Monday, February 21, 2011

Low-Fat Chocolate Cookies

I’m a big fan of making the food my family eats as healthful as possible without sacrificing flavor.  Of course, everyone has their own ideas of what’s healthy and what’s not, so I just do my best with the knowledge and experience I have.  Anyway, one thing I’m not a proponent of is using fake, plastic ingredients like egg or butter substitutes. I understand that some people’s diets require the use of those ingredients, and I’m just glad I’m not one of them! Processed and re-engineered foods simply taste fake to me. That said, I was pleased to recently find a low-fat chocolate cookie recipe on Taste of Home that looked really good. I made them the other night when we had company over. Out of the four adults and two children who ate them, only one person (Handsome, naturally!) thought the cookies were just “meh”.  They turned out to have a cakey texture and a dark chocolate flavor. They reminded me a lot of the cake mix cookies I’ve made in the past. Basically they’re made low-fat by the use of egg whites and applesauce. I highly recommend them whether you want a low-fat alternative or not! They were delicious with the coffee Handsome expertly brewed. Naturally.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mmm ... Bacon ...

Again with the breakfast stuff! But I have determined that somehow, someway, this weekend will involve Bacon Scones. The end.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cream Cheese Banana Nut Muffins

It seems to me that I post a lot of breakfast foods on here and if it seems that way to you, bear with me while I post another one! I found this recipe while flipping through a Southern Living magazine in my dentist's office years ago. When I asked the receptionist for a piece of paper so I could write it down she was nice enough to just make a copy of the pages for me. Now, lest you think this is your grandmother's banana bread, dense and brown and black-flecked, I took pictures.

Just look at that warm, fluffy goodness!
Cream Cheese Banana Nut Muffins

3/4 cup butter, softened
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened (reduced-fat so you can eat three and tell yourself they're good for you!)
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups mashed bananas, the riper the better
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time beating just until blended after each addition.

Combine flour and next three ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in bananas, pecans and vanilla. Spoon batter evenly into 24 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 5-10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Apple-Walnut Pancakes

Instead of making breakfast and lunch today, I decided to make brunch around 11. That suited my family just fine since brunch rarely involves vegetables! I served scrambled eggs and Apple-Walnut Pancakes. The great thing about pancakes is that they usually make a big batch and I can freeze half of them. Here's how I prepare them for the freezer:

As I cook them, I lay them out in a single layer on a wire rack to cool.

Then I tear off strips of wax paper to place between each pancake. Each strip will cover two pancakes.

Then I slide the wrapped pancakes into a labeled freezer bag.

All done! Now I can thaw all of them for a family dinner, or I can take out one or two at a time. My favorite way to reheat them is to place them straight from the freezer on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes. I flip them halfway through.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I'm admittedly quite challenged in the cake decorating arena, so I tend to purchase birthday cakes instead of trying to make them. I make an exception for first birthdays because I just do something simple. For The Boy's first birthday, I made a dirt cake and served it in a dump truck. (Please note that if you serve a dirt cake in a dump truck, be sure to keep the truck from rolling off the table onto your new beige carpet.)

Anyway, for Little One's birthday this year I simply baked chocolate cupcakes from a mix. The only change I made was to use brewed coffee instead of the water called for by the box directions. For frosting I used Cool Whip, since I wanted something light and easy. The fun part was making the decorations!

I poured about 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips into a zip top sandwich bag, sealed it, and laid it flat in the microwave. I heated the chocolate for 30 seconds at a time at 50% power until the chips were just melted, massaging the bag in between cycles. Snipping off a tiny corner of the bag, I piped shapes onto a cookie sheet covered in wax paper.

These are treble clefs, since my original idea was to do a music theme. I also made several letters for the children's initials. If I made a mistake I didn't worry about it, I just moved on to the next blank space and tried again! I made a bunch of them, knowing that I could pick and choose the best when the time came. After piping the shapes, I placed the sheet in the fridge and let them harden. Then I carefully peeled them off the paper and placed them on top of the frosted cupcakes. You don't want to touch them much because they melt really quickly!

The birthday girl's cupcake, with her first initial and sprinkles!
I think she liked it!