Saturday, June 30, 2012

Chocolate Bar Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ages ago, I made these to get rid of my leftover Halloween candy stash.  Then I realized today that I never got around to blogging them.  Maybe it was the guilt? I mean these are rich, ooey, gooey, decadent, too-good-to-be-true cookies.  I need a glass of milk just looking at them!  I love that it's almost impossible to go wrong with this recipe -- if you can make chocolate chip cookies, you can make these.  If you have leftover chocolate bars, pretzels, Oreo cookies, ingredients for s'mores,  peppermint patties, or really anything that would survive the oven (read: gummy bears are probably not a good idea) you're set.

Chocolate Bar Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes: about 2 dozen large cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
10 oz bag chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate, about 1 3/4 cups if you buy bulk)
24 snack sized chocolate bars (I used Snickers and Mars, but a larger variety would work)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a stand or electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla until well combined.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl; mix then slowly add to wet ingredients. Add chocolate chips to combine.
 Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of snack size candy bar. Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of candy bar.
Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until candy bar is enclosed with dough.
Place onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until cookies are baked to your liking.
Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Serve with a tall glass of milk!

Source: Picky Palate.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Oatmeal-Raisin Bizookies

It seems "sugar-free", completely and totally may not be everyone's thing.  The cookies I made last week might not be sweet enough for some people... but I find after a workout, they're great!  So, along the same thread, I'm offering another sugar-free cookie, but one that tastes a little less obviously like the sugar's missing.  This cookie has the taste of a morning oatmeal.  And really it should, it uses oat flour! 

Oat flour is easy -- just grind the oats in your clean, dry food processor until they're ground enough to look like fine flour.  Pour it out, measure to make sure you have enough, and use as you would 'normal' wheat flour. I had considered skipping the step to soak the raisins, but I'm glad I didn't.  Next time I plan to soak them for longer, to really soften them up.

Again, if the recipe isn't sweet enough for you, consider adding more dried fruits: dried cherries or cranberries might work well.  Try it out.  There's nothing to lose but the sugar.

Oatmeal-Raisin Bizookies
Makes: about 18 cookies

1 1/4 cup oat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbsp coconut oil, solid
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins, soaked
1/4 cup raisin-soaking water, reserved

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine the dry ingredients.Mix the applesauce, water, and raisins and stir into dry ingredients.  Loosely stir in the coconut oil, leaving some small chunks.

Scoop or roll the dough into 1-inch balls.  Place on lined baking sheet.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Spoonful of Sugar Free.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chickpea Peanut Butter Cookies

In search of a workout snack, I came across these.  They're a no-sugar, no-grain, no-egg recipe, that is high protein and not sweet.  The recipe takes hardly any time to make, and clean up is easy.  The cookies are bite sized, which makes them portable, great for the long walks my group does.  If the no-sugar thing isn't your thing, you could easily sweeten it up with some liquid Stevia, or semi-sweet chocolate chips.  If you have a sweet tooth this is key because the cookies as written are not sweet at all.

Chickpea Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes: about 28 cookies

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, well-rinsed
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
Drain and wash chickpeas well. Make sure they are well-washed so that the cookie dough doesn’t taste like beans.
Add all the ingredients except chocolate into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Adjust liquid as needed. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Drop dough by Tablespoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 400F for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are nice and brown.

Source: Spoonful of Sugar-free.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rosemary-Braised Turkey Cutlets

It's Turkey.  For supper.  And it's not even a holiday!  This recipe spoke to me as a little out of the ordinary and therefore worth experimenting with.  And I do mean experimenting with... I changed a few things.  I swapped out the couscous for quinoa, I swapped out Mandarin orange juice for lemon juice, and I adjusted the cooking times for these substitutions.  It ended up being an experiment to see if it would all come together, or end up being a big waste of food!!  In the end, I'm happy with how it turned out.

Wednesday evening, despite it being 35C here, not counting the humidex, I went walking with the friend I walked the 9-Run-Run with.  We did a little over an hour, give-or-take 6 kilometers or so.  It was a great walk, and a long-overdue catchup.  It was the highlight of my day!

Because I was so uplifted from my walk, I had time to come home and make up this delightful supper.  I'm not a big fan of the crazy-hot (like that day), but I have to admit, the sunshine is doing wonders for everybody's mood.  Happy beginning of summer, everyone!

