Sunday, February 9, 2014

Pita Bread for #ElleaPalooza

This is by far one of the toughest posts I’ve had to write. Just trying to put my thoughts coherently into words is not an easy task. I know I’m not the only one trying very hard this weekend to write about what Elle (Lee Ann) of Elle’s New England Kitchen meant to me. I’m still shocked that she is gone. It just doesn’t seem possible to me that she could be there one day and gone the next. I can’t even imagine what her family is going through. One thing is for sure, it’s times like these we realize that life is indeed short and very fragile.

If other stay at home moms are reading this, you know, like me, that the years are short but some days seem very long. On those days I would log on to Facebook, browse for a while and then stumble onto a funny video or article Elle would have shared. We would comment back and forth (she was so incredibly funny and witty) and that interaction would put just a little bit of much needed sunshine in my day. I will miss that so much.

I loved reading her blog posts, she really had a way with words, and one post that stuck with me was “It’s not a P.I.T.A. to make pita bread!”; she had me giggling at the title and once I'd read the entire post, I wanted to make pita bread right away! And she was right, these are perfectly fluffy, delicious pockets of freshly baked goodness. And yes, I ate one strait out of the oven, with butter, as is the law.

I will miss you, Elle. Your spunk, your wit, your talent; you were an inspiration. Your thoughtfulness touched so many people and hopefully, you knew how much we all loved you. Rest in peace, friend.

The pita bread recipe is from Brown Eyed Baker and can be found here. Many other bloggers are posting recipes from Elle's blog as well as tributes, they can be found on the Facebook #ElleAPalooza page. More information about how you can donate to Elle's family or participate in an auction can be found on Friends of Elle.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Decorating Eggs - A fun Easter craft!

We've been a crafty little bunch around here lately. I have a five (almost 6!) year old, who thinks a day without a craft is a day wasted. So I've been trying to be a creative mommy and find new ideas for us to have fun with. Since Easter is upon us, I thought it would be a good time to introduce my kiddos to egg decorating.

Easter Egg Garland

I must confess, this year is the first year we decorate eggs for Easter... I know, my kids have been missing out and it's all my fault. I hate the mess of dying or painting eggs. But this year I had an idea that would save me the mess: permanent markers! We found some in so many vibrant colors, plus, my three kids are all old enough this year to understand what "permanent" means so I didn't have to worry about them permanently "marking" their faces, hands, my kitchen table...

Easter Eggs

First off, I needed to empty a few eggs. I'm not sure the permanent marker technique would work for hard boiled eggs as the markers aren't food safe. And I wanted our eggs to last a little while so I went the empty shell route.

Emptying Eggsfor Decorating

Here's what you do: use a thumbtack to make holes at each end of the egg, then use the pin to pry the little piece of eggshell off the egg. The holes don't need to be perfect and round. Once the holes are made, place a bowl under the egg and blow into one end. If your holes are big enough you shouldn't have any trouble getting the egg out of its shell. Then place the empty shell in some warm, soapy water (I used dish soap) and use a syringe to fill the shells with water. Shake it around a bit and let the egg shells soak for a few minutes. Then blow the water out, rinse the shells and place them on a clean towel to dry completely. Once they're dry, you're ready to decorate!

Decorating Easter eggs

Now, I have 2 girls and a boy, and we all know Easter rhymes with Spring and pastel colors and cutesy, girly stuff. I wasn't about to tell my 9 year old son he had to draw flowers and hearts and pink bows on his eggs, but I never expected him to make a zombie egg! Or an alien spaceship Easter egg, but, boys will be boys and I love that he has enough imagination to think of that stuff.

Easter Eggs
See what I mean? A 9 year old boy's idea of Easter eggs!

We had a blast decorating all our eggs and when we were done I made a simple garland out of yarn and hung the eggs onto it. It makes a really cute decoration for the kitchen. I like it so much I think it'll be there way past Easter. I might not wait until next Easter to do this again. I'm thinking Birthday Eggs, Halloween Eggs, Christmas... The possibilities are endless!

