Wednesday, February 24, 2010

(Healthy!) Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Something about the words "healthy" and "coffee cake" together just seems wrong. But folks, I kid you not, this cake is actually pretty healthy. With a mix of whole wheat pastry flour, ground oats, a modest 1/4 cup of brown sugar, low fat sour cream and an amount of butter that would horrify butter queen Paula Deen, there's not much to fear here. Though not as decadent as some coffee cakes I've made in the past, this guy certainly fulfilled my primal need for sweets and made the house smell like a dream (or a cake batter Yankee Candle, take your pick). 

Healthy Sour Cream Coffee Cake
The streusel topping's full of rolled oats, brown sugar, glazed walnuts and just a tad of butter, so I was pleasantly surprised at how satisfying it was sans all the butter.  Instead of an overly sugary topping, the mix added a lightly sweet and crunchy taste to the cake.  Though I was a huge fan of this recipe adapted from Cooking Light, I found that the cake tasted best on the day I baked it.  Afterward, a 20 second nuke in the microwave brought it back to life! 

Brown Sugar Oat Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Healthy Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Adapted from Cooking Light March '10

3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats, divided (not quick oats)
Cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (though I'd like to keep this healthy, I'd bump this up next time - maybe double!)
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) carton light sour cream
1/4 cup brown sugar
2.5 tablespoons finely chopped glazed or candied walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon,
1 tablespoon chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Spread oats in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 6 minutes or until oats are barely fragrant and light brown.

3. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray; set aside. (I don't have a springform so I used a 9 inch pie pan and lined the bottom with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray)

4. Reserve 1/4 cup oats; set aside. Place remaining oats in a food processor; process 4 seconds or until finely ground. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine processed oats, flours, baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and salt; stir with a whisk.

5. Place granulated sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. (Batter will be slightly lumpy because of oats.) Spoon batter into prepared pan; spread evenly.

6. Combine remaining 1/4 cup oats, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, nuts, and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until well blended. Sprinkle top of batter evenly with nut mixture. Bake at 350° for 38 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, top is golden, and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes; remove from pan.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sweet and Salty Candy Bar Brownies

I've been sensing a disturbing trend, and I'm not sure I like it! Maybe its just me, but seems these days, its pretty hip for women to claim "I never cook!" or refer to their pimped out kitchen tools as simply decoration. Being involved in the food community shields me from anti-cooking attitudes as I'm {virtually} surrounded by talented chefs and passionate foodies. However in 'real' life, I've found it hard to find many women who actually admit to loving the very fine art of making food, then stuffing your face full of said food.

Sweet and Salty Brownie

Alas, here I am: an island in a sea of non-cooks and dainty eaters. Prove me wrong, world! You too can cook...I promise :) In the meantime, here's some delicious sweet and salty brownies to help inspire you to get in the kitchen.

There are few things in life that I love more than the sweet and salty combo.  I mean, I'll even eat fries and dip them in soft serve ice cream.  Gross, ok.  But don't blast it until you try it...

Sweet and Salty Brownie

I first spotted the recipe for these decadent brownies on Cakespy's Serious Eats posting.  Using an already delicious brownie batter recipe as the base, add roasted peanuts, salty pretzels, caramel and in my case, chopped chocolate candy bars and you have yourself quite the amazing dessert.  Cakespy uses Ghirardelli caramel chocolate, but since I have just about every type of chocolate candy except this kind, I substituted some Belgian chocolate bars with a crispy cookie filling and a little bit of caramel.  Close enough, I say.

