Saturday, August 18, 2012

Farm Fresh Raspberry Scones

I went on a fun adventure with my two boys, some of my friends, and their kids. We went raspberry picking at the Hoot n Howl Farm in Boulder, CO. It was a great farm with a wonderful concept. You pick your own berries! We all went out with our containers from home in hand, and went out to their raspberry bushes and got to pick our own fruit. It was a wonderful experience to go out to the field in the hot sun and pick our own berries, instead of just picking the best looking container from the store. They also have farm fresh eggs, but we didn't get to the farm before they sold out. I will definitely have to make another trip to try farm fresh eggs!

While picking the raspberries, my mind kept wandering to all the yummy recipes I could make. My first thought was raspberry scones. Not sure why, I don't think I have ever had raspberry scones before, but I decided to give it a try. These scones are moist and absolutely delectable. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family! 

Farm Fresh Raspberry Scones

1/3 cup Honey
1/2 cup Milk
2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
3/4 cup Oats
1 1/2 Tbs Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup of Butter, cut into small cubes
1 Egg
1 cup Fresh Raspberries

  • Place wire rack in the top 1/3 of oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, mix the honey and milk together.
  • In a food processor, combine the flour, oats, baking powder and salt. Pulse until mixed well. 
  • Add the butter into the food processor and cut it into the flour mixture until well blended (it will look like pebbles/sand). 
  • Add the honey milk and the egg. Mix until well blended and dough forms. 
  • Knead out onto a flour surface a few times until combined. But don't over mix. 
  • Gently fold in fresh raspberries. 
  • Make a flattened circle with the dough about 10 inches in diameter. Cut into eight pieces. Cut each piece in half. Gently form into circles or triangles and place on the baking sheets. 
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. 
  • Cool on wire rack. 
Note : Using the fresh berries made this a very messy endeavor. If you don't mind getting your hands a bit gooey and sticky use the fresh ones. If you want to contain the mess a bit, use frozen berries. Also, if you want to make these out of raspberry season and don't want to pay an arm and leg for fresh berries, the frozen berries will do just fine. I don't think there is much of a difference in taste. 

Going to the farm and picking my own berries made me wish I had my own garden that way I could enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Maybe that will be my goal for next summer. Although I have to say, I am a bit intimidated by growing plants. Maybe be I'll start with herbs and work up from there.

Have you ever gone to a farm and picked your own fruits or vegetables? What were your thoughts about picking your own food? 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Low-Fat Banana Bread Muffins

More often than not, my fruit bowl ends up with one mushy banana. This is not enough bananas to make banana bread. It must be one of Murphy's Laws to only have one banana that is overly ripe and ready for banana bread. I have tried freezing them to save until I have enough bananas to make banana bread. I have tried freezing with the peel still intact and with it unpeeled, but I always end up just tossing them. There something really unappealing about frozen mushy bananas.

One day I was at my local grocery store; I made an amazing discovery. They sell over ripened bananas at a discount. This means I can make banana bread whenever I want, which is usually all the time.

Low-fat Banana Bread Muffins

1 1/3 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/3 cup Oats
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin or apple sauce
2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 Tbs Plain Yogurt or Sour Cream
1 tsp Vanilla
2/3 cup Walnuts or Pecans, chopped (optional)

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and place papers in muffin tins. 
  • Mix flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and the eggs until light and fluffy.
  • Mix bananas, yogurt, and vanilla into the large bowl, until well blended. 
  • Fold in flour mixture and nuts (if using). 
  • Spoon into the papers in the muffin tins. Use a large spoonful but don't fill all the way to the top as these will rise while baking. 
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until all the way cooked through (use the toothpick test). 
  • Let cool in muffin tins for about 5 minutes prior to removing. 

Since banana bread is one of my favorite recipes to make, I wanted to make these muffins a bit different than I had made in the past. I am also getting more comfortable trying experiments on recipes. One that I make all seemed like a safe place to try some different ingredients. I wondered if adding the oats would change the consistency of the muffins, it did not.

