Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chubby Hubby Cookies

I know, I know...In my last post I was patting myself on the back for trying to eat healthy, and today I'm posting a recipe for cookies. I may need to work on my willpower, because when these cookies popped up in my Reader I just couldn't resist them. I had to make them immediately. Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby ice cream is pretty much the best ice cream ever, in my humble opinion, so I thought the idea of using those flavors in a cookie was absolutely genius.

These cookies are so delicious! I was skeptical of how they'd turn out before I baked them, because the dough was really crumbly, but they turned out just fine. The pretzels added a nice salty element to the cookie, and really, you just can't beat the chocolate-peanut butter-pretzel combo. I'll definitely be making these little bad boys over and over again!

Chubby Hubby Cookies
source: Joelen's Culinary Adventures

3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup peanut butter chips

1/2 cup crushed pretzel sticks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer attached with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

3. Sift flour and baking soda together. Beat into batter on low speed. Stir in chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and crushed pretzels.

4. Drop by rounded tablespoons (or use a small scoop) onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 11 to 14 minutes until golden on the bottom and just set in the middle. Cool on wire racks.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Now that Will is finally here and I can't stuff my face with every fattening food in sight, I'm making a conscious effort to eat healthier. That means having turkey sandwiches for lunch instead of Velveeta shells and cheese, and eating apples and peanut butter for snacks instead of potato chips and Drumsticks. Being pregnant definitely has its advantages, food-wise, I cannot lie.

That's part of the reason I was attracted to this recipe in January's issue of Cooking Light. Carrot cake pancakes! They sound so decadent, but then you look at the ingredients and realize, hey, these are actually pretty healthy. I felt like I was having dessert for dinner, but I was actually eating something that wasn't really all that bad for me. I loved the honey butter topping, but if you're being less diet-conscious than I am right now, I think the cream topping from these banana nut pancakes would be delicious here. It would really make these pancakes taste like carrot cake.

Because I was being so healthy, I thought it would be okay to indulge in a couple of slices of bacon with dinner. I just can't quit bacon. We all really liked these pancakes; they're flavorful and yummy and will definitely be repeated in our house!

Carrot Cake Pancakes
source: Cooking Light January 2010; recipe also found here

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (I used pecans)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
Dash of ground ginger
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups finely grated carrot (about 1 pound)
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey

1. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (through ginger) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through eggs); add sugar mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in 2 cups carrot.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Spoon 4 (1/4 cup) batter mounds onto pan, spreading with a spatula. Cook for 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Carefully turn pancakes over; cook 1 minute or until bottoms are lightly browned. Repeat procedure twice with remaining batter. Combine butter and honey in a small bowl; serve with pancakes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Healthy Morning Muffins

For the past week or so, I have felt anything but productive. Time for a newsflash -- are you ready for this? It turns out, newborns require a lot of attention. I'd totally forgotten! Thank goodness I have a fully stocked freezer to utilize during these first crazy weeks!

Today my husband had the day off from work, so I actually got some things accomplished. I cleaned our bedroom, organized Andrew's closet, and baked some brownies (from a mix, but still, it took a little bit of effort). I also made these delicious muffins, which I'm sending to daycare with Andrew tomorrow. It's his day to take a snack, and I thought these muffins would be a yummy, healthy choice for him and his classmates.

Of course I had to sneak one just to make sure they tasted okay, and they absolutely did. They're low in fat, which is awesome, but they're also incredibly moist and flavorful. There's no butter here, but I promise you won't miss it one bit. I loved the combination of banana and carrot, and I actually think this recipe would make a great quick bread.

I adapted the recipe to make mini-muffins. I also added some cinnamon -- which I think these really needed; the flavor may have been slightly lacking without it -- and used vegetable oil instead of extra-virgin olive oil (since olive oil has a distinctive taste, I was concerned that I wouldn't like the flavor of it in a muffin). This recipe isn't available online that I can see, so I've listed the original as it appears in the magazine, with my changes in purple. I think I may actually make these every weekend so we have a healthy breakfast choice throughout the week.

Healthy Morning Muffins
source: Everyday Food, January/February 2010

Non-stick cooking spray
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 large egg
1/3 cup skim milk (I used whole milk since it's what we always have on hand for Andrew)
4 medium carrots, shredded (I used 3, which was plenty)
1 medium ripe banana, mashed

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan (or a 24-cup mini-muffin pan) with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt until there are no lumps. Stir in oats and raisins. Add oil, eggs, milk, carrots and banana and stir until blended.

