Friday, March 30, 2012

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies (Recipe With Whole Wheat and Pure Cane Sugar)

3-29-12 Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s always nice to be in love.  Agreed?  Yes!  I’ve been in love for over 15 years now and I’d have to say it’s pretty darn great!  Fell in love again today—but it’s a different kind of love—it’s these cookies.  I love them.  Plain and simple.  And I know what you’re thinking, “But Katrina, those look like just any other chocolate chip cookie.”  Well, for me, they are almost like my favorite chocolate chip cookies, but I took that same recipe, made a few healthier changes and am SO happy with how they turned out on the first try!

I really am trying to be better at eating healthier things, but especially cutting back on refined sugar and white flour (though I do so love them!) ;)  But being “better” doesn’t mean you can never have delicious things and indulge now and then.  I just feel better when I need a little treat knowing it is just a little better but is still very satisfying.  These cookies have whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour.  Then they have pure cane sugar instead of white granulated (refined) sugar and finally I used Bestlife buttery baking sticks instead of butter.  Besides detecting the slight nuttiness from the whole wheat flour, I would never know they don’t have “real” butter and “real” sugar.  So I am in love!

In the recipe, I am giving all the equivalents for most of the ingredients in ounces, grams or cup/tablespoon measurements.  That is because I want anyone to be able to make these cookies, but I really prefer to do most of my baking by weighing ingredients on my kitchen scale.  I have found that doing so gives the best results.  If you don’t have a kitchen scale, I highly recommend you get one!  This is a smaller recipe, because I was trying it out for the first time.  You could easily double it.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip CookiesHealthier Chocolate Chip Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (8  1/2 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour

heaping 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

scant 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

scant 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

5 tablespoons (2  1/2 ounces) Bestlife Buttery Baking Sticks (or any trans fat free butter substitute—not margarine!), softened

1/2 cup plus 1  1/2 tablespoons pure cane sugar (120 grams)

1 teaspoon molasses

1/2 a large egg (25 grams or 2 tablespoons of beaten egg)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 to 1 cup good quality chocolate chips (I used 60% cacao chips) (5 ounces)

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

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

Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add the cane sugar and molasses and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat another minute or so.  Scrape the sides of the bowl.  Add the dry ingredients and beat just until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Scoop out cookie dough balls onto baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes (longer if you want them crispier).  Remove from oven** and let sit on baking sheet 5-10 minutes.  Remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Makes about 18 cookies.

**If any cookies are not nicely rounded, I like to push them into shape with the edge of a metal spatula as soon as they come out of the oven.  Just gently push around any edges that are sticking out.  I do this with pretty much any cookies that are funny shaped or not rounded.  You just need to do it before they start to harden up right out of the oven.  I don’t like what I call “amoeba” cookies. ;)

Whole Wheat, No Refined Sugar Chocolate Chip CookiesLove this guy---

KevinBigBoy      KevinKinder   T

Bah, cute—who is that?  It’s Kevin when he was a baby and in kindergarten (and that’s an engagement picture of us from 15 years ago)!

Love these cookies, too!  Okay, I love a lot of other people and things, but you get the idea.  Make these cookies, try them out!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Whole Wheat Honey Banana Nut Bread

Whole Wheat Honey Banana Nut Bread

In trying recently to eat more whole grains (and basically just less white flour and sugar), I found this recipe for Whole Wheat Honey Banana Nut Bread.  So besides the whole wheat flour, it also has no refined sugar.  This bread is sweetened with honey, but I think the abundance of bananas helps make this perfectly sweet and full of banana flavor.

When I have overripe bananas (which is often), I usually just make muffins.  I like how much faster they bake than banana bread.  But for some reason as I was looking at the bananas on the kitchen counter yesterday, and looking out the window at the very windy rain-turned-blowing-snow storm, I felt like baking bread.  Being “stuck” at home with a sick eight year old, I haven’t been to the store for almost a week and we were out of bread.  So I actually made some white bread in the bread machine.  The boys (and Kevin) love white bread, so while I didn’t eat any, traditional white bread is always a winner here.   The book I got with my bread machine, which we’ve had for at least seven years, is full of great and perfect recipes for the bread machine.

