The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star. -- Anthelme Brillat-Savarin --

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Orange Choco-Crispy Cookies

HOWDY friends…I’ve actually been baking a good bit lately, but I haven’t had much time to catch up on posting my recipes.  Thought I’d squeeze in a little time today to share this one with you.  I came across the original recipe over at Modern Mrs. Cleaver’s blog site.  She calls them “One Cookies” because almost all the ingredients are measured with a “one”.

I love crispy cookies, and these looked good, so I couldn’t wait to try them.  As usual though, I had to experiment a bit.  The original recipe calls for maple extract, and I’m not a huge fan of maple flavoring, so I decided to try something else instead.  I made one batch using orange extract, and another batch using regular vanilla extract.  Both came out delicious, so I’m thinking of trying lemon extract next time.

As I went, I divided each batch into 3 portions, and experimented further.  With the orange batch, I made some basically by the recipe (with my usual substitutions in place), some with orange zest added, and the rest with orange zest and miniature chocolate chips added.  I think the orange zest added something special, so I if you make them, I’d recommend starting with those, then…IF you like the orange/chocolate combination (which I definitely do!)…toss some miniature chocolate chips in.  If not, leave them out.  They’re good either way.  If you don’t have fresh orange zest, they’re fine plain too.  I just think they’re BETTER with it.

With the vanilla batch, I again made some pretty much by the recipe, then to one portion I added some toffee chips, and to the last batch I again added miniature chocolate chips.  According to my taste-testers, again, all were yummy, but the ones with the toffee chips were a definite favorite.

The base recipe is GREAT…thanks Modern Mrs. Cleaver…so…based on my own experimentation…my recommendation is to give it a try using your favorite flavored extract, and any add-ins you may tend to like.  Who knows you may come up with the best cookie yet!  (If you do…please be sure to let me know what you tried!)

I’m sharing the recipe for my orange-chocolate version, but if you like maple, please stop by Modern Mrs. Cleaver’s blog to say hello and give her original recipe a try.

Orange Choco-Crispy Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter (softened to room temperature, but NOT melted)
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar (I actually used DiabetiSweet sugar substitute, but feel free to use whatever you prefer)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg (as usual, I used HEB Real Egg - egg substitute)
1 teaspoon orange extract (I substituted vanilla extract in one batch as well)
2 cups all-purpose flour (the original recipe calls from 3 cups all-purpose flour, but you know me, I always adjust that a bit!)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour (NOTE:  I made this myself by putting some old-fashioned oats in my food processor and processing them until as fine as possible.  Then I sifted it to get the biggest chunks out.  I plan to use those to top a cobbler or something one of these days.)
1/2 teaspoon salt (the original recipe called for 1 teaspoon, but I always use half as much!)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup oats
1 cup Rice Krispies
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped pecans (other nuts would work too)
2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest (I actually used the zest from one navel orange…the measurement is approximate -- I also left this completely out in the vanilla-based version)
Miniature chocolate chips (these are optional…use as many or as few as you like! -- you can do the same with the toffee chips if you’re making the vanilla-based ones)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream together the butter, oil, sugars, egg and extract, until light and fluffy, using your mixer.
Whisk together the flours, salt, cream of tartar, and baking soda, then slowly add to the butter/sugar mixture.

Mix at medium-speed until everything is mixed well, then remove from the mixer and stir in the oats, Rice Krispies, coconut, pecans and chocolate chips.  Stir until all ingredients are well combined.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours.

Roll the dough into 1″ balls (I used a small cookie scoop to measure them, and that was just right!) and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  (The original recipe called for 2” balls, but these will flatten out and spread as they cook, so mine came out pretty big anyway.)  Be sure to allow plenty of room for them to spread when putting them on the cookie sheet!  (If you don’t have any parchment paper, don’t worry, I ran out, so most of mine were made directly on ungreased cookie sheets and they turned out fine.)

Dip the bottom of a small glass in sugar and gently press each cookie ball, flattening just a little.  (Be sure to re-dip the glass in sugar after each cookie.)

Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  (The more brown they get, the crispier they become, so if you like them a little chewy, don’t let them brown as much.  I like mine very crisp and light, so I let mine brown fully.  Just be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t BURN!)

Let the cookies cool on baking sheets for a couple of minutes and then transfer them to cooling racks.
(I’ll admit, I couldn’t wait until they were cooled to give them a try.  They were wonderful, both warm and cooled…and the flavor just got better over the next few days!)

