Archive for the ‘snack’ Category

A healthier chocolate muffin

August 4, 2011

Banana Chocolate Muffins

Anna at Cookie Madness posted a recipe for Apple Butter Chocolate Muffins and I nearly went running to the kitchen to make them. The only problem is I don’t have apple butter on hand, I don’t have enough apples to make any, I don’t have applesauce to reduce, and I don’t have time to run to the grocery store. I didn’t let any of that stop me. I did have an overripe banana on the counter and I thought it might be okay in place of the apple butter.

I have a personal pet peeve about comments on blogs and recipe sites that say, “I made  your recipe but I changed this, that and the next thing and my results are different than yours. What did I do wrong”? Swapping out banana for apple butter is a major ingredient swap. I hoped it would work, but if it didn’t I could only blame my cavalier ways in the kitchen. (All that said, I love to read your comments, and am happy to answer any questions you might have… even if you change things up to suit your own tastes or what you have on hand.)

The muffins are relatively low in fat and the fruit adds to the sweetness in a tasty, healthy way. The white whole wheat flour adds to the nutritional profile and the chocolate chips and cocoa add a bit of decadence without being over the top.

How did they turn out? They’re very tasty and just moist enough. They’re tall with nice crowns, and they smell great! When apple season rolls around I’ll definitely make some apple butter and make these according to Anna’s recipe. In the meantime. Here’s how I made them.

The banana substitution made me concerned that they wouldn’t be as moist as they would be with apple butter. Let’s face it. There are a lot of differences between banana and apple butter. I added a little almond milk, and upped the spices and hoped for the best.

Cross section of Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Muffins (Adapted from Cookie Madness’ Apple Butter Chocolate Muffins)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour (114 grams)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (28 grams)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of allspice
pinch of cloves
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar (63 grams)
1/2 cup mashed overripe bananas (114 grams)
2 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 generous tablespoons vegetable oil (30-33 ml)
1/2 T. almond milk
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 6 silicone cupcake molds with release spray. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl. In a mixing bowl, stir the brown sugar, mashed banana, egg whites, vanilla, almond milk and oil together. Pour the dry mixture into the banana mixture and stir until almost mixed. Add the chocolate chips and mix just until incorporated. Divide batter equally among the cupcake molds. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs.

Carrot Bread

April 6, 2011

Sliced

Last night after dinner I wanted to bake. It wasn’t that I wanted a specific food, I just wanted to bake. The problem was that without wanting something specific it was difficult to settle on a recipe. Another hurdle was finding a recipe that used ingredients that I had on hand.  The final factor was I didn’t want three dozen cookies or an entire cake. I decided to log onto Cookie Madness to see if anything would grab me. The first thing I did was go to the section “Scaled Down Recipes”.  This carrot bread recipe was the first recipe that I saw and I had all the ingredients!

The bread is baked in two 3″x5″ loaf pans.  Just perfect for a household of two! The batter rises to make a nice dome, and the top has just a bit of crust. The slight crustiness might be my favorite part of the bread. Nuts, carrots, and spices on the moist inside. What’s not to like?

No mixer is required, but you do have to grate some carrots. Otherwise this comes together really fast. I chose not to make the icing and I don’t really think it needs it unless you’re looking for more of a carrot cake like experience. This worked well for me since I wasn’t looking for something super sweet.

You can find the recipe here.

Banana Oat Muffins

October 2, 2009

These are fairly healthy stick to your ribs fare. They aren’t very sweet, and they’re not too high in fat. In other words they’re the kind of muffin you can eat for breakfast, or serve as a snack and feel like you’ve offered some good nutritious food instead of a cupcake masquerading as a muffin.

No doubt there are people who buy bananas specifically for baking, but when I bake with bananas it’s because I purchased too many and if I don’t bake with them or stick them in the freezer for smoothies they’re going to go to waste. I also had some yogurt to use up. You’d think with that combo that I would have made a smoothie and popped the rest of the bananas in the freezer, but I couldn’t let go of the idea of a banana muffin using yogurt. You could make these even lower in fat by leaving out the walnuts, but I wanted the crunch, and I’m starting to appreciate walnuts more than I did in the past. You could probably add in a few chocolate chips and have a muffin that tastes more like a treat.

I’d like to try some honey in these instead of the brown sugar. Next time….

Banana Oat Muffins 001

Banana Oat Muffins (adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites)

1 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
3/4 c. ground rolled oats
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
2-3 ripe bananas
1 egg
2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 c. plain non-fat yogurt
1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. (I used silicone cupcake liners and have learned NOT to spray them.)
Whisk together the first six ingredients. Process the oats in a food processor until you have a course flour. Whisk the oats into the other dry ingredients. Stir in the walnuts.
Break the bananas into chunks and process in the food processor. (I used 2 1/2 bananas) Blend in the yogurt, oil and the egg.
In a separate bowl beat the egg until it becomes white and foamy but not stiff.
Fold the banana mixture and the beaten egg white into the dry ingredients until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the muffin should come out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then remove to a wire rack until completely cooled.

