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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The Best Porcini Mushroom Risotto, Period.

I am breaking one of my own rules, and I don’t care.

I have always said I would not claim something as “the best I ever ate” if I had not tried enough of a particular food to compare.

Scratch that.  For now, at least.

This past week, I had the opportunity to try a local Italian restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, Casa D’ Angelo.  I have wanted to try this place for a while now, but it is pretty pricey and shocking, not in my current budget.  What do you do when you really want to try a restaurant and can’t afford it?  You wait for your family to take you there.

I had family visiting from NY who suggested we all go to Casa D’ Angelo for dinner.  That’s right, I didn’t even have to debate internally whether it was rude of me to pick such an expensive restaurant because they picked it themselves.  Amazing.  The food here was so good and so authentic Italian, as judged by my relatives from Italy, that we ended up going back AGAIN before they left.  I seriously hit the food lottery that week.

One of the main persuasive forces of returning a second time was this risotto.

Mushroom Risotto at Casa de Angelo

Mushroom Risotto at Casa de Angelo

I ordered it on a whim as an appetizer for my boyfriend and I because I have never had a truly authentic risotto, and I certainly don’t have the time or willingness to add 5 sticks of butter to make this on my own.  I don’t care that I have not tried other risottos, and I don’t care that this is one of the least photogenic dishes ever- this risotto was pure heaven.  The truffle oil and porcini mushrooms added just the right amount of flavor on top of the divine creaminess of the cheese and other goodness in here.  The rice itself was perfectly al dente.  My hard to impossible to please Italian grandmother raved about this risotto.  This was seriously one of my favorite appetizers from a restaurant ever.  You can also order it as an entree, but I think the appetizer portion was plenty satisfying.

If you are ever in Ft. Lauderdale and looking for the best Italian food, go to Casa D’Angelo.  Order this risotto whether or not it is on the menu that day.  Somehow.

Every other part of my dining experience was delicious and blog-worthy as well.

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I ordered the linguine positano as my entree, which is linguine with shrimp sauteed in white wine, with garlic, fresh tomato, and arugula.  I thought this dish was phenomenal- fresh, simple yet flavorful, and filling.  The shrimp were a bit on the firm side, but I suppose that is better than overly cooked, rubbery shrimp.

So, my recommendations to you all:  1. Plan a trip to Ft. Lauderdale, if you don’t live nearby.  2. Invite family to cover the bill (joking, kind of.) 3. Demand to try the mushroom risotto. 4. Order anything else as an entree 5. Drink wine to enhance good time and better tolerate family and 6. Pass out in food coma.

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.

White Bean Chicken Chili

Sometimes, trying new recipes can be exhausting.  Sometimes, after a tedious, never-ending day of work and chores, you just want to come home and cook something reliable. Something that you know will turn out delicious and requires minimal work.

Those are totally the kind of days weeks I’ve been having.  This white bean chicken chili is one of our all time favorite recipes for a few years now.  It is filling, healthy, oh-so-tasty, makes enough for about 6-7 meals, inexpensive, and not terribly time consuming.  This chili is essentially the ‘total package’ of dinners.

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I found it a few years ago on AllRecipes, and have adapted it over time based on personal tastes and reviewers suggestions.

White Bean Chicken Chili

Adapted from this AllRecipes recipe (I promise my changes are better- they have been years and 30 batches in the making)

You Will Need:

  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
  • 1 large can salsa verde
  • 2 (16 oz) cans diced tomatoes (fire roasted or basil flavors are great)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb shredded cooked chicken meat (rotisserie saves time, not money)
  • 1/2 large bag of frozen corn
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • crunchy bread to serve along side is “optional”

Directions

  1. Heat oil on medium-high heat, and cook onion and garlic until soft
  2. Stir in broth, salsa verde, diced tomatoes, and spices.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for about 10 minutes
  4. Add corn, chicken, and beans, and simmer for as long as possible to allow flavors to come together (20 minutes or more ideal)

This chili is SO good and very filling as well.  Despite how filling it is, I always go back for seconds.  And you will too.  Trust me.

So much has happened this week, I cannot wait to blog about it all.  Many exciting and scary changes ahead.  But for now… chili.

