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Friday, February 26, 2010

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I saw these in a recent issue of Clean Eating magazine and could not wait to make them. I love cookies and always am looking for new clean cookie recipes to try. These were so easy to make, but apparently I made them a little too easy - I didn't mix the dough well enough and I had quite the variety of cookie shapes, all on the same pan! I had the flat-as-a-pancake variety, tall mounds that never seemed to settle at all from the drop shape, and then the perfect middle ground. (I have a picture of the cookie sheet somewhere, when I find it, I will post it in all it's hilarity).

These cookies are delicious, and this was my first time trying almond butter. It's quite different from peanut butter, and I really like it (though really, I'm not surprised, almonds are my favorite!)

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Source: Clean Eating Magazine, March/April 2010
Yield: 24 cookies

1 cup unsalted almond butter, stirred well
3/4 cup sucanat
1 large egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa or greater), broken into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients until (well!) blended.  Stir in chocolate.

2.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack and let cook for 15 more minutes. 

Nutritional Information, per cookie:
Calories - 110
Total fat - 8 g
Sat. fat - 1.5 g
Carbohydrates - 10 g
Fiber - 1 g
Sugar - 3 g
Protein - 2 g
Sodium - 55 mg
Cholesterol - 10 mg

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Maple Bars

I've posted protein bars before, but this was a slightly different take on your average protein bar. Nutty and a little sweet, these are great for on the go! I tried following the instructions in the magazine once, for baking them individually in foil packets, but I didn't like the end result. The second time around, I baked in a loaf pan and sliced after baking, and thought that worked much better!


Nutty Maple-Cinnamon Bars
Source: Clean Eating Magazine 

Yield: 6 bars
Prep time: 25min

1 cup rolled oats, divided
3 Tbsp unsalted almonds (I used chopped walnuts out of laziness)
4 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp pure maple syrup
Olive oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a blender, process 1/2 cup oats into oat flour. In a large bowl, stir together oat flour, remaining 1/2 cup oats, almonds, protein powder, cinnamon, and salt. Combine applesauce, vanilla and maple syrup with dry ingredients; mix thoroughly.

3. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.  Spread mixture into a loaf pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, or until the center is set. Store leftovers in the fridge.  Let cool, then slice into 6 bars.

per bar
Calories: 213
Sat. fat: 1g
Monounsat. fat: 2g
Polyunsat. fat: 1g
Total fat: 4g
Carbs: 29g
Fiber: 3g
Sugars: 14g
Protein: 15g
Sodium: 189mg
Cholesterol: 23mg

Monday, February 22, 2010

Orange Saffron Chicken with Coconut Saffron Risotto

I've been in love with saffron in risotto since Ina's butternut squash risotto. Something about that combination is nothing short of fantastic to me. With a little leftover coconut milk, I was scouring my Google Reader subscriptions for ideas, and came across this dinner from Jenn Cuisine.


 I thought all the flavors in this dish came together nicely.  I especially liked the little bite from the toasted almonds (which I chopped since I didn't have slivered ones) among the soft spinach.  The coconut in the risotto is subtle, or perhaps mine was just overpowered by my heavy handed measure of saffron. ;-)

Coconut-Saffron Risotto
Source: Reworded from Jenn Cuisine
  • 3 tbs. canola oil (EVOO may not mix well w/ coconut flavors)
  • 1 shallot or onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • splash of sherry
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 1/2 tsp saffron
  • salt to taste

1. In a pot with a large surface area, saute the onion in oil (med-high) until translucent. Then add in the rice for about 3 min until turns golden. Meanwhile, add coconut milk and broth to a saucepan and start it heating but keep it just under a boil so it is steaming.

2. Add in a splash of sherry to the rice and while stirring, let the sherry get absorbed into the rice.

3. Reduce heat down to medium. Add in 3/4 cup broth and saffron, stirring to let the rice soak up the broth until it is nearly all absorbed.  Repeat with remaining broth until the rice is plump and soft.  Add in salt to taste.

Orange Saffron Chicken with Orange and Almond Spinach
Source:  Jenn Cuisine

  • 2 tbs. canola oil
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron
  • 1 orange
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. spinach
  • 1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds

1. Squeeze orange juice (don’t toss the orange just yet!) and saffron in a small pot, and heat for a few minutes (but don’t boil it like crazy, there isn’t much liquid).

2. Take off the burner and let cool a bit to near room temp. Then add the chicken in an airtight container and set in the fridge for a good half hour.

3. Meanwhile, saute the spinach with 2 tbs. canola oil in a skillet on med-high heat. Once wilted, add in meat of orange and toasted almond slices, salt and pepper to taste. Remove from burner and set aside.

4. Using same pan (adding more oil if needed), add chicken and orange/saffron juice to the pan at med-high heat. Saute until chicken is thoroughly cooked and browns on the outside.

