Slightly-Less-Bad-For-You-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I recently bought some whole wheat pastry flour because I wanted to try some healthier baked goods without using regular wheat flour. Whole wheat pastry flour has less protein than traditional whole wheat flour so it’s well suited for cookies, cakes, quick breads and pancakes. Using this will result in a more tender and fluffy product. I’m wondering if my family will notice and objectionable difference than my usual AP flour and butter cookies.

Verdict: The kids and I even enjoyed the subtle coconut flavor or the raw cookie dough. These smell faintly of the coconut oil and taste a little like it too. These are pretty tasty, not too sweet and not too wheaty. The wheat pastry flour is slightly nutty and chewy but not unpleasant in our opinion at all. Even my health-food-hating husband liked the flavor of these and was surprised at how good they are – not bad at all for an unconventional chocolate chip cookie. Score one more for mom! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie – adapted from Stedded

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together coconut oil and sugar, then beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. If dough is looking too runny, add a little more flour until it resembles standard cookie dough.
Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake approximately 10 minutes. They spread a lot, so be careful to not put the cookies too close together on the pan.

Quinoa and Veggie Egg Bake

This is so good and I’m glad I found another use for my cooked quinoa. It’s a simple dish and a great way to clean out your fridge of all the little bits and pieces that would otherwise go to waste. Baked egg dishes are so easy and versatile and this one is a great example of that. The quinoa adds a pleasing texture and flavor to this and ups the protein and fiber content of this tasty breakfast. I will make these again, and again. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Quinoa and Veggie Egg Bake – adapted from Edible Perspective
    • 5 TBSP cup cooked quinoa
    • 1/8t salt
    • black pepper
    • 1 egg + 1 egg white
    • baby spinach, chopped
    • 2 pieces roasted portobello caps (*leftover from this)
    • 4 grape tomatoes, quartered
    • 1 or 2 mini bell peppers, chopped fine
    • crumbled feta (optional, but yummy)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400* and lightly butter an 8 ounce ramekin. In a small bowl, whisk your egg and egg white. Mix in quinoa. Stir in salt, pepper, spinach, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes until just combined. Pour into your ramekin and bake, uncovered for 20 – 25 minutes or until set. Serve with fresh fruit, enjoy!

Light Wheat Bread

Quick Post: I’m always on the lookout for new sandwich breads and have experimented with several. I’m not searching for the “perfect” loaf, I just have fun trying new ones. This bread is slightly wheaty with a nice chewy crust and dense crumb. I used a different technique (business letter fold) to form this loaf and I think that’s why it’s so tall, but my husband appreciated that for his sandwich today. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Light Wheat Bread – adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

  • 2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz.) white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz.) raw sugar or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 oz.) salt
  • 3 tablespoons (1 oz.) powdered milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (.17 oz.) instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 oz.) water, at room temperature

1. Stir together the high-gluten flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar (if using), salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the shortening, honey (if using), and water. Stir (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still flour in the bottom of the bowl, dribble in additional water. The dough should feel soft and supple. It is better for it to be a little too soft that to be too stiff and tough.

2. Sprinkle high-gluten or whole-wheat flour on the counter, and transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook). Add more flour if needed to make a firm, supple dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky. Kneading should take about 10 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The dough should pass the windowpane test and registers 77 to 81 degrees F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and press it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide, and 8 to 10 inches long. Form it into a loaf by working from the short side of the dough, rolling up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension. It will spread wider as you roll it. Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs. Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch bread pan; the ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise. Mist the top with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.

5. Proof at room temperature for approximately 60 to 90 minutes (as in, original recipe says 90 minutes, I walked into the kitchen at 60 and said “whoa!” as it had almost risen too much; clearly final rising times vary), or until the dough crests above the lip of the pan.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

7. Place the bread pan on a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven. The finished loaf should register 190 degrees F in the center, be golden brown on the top and the sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

8. When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours

Roasted Garlic Pesto Pizza

This pizza was garlicky, oily and so tasty. It wasn’t “swimming” in oil, but it seeped through to the bottom crust which made it even more crispy, reminiscent of my favorite garlic bread. I meant to add grilled chicken to this, but last night was crazy and this morning my mind was somewhere else; so I completely forgot. Thankfully my disappointment only lasted a for a minute. I made up for the lack of chicken and added another layer of flavor by using sun dried tomatoes to the top of this which ended up being a perfect addition to this pizza. I had to stop myself from eating too much! I’m looking forward to these leftovers 😉 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Pesto Pizza – Sugar Cooking

  • 1 – 10 ball of pizza dough 
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 5 sun dried tomatoes, sliced
  • 5 ounces Mozzarella cheese
  • Pecorino Romano cheese (grated over top)
  • Parmesan cheese (grated over top)
  • Red chili flakes

Directions:

1. To roast the garlic: Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place the garlic heads in a baking pan; muffin pans work well for this purpose. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed. Remove garlic gloves and smash with a fork.

2. Spread roasted garlic over pizza dough, then top with your pesto, mozzarella and the grated cheeses. Add your sun dried tomatoes and chili flakes then bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a 475 degree oven. I love using my pizza stone which always sits on the lowest level of my oven.

Citrus Salmon

Quick Post: Coho salmon was on sale at Publix so I had to pick some up. Wild salmon is a healthy treat for us – all except my daughter – she has an aversion to fish (she’s my picky eater). I baked the salmon in foil again – it is a fool proof method. Maybe one day I’ll try something new, but when it comes to using an expensive food like this, I go with what I am most comfortable with. This time I used orange and lemon slices to season my fish along with some cilantro that I had leftover from making this to give it an herby kick. We enjoyed this with this garlic rice pilaf and a green salad. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Citrus Salmon –

  • 1 – 6 ounce piece of Coho salmon
  • 2 slices lemon
  • 2 slices orange
  • cilantro leaves
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil (optional)
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Ready a piece of foil on a baking sheet.
2. Place the salmon on the foil, season with salt and pepper and lay the citrus slices across the top of the fish. Place dots of butter on top and lay the cilantro leaves over all. Gather the sides of the foil to create a package – don’t seal too tightly or you may tear the foil. Place on top of a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes (depending on the size and thickness).

Tuscan Chicken Sandwich

This sandwich was amazing – and I’m not ashamed to admit that! 😉 I was inspired by a sandwich that I love to order – something I have never done before. I like the idea of recreating and improving on a favorite meal and this was a successful first attempt. Thankfully the menu listed all ingredients that this sandwich requires so there was no guessing involved. I changed up some of the ingredients to accommodate what I had in my fridge. I didn’t make the ciabatta rolls at home, but these are bakery fresh and full of ingredients I can pronounce. I also didn’t make the cream cheese spread, but I bought it at my favorite specialty food market where they make so much on site. It’s a garlic and herb cheese spread that has cream cheese, basil, parsley and garlic – so it’s easy enough to make if you chose to. It’s basically a Boursin cheese spread, but I checked the ingredients on that and it’s not made with fresh herbs or garlic – pass! It’s not worth 5 plus dollars in my opinion…The basil pesto mayonnaise was super easy to make especially because I had about a cup of this pesto in my freezer.

Tuscan Chicken Sandwich – inspired by Common Grounds Cafe

For the marinade:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded to an even thickness
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • Italian seasoning
  • kosher salt
For the Sandwich:
  • basil mayo
  • garlic and herb cheese spread
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • salad greens or baby spinach
  • baby swiss
  • 4 ciabatta rolls, brushed lightly with olive oil for toasting on the grill
Directions:
1. Place your pounded chicken in a zip top bag. Mix all the marinade ingredients together and pour over top the chicken. Mush the bag to disperse the marinade, place the bag in a container and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
2. Preheat your grill to 350 – 400 degrees. Grill the chicken for 7 to 8 minutes a side and at about 5 minutes before the chicken is cooked through, toast your ciabatta rolls if desired. Take the rolls and the chicken off the grill and place a piece of baby swiss on each chicken breast (my slices are super thin so they melt quickly).
3. On one half of the roll, slather on a good amount of the garlic and herb cheese spread and place a piece of chicken on top. On top of the chicken, top with salad greens and sun dried tomatoes. Spread the pesto mayo on the top bun and place it on top of the sandwich – enjoy!

Roasted Portobello Mushroom Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Oh.My.Goodness. This was perfect – the combination of these few, simple ingredients was so yummy. I love Portobello mushrooms because they are so meaty and savory, the parmesan cheese shavings were salty and nutty, the tomatoes added sweetness and the simple vinaigrette blended well with all. It tastes so fancy – sorry, I couldn’t help but admit that 😉 This is a total keeper and will be a regular in this household – well, for me anyway. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Mixed Greens with Dijon Vinaigrette and Roasted Portobello – adapted from Annie’s Eats

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • honey (optional)
  • ¼-½ cup red wine vinegar*
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the roasted mushrooms:

  • 2 or 4 full-size Portobello mushroom caps, gills scraped out and wiped clean
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • Mixed greens, rinsed and dried
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes

*Start with ¼ cup of vinegar and add more as desired to taste.  The more tart you like your vinaigrette, the more vinegar you will want to use.

Directions:

To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a jar or bottle with a secure lid.  Shake well so the ingredients are well combined and emulsified. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes – longer is better.

To make the mushrooms, preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Slice the Portobello caps about ½-inch thick.  Add to a bowl and toss with a bit of olive oil, just enough to coat lightly (about 2 tablespoons).  Season with salt and pepper.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Roast, flipping halfway through baking, about 15 minutes total.

While the mushrooms are roasting, portion the mixed greens between serving plates.  Top with shaved Parmesan and tomatoes.  Top with the warm mushrooms and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Quick Red Lentil Soup

This was so good that I just had to have seconds. I didn’t feel guilty because this soup is super healthy and low in fat. I tweaked this recipe a bit by adding more seasoning and cooking the lentils in vegetable broth. I loved the bite of the lentils and veggies in this, the creaminess of the Greek yogurt and the herby flavor of the cilantro. As simple as this is it’s so flavorful and a definite keeper! It’s also so cheap to make – you can’t beat that 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Red Lentil Soup Recipe – adapted from Veggie Belly

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup dry split red lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or to taste, optional
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  •  cilantro leaves
Directions:

Heat olive oil in a pan. Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic. Stir on low heat for about 7 minutes, or till the vegetables are soft. Dont let them brown.

Add the red lentils to the vegetables, and stir for about 1 minute. Add paprika, salt, cumin, cayenne and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, place a lid on the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes or till the lentils are cooked but still holding their shape. Dont let the lentils get mushy. Add more water during cooking, if needed.

When the soup is done, serve with a dollop Greek yogurt.

Quinoa – My 200th Post!!

I picked up some quinoa from my local health food store the other day – it’s so much cheaper buying from the bulk bins. I have used quinoa once before to make a quinoa pudding – kind of like rice pudding, only slightly healthier. I remember that tasted great, so I’ll have to find another recipe to share with you – preferably a vegan version.

Quinoa takes a few more steps to prepare than a box will tell you, and since mine didn’t come in a box I used this website for basic cooking instructions. All these steps listed are necessary to ensure mush-free, perfectly cooked quinoa. The only change I made was adding a pinch of kosher salt to the water. Rather than copy all her listed instructions down, here’s the link that’s full of helpful tips and nutrition information on this “super grain”.

The first picture is the product of all those steps – it really was perfectly fluffy 🙂 I used a cup of the cooked quinoa to make this quinoa breakfast bowl. It was tasty and super filling with out the bloat. I was satisfied for hours after eating this. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl –

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • unsweetened almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, maple syrup

Directions:

1. Spoon your cooked quinoa in a bowl, top with your desired amount of milk and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes to heat through. Add your desired toppings and enjoy!

Garlic Rice Pilaf

Yum – this was a perfect accompaniment to our salmon dinner tonight. I like the fact that I don’t have to babysit this at the stove trying to split time up between it and the main course. It baked away in the oven while I prepped the salmon and broccoli; but this rice takes over an hour to bake. I needed to start this about 40 minutes before I could cook the broccoli and salmon, but it worked out well because once the rice was about 20 minutes to completion, I placed the salmon on the bottom rack of the oven. The flavor was garlicky and nutty with a hint of the lemon. I added shallot to this and lemon zest to up the flavor and added about a half tablespoon more butter. This will definitely be in our rotation! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Garlic Rice Pilaf – adapted from Annie’s Eats

  • 2 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2½ cups chicken broth, divided
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • Lemon zest
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Directions: 


Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Have ready a covered casserole dish (*I don’t own a covered dish that was small enough, but foil worked just fine*).  In a saucepan or skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, shallot and rice to the pan and cook until both are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Pour the mixture into the casserole dish, cover, and bake for 25 minutes.  Stir in the remaining 1½ cups chicken broth, lemon zest and 1/2 tablespoon of butter and bake, covered, for another 45 minutes.  About 15 minutes before it is finished baking, stir in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Note: This recipe can be doubled without increasing the baking time.