Skeptical and Surprised: Chickpea Curry

You know those recipes that you are so skeptical of as you are cooking it because something just doesn’t look right?  Why is the food that color?  What is that smell?  I’m really supposed to add that much red pepper flakes?

Those types of meals are often anxiety inducing because many times, they can very well turn out to be duds.  But sometimes, everything ends up coming together perfectly and all your doubts wash away.  (Very similar to other things in life, actually!)

I was SO skeptical of this recipe right up until the time I took my first bite.  Honestly, it did not look that good, and I was certain I was going to be disappointed.  Well, I was totally wrong!

Quick Chickpea Curry

Quick Chickpea Curry

My meatless monday recipe this week came from a completely random post I read on my WordPress Reader as I was browsing the food tag.  What caught my eye was the bloggers comment that even her boyfriend said ‘yum’.  And no joke, my boyfriend said the same thing when he ate it.

It is a Martha Stewart recipe for a chickpea curry, and man was it delicious.  I really wanted to share this insanely easy, cheap, and delicious recipe with you guys.

Quick Chickpea Curry

Adapted from this Martha Stewart Recipe

Yields: 4

You will Need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Directions:

  1.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 6-7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, curry, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the chickpeas, ketchup, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and 2 cups of water.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook covered for about 20 minutes.
  6. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until sauce is slightly reduced, about 5-8 minutes.
  7. For best results, refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to come together.  *Do not drain any excess liquid, despite how much you may have.  This will reduce during storage and provide a great flavored sauce that is necessary.
  8. Reheat, and right before eating, drizzle some fresh lemon juice and stir well.

I had this chickpea curry mixed with brown rice for a complete, healthy meal.  It would also be great in a warm pita!  Or, simply served by itself  as a light meal or side dish.

Do not, and I repeat do not, skip the fresh lemon at the end.  I forgot this part during one plate of leftovers and I completely tasted the difference!

Now, go enjoy this recipe.  With the money you save on ingredients and the calories you save on your waistline, you are entitled to a nice fancy dessert ;)

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Sandwich on Focaccia Bread- A Meatless Monday Recipe

Roasted eggplant.  Roasted tomatos.  Fresh mozzarella.   Smothered in pesto and rosemary infused olive oil on focaccia bread.  Not missing the meat as much as you thought, huh?

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This recipe was adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe (I was unable to find it online- it’s from one of her cookbooks), but I added some of my own twists to it.  The simplicity of ingredients and the ease of the recipe enticed me to make this easy weeknight meal.  I wanted to share the recipe with you guys as well as my ideas for perfecting it.

Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella Sandwich

Adapted from Rachel Ray’s “Look and Cook” Cookbook

Yield: 3-4 sandwiches

You will need:

  • One large eggplant, skin on, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • 2-3 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced into thick pieces
  • One ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • One loaf focaccia bread, or 3-4 hoagie rolls
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Rosemary (fresh preferred, dried fine as well), 1 tsp
  • 3-4 TBS pre-made pesto (bonus points to make your own)
  • 1 can low-fat tomato soup (optional side, highly recommend Amy’s brand)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Put 2 TBS olive oil in a pan and heat over low-medium heat.  Add the red pepper flakes, crushed garlic, & rosemary and allow the flavors to infuse on low heat for about 5-7 minutes.  IMG_0623
  4. Arrange the sliced eggplant on one baking sheet and the sliced tomatoes on the other.  Season both the eggplant and the tomato with salt and pepper on both sides.  Set the baking sheet with the tomatoes aside.
  5. Using a pastry brush or a spoon, lightly coat the eggplant slices with the infused olive oil on both sides.
  6. Place the eggplant in the oven and allow to roast for 10-15 min minutes, until lightly brown and just beginning to shrivel.  About half way into the cooking time, add the baking sheet with the sliced tomatoes.  [Note: when I originally made this, I added the eggplant and the tomatoes at the same time and the tomatoes were overcooked, so I highly recommend separating them and baking them half way in]

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7.  While the vegetables roast, slice up the fresh mozzarella and cut the bread (if in loaf form).  At this point feel free to toast the bread by sticking it in the hot oven or in a toaster, if this is your preference.  We did not do this for the focaccia bread and wish we had.

