Sweets


Blueberries are in season right now, which means they are not only delicious but they are inexpensive. I love the taste and health benefits of blueberries – they are low in calories and packed with antioxidants. I have been eating a lot of them on cereal and in yogurt but I’ve been looking forward to baking with blueberries. Over the weekend, I made Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins from Cooking Light.

I followed the recipe as it was written except I used fresh blueberries. The muffins turned out really tasty and moist – especially when fresh. Even a few days later, the muffins were delicious heated in the microwave. Each muffin is under 200 calories so it’s a guilt-free treat or breakfast food.

I looking forward to including more fresh fruit in my recipes before the summer is over. This time of year is the best for fresh berries, you just can’t go wrong.

Enjoy!

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I get my love of cooking and baking from the women in my family. For as long as I can remember, my mom, grandmothers, and aunts have been cooking delicious meals and baking from scratch. Since I’ve started this blog, I received more cookbooks and recipes than ever from my family and friends. They are funding my habit, I guess. 😉 

About every week or so, my grandmother sends me recipes she’s seen in magazines or newspapers that I might be interested in. It’s so nice of her and I’m grateful to have someone else on my “research” team. 

A few week’s ago, my grandmother sent me a recipe for Dorie Greenspan’s Peanut Butter Cookies that was printed in Parade magazine. Dorie Greenspan is a pretty famous baker and I’m a sucker for anything peanut butter so I baked these over the weekend. These are classic peanut butter cookies – soft in the middle anc crunchy on the outside. I can see myself making them again and again.

I followed the recipe are written except I didn’t chill the dough overnight but rather baked the cookies right away. What can I say, I’m impatient when it comes to baked goods.

Peanut Butter Cookies (from Dorie Greenspan)

Makes 60 cookies

Ingredients:

2.5 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 c. peanut butter (not natural)

3/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

More sugar, for rolling

Preparation:

1. In one bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter and both sugars for 2 minutes. Gently blend in the dry ingredients.

2. Divide in half, wrap, and chill over night (I didn’t do this). Shape scant tablespoons of dough into balls, roll in sugar and place 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets. Press each with fork tines.

3. Bake at 350*F for 12 minutes, until cookies are golden. Transfer to cooling racks.

Chocolate Drizzle (optional but encouraged)

Because everything is better with chocolate, I had to incorporate it into this cookies. To do so, I melted about a 1/4 cup of Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips in the microwave (10 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until smooth). To the melted chocolate, I added about a teaspoon of corn syrup and stirred until the mixture was well blended. Using a fork, I drizzled the chocolate over the cookies and refrigerated them until the chocolate hardened (about 10 minutes). Delish!

On a side note, as I mentioned last week I saw the Valentine’s Day movie on Friday. It was cute! I enjoyed it and there were even a couple surprising scenes. I love a feel good movie, any day!

When I was at work today, someone called me to see if I were snowed in and eating my last Ritz cracker in the dark. First of all, Boston hasn’t been hit with much snow (phew!) and secondly, I don’t think I’d EVER run out of food around here. Our cupboards are very well stocked. I guess I’m a closet foodie at work – some of my co-workers don’t know that I actually like to grocery shop.

I hope, where you are located, snow hasn’t come your way and you’re not eating your last cracker, either. If you need a snack tonight, I have a good one for you. 

Bread. I just love carbs and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Pasta, crackers, BREAD. While I tend to eat a lot of bread and pasta, I like to stick with the whole grains. I almost never buy white bread or pasta. I hope that doesn’t sound snobby.

When it comes to snack breads though, I consider it a treat. Pumpkin bread seems to be a staple food during the autumn. Cranberry bread reminds me of the holidays, and chocolate bread? Don’t even tempt me!

But there are plenty of ways to lighten these type of breads. I’ve made a healthy pumpkin chocolate chip loaf in the past and no one knew it was “lighter.” My Raspberry Pecan White Chocolate Loaf is another good example. It contains fruit, whole grains, egg whites and canola oil (instead of butter). It’s just sweet enough to be eaten for breakfast, as a snack or for dessert.

Raspberry Pecan White Chocolate Loaf

Makes one 9×3 inch loaf

Ingredients:

1 c. white flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

ž c. brown sugar

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. Salt

2 egg whites

ž c. Fresh orange juice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ c. Canola oil

1 c. frozen raspberries

½ cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

Âź c. white chocolate chips (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*.
  2. Spread pecans on single layer of a baking sheet and bake (toast) for 3-5 minutes. I did this in my toaster oven so I could make sure they didn’t burn.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Stir the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt until well blended.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk eggs well. Add orange juice and vanilla extract to the eggs and mix well.
  5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients in the large bowl. Mix in oil and stir until combined.
  6. Add raspberries, nuts and chocolate to the batter. Stir until well combined.
  7. Spray 9×3 inch loaf pan with cooking spray
  8. Pour batter into the pan and spread evenly.
  9. Bake at 350* for 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into bread.
  10. Let cool before removing bread from pan and cutting.
  11. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite snack bread? I honestly can’t decide. This one is very good but I also love banana bread (with cream cheese) and pumpkin chocolate chip bread, too! Tough decisions, I tell you.