Easter Egg Garland

As to what you can do with the eggs, the possibilities are endless here too. I usually make french toast, a frittata, a quiche or just simply scrambled eggs. We are big fans of breakfast for dinner so I never have any trouble with using up some eggs. So go on, grab a few eggs and get your craft on! Happy Easter!!!

Easter Eggs Follow my blog with Bloglovin
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Friday, March 16, 2012

Walnut and Tart Cherry No-Knead Bread

I've mentioned before that when I was younger, my parents owned a restaurant and at the beginning, they weren't very experienced at cooking and baking for large groups of people. So, they asked for help from family members for any tips and tricks that they might have had. Some of my aunts, uncles and grandparents even came to the restaurant to cook and bake all sorts of things: big batches of spaghetti sauce, sweet and savory pies and of course, homemade bread. I remember that day my uncle came over to bake bread for the first time. I think he was real happy to have a restaurant kitchen to work in, I mean how often is it that you have a huge kitchen with counter space galore and multiple ovens at your disposal? And I think he didn't mind that my brother and I looked on in awe of his bread baking skills. At the time, for me anyways, bread was one of those things you only could get at the store; seeing someone make it by hand was totally impressive. The precise measuring of the ingredients, waiting for the first rise, shaping the loaves, waiting for the second rise and then, my favorite part, the aroma that filled the whole restaurant while the bread was baking! The entire process fascinated me, it was almost magical. Taking raw ingredients, doing a little mixing and ending up with something completely different! Just fascinating.

Fast forward to today and although I know some people find working with yeast intimidating, for me, it's very therapeutic. I find the measuring and mixing and kneading quite relaxing. Which is why I think it's a bit ironic that I like baking no-knead bread so much. It feels almost like cheating! Very little measuring, very little mixing, very little work at all, renders a loaf worthy of any bakery I've ever visited.

Walnut and Tart Cherry No-Knead Bread
Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

This particular variation on the famous no-knead bread is delicious paired with different cheeses as part of a cheese platter or simply eaten as is, toasted and spread with a bit of salted butter.

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 5/8 cup water

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup tart dried cherries, plumped up in warm water for a few minutes and roughly chopped
Flour and oats, for dusting, as needed

In a large bowl, combine flours, yeast and salt. Add water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Flatten dough out lightly and add the walnuts and cherries. Adding just enough flour so the dough doesn't stick to your fingers or your work surface, fold the dough over the add-ins and knead a few times to mix them in. Some of the walnuts and cherries will fall out and the dough will be a bit tough to work with but form it into a ball as best you can. Generously sprinkle some oats on a large sheet of parchment paper and place your ball of dough onto it. Sprinkle the dough with more oats and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, the dough will be more than doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half hour before the dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees F. Put a 4- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron,enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven, as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under the parchment paper and turn dough over into the pot; it may look like a mess but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Veggie Pâté Recipe

The first time I had veggie pâté, I was still at University, visiting one of my aunts. Come to think of it, that's almost 20 years ago... Man, time does fly, doesn't it?! Anywho, my aunt was on a health kick at the time and she was experimenting with all sorts of vegetarian dishes such as seitan pie, quinoa soup, all sorts of millet recipes and of course, veggie pâté. She didn't make the pâté herself though, she bought a brand that originated in the restaurants Commensal. I mention this because, it is the only brand I actually like but it is quite expensive. At the time, I didn't even think making veggie pâté at home was possible, so I just kept buying the pre-made kind. But once I found recipes for it, I decided to try making some myself. Of course, my recently acquired food processor made the experience a whole lot easier.

The recipe I'm posting here today, is the one that comes closest to the Commensal recipe, in my opinion. The texture, when blended in the food processor, is almost as smooth and the taste is very similar. I think that's because of the sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast. The other recipes I tried didn't contain those ingredients and I always felt like they were missing something. This one... This one is perfect! It's even better than the store bought kind because, really, it's fresher and endlessly adaptable. You can use whatever blend of spices you like, add more or less nutritional yeast, try different veggie combinations, etc. My kids love it with crackers or even in sandwiches. Seriously, my oldest daughter and my son love the stuff! And, I know this makes a large amount of pâté but it keeps in the refrigerator for a week or so and you can freeze some for those times when you just don't feel like taking out the food processor.