This makes a nice large batch (mine came out to about 11 dozen!), so if you can’t eat them all at once (although you may want to try!), they also freeze very well.

This is a great recipe to use because it makes plenty to share with a neighbor, friend or stranger who could use a lift.  They’re sure to bring a smile, so please try ‘em, share ‘em, and let me know what you think!

Don’t forget to take a minute to THANK GOD for all your many blessings today!

Wishing you many more,

Monday, May 20, 2013

Faithy’s Glazed Lemon Bars

HOWDY friends!!  Happy Monday!  I hope your weekend was as great as mine.  I actually got to sleep in a bit on Saturday (which is VERY unusual for me), then I was able to spend the morning baking, and playing with new recipes.  The afternoon/evening found us at a beautiful outdoor wedding, where the weather even cooperated (Thanks God!), for a very special night indeed.

Sunday brought sweet fellowship with Christian friends as we had a yummy potluck after church, and later a fun game night as well.  Good times with good people.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

Anyway…since I had a little time to bake, AND a potluck to prepare for, I thought I’d try this this recipe I found on Facebook recently.  The person who shared it did not credit the original source, so I’m not sure who to thank for this wonderful creation.  I Googled it, and found it posted on quite a few blog sites, etc., but still can’t quite figured out who came up with it.  Anyway…here’s one link to try to credit someone…I am definitely NOT taking credit for coming up with this…but I will share the small changes I made (as usual).

If you like lemony flavor, you’ll love this!  Give it a try and let me know what you think.  It goes together really fast, so if you’re looking for something decadent to put together in a hurry, this just may fit the bill!

Faithy’s Glazed Lemon Bars

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (this should be room temperature, NOT melted to a liquid form)
3/4 cup Whey Low - Type D (of course you can use regular sugar or your favorite sugar substitute)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (you can use all AP flour if you prefer)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
1/2 cup egg substitute (or 2 actual eggs)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons lemon zest

4 Tablespoons lemon juice (this glaze is very lemony - just the way I like it! - but feel free to use less lemon juice if you don’t want yours quite so tart…you can also adjust the lemon zest to your preference…this will give you a great excuse to taste test the yumminess as you work!)
6 teaspoons lemon zest (the original recipe called for 8 teaspoons, but this was all I had, and it worked fine)
1 cup Whey Low Powder (or regular confectioner’s powdered sugar)

Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with butter-flavored cooking spray and set aside.
Zest and juice 2-3 lemons (depending on size) and set aside.  (If you absolutely HAVE to use bottled lemon juice and dried lemon peel that’s fine…just let the dried lemon peel soak in the lemon juice for a few minutes - to reconstitute - before you add it to the batter.)
With a mixer, beat sugar and softened butter until combined.  Whisk together flours and salt in small bowl, then add to the sugar/butter mixture, and beat at medium speed until well mixed.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest just until combined, then add to the flour/sugar mixture and beat at medium speed (about 2 minutes or so) until light & fluffy.
Pour into baking dish and bake for about 25 minutes (or until the edges turn golden brown, and start to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Be sure not to over-bake, or the bars will be dry and hard instead of chewy!)
Allow to cool completely before glazing.  (This is the hard part!)
While the bars are baking, sift the powdered sugar and whisk together with the remaining lemon juice and zest.  (Let it stand to fully incorporate the luscious lemoniness while the bars are cooking.)
Spread the glaze over the cooled lemon bars with a small rubber spatula and let glaze set.  (Don’t worry…if you don’t let the bars cool long enough, the worst that will happen is that bars will absorb the glaze rather than keeping it just on top…and that’s NOT necessarily a bad thing!  LOL!)
Cut into bars and serve.  (I actually cut mine BEFORE I glazed them, so that the glaze could run down between them.)

Have a WONDERFUL week my friends…gotta run…

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cinco de Mayo Cookies

I had some time to experiment in the kitchen this past weekend, so I tried several new recipes.  I found a recipe for Crunchy Tortilla Chip Cookies with Avocado Frosting over at Jazzy Gourmet Cooking Studio (by Sherry K).  It intrigued me so much that I just had to try it.  I’ve tried several sweet treats made with avocados in the past 10 years (avocado ice cream, avocado smoothies, avocado cream pie, etc.), and they were wonderful, so I figured this would probably be good too.  I also figured it would be fun to test it out on my family WITHOUT telling them what the “secret” ingredients were.  I was right.  NOBODY guessed, and everyone thought they were pretty good.