I had read in a bunch of different places to use pumpkin instead of apple sauce for a different flavor. It ended up being a great substitue, it is mild in flavor and adds more nutrients than apple sauce. Usually when I make my banana bread I do half apple sauce and half canola oil to make it low-fat. I wondered if I just used pumpkin puree and no oil how it would turn out. These muffins were light and fluffy and very moist.

I was glad that I tried different ingredients in these banana bread muffins. It is refreshing to change up old recipes so they seem new and fresh.

Am I the only one who didn't know about the "Banana Bread" banana's that the grocery store sells?

What recipes do you make all the time that you have tried switching up a bit?   

Friday, June 15, 2012

Whole Wheat Tortillas

When we are short on time or just don't want to cook dinners, I usually bring in the tortillas. Burritos night is usually my husband gives me a break in the kitchen. I also tend to make quesadillas when we don't have any turkey meat and need to use the rest of the tortillas we have bought.

So when we came home from a week vacation in Seattle and needed to make a meal with what we had in our house, I instantly thought about making some quesadillas. The only problem was that there were no tortillas in my house. I had all the other ingredients, just no tortillas. It got me thinking about making tortillas and I wondered if I could do it.

I couldn't believe how easy it was to make tortillas! I had thought about making tortillas before, but was a bit intimidated to try. I found a straight forward recipe on 100 Days of Real Food and decided to give it a shot. After making these for our dinner last week, I made a double recipe over the weekend and froze them. Not only were these tortillas easy to make they were delicious. They have a light buttery taste, but are super healthy with whole wheat flour and no butter, shortening or lard.

Whole Wheat Tortillas

2 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Oil
1 cup Warm Water

  • Place the whole wheat flour and the salt in a Food Processor with a dough blade. Pulse a few times to mix. Note: You can also use a KitchenAid or hand mixer as long as you have a dough hook.
  • Drizzle in the oil while the Food Processor is running. Mix well until the crumbly, it takes about 3-5 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed. 
  • While the Food Processor is still running, drizzle in the water until a large dough ball forms. The dough should be a bit sticky. If parts are stickier than others, lightly knead the dough with your hands. 
  • On a clean surface, shape the dough into a log that is between 8-12 inches long. Divide into equal parts (this will yield between 8-16 tortillas, depending on how big you want to make them). 
  • Roll each piece into a ball, using your hands slightly flatten each ball into a disc. Lay out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover and let sit for 15 min-1 hr. 
  • Heat a cast iron skillet, griddle, or 12 in round pan on medium-high heat. The pan should already be hot prior to cooking. 
  • On a very lightly floured surface (make sure not to over do it), roll out each disk int a thin tortilla, should be between 8-10 inches in diameter.
  • Put a little oil in the preheated pan. Place one of the tortillas in the pan, let cook between 45 sec-1 min until puffy and slightly browned, flip, repeat on the other side.
  • Continue this process until all your tortillas are made.  
  • Store in the refrigerator or freezer if not being served right away.  
Time saving tips: To save some time I used three skillets, so I could cook more than one at a time. I also had six rolled out to start with and while I had tortillas cooking, I rolled out the rest. I did this in between flipping and rotating the ones I had made on the pan. As I said above, I made two batches (my Food Processor isn't big enough to make a double recipe), and froze what we didn't need. That way we I just pull them out of the freezer to defrost.

This yielded 32, 6-7 inch tortillas. I made the log 12 inches long and cut 16 pieces.  If you want bigger tortillas, don't stretch out longer than 10 inches and don't divide too many times. They are really filling because of the whole wheat, so I was glad I made them smaller. They were taco size instead of burrito size.

When the dough forms a large ball, it is ready.
Dough formed into a log and divided into even pieces.
Rolled and flattened and waiting to be rolled into tortillas.
Roll out a few to start, then roll the rest while cooking to save time.
Cook on each side until it looks like this, about a minute.