2. Fill each muffin cup with batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean (23 to 25 minutes for regular muffins, 15 minutes for mini-muffins). Serve muffins warm or at room temperature. To store, keep in an airtight container up to three days.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What I've Been Baking

Here he is, William David, my little love-muffin, my cuddly baby burrito, my sweet tiny honey-bun:

He is the most laid-back baby in the world, so I may actually be back in the kitchen meal-planning and cooking sooner than I thought. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Brief Hiatus

Last year I began the year with a goal for my blog -- to cook one recipe out of each of my cookbooks by the end of the year. Obviously, I suck, and that didn't happen. This year, I'm beginning the year with a temporary goodbye, since on Friday we'll be welcoming the precious baby boy I've been baking for the past nine months. For the most part things will probably be pretty quiet around here (on the blog, not in my house -- I'm sure it will be quite loud and hectic there!), as we'll be eating all of the meals I've been freezing for the last couple of months.

Speaking of frozen meals, check out my freezer:

I wanted to freeze a lot more food that I actually did, but sprained ankles and kidney stones and LIFE got in the way, and anyway I don't think I could fit anything else in my freezer if I tried. Here's a complete list of everything I've frozen in preparation for our new bundle of joy (not the Pizza Rolls, obviously -- I just love them and always have a bag on hand):

Southwestern chicken corn chowder (a recipe it appears I never shared with you, but it's from this cookbook; I'll post the recipe later)

Creamed chicken for biscuits
Baked ziti
Lasagna soup
Spinach artichoke pasta
Cream cheese potato soup
Sausage ricotta meatballs
Macaroni and cheese
Chicken spaghetti
Parmesan knots
Chocolate chip apple bread
Chocolate chip cream cheese vanilla bean muffins

I'll update when my frozen supply runs out and I actually start cooking again. At that point, I'll be trying to lose the baby weight, so you can expect lots of healthy and vegetarian recipes. And of course you'll get a photo of the new baby, but other than that, there probably won't be much content over the next couple of months. (If you're interested, I'll probably be updating a little bit more frequently on my other site.) I hope you stick with me during this absence, and I'll see you when I get my cooking groove back!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chicken and Cheese Crescent Chimichangas

This is another meal to file in the "not pretty but delicious" category. It was hard to photograph, but let me assure you, it was really easy to eat.

My favorite restaurant in the world is a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place in a town not far from where we live, and they serve the best savory sopapillas I've ever had -- pillows of fried dough, stuffed with shredded chicken, cheese, and refried beans. They're transcendent. These chicken and cheese crescent chimichangas are the closest I've ever come to duplicating them at home. They're baked instead of fried, so you save some calories without sacrificing any flavor whatsoever. We topped ours with salsa and sour cream this time; next time, I may top them with some shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes, too, just like they do with the sopapillas at my favorite restaurant. Definitely try these; they're easy, flavorful, and absolutely delicious!

Chicken and Cheese Crescent Chimichangas
source: adapted from Pillsbury Christmas 2007; original recipe here

1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 can (8 ounces) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

1/4 cup refried beans, divided
1/4 cup salsa, divided
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Sour cream and salsa for serving, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease large cookie sheet with shortening.

2. Separate dough into 4 rectangles; firmly press perforations to seal. Spread a small amount of the refried beans and salsa on each rectangle to within 1/2 inch of edges. Spoon a portion of the chicken onto half of each rectangle; sprinkle with cheese. Starting with short side topped with chicken, roll up; pinch ends to seal. Place seam side down on cookie sheet.

3. Bake 16 to 21 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. Top each with some of the remaining cheese.

4. Return to oven; bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream and additional salsa, if desired.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Open-Faced Hamburger Cheesesteaks

Well, this meal was quite a hit in our house, especially with my husband, who ate more during dinner the night we had this than most people eat in a day. And even I have to admit that I was surprised by how good these were. They were so quick and easy, and really hearty and yummy to boot. I was skeptical about the creamy Italian dressing, but it just worked. Philly cheesesteak purists, scoff if you must, but let me assure you: These are by no means traditional, but they're no less delicious for it.

Open-Faced Hamburger Cheesesteaks
source: adapted from Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2008; original recipe here

1 pound ground beef
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 small onion, cut into thin wedges
1 small can of mushrooms, drained
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup creamy Italian dressing
1 loaf sourdough bread, halved lengthwise and cut into 6 total slices
6 slices thinly sliced provolone cheese, halved

1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef, bell peppers, onion, and mushrooms over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain. Add Worcestershire sauce and stir in 1/4 cup of the dressing.

2. Meanwhile, spread remaining 1/4 cup dressing on cut sides of bread. Place slices, cut sides up, on ungreased large cookie sheet. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove bread from broiler. Spread beef mixture on cut slices of bread. Top with cheese.

3. Return to broiler; broil 4 to 6 inches from heat 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted.