Thursday, November 29, 2012

{Fairly} Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies With Reeses Pieces

Healthier Cookies with Reeses Pieces

Is anybody still out there? It appeared as if I had forgotten about my blog huh? Making you stare at the same post for almost a month straight, how rude of me ; )  For those of you still checking in; you’ve got to try these cookies! In spite of the holiday’s, I am trying pretty hard to resist making goodies. Honestly, my family was in a bad rut for a while there, justifying having goodies on a daily basis practically! My scale to me loud and clear that it’s time to have some self control and motivation! Since I’ve gone 5 days without a goodie, I figured I have earned a healthy treat. These cookies suited just what I was looking for: use up some Reeses Pieces from Halloween, be healthy, and actually taste good. Now, the problem is portion control with these!!

{Fairly} Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies With Reeses Pieces                makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies
Recipe from Eating Well Magazine, originally titled Bev's Chocolate Chip Cookies


3/4 C. old-fashioned oats
1 C. whole wheat flour (I used soft white wheat)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 C. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 C. canola oil
1/3 C. white sugar (I took out 1 Tbsp. and added 3/4 tsp. stevia) *
1/3 C. brown sugar (I took out 1 Tbsp. and added 1 Tbsp. date sugar) *
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. chocolate chips (I used 1/2 C. Reeses Pieces and 1/2 C. sugar free chocolate chips)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray
2. Grind oats in a blender or food processor until fine. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy. Add oil, sugars, egg and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy. With the mixer running, add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. 
3.  Roll the dough into small balls and place 1-2" apart on baking sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes util firm around the edges and golden on top. Cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

* After tasting the dough, I opted to roll the cookie balls in sugar before baking because they seemed to be not quite sweet enough with my sugar alteration in the recipe. Once baked they were perfectly sweet!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

5 THINGS I'M LOVING RIGHT NOW

It's really been over a year and a half since I last posted about things I'm loving? Well, I've grown to love these things over the past while and I hope you'll give them a try if you haven't already. This is all just my true opinion. No paid advertisement here : )

1. APPLE & EVE FRUITABLES







This has become my "go-to" juice box for the kids. A little spendy? Yes, but luckily my Sam's Club stocks them so it doesn't hurt the wallet quite as much as buying in smaller packs. Well worth it if you ask me with with only 6-7grams of all natural sugar per box and 1 full fruit/veggie serving. I love that there's veggie juice in these, but you'd never know it from the taste.

2. BARBARA'S PUFFINS CEREAL







Here's a stand-by cereal in our house. We don't eat a lot of cereal cause my kids really prefer pancakes or oatmeal for breakfast, but in a pinch, I pull out the convenience foods! Puffins comes in a variety of flavors, but peanut butter and honey rice are the top choices in our household. I love that they are not overly sweet; my  kids don't confuse breakfast for dessert when they are eating this, but there are no complaints either! 

3. SOFT WHITE WHEAT FLOUR







I've fallen in love with using soft white wheat flour in my baked goods! It bakes up so soft and smooth, you'd hardly know it was wheat. It's kind of hard to find in my area other than at a specialty kitchen store and more expensive than hard white wheat, but if you reserve it for strictly muffins, pancakes and cookies, etc. it will last a while. I ended up finding it online in bulk and that saved me quite a bit. I grind it fresh and store it in a gallon storage bag in the fridge because it doesn't have as long of a shelf life as hard wheat. 

4. DATE SUGAR







Date sugar, along with the soft white wheat makes for a pretty tasty muffin! I have been using date sugar for a few years now and absolutely love it! Again, it's expensive, but when used in moderation it will last a while. I usually combine it with other sugar or sweetener called for in a recipe to a. save $ and b. reduce the processed sugar content in the recipe. It gives a flavor similar to brown sugar in my opinion. I love that it's nothing but ground up dried dates, so sugar yes, but it's all natural! And, like a lot of other things, it's hard to find in my area so I have my mom always grab me some when she heads south to her second home in Southern Utah!

5. COCONUT BUTTER





And, my VERY favorite at the moment; coconut butter. Who knew you could turn coconut into "butter"? It's a mild coconut flavor, but with a dry-ish buttery texture. Hard to explain...you just HAVE to try it! I love eating it smeared on a banana, then dip the banana into granola and take a bite. YUM YUM! This is another product I have my mom pick up for me when she's down south. Even if you're not a huge coconut lover I think you'll like this for a change!

I'd love to know what you think of these items and the different ways that you use them!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PIONEER WOMAN’S CINNAMON ROLLS…FILLED WITH COOKIE DOUGH!