8.Spread bread with a nice helping of prepared pesto.  Remove vegetables from the oven, layer on the bread, top with fresh mozzarella slices, and enjoy!

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This recipe was very tasty!  Overall, I don’t think focaccia bread was the best choice- I think crusty rolls would have been more appropriate.  Not to throw anyone under the bus here, but the focaccia bread was my boyfriend’s idea ;)

The original recipe involves making a pistachio pesto with arugula, and topping the sammy with more arugala.  For times sake, we did not do this, but I do feel it could add a very interesting bite.

Also, I highly recommend more than just one layer of eggplant on the sandwich to make it more substantial.  Feel free to add more roasted veggies, as desired.  I think zucchini or roasted red peppers could add an interesting touch.

I am so proud of myself that for almost 2 months now I have been following meatless monday.  It’s such a fun twist on meals that I feel good about.

What are your favorite types of meals for Meatless Monday?

Baked Eggplant Parmesan- A Very Tasty Use of Leftovers

I made a dish the other night (to be posted for meatless monday) that left me with leftover eggplant and fresh mozzarella.  If that doesn’t scream eggplant parmesan, nothing does!  I knew I wanted to try a baked variety to keep this dish on the healthier side.  (Yes, I realize fresh mozzarella is not necessarily “light”, but that’s all the more reason to not fry the eggplant!)

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I consulted a couple of different recipes and came up with this adapted recipe.  It turned out DELICIOUS, so I wanted to pass the inspiration on to you guys.

Note: the trickiest part in posting this recipe comes with the baking times.  I found mine to require way less baking than suggested, probably because I only made this using the 1/2 eggplant I had leftover (only needed enough to feed two).  I am going to post this as I did it for two people, but if making it for more people just be aware that your baking times will be longer.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan for Two

(Adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe and this Whole Foods recipe)

You will need:

  • 1/2 a large eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
  • 6 TBS italian breadcrumbs
  • 6 TBS parmesan cheese, plus 1tsp divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp water
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • pinch dried basil
  • about 1/2 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced thick and chopped into chunks (or you can use shredded mozarella, regular or 2%)
  • Salt and pepper (look at how much salt is in your breadcrumbs.. you may not need to add any)
  • Jarred marinara sauce (or homemade), about 1.5-2 cups, divided

Steps:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix the breadcrumbs,  6TBS parmesan cheese, oregano, and basil.  Transfer mixture to a flat surface such as a plate or cutting board.
  2. In a small bowel, combine the egg and 1 tsp water and lightly beat together.
  3. Line a large baking sheet (may require 2) with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  4. One by one, dunk each slice of eggplant into the egg, shake off excess, and then press firmly onto the breadcrumb mixture.  Turn the slice over and press firmly on the other side as well.  Transfer eggplant to lined baking dish.  Repeat for all eggplant slices.
  5. Bake the breaded eggplant in the oven on 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, and then turn them over.  Bake for another 10-15 minutes & remove from oven.  Keep a close eye on them at this point so they don’t burn.  Mine cooked for a total time of 30 minutes and they were perfectly brown.
  6. Line a 9X13 baking dish lightly with some marinara sauce, about 1/4 a cup or so.
  7. Transfer the breaded eggplant to the baking dish and layer with marinara sauce then fresh mozzarella cheese.  Keep repeating the eggplant-sauce-cheese layering process until all of your eggplant and cheese are used up.  Dust the top with a light coating of parmesan cheese, about 1 tsp (optional).

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8.  Bake at 410 degrees for 10-20 minutes, until cheese is beginning to brown and bubble.  Baking times vary- mine only required 10 minutes.

This recipe was so tasty, I highly encourage you guys to give it a try.  It can be a very healthy and filling meal if you use low fat mozzarella and pair with a nice big salad.  It is delicious enough for a date night in but easy enough for a weeknight meal as well.  This happens to be another one of those versatile recipes that will please kids, adults, vegetarians, and pretty much anyone that likes sauce and mozzarella cheese (i.e. EVERYONE!).

If you are cooking for two such as myself, on Monday I will be posting another great recipe to utilize the rest of the eggplant and mozzarella cheese, so stay tuned.

Have a great Saturday everyone!