Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I Ate Wednesday!

Hey guys! Here’s another What I Ate Wednesday! All my fellow lemon lovers will love this post (scroll down to the bottom if you just can't contain yourself!)

PS- I loved yall’s comments on my last post. It seems like a lot of people are still trying to find the perfect cookie! Even though I have a new favorite, that doesn’t mean I’m not still testing! In fact…you’ll see later in this post that I tried yet another CCC! 

For breakfast, I had a slice (or two) of a spiced lemon blueberry bread I made last night.
 I really liked the blend of spices and the occasional juicy burst of fresh blueberries, but the lemon flavor was totally lost! If you’re even the slightest bit familiar with my blog you know I LOVE the combination of blueberry and lemon (and just plain LOVE lemon in general. Seriously; just search “lemon” in the side bar and you’ll see.) so this was a bummer. Nothing a little spread of homemade lemon curd couldn’t fix!
 I also didn’t like how liquidy the batter was. Since it was so thin, all the blueberries sank to the bottom and it didn’t really “dome” as it baked, leading to a rather rectangle loaf. It has great texture, though, and tastes very spicy so I think it would be good with apples or peaches, too.  I probably won’t make it again , but if you want the recipe just for kicks click here.

After breakfast and a little digestion time, I headed over to the gym. Today, I went on the stair climber, did some weights, and went on the elliptical. While I was on the stair climber and the elliptical, I read the two magazines I brought along – Bon Appétit and Health (since I was almost finished with Bon Appétit).

 I thought of the interesting discussion about magazines and how they influence our ideals that Tara brought up on her blog (click here to see the post).  At first, I partly disagreed with her; thinking that Health was more than what she mentioned and that it actually had some good articles and content (like recipes, interesting information, and work out ideas) but as I was flipping through the magazine I got more and more annoyed. Yes, they have some useful information, but the magazine (and other magazines similar to it) was bogged down by trying to appeal to the audience that was stuck in “diet mode”. Everything was so “get skinny”! Sometimes I feel that all of these types of magazines only focus on the negative; what kind of message is that sending? Everyone should check out the discussion on Tara’s blog (XC Foodie) because it’s really interesting!

Oh, and that Bon Appetit magazine? I read every. single. page. I freaking love it!

After the gym I was HANGRY so I immediately heated up some leftover Mushroom Barley Risotto that was in the fridge.
 Yeah, it looks ugly, but was so satisfying! If you’re looking for a good risotto, this one is really tasty. I saw it on Brown Eyed Baker and was motivated to make it since it used barley, a nutritious grain I rarely cook with. It takes FOREVER to cook, and was a bit salty so just allow time to make it and use low sodium broth!

Then I whipped up a green smoothie but since I only had a good handful left of spinach, I threw in a large handful (or two) of a frozen mixed vegetable blend that had carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower.

I also added some Greek yogurt, water, a bit of coconut extract, and a bunch of assorted frozen fruits. Oh, and half of a banana because I got TONS.
 Yeah, that’s what happens when you volunteer at a race (Keep Austin Weird Fest & 5k!) and there ends up being a whole truck load of leftover bananas. Hello, banana soft serve!
My smoothie was so large I had to sip a bit up from this cup to add the rest of it in!

To finish it off, I had a soft whole wheat chocolate chip cookie.
 As you can see, this isn’t my normal cookie type. Usually my cookies are thick and have a crisp outer layer and this one is clearly neither! I decided to try out a batch from King Arthur Flour that were a bit different and loved them! I’ll do a full blog post about them soon because I want to make another batch with just a few changes.

These ones are soft, very dough like, and oh so yummy. The best thing is, they stay that way for days! These don't get stale and crunchy; they remain doughy all the way through. The unique ingredients like the cider vinegar, espresso powder, and honey make for a very delicious spin on the classic! They’re lower fat, too!
 I promise; a full post about them coming soon (:

I then hit up Sprouts for some produce that I needed for tonight and some random grocery items.
 Whole Wheat Toufayan Pitas, red onion, blueberries ($1.49!), zucchini, garbanzo beans, dark chocolate honey comb, red bell pepper, and a lil bitty jalapeno (dang jalapeno set me back a whole whopping 3 cents!).

