Tag Archives: Snack

Spiced Whole Grain Pumpkin Seed Biscotti with Cranberries and White Chocolate

As I sit here watching the footage of the Chilean miners being rescued, I am struck by my own limitations (BTW, I generally like to focus on myself during situations like these).  I joked with several people today that I couldn’t even stand to be in that rescue pod for 15 minutes *above ground.*  And if there were a psychological test administered before you were allowed to go underground, I’m quite sure checking the box that says “sometimes I get panicky in the check out line at the grocery store” would disqualify me immediately.

I am just not the type of person you want around in a crisis.  Actually, I’m not the type of person you want around during a mildly stressful flu shot.

But perhaps it’s not just OK, but necessary, that some people run the race and some people bake cookies for the finish line.  Perhaps this is the reason that the rescuers have the strength to strap themselves into a cage and go thousands of feet below the ground into a caved-in mine, while their wives clutch the children and pictures of the Virgin Mary (The heathen I am, I generally clutch a Bloody Mary).  And here in the land of the soft, perhaps this is the reason that my husband flies all over the country, talks in front of hundreds of people with ease, and I stay home and bake biscotti.  In short, my husband is a tremendous risk taker and I am a tremendous risk averter.

It’s not that I’m not brave or strong (I gave birth to two children, you know) nor do I think that women are incapable of strapping themselves in and rescuing 33 miners.  Hell, some of us might like to go down that hole simply to get some quiet time.  The issue has more to do with roles than it does with gender.  Once you have children, doesn’t it just seem that both parents can’t simultaneously go balls to the wall anymore?  Doesn’t it seem that someone has to be the rock while the other person is in the hard place?  Children demand routine and stability and comfort.  So when one parent is down a mine shaft or on a plane to L.A., the other one has to be pouring the cereal at 8:00 AM sharp and reading the favorite two (OK, three) stories at 8:00 PM sharp.

Maybe I am risk averse because that’s who I have to be.

Or maybe that’s how I justify the fact that I enjoy eating biscotti and hate enclosed spaces.

Spiced Whole Grain Pumpkin Seed Biscotti with Cranberries and White Chocolate

Makes 15-18 biscotti

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1 star anise pod
1-1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 small piece of whole nutmeg (about the size of a nickel, or 1/4 t pre-ground)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 1 t vanilla extract)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (hulled and dry roasted or toasted)
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt.

3.  Using a clean spice or coffee grinder (I have a second coffee grinder that I use exclusively for spices), grind the star anise pod, the cinnamon stick, and the piece of whole nutmeg until they are a fine powder.  Add this spice mixture to the flour mixture.  (If you like your biscotti extra spiced, double up on the spices. Alternatively, if you don’t want to grind your own spices, just make a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices like anise seed to equal 1 t.)

4.  In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Split the vanilla bean in half and, using the back of a knife, scrape the seeds from both sides of the pod.  Add seeds to butter and egg mixture and beat to incorporate.

5.  Add the flour/spice mixture to the butter mixture in two additions and beat until just combined.  Switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and stir to make sure the flour is incorporated.  Stir in cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

6.  Turn dough onto parchment lined baking sheet and pat into a long loaf, approximately 3.5 inches by 15 inches.  Bake loaf for about 35 minutes, until just golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

7.  Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut individual biscotti from the loaf — each about 3/4 inch.  Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the parchment lined sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes and flip.  Bake 10-12 minutes more and remove from oven (about 20 minutes total for the second stage of baking). Remove biscotti from sheet and cool on racks.

8.  Place chopped white chocolate in a double boiler to melt.  You can also use the microwave at about 50% power.  When biscotti are completely cool, drizzle with melted white chocolate.  Place in refrigerator until chocolate is hardened.  Remove from refrigerator and store biscotti in a tightly sealed container.

Chocolate Coffee and Cream Cookies with Spelt Flour

Apologies for the lentil salad meltdown and thanks to those who sent words of support.  Ham bones have a way of making me crazy. Or maybe it’s motherhood and children.  Who the hell knows.  Anyhoo.  Life goes on and we still need chocolate, right?  So, I shall stay strong and carry on and only drink vodka when I *really* need it.

Recently it was a little rainy and I needed something to hold over my kids’ heads to ensure good behavior I wanted to engage in a meaningful life skills activity with my children.  So we decided to bake cookies and I thought I’d make something up with all spelt flour to see how it turned out.  I have done a lot of baking with sprouted spelt flour, but have rarely used it as a 100% wheat flour replacement in a recipe.

We decided to do a chocolate and coffee cookie with a creamy, sweet glaze to replicate some sort of 1000 calorie creation at Starbucks.  Except we used all sprouted spelt flour and cut back on the sugar.  And instead of hipster music, we listened to Hall and Oates.  Can I mention how much I have enjoyed listening to them lately?  It is an odd phenomenon and I attribute it to being almost 38.

