Monthly Archives: January, 2013

Healthy Hamentashen

I made some Hamentashen tonight and I am so proud! Doesn’t it look delicious?

IMG_4470whole wheat hamentashen chocolate hazelnut blueberry

IMG_4471close up chocolate whole wheat blueberry hazelnut hamentashen

Hamentashen is a cookie traditionally eaten by Jewish people for the holiday of Purim, which is coming up on the 23rd and 24th of February. I made some early Hamentashen this evening, though – I just couldn’t resist a whole wheat recipe I found!

While I was making these cookies, my parents and my brother were watching T.V. on the other side of the house. But they smelled something chocolatey baking, and quickly migrated into the kitchen for a taste. EVERYONE thought these were double chocolate at first glance: I must admit they do look like chocolate cookies with chocolate filling.

whole wheat chocolate blueberry hazelnut hamentashenActually, they are much more sophisticated than simply chocolate all over. The dough is chocolate. the filling is St. Dalfour’s Wild Blueberry jam, and there are chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts scattered throughout each cookie. I’ve always thought the doughy part of Hamentashens surrounding the filling was too boring, so I tried to add mix-ins to make that part more worth eating.

When I disclosed that they contained blueberry, I expected my little brother to back out and not even taste the cookies. But he split one with my mom, eating a piece she skillfully broke off that did not have any filling. He and my mom both said it was good. So did my dad.

I thought they were amazing, if I do say so myself. Even better than I’d hoped, soft, rich, chocolatey, the blueberry filling lending fruity sweetness and more excitement. The crunchy hazelnuts and melty chocolate chips were a stimulating addition to each bite. Of course, any baked item is at its greatest potential straight out of the oven.

baked chocolate blueberry hazelnut hamentashen

I would be interested to try making whole wheat Hamentashen again, and experiment with different fillings.

hazelnuts, blueberries, and chocolate chips

Here is my recipe. Feel free to try it, maybe use a different filling or different mix-ins if you would like to experiment.

hamentashen chocolate whole wheat hazelnut blueberry

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Divine Peach Carrot Smoothie with White Chocolate Peanut Butter

First off, you just have to see this pic of my cat Artemis lounging like a queen in an old, cluttered toy box:

Artemis in lego boxI just had a smoothie this morning that was fit for a queen (before setting off to clean up the beach for two hours: not a very “queenly” activity. But it helped the environment, so it was worth it!)

The smoothie I had used carrot juice instead of milk to help use up the bottle of carrot juice I bought yesterday to make “carrot cake” scones. There wasn’t too much carrot flavor in the smoothie, just enough to complement the peach, apricot and pineapple flavors that were the main focus, along with the too-good-to-be-true white chocolate peanut butter. That stuff is the best! If I ever had to make a smoothie for a king or queen, I would make one like this. It reminded me of some kind of fancy peach/ carrot cake with white chocolate, that would be served on a royal table at a banquet. Here is my recipe:

Divine Peach Carrot White Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

carrot peach white chocolate peanut butter smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup Bolthouse Farms 100% carrot juice
  • 1 Yoplait Greek peach flavored yogurt
  • 1 tbsp apricot pineapple jam
  • 1 tbsp Peanut Butter & Co. brand White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Yasso Greek frozen yogurt bar, blueberry flavor (I couldn’t taste this at all in the smoothie. But it probably helped balance the flavors.)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a royal goblet and toast to the kingdom’s wealth!

carrot white chocolate peanut butter peach smoothie

Carrot Cake Scones

carrot cake scones

I had the idea this week to make some scones that were inspired by the flavors of carrot cake. Carrot cake is something infamous for being “fattening” and high-calorie, but it has the potential to be very good for you if you think about it. First of all, it obviously contains carrots, which are high in vitamin A. Second of all, it can be paired with a cream cheese frosting for calcium and protein. (No, I did not use a cream cheese frosting for these scones, however disappointing that may be. It might be an interesting thing to try, though.) And a final reason why carrot cake has potential to be extremely good for you: Look at all the super-nutritious mix-ins that go with it! It’s common for people to add carrots and walnuts, both of which have healthy fiber. Pineapple and coconut, also popular additions to carrot cake, have fiber and vitamins as well. So why is carrot cake usually so bad for you? Probably because of all the oils and butter used in most recipes.

carrot cake scones with vanilla glaze, coconut and pineapple

These scones are extremely low in fat, with only two tablespoons of butter. They also contain whole wheat flour, and I mixed in some pineapple and coconut since those are popular carrot cake mix-ins. Nuts and raisins might be interesting to try instead. I whipped up the dough, threw the scones in the oven, drizzled with sweet vanilla glaze, and done! I had some incredibly healthy, incredibly delicious scones reminiscent of carrot cake, but miles away from any worries of all the fat and calories.