These are my favorite pitas. Ingredient list is short and they don’t taste like leather. These pitas are soft and oh so tasty!
 Here’s a picture of the dark chocolate honeycomb out of the bag. If you’ve never tried honeycomb, you REALLY need to. I get a small bag every single week I go to Sprouts. I haven't even seen them sold any where else!
 Sugary, crunchy, toffee-like (in taste) on the inside enrobed by deliciously dark , smooth chocolate.
 I've even tried making them at home (multiple times). They never turn out nearly as good so I just leave it up to the professionals (:

Dinner was vegetarian enchiladas that I have been wanting to make for a while. I got the recipe from Annie's Eats and it was delicious! Yes, a bit time consuming since I had to make the sauce and there was tons of ingredients I had to go buy (so it's not exactly an easy one just to decide to make on a whim) but it was definitely worth making.
I made half the amount of enchilada sauce and probably should have made the full amount (she said there would be extra so I just went with the half amount thinking I didn't need that much). On the plus side, I got 5 more enchiladas than the recipe said it would make! I had to put them in another pan (not pictured).

On the side I made an avocado dip for topping the enchiladas. I found the recipe on My Recipes and made a 3rd of the batch (so that I only needed to use one avocado).
Holy mama this was good!! It has a lot of similar ingredients you would find in a guacamole but is the creamier, slightly more refreshing version with the addition of yogurt. I used Greek yogurt (instead of normal yogurt) so this dip worked really well as the kind-of "sour cream" for the enchiladas. I LOVE this recipe!

I also served cucumber slices on the side for dipping.
Altogether, now!
These enchiladas were packed with veggies. Zucchini, red bell pepper, onion, and then a mixture of whole and mashed black beans to give it some heartiness. I'm not the biggest fan of cilantro so there was a bit too much for me; that and the fact they needed a bit more spice (maybe some salsa added to the filling would be nice) were probably the only flaws in these enchiladas. The "anti-cilantro" in me didn't stop me from consuming four of these guys! Yes, they were small, but still! And my parents and I totally attacked that avocado dip...just saying.

And since I didn't get my just desserts with the rather un-lemony blueberry bread this morning, I went ahead and totally blueberry-lemonified my dessert with Lemon Blueberry Bars courtesy of  Two Peas and Their Pod!
I woke up this morning to see a tweet from Two Peas and Their Pod linking to her new post for Lemon Blueberry Bars. Of course, I immedietly clicked on it, knowing that that combination is just magic waiting to happen. Then I notice I have all the ingredients! 

Graham cracker crumbs? Heck yes! I just bought some organic graham crackers on clearance last Friday!

Fresh lemon juice? Yes! I just bought a huge bag of organic lemons last Wednesday!

Fresh Blueberries? No, but I know I'm gonna get some super on-sale blueberries at Sprouts today!

It's honestly a rare occasion when I have graham crackers, since I only buy the natural kind (or make my own) so this really was a treat that I had all the ingredients.
Plus, I always have cans of non-fat sweetened condensed milk on hand for when I want to make Magic Bars.

So it was set! I just had to make these bars. Like now. Yes, I still had some chocolate chip cookies left, but this was urgent!
Pure bliss.
Think key-lime pie but in lemon blueberry form. SO good! Only a bit too sweet, but that was expected with the use of sweetened condensed milk.

Changes I made:
-Used Brummel & Brown instead of butter in the crust and the crust turned out great! Saved 30 calories (all from fat) per bar. (When cut into 12 pieces)
-Used a scant 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt in the crust to increase the sweet and salty component. Highly recommended!

Honestly the best thing EVER. I know I have a lot of lemon loving readers out there so you guys (and even the lemon skeptics) NEED to make this!! These bars would be great with any other berry if you don't have blueberries on hand. You could even use frozen, they'd just be a little uglier.

As soon as I hit post, I'm grabbing another bar!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My CURRENT New Favorite Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie

I know, again with the chocolate chip cookie?! Yes. I'm testing more recipes because I'm just not happy with the final results of my "The GREAT Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment" post.

Its tough when all of your recipe testers (aka, your family) give you different opinions. I wish everyone could just all agree on a favorite, but unfortunately that still hasn't happened yet!

And again, I'm talking about the CLASSIC chocolate chip cookie. I already know my favorite cookie, and its this one. It has chocolate chips in it, but I wouldn't call that a basic CCC. The whole wheat CCCs I tried a while ago where good but even they are a little too complex (with the addition of walnuts and shredded chocolate and the fact that they are part oat as well). Needless to say, I was still looking.

A few weeks ago I came across a compelling CCC recipe here (from In Jennie's Kitchen) that caught my eye. A few things intrigued my interest.