Have a good Wednesday night, everyone! I’m going to finish my Ritz crackers. Kidding.

Did you have a good weekend? I did. It was busy but fun! It was a treat to “party” on Sunday night to watch the Super Bowl. While I was rooting for the Saints, I was also there to watch the commercials and of course, eat!

I love those E*TRADE commercials (“Milka..what?”) and the Careerbuilder.com one about casual Fridays was pretty funny, too. Did you notice how many Budweiser and Doritos commercials there were?

The game was a good one and it was accompanied by some delicious food – both savory and sweet! Pizza dip. Pigs in a Blanket. Veggies and dip. Cookies!

I brought Buffalo Chicken Dip to the party. It’s totally addicting. I even made it a bit healthier by using low-fat cheeses.

Lighter Buffalo Chicken Dip (serves 8 people)

Ingredients:

8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened

Âź c. reduced fat blue cheese crumbles

Âź c. reduced fat blue cheese dressing

Âź c. hot sauce

1 can of chicken in water, drained

½ c. reduced fat mozzarella (2%)

Preparation:

  1. Layer the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate with the cream cheese.
  2. Top cream cheese with blue cheese crumbles.
  3. Top crumbles with chicken and top with hot sauce.
  4. Pour blue cheese dressing over hot sauce.
  5. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of the dip.
  6. Bake dip for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, or until mozzarella is melted.
  7. Enjoy with crackers or veggies.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about dessert. I have been drooling over eyeing the recipe for Peanut Butter Blondies with Milk Chocolate Frosting from Joy the Baker. These treats were sweet and delicious! You can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate – two of my favorite ingredients! I especially loved the fluffy frosting. Thanks, Joy!

I really enjoyed the Super Bowl this year and like the Saints, our food was also a winner!

What was your favorite Super Bowl treat? What was your favorite commercial?

What to have for dessert? The big dilemma. Chocolate? Cheesecake? You can actually have both…without the guilt. Over the weekend, I made Cream Cheese Brownies from one of my Cooking Light cookbooks.  

A chocolate brownie with a layer of cheesecake? I’m in. The recipe is pretty straighforward and simple, full of easy-to-find ingredients. The best part? One brownie is only 130 calories and 4 grams of fat.

Now I have to admit that I love a good brownie, that means it has to meet two criteria. It must be fudgy and moist. If it’s not super chocolately and dense, it falls into the cake category in my book. This recipe was more of a cake brownie than a brownie brownie…if you know what I mean. Flavorful? Yes. And, chocolatey. Plus, the cheesecake topping is oh so creamy. But, the brownie itself was fluffier than what I was consider to be ideal.

None the less, this dessert turned out sweet and decadent and I look forward to making them again.

Hope you had a nice Christmas! I can’t believe it’s already come and gone…

I was lucky to have a few days off from work before Christmas, which allowed me to spend lots of time in the kitchen baking. I did all of my baking at my parents’ house which was great because they 1) have way more space and 2) own a Kitchen Aid standing mixer. Oh, the simple things that excite me!

Anyway, I was busy baking coconut macaroons for my Dad (gluten-free and so easy!) as well as a lot of mini sugar cookies. I had a lot of fun decorating these babies but they was sure time consuming! I get myself into these hours-long baking projects and can’t pull myself away. The cookie cutters I used were from Michael’s and they were mini and adorable!

With all the holiday eating these past few days, I am SO ready to get back to my healthy eating pattern. All of the Christmas goodies I’ve eaten over the past few days have been delicious but my body is dying for some whole foods – like fruits and veggies. Luckily, I received FOUR cookbooks for Christmas so I’ll have plenty of new recipes to try. My cookbook obsession must stop.

What food-related gifts did you get this year? In addition to cookbooks, I received lots of cupcake-related gifts. I’ll snap some photos to post soon. It’s pretty halarious how many cupcake gifts are out there. I think I have them all! 😉

Thanks to Real Simple, I think I have found the easiest holiday treat around! You only need TWO ingredients. It’s unheard of!

Every year, I give my co-workers a little something around the holidays. I like making homemade treats so when I saw the recipe for Chocolate Nut Bark on Real Simple’s website, I had to give it a shot. It was so easy to throw together and makes a nice little gift

All you need for this recipe is semi-sweet chocolate squares, found in the baking aisle of the grocery store and mixed nuts, preferably salted. All I had to do was melt the chocolate on the stove (use a double boiler if you have one), pour the melted chocolate onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle nuts on the chocolate and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Once the bark hardened, I broke it into pieces and packaged it. Such a simple sweet and salty treat! (Check out the link above to complete directions)

Because I gave this as gifts, I picked out some cute jars and ribbon for festive packaging. Because I had some bark leftover, I also lined a cookie tin with tissue paper and piled the rest of the bark inside. Cute and delicious!

What’s your favorite holiday food gift to give or receive?

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