  This cute guy is right now better known as the son of the ever-popular Lori from Recipe Girl.  He started his own blog a few months ago and came up with the idea recently of freezing Nutella and cutting it in to chunks.  I had no idea that was possible.  But guess what—it works!

Nutella Chips 1-31-12

Spoon some Nutella out onto a foil or plastic wrap lined baking sheet and spread it out evenly, mine was probably between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.  Set it in the freezer until it hardens.  Check out the link above for Recipe Boy’s cookies and tutorial on the Nutella chunks. (I’m giving all credit for this Nutella chunk idea to Recipe Boy because I’ve never seen or heard of it before seeing his cookies recently.)  When is Nutella going to come up with Nutella chips in a bag?!  These chunks need to be carefully stirred in to a cookie dough straight from the freezer and then immediately baked.  They do thaw out a little.  I stirred them into the dough, formed them into cookie dough balls and kept the waiting cookie sheet in the freezer while one sheet was already baking.  Worked great!  Tasted even better!  At our house, what goes better with Nutella than dipping pretzels into it?  I found the cutest little pretzel balls recently and just knew they had to somehow be part of a cookie—and this was perfect—sweet and salty in a cookie=YUM!

Nutella Chunk Pretzel Cookies

Pretzel Nutella Chunk Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys! (inspired by Recipe Boy)

1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon cake flour*

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons bread flour*

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

5 tablespoons (2  1/2 oz.) unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1/2 a large egg (I weigh the egg in grams on the scale and remove half—or you could whisk an egg and remove 2 tablespoons as one egg is 1/4 cup)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup pretzel balls (or broken pretzels)

1/2 cup (4 ounces) Nutella chunks**

**Make the Nutella chunks ahead of time.  Spread about 1/2 cup Nutella on a foil lined baking sheet to about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick.  Set in the freezer for about an hour to set.  Remove from freezer and cut in to chunks.  Keep the chunks in the freezer until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, then add the two sugars and beat until well combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and beat just until combined.  Stir the pretzel balls and Nutella into the dough.  Scoop into about 2 tablespoonsful size dough balls onto baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet a couple minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

*You could probably use just all purpose flour in places of the cake flour and bread flour, but my favorite chocolate chip cookies use cake and bread flours and I love it that way.

Nutella Chunk Pretzel Cookies 1-31-12


I recently posted some great Nutella Brownies.  They were as “plain” as Nutella brownies can be, but they were sure good!  In honor of World Nutella Day, I decided to kick them up a notch.  A little Nutella frosting and some hazelnuts throughout the brownies did the trick.  Wow!  These were super rich and even more delicious than the “plain” Nutella Brownies!

Frosted Nutella Brownies

Instead of the regular brownie recipe that is made in an 8x8 inch pan, I halved these just to try them out and because I wasn’t sure we could eat all of them at the time.  The half recipe was baked in a 9x5 inch bread pan.  They were so good and the recipe would be super easy to double for the 8x8 inch pan!

Nutella Frosted Nutella Brownies (small batch), by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped


1/4 cup Nutella

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon hazelnuts, toasted and chopped for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a 9x5 inch bread pan with foil, spray lightly with cooking spray.  (I love the non-stick foil that is available!).  Let the sides of the foil hand over the edge to easily remove the brownies from the pan for cutting them.

Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl, set aside.  Let sit to cool slightly while you do the next few steps.

Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg, Nutella, brown sugar and vanilla.  Beat together for a minute or two.   Scrape the side of the bowl.  With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour, then half the melted butter.  Add the rest of the flour, then end with the rest of the butter and mix just until all combined.  Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.  Cool in the pan until completely cool on a wire rack.  Then, if you have time, or can wait that long, chill the brownies in the refrigerator for a couple hours.  Make the Nutella frosting.  Combine in a medium sized bowl the Nutella and powdered sugar.  Add the cream and stir together well.  If you think it needs a little more moisture, add the milk until desired consistency and spreadable.  Spread the frosting over the brownies and sprinkle some hazelnuts over the top.  Remove from the pan with the foil edges and cut the brownies still laying on the foil on a cutting board.  (I think brownies taste better chilled, but you can also serve/eat them at room temperature.)

Frosted Nutella Hazelnut Brownies 1-31-12

Here are a couple of my favorite past Nutella posts!

Nutella Truffle Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies

Homemade Chocolate Graham Cracker Nutella S'mores

Nutella Banana Oatmeal

Nutella Chocolate Cream Pie

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Healthier No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Cookies—Low Fat, Low Sugar, Added Flax and Fiber!

Healthier No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Cookies

These are really good and I don’t feel guilty about eating them!  Yay!  If you like those No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies, you’ll really like having a healthier version!  I find those good old traditional cookies addicting, but they are SO full of so much sugar and lots of butter that I hardly ever make them like the original recipe. 

Last year I discovered and posted some very similar No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Cookies that have been quite popular on my blog.  I really only changed a couple things on that recipe and now I like these even more!  I added more fiber and less sugar—but you’d never know it.  These are softer and chewier than the ones I made last year.  They are made with dark chocolate, natural peanut butter, oats and some ground flax.  I know, you’re wondering now if they are a treat or breakfast?! ;)  Sounds like they’d be a great pre or post workout boost or a nice afternoon snack, I’d say.  A little dark chocolate is good for you, right!

Healthier No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

3 tablespoons butter substitute (I used Bestlife buttery baking sticks)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/4 cup skim milk (I used milk made from dry non-instant powdered milk since I was out of skim milk and the dry milk is fat free!)

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

6 tablespoons sugar substitute (I used Fibrelle, not available in stores yet—hopefully soon!  But you could use any sugar substitute.)

1 cup (6 ounces) dark chocolate chips (I used 60% Ghirardelli chocolate chips)

1/4 cup natural peanut butter

2 cup toasted oats (toast on baking sheet in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes)

2 tablespoons ground flax seed meal

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.  Melt butter in a medium sized sauce pan.  Add cocoa powder, milk and both sugars.  Stir until combined.  Add chocolate chips and peanut butter and stir until all melted together.  Remove from heat and add vanilla, oats and flax and stir to combine.  Drop by spoonsful on baking sheet (I got 22 cookies).  Let cool in refrigerator 30 minutes until set.  They are best chilled right from the fridge and stored in the refrigerator, but not necessary.   

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookeis Dare ya to try to just eat one!

Cherry Pie Filling Ice Cream

Cherry Pie Filling Ice Cream 2-1-12

I made ice cream again.  I can’t help it.  It’s easy and a family favorite any time of year around here!  I had part of a large can of cherry pie filling in the fridge.  A few of my boys (Parker in particular), who sadly doesn’t like chocolate, LOVES cherries, especially the canned filling or maraschino cherries.  While I know these aren’t real healthy with all the added sugar, a can is used here and there, just to please Parker. ;)

I decided to make the leftover cherry filling into ice cream—and it’s pretty darn good!  Parker likes it for sure!  I thought about drizzling in some melted chocolate as it finished churning, but left it out because, again, Parker doesn’t like chocolate.  But if this had a little chocolate it would taste just like a chocolate cherry cordial ice cream!

For no particular reason than because I had some, I used half and half instead of cream.  It think it turned out plenty creamy enough.  I also used my recent discovery of homemade sweetened condensed milk made with dry powdered milk.  You could easily use the canned sweetened condensed milk for this.  With only four ingredients, this ice cream was super simple!

Cherry Pie Filling Ice Cream, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 recipe homemade sweetened condensed milk (*recipe below), or 1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups half and half

about 1 1/2 cups cherry pie filling (you could use a whole small can if you’d like)

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

After blending the homemade condensed milk in the blender, add the half and half and blend to combine.  Pour into a large bowl and whisk in the cherry pie filling and almond extract.  Pour immediately into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Store in an airtight container in the freezer for at least a couple hours to firm up.

*Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 cup hot water

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup dry non-instant powdered milk

1 cup granulated sugar

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until well combined and smooth, scraping the sides of the blender a few times in between mixing.   (It’s the same as canned condensed milk!)

Cherry Pie Filling Ice Cream 2-1-12

Ooh, imagine making some of that homemade Magic Shell-type dipping chocolate and dipping an ice cream cone with this ice cream to make a giant chocolate cherry cordial ice cream cone!