1) A lower amount of butter (flour/butter ratio of 2.25, just the same as the Harry's cookies I liked during my experiment)
2) A lower amount of egg than other classic CCC recipe's I've tried
3) The recipe called for molasses instead of brown sugar.
4) The important measurements were also given by weight!

I don't bake cookie recipes with an outrageous (or even semi-outrageous) amount of butter (going back to my healthy-baking routes) so I was excited to try this out. I wondered what less egg would do for the cookies, but my guesses were that it would be less cakey and wouldn't expand as much. 

The fact that there was molasses instead of brown sugar gets rid of the confusion on whether the recipe is calling for light brown sugar or dark brown sugar and all the qualms I have about measuring the stuff as well (packed or just lightly in there?!)

The sugar, butter, and flour were also given by weight which, upon noticing this, led me to send a big "hallelujah!" to the cookie gods :P
Even though I wanted to stay pretty true to the roots of the recipe, I did make some changes that I always do with my cookie recipes (thanks to "the" experiment). I always use kosher salt instead of normal salt,  use double the measure of imitation vanilla (almost always, there are exceptions), and refrigerate the dough before baking. Luckily, this recipe already called for the dough to be chilled, but instead of a time like 2 hours this one calls for chilling overnight! 
You can just call me "small-batch Carlyn" because, as always, I only made a 3rd of the batch (well, a full batch does make 36 3-inch cookies so I'm not completely crazy). I also made my cookies smaller because, ya know, you then can have more that way :P

Converting was easy; the only problem was the 1/3 of a teaspoon of baking soda which I measured by using 1/4 tsp+ 1/8 tsp. That's only 1/24 of a teaspoon off, so I think we're good :P

After the long 24 hour wait, it was time to bake these babies up. One thing I love about this recipe (out of many) is that each cookie comes out looking perfect!
Not a sad looking cookie in the bunch.
And they came out just as they were advertised--thick!
Give me a thin, greasy cookie and I'll give you a slap in the face. (Not really, but I honestly think thick doughy cookies are where it's at.)

One bite and I was in cookie heaven. So much so that I forgot to take a picture! I did, however, take a picture the next day so all is not lost. 
CHECK OUT THAT THICKNESS! And check out the goo!
This is a picture of a DAY OLD cookie that was not warmed up and it still has that amount of gooey-ness. Unreal. Now can you imagine how it was the day of?

The cookies developed a lovely shell and get a little toasty on the outside while the inside remains moist and absolutely amazing. 
The flavor is really unique; I love it! I think part of that "special" flavor is because I used imitation vanilla (see my experiment post if you don't know why I'm using imitation vanilla) or maybe the very long "marinating" time in the fridge, but who knows; its just a special cookie!
I took too many pictures but they all looked so good!
These cookies are thick, moist, crisp on the outside, and have such a special flavor. I don't know what else to say except for that these are for sure, without a doubt my favorite chocolate chip cookies and they'll be yours too*!
*Okay, so my mom likes my old favorite CCC better, but I don't believe it...I even asked her to tell me again once she tried another cookie only to get the same response. I'm just going to disregard her opinion because these ones really are the best; sorry mom!

And just because some of you out there might not want to make 36 3-inch cookies, I'll provide you with the scaled down recipe, plus my changes.

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe slightly adapted from In Jennie's Kitchen
Makes 16 cookies
1 1/3 cups flour (6 ounces)
1/3 teaspoon baking soda (1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon)
Scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter, softened (2.67 ounces)
2/3 cups sugar (5 ounces)
2 teaspoons molasses
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon imitation vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate discs or bittersweet chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

2. Beat butter, sugar and molasses until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract.

3. Beat until well mixed. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate discs (or chips).

4. Let sit in refrigerator overnight before baking, and may be stored this way for up to two days. 

5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper.

6. Gently form dough into 1 1/2 balls (about 35 grams each) and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 13 minutes on middle rack. Do NOT over-bake!

7. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 2 more minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.

You will then be rewarded with the best CCC you've ever had :D

And one little note, I slightly over-baked my first batch since I made smaller cookies and was basing my bake time off of larger ones. They were magically delicious but just not as moist as I would have liked (pictured cookies are of correctly baked batch) so if you make your cookie balls about 1 to 1 1/2 inch sized then bake them for 13 minutes, no more no less! They won't look that browned but they're ready.

And remember how I thought that the less amount of egg would lead it to be less cakey? Well, I was wrong. These aren't any more or less cakey than any of my other favorite CCC recipes but I think the egg must have had something to do with that wonderful shell it forms. It was able to form that shell while the inside cooked just enough so that, as the cookies cooled, they didn't sink in the middle. As I said in my "experiment" post, all the ingredients for a CCC are primarily the same, its just the correct proportions that make a winner! 