This was a fun recipe to make, and if you are new to making bread recipes, it is a great confidence builder. I recommend giving it a go, you might surprise yourself. I know I did!

What are your go to recipes when you need to serve something quick and healthy? I am always looking for other ideas on what to make my family.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

It seems whenever we decide to maker burgers, I forget to get hamburger buns when at the grocery store. Then burger night comes around and we are deciding between using regular bread slices or a naked burger, until now. 

A few months ago, I made a hamburger bun recipe from Heavenly Homemakers. They turned out okay, I was still learning how to make different bread recipes. I hadn't quite figured out how the dough should feel, how to roll it out, etc.. I decided to try these again since I had more practice making bread. 

I started by preparing the yeast the way I normally do for all the other bread recipes I make, then went upstairs to put my little guy down for a nap. When I pulled up the recipe on my computer realized I had already started the yeast and was not following the directions. Instead of starting over I just used the other recipe as a guide. I used less flour, less water, reduced the amount of salt, and added wheat gluten. These hamburger buns were light and fluffy, not what you usually find using whole wheat.  

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

1 1/4 cups Warm Water, divided
1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
2 tsp Olive Oil, divided
2 Tbs Honey, divided
4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tbs Vital Wheat Gluten
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Milk
2 Tbs Butter
All-purpose flour, for your surface.

  • In a small bowl mix one cup of warm water with one teaspoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of honey. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit for 10 minutes or until yeast is foamy.
  • Put the flour, vital wheat gluten, and salt into the bread maker and set aside.
  • In a small saucepan warm the milk and the butter, until the butter is melted, make sure the temperature does not exceed 120 degrees.
  • Turn on the bread mixer, on dough setting, prior to pouring in the liquids. First pour in the milk mixture, next the remaining tablespoon of honey, followed by the yeast mixture.
  • Mix dough for a bit, if it is too dry add in the remaining 1/4 cup of water or more depending on how dry the dough is. You don't want it to be too sticky either so add a little water at a time. 
  • After mixing dough in the bread mixer for about 5 minutes, remove and knead on a floured surface for a couple of minutes, until dough is no longer sticky. Add extra flour if needed.
  • Put the remaining tsp of olive oil in a large bowl, roll dough around in the bowl until the whole thing is covered in the oil. 
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size. 
  • Punch down the dough until all the air bubbles are gone. Roll out on a floured surface to approx 1/2 in thick. Use a glass or cup or a small bowl to cut out the circles. Just make sure it is between 3-4 inches, depending on how big you want the hamburger buns. Knead and repeat until all the dough is gone
  • Place the circles on a baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Loosely cover with the plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes and preheat oven to 350. 
  • Uncover and bake for 15-20 minutes. They should feel a bit soft on the sides and not too brown on the bottom. 
  • Let them sit on the baking sheet until cool. Cut open and serve with the burger and dressings of your choice.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
Storing the Hamburger Buns: These will keep for a few days in a storage container or plastic bag at room temperature. You can freeze up to a month. Cut the buns in half prior to freezing so they are easier to serve when you remove them from the freezer. We just take them out and put them in the toaster on defrost and voila.

Memorial Day weekend always reminds me of grilling out. These Hamburger Buns are the perfect compliment to any type of burger you are serving.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Flourless Decadent Chocolate Cake

I seem to have hit a patch of writers block.  I have been working on a banana bread muffin recipe for more than two weeks and can't seem to get it finished. It's too bad because it is a delicious recipe. So I have decided to move on, and go back to it and hopefully the right words will come to me so I can share it with you.

I am always looking for new recipe ideas. Pinterest always seems to have a great collection of fun dishes to try. I came across a recipe for a flourless cake that used black beans. I slightly modified this recipe from Feast on Cheap. This is a great way to sneak healthy ingredients into dessert.

