Thursday, December 26, 2013

healthy oat & date muffins

Last night I made Giada's panettone bread pudding (i will  make again and post - it was amazing), but today I decided to go with a healthy muffin recipe, that I found in Women's Health.  I made a few alterations and I am super happy with the result.  The muffins have a natural sweetness, vs. the desserty sweets I have been eating so much of lately. This is the perfect treat to grab on your way out the door in the morning.  They are filling, low fat, full of fiber and the flax even adds protein!

1 1/2 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
2 Tbs ground flax seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
15 dates finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 egg beaten
4 Tbs coconut oil
2 Tbs honey
1/2 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine oatmeal and milk in a bowl and let soak.  In a separate large bowl, mix flour, flax seed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and dates.

In another bowl, combine egg, oil, honey, and applesauce.  Add to oatmeal mixture, then stir in flour mix.

Spoon batter into a muffin tin sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 15 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.  Cool on a wire wrack.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Glittered Stag Decor

Looking for some last minute holiday decor? I am obsessed with the stag head trend, so when looking for some Christmas ideas I couldn't pass this easy project! We had a Christmas party a couple of weeks back and when pulling out all of my decorations, I realized I was neglecting the basement and needed some simple and quick.

What you need:
Stock Paper paper
Swivel exacto knife (my new favorite tool)
Glitter Glue

Start by finding a template online, like this and print. Cut it out and then trace it on to a heaver paper, ie stock paper. Cut out your stencil. Trace the stencil on to canvas. With you glue fill in Stag head. Pour glitter on top tapping excess glitter off. To seal the glitter, spray with hair spray.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chocolate Nutella and Sea Salt Fudge

Rewind to a month ago, I would spend the girls' nap time working out, cleaning, sewing, stalking people on Facebook, you know the usual stuff. For the past week, my "nap times" have solely consisted of baking, baking some more and then "testing" all of the baked goods.  Yesterday I made peanut butter blossoms (an oldie but a goodie) and I took a stab at making a new treat, Chocolate Nutella & Sea Salt Fudge.
Yes, it does taste as amazing as you would imagine.  

I definitely licked the spoon, and bowl clean.

Chocolate Nutella & Sea Salt Fudge
1 Tbs butter for greasing the pan
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz high quality bittersweet 60% chocolate chips
1 cup Nutella, room temperature
3 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 tsp sea salt

Grease the bottom and sides of a 8x8 inch baking pan.  Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overlap on the sides.

In a medium glass bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, chocolate chips, Nutella and butter. Form a double boiler by setting the bowl over a medium pot of gently simmering water. The water level should be low enough that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.  Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, 5 to 7 minutes.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, spread the top smooth with a spatula and sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate until the fudge is firm, at least 2 hours.

Once the fudge is chilled, run a knife under hot water, dry it off, and run it around the edges of the pan to loosen the fudge.  Using the overhanging parchment paper, lift the fudge out. Peel off the parchment paper. Cut the fudge into 3/4 inch squares.  Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container or wrapped well in plastic wrap and foil.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

I made this cookie for the first time yesterday and it is already a favorite with my girls. They are bite-sized, colorful and buttery with a peppermint kiss. What more could you ask for in a Christmas cookie?! 
This easy (and very quick) recipe is from Sally's Baking Addiction. Her blog has some amazing looking cookies on it right now!

10 Tbs unsalted butter, softened to room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
24 Candy Cane Hershey Kisses


Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside. Using a hand-held or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 5 full minutes, scraping down the sides and the bottom as necessary. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, beating on medium-high until fully combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. In a medium bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients on low speed until fully combined. The dough will be very thick. If the dough is extremely sticky, chill for at least 45 minutes.

Roll dough into balls, a little less than 1 Tablespoon of dough each. The dough may seem dry, but the warmth of your hands will allow it to come together in a ball. Roll into assorted sprinkles and bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look very, very under baked. That's what you need. Do not over bake. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes. Press a Hershey Kiss into the center and immediately put the cookie sheet into the freezer for 5 minutes. Doing this will prevent the kiss from melting. Cookies remain fresh tightly covered at room temperature for 1 week.