carrot cake coconut pineapple scones

When my mom first tried one of these scones, she wasn’t too impressed. Then she thought about it for a minute as I sat eating my own scone, and tasted a scone again. She said they weren’t so bad after all, and as time passed began praising my scones and saying they were actually great, recommending them to my dad! I guess the carrot flavor took her by surprise. They just needed to grow on her. Me, when I first took a bite of this scone I instantly knew it was what I had been hoping for. Just the right amount of sweetness, a soft main body, and crispy shredded carrots. Not to mention of course the addictive coconut and juicy pineapple… need I say more?

For the recipe for “carrot cake” scones, click here.

This recipe was based on “Blueberry Lemon Scones” by Dannivee.

carrot cake flavored sconesFresh-baked scones straight out of the oven taste the best… mmmm…

Chocolate Fruit Cookie Dough Smoothie

chocolate cookie dough fruit smoothie

Our home is currently being invaded by ants. I don’t know why they think it’s ant season now, but they’re marching dutifully throughout all the rooms in our house. My parents use 409 spray liberally to dispose of the tiny creatures. I don’t normally kill ants or any other bug, although I’m creeped out by finding creepy-crawlies in my home. It’s just my policy to not kill living animals, as a rule. I did, at the suggestion of my mom, spray and kill one ant this morning, however. My heart went out to the poor thing… I’m just too soft to kill ants! I let the other two I’d seen skitter away. Sometimes I think it’s unfair that we humans decide certain animals are gross or inconvenient to our comfortable lives, so we shamelessly kill them. But at the same time, ants are vermin, they’d eat all our food and crawl all over us (eugggh!) if we just let them go about their business in our homes. They really should, for their own sake and ours, just stick to gathering what they can find outside. That way no one gets hurt/feels guilty.

This morning I found solace from the ant situation in the form of a cold, chocolatey smoothie. The texture of this smoothie was perfect, not too thick or thin. The taste was perfect and intricate, mostly chocolate with a layer of fruit underneath, and of course some cookie dough to add to the interest level. YES it had chocolate cookie dough in it and YES I had it in the morning. The cookie dough is vegan so that makes it healthy, right? 🙂

But seriously, this smoothie has so many health benefits to it I didn’t have to feel guilty adding the cookie dough. The almondmilk delivers vitamins, minerals, calcium, even an extra gram of fiber for good measure. And the greek frozen yogurt is of course a source of protein. The cookie dough isn’t unhealthy, it just doesn’t exactly add much in the way of health benefits.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and indulge in this

Chocolate Fruit Cookie Dough Smoothie

chocolate fruit cookie dough smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 10 grapes
  • 1 single serve container Silk brand dark chocolate flavor almondmilk
  • 1 Yasso brand blueberry Greek frozen yogurt bar (I do not recommend eating this plain; it’s kind of tasteless in my opinion. But in the smoothie it was great!)
  • 1/4 cup Eat Pastry brand chocoholic chip vegan cookie dough

Directions:

Place banana, grapes, almondmilk, and frozen yogurt bar in blender. (The frozen yogurt bar was kind of hard for me to get off the stick; I had to use a knife and eventually my fingers to pry that stubborn wooden stick out of the bar. It may pay off to thaw the bar for one minute before trying to get the stick out, I suppose.) Blend these ingredients for a minute or so. Then add the cookie dough in several clumps. Blend for one or two seconds, then stop blending immediately and Pour smoothie into desired glass. (I used a mug.)

Enjoy!

Cookie dough fruit and chocolate smoothie

Come to think of it, this is a smoothie those ants would probably like. It’s got sweet chocolate and fruit. I bet they’re jealous. Eat your heart out, ants! (Well, drink your heart out.)

Mediocre Muffins

I don’t like to be mediocre. I get all A’s in school, I practice violin until I get it right, and I color in all my drawings (yes, I do draw as a hobby) until there are no annoying little white spaces. The same concept applies to my baking: I don’t want anything I bake to be just okay, so-so. I want all who are lucky enough to taste my baked goods to practically faint in amazement, I want to be able to blog about some muffins I made that were sublime, not just sort of acceptable. Unfortunately, I cannot tell a lie: these muffins fall into the latter category.

mediocre muffin: orange blueberry flavor

I’m not sure what it is about them, there’s just something that isn’t quite five-star quality about these muffins. Maybe they could be more interesting? I threw in some oatmeal when I mixed up the batter, but maybe I should have added more because it’s barely noticeable in the texture. The flavor is pretty good, the texture is soft and moist… my mom thinks they don’t taste quite right because I used Truvia. But she loved my whole wheat cookies and pumpkin brownie cheesecake thingy, which both included Truvia. Maybe combining the Truvia with chocolate masks the “strangeness” of it? I have to say, I think it does something to the flavor of these orange blueberry muffins. They are sweet, but maybe not sweet enough.

