November 16, 2010

Double Chocolate Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins

Double Chocolate Cranberry Gingerbread Muffins

In my attempt to eat less processed food during the day, I have been making a lot of muffins lately. They fit my criteria for easy food and as I mentioned in my last post, I love any kind of bread. The problem is they can get pretty unhealthy, so all the muffins I’ve been eating have been whole wheat, low-fat, filled with things like oats and applesauce and bananas. All of those muffins have been good, but when I was thinking about what kind of muffins I wanted to make this week, I was not in the mood for “healthy”. In fact, I had some very specific cravings: I wanted something similar to my favorite gingerbread muffins. I also knew I wanted to use the cranberries that I recently bought. And finally, I was craving chocolate because, well, it was a day of the week. (What can I say, I guess I’m a stereotypical female.)


December 7, 2010

Mint-Chocolate Bottom Shortbread Cookies

Mint-Chocolate Bottom Shortbread Cookies

These cookies have been on my mind for a while. You see, 10 months out of the year I make a pretty concerted effort to eat healthy. Obviously I splurge sometimes, many posts on this blog can attest to that, but for the most part I try to limit the really high fat/calorie foods to only a few times a month. But then Thanksgiving comes around and I go absolutely nuts. Did you know that the mashed potatoes I made had butter, half and half AND cream cheese. Yeah. And I didn’t feel even slightly guilty for eating them. Because they were damn good. There’s just something about the period from Thanksgiving until New Year when I just don’t care. I want to eat all my favorite foods no matter how unhealthy they are and the guilt I usually have isn’t there anymore.

So when everyone was talking about cookies last week on twitter it made me realize how much I’ve been wanting to make these. I made them a couple of years ago and every time I go through my recipe binder I think about making them again. Finally, with Cookie Week and my guilt on vacation, it was the perfect time.

Mint-Chocolate Bottom Shortbread Cookies Mint-Chocolate Bottom Shortbread Cookies

I decided to play with the original recipe a bit, but it still has the same components: shortbread, chocolate, peppermint. I honestly can’t stand most of those bland sugar cookies that everyone seems to make this time of year, I’d much rather have delicious, buttery, shortbread. Each shortbread cookie has a layer of peppermint infused chocolate spread on the bottom. Then I lightly brushed a peppermint glaze on top that soaks into the shortbread and I sprinkled on some colored sugar. If you want to go extra peppermint crazy, you can stick two cookies together with a layer of peppermint filling in between!

Mint-Chocolate Bottom Shortbread Cookies

If you think that sounds like too much peppermint, don’t worry because I used very small amounts of peppermint extract. Plus the buttery shortbread works well with the peppermint and doesn’t let it overpower the whole cookie. And you can always reduce the amounts to your own tastes. Or maybe even try another flavoring: I think orange extract would work really well.

These cookies are so good and highly addictive! I made them on Friday and Brandon and I had finished them off by Sunday. If you have lots of cookie lovers in your house, I would recommend doubling the recipe because they will go fast.

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December 16, 2010

Southern-Style Chicken and Dumplings

Southern-Style Chicken and Dumplings

Finally! I’ve been looking for this recipe for years and I finally found it. You see, Chicken and Dumplings is my boyfriend’s favorite dish and he’s always wanted me to make it at home. And I have tried, but the problem is there are lots of different recipes for chicken and dumplings and all the recipes I’ve tried haven’t been “right”, according to him.

Here’s what the right kind aren’t: the kind with actual little round dumplings on top. Because I guess that would just be too easy? I’ve tried several recipes like that, one from Martha Stewart, and while Brandon agreed that those recipes weren’t bad, they still weren’t “right”.

The right kind of chicken and dumplings are the kind that Brandon’s grandmother makes. They are the kind you get at Cracker Barrel. They are true southern style, and they don’t actually have dumplings, it’s more like slabs of tender and delicious biscuit dough. You could think of them as really big, thick noodles. There are no silly things like vegetables in here, it’s just chicken, chicken stock and dumplings. Period. You can eat …

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November 17, 2009

Sweet Potatoes Galore: Soup, rolls and mash

Sweet Potatoes

It’s Thanksgiving week on Back to the Cutting Board, which means you get not one recipe like usual, but a ton of yummy Thanksgiving recipes over the next 4 days! This was all brought by the people at SpringPad who invited me to participate in their Springsgiving Event. My mission, if I chose to accept it, was to come up with a Thanksgiving menu consisting of five dishes: appetizer, turkey dish, two sides and a dessert. I didn’t get too much advance notice, so I immediately sprung (ohh, bad pun) into action coming up with a pre-thanksgiving meal last week. The thing is, I couldn’t decide on just 5 things, so we actually wound up eating about 3 days of Thanksgiving last week trying out different recipes (I love being a food blogger). I ultimately did decide on the five things I wanted to submit to the contest, but I wound up enjoying pretty much all the dishes I picked, so I will be posting all of them here this week.