Veggie Pâté
Adapted from Végétariens... mais pas légumes!

This recipe is a lot quicker to make if you have a food processor, all that grating and grinding, but you can still make it if you don't have one. The texture of the pâté will be a bit chunkier but the taste will be pretty much the same.

1 large onion, grated*
2 potatoes, grated*
1 large carrot, grated*
1 branch of celery, grated*
2 garlic cloves, grated*
1/2 cup (70g) unsalted sunflower seeds, ground
3/4 cup (100g) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup (25g) nutritional yeast
2 tbsp of olive or canola oil (I used avocado oil)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup tamari
1 tsp herbes de Provence (you can also use a blend of your favorite herbs - such as basil, oregano, celery seeds, sage, thyme, etc)
Salt and pepper, to taste

*Once grated, you should have about 560g of veggies, total. A little bit more or less won't matter though.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 x 11.5 inch baking dish and set aside.

At this point, you can just mix all the ingredients together and you will get a chunky pâté, which is fine. But I like it to have a smoother texture, so what I do is, once I've grated all my veggies in the food processor, I place the veggies in a bowl, remove the grating disc and put the all-purpose blade in its place. Then, I put all the ingredients back into the food processor and I let it whir for a good 5 minutes. I like the texture better and I think the flavors all meld together perfectly. It's a question of taste, really.

Once your mixture is ready, pour it into the prepared dish and bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour. The pâté will be golden and completely set in the middle. Let the pâté cool in the dish before unmolding it; it will be fragile while still warm.

The pâté is best served at room temperature, with crackers and veggies or used as a sandwich base with lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, etc.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Craving Cinnamon (Recipe: Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Muffins)

I have been on a huge cinnamon kick lately and I don't usually over think these things, but I wonder if this craving means anything in particular. Is my diet lacking in some way? Perhaps I'm just missing the warmth of the holiday season and the tastes that go with it? Or maybe I'm feeling cold because of all this snow we've been getting and cinnamon is just my way of getting a little warmth and comfort?

Cassia Sticks

In any case, I decided to give in to the craving because cinnamon, it seems, has many health benefits. There is of course all this debate of true cinnamon vs Cassia. Having never tried true cinnamon (also called Ceylon cinnamon) before a few weeks ago, I had never given it much thought. But after a trip to my local health food store, I came back home with a small packet of true cinnamon and I was really surprised at how much different it was from the cinnamon I had always used.

Ground Cassia on the left, true cinnamon on the right

True cinnamon has a lighter color and is much more subtle in flavor than Cassia. Less spicy, I would say. I've found though that I have to use more of it in baked goods to get that expected cinnamon-y kick. I think true cinnamon would be better for sprinkling over oatmeal after cooking or in a recipe where a subdued spiciness is preferable. I'm thinking rice pudding or maybe warmed milk. I guess I am craving comfort!

What are you craving lately?

Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Muffins
Makes 18 small-ish muffins

I used true cinnamon in this recipe so I used 2 teaspoons of it. If you use Cassia and you're not a cinnamon fanatic, reduce it to 1 teaspoon. You can also adapt this recipe by incorporating dried cranberries instead of raisins, adding nuts or other seeds, even chocolate chips if you feel like it!

1 1/2 cups of regular or old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk*
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
2 tsp of vanilla extract
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
3 tbsp of ground flax seeds
2 tsp of true cinnamon (or 1 to 2 tsp of Cassia cinnamon, to taste)
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
3/4 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of raisins

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups.

In a bowl, soak oats in buttermilk for 15 minutes. Stir in eggs, sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla extract. In another bowl, combine flours, ground flax seeds, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; stir into oat mixture just until moistened. Fold in raisins. Fill prepared muffin tin three-fourths full. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

* Sometimes, when I don't have buttermilk, I use 1/2 cup of milk mixed with 1 cup of low-fat sour cream or yogurt. Other times, when I don't have buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt, I mix in 1 tbsp of lemon juice with 1 1/2 cups of milk and let it rest for 5 minutes before adding it to the recipe.
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Things, they are a-changing…

This post has been a long time coming and I feel bad for not having taken the time to write it before but I just hadn’t found the words yet. I’m not even sure I have the right words right now but I’ll give it a try.