And speaking of chocolate chip cookies, I was able to try out Chocolate Covered Katie's "Deep Dish Cookie Pie"!
One is always just a little bit skeptical when a recipe calls for only pureed beans as the "flour" in a recipe, but I've done it before so I wasn't too worried about the outcome. I was really surprised at how much the batter tasted like actual cookie dough! (And I couldn't resist putting a little vanilla extract in there; just for kicks)
I made a half batch ("Small-batch Carlyn", at your service!) in an 8-inch cake pan and it ended up taking about 30 minutes in the oven.
Then I felt like being a copycat and top my slice with a little bit of vanilla ice cream just like Katie did.
Oh, but look closer! That's not just any vanilla ice cream, that's my homemade vanilla-bean ice milk/yogurt!
Vanilla-beanie ice cream on my beanie cookie pie, oh yeahh. 

Then I felt the need to be even MORE of a copy-cat and drizzle some homemade chocolate sauce on top.
See the resemblance?
Of course, her picture looks a million times better but oh well :P

Anyway, the cookie pie was really good. It honestly tasted just like a cookie and even though the texture is not that of a cookie I loved it. My parents may have been a bit weird-ed out at first, but they liked it (and finished off the leftovers the next night)

I'm actually embarrassed to say that I had my 1/6 of the pie piece (pictured above) and then, throughout the night, proceeded to eat another 1/4 of the pie!

Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I can't wait try her bean blondies now!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Whole Wheat Vegan Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I'm glad that everyone seems to love lemon as much as I do! My What I Ate Wednesday post highlighted only two of my favorite lemon recipes (lemon poppy seed pancakes and lemon bars!) but I have a new one to share!

I've been looking around for a good, healthy lemon poppy seed muffin recipe but have been having no luck. They're either butter and sugar laden or they may be quite healthy but look like hockey pucks. It wasn't until I was browsing through Katie's recipes on Chocolate Covered Katie that I saw a very convincing one.

Vegan, low fat, whole wheat, packed with lemon, AND they look absolutely amazing! One other plus is that I could bake them using my free mini muffin pan I got at the culinary expo since the recipe was for mini muffins. :D

These lemon poppy seed muffins did NOT disappoint. Need proof? I made a second batch the very next day!
My mini muffin pan must have been extra mini because I had enough batter to make 12 mini muffins (filled to the very top) and a normal sized muffin!
I'm definitely not complaining. :P
Seriously, one bite and I was in heaven!
These muffins have a wonderful cupcake-like texture. Its really hard to explain! It felt almost sinful to be eating these for breakfast :D
They have a good amount of sweetness. The amount of sugar could be dropped by a tablespoon or two if you are used to not so sweet baked goods, but I found them pretty much perfect for my sweetness palate (and I don't like things too sweet).

I loved them so much that (after eating 5 already) I made another batch; but this time in normal-sized muffin tins. They sure were cute as minis but I'd rather be able to chomp on a big ol' muffin in the morning.
I kept everything the same except for this batch I changed the amount of poppy seeds from two tablespoons to one tablespoon because there seemed to be a lot of poppy seeds when I first made them. This amount was much better, but it could probably be reduced even more. I'd say maybe 2 teaspoons instead of 2 tablespoons. Just my preference!
You get double lemon action with the addition of both lemon juice and lemon zest (and I scored a huge 2 pound bag of organic lemons for $3 the other day so expect a LOT more lemon recipes!). The maple syrup is subtle but I like that because I don't exactly want a strong maple flavor in my lemon poppy seed muffins :P

I couldn't wait to dig in.
Anddd CHOMP.
Ahhhhmazing folks, amazing. There's just something about that texture... I can't put my finger on it! It reminds me so much of muffins from a bakery but oh so much healthier. Put a lemon cream cheese frosting on there and it could be a cupcake!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (or Mini Muffins!)
Slightly adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie
Makes 6
1 T poppy seeds
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 T lemon juice
1/4 c non-dairy milk
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 T maple syrup
1/4 c vegan butter, applesauce, oil, or a combo (I used 2 T Brummel & Brown** & 2 T apple sauce)
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp powdered ginger - optional (I didn't use this but feel free to if you'd like!)
 **not vegan

Preheat oven to 355 degrees. Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix liquid ingredients (and poppy seeds), then combine and stir until just mixed. Don’t overmix.

