The Great Somoa Cookie Adventure

Last night I decided to finally get around to making that homemade somoa cookie recipe, since I didn’t have the black beans I needed for another cookie recipe. Let’s just say I’ll be leaving the cookie-making to the Girl Scouts…or whomever manufactures those bad boys.

Homemade Samoas Girl Scout Cookies

It all started out fine. I got the dough mixed up and ready to go, but started going downhill when I found myself skipping steps and combining things that weren’t to be mixed. The first step I skipped was the cooling of the dough. I started the process around 7, so I figured, “Hey, who has time for an hour in the fridge? Not me.” I proceeded to roll the dough out for cutting and quickly realized it was too warm. After I scraped the last glob from my elbow, I decided to just shape these cookies the old fashioned way. No biggie, right? It’s just a shape. After I popped them in the oven, it was time to toast the coconut. Again, trying to save time, I decided to do it at the same time the cookies were baking. What I failed to realize was that I was going to have to open the oven constantly to stir the coconut, thus thwarting the cookies from being cooked thoroughly.

After I got everything out of the oven, it was time to screw up the recipe one more time. I spent the next 10 minutes developing carpal tunnel syndrome by performing the tedious chore of unwrapping each caramel from it’s plastic wrap. I then proceeded to melt the caramels in the same bowl as the chocolate and mix it all together. Albeit not a terrible decision, but definitely a difficult mixture to stir. I finally realized that I had royally mucked everything up and decided to just wing it. I started smearing the caramel/chocolate/coconut mixture onto the cookies and finished by spreading them out to cool. They looked like poop and weighed about 3lbs each. Seriously the heaviest cookies I’ve ever lifted. I rolled the remaining topping mixture into little balls, which looked even more like poo. Beauty be damned; the things were delicious!

So now that I’ve scratched that off my Pinterest list, I can say with the utmost confidence that I won’t be trying that recipe again. Well, maybe next time I’ll have a second party to help keep my head on straight.

My Cooking Tip of the Day: Allow yourself plenty of time to follow a recipe through from start to finish. Baking late at night is not a great idea.

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The Tree is Up!

Well, I finally got my tree up! It’s now officially Christmas in my house! Now, I’m excited, but nobody was as excited as Grace.

Even Karen started to show some Christmas spirit.


Of course, just as we started getting Karen in a holly-jolly mood, Grace had to go and drop a bomb. A photo bomb, that is. (Sorry, that sounded better in my head.)She was just so excited to be in the tree!

Anyway, darling cats aside, I am sad to report that I didn’t lose any more weight this past week. Now, I totally blame it on my lack of exercise, so I hit the gym this evening for a quick 25 minutes of cardio. Tomorrow I hope to do my 30-Day Challenge routine and plan to grab some more healthy staples at the store. My go-to foods are:

  • zucchini/squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • apples or bananas
  • peanut or any other nut butter
  •  Larabars or Luna bars
  • frozen spinach
  • VitaTops
  • Greek yogurt
  • popcorn kernels for air popping

As long as I have any of these items on hand, I’m good to go. Do you have any go-to snacks to help get you through the holidays?

Oh and before I forget, here is a yummy cookie recipe I found on Cooking Light. I’m thinking of trying these out this year.

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

  • 1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup) $
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. 2. Arrange coconut in a single layer in a small baking pan. Bake at 350° for 7 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring once. Set aside to cool.
  3. 3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until blended. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Beat in vanilla and egg. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Stir in toasted coconut and chocolate.
  4. 4. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until bottoms of cookies just begin to brown. Remove from pan, and cool completely on wire racks.

Jackie Mills, MS, RD, Cooking Light
APRIL 2010

Don’t those sound amazing?! If you have any suggestions or favorite cookie recipes you’d like to share, please send them my way.

My Healthy Tip of the Day brought to you by the USDA’s Choose my PlateCanned vegetables are a great addition to any meal, so keep on hand canned tomatoes, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, mushrooms,and beets. Select those labeled as “reduced sodium,” “low sodium,” or “no salt added.”

 

PB Snickers Cookie Bars

I really enjoy Valentine’s Day. Every year I secretly get excited to wear something pink or red and I love trying to think of something sweet to get Alex. That being said let me clear the air.

  • Much like Christmas I prefer to give rather than receive. Sure, if Alex wants to buy me a heart shaped Reese’s Cup, I won’t turn him down, but I certainly don’t like a fuss to be made.
  • I don’t feel that Valentine’s Day is a day to punish the single. Do you care about your Mom or Dad? Give them a valentine. Do you love your dog or cat? Give them a valentine. Don’t make a fun holiday a reason to be a grump; there are plenty of other things in life perfect for doing that.
  • I see no reason to celebrate reminding someone that you care. I hear people say constantly “People shouldn’t need a holiday to tell someone they care!” Then why have Easter if not to remind us of our religious responsibilities? Why celebrate Christmas if we aren’t going to give our loved ones gifts 365 days per year? Why celebrate our birthdays? The list could go on. Just relax, have some chocolate and enjoy being able to wear pink and red together without feeling tacky.

On to the topic of the hour: Alex’s V-Day dessert! A die-hard Snickers bar lover, Alex has professed his eternal commitment to this candy bar weekly since we’ve been together. So, occasionally I’ll try to incorporate this treat into one of my usual holiday desserts for him. This year, I decided to do Peanut Butter Snickers Cookie Bars. What a mouthful! I nabbed the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker and got to work last night.

• ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• ¾ teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon baking powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
• 1 cup creamy peanut butter
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• ½ cup light brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tablespoon milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I left this out.)
• 1½ cups chopped Snickers candy bars (I used around 18 of the mini Snickers bars.)
• ¾ cup milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking pan (I use a 12 x 8 x 2 size) and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix until combined. Add the milk and the vanilla extract and mix again.

4. Add the flour mixture and beat until flour disappears. Stir in the chopped Snickers and chocolate chips.

5. When completely mixed, pour batter into baking pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 10-13 minutes, depending on oven, and take out when sides begin to brown.
6. While warm, chop up any leftover Snickers you may have and sprinkle on top. They’ll melt and spread over the dessert, making for an extra kick of sweetness. Cool for 10-20 minutes before cutting into bars.

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod; adapted from Brown Eyed Baker )

My Healthy Choice of the Day: After tasting three mini cupcakes in my company’s Cupcake War activity, I walked straight back to my desk, downed a glass of water and did 50 lunges. Desk push-ups and squats to come!

Christmas Cookie Countdown: #1

Hello Dolly Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 cookie sheets)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch morsels
  • 2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper; cut off excess parchment paper around top edge of pan.
  3. Place crumbs in a medium bowl. Drizzle with butter and 1 tablespoon water; toss with a fork until moist. Gently pat mixture into an even layer in pan (do not press firmly). Sprinkle chips and morsels over crumb mixture. Top evenly with coconut and pecans. Drizzle milk evenly over top. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and bubbly around edges. Cool completely on wire rack.

Note:

They can create a sticky mess in the pan, so it’s crucial to line it with parchment paper. Because the milk needs to seep into the graham cracker crumbs, don’t pack the crumbs too tightly in the bottom of the pan.

Julianna Grimes, Ann Taylor Pittman, Cooking Light
DECEMBER 2007

 

I hope you enjoy these five fabulous Christmas cookie recipes. I know I’ll definitely be recreating some version of these myself!

Christmas Cookie Countdown: #2

Almond Butter Snickerdoodles

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (about 3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons smooth almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 4 3/4 ounces white whole-wheat flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

      Directions

      1. Preheat oven to 350°.
      2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
      3. Place the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at high speed until well combined (about 2 minutes). Add 1 teaspoon lemon rind, vanilla extract, and egg yolks; beat until well blended.
      4. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; stir with a whisk. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed until well combined. Drop half of the dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Combine the remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon and granulated sugar in a small bowl; sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over cookies. Bake at 350° for 6 minutes; flatten cookies with the back of a spatula. Bake an additional 6 minutes. Cool on pans 1 minute. Remove from pans, and cool on wire racks. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and sugar mixture.

      Amount per serving

      • Calories: 104
      • Fat: 3.8g
      • Saturated fat: 1.9g
      • Monounsaturated fat: 1.2g
      • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.3g
      • Protein: 1.6g
      • Carbohydrate: 16.2g
      • Fiber: 0.5g
      • Cholesterol: 25mg
      • Iron: 0.7mg
      • Sodium: 127mg
      • Calcium: 19mg

      Michaela Rosenthal, Woodland Hills, California, Cooking Light

      MAY 2010

      Christmas Cookie Countdown: #3

      You won’t find a better treat than biscotti. It may take a while to bake, but it lasts forever. Whip up a batch, put it in a decorative container and you’ve got the perfect Christmas gift.

