Skinny Double Chocolate Chip Muffins- Thank You Sally!

Ok: Apparently I have been living under a rock for the past year or so, but I recently discovered two websites that I am pretty much now obsessed with.  Those would be Pinterest and Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Just to clear things up, it’s not that I hadn’t heard of Pinterest, I just didn’t explore it or understand what it’s purpose was exactly.  Maybe I really am getting old, but between blogs, facebook, twitter, and instagram, I didn’t really want to sit and learn how to use another form of social media.

I guess my secret is out, I am obviously 80 years old.

Anyways, I am now not only on Pinterest but constantly on Pinterest.  The website has already inspired two of my meals for later this week, so stay tuned.

Now let’s talk about Sally.  Have you guys visited her blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction?  Holy cow.  Sprinkles, cookies, cupcakes, muffins galore.  Honestly, I don’t even like to bake.  I have always preferred cooking over baking because I feel I am better able to create something unique that I cannot simply purchase by cooking instead of baking. Also, I have always felt it is rather easy to tweak meals and make them healthier but that is much harder to do with baking.  Well, Sally and her blog have pretty much inspired me to bake (or in better terms, follow her recipes step by step).

Ironically, I stumbled upon Sally’s blog during the peak of my “trying to eat super healthy for vacation” phase.  However, while perusing her blog, I noticed one of her most recent posts for ‘skinny double chocolate chip muffins’.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Now, normally I am just as skeptical of ‘skinny’ desserts as the next woman, but for some reason I trusted Sally.  Her plethora of drool-worthy photography and shared love of sprinkles made me think she knew what she was doing.  So, I ventured into the baking world with these delicious, gooey, healthy muffins.

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Sally’s Skinny Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction                         Yield: 12 delicious muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large egg whites (or 1 large egg)
  • 3/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (or regular yogurt, plain or vanilla)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, plus a few more for sprinkling on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray. Do not use liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine applesauce, sugar, honey, egg whites, greek yogurt, and vanilla extract. Whisk them all together until smooth, with no yogurt lumps remaining.
  3. Sift* the flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together. Slowly stir in the wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Get any dry pockets of flour out. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. The batter will be a little chunky. This is ok.
  4. Divide the batter evenly amount 12 liners – fill them all the way to the top if you can. Bake for 5 minutes at 425F. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the temperature down to 375 and continue to bake for 13 more minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of one muffin. If it comes out clean, they are done. If not, bake for only 2 more minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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The Verdict?

I absolutely loved these muffins.  I thought they were chocolatey, gooey, moist, and flavorful.  In my opinion, they don’t taste like anything has been sacrificed in making them lighter.  In fact, I have been craving a muffin for about two months now, and I can honestly say that these satisfied that craving.

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But….

I must mention that my boyfriend, for whatever credit this may hold, was not a fan of these muffins.  He doesn’t know why.  He can’t explain it.  He simply felt that there was a taste of sorts he didn’t like.  Luckily, these freeze well.  More for me.

I strongly recommend making these muffins.  They are delicious, health(ier), and super easy to make.  Some fun twists could be using peanut butter chocolate chips instead, or mixing some strawberries in the batter.

Do you guys prefer baking “healthier” recipes or do you subscribe to the notion that baking is meant to be pure fattening deliciousness?  

What are your favorite things to bake?

Do you prefer cooking, baking, or are you awesome at both?

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Healthy Pear-Streusel Coffee Cake

It has been a long time since I blogged about food, and an even longer time since I blogged about food I actually made and didn’t just purchase.  This saddens me.  But, such is the tragic story of a busy grad student.

All of the credit for this recipe goes to Holly at Everyday’s a Hollyday.  Fun side note: Holly is a best friend of one of my best friends, but we have never actually met!  But, through my friend Lea, and through Holly’s amazing blog, I know I would love her.  She posted this recipe for pear-streusel coffee cake a while back, and I knew I had to make it.  A recipe for a coffee cake that involves pear and Chobani yogurt?! I was hooked.  I honestly made no changes to the recipe, so simply click the link to see the recipe.

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This coffee cake is delicious, easy to make, and guess what- healthy!  There is no butter involved, instead the recipe uses greek yogurt.  This is the perfect “treat” for breakfast, snack, or a dessert (ok so really any time).  The recipe makes plenty to last a few people all week.  Ok, that is assuming you have a little self control and don’t eat three squares at once, which may be difficult.

My boyfriend was extremely skeptical of this because 1) he does not trust dessert made with no butter and 2) he does not like pear or greek yogurt that much…… OR SO HE THOUGHT.  He loved it.

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The pear version was fantastic, but I think it would be so much fun and easy to play with the flavors, and I think next time I will try apple, using the apple-cinnamon  Chobani yogurt with cut up apple.  Either way, this coffee cake is just the right amount of sweet, moist, and does not sacrifice the delicious streusel topping in becoming health-ified.

Baking in a healthy way is something that scares me because although I know it can certainly be done, I feel one is at a higher risk for a dessert dud.  It is one thing for me to screw up dinner, but that is unacceptable for dessert!  But, as mentioned, this coffee cake was a total success and I highly recommend giving it a try.

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It feels so great to blog again after being MIA for a while.  I have two exciting blog posts for this week, one of which involves an awesome farmers market find and another that involves something so delicious, it will be added to the “Best Thing I Ever Ate” page.

Until then, make this coffee cake.

Cornbread Panzanella Salad w/ Blackened Shrimp

Tonight for dinner I accomplished many things: 1) I tried a new restaurant 2) ordered something unique 3) ordered something healthy 4) ordered something delicious.  These 4 simple goals are not easy to come by, believe me!  This cornbread panzanella salad with shrimp from The Floridian in St. Augustine served all my purposes and left me one happy camper.

For those of you not familiar with Florida geography, St. Augustine is about 4.5 hours north of where I live.  I am here [by myself] for one night to attend a Board of Pharmacy conference tomorrow morning.  What is a girl to do who is alone in a new city with only a few hours to spare?  Three things come to my mind: eat delicious local food, explore, and shop.  Shopping was out of the question because besides the fact that I am broke, I have no interest in buying “colonial” hats, I <3 St. Augustine t-shirts, or magnets with a lighthouse on them.  I explored as much of the historic town as I could, but I arrived at 4:30 and was limited to the few sites still open.  By 7 pm, I was left with one option and one option only: EAT!

After performing a very thorough search of St. Augustine restaurants and eateries, and consulting Yelp, Urbanspoon, and the like, I decided to try this restaurant called The Floridian.  This place was totally my kind of spot: cozy, homey, outdoor seating available, and decorated with local beachy trinkets in the cute, not tacky way.

This place is known for lots of gluten free and vegetarian options, as well as their seafood, but they have plenty of things for everyone on the menu.  Everything here is made with locally grown/raised/made  produce/meats/cheeses, which I find so wonderful.  I had a hard time deciding what to get, but I was in the mood for something on the lighter side, so I opted for the Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp.

Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp

Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp

If you are not familiar with a panzanella salad, it is typically made with croutons (preferably home-made), tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and mozzarella cheese with a vinaigrette type dressing.  The main caveat  being that there is no lettuce or leafy vegetable included.  The panzanella salad I got tonight had many twists to it.  They used cornbread to make the croutons, there was fresh arugula included, I opted to add blackened shrimp, and they served it with a homemade basil-buttermilk dressing.  Additionally, the salad included heirloom tomatoes, strips of red bell pepper, and freshly made tomme cheese.

The salad was really great.  Everything, from the produce to the cheese to the bread, tasted so fresh!   The cornbread added such a sweet taste and comforting aspect to the meal.  The only downside to using cornbread is that it naturally does not get as crispy as other bread types.  Not to say that it was soggy, but it was definitely softer than expected.  The shrimp was a bit on the salty side in my opinion, but still tasty.  Lastly, I prefer the traditional vinegerette to the buttermilk dressing they used (and I forgot to ask for it on the side), but that is just my personal preference.