After making the white bread and knowing I was planning to have tortellini for dinner, I also had the bread machine whip up some French bread that I thought would go nicely with the tortellini.  The bread machine did all the work and just before the last rise time, I pulled the dough out of the machine and shaped it into a French loaf and had it finish rising on a baking sheet and baked it in the oven.  It actually turned out some great French bread!

French Bread

Let’s get back to the banana bread!  While I was in stay-out-of-the-late-March-snowstorm mode and in the bread baking mood, I decided instead of banana muffins to make banana bread.  I wanted to be able to eat some of it, so I found a recipe that was whole wheat and had no refined sugar.  This bread has honey, which actually tastes great and I was surprised and happy to see the bread baked up perfectly.  I think I’ll try agave in place of the honey next time, just because agave has a lower glycemic index.

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Bread  I wish I could say this was my recipe or that I even adapted it.  But I didn’t even adapt it at all.  I found the recipes at Allrecipes.  Here’s the link for the Whole Wheat Honey Banana Nut Bread.  I wish I would have thrown some dark chocolate chips in the bread, because now Taylor tells me he only likes banana bread if there is chocolate in it.  (I don’t know where he got that from?) ;)

Whole Grain Honey Banana Bread

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TWD—Baking With Julia—Irish Soda Bread

TWD--Irish Soda Bread w/chocolate and toffee 3-18-12

I know what you’re thinking—that doesn’t look like Irish Soda Bread.  What?  You’ve never seen Irish Soda Bread with chocolate and toffee?  Well, this IS me here. ;)  The thing about this was that I just knew “plain” Irish Soda Bread would not have been eaten here.  I didn’t make an Irish meal or anything to have it with, but decided Sunday afternoon to go ahead and make it so I wasn’t skipping out on TWD this go-around. 

That said, I decided to make half a recipe and throw in a few things that would make this sure to get eaten here.  Naturally, that was chocolate!  So instead of the sometimes normal addition of raisins or currants in Irish Soda Bread—I added some chopped milk chocolate and toffee bits.  The boys enjoyed this for their snack Sunday evening—what made it even better—smearing some Nutella on a slice of the bread!

Irish Soda Bread with Nutella and chocolate and toffee bits

What do you eat/serve Irish Soda Bread with?

Cathy at My Culinary Mission and Carla at Chocolate Moosey are the hosts for the recipe this week.  You’ll find it posted on their blogs.  Are you Baking With Julia yet?  It’s a wonderful book!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

White Chocolate and Lime Popcorn with White Chocolate M&Ms

White Chocolate and Lime Popcorn with White Chocolate M&Ms

I know, this just looks like a bowl of popcorn with some pastel colored M&M’s in it.  But there is a little added twist of deliciousness.

The popcorn is from Orville Redenbacher.  It’ is one of their Natural microwave popcorns that is Lime & Salt flavor.  I love it.  Not sure I’ll ever be able to eat popcorn without lime flavor in it again. ;)

Orville Redenbacher Lime and Salt Popcorn

After also recently finding White Chocolate M&M’s, I started thinking about how good white chocolate and lime would be together. 

White Chocolate M&Ms

So this is actually not really a recipe, but an idea I carried out.  Try it—I thought I’d just have a few bites and let the kids eat  the rest.  And I ended up eating the whole thing!  Shhh.  No, those microwaveable bags of popcorn are the smaller individual sizes.

I popped a bag of the delicious lime and salt popcorn and melted around 2 ounces of white chocolate (Lindt is the best!).  I pour the melted white chocolate over the popcorn and stirred it to coat all of it evenly.  I then put it in the fridge to harden up for a few minutes.  Although it was just fine and tasted great still “wet”!  Then for kicks, I sprinkled some of the White Chocolate M&M’s in with the popcorn.  Those M&M’s are good, white chocolate is actually not my preferred kind of chocolate (dark, Baby!), but now and then it’s a fun little sweet treat. 

White Chocolate and Lime are a match made in heaven! 