Cookie Dough Filled Cinnamon Rolls

I’ve been craving a good cinnamon roll for weeks!  Even after visiting Great Harvest and Kneaders, who both make wonderful cinnamon rolls, I held strong and resisted the temptation. (Don’t interpret that as meaning I didn’t replace the craving with another yummy treat).  But today I had an excuse to finally give in to the cinnamon rolls.  Our family had to “ghost” 2 homes in our neighborhood. Do you know what that is or is it just a Utah thing? Basically, you leave a treat on the doorstep, ring the bell and run for your life so you don’t get caught. There’s a poem printed on a ghost that is left with the treat telling that person it is now their turn to deliver a Halloween treat without being caught. This is one of those designated “dad jobs” to run with the kids as I drive the getaway car.  As silly as it seems, it really is pretty fun! So, I guess this post will rat us out if either of the families we delivered to happens to check my blog, but I think we are safe!
I was really torn as to whether or not I should risk putting this twist on the cinnamon rolls I’ve craved for so long, but I just couldn’t NOT try it.  I was afraid they would turn out way too sweet or just not seem right. It was not a mistake! Even with the glaze, I found them to be perfectly sweet and not “gaggy-sweet” at all. In fact, next time I make them I’m going to use even MORE cookie dough inside, but of course you can always take these the traditional route and leave it out.

Cookie Dough Filled Cinnamon Rolls              makes about 21

2 cups whole milk (I used 1 C. half and half, 1 C. 1% milk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 package dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
melted butter
cinnamon
sugar
Mix the milk, sugar and oil in a large pot. Scald (scalding tutorial here) the mixture, then let cool for one hour. When it has cooled (but is still slightly warm), sprinkle the yeast into the milk mixture and let it sit for a minute. Add four cups (additional 1/2 C. to be used later) of flour and mix until a dough forms, then cover and let rise for at least one hour.
After an hour, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, baking soda and powder and mix. Making sure the dough completely comes together. Flour your work space and roll the dough with a rolling pin until it’s thin and somewhat rectangular, then brush with melted butter (as much as you want - I used about 1/4 C. ) and generously cover with cinnamon and sugar. Drops balls of your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough (here's the recipe I used) all over the cinnamon roll dough, then starting with the long end away from you, roll the dough into a line towards you. Slice the rolls about 1 inch thick and lay in pans (I used aluminum 9 inch cake pans) that have been brushed with melted butter. Let the rolls rise for about 30 minutes.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Let cool slightly and drizzle with the following glaze.
Glaze Recipe:
1 heaping cup of powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used all half and half without adding milk)
2 1/2 tablespoons milk
Add sugar to bowl and stir in heavy cream and vanilla until mixture resembles a thick batter. Add milk one tablespoon at a time, stirring until smooth – about 3-5 full minutes. Mixture may look lumpy at first but just continue to stir and it will come together.




Thursday, October 4, 2012

Roasted Eggplant Dip/Spread

Roasted Eggplant Dip

As I’ve mentioned a few times in past posts, my family loves dips, so I’m always on the look-out for a new recipe to try. I’ve had this one in my “to try” file for probably a few years and finally decided to give it a whirl. Although I loved how healthy the recipe sounded, I was a little skeptical as to how tasty it would actually be without cream cheese or mayo that’s typically found in dips. Roasting the veggies gives them a great creaminess once processed so I didn’t miss the cream cheese at all! This is a truly healthy dip that you can eat a lot of before feeling any guilt : )

Roasted Eggplant Dip
Recipe from Taste of Home 2007

1 Medium Eggplant, cut into 1" pieces
2 medium Red Peppers, diced into 1" pieces
1 Small Red Onion, diced into 1" pieces
2 Cloves Garlic, minced or garlic powder to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
3 Tbsp. Water (if needed)
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Pepper
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese, optional

Place cut up veggies onto rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix around until well covered with oil. Place in preheated 400 F oven for 45-55 minutes, until browned and soft. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Place into food processor with the tomato paste. Process until fairly smooth with a few small chunks remaining. Drizzle in water if needed for consistency. Place in bowl and bring to room temperature. Top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired and serve with crackers or spread on a sandwich.


Monday, September 24, 2012

CHICKEN WITH SHRIMP SAUCE {for the Secret Recipe Club}

Chicken With Shrimp Sauce

This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was given the blog Chocolate and Chillies by Asiya who lives in Toronto Canada, but is of Indian heritage. I was really excited to have an excuse to go outside of my dinner “box” and make one of her traditional Indian recipes like the Low-Fat Butter Chicken or the Easy Khorma. However, this month our family life has been ruled by endless soccer games and practices x 3 kids, so I found myself at home on Sunday scrambling to find one of her recipes I could make with what I had on hand. Needless to say, that pretty much eliminated all things Indian since I don’t stock (let alone ever heard of) ginger-garlic paste, tandoori masala powder or kasuri methi. But, to my surprise I did have all I needed to make this Chicken With Shrimp Sauce. Normally I would bypass anything with seafood cause I’m not a fan, but the rest of my family adores it, so I figured my hubby would happily take the shrimp from my sauce for me! Her blog boasts easy recipes and this one sure fits that claim. It was a hit with the family and I’m sure I’ll be asked to make it again in the future!