      Chocolate Chip Biscotti

      Yields: 5 Dozen biscotti
      Total Time: 1 hr 30 min
      Cook Time: 40 min

      Ingredients

      • 2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
      • 1 cup(s) sugar
      • 1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
      • Pinch ground cinnamon
      • 4 tablespoon(s) cold margarine or butter
      • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
      • 6 ounce(s) (1 cup) semisweet-chocolate mini chips
      • 1 cup(s) walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
      • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract

      Directions

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. With pastry blender or 2 knives used scissor-fashion, cut in margarine until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
      2. Spoon 1 tablespoon beaten eggs into cup; reserve. Add chocolate chips, walnuts, vanilla, and remaining beaten eggs to flour mixture; stir until evenly moistened. With hand, knead mixture a few times in bowl until dough forms.
      3. On floured surface, with floured hands, divide dough into quarters. Shape each quarter into a 9″ by 2″ log. Place logs crosswise, 4 inches apart, on 2 large cookie sheets. With pastry brush, brush tops and sides of logs with reserved egg. Bake logs 25 minutes. Cool logs on cookie sheet on wire rack 10 minutes.
      4. Place 1 log on cutting board. With serrated knife, cut warm log crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices. Place slices upright, 1/4 inch apart, on cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining logs. Bake slices 15 minutes to allow biscotti to dry out. Cool completely on sheets on wire racks. (Biscotti will harden as they cool.) Store biscotti in tightly covered container.
      Nutritional Information
      (per serving)

      Calories
      65

      Total Fat
      3g

      Saturated Fat
      0

      Cholesterol
      11mg

      Sodium
      30mg

      Total Carbohydrate
      9g

      Dietary Fiber
      0

      Sugars

      Protein
      1g

      Calcium

      Read more: Chocolate Chip Biscotti Recipe – Good Housekeeping

      Christmas Cookie Countdown

      Desserts are literally flying at me from all directions this week, whether it be at work or at holiday parties. So to combat these flying, fatty fantasticos (I’m reaching), I thought I’d post five healthy cookie recipes for the next five days until Christmas. This will give those of you a good variety to choose from, if you decide to go the healthier route this year. Suggestions are welcome and encouraged!

      Cookie Recipe #5: Chocolate Bliss Cookies

      Serves: Prep: 20min Cook: 40 min Total: 1 hr 0min

      DIRECTIONS

      1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line 2 baking sheets with foil.
      2. In small bowl, sift together cocoa, salt, and 1/4cup of the sugar.
      3. In large bowl, with electric mixer at medium low speed, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, until meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form. Fold in cocoa mixture and vanilla extract.
      4. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 1″ apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 25 minutes for soft chewy cookies or 40 minutes for crisp ones. Dust cooled cookies with confectioners’ sugar.

      I thought this recipe would be perfect for the chocolate-lover in your life or great for converting the lemon-lovers. (They’re out there, I swear.) Whip these bad boys up for the family or just to help healthier your own household sweet stash.

      My Healthy Tip of the Day: Don’t cheat. Ever. At anything. Ok, more specifically at the gym. When you shave off those 5 minutes of cool down at the end of your machine workout, or switch to lighter weights because you want to do more reps, you’re only hurting your own results. Seriously, just finish the 12 reps and be done with it. Nobody will be wowed by an 8 minute gym trip.

      Tips

      This tip was not Karen-approved. She’s a life-long advocate for the Lazy Bum-Bums Club.

      Game Day Eating

      For most, football season means mindlessly munching on anything from chicken wings to handfuls of greasy chips at a tailgate. Some eat in celebration and others eat in mourning for a lost game. Whatever the reason, a serious amount of junk usually makes its way into our systems every Friday and Saturday night. (Who doesn’t love greasy food, though?!)

      Unfortunately, these kinds of indulgences, plus those holiday feasts from November through December, can really add up at the end of a season. So this year, try some of these healthy spins on classic tailgate and football party foods. I promise, you’ll thank your stars when you don’t have to start the New Year with yet another weight resolution!

      Chile Con Queso

      · 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
      · 1 medium onion, chopped
      · 2 cloves garlic, minced
      · ½ cup pale ale, or other light-colored beer
      · 1 ½ cups low-fat milk, divided
      · 3 tbsp cornstarch
      · 1 ¾ cups shredded sharp Cheddar
      · 1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained, or 1 ¼ cups drained petite-diced tomatoes
      · 2 tbsp lime juice
      · 1 tsp salt
      · 1 tsp chili powder
      · Cayenne pepper, to taste
      · ¼ cup scallions
      · 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

      Directions:

      1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, 4-5 minutes. Add the beer and cook until reduced slightly, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of milk and bring to a simmer.
      2. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining ½ cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the pan and cook, stirring vigorously, until bubbling and thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add cheese and cook, stirring, until melted. Stir in drained tomatoes, lime juice, salt, chili powder, and cayenne.
      3. Serve warm, garnished with scallions and cilantro.

      20111021-104637.jpg

      Per ¼-cup serving: 84 calories, 5 g fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 5 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein

      Recipe on eatingwell.com

      Meatball (or Mushroom) Heros with Tri-Colored Peppers

      · 1 tablespoon olive oil
      · 1 small onion, sliced