How cliché of me to do this in January, right? The month of resolutions, of New Year! New You! The month of being bombarded with phrases like: This Year I Will Do It! I Will Be Good! I Will Reach My Goals! I Will Give Up Sweets! Sugar Be Damned! But really, I started this blog in January - 4 years ago -and I guess it is just the best time to reflect, the best time to get things out in the open. Clean slate and all.

I could give you tons of excuses for my lack of presence in this little web space I call mine. But we all have those: kids, homework, holidays, family… Life in general gets in the way. So I won’t bore you with that. I will say however that I really do have a very short attention span and too many things at once, I cannot do. So the blog went on the backburner and I want to apologize for not at least giving you guys a heads up. I am very sorry about that. 

I haven’t been around the blogging world because I’ve just been trying to take care of myself. Cheesy? Maybe so, but it’s true. And I know it is said that to be accountable and reach your goals more easily, it is better to share said goals with others, to talk about them openly. But I’m not that kind of person. I like to keep things to myself. Things like how much I weigh. Or what I ate for breakfast. Or how long I exercised today, yesterday or the day before. Which is not to say that I don’t like to read blogs about health and fitness and other people’s goals because, I do. And I have been inspired by them. And I love to get feedback, comments and suggestions, who doesn’t? But I wasn’t about to turn this cooking/baking/all about food blog into a health blog because I’m not an expert at any of that stuff! I’m certainly not an expert at baking either but that just comes a bit easier, you know? And I just felt silly telling anyone about it. I mean, I was just trying to eat a little better, exercise a bit more, no biggie, right? But this lifestyle change/diet/regimen, call it what you will, kept getting a little more serious every day and I kept telling myself I would post something soon, I would take the time to “shoot” this healthy recipe I was making. But I just never found the time. I never made the time. I kept thinking “no one is going to want to read about this, it’s just silly”. But, almost 2 years into this silly lifestyle change, I’ve lost 60 pounds and that is nowhere near silly. That is big. And, although I still have a ways to go, I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished.

A few months ago, I read this post from Kristen of Dine & Dish and she really got me thinking. (I think I have a blog crush on Kristen, she is just so inspiring!) I have evolved in the last 4 years, I’ve changed, but my blog hasn’t. Why should I keep writing the same way when I am not the same? Change is scary, that’s why. Would you guys keep clicking on over here if I changed my style? Would the posts without recipes attract as much people as the ones with a pic of a luscious [insert name of decadent dessert here]. I know you guys don’t come here to read about how I’m feeling today or what I did this past weekend. And I’m not sure I even want to write about that. I don’t know what I want to write about. But I know I want to write. I miss it. Writing. Sharing my thoughts, my images. I also miss talking about how delicious and sweet and over the top the last recipe I made was! Because, no, I’m not all about healthy and low-fat, I am definitely not going to post only healthy, low-calorie, “diet” foods. I’ve been pinning sweets like crazy over on Pinterest and I sure as heck am going to try a few of ‘em. This recipe is especially driving me nuts. I think what I want to go for is balance. A mix of healthy and decadent. More of a these-things-make-me-happy blog than just a food blog.

Wow. I think this is the longest post I’ve written. Ever. If you’ve made it this long, thank you. I hope I haven’t scared all of you into just unliking this blog on Facebook and running the other way. I would love it if you stick around. There will be recipes, stories and photos, just mixed in with some other stuff. Fun stuff I hope. Life.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Maple Almond Butter - Homemade!

I am aware that, as it is mid-December, most bloggers have been working overtime, baking and cooking and writing Christmas-y posts galore, giving everyone tips and tricks and fantabulous recipes to make their holidays easier. And here I am, having not blogged in ages, yes I know, ages, and what do I post? A nut butter recipe. But, hear me out! Not an ordinary, run-of-the-mill-butter-your-toast-and-run nut butter, it's more a sit-down-and-enjoy, how-in-the-world-have-I-survived-without-this nut butter!

