Thursday, July 12, 2012

HEALTHY Cookies... I'm Not Even Kidding

When I discovered I had a problem with dairy, my friend bought a bag of some hoity-toity expensive chocolate chips from a health food store, because I. LOVE. CHOCOLATE.  Well, I didn't stick with the chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips from Hy-Vee for about $3.79/bag), but the cookie recipe on the back was ahh-mazing!  I made it for a healthy pre-k snack on a regular basis, and one kid liked it so much that he asked his mom to start making them at home.  All the moms eventually got the recipe.  They are a huge hit for parents and children alike, without fail.  

I have already listed this recipe on here once, but here it is again: 

Vegan Chocolate Chip Nut Cookies

1/3c almond butter or peanut butter
2T canola oil
1c sugar
1/3 c milk substitute
1t vanilla extract

1c whole wheat flour
1/2 t baking soda 
1/2 t salt
1c rolled oats
1/2c chocolate chips
1/2c chopped macadamia or walnuts (optional)

1.  Preheat oved to 425F.
2.  Whisk together first 5 ingredients till very smooth.
3.  Combine flour, oats, soda, and salt, then add to wet mixture with chocolate chips and nuts.  Stir to combine. 
4. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet (I use parchment paper).  Bake for 8 minutes, or just until they crack (or just a touch less).  
5.  Let cool on sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

In case you weren't already enjoying that slice of heaven, there it is!  And here are some modifications to make it suit anybody's tastes and dietary needs...

*If you're avoiding peanuts or tree nuts, try sunflower seed butter.  To make your own, leave sun flower seed kernels in a food processor longer than you think you should ever leave anything in a food processor, and it will eventually begin to look like peanut butter.  Add oil and/or honey, if you want. You don't have to. It's good. Or... just buy some. 

*If you're gluten-free, use oat flour instead of wheat flour (make sure they're certified gluten-free oats).  This might require you to throw in another small handful of oats.  No biggie.  Oatmeal is fantastic, nutritionally speaking.  Wait, what's that?  No oat flour?  Process a cup of regular oatmeal in the blender or food processor until it looks like flour.  Yes, that easy!

*If you want to give it extra texture and nutrients, throw in a big handful of shredded coconut.  Y-U-M.

*More dried fruit/nuts makes them even more nutritious.

*You can replace at least half (that's all I've tried so far--more might work) of the sugar with honey or agave nectar.  This also might require throwing in some extra oats or coconut flakes to thicken up the batter. 

*You can cut the sugar down to 3/4 c without noticing a difference.  I've been meaning to try brown sugar in its stead.  I bet that would add some nice flavor, and you could probably use even less.

*Of course, if you love and/or tolerate dairy, you can use dairy milk and butter instead of milk substitute and oil. 

*Coconut oil would be a good replacement for the canola, and applesauce is a great substitute as well. 

If you think about it, these can be breakfast (cutting the sugar down or replacing it helps).  And the healthier versions do often become breakfast at our house. It's also a fast and easy recipe to crank out, with a single bowl left to wash, if you're craving something sweet late at night.   Which is what happened last night at my house, and they were here for breakfast in the morning.  That's why I decided to share it with you today!  


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It occurs to me that I cook... a ton.  I quite literally spend most of my day, every day, in the kitchen.  And, after years of people asking me for recipes, many of which I came up with myself, I decided I should probably start sharing a few here.  I keep thinking, for some reason, that the purpose of this blog is sewing, but that's not really true, is it?  That just happens to be my favorite part, however much I don't actually get to it because I'm busy with lesser favorite parts... 

Today, it'll be my go-to pizza crust recipe.  Adapted from something on, this is AWESOME for pizza, calzones, and I'm about to try it for this:
I am entirely certain that it will be fantastic for that, as well.  I use it at least once/wk, and anybody who's ever tried it has LOVED it!  It's the reason we don't get take-out or restaurant pizza anymore.

Pizza Crust

1T yeast (or 1 pkg)
1c warm water (warm, but not burning your finger)
1t sugar
2T oil
1t salt
3c flour*

Proof your yeast with the water and sugar (mix it with the sugar and water and let it foam to prove itself worthy of your time).  Add salt, flour, and oil.  Mix and knead (a stand mixer is a god-send for time-saving here) until it forms a ball.  Let rest 5-10 minutes.  Knead all bubbles out and form a 14" diameter circle (a large pizza).  Top.  If you want a thick, puffy crust, let it rise until it looks thick to you.  Otherwise, bake it in a 425F degree oven for 12-15 minutes. 

You can top this crust however you like, and it's awesome.  Top half of it generously, leaving about an inch around the edge, fold it over, and crimp it with your fingers for calzones (I keep these in the freezer for Hubby when he doesn't have leftovers to take to work).  Spread olive oil, herbs, and cheese over it for cheesy bread.  There are TONS of options here!

*For the flour, you have a variety of choices.  It really depends on how you like your crust.  For ultra-puffy and soft, go 3c all-purpose flour.  For very puffy and soft but healthier, try half white whole wheat flour and half AP.  For a little tougher but a lot healthier, try half regular whole wheat.  I have recently made it all white whole wheat, which got great reviews.  We are trying to make the switch to at least all white whole wheat flour--and I have to be honest here, it's only because I'm not entirely sure of the details of the white whole wheat vs. regular whole wheat.  More on that later, I'm sure, as I navigate these finicky-term-infested waters!

Let me know how it goes, if you whip this one out.  Especially if you find a new dress-up for it.  :)

Another Awesome Blog! And a Recipe!

So, once in a while I'll mention a website or blog that I have fallen for, and I feel the need to give a shout-out to this one.  I can't remember how I found it--probably looking for a whole wheat bread recipe--but I have gone back to it day after day for recipes and information.  It's great!  We have been "naturalizing" our house for quite some time, and continue to work toward eating food and using products that are free of artificially-created ingredients, and this is an excellent site for that. 
Okay, okay, already!  Here it is:

And no, you don't have to be a Christian to glean tons of awesome information from it.  

And while I'm chatting about whole wheat bread, I'll give you my whole wheat waffle recipe!  It is newly discovered (one of the thousands of recipe sites--can't remember which one--and no doubt tweaked in my own kitchen) and Hubby even likes it, which is a big step.  I use white whole wheat flour, but the original recipe called for regular whole wheat flour.  To make it dairy-free, just use milk substitute (almond, soy, rice) and vegetable oil.  It's great!

[White] Whole Wheat Waffles

1 1/2 c (white) whole wheat flour
2t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2T sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 lukewarm milk (mine's usually cold--that's fine)
1/3 c melted butter or vegetable oil

Mix all the ingredients together well, and cook on a prepared waffle iron. Enjoy!