Divide evenly between 6 muffins cups or 12 mini muffins cups that have either been sprayed with oil or have paper liners.

Bake for about 17 minutes (for normal muffins) or 10-12 minutes (for mini muffins), or until a toothpick comes out clean.
I have to say Katie, you are a genius! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

I decided to calculate the nutritional information according to the ingredients I used and came up with this:
Each muffin (when you make 6) is 142 calories, 2.8 grams of fat, 11 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 2.3 grams of protein. Not too shabby!!

The same day I made these cupcakes..err I mean muffins, I also made another batch of my favorite lemon curd from Baking Bites. If you're a lemon lover, this is a must-have (at all times) in the fridge. No fat (besides the egg yolk) and super zesty! I use 3 tablespoons of sugar instead of 5 and its perfect. Slightly sweet but also sour! I use it in my Greek yogurt to make my own lemon flavored Greek yogurt that's way cheaper than buying those little lemon Chobani's (and you can control the sweetness).

I was considering spreading a little bit of lemon curd onto my lemon muffins but didn't. Lemon overload? Maybe...

What's your favorite lemon recipe?? I would love to add a couple more lemon recipes to my collection!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Whole Wheat Apple Walnut Flax Bread w/ Browned Butter

Many of you may know of Monet from Anecdotes and Apple Cores. Her writing is absolutely beautiful and she bakes some of the most amazing things. Her words are absolutely poetic and if you aren’t reading her blog already, you should!

A few months ago, Monet went through a huge tragic loss which involved the lives of her sister and her nephew.  Not only that, but she had still not recovered from another loss in the family that happened only a few months prior.

Many of her readers came together with the help of Lizzy and Kate to make a compilation book of our favorite comforting recipes to lift her spirits a little bit. Monet asked us all to share the recipes we contributed today so I will be linking back to my absolute favorite vegetarian chili and corn bread recipe.

Though it’s not exactly chili weather, it’s something to bookmark for a rainy day! (Literally)

 Vegetarian chili packed with veggies and a cakey sweet corn bread that compliments it perfectly! Check it out.

And since I said I was going to post the recipe soon for the apple walnut flax bread I had on last WIAW's post , I decided now was the perfect time. Not only do I want to post about this bread because it's delicious but also because I know Monet would love this one. Its right up her alley!
I found the recipe via Food Gawker. Don't you just love that site? I'm just a bit obsessed :P

Whole Wheat Apple, Walnut, and Flax Seed Bread
adapted from Kim Klietz
3/4 c. white whole wheat flour
3/4c. whole wheat pastry flour (or just 1 1/2 cup total flour of your choice)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp apple sauce
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. diced apple
1/2 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
1 Tbsp whole flax seeds
raw sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 325º and grease a loaf pan.

In a small sauce pan, heat the butter over medium heat until it is amber colored. Set aside to cool.

In medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and whisk to combine thoroughly, set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, combine applesauce, cooled butter and sugar and beat to combine thoroughly. Add egg and yolk and beat to combine thoroughly. Beat in vanilla. Turn mixer to low and add flour mixture, a little at a time, beating until just combined. Stir in apples, walnuts and flax seed.

Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan (batter will be quite thick) and spread evenly. Sprinkle top with raw sugar.

Place loaf pan into oven and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Just a little note: The original recipe says to bake it at 325 but I think I might try it at 350 next time because the loaf didn't rise a whole bunch (which could have been from other factors). It still rose pretty well and I like it's slightly dense texture!
I browned the butter (not in the original recipe) and it worked so nicely with all the other flavors! Apples and walnuts are just begging to be paired with browned butter :D And you really don't need a lot of butter (only two tablespoons for the whole loaf!) to get that wonderfully nutty flavor; that's the amazing part.
The turbinado sugar on top is a must!
This bread made the house smell amazing for hours and disappeared way too fast! Its super nutty (w/ the browned butter, walnuts, and flax) and packed full of apple bits. The flax seeds don't really play a huge roll in this bread, despite it being in the title, so feel free to add more. I'd probably do at least double the amount next time! Its perfectly sweet (I halved the sugar from the original recipe) and the sprinkle of sugar on top gives it a lovely crust.
Obviously amazing eaten straight up but even better with a smear of peanut butter on top (really, just a smear, because you don't want the PB to over power the amazing flavors going on here!)

Thank you, Lizzy ( from That Skinny Chick Can Bake) and Kate (Kate's Kitchen) for putting together all of our recipes and compiling them into a cook book! It was a wonderful idea for an absolutely wonderful (and strong) person (: