Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dark Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt....#improv


It's the third Thursday of the month...this can only mean that it's an Improv day! Improv is a monthly blogger challenge put forth by the lovely Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. Each month Kristen gives us two seasonal ingredients with which we are to create something wonderful. This month our theme is Ebony and Ivory!

Of course I went for the chocolate....why wouldn't I? Actually, a few months ago I had created a Sea Salted Dark Chocolate Cookie. I loved them, but I forgot to write the recipe down and I couldn't remember where I got the inspiration. So, I Googled. What I found was a pretty good sounding cookie from a certain Martha Stewart. You can find her recipe here ------ >  XXX  Of course I had to put my spin on things (not to mention make it an Ebony and Ivory themed cookie), so I changed it up. Here's what I made:

Dark Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt

1 cup flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (60% Cacao), melted
2 teaspoons espresso powder or instant coffee
1/2 cup good quality white chocolate chips
2 oz good quality white chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and the coconut oil for several minutes or until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir the espresso powder into the melted chocolate and add to the sugar mixture. Fold in the flour/cocoa mixture just until completely blended; stir in the white chocolate chips and chopped white chocolate. 


The coconut oil can make the cookies spread, so be sure to chill the dough for a few minutes after you've dropped them on the cookie sheet. 

Drop the dough by tablespoons (I use a cookie scoop) onto the prepared pan. Sprinkle each mound of cookie dough with a little sea salt. Chill the dough for a few minutes before baking (so the cookies don't spread too much), then bake for 10-12 minutes. Let them cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.


It might be worth your while to pour a glass of milk before you dig in....




Perfectly fudge-y in the middle.


Okay--wipe the crumbs off and let's take a look at what everyone else is making---







Saturday, April 12, 2014

Orange-Vanilla Muffins



I can hardly believe that Spring (notice I had to capitalize it) is finally here. After such a long winter, I'm ready for something a little sunny. Sunny? What I mean to say is fresh, light, and...well..citrus-y. Not to worry--chocolate is never very far away from me--let's just change things up a little for now.


Just look at how refreshing this orange looks! I used one large orange for this recipe.

I'm a little schizophrenic eclectic when it comes to food. One minute I'm all about healthy and the next I'm stuffing my face with muffins. Seriously, though, look at all of the vitamin C going into this batch of Orange-Vanilla Muffins...... 


A little yogurt and coconut oil makes these even healthier. Believe it. Negates the sugar and white flour. Still feel guilty? Swap 1 cup of  white whole-wheat flour for 1 of the cups of all purpose flour.



My inspiration for these citrus-y muffins came from a new flavor of yogurt that I found while I was at the grocery store....Orange Vanilla. I love that flavor combination. It reminds me of creamsicles. I couldn't wait to try it in a recipe. Feel free to sub plain or vanilla yogurt if you can't find this one.

Orange-Vanilla Muffins

1-2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (5-6 oz) container Orange-Vanilla Greek yogurt (sub plain or vanilla, if desired)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.; line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, stir together 2 teaspoons orange zest and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Place the yogurt, egg, orange juice, and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl or large measuring cup. Use a fork to blend the mixture. Microwave on high for 30-40 seconds, or until the mixture is at room temperature (and the coconut oil stays melted). Stir in the vanilla and the remaining orange zest. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir with a rubber spatula until just blended--batter will be lumpy.

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle the sugar/orange mixture over the tops of the muffins. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool on a wire rack.



How would you like to wake up to these??!!


The orange infused sugar on top gives these muffins a nice crunch...


Soft and orange-y--just like I wanted them to be!

What's your favorite spring food?


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Whole Wheat Penne with Chicken Sausage



So, this past Thursday was Improv reveal day. I missed it. That's not to say I didn't participate--I just waited too long to post. Sigh. I will still give a nod to Kristen at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for hosting this once-a-month event. Each month Kristen gives us two ingredients to combine into fun recipes. This month? Sausage and Cheese!

Why did it take me so long this month? Um, maybe because I was having such a hard time working that sausage and cheese into a cinnamon roll? That's probably it...I'm not used to posting non-baked goods. :)

I had to think about this theme. First, the husband and I have been overdoing the processed meats lately (you know the story...diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure...we have it all here). Then, I found some organic chicken and apple breakfast sausage....certainly that can't be bad for us, right? I wrapped a couple up in some scrambled eggs, melted a bit of cheese on top, stuffed it into half of a warm baguette and had myself a portable breakfast sandwich. Super good, but not very creative.



Using baguettes reminded me of Paris and a special "hot dog" I enjoyed from a street food vendor when I was there many years ago. This was no ordinary dog...it was a hot dog smothered in hot mustard and stuffed into a fresh baguette. I had to make one.


Note the Orangina in the background...it wouldn't have been the same without it.

For these beauties I used a chicken and apple sausage that I found at Trader Joe's, a warm "take and bake" baguette that was sliced in half and hollowed out, a bit of shredded cheddar, and some Dijon mustard. Oh yes, I had to buy a bottle of Orangina (which didn't taste like I remembered...probably because they use high fructose corn syrup in it over here). Hubby and I both loved these, but I still felt it lacked in the creative department. I brought out my skillet....


Things started getting a little fuzzy, recipe-wise, at this point. A little olive oil went in first and then some chopped onion and sliced sausage. Later, I added some sliced fresh tomatoes, Italian seasonings and red pepper flakes. It needed some color, so I thought I pulled out some frozen spinach...it turned out to be broccoli... but it turned out okay. Then, I boiled up some whole wheat penne and topped it all off with some Parmesan cheese. Whew.


This was even better the next day...

So, I had a whole day of sausage and cheese and no real recipe to show for it. I can think of worse things.

What would you make with Sausage and Cheese?


Monday, March 17, 2014

Big G Retro Cereals...and a Great Chocolate Cupcake Recipe! #CerealThrowback #Spon #PlatefullCoOp


Did you know Lucky Charms turns 50 this year? I really don't remember its debut, but I do remember how I loved that cereal. There was a ritual for me every Saturday....cartoons and Lucky Charms. After all, they were Magically Delicious!

I can't think of anyone who doesn't have a favorite cereal and many of them are having big birthdays this year. In fact, you can go Retro with some of your favorite Big G cereals exclusively at Target this month. For a limited time only, you can celebrate "A Delicious Debut" of classic breakfast cereal favorites featuring their original packaging from their first public appearance: Cheerios--1945, Lucky Charms--1964, Honey Nut Cheerios--1979, Cinnamon Toast Crunch--1984, and Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs--1994. How fun is this?!!



To help you celebrate, Target is offering its shoppers some great savings. Just visit http://coupons.target.com/generalmills-coupons for more information.

For me, a package of Lucky Charms came just at the right time...on St. Patrick's Day! I felt I had to celebrate by decorating my chocolate cupcakes with some Lucky Charm marshmallows. They were so cute...and were such a hit at work. As popular as these were with adults, think of how the kids would love them.


Make sure you put the marshmallows on right before serving or they will get soggy. They will still taste great, however.

Decorating these cupcakes can't get any easier....simply pipe some frosting on your favorite cupcake recipe and put a few Lucky Charm marshmallows on top. Need a good Chocolate Cupcake recipe? Of course I'll share...

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 egg
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
2 c. flour
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa (I like to use the Hershey's Dark Chocolate for this)
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 c. hot coffee

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with liners.

Combine egg, oil and buttermilk. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Combine the egg mixture and the flour mixture, mixing well. Slowly mix in hot coffee.
Fill the cupcakes pans about half full of batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool on wire rack;  Frost when cooled. Makes about 30 cupcakes.



Which Big G Retro Cereal is your favorite?

Disclosure: General Mills provided me with the information and with product so that I could write this post.