To serve, plate risotto on the bottom, then top with spinach and chicken. I garnished with a couple of saffron threads, almond slices, and orange zest.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Chewy

Ahh, The Chewy. I swear, this has to be one of Alton Brown's most famous recipes. I love Alton Brown, and wanted to use up some bread flour, so I decided it was time for me to make them. My mom is famous for her chocolate chip cookie recipe, which tends to be more crisp, so I was interested to see how these turned out.


Admittedly, I was quite disenchanted at first. I didn't love them. I barely liked them. Sure, the texture was spot on, but the flavor was missing something, for me. Though, I wondered if this was just a result of my clean eating lifestyle. However, I gave them another shot the next day, and thought they were much, much better! The flavor had definitely developed and I thought they were very good!  I should also note that my husband thought they were fantastic.


The Chewy
Source: Alton Brown

* 2 sticks unsalted butter
* 2 1/4 cups bread flour
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 egg yolk
* 2 tablespoons milk
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


* Ice cream scooper (#20 disher is recommended, but I didn't have that so I just eye-balled it)
* Parchment paper
* Baking sheets
* Mixer


Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chocolate Peppermint Torte


I love to get the Penzeys catalog in the mail and flip through it. They fill the catalog with tons of information about their many wonderful spices and blends. But in addition, they add recipes from customers. There are usually great stories to go along with the people and recipes, and it's always fun to read.

I saw this recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Torte in a recent winter catalog, and couldn't wait to make it! The original recipe called for mini marshmallows in the filling, but I had marshmallow creme that I wanted to use up, and it worked out so well! This cake was a hit and perfect for around the holidays, but then again, it's hard to go wrong with chocolate cake and whipped cream frosting!


Chocolate Peppermint Torte
Source: Adapted from Jean Albers/ Penzeys Catalog
Servings: 16

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

For the filling and frosting:
1 1/2 pints heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup marshmallow fluff/creme
1 cup crushed peppermint candy
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
To make the cake:
Grease three 9-inch round cake pans and set aside (baking spray works well).  In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa.  Add the shortening, milk, and vanilla.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Add the eggs and beat for 2 minutes more.  Divide the batter among the cake pans.  Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack.  Carefully remove from pans and allow to cool completely.

To make the filling/frosting:
In a chilled mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff.  Add the vanilla and marshmallow fluff, beat until incorporated.  Fold in the crushed candy and pecans.   Assemble the cake with the filling between each later, and on the top and sides.  Top with additional crushed candy, if desired.

Nutritional Information, per serving:

Calories - 440
Total fat - 28 g
Cholesterol - 80 mg
Sodium - 260 mg
Carbohydrates - 47 g
Fiber - 2 g

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Italian Chicken and Spinach Patties


I am completely in love with this dish! The flavors are amazing, the sauce is fantastic... I wanted to lick my plate! We will definitely be making this many times in the future. Big thanks to Michele at My Italian Grandmother for the recipe!

Italian Chicken and Spinach Patties
Source: My Italian Grandmother
Yields: 6 patties

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, squeezed and drained
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • approx 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
  • Italian seasoning
  • garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • wondra flour
  • shredded mozzarella (swiss or fontina would be good too), optional.


1. Saute onion and 3 cloves minced garlic in olive oil and set aside to cool. In a large bowl combine ground chicken, drained spinach, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder, egg and breadcrumbs. Mix with your hands to combine all seasonings. If mixture is very wet add more breadcrumbs. It will remain sticky.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet. Form patties and gently place in oil and let cook until browned, turn over and cook the other side. When all patties are browned place on a baking sheet and continue to cook in oven (to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way)while you make the sauce.

3. Heat 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp butter in pan, add 2 cloves minced garlic and cook over medium low heat, (do not burn or garlic will turn bitter). Add wine and let reduce by half, then add chicken stock. Let sauce cook down and reduce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you want the sauce to be thicker stir in some wondra flour.

4. Return patties to pan with sauce, turning to coat both sides. If desired, top with some shredded mozzarella and put the pan under the broiler to melt.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Oreo Bites

This dessert is very easy to make, and is truly a delicious crowd pleaser!  It's tough to go wrong with oreos covered in chocolate!  There are two variations floating around, one with cream cheese and one with sweetened condensed milk  I chose to go with sweetened condensed milk so that I could make them ahead and keep them at room temperature.  The version with cream cheese needs to be refrigerated.


As you can see, I had some problems with the chocolate. I was bound and determined this time to A) temper the chocolate and B) not want to throw a fit while trying to dip the oreo balls in the chocolate and coat them evenly. I'd been wondering if the trouble that I have with dipping things in chocolate has to do with me terribly overheating the chocolate.