Because this was a “me” night (did I mention the glass of wine I enjoyed?), dessert was a requirement.  I knew from the moment I walked in and spotted the homemade pecan caramel bars that I would be ordering one, and that is exactly what I did.

Pecan Caramel Bars with Whipped Cream

Pecan Caramel Bars with Whipped Cream

My foodie experience at the Floridian in St. Augustine was wonderful.  It made this undesirable, lonely trip way better.  I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area, as well as the specific dishes I ordered.

Now, it’s off to bed for an early conference in the morning.  If only the complimentary breakfast were half as exciting as my dinner tonight.  A girl can dream!

XO

Giada’s Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies

Not that you should ever need a reason to bake delicious cookies, but I’ll give you some anyway in case the wanna-be-good side of you needs a little convincing.

  1. It’s Friday, and weekend calories don’t count
  2. Its February and you have a whole month to burn these off
  3. It’s the weekend of Superbowl Sunday, and these would be the perfect sweet and unexpected addition to a party, plus you can pawn some off on your friends to eat.  Assuming there are any left by Sunday, of course.

I made these cookies a while ago, before I started blogging, so I apologize for the lack of photo quality.  Not that my usual iPhone/Instagram photos are so professional, but at least they focus on the food more than this.

Chocolate chip hazelnut and toffee cookies

Chocolate chip hazelnut and toffee cookies

These cookies have everything you love about chocolate chip cookies, but the addition of hazelnuts and toffee adds an unexpected yet totally pleasant pop of taste that makes them extra special.  They are simple enough to please picky eaters but different enough to not be your same old boring chocolate chip cookie.

The recipe is from Giada Di Laurentiis, and I got it at the Food Network Website.  Recipe is as follows:

You Will Need

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (such as Quaker)
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed, light brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. toffee candy bits, finely chopped (I used Heaths)
  • 1 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (spring for the good stuff, such as Ghiradelli, it makes a difference)
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and chopped (see below for how to husk them)

How to Husk Hazelnuts

Don’t worry- this is something I had no idea how to do at first.  To save you a google search, this is all you need to do:  Toast the hazelnuts in a toaster oven or regular oven (on 300 deg.) until they are toasted but not burnt.  You will begin to smell a toasted-nut aroma when they are ready.  They should not look black.  It is better to under-toast them than to over-toast them.  This should not take longer than 5 minutes.  Then, sandwich the nuts in between a clean dish towel, and rub lightly back and forth.  The husks should naturally begin to shred.  When all of the husks are removed, chop the hazelnuts.  This is the most tedious part of the recipe, but so worth it!

Step-by-Step

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper
  3. In a medium bowel, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  4. Place the oats in a food processor, chop finely, then add them to the medium bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients
  5. Beat together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar in an electric mixer or large bowl (I do not have an electric mixer and did this step by hand no problem)
  6. Beat in the eggs and vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture, and then add the flour.  Stir until all ingredients are evenly mixed, but not any more than necessary
  7. Fold in the toffee, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips, and mix until evenly disbursed.
  8. Form the dough into balls, about 1 TBS in size, and place them on the lined cookie sheets about 1 inch apart
  9. Bake until the cookies are just turning golden, for about 15 minutes.  Remove and cool.

My Tips & Tidbits on this Recipe:

The hazelnuts are a bit of a burden, but totally necessary for the optimum flavor of these cookies.  The husking and chopping is not as bad as it sounds, I promise!  The process is a bit messy, but easy to clean.  I strongly urge you to not substitute another type of nut or skip the nuts all together.

Use the full amount of goodies (i.e. chocolate chips and toffee).  The second time I made these, I left out some of the chocolate chips because it looked like overkill.  Lesson learned: there is no such thing as overkill with chocolate chips.  The recipe was perfect the way it was, and each and every morsel of goodness is needed!

I highly encourage you to make these cookies.  Like I said, they will please picky eaters and sophisticated taste buds alike.  Enjoy and let me know how you like them :)

Practically The Weekend

In my book, Thursday night is practically the weekend.  Which means it is the perfect time to justify having some delicious cupcakes (if you are the type that needs to justify it).