The spelt flour actually worked quite well.  The cookie was moist and slightly cakey — partially due to the spelt, I think, but also because we used a lot less sugar than a normal cookie recipe.  They reminded me of a coffee- scented, cakey Oreo with a nice kick from the sea salt.  And that’s a pretty good combination as far I am concerned.

Chocolate Coffee and Cream Cookies with Spelt Flour

Note:  I didn’t do it, but I think that adding some chocolate chips or chunks would be delicious.

Makes 2-3 dozen

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups sprouted spelt flour
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1 t sea salt
2 T espresso powder

Glaze:

1 cup of powdered sugar, thinned with heavy cream until glaze consistency

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix sprouted spelt flour, cocoa, baking soda, sea salt, and espresso powder in a medium bowl and set aside.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until soft and fluffy.  Cream together with brown sugar and honey for 1-2 minutes.  One at a time, add eggs and mix well.

3.  Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix until just combined.  Stir with a spatula to finish mixing and make sure the flour is completely incorporated.

4.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 8-9 minutes until just done.  Let cool for one minute and remove to racks to cool completely.

5.  While cookies are baking/cooling, mix glaze and drizzle over cooled cookies.  Let harden a bit and then store in a sealed container or in the freezer.

Gluten-Free Chewy Granola Bars

So, I guess I could really title these as gluten-free, wheat-free, nut-free, egg-free, and potentially dairy-free chewy granola bars.  But that seemed a little long.  I could also add that they are quite low in sugar and could potentially be made with no added sugar at all.

Can you tell I have made some New Years resolutions?

If I could advertise that these granola bars were alcohol-free too, trust me, I’d do it.  Because it’s been that kind of a holiday.  Which is to say that it was a great holiday.  One filled with at least twelve pounds of butter (and I’m not exaggerating), two Christmas celebrations which I hosted — first for my wonderful 20 person strong family and then my husband’s much smaller crew, my daughter’s Christmas birthday celebration, a New Years Eve party, lots of little dinner parties in between, and more filled recycling bins than I would ever confess to.

I seriously should have given the recycling crew a Christmas present.  They go around our little circle and spend about 30 seconds at each house taking their two milk containers, nicely bundled newspapers, and a few cans of Diet Coke.  They get to my house and they need to call in freaking reinforcements from neighboring counties. As much as it’s cool that my three year old gets to have his own, feature-length recycling truck show, I start self-flagellating just a tad.   Which is to say I berate myself without hauling out the ropes and switches.

So, yes, I have made some resolutions.  Getting back to normal eating and drinking habits is at the top of the list.  But, I’ve also made the decision to eliminate gluten from my diet for a bit.  There are a variety of reasons, but I have a hunch it is causing me issues — so I am going to get rid of it for at least a month and see how I feel.  I did this once before and I only lasted about four days — and when I lapsed (I baked chocolate chip cookies for the kids and sampled one), I felt lousy, got a headache, and wanted to take a nap.  Back in the old days of low carb diets, I always wondered why they made me feel so fantastic (full of energy, less stressed, more rested, with far fewer upset stomachs).  Maybe the lack of gluten was the reason.  So I am going to do a little experiment and see what happens.

I created these granola bars to have around for a quick breakfast or snack that the kids would enjoy.  You could easily remove the butter and substitute with all coconut oil (or dairy-free margarine) if you wanted them to be dairy-free.  And if you want to cut all the added sugar out, you could eliminate the honey and use only agave nectar.   Feel free to subsitute nuts/seeds/fruit/etc.

And I am going to consider it a little moral victory that there is no booze in this recipe.  Much unlike everything else I have made or consumed in the last month.  (BTW, Recycling Dudes, I owe you big time.)

Gluten-Free Chewy Granola Bars

Makes about 24 (a 9×13 pan)

2 cups old fashioned oats (make sure they are gluten-free if you are watching)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
3/4 t sea salt
1/2 cup sunbutter (or other nut butter or soy butter)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup agave nectar
3 T butter (replace with either coconut oil or dairy free margarine to make dairy free)
3 T coconut oil
2 t vanilla extract
1 cup dried sour cherries, roughly chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease a 9 inch by 13 inch glass baking pan. Mix together oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, coconut, and salt.  Spread onto a sheet pan and bake for 14-15 minutes (stirring every five minutes or so) until the mixture is just golden.

2.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine sunbutter, honey, agave nectar, butter, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.  Whisk together until everything is fully melted, combined, and just beginning to bubble a bit. (about 3 minutes).  Remove from heat and stir in dried cherries.  Set aside.

3.  When oat mixture is golden, remove from oven and pour it into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in warm sunbutter mixture and thoroughly combine.  Pour into greased pan and pat down completely.  Let cool and cut into bars.

