Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

What a mouthful.

My Brother {the one that's stationed in Okinawa} asked for a No-Bake PB Choco-Oatmeal cookie.  No-Bake because he doesn't have access to an oven.  So I "binged" what he wanted and found this recipe; I adapted it only in the heating/melting process.

I halved the recipe because I really don't need the extra treats around {especially since I want other kinds of treats as well} and I got 10 cookies out of it...which is just fine to me.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

 Add the butter, milk, sugar, and cocoa to a microwave-safe bowl.  I nuked it for 30 seconds; then stirred it around and decided to nuke it again for another 30 seconds.
 Nice and melted
 Add your Vanilla and Peanut Butter
 The Peanut Butter melted right in {I didn't have to nuke it again}
 Add the Oats
 Stir everything together
 Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper {so they don't stick}, and stick the pan in the fridge {or freezer} until the cookies set.
 oooh, Yummy!
 Again....nothing better than Peanut Butter & Chocolate!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Baking Tips

So... As I was searching for some new recipes, I came across these two baking articles.

Cut The Fat In Baking:

I'm always looking for ways to make my baking just a little bit more healthy {cause then I don't feel so guilty about eating it}.  My usual go-to has been replacing the oil w/ applesauce, and switching out some of the white flour with wheat flour.  This article had some more tips.
  • For cookies, replace half the butter with applesauce, egg whites or plain yogurt.  I've never thought about replacing the butter before {I've always done the oil}; I'll have to give this a try the next time I make cookies.
  • Replace regular butter with equal amounts for healthier buttery spreads.  I don't bake with butter so......
  • Trade half the butter with pureed fruit such as mashed bananas, apple butter or prunes {prunes working best with chocolate recipes}.  I would think that at least the bananas would add their banana-ee flavor to whatever you're making.
  • Replace half the oil with applesauce.  I always replace all of it, and my baked goods turn out just fine.
  • Replace each whole egg with two egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute.  I always feel bad not using the whole egg; if I'm going to pay for it, I might as well use it.
  • Replace cream with equal parts of evaporated skim milk.  I've heard about this, but have never used it before.
  • Replace half the cream cheese with equal parts of reduced-fat cottage cheese, or part-skim ricotta cheese.
  • Replace each 1/2 cup shortening with 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil.
  • Replace equal parts sour cream with plain or Greek style yogurt.
  • Replace Whole Milk with 1% or 2% milk.  Yep, do this all the time when I make bechamel sauces or quiches, or anything in that manner.  I don't keep whole milk in the house.  I use what I got, and you know what, it comes out just fine.
{you can find the original article here.}

Tips For Baking with Whole-Grain Flour:

If you look at any of my baking recipes, you'll notice that I substitute out most of my white flour for wheat flour.  I try to keep it healthy in this household.  Here's another article that I found with some good tips:
  • Whole-grain flours have more complex taste and create a heartier texture than refined white flours because they include the bran and germ.  There is a difference in your baked goods when you use wheat flour; it's something that I've come accustomed too.  They still taste good, but there is a difference.
  • Buy wholegrain flours from a store that has a high turnover rate. Be sure to check the expiration date and buy the freshest available. Opt for stone-ground flours, when available, as they have the highest nutritional value.  I'm lucky to be able to get flour straight from a flour mill.
  • Because they contain the oil-rich germ, to prevent rancidity, whole-grain flours must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer in a tightly sealed container. Use them within three months.  I use up my flour in a good amount of time, and I've never thought to keep it in the fridge or freezer.  I do however keep my flour in our cold food storage food.
  • Try grinding your own fresh flour from flakes. For example, purchase spelt flakes or oatmeal and use a coffee grinder to process small batches into flour as needed. Small grains without tough bran coatings, like quinoa and buckwheat, may also be ground this way.  If you have wheat in your food storage {along with a grinder}, this would be great in rotation efforts.  My parents ground their own wheat flour for years as I was growing up.
  • Start off by substituting half of the all-purpose flour in your favorite recipe with spelt or white whole-wheat flour. Occasionally you will need to add slightly more liquid.  If you've never had wheat flour, you should definitely want to go small at worst {helps with the digestion}.  When you're baking, always make sure to add enough flour till you get the right consistency.
  • When using all whole-grain flour in quick breads, select whole-wheat pastry, whole white wheat, spelt or kamut flours. Use 1 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of flour. To improve texture and crumb, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the dry ingredients and use buttermilk for the liquid.  This I will have to try.
  • To ensure even cooking, bake quick breads in small containers like muffin cups or mini-loaf pans. Rotate the pans halfway through.
  • When baking breads, substitute up to 30 percent whole-wheat or other whole-grain flour in your favorite recipe.  I usually go 50/50.
{you can see the original article here.}

Hope these tips are useful; and if you've got any, pass them along :)