Rosemary-Braised Turkey Cutlets
Makes: 4 servings

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, dinced
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
4 4-oz boneless, skinless turkey breast cutlets
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh Mandarin orange juice *I subbed in lemon juice
1 cup whole wheat couscous *I used quinoa
3 Mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented
12 oz broccoli florets

In a large non-stick saute pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil on medium-high.  Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, stir in rosemary, and cover.  Cook, stirring once, until onion softens, about 2 minutes.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over both sides of turkey.  Increase heat to medium and push onion-rosemary mixture to sides of pan.  Add turkey and sear, turning once, until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side**.  Stir in broth, juice, and couscous (or quinoa) ad bring to a simmer.  Top with Mandarin oranges and broccoli, distributing evenly.  Cover and cook, undisturbed, until turkey is cooked through and broccoli is bright green and tender-crisp, about 6 minutes**.  Fluff couscous with a fork and serve immediately.

**Note, times may need to be adjusted depending on thickness of turkey.

Source: Clean Eating Magazine, January/February 2012.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Roasted Salmon and Herbed Bean Salad

It's getting hot out.  It's getting close to being too hot to want eat anything warm.  So, one solution is to cook bulk early in the morning on a weekend, before it heats up, and then use that food for meals later in the week.  One example is this great 'salad'.  The recipe is designed for everything to be done at once, but really, nothing stops you from making the fish at a cooler time, and serving it warm or cool with this salad at dinner time.  The part I like also is that each part - beans, yogurt, pita, and fish, can be packed separately and taken to work without one part spoiling the other, so I have a great work lunch as well as a quick supper!

Roasted Salmon and Herbed Bean Salad
Makes: 4 servings

4 4-oz boneless, skinless, salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick in centre)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 pinches kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tsp finely chopped fresh mint, divided
1/2 cup freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 English cucumber, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups canned beans, drained and rinsed
4 whole-wheat pitas, warmed

Preheat oven to 450F.  Bake salmon on a lined baking sheet until cooked through and flakes easily when tested with a fork.  (Could be anywhere from 8 - 30 minutes, depending on fresh or frozen fish.)  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Prepare yogurt sauce:   In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, 1 Tbsp water, zest, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp mint, 1 pinch salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  Set aside.

Prepare beans: In a separate medium bowl, combine parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber and beans.  In a small bowl, whisk together remaining lemon juice, olive oil, remaining salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over bean mixture and toss to combine.

Divide salmon, bean mixture, yogurt sauce, and pitas among serving plates.

Source: Clean Eating Magazine, June 2012.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lemon Chip Cookies

Yup, that's right LEMON chips!
I was so excited to find these at the Bulk Barn the other day, after being pointed in that direction by a coworker and fellow baker.  I borrowed her idea, rushed right home, and made these: a combination of my stand-by chocolate chip cookie dough and the smell-so-good lemon baking chips.  The house smells so amazing it's worth heating up the kitchen.

I'll have to make them again, to verify the texture.  They came out a little differently than normal because I had to 50/50 the butter between salted and unsalted because it's what I had on hand.  I make the mistake of assuming I have all the cookie supplies I'll need at home because normally I do, and this time I got caught.

The other thing I did here that it doesn't specify in the original recipe, beyond swapping out the chips, is I left the dough in the fridge for 24 hours before baking, and used my small scoop to get more cookies out of the recipe.  Here's why: it makes the cookies sooo much better.  Don't believe me? Try it yourself, you'll see!

Lemon Chip Cookies
Makes: about 4 1/2 dozen

1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups lemon baking chips

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients except chips. Add slowly to wet ingredients.
Mix in baking chips.
Store in fridge for 12 - 36 hours.  Mine went in for 24.
 Before / After resting for 24 hours
Preheat oven to 375F.
Scoop  dough onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake in centre of oven one sheet at a time for 8 - 10 minutes.  I had to vary the time depending on which baking sheet I used.  Let cool on sheet 1 minute, then cool completely on a rack.

Source: adapted from President's Choice Decadent cookies.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup

I make my lunches for work in advance.  I plan it so I'll have something for work each day, without being stranded and stuck paying for lunch.  This is the normal routine.  But then, once in a while, something comes up and messes with that plan.  Today, this one saved my week.  Before you say 'hey, she's posted this before', let me explain. This recipe is similar to that one, but just different enough:  it's pureed, it doesn't have all the same vegetables, and it's spicier.  So, call it a variation on a great recipe?