Chewy Granola Bars

July 23, 2009

Chewy Cherry Almond Granola BarsI’ve been wanting to make my own snack bars for a very long time and only recently got around to it. I like the Kashi TLC Chewy Granola bars. My favorites are the Honey Almond Flax, and the Peanut – Peanut Butter, but the Cherry Dark Chocolate are excellent as well. The trouble is that they aren’t inexpensive. I kept thinking I should be able to come up with something similar and less expensive.

These bars are my first attempt. Both my husband and I like these bars better than the Kashi Bars even though they’re substantially different. I haven’t run the numbers but my gut feeling is that they’re not any less expensive. Still they’re an excellent snack, and they store well. I cut these up into bars and then individually wrapped them and stored them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When I need to take a snack with me I can just pop one in my purse and by them time I need to eat it, the bar has come to room temperature and is perfect for a pick me up. If you’re going to share them with a crowd, or you’re going to eat them more quickly you could skip the wrapping and refrigerating.

This is a variation on the recipe for Big Sur Power Bars from 101 Cookbooks, and the Power Bar recipe on page 47 in Heidi Swanson’s cookbook Super Natural Cooking. In both of those recipes Heidi emphasizes using crisp brown rice cereal. I really like this choice, but despite her wise words I’m tempted to try some of the Kashi cereal next time  in an effort to increase the amount of protein in the bars. The following recipe is how I made them. Please refer to 101 Cookbooks, or Super Natural Cooking for original recipes by Heidi Swanson.

Chewy Cherry Almond  Granola Bars

1 T. butter

1 1/4 c. rolled oats

1 1/4 c. almonds, toasted and chopped

1/2 c. ground flax seed

1 1/2 c. unsweetened brown rice cereal

1 c. dried cherries, chopped

2/3 c. unsweetened coconut

1 c. brown rice syrup

1/4. c. sucanat

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1/4 t. almond extract

1/2 t. kosher salt

Grease a 9×13 inch pan with the 1 T. butter.

In a large bowl mix together the oats, nuts, cereal, flax seed, coconut, and cherries. Set aside.

In a small saucepan combine the rice syrup, sucanat, vanilla and almond extracts. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly. The mixture will come to a boil and thicken slightly. This takes about 4 minutes.

Pour this mixture over the cereal and nut mixture and combine until the syrup is evenly distributed.

Spread into the buttered pan and cool completely. After the bars have cooled completely turn them out onto a large cutting board and cut into bars. Wrap each bar individually in waxed paper and store either at room temperature or in the refrigerator depending on how fast you and yours will be eating them.

Cheddar Cheese Twists

December 31, 2008
Cheddar Cheese Twists

Cheddar Cheese Twists

My son the college freshman is having friends over for New Year’s Eve. Normally New Year’s Eve is a quiet affair here without much fanfare but with four college age boys I imagine it will be anything but quiet. We have a lot of snacks around but they’ll go through them like wild fire, and I wanted to do something a little special. I was in the mood for something savory after all of those sugar cookies. I had a few ideas but knowing how my son loves cheese I knew these would hit the spot.

It’s been so much fun to have our son home. It amuses me that he’s taking an interest in kitchen activities. Part of that may be due to his interest to move out of the dorms next year. At any rate he wanted to dig right in and help make these. They come together like a snap with the food processor. I doubled the recipe. I recommend weighing the cheese instead of going by volume. Some of the reviewers at Epicurious had to add extra milk to make them come together but I didn’t have any trouble. The dough is very easy to work with.

The first batch was cut by me. The second batch was cut by our son. I thought it was interesting to see how much thicker he cut them. He’s a natural at shaping these. The second batch was sprinkled with some freshly ground peppercorns. It didn’t add a lot but they have a little more visual appeal. The directions say to cut them and bake them flat, but I thought twisting them would be more fun. They flatten out quite a bit, but we think the extra effort was fun and worth it.

Even though we’re quickly running out of light I shot a couple of quick pictures. I’m sure these will be gone by morning.

Cheddar Cheese Twists with Pepper

Cheddar Cheese Twists with Pepper

These have a four fork rating on Epicurious. We agree! For the recipe click here

Update: There are a few of these left this morning so I had a taste to see how they held up. The texture was a little better last night but they held up pretty well. They taste cheesier this morning which surprises me a little because they tasted quite cheesy last night. The ones that were cut thinner and rolled thinner remain crispier than the ones that were rolled and cut thicker.


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