Monday, December 16, 2013

White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

Going to bed last night, I vowed not to eat sweets during the upcoming week. Now I find myself trying to determine what goes into the category of "sweet".   Do snacks like chocolate covered raisins, frozen yogurt, hot chocolate and granola count as a sweet?  Not in my book.  
Some people might say that it gets trickier when trying to decide if items such as gingerbread and shortbread are sweets, but once again, I have decided NO, they are not.  I wouldn't count whole wheat bread or 9 grain or even white bread as a sweet, so why would shortbread or gingerbread be a sweet?! 

With this rationale, I had zero guilt when I made (and ate) these delicious White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbread cookies today. 

White-Chocolate Cherry Shortbread
(recipe - Better Homes & Gardens)
1/2 cup of maraschino cherries, drained and finely chopped
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of cold butter
12 ounces of white chocolate baking squares with cocoa butter, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
2 drops red food coloring (optional)
2 teaspoons of shortening
White nonpareils and/or red edible glitter (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread cherries on paper towels to drain well.
In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 4 ounces (2/3 cup) of the chopped chocolate. Stir in almond extract and, if desired, food coloring. Knead mixture until it forms a smooth ball.
Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls to 1-1/2-inch rounds.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.
In a small saucepan, combine remaining 8 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. If desired, roll dipped edge in nonpareils and/or edible glitter. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gingerbread - Chocolate Chip Muffins

I am struggling with the fact that Christmas is less than 2 weeks away.  The late Thanksgiving has really caught me off guard, so instead of coming to you with tidings of comfort and joy I bring tidings of panic and stress. My Christmas cards arrived today (LATE) and the machine that cut them, chopped off a big chunk of the wording.  AHHHHH.  I called the company and they told me that they should have them done by late next week - the 21st??  WHAT?!  I have been so busy doing random, but very important holiday related things, sewing, baking, gifting, (oh and taking care of my kids) that Dan had zero pairs of clean underwear to take on a business trip...oops. So, In an effort to remain sane and to ensure that I enjoy Christmas, I have decided 3 things. 

1. I need a boot to drink my morning coffee out of, so I have enough energy to get through my day
2. Dan might have to start doing his own laundry
3. I need to slow down, and remember what this season is really about.....eating. 

Try these. They are awesome (and very fast to make)


3 cups all purpose flour (or white-whole wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup  milk
1 cup dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the molasses and butter on high for about 1 minute in the microwave. Stir until thoroughly mixed together. Set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, egg, yogurt, and milk. Pour into the butter. molasses mixture and whisk until everything is incorporated. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until  combined. Do not overmix. Batter will be very thick and lumpy.

Fill your muffin tins to the very top and bake for 20 minutes at 350F.  Muffins are finished when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Don't forget to make my favorite eggnog and cranberry muffins this holiday season (recipe here).  AND, if you love the combo of ginger and chocolate try these and these!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cranberry Cookie Bars

Bring on the Cookies!!!
This recipe from the smitten kitchen cookbook  is super easy and the resulting bars taste more like a pie than a cookie. What could be better than a pie-cookie? NOTHING!
These pie-cookies are easy to cut, stack and wrap up for a hostess gift (like I did!!) and they look very festive - don't you think?!

Cranberry Crumb Bars with Mulling Spices (from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman)
Recipe for the crumb:
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, plus more at room temperature for the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 large egg

Recipe for the filling:
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
3 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and butter the sides and the parchment. In a large, widish bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices. With a pastry blender or fork, work the chilled butter and the egg into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pat half the crumb base into the bottom of your prepared pan; it will be thin.

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, briefly pulse the filling ingredients until the berries are coarsely chopped but not pureed. Spread the filling over the crumb base. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs evenly over the cranberry mixture.

Bake cookies for 30 to 35 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Healthier Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Ug, I feel like a stuffed sausage. Seriously, someone help me. There are waaaay too many temptations this time of year and with the threat of bathing suit season at least 6 months away, my will-power is slim to none.
I do like eating healthy, but I do not like to sacrifice taste (or cocktail weenies). I decided to try this cooking light recipe, in the hopes that it would be satisfying, delicious and healthy, and..... my entire family loved it (obviously I cooled it down for the tots)!

Broccoli & Cheese Soup
Recipe - Cooking Light

Ingredients Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) package broccoli florets
2 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 oz of Velveeta Light, cubed
3 oz sharp shredded cheddar

Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.
Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.
Place one-third of the soup in a blender or food processor (I used an immersion blender), and process until smooth. Return pureed soup mixture to pan.