Crispy Oatmeal Cookies

I have never particularly loved oatmeal cookies.  They are generally too cakey or too raisiny or too something.  It’s not that I wouldn’t eat them — but they just don’t come to mind as something I’d set out to bake.  Unless of course, I loaded them with chocolate chunks.

Yesterday, amidst an impromptu playdate that erupted in our backyard (btw, how can I nicely tell the entire neighborhood that our backyard is not the park?), I decided to take a few recipes for crispier oatmeal cookies and meld them into something more delicious, yet whole grain with less sugar.  So many recipes call for at least 1 cup of sugar, and I am attempting to cut our sugar intake considerably.  The more I read about how much sugar we consume (about one half pound a DAY per person … when 100 years ago we ate about one pound per YEAR per person) and it’s negative health effects, the more I have attempted to retool recipes with less.

And while I was on an Agave Nectar kick for a while, I have come to feel as though it may be as processed and refined as many other “bad” sweeteners — as well as being entirely fructose (a la high fructose corn syrup).  So my goal has been to cut back on all sugars and use primarily honey in smaller doses.  Honey is a pure, natural sweetener that is not processed and refined.  And research has also shown that it is helpful for environmental allergies when you consume local honey from your area (it sort of acts like a mini-allergy shot exposing you to local pollens).

Tomorrow I may find out that my approach on honey is entirely wrong, but for now this is the direction I am going in.   And lest you think that I am June Cleaver… when the cookies were done, I didn’t take them out on a plate for all the kids.  I told them playtime was over and called my kids inside to have one.  OK, so maybe two.  These were oatmeal cookies I could get behind.

Crispy Oatmeal Cookies

(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

1 cup butter, softened (two sticks)
1/2 cup honey (preferably from a local source)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg (set out at room temperature for a bit to warm up)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (not instant or quick cooking)
1 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup of add-ins if you like (ideas: dried blueberries/cranberries/raisins, pumpkin/sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together white whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and set aside.

Cream softened butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Mix in honey and brown sugar and turn mixer up to at least medium speed and cream for 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides as necessary.  Add in egg and incorporate completely (if the egg is too cold, it might all look like lumpy because the butter has chilled too much, but it should work it’s way back to being emulsified if you keep mixing it).  Add in vanilla extract and mix until everything is incorporated.

Slowly mix in flour mixture a little at a time so you don’t get a face full.  When the flour looks almost incorporated, turn off mixer and use a wooden spoon to finish mixing by hand (so the cookie dough doesn’t get tough).  Stir in oats and any add-ins you might like.  We did some with dried blueberries and dry roasted pumpkin seeds which were great,  but the plain old cookies were delicious.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Take a spoonful of the cookie dough and form into ball.  (Between one and two tablespoons, depending on how big you want the cookies).  Place the ball onto parchment and flatten to about 1/2 inch high so they spread evenly.  I was able to fit a dozen on a sheet without them running together, but they spread considerably so you might want to err on the conservative side for the first batch — especially if you are making bigger cookies.  Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool slightly on sheet and then cool completely on wire racks.  And then send your backyard friends home so you can enjoy them all for yourself!

Makes 2-3 dozen

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Allergy Friendly Chocolate Chunk Brownies

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup soy or canola-based margarine (With no whey, etc. I use Earth Balance.)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Scharffen Berger)
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chunks (chopped from a 9 oz. Scharffen Berger Semisweet Baking Bar — the only one that is dairy, egg, and nut free and not processed with any of it) — could use other add-ins based on your allergies or likes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan. In a saucepan combine the 1/3 cup of flour and water. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thick. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside to cool.
2. In a small saucepan, melt margarine. When margarine has melted, add the cocoa and mix until smooth; set aside to cool. Beat the sugar and vanilla into the cooled flour mixture. Stir in the cocoa mixture until well blended. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, stir into the batter until just blended. Fold in chocolate chunks or other add-ins. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. Cool and cut into bars.

I baked for 20 minutes on 350 convection. The result was a really fudgy, dense brownie.

Homemade Chewy Whole Grain Granola Bars

1 cup local honey (could probably use a little less if you want — or other sweeteners but we like the anti-allergy properties of local honey)
1 cup sunbutter (or other nut butter of your choice — we’ve got the peanut allergy to deal with)
1/2 cup melted organic butter (probably could use a bit less or do half and half with canola oil if you want, or subsitute melted dairy-free margarine)
2 tsps. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup wheat germ
2/3 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 cup (or so) dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
1 cup (or so) bittersweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 glass pan with some butter or canola oil. Mix melted butter with honey, sunbutter, and vanilla extract. Mix in oats, coconut, wheat germ, flax seeds, and sesame seeds. Stir until mixed together well. Fold in cranberries and chocolate. Place mixture into greased pan and pat down evenly. Sprinkle with more sesame seeds if you like. Bake for 25 minutes and cool before cutting.