Friday, May 21, 2010

Cholesterol-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know what your thinking, why would I make cholesterol-free cookies? Well, I have some family in town that I "thought" had to watch their cholesterol, but I was misinformed ;-). Oh well, they are really good anyways!

I wanted to blog these cookies even though they are just plain chocolate chip, I had a hard time finding a cholesterol-free recipe, so now it will be easier for you health conscious foodies!

Cholesterol-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup margarine, softened
3 large egg whites
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl and set aside. Beat egg whites until fluffy and set aside. In large bowl combine sugars and blend. Add in margarine and beat till grainy texture, then beat in egg whites, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Add in flour mixture and chocolate chips on low just until combined, do not over beat!

Drop one tablespoon of dough onto lined cookie sheet about one and half inches apart. Bake for 18-20 minutes, dough will not turn brown so just put some trust into the recipe, they'll be done. Immediately transfer cookies to drying rack, I just transferred the parchment paper over it worked great!

I loved that this recipe had honey in it, one thing I learned last year about honey is that it can help with your allergies! I do not have allergies, but down here in Houston the pollen count is so high everyone is sneezing! Honey contains pollen allergens and parts of honeybees; therefore if you buy local honey it will contain the pollen allergens that you are allergic to. This isn't meant as an alternative to allergy therapy, just an interesting fact!

These cookies tasted great, the edges were slightly crispy and the centers were still chewy. I would recommend using a high-quality chocolate as the taste is very prominent in these cookies. The recipe was adapted from the Mrs. Fields Cookie Book. This is the oldest cookbook I own, I got it for my 9th birthday and still love to bake from it.

Speaking of cookbooks, I won a Sweet Kat's Cookbook from the Foodie Blogroll contest that is currently going on! If you want to win her cookbook, there is still one more week to enter, just follow the above link and make a comment. I can't wait to get it, I love new cookbooks, although deciding which of Kat's recipes to make first will be tough!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Butternut Squash Flat Bread with Cheddar and Pine Nuts

I don't think I had ever tried butternut squash till last year when my husband made a butternut squash pasta filling. It was amazing and is often requested in our house. So when I saw this recipe in the March issue of Real Simple I knew I had to try it out.

The original recipe called for store-bought pizza dough, but I found a great whole-wheat recipe, at A Year in the Kitchen, a while back and wanted to make that instead.

Butternut Squash Flat Bread with Cheddar and Pine Nuts

Pizza Dough:
1 packet fast acting yeast
1 tbsp honey
3/4 cup warm water
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 pound butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4 inch thick)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 and 1/2 cup freshly grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a stand mixer using the mixing paddle combine honey, water, and yeast packet and let stand for 10 minutes. Using dough hook add flours, salt, and EVOO and let knead for 10 minutes. Place dough in a warm place covered with a damp towel and allow to rise for 1 hour. After dough has doubled in size, shape into a large rectangle and place on cornmeal-dusted baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl toss squash, onion, pine nuts, thyme, salt, pepper, and EVOO. Scatter across the shaped pizza dough and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is slightly browned.

If your new to butternut squash, like me, it looks like a confusing vegetable to cut. First, cut off the top and bottom of the squash. Next you want to peel the outside, using a peeler remove all the skin. Lastly, make a cut down the center of the squash and using a spoon remove the seeds. This part reminded me of carving a pumpkin! From here you can slice the squash, as this recipe calls for, or bake the halves to soften the squash.

I would recommend serving this with a salad. My favorite is simple: spring lettuce, pecans, creamy vinaigrette dressing, feta/gorgonzola/bleu cheese, and apples/grapes/strawberries. The cheese and fruit all depend on what I have in the house!

I love pizza, so this was a great recipe because it is a healthier version without all that red sauce. Anyone have more healthy pizza recipes?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sugar Cookies and My First Royal Icing!

After reading Bridget's The Way the Cookie Crumbles comparison of three very highly recommended sugar cookie roll-out recipes, I decided to take a hack at one myself. I am not going to re-post the recipes as I followed them exactly.

I picked Bridget's recipe based on the taste and overall non-puffiness of the cookies. It worked out pretty well, I had to roll the dough out a little thinner than recommended to get the flatter cookie with cleaner lines, but the recipe tasted great! I didn't use parchment paper and I don't own a silicone baking mat, I just used the best baking sheets I have ever baked with, Williams-Sonoma's Gold Touch line. I do wonder how the silicone baking mats work, anyone out there with reviews?

I used Brown Eyed Baker's tutorial and recipe for the Royal Icing, and oh how I wish the University of Cookie was up and running when I made these, I could have used a little video help. First mistake was trying to make too many colors at once, there were 10 bags of outliner and filler all over the place. My kitchen looked like an exploded rainbow! So I set some colors to the side and stuck with just blue and white. Second mistake was trying to ice too many cookies at once. I found it was best to concentrate on 3-4 cookies at once and move on. Not too shabby for the first try ehh?

My favorite thing to do when sending cookies is just to wrap them up in clear bags with fancy ribbon. I mean who doesn't love getting cookies in fancy wrappings!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Creamy Sausage and Tomato Bowtie Pasta

The first time I tried this pasta dish I knew I had to have the recipe. This has now become one of my favorite comfort recipes. The best part is, I have never tasted anything like this at a restaurant. I know how to make it by heart at this point, and the only thing that would make it better is a big 'ole piece of garlic cheese bread. Which I have yet to find a good recipe for, ideas?

Creamy Sausage and Tomato Bowtie Pasta

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
3 cloves of garlic (diced)
1/2 cup yellow onion (chopped)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 pound ground seasoned pork sausage
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp corn starch
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 can diced tomatoes and chiles (Rotel)
12 ounces bowtie pasta
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat EVOO in large skillet over medium heat. Add in garlic, onion, red pepper flakes and mix for 1 minute. Add in ground sausage and cook for ~6 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. In a small dish blend salt and cornstarch, add to skillet and mix with meat. In a medium bowl mix Rotel and heavy whipping cream, pour into skillet and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cooked pasta, and let stand for 10 minutes to thicken, stirring occasionally. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan.

A little warning though, this does have some kick to it (thanks to the diced chiles and red pepper). So if you are looking for something a little less fiery I would go ahead and just add a plain can of diced tomatoes.

A little tip for the pasta: to not let the pasta stick to pan or each other add 1 tsp of EVOO to water. This isn't needed for bowtie pasta necessarily, but the trick works wonders for lasagna and spaghetti noodles.

One last note is really about the skillet. They don't sell mine anymore, we received it as a wedding present from Macy's, but I recommend everyone to get something similar. It is perfect to cook almost everything, like the Calphalon Everyday Pan.

What would you try changing into this recipe? Any pasta making secrets you would like to share? I am just dying to make my own ravioli!
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