OK, OK, let me explain a little further how this came about. The fantastic Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas fame had a giveaway on her blog a few weeks ago, I left a comment and didn't think about it until I got an email, from Brilynn, telling me I had won a 13-cup Kitchenaid food processor!!! So yesterday, I received THE food processor and, of course, all I had time to do was unpack and wash it, set it on the counter and gawk at it as I was already starting on dinner when the doorbell rang. On a side note, that food processor is huge! I've no idea where I'm going to store it.


Anyhoo, the first recipe I wanted to make with my new toy was hummus, but, since my cooked chickpeas are still frozen solid, I just had to find something else to do with it. A quick food blog search later, I found this recipe and I just knew I was making this! Maple Almond Butter. Just saying it makes me want to dip a spoon into the jar again! Maple. Almond. Butteeeeeeeeer! It's not just good, it's stellar! I promise, if you have a food processor and have never tried making your own nut butter, take the processor out of it's hiding place, roast some nuts, and get whizzing!

Maple Almond Butter
adapted from Food in Jars

Store bought nut butters are always too sweet for my tastes and although this is maple flavored, and the maple does come through loud and clear, it is not overly sweet. The maple flavor compliments the almonds perfectly. My favorite way to eat this is with slices of apples, delicious for breakfast or as a snack.

1 1/2 cup of almonds
3 tbsp of pure maple syrup
Fleur de sel or sea salt
2 to 3 tsp of canola oil

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the almonds on the baking sheet and drizzle with the maple syrup giving the almonds a toss to coat them well. Roast the nuts in a 325F oven for about 20 minutes, tossing them once or twice, making sure they don't burn. When the nuts are ready, remove the baking sheet from the oven, place it on a cooling rack and let the almonds cool for a good 20 minutes.

Place the almonds in the bowl of your food processor along with a few pinches of fleur de sel and pulse a few times to break up the nuts. Add a teaspoon of oil, scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse again until the nuts break down further. Scrape the bowl and drizzle in some more oil as needed to get a creamy, luscious almond butter. Store in a jar, in the refrigerator.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Smokin' Chicken Soup

I woke up this morning and it was raining. Not an unusual sight as Fall is right around the corner, and the days are getting cooler and shorter. What came to mind as I was getting the kids ready for school? This is perfect soup weather. The kind of day that doesn't feel quite right if you don't have a pot of something warm simmering on the stove top. So after the kids were off to school, their little umbrellas over their heads, I took out my stock pot, raided the freezer for some chicken bones to boil and made some stock. Cut up a few veggies, cut the kernels off a few ears of corn leftover in the fridge, shredded some boneless, skinless chicken breasts I had cooked earlier, and voilà! Soup! Uncomplicated, comforting and healthy too. Who wouldn't go for that!

Smokin' Chicken Soup

This really is the perfect soup to have simmering on the stove on a cold and rainy Fall day.  The kick from the smoked chipotle is just enough to give it a little something different from your usual chicken soup. Please feel free to use this recipe as a guide; add more or less of whatever ingredient you like, change the veggies, add some noodles, use smoked paprika in place of the smoked chipotle powder, etc. Soup is great for experimenting!

1 tbsp olive oil
3 ribs of celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp smoked chipotle powder (more if you want it spicier)
1/2 tsp salt
8 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken (I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts) 
2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the celery, carrots and onions and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic powder, smoked chipotle and salt, mix well. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are cooked. Add the chicken and corn kernels, and simmer until heated through.

Nutritional Information  per Serving
Calories: 249.2; Total Fat: 7.4g; Cholesterol: 32.4mg; Sodium: 726.1mg;
Carbohydrate: 27.2g; Dietary Fiber: 3.1g; Sugars: 8.2g; Protein: 19.6g

(Please note that the nutritional information will depend greatly on which type of chicken broth you use, if you add more or less olive oil, whether you add white or dark chicken meat and how much salt you add to your soup.)
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Oatmeal, Date and Apple Muffins

Summer has come and gone, vacation time flew by like it never existed and already we're back to school, in full swing, like nothing ever happened. And I know, I should, maybe, perhaps, explain where I've been, why I've neglected this blog, my readers, my friends, for such a long time but, I doubt you'd find any of it interesting. Really, it's been a case of I just don't get excited about food the way I used to... Weird, I know! And I miss getting excited about cooking, baking, finding new recipes, I really do. Summer was just all about the sandwiches and salads and taking the kids to their baseball practices and games, all the time, so everything had to be made quickly and eaten quickly and when we did have time to sit down and eat I just didn't have the energy to make anything complicated interesting blog worthy... 