I don’t know about you guys, but this was one of those weeks that dragged on forever.  I have a big presentation to give tomorrow for my current rotation, and I may or may not have spent a little too much time cooking, drinking wine, and watching reality TV last week instead.  Either way, once the presentation is over tomorrow I can officially cross rotation #7/9 off my list.  That is another reason (still assuming we need one) to have some cupcakes!

(L): red velvet with buttercream frosting (R): vanilla with buttercream frosting

(L): red velvet with buttercream frosting (R): vanilla with buttercream frosting

These cupcakes are from Misha’s Cupcakes in Miami, FL.  There are about 4 store locations total, but the cupcakes can also be found at various locations such as the Nordstrom Cafe (Dadeland Mall location) and the University of Miami.

These are by far the best cupcakes ever.  I have tried Georgetown Cupcakes, Crumbs, and many others, and it is not even close.  My absolute favorite is the red velvet but the vanilla comes in a very close second.  The red velvet has the tiniest hint of chocolate chips that just adds the perfect touch.  These cupcakes are beyond moist and incredibly flavorful.  What sets these cupcakes apart from others is the fact that the cake, not the frosting, is the best part.  And that is not to say that the frosting isn’t absolutely delicious, but the cake is what steals the show.

Ryan and I recently got into a very heated debate with friends about cupcakes.  Our friends believe that the cake component to these cupcakes are too heavy and “muffin-like”.  They prefer a lighter, more airy cupcake with whipped-type frosting.  Now, call me crazy, but I disagree.  I want my cupcakes to  live up to their name and be round, scrumptious pieces of cake with more delicious frosting on top.  Feel free to weigh in on this debate.

For those of you in the South Florida area, you need to make a trip to Mishas ASAP (as in tomorrow) and try these cupcakes.  For those of you not in South Florida, I’m sorry.  Luckily for you, South Florida is a pretty nice vacation destination and if the beaches don’t do it for you, these cupcakes will :)

Now, if you assumed that because I am blogging I am done with my presentation for tomorrow, you are incorrect.  I am blogging because I am not done with it.  I think I have officially exhausted my procrastination options and have no choice but to be productive.

Happy almost Friday everyone!  Was this week as long for you as it was for me?  I would love to know: where was the best cupcake you ever had?  

 

$15 Caramels? Yes. Worth It.

I am so excited because last night I received a package that I have been waiting for all week.

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When Ryan and I were in NY over the holidays, we stopped at Chelsea Market Baskets, located in (surprise) Chelsea Market.  This particular store, like many in the market, is stocked with unique and drool-worthy specialty foods that make you want to buy everything in site.  From spices to cheeses to oils to sweets, the variety of hard-to-find-elsewhere goods is endless.  Luckily for my wallet, we were in a rush and didn’t have too much time to shop.  I did, however, see a cute display of all different types of caramels that I knew I had to try.

I was only allowed one free sample of one type of caramel.  They had about six different varieties to choose from including vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, salted, etc..  I decided to ask the clerk what was popular and what she recommended.  She responded that the sea salt is the most popular and her personal favorite.

Dilemma.

I am not a fan of salted sweets, with the obvious exception of chocolate covered pretzels.  But still, I decided to go crazy and try the salted caramel per her recommendation.

Four words: out of this world.  The salt is not at all overbearing- it is perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the caramel.  Wow oh wow.  I ended up buying a bag of assorted flavors, obviously with a lot of salted caramel mixed in.  The funny thing is that the two best flavors, in my opinion, were the salted caramel and the cinnamon.  Those happen to be the two flavors I would have never tried without a recommendation from someone else.  Lesson learned: ask what is popular/recommended, and don’t be afraid to try new things.  I cringe at the trying new things line because it really sounds like something my mom would have said to me when I was young.  But inevitably, she was right.

With one persistent craving, an Amazon search, and $15 (inc. shipping) later,  these sweet and salty gems were mine.  All 20 of them.  Some may call me crazy, but I know fellow foodies will understand the priceless value in a perfect piece of candy.