Sweet and Salty Brownies
Adapted from Cakespy and Betty Crocker's Cooky Book 

2 squares unsweetened chocolate (2 ounces)1/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
3.5 ounce candy bar of your choice, coarsely chopped (try using Ghirardelli chocolate caramel bar, Twix, or Take 5)
20 pretzels, crushed into small pieces (i used a mortar & pestle)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.
2. Whisk flour and baking powder in a small bowl
3. In a large saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat until melted; stir frequently to avoid scorching.
4. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly; beat in sugar and eggs.  Add in the flour and baking powder mixture, blending well.
5. Mix in the nuts and chocolate candy bar.  Add in the pretzel pieces last, mixing only until they are incorporated.
6. Spread the mixture into the pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until top has a dull crust and a slight imprint remains when touched lightly. Cool slightly and cut into squares.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Granola Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you're anything like me, you're on a continual quest for "THE BEST" recipe for many of life's staples: mac 'n cheese, apple pie, and of course, chocolate chip cookies.  I've made many that I thought were the best, but somehow I still find myself questioning if I can tweak or find a better recipe.  Honestly, this drives hubby absolutely nuts since my scatter-brained brain often forgets these tweaks and the "best" is lost in history.

Granola Chocolate Chip Cookies

Though these cookies are different than your average chocolate chip cookie, I must say they're some of my favorites. After receiving a delicious box of the new granola from Special K, I set off on a quest to use the granola in a recipe other than my usual fruit and yogurt parfaits. I happened upon this Granola Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe at one of my favorite blogs, Baking Bites and could barely contain my excitement.  Granola? check.  Butter? check.  Chocolate? check.  I'm in.

Equally crisp yet chewy, the granola adds a nice crunch and a hint of saltiness that sends these cookies over the edge for me.  The granola I used wasn't too chunky, but if you have one full of clusters, try and chop up the pieces so that the cookies aren't overburdened by the granola.  Go forth and bake.  Just try not to eat the whole batch like me!

Recipe here @ Baking Bites. 
Granola Chocolate Chip Cookies
slightly adapted from Baking Bites
 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup granola, small pieces (I used Special K which is a honey/nut type of granola)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and both sugars until well combined. In a small bowl, whisk together cooled butter (room temp), egg and vanilla extract. Pour into flour mixture and stir well to combine.

3. Stir in granola and chocolate chips until all are well-distributed in the dough.  The dough will be a little dry, but don't fret!  Roll dough into 1-inch round balls (this is most easily done by hand) and place on baking sheet. Press each gently to flatten.

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies just begin to take on a light golden brown color.
Cool completely on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Crispy Kale and Tofu Salad with Coconut

I fully realize that I teased you with the prospect of Fry-Daddy recipes and photos. But, before I go on my fatty-bo-batty kick, I thought I'd leave you with one more uber healthy recipe. In an effort to expand my cooking horizons, I made perhaps my third tofu dish ever. Though I'm a huge fan of tofu, I just haven't had a ton of luck cooking with it.

Coconut Brown Rice Kale SaladLuckily, this fairly simple, but not that attractive recipe came together quickly and tasted quite yummy despite the healthy virtues of its contents. When I first spotted this in Food & Wine magazine, it seemed to be such an odd concoction of ingredients that I was immediately intrigued, mystified and inspired to make it despite my past failures with tofu. I'm not sure how one thinks of combining brown rice, kale, coconut and tofu in one dish but it works!

Coconut Kale SaladBecause I'm a self admitted salt fiend/addict, I added Kosher salt to the salad before baking. Since kale seems to soak up salt like a sponge, please sprinkle judiciously. I think I went a little too far and ended up with one salty dish, which is fine by me but probably not the best for you!

Crispy Kale and Tofu Salad with Coconut
slightly adapted from Food & Wine
1 cup short-grain brown rice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used about 1/4 cup and thought that was more than enough)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 pounds Lacinato (flat) kale—stems and ribs removed, leaves chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 pound extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
pinch of Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350° and position racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. In a saucepan, combine the rice with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 35 minutes, until the rice is tender.

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the sesame oil and soy sauce. Transfer two-thirds of the dressing to a large bowl. Add the kale, coconut and tofu; toss to coat, then spread on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes, until crispy. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Stir once or twice and shift the pans halfway through baking. Return the mixture to the large bowl and toss with the remaining dressing and rice. Season with salt and serve right away.