Friday, May 31, 2013

'Healthy' Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

There are few pairings I love more than peanut butter and chocolate. To make it even better, its healthy peanut butter and chocolate. When I hear healthy cookies, that registers as one thing, I can eat more without feeling guilty. Whenever it ends with me getting to eat more cookies, I am in! These easy peanut butter chocolate chip cookies are the perfect answer to your cookie craving without all the excess calories to throw you off track. These are chewy and creamy and delicious.

Recipe yields 12 cookies

1 cup creamy peanut butter (regular is best, leave the organic on the shelf for this one)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the peanut butter and brown sugar. Mix until well combined and smooth.

Add the egg and vanilla to the bowl and beat until fully incorporated. Then add the baking soda and beat to incorporate.

Add the chocolate chunks to the bowl and stir in. Cover and refrigerate the dough to harden up, about an hour. (You can leave it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days before baking the cookies.)

Just before it is time to take out the dough, preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Using a cookie scoop, place balls of cookie dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Using the back of wooden spoon, pat down the top of the cookies to slightly flatten them. Place in the oven and bake for 7-8 minutes.

Keep a close eye on your cookies, they might seem undercooked but they will come together as they cool. Remove from the oven once the edges have browned and let cool on the baking sheet. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Blueberry Pecan Coffee Cake

This coffee cake is so delicious. The cake is moist and the crumble is packed with flavor from the pecans. I made this to bring with me to a birthday party for dessert. Once I took one bite, I knew I would soon be craving it alongside my morning cup of tea. This cake can also easily be altered to include chopped apples, strawberries or any other berries.

Recipe yields one cake (about 16 squares)

1 cup + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp canola oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries

2 tbsp unsalted butter (cold)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Prepare an 8"x8" baking pan by lining with foil and coating in non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together to combine.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and oil until evenly combined.

Add in the sugar and mix until smooth and incorporated.

Add in the eggs, one at a time, the milk and the vanilla extract. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.

Slowly add in the flour mixture and continue to mix until just incorporated. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to mix in all the ingredients.

Pour your batter into the prepared baking pan.

In a separate bowl, mix together the blueberries and the remaining tablespoon of flour until all blueberries have a nice coating. This process helps the berries from sinking to the bottom of the batter and allows the berries to remain 'floating' in the cake. Drop the berries on top of the batter and gently push down with the back of a spoon.

Now we can put together our crumble for the top of the cake. In a new bowl, combine the cold butter and sugar. Using a pastry blender or a knife, cut the two together until crumbles begin to form. Add in the pecans and continue to mix together until combined.

Sprinkle the topping over the cake and gently pat down.

Place the cake in the oven and bake for 48-50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan. Once cool, sprinkle the top with a little bit of powdered sugar. Cut into squares and serve for breakfast or dessert. Enjoy!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Simple Roasted Chicken

A roast chicken is so versatile and can be very easy with a few simple steps. However, most people find it so intimidating. I promise, I can change all of that. The secret, and only key ingredient, is herb butter. Any herb butter! Pick your favorite flavors and make your own (that's what I show you below). Once you have your herb butter, all it takes is a little massaging and a little waiting and you are on your way to a delicious roasted chicken.

Recipe yields 2-3 servings

2 1/2 - 3 lb whole chicken
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 sprigs rosemary
1 lemon
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

About a half hour before you are ready to start, let your chicken sit at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Finely mince the leaves of the rosemary. Please note you can use thyme, parsley, tarragon, whatever spices you prefer or have on hand. Today I chose to use rosemary, but get creative and change it up if you would like.

In a bowl, add the butter, minced rosemary and zest from the lemon. Mix to combine all ingredients and create an herb butter. (You will want your butter to be soft to make this easier.)

Using your fingers, loosen up the skin from the chicken. Take about a tablespoon of the herb butter and massage it into the chicken breasts between the meat and the skin. Continue until both breasts are coated, using a tablespoon at a time until they are covered. With the remaining butter, massage it into the rest of the bird, being sure to get into all the corners and edges (don't forget under the wings!). Stuff the bird with lemon halves and extra rosemary sprigs.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan, heavily lined with aluminum foil and place in the oven. Cook for about 1 hour before checking the chicken. Your chicken will be ready when the juices are clear, if you still see pink, continue to cook at 15 minute intervals.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove from the oven and let rest on a cutting board before carving and serving. Enjoy your deliciously fresh and simple roasted chicken!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a confession to make, I love chocolate chip cookies. Big ones, small ones, crispy, crunchy, soft and fluffy. I love them all. Today is a recipe for a nutty chocolate chip cookie with a crispy exterior. By switching the sugar for corn syrup, these cookies become nice and crisp on the outside when in the oven. The ground walnuts keeps the insides soft and nutty. These are my favorite for dipping into a cold glass of milk.

Recipe yields 18 cookies

1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup ground walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Add the shortening to the bowl of your stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment for about one minute. Add the corn syrup, vanilla extract, baking soda and salt to the bowl and continue to mix until well combined.

In small batches, add the flour and mix until just incorporated.

Add the chocolate chips and walnuts to the bowl and stir in.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop cookie dough onto a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the edges are golden and crisp.

Remove from oven and pat down the centers if they are still domed. Let cool on a wire cooling rack. Enjoy with a nice cold glass of milk!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes

This is a simple Italian seasoning recipe to add to potatoes that really enhances their flavoring. I am curious to see how it will taste on cauliflower or even roasted root vegetables. The possibilities are endless.

Recipe yields 6 servings

2 lbs baby red potatoes
2 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp parsley
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees and place a rack in the center. Scrub your potatoes clean.

Dice the potatoes into 1/4" chunks.

Add the potatoes to a baking dish and coat with oil. Toss in your spices and cheese and give it a good stir so all the potatoes are evenly covered.

Cover the pan with tinfoil and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove tinfoil, use a spatula to toss up the potatoes, and then return to the oven for another 30-40 minutes. During this time, check on the potatoes every 10-12 minutes and give them a turn so all edges get crispy.

If you would like the edges to get super crispy, I suggest placing the potatoes under the broiler for 5-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them so they don't burn, but this will help those edges really crisp up (the way I like them). Serve and enjoy!