This time I followed these instructions, from Cooking for Engineer to temper the chocolate. I dutifully monitored the temperatures... up over 105, add the seed chocolate, then back down to 90. I was quite impressed with myself for not killing the chocolate out of impatience. Then came the dipping... and wow! This was the easiest it had ever been for me! Chocolate flowed right off the oreo bite when I lifted it out of the chocolate, and with a few taps to nudge it along, I had a beatifully, evenly coated oreo bite.

I went along my merry way, dipping bite after bite, ignorant to the horror going on behind my back. When I had completed my batch of oreo bites, I turned around to gaze, lovingly, at my little treasures. And immediately wanted to cry. As you can see in the above photo, my little bites of oreo heaven had bloomed.

Blooming is nary a cosmetic bump in the road, as the chocolate is still perfectly fine to eat, but to me, it ruined my little bites of oreo heaven. I've had chocolate bloom on me before, sure, when I carelessly went back and forth from the freezer. What was the problem here? Apparently there are two kinds of blooming in chocolate:  fat bloom and sugar bloom. The sugar bloom is what I was more familiar with, and is a crystallization of sugar caused by high humidity or bringing a cold product to room temperature.  Could this somehow still be the problem?  I don't tend to think of my home as having high humidity (especially in winter).  The fat bloom is the accumulation of large cocoa butter crystals on the surface of the chocolate.  Apparently you can tell the difference by the feel of the chocolate, but I didn't know this until after they were devoured, so it will remain a mystery. 

Oreo Bites
Source: Re-written from Kraft Recipes / Beantown Baker
Yield: about 40

1 package oreos
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
chocolate, for dipping

Crush oreos down to a fine texture in a food processor. Pour into a large bowl. Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract, and stir until the mixture is well blended. Using a 2 teaspoon scoop, scoop rounded balls of oreo mixture onto parchment lined pans, then refrigerate to set. Melt chocolate over a double boiler (tempering is best), then dip the oreo bites to coat. Set back on parchment paper and allow chocolate to set.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Baked Oatmeal


A friend shared her recipe for baked oatmeal with me, after I tried it and loved her version. I tweaked it to my likes, and cleaned it up a bit, which was very easy to do. I love having a warm, hearty, fulling breakfast that only takes a minute to heat up in the microwave!

I tried it first with 1/3 cup maple syrup, but I think it could use a tad more sweetness, so I am going with the full 1/2 cup next time. Also, I like my oatmeal on the firmer side, so I used less milk than the original recipe calls for.

Baked Oatmeal
Serves:  12
  • 2 apples, cored and rough chopped
  • 1 cup fresh, frozen, or dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats 
  • 4 cups skim milk (can go up to 4.5 cups)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup, or agave nectar, or sucanat
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a casserole or large oven proof dish (roughly 9x13).  Bake at 350 for 45 min.  Dish can be ahead ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator overnight before baking in the morning.

Nutritional Information, per serving:
Calories - 194
Total Fat - 5 g
Saturated Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol - 20 mg
Sodium - 236 mg
Potassium - 182 mg
Carbohydrate - 31 g
Fiber - 2.7 g
Sugar - 12.8 g
Protein - 6.5 g

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Women’s Bean Project Chili and Cornbread

I received this chili and cornbread mix as a gift this Christmas. I didn't waste too much time before making it, and it was fabulous. I was really impressed with the cornbread, it was moist and delicious! The chili had great flavor and wasn't too spicy. I just wanted to take the time to highlight The Women's Bean Project, which has a number of great gift ideas to support a worthy cause!



Monday, February 1, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Pie

This is a fabulous dish that was easy to throw together with cooked chicken. The green salsa was fabulous, and the whole dish had great flavor and was a great comfort meal!


Chicken Tortilla Pie
Source: Everyday Food magazine
* 12 corn tortillas (6-inch), toasted (I used homemade whole wheat tortillas)
* 2 cups cooked, shredded dark-meat chicken (I used chopped cooked chicken breast)
* 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles (I used fresh jalapenos)
* 1 1/2 cups Green or Red Salsa (recipe follows)
* 1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
* 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (6 ounces)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an 8-inch square baking dish, layer 4 tortillas, 1 cup chicken, cup chiles, 1/2 cup salsa, 1/3 cup sour cream, and 1/2 cup cheese; repeat once. Top with remaining tortillas, salsa, sour cream, and cheese. Bake until top is browned and bubbling, 30 to 40 minutes.

Green or Red Salsa

* 8 tomatillos (for Red Salsa, substitute 6 plum tomatoes, halved)
* 1 onion, halved
* 1 to 2 jalapenos, halved (ribs and seeds removed, if desired)
* 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
* Coarse salt


1. On a rimmed baking sheet, broil tomatillos, onion, jalapenos, and garlic until lightly charred, 4 minutes. Puree in a blender until smooth. Thin with 1/2 to 3/4 cup water, and season with salt.