This cake was beyond decadent. I felt that I was enjoying dessert at a fancy restaurant, the type of dessert that I will splurge and pay $6-$8 for on a special occasion. This tastes like a combination between a chocolate souffle and a molten cake. This dessert was my Mother's Day present to myself and it didn't disappoint. That is actually only half true, my husband was disappointed because I ate almost the whole thing.

Flourless Decadent Chocolate Cake

6oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
15 oz can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
2 Eggs
1/3 cup Unsweetened Peanut Butter
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

  • Preheat oven to 350 and place rack in center of oven. Prepare a loaf pan by buttering it and then coating with a mixture of flour and cocoa, tap out all the excess. 
  • In a double boiler (I heat 1 1/2 inches of water in a large pan almost to a simmer and then place a heat proof metal bowl in the water and place the chocolate chips in the bowl) melt the chocolate. You can also melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl check at 20 sec intervals until completely melted. Set aside.
  •  In a food processor mix the beans, eggs and peanut butter until smooth and well combined.
  • Next add in the vanilla, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Pulse a few times until combined.
  • Add the chocolate into the batter mixture, blend until well combined. 
  • Pour into prepared pan. 
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert on serving tray.
  • Serve dusted with powdered sugar, drizzled with chocolate syrup, or dolloped with whipped cream. Or all of the above. You can also serve with a heap of berries, they pair really nicely with this decadent cake. 

Here are a couple of observations I had while making this dessert. I was surprised how thin cake batter looked when I poured it in the pan, it rises a bit and actually makes the perfect amount. When it is baking it puffs up a bit and cracks, but when it cools it shrinks back down flat and the cracks disappear. This cake is really inexpensive to make but feels like you are enjoying an extravagant treat.

Any suggestions on how to break through a writers block? Since this is still new to me, I am looking how to work through it and not get frustrated. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Broccoli and Corn Calzones

Pizza is one of my go to recipes. If I am not in the mood to put together recipes for when I go shopping, it is almost a guarantee that pizza will be on the menu for the week. I always make pizza the pizza dough from scratch. Pizza dough is easy to make, and it doesn't require much active time in the kitchen. It is important though to make sure it is made far enough in advance so dinner is not served at 8 o'clock at night (unless that is your preferred dinner time).

Every once in a while I like to mix it up and use my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough recipe for calzones instead of pizza. I really like this calzone recipe from Eating Well Magazine. I slightly modified it from one of the recipes I cut out of on of the magazines from 2007. This is a really easy recipe and if you don't have time or desire make your own pizza dough, you can definitely use store bought. Just try to look for whole wheat pizza dough.

Broccoli and Corn Calzones

1 1/2 cups Chopped Broccoli Florets
1 1/2 cups Corn Kernels (fresh or frozen)
1 cup Shredded Part-Skim Mozzarella
2/3 cup Reduced-Fat Ricotta Cheese
4 Scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Pepper
All Purpose Flour, for dusting
Pizza Dough Recipe or 20 oz Prepared Pizza Dough
2 tsp of Canola Oil
Prepared pizza or marinara sauce 

  • Preheat oven to 475. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Spray two baking sheets with oil or cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, combine broccoli, corn mozzarella, ricotta, scallions, cilantro, garlic powder, salt, pepper.
  • On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into six pieces. 
  • Roll out each piece into an 8-in circle. 
  • Place 3/4 cup of the mixture on half of each circle, leaving a 1-in border of dough. 
  • Fold the top half over the filling, and crimp the edges using a fork to seal.
  • Make three slits in the top to vent the steam. 
  • Brush each calzone with oil and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until browned on top, switch baking sheets from top to bottom half way through to make sure the calzones are evenly cooked. 
  • Serve with your favorite marinara or pizza sauce. 
The first time I made this recipe, I was a bit skeptical about how the all ingredients would work together. I was pleasantly surprised on how well it all came together. It has definitely become one of our family favorites. One suggestion I would make, which I always forget to do myself, is put the filling on all the calzones before closing them up. I tend to either have too much or too little filling by the time I get to the final two calzones so they end up being either too full or too skimpy.