Now that that’s out of the way, lets get on with the recipes! I love sweet …

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November 3, 2010

Baked Oats Two Ways: Plain and Fruity

Baked Oats

Now that Halloween is over and there’s no more candy to tempt me, it’s time to start eating better. I’ve recently decided to make an effort to eat less processed food. (Do homemade twix bars count?) I pretty much have the healthy dinner thing down, so most of the processed food I eat was coming during the day because it was simpler to grab of bowl of sugary cereal or a handful of overly salty crackers from box rather than take the time to make real food.

But I had certain criteria when looking for things to eat during the day:

  1. Easy to make (either the day of or ahead of time)
  2. Eaten at room temperature or easy to reheat
  3. Easy to snack on (e.g. can be eaten at my computer without being too messy)

Common denominator? EASY. I put a lot of effort into making a good dinner so I don’t want to have to worry about the rest of the day. This recipe, I’m happy to say, fits all three criteria. It only takes 10 minutes to whip up (and in a single bowl at that) and 25 minutes …

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March 14, 2012

Homemade Maple-Cinnamon Oat Pop Tarts

Maple-Cinnamon Oat Pop Tarts

Just like Spaghetti-os and Oatmeal Cream Pies, Pop Tarts are one of those things I loved when I was kid but have tried to stay away from as an adult. But since I had so much fun learning to make those other favorites at home, I figured it was time I finally attempted a Pop Tart. With the other recipes I was trying to make a homemade version that was close to the taste and texture of the originals. This time I wanted to make a healthier Pop Tart. But one that still, you know, tastes good. And while this recipe isn’t especially low fat (by my calculations it’s about the same as the store bought version), after some trial and error I feel like I came up with a satisfying compromise.

A Pop Tart is pretty much just pie crust with some type of filling, so the pastry dough is the most important part. I tried out several different “healthy” pie crust recipes first. Lesson learned: pie crust without butter SUCKS. It just does. But thanks to a tip from a reader (Thanks, Shel!), I figured out you …

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April 29, 2011

Whole Grain Blueberry Buckle

Whole Grain Blueberry Buckle

In my last post, I talked about how I love decadent desserts, but that I’m also making an effort to be a healthier person. Well, sometimes I forget that you can be a healthier person and still bake lots of great treats. Case in point: this coffee cake and also the entire cookbook that this coffee cake is from, Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. Up until now I’ve just thought of my whole wheat flour as a substitute: “I’ll add some whole wheat flour to these muffins to make them better for me.” But this cookbook has made me look at whole grain flours in a whole new light. Whole grain flours have something that white flour doesn’t have: taste. And because of that you can use them in your baked goods to make that something has tons more flavor and depth than anything made with plain white flour.

This coffee cake is made with whole wheat pastry flour and spelt flour. I went on an online shopping spree …

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April 30, 2009

Bacon and Rosemary Chicken with Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Bacon and Rosemary Chicken

This is just a damn good dinner. I mean, come on, can you ever go wrong with bacon? Bacon makes everything better (Seriously people, you can still eat bacon, virus be damned). Also, sweet potatoes are in my top 5 favorite foods ever. I could eat them pretty much everyday and I think they get a bad rap as being “that stuff with marshmallows that you eat at Thanksgiving”. They are way more versatile than that one dish (see exhibit B another great chicken dish with sweet potatoes and where I got part of the inspiration for this recipe).

I’ve been making this chicken dish for a while and it’s always a treat. In fact, I don’t make it all that often because I think of it as my “special” chicken dish. I think it tastes better when you only save it for special occasions.

While I wouldn’t call the recipe hard, I definitely struggled with it the first few times I made it, but that may have just been my cooking inexperience. If you’re not prepared then it can be really …

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