Here is the link to heaven.  You may want to make sure your credit card is not within arms reach. Bequet Confections

Best food of NYC trip, and Welcome!

Welcome my blog, Bite Sized!  I am so excited to blog my food experiences to you, both good and bad as I learn more about the foodie world each day.  Rather than bore you with my whole story, check out my About Me.  Or, just keep reading the blog as more and more of my personality and life are bound to reveal themselves over time :)

I thought I would make my first post easy and simple by sharing with you some of the beyond amazing food I had during a recent trip to NYC in December (my first time there since I was a little girl).  The ever-growing foodie in me was in paradise on this trip.  Despite the thin blooded south Floridian part of me frozen solid.

We ate a TON of food, because for my boyfriend and I, that is what a vacation is all about.  For now I am just going to share my absolute favorites.

First thing to know about me: I have a ravenous sweet tooth.  Almost to the point where I need to have something sweet after each meal.  Yes I am one of those people who makes it sound like sugar is some life-saving medication that I need after food.  Like insulin.  Hmm ironic…

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Pictured is banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery.  This was hands down the best dessert I had in the city, and that includes Crumbs Cupcakes, Georgetown Cupcakes, the Doughnutery in Chelsea Market, and even Magnolias very own cupcakes.  My cupcake journey, however, is a post in itself.  This banana pudding had everything it should have: a creamy banana flavor accompanied by chunks of bread soaked within.  This is the only type of pudding Magnolia makes which speaks in and of itself.  The best part?  My boyfriend despises bananas, so this whole baby was mine.  Don’t judge, I ordered a “small”!

Second thing to know about me: I absolutely love breakfast food, especially those that are essentially all carbs or desserts.  French toast, waffles, bagels, yes please!  Because I do try to eat healthy, I limit those types of breakfasts to weekends and vacations.  Which leads me to:

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Pumpkin waffles with warm cinnamon-apples, candied pecans, dried cranberries, and a spiced butter at Penelope.  You would think that since I practically ate this butter by itself that I could remember the name of the spice inside, but I was too preoccupied with trying to remember to chew.  This breakfast was out of this world.  Each flavor component complimented the other to the point where adding syrup would have ruined it.  The atmosphere at Penelope was also perfect- so cozy and homey that you literally feel like you are eating in someone’s home.

Third thing to know about me (or really anybody with taste buds): anything with truffle is amazing.  I had one of the best mac and cheeses ever at Cafeteria: a truffle Mac and Cheese.  I am sorry to say though that I do not have a picture of it.  You are just going to have to take my word for it.

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do have a picture of a similar concept: black truffle ravioli at Seraphinas.  Are you drooling yet?  It was just as good as it looks, and probably gone quicker than it took you to read this sentence.  It was that good.  And that small of a portion.

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To prove to you that I do in fact eat things not drenched in sugar, butter, or truffle oil, I just had to include a picture of this vegetable soup from Exchange Alley.  This soup was insanely fresh and loaded with all kinds of vegetables that they grow in their own garden.  Unlike other soups which are broth with some carrots, this was essentially a bowel of all different vegetables topped with some broth.  They had brussels sprouts, kale, and other scrumptious veggies loaded inside.

IMG_0424Lastly, I had to include a picture of the BEST tzatziki sauce I have ever tasted, which was at Taverna Kyclades  in Austoria Queens.  I absolutely love Greek Food, and normally I could eat warm pitta bread by itself because it is so good.  I usually find no reason to smother it with fat-laden tzatziki.  But when our cousins told us that this was the best they had, I had to try it.  Oh my gosh.  This sauce has freshly shredded cucumber in it along with the perfect combo of spices.  It was out of this world and totally worthy of being drenched all over my pita bread and chicken kabobs.

Those are the top food highlights of my NYC trip.  I am so excited to launch this blog and further develop it.  Please bear with me as I learn how to navigate my way around and become more blog-savy.

I would love any comments and/or recommendations on restaurants, recipes, cooking tips, etc..!