I made the frosting first, because I couldn’t wait to try it.  I started out making it exactly by the original recipe, but I thought the avocado flavor was a bit strong, and it was a little thicker than I wanted it to be…so…I added more powdered sugar, Neufchatel cheese (‘cause I LOVE that stuff!) and more lime juice, and came up with the version listed below.  I really like the avocado/lime combination though…very nice…AND…the acid in the lime juice keeps the avocados from browning in your frosting!

I made my usual adaptations to the cookie recipe, and then (…since I was experimenting…) thought I’d play with it some more.

My first batch was the plain ones - pretty much following the original recipe.  I added miniature chocolate chips to the second batch, just to liven them up.  Then, I was thinking that if I’m going to call these “Cinco de Mayo Cookies” (because I don’t want the name to give away the ingredients!), I wanted to follow along with a Mexican-style theme.

Cinnamon and chocolate are commonly used together in Mexican cooking, so…I thought”I’ll try adding some cinnamon!”  I also had some extra coconut in the freezer that was calling out to be used…so…I thought…“coconut is a common ingredient in Mexican sweets too…let’s add that!”

Anyway…each batch had an additional ingredient added LOL!  Happily, the final batch (with ALL the additions) was my personal favorite, so that’s the recipe I’m sharing with you.  If you don’t like any of my additions, just leave them out…or go try Sherry K’s original recipe.

Either way…if you’re looking for something different, and FUN to make for your friends…give this recipe a try.  You can even use the cookies as a party game if you have folks try to guess the ingredients!

I posted this picture of the ingredients on my Facebook page before I made them, asking people to guess what I was making.  I got all kinds of interesting answers, but nobody guessed cookies.  Hee, hee!

Cinco de Mayo Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (but NOT melted)
1/4 cup DiabetiSweet sugar substitute (or regular sugar - I know this alone doesn’t make the recipe diabetic friendly, but it does reduce the calories!  Besides, I recently found a bunch of this stuff on a clearance sale for a GREAT price, and wanted to try it out.  It’s really good!)
1/4 cup brown sugar (I found out that DiabetiSweet also makes a brown sugar substitute…if it’s as good as their regular variety, you’ll love it!)
1/4 cup HEB Real Egg (the original recipe calls for 1 egg yolk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (you can use all-purpose flour if you prefer)
1 cup crushed tortilla chips (I used yellow corn tortilla chips when testing this recipe.  They have a little stronger flavor than the white ones, so I think I will probably use white corn ones in the future.)

1 cup mashed ripe avocado
4 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened (or regular cream cheese)
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons lime juice (you can use the bottled kind, but fresh is SOOOO much better!)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 cup miniature chocolate chips (optional)
1 cup flaked coconut (optional)
zest of 2 limes (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugars.  Add egg (or egg yolk) and vanilla, mixing until combined and fluffy.  Stir in flour and crushed tortilla chips.  Using your favorite sized cookie scoop (or a teaspoon) drop 1 inch apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten slightly.  (I forgot to flatten the first 2 pans full…they tasted fine, but took a little longer to cook…AND were a little more difficult to frost!  Also, if you don’t have parchment paper, just use an ungreased cookie sheet.)

Bake at 350°F. for 12-15 minutes, or until edges start to brown.

While cookies are baking, combine avocado, cream cheese, powdered sugar, lime juice and salt in a small bowl, and mix well.  (I actually just dumped all the ingredients into my food processor and pulsed it all until it reached the consistency I wanted.  This way I didn’t have to mash the avocados first.  Feel free to adjust the amounts of the frosting ingredients to suit your own taste preferences…that’s what I did!)  Set aside.

After baking, allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Once your cookies have cooled completely, you can frost them with the avocado/lime frosting, then sprinkle the tops with lime zest.  (I completely forgot to use the zest, but I’m sure it would make the cookies even prettier, and give them an extra zing of flavor!)

Depending on the size of your cookie scoop, this recipe will make 3 to 4 dozen cookies.

If you try these, please let me know what you think…and what other ingredients you may have played with while making your own variation of them.

Remember, if you like them, be sure to go give Sherry K a shout out, and tell her that Faithy sent you!