Chicken With Shrimp Sauce         Serves 4-6 people

4 - 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in half (as to butterfly) and pounded thin
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp chopped onion (I used more)
1 tbsp garlic, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Sauce:
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used slightly less)
1 cup milk (I used closer to 1 1/2 C. and warmed it in microwave before adding to sauce)
1 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste (I only had lime juice and used 1 1/2 Tbsp.)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups frozen raw shrimp
1 cup water (I used chicken broth)
1 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes (I omitted - family isn't a fan of heat)
salt (I felt it needed quite a bit but I didn't measure)
I also added some garlic powder and onion powder

Remove shells from shrimp and de-vein. (I also cut mine in half to be more bite size). Boil the shrimp in some water until pink and curled (only takes a few minutes once placed in boiling water).  Drain and set aside.

Wash and clean chicken breasts.  Cut in half (as if to butterfly).  Put a piece of plastic wrap on the cutting board.  Place one chicken breast in the middle.  Fold over the plastic wrap.  Pound with a mallet until thin.  Repeat with remaining chicken.

Heat oil in large skillet. Salt and pepper one side of the chicken breasts.  Add garlic and onions to the pan and saute until soft.  Add chicken seasoned side down.  Salt and pepper the unseasoned side.  Brown both sides and cook through. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until sauce is ready.

In a saucepan add butter and oil.  Over low heat melt butter.  Gradually whisk in flour and stir until smooth.  Increase heat to medium and cook briefly.  Slowly add the (warmed) milk a bit at a time and whisk.  If you add it all at once your sauce will be very lumpy.  Once you've added all the milk, add the lemon juice and tomato paste.  Cook until thickened.  If the sauce is too thick (mine resembled playdough at this point) add water (or broth) until you reach desired consistency. Add red chilli flakes and season with salt, garlic powder & onion powder if using.  Add shrimp and stir.  Pour sauce on top of chicken in skillet and stir around a bit to cover. Serve over rice if desired. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

{LUNCH LADY} PEANUT BUTTER BARS

peanut butter bars

What better way to get back into blogging after a month hiatus, than with an “oldie but goodie” recipe? This particular version is slightly different than the one I grew up eating, in that there’s a layer of peanut butter between the cookie and the chocolate frosting, which gives it even more peanut-buttery goodness! I also have never called them “Lunch Lady” Peanut Butter Bars, I’ve only ever known them as Peanut Butter Bars.  But when I read the post at Six Sister's Stuff, she mentions having these bars as part of school lunch…Oh yeah, me too, so why not give the lunch ladies credit in the name? : )
One other thing I love about this recipe is that it makes enough to feed a crowd. Tonight I was able to give some to a neighbor, my girl’s soccer team, and keep just a few for my own little family, otherwise we would be snacking on these all night! And if you were deprived as a child and have never experienced these bars, make them and see what you’ve missed out on all these years!

{Lunch Lady} Peanut Butter Bars                        Serves 24+ depending on serving size

1 C. Brown Sugar, packed
1 C. Sugar
1 C. Butter, softened
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 tsp. Salt
2 C. Flour
2 C. Oats (not quick cooking)
2  1/2 C. Peanut Butter, divided use (Just 1 C. if you don't want to spread a layer between cookie and frosting)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Combine first 3 ingredients in bowl and beat with hand mixer until smooth. Beat in eggs, vanilla and 1 C. of peanut butter.  Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Spread into greased jelly roll pan (18"x13"x1"). Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden and baked through.  Remove from oven and let set for just a few minutes, but while still hot, spread remaining peanut butter on top (or skip the peanut butter layer and just frost once cooled).  Cool completely until peanut butter is firm again (can refrigerate or freeze to speed up process).  Once cooled, frost with chocolate frosting (recipe follows) and cut into bars to serve. 

Chocolate Frosting 

1/2 C. Margarine or Butter, softened
1/4 C. Milk
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
3 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
3 C. Powdered Sugar

Mix with hand mixer until smooth and spread on top of bars. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

SNICKERS SALAD {FOR SECRET RECIPE CLUB}

Snickers Salad
This month’s Secret Recipe Club assigned blog was, Bru Crew Life. I must say, picking a recipe to make from Jocelyn’s blog was the toughest for me so far. How was I possibly to choose just one out of such amazing treats as White Chocolate Goo Goo Cluster Brownies, Brookie Bites, and Peanut Butter Pie Parfaits, just to name a few? Well, in the end I decided on this unique Snickers Salad because it’s SOOOO different than anything I’d typically think of making either as a dessert or a salad. (But you better believe I will be trying those other recipes real soon!)
I had to laugh when my 9 year old daughter asked what we were having for dessert and I told her Snickers salad, she gasped and said, “Eeeww, gross! Snickers in salad for dessert?” It was kind of a proud moment for me that my daughter knows salad around here to be spinach and lettuce :)  Needless to say, she was more than happy to scarf down this sweet concoction!

Snickers Salad

1 (3.5 oz.) box Vanilla Instant Pudding
1 C. Milk
1 container Cool Whip
8 Apples, diced (I used 2 very large apples and that was PLENTY)
6 Snickers Candy Bars (I used about 10 fun size), cut into chunks
Mix the pudding with the milk. Stir. Fold in Cool Whip. Let set up in refrigerator for at least one hour. Add the apples and Snickers and enjoy!