White Chocolate and Lime Popcorn

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

TWD—Baking With Julia—Rugelach

TWD--BWJ  Rugelach 3-5-12

Our Tuesdays With Dorie--Baking With Julia recipe this time is for a delightful cookie called Rugelach.  I loved these when we made them for Tuedays With Dorie BFMHTY way back in November 2008.  Todays recipe is a bit different from that rugelach, but is equally as good.

I did do a few things different from the recipe.  I can’t help it!  I made only 1/4 of the cream cheese pastry dough because I knew that Kevin doesn’t like this kind of cookie (like pie crust—which I love, too)!  Then as I read about the fillings and topping, I kind of decided to just do my own thing and I skipped topping the pastries with more sugar.  So here’s what I used—orange marmalade, the cinnamon/sugar mixture and some mini chocolate chips.  I just spread the marmalade on the rolled out dough, then sprinkled the cinnamon/sugar over that and added the chocolate.  I had no problems rolling up the dough.  And then I kind of cheated and instead of chilling the dough another 4 hours to overnight, I stuck it in the freezer while I preheated the oven.  After about 15-20 minutes, I cut the roll into slices and laid them flat on the baking sheet to bake them. 

They turned out really nice and taste great!  The ones in Dorie’s book look great as they are chock full of nuts and dried fruit and lots of cinnamon/sugar in them and more on the top.  I just felt a little lazy as I got ready to finish making them.  And I’m not disappointed at all. ;)

Check out the recipe and Jessica’s perfect looking rugelach on her blog, My Baking Heart.  She is hosting today along with Margaret from The Urban Hiker

I’m so happy to be taking this opportunity to bake from Baking With Julia along with the rest of the Tuesdays With Dorie groupies.  Can’t wait for more!


Monday, March 05, 2012

Momofuku Milk Bar’s Blueberry and Cream Cookies—Secret Recipe Club

Blueberries and Cream Cookies (March SRC)

One of my favorite things is cookies.  Who didn’t know that?  Raise your hand, or maybe you shouldn’t admit it if you didn’t know. :)  So when I have a new blog given to me for the Secret Recipe Club, one of the first things I search for on the blog is cookies.  After looking at all the cookies, I then look at other goodies like brownies, cakes, pies, etc.  I can’t help it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I look at all the savory dishes, too.  But I always seem to settle on a dessert.  I just want to remind you that my family pretty much usually eat healthy, nutritious meals.  I’m not making that up.  We like a little sweet treat, too!

For the Secret Recipe Club this month I actually chose a couple recipes to make.  The first one I went with from the blog I was given, which is Tessa’s blog, The Cookin' Chemist was for her Grandma's Chocolate Zucchini Cake.  I made the cake one day and decided to make cupcakes.  The cake is one of those tried and true classic grandma cakes with zucchini as the star and chocolate playing a nice background role.  And I learned something when I made this recipe.  Do not keep your canola oil and extra virgin olive oil right next to each other in the same cupboard!  I unknowingly grabbed the EVOO instead of canola and put it in the cake batter.  As I was scooping out the batter into the cupcake liners, I thought it had a strange smell to it.  After a little taste, it dawned on me that I’d used the wrong oil. 

I was happy to find out that the cupcakes were actually really good and the EVOO was barely detectable.  But for some reason after that, I decided to make another recipe for my SRC post today.  I was taking pride in the fact that with the zucchini cake, I was actually following Tessa’s grandma’s recipe exactly—until I made the little mishap with the oil.  At least the cupcakes were still edible and the boys liked them and didn’t even know they had zucchini in them!  I ended up only taking one picture of an unfrosted cupcake, but go check out Tessa’s cake on the link above.  I plan to make the cake again soon!

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcake (March SRC) 2-28-12 (made with EVOO)

The cookies that I decided to make from Tessa’s blog were the Momofuku Milk Bar Blueberry and Cream Cookies she’d made from the September 2010 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine.  I halved the recipe and changed things up just a little with less sugar and a little more flour, as I have been doing lately because I think it really helps with our higher altitude here. 