It's a throw-together of things that are normally in my fridge or pantry: spices, broth, sweet potatoes, onion, apples.  I used the lentils I had in the pantry and it worked well.  I don't see really why one colour would be superior to another here, and am just curious enough to try others to find out.  I adapted this recipe quite heavily: made it for the slow cooker, adjusted the spices to taste, left out the butter and yogurt.  Do what you will -- it's hard to wreck this one.

Sweet Potato & Lentil Soup
Makes: 6 servings

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup lentils
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon paprika (or to taste)
4 cups vegetable broth
Chop everything and place in a slow cooker. 
Cook on HIGH for 4 - 5 hours, or  LOW for 7 - 8 hours depending on the time you have to work with.
Puree softened mixture until desired consistency is reached. 
Divide into six servings.  Serve hot.

Source: adapted from

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Strawberry and Cream Cake

I love birthdays.  There's something delightful about treating one of my friends to something sweet simply to celebrate one more year of their existence.  It's one day a year to say I'm glad to have you in my life.  I see it as win-win, because each of my friends has a different preference for birthday treat, so I get to have fun with it, too.

For the latest birthday cake, I had to the option to make a Bailey's Chocolate Cheesecake, or a Strawberry Torte.  It's June, it's beautiful, and it's getting warmer, so clearly the winner here are the strawberries!  A light, airy cake with in-season fruit is going to win out over the dense, heavy, comfort-food cake, in June, right?

This one was fairly simple to make, and uses fresh, seasonal ingredients.  Plus, the trick of putting gelatin in the whipping cream means that it won't separate after being in the fridge over night.  The cake is dense enough to absorb the flavour of the berries and cream without turning into a soggy mess, yet light enough to still be appropriate for a sunny day cake.

The strangest part, Grace, from whom I "stole" the recipe, posted this on my birthday last year.  So it really was destined to be birthday cake, don't you think? Happy Birthday, nurse-man :)

Strawberry and Cream Cake
Makes: 1 8-inch cake

Unsalted butter, for greasing
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 + 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup whole milk

20 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 35%, cold
1 tsp unflavoured gelatin


Preheat oven to 350F.  Using a small pastry brush, grease bottom and sides of a 8-inch round cake tin.  Line bottom of tin with non-stick baking paper; butter paper and then flour bottom and sides of tin.

Using a fine mesh sieve, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl.  Whisk to well combine, set aside.  In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs and yolks, one-at-a-time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce the stand mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the flour; beat until just combined (do not over-mix).

Pour batter into prepared cake tin.  Using a small offset spatula spread the batter evenly. Bake, rotating tin halfway through baking, until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool in tin for 10 minutes.  Remove cake from tin and return to wire rack to cool completely.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.

Place two tablespoons cold water into a small-sized saucepan and sprinkle with gelatin; let soften 5 minutes.  Place saucepan over low heat, and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whisk the heavy cream and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until very soft peaks form.

Continue to whisk, and gradually add the gelatin mixture; beat until soft peaks form.

Using a serrated knife, cut cake in half horizontally. Place bottom half, cut side up, on a cake stand or plate. Drizzle the juice from the berries onto the cake. Evenly arrange half of the strawberries over the bottom cake layer. Refrigerate the remaining berries. Top the strawberry layer with half of the whipped cream, leaving a 1-inch border. Place the top half of the cake, cut side down, onto the layer of strawberries and cream. Top the cake with the remaining whipped cream, leaving a 2.5-cm (1-inch) border. Refrigerate the cake, at least 1 hour (preferably up to 1 day). Just before serving top the cake with the remaining chilled strawberries. 

Source: Grace's Sweet Life (check out her photos! They really show off this cake's charm.) 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes

The weekend before this one was another cupcake weekend for me.  This time was for the Great Glebe Garage Sale.  In essence, it's a huge day-long garage sale that is a little bit of insanity.  The frenzy is a little insane!  But I went, had a blast, and got to experience one of Ottawa's unique attractions.

My contribution was a bunch of stuff from my basement to sell (if I didn't remember I had it, I won't miss it, right?) and these lovely cupcakes.  Because I was selling them, not creating a birthday treat for my friends, I decided to let Betty Crocker do the work on these ones.

I baked.
I decorated.

I sold.
And after the day was through, I slept!

Vanilla Cupcakes, part III

Yesterday my cupcakes made their official debut -- at the birthday party of a couple of friends of mine.  They're cute together, are even born two days apart!  The cupcakes were well received, and the party was a lot of fun.  Happy birthday guys!

 Gerbera Daisies!