Truvia natural sweetener packet

I was very frustrated that these muffins are just mediocre, because I actually tried to make the recipe twice. That’s right, folks: America’s most fanatical never-do-the-same-thing-again baker has retried a recipe on the same day that it flopped! The first time I made this yesterday I used solely Truvia and no real sugar, so it was not sweet at all. In addition, since I replaced the orange juice called for in the original recipe with more docile mango juice the mango flavor was not detectable and the muffins kind of had no flavor. So I used orange juice the second time, added some real sugar along with the Truvia… and my result was sort of better than before. But still only mediocre.

I’m going to post my recipe, just in the hopes that someone can come up with an idea of how to make this okay recipe stellar. If anyone out there has an idea, and/or tries themselves to make this recipe differently and gets a different result, please feel free to post the changes made in the comments.

Mediocre Muffin Recipe for Blueberry Orange Muffins

Makes 12 regular-sized muffins

mediocre muffin: blueberry orange

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 16 packets Truvia natural sweetener
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 packet Open Nature brand Vanilla Almond flavor instant oatmeal
  • 1 Chobani brand Greek yogurt, Blood Orange flavor
  • 1 tbsp orange zest (called for in original recipe. I did not use this.)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 eggs (I used 1/4 cup Egg beaters and one egg, since that was all the egg matter we had in the house.)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix. Add wet ingredients and mix well, but do not overmix. Batter will seem wet and thin (at least, it was like that when I did this.) Fold in blueberries.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, trying not to splash it all over the place like I did 🙂 Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

Don’t you just hate when you put a lot of time into baking something, have your hopes rise up and up as the warm oven fills the house with a delicious aroma, and then feel your hopes crash to the floor again as you take a bite and it doesn’t taste as awesome as it smells? My baked stuff always smells so good… but the scent is often deceiving.

Again, if anyone has any ideas, please leave a comment!

Apple Vanilla Smoothie with Chocolate Covered Raisins

There are raisin people, and then there are non-raisin people. Non-raisin people are the ones who scorn oatmeal raisin cookies and think raisin people must have something wrong with their brains. Raisin people are the ones who bake raisins into their cookies upon occasion and tend to have a healthy digestive system. I’ve never met anyone who was super fanatical about raisins; I myself don’t eat them very often. But I think that is about to change.

I recently discovered Sun Maid brand dark chocolate yogurt covered raisins. They are so delicious! The yogurt shell is a perfect complement to the chewy, flavorful raisins! I shall from now on officially identify myself as a raisin person, despite the disparaging scowls this may earn me from strongly opinionated non-raisin people.

Needless to say, I incorporated the chocolate covered raisins into a smoothie. The flavor of the smoothie was good, though next time I might try to make it more interesting.

Apple Vanilla Smoothie with Chocolate Covered Raisins

apple vanilla chocolate covered raisin smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Snack Pack brand pudding cup, apple pie a la mode flavor
  • 1 tbsp apricot pineapple jam (I couldn’t really taste this in the smoothie. Maybe next time I’ll try some tart fruit like strawberries to add more flavor.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • 5-6 ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate yogurt covered raisins

Directions:

Place all ingredients except the chocolate covered raisins in the blender and blend for a minute or until ice is crushed. Stop blending and add chocolate covered raisins. Blend for about two seconds, then immediately stop and pour smoothie into desired glass.

Enjoy! (P.S.: the raisins are the best part!)

apple vanilla smoothie with chocolate covered raisins

Why?

Original-Birth-of-Venus

In the summer we picnic under a majestic, ancient oak

With grounded roots and a sturdy, thick trunk

She reaches her myriad branches up, up, up

I believe she will touch the sky.

Her trunk is too thick to wrap my arms around

But never once did I give it a thought

Measure her girth and complain

And the oak grows larger and stronger.

andthe-background-backgrounds-branch-capital-oaktree-pictures-wallpapers

In the ocean there dwell humpback whales

Large like monsters, but cherished by man

Weighing 48 tons, sporting heavy blubber

They beautify the ocean with their echoing song.

There are no tabloids for the humpback whale

Blaring with headlines about dieting

Wrapping a rope around the middle and constricting

So the whale can breathe freely, a burst of salty air.

images

Everything, large and small belongs to the earth.