Look at all those veggies!
Calzones made an ready to be put into the oven.
Serve with your favorite sauce. Careful they come out of the oven really HOT!
Have you made calzones before? What are your favorite fillings? I am always looking for new ideas.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes

With as many cheesecake recipes as I have been making lately, it would seem that cheesecake is my favorite dessert. Until I made these heavenly cupcakes, I would have told you otherwise. These may be my new favorite dessert. The combination of the peanut butter and chocolate in a cheesecake is heavenly. It is like a creamy peanut butter cup but better.

I have been dreaming of making a peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake for about a month. I hosted a baby shower for one of my closest friends and thought this was the perfect opportunity to try them out. She is as big of a peanut butter and chocolate fan as I am. This time I wanted to try a different cheesecake batter than my Chocolate Cherry Swirl and Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake Cupcakes. I got this recipe from Simply In Season, it is a "lower-fat" recipe because it uses low-fat cottage cheese as a bulk of the batter. It may seem a bit strange to use cottage cheese but you won't be disappointed. It makes a lighter creamier flavor, unlike cheesecake that just uses cream cheese.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Cupcakes

Makes Approx 27 Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups of Graham Crackers
3 Tbs Brown Sugar
3 Tbs Canola Oil
3 cups Low-Fat Cottage Cheese, at room temperature
12 oz  Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups Sugar
1/4 cup Corn Starch
2 Eggs, beaten
2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Peanut Butter, preferably unsweetened
3/4 cup Chocolate Chips, melted
1 Tbs Baking Cocoa

To Make the Crust
  • Preheat the oven to 325, set water bath on bottom rack in the oven, and line muffin tin with papers.
  • In a food processor, blend the Graham crackers until they are crumbs.
  • Add in brown sugar and oil. 
  • Drizzle in a little bit of water. (The mixture should be wet, but crumbly).
  • Scoop 1 Tbs of the Graham Cracker Crust in each paper and evenly press down into each paper.
  • Set aside.
To Make the Filling
  • In a food processor, puree the cottage cheese. 
  • Add in the cream cheese, sugar, and corn starch, beat until smooth. 
  • Pour into a large bowl and add in eggs and vanilla, stir until well mixed.
  • Remove 1 cup of the filling, set aside. 
  • In a medium bowl, using electric mixer on low, beat the peanut butter until light and smooth. 
  • Stir into the large bowl of the filling until well combined.
  • Dollop a large spoonful of peanut butter filling into each of the prepared cups. 
To Make the Chocolate Swirl
  •  Mix the remaining batter with the melted chocolate chips and the cocoa powder. 
To Make the Cupcakes
  • Using a large spoon dollop the peanut butter batter into each cupcake paper. Don't do it all the way to the top since you will be adding more with the chocolate.
  • Drop about a tsp full of the chocolate batter into each cupcake. (I used a syringe to make 4-5 drops of the chocolate batter). If the chocolate batter starts to thicken (or starts out too thick), add some water to it. Use a couple drops at a time as to not make it too runny. The more the batter sits, the harder it will become since the chocolate starts hardening.
  • Use a toothpick to swirl together. 
  To Bake
  • Put the cupcakes in the oven on the rack above the water. Bake for 22 minutes, rotating tray half way through. 
  • Turn off the oven and open the oven door and leave the cupcakes in for another 15 minutes. 
  • Remove and set on a cooling rack for another 15 minutes. 
  • Refrigerate for 4 hours prior to serving.

I have been blogging now for five months! I can't believe how fast the time has past. My cooking has grown leaps and bounds since my first post, hopefully my writing and my pictures taking skills have developed also. I have been cooking for my family now for about seven years, but I feel I have grown more over the last few months then the previous years (not counting the very beginning). I am more comfortable taking risks and coming up with different ideas. I can't wait to see what the next five months and beyond will bring!

I hope you have enjoyed my blog so far. If this recipe or any other looks tasty to you, I'd love to hear your feedback.