But, lately I've become obsessed with finding the perfect date muffin. One that isn't so sweet it's more like a cupcake, or so moist and fluffy it falls apart. I wanted a muffin worthy of being eaten for breakfast, a sturdy muffin you can feel good about, not guilt ridden afterwards. And, after many tries, I think I've found it!

I tweaked my Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffin recipe and made it into the perfect (imho) Oatmeal, Date and Apple Muffins. Not too sweet, not too moist, full of texture from the dates and pecans, and healthy too! Each muffin has almost 3 g of fiber! Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Maybe, just maybe, I'm getting excited about this food business again after all...

Oatmeal, Date and Apple Muffins
Makes 18 regular sized muffins

These make a quick, hearty breakfast you can grab on the go any day of the week; add fruit and some yogurt, and you've got yourself a pretty healthy breakfast!

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp of granulated sugar
3/4 cup chopped, pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp molasses
2 tsp vanilla
3 small apples, peeled and grated (about 1 cup packed of grated apples)

Preheat your oven to 400F. Line your muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, date and pecans. Make sure to distribute the dates well throughout the dry ingredients to prevent them from sticking together.

In another bowl mix the eggs, canola oil, buttermilk, molasses and vanilla. Fold in the grated apples. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. If you over mix, you'll end up with tough muffins.

Distribute the batter evenly among 18 muffin cups and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins completely on a wire rack.

Nutritional information per muffin:
Calories: 165; Total Fat: 6.7g; Cholesterol: 21.2mg; Sodium: 184.3mg; Total Carbohydrate: 27.5g; Dietary Fiber: 2.8g; Sugars: 9.1g; Protein: 3.7g
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Snickerdoodles aka Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Yesterday was the last day of school and let me just say, it's been a looooong year. Not that my kids have trouble in school or anything but Tom was in first grade this year as opposed to Kindergarten and it was something else altogether to have both him and Annabelle doing homework and needing my help with something all the time and also Olivia who felt a little left out at not having any homework (I'll let you know how she feels when she does have some homework in a few years...) and me just trying to keep everything up so that all hell will not break loose. Time for blogging? Not so much.

So, yesterday was the traditional Breakfast at School day and all the parents were invited to bring a little something and have breakfast with the kids and teachers. I decided to make Snickerdoodle Cookies, because you know, when do you get to eat cookies for breakfast other than the last day of school? The night before as I was making them (at about 9pm) Martin commented that they smelled like Cinnamon Rolls. And that's when I had a flash: frosting!!! So the next morning I whipped up a small batch of frosting, made a cute little swirl on each cookie and voilà! Cinnamon Roll Cookies! They were a huge hit, the breakfast was once again a success and finally, summer's here (albeit a little cool still, though I'm not complaining) and hopefully we can relax, relax and, uh, relax some more.

Cinnamon Roll Cookies
adapted from Michael Smith's Snickerdoodle recipe

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp corn syrup
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl with your mixer of choice, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one and then add the vanilla and corn syrup. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with the cinnamon. With a tablespoon or a small ice cream scoop, form the dough into balls (about 1 to 1 1/2 inch in size) and roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Place them on the parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack before icing them.

Cream Cheese Icing
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp warm water

In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the sifted confectioner's sugar slowly, then the vanilla extract and beat well. If needed, add a little warm water until desired consistency. Using a pastry bag with a small round tip, or a ziptop bag with one of the corners cut, make swirls on the cooled cookies. The icing does not completely set so if you want to make them ahead of time and serve them later, I suggest you ice them just before serving.

Makes about 42 1 1/2 to 2 inch cookies.

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