A sapphire in the necklace of the universe

A perfect sphere, swirling with clouds

Dancing and spinning because she is life, she is beautiful.

And who would dare to fit a corset to the earth?

Mold the green-blue orb into a grotesque form

Chisel away at the chubby cheeks of our home?

No one. She is a masterpiece, she is life.

Unknown

So why, then, do we look at the girl

Her eyes two brimming cups of innocence

And weigh the invaluable child on a scale?

The California state standards, the tabloids

Suck the breath of life out of a child

Prey on the insecure hearts of girls

Drink their blood as we turn our faces

Why do we do it?

ancient-weight-balance-scale-decoration-img

The tree, the whale, are beautiful

Growing strong, as large as ever

The earth doesn’t shrink with each generation

So what of girls? Are they not

Gorgeous, each one, healthy, robust

Waists voluptuous or righteous like a tree trunk

Isn’t the song they sing more valuable than the size they wear?

Mother earth bears apples, peaches, potatoes for us all

She does not put her daughters on a diet

So why must we?

6281625-fruit-bowl

Sources: animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/wild-kingdom/about-animals/humpback-humpback-facts.htm , http://www.merriam-webster.com , http://artist-3d.com/free_3d_models/dnm/model_disp.php?uid=2284 , http://ttsn.net/free-killer-whales-wallpaper-download-the-free-killer-whales/www.scenicreflections.com*files*killerwhales_1024x768.jpg/ , http://www.123rf.com/photo_6281625_fruit-bowl.html , http://indianapublicmedia.org

I do not own any of these images!

Whole Wheat Cookies

I know, I know, “whole wheat cookies” seems like an oxymoron: I might as well be presenting you with “healthy junk food.” When I first heard of this concept, I was very skeptical and thought whole wheat was better off sticking to its home turf of bread and bagels, not trying to stumble around in the dessert world where it really didn’t belong. That was what my original impression was… but it was so wrong!!!

Chocolate Reece's Chip Apple Whole Wheat cookies

It turns out, whole wheat cookies taste better than cookies made with all-purpose flour. These cookies are nice and chewy, very chocolatey and sweet. I loved the texture, and when my mom tried them she didn’t even know they were whole wheat until I told her. And you don’t have to feel guilty eating them because they are whole wheat.

The original recipe for the whole wheat cookies was simple, just a plain chocolate chip cookie. I added some flavor to it by making them entirely chocolate, and adding Reese’s chips and chopped apple. The flavor combo seems queer, but it tasted awesome!

flavor combo: apple, peanut butter, and chocolate

The basic recipe for the cookies can be found on the Betty Crocker website on this page. My recipe is as follows:

Whole Wheat Wonderland Cookies

(Double chocolate Reece’s chip apple chunk cookies)

Makes 18 cookies

Chocolate Reece's Apple Cookie with Whole Wheat Flour

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup white sugar (I substituted this for 6 packets of Truvia natural sweetener)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tbsps butter, softened
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg (I substituted with 1/4 cup Egg Beaters. Since I halved the original recipe, I was only supposed to use half an egg, but I forgot  – oops! It worked out okay, though.)
  • 1 tbsp Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup Reece’s chips
  • about half of a medium-sized Jazz apple, diced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix sugar, butter, oil, vanilla and egg (or egg substitute.) Add the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly. The mixture will be thick.

Add your mix-ins (chocolate chips, Reece’s chips, and apple in this case). Stir.

Place balls of dough onto cookie sheet, leaving some space for them to expand. (I didn’t press them down at all so my cookies are sort of dome-like. I just didn’t want them to come out flat. I’ll have to keep working on just how to shape a cookie.)

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean and edges are crispy. The centers of the cookies will still be soft when they are done.

My brother was watching me as I baked these, and he asked me what I had put in them. I told him they contained chocolate chips, and he said, “junk. But good junk.” When I told him about the chopped apple, he described that as “bad junk.” He said “everything you bake is a mix of good junk and bad junk.” But I’d say all the junk in these particular cookies is truly good junk. Most of it isn’t even junk at all – for example, the Reece’s chips have 3 grams of protein in just one tablespoon.

Reece's chips package

Another health bonus is the whole wheat flour. I was even considering adding oatmeal, but that would probably have been one step too far – they would have tasted too healthy. I like when food is healthy, but it doesn’t always have to taste so blatantly so.

Reece's chip chocolate apple Whole Wheat cookies

At any rate, I hope some readers who are bakers will try making whole wheat cookies. They really are worth making. I will definitely be making more things with whole wheat flour!

You might also like:

Healthy Harmony Cookies

healthy harmony cookie texture

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