The different, interesting and fun thing about this recipe is that it has “milk crumbs” in it.  You first make a crumb mixture with dry powdered milk, flour, a little sugar and cornstarch and prepare it like you would a crumble or streusel and then bake it on a baking sheet until they are crispy.  (I forgot to photograph those.)  Those crumbs  and some dried blueberries are then mixed in to the cookie dough.  The recipe says to bake the cookies at 375 degrees for 20-22 minutes!  If I would have done that, they would have burned to a crisp.  I tried the cookies many different ways for fun.  Once the cookie dough is made and the cookies are scooped onto a baking sheet, they are supposed to be chilled for 24 hours.  I decided to bake a few without any chilling time first.

March SRC Momofuko Blueberries & Cream Cookies 3-2-12

These cookies that were not chilled first were baked for only 12 minutes of the suggested 20-22 minutes.  They are brown and crisp.  I’m not sure if the 20-22 minute bake time is a typo from the magazine or what.  Tessa also mentioned that the baking time was too long and maybe that the oven temperature was too high.  I know that many people like a good, crisp cookie.  The recipe also suggested that the cookies will really spread as they bake.  These didn’t spread THAT much.

After the 24 hours chill time, I baked more of the cookies, but only baked them for 10 minutes—more to our liking.  They are really good.  I’m not totally in love with the milk crumbs, they do add something strange to the cookies, but was pleased with how they ultimately turned out.  Well, before adding blueberries to all of the cookie dough, I reserved some for playing around with and added some tart dried cherries and white chocolate.

Cherries & White Chocolate and Cream Cookies 3-3-12

Those turned out good!  But guess which my favorite variation is?  In some of the cookie dough with the cherries, I added some dark chocolate and I must say, those are my pick for the winners!

Cherries and Dark Chocolate and Cream Cookies (March SRC) 3-3-12

Get the recipe for these here on Tessa's blog!  They really are a nice cookie as it’s fun to try something different!  Check out the round up of recipes posted today from Group A down below!


Thursday, March 01, 2012

Banana Peanut Butter Cookies with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Reese’s Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

Today is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day!  Peanut butter is one of the things I love, so I’m in!

Banana PB Cookies 3-1-12

These Banana Peanut Butter Cookies are the cookies I made to celebrate.  I’ve made them before a number of times.  They are one of my favorite cookies!  One of the things I love most about this is they are made with whole wheat flour and have no butter—that cancels out the sugar and the candy, right?  Hello?  It cancels it out enough that I consider them a once-in-a-while treat and a great way to use up those overripe bananas on the counter.  Today I didn’t just throw in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, I also added some Reese’s Peanut Butter Easter Eggs that I bought recently.  Talk about kicking up the fun and flavor of these cookies!

Reese's Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

I got this recipe a number of years ago from Jenny at Picky Palate and I actually take no credit for these myself.  They were all her own doing and I really haven’t changed the recipe much.  Check out her post!  These cookies are easy to make and the banana and peanut butter go great together!  Throw a little chocolate in there and you have a perfect trio!  Since these cookies are made with healthy whole wheat flour and have no butter and you’d like to try to keep them even more healthy, try adding some chopped dark chocolate instead of peanut butter cups or candy!  That sounds like a plan to me!

Banana Peanut Butter Cookies

Banana Peanut Butter Cookies with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Peanut Butter Easter Egg Candies, by Katrina—adapted from Jenny at Picky Palate

1 cup mashed overripe banana

1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 grams)

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

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural) (128 grams)

1  1/2 cups whole wheat flour (252 grams)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

12 regular-sized Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped (they are easier to cut when frozen for even 15 minutes or so first)

1 cup Reese’s peanut butter Easter Eggs, chopped (6 oz.) *optional  Reese’s Pieces work, too

additional sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the bananas and sugars.  Add the vanilla, egg and peanut butter and beat to combine.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir until combined.  Stir in the chopped peanut butter cups and candy.  Scoop balls of the cookie dough into the sugar and roll to coat evenly.  The dough is quite sticky and this helps it roll into round balls.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Let cool on baking sheet for a couple minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Inside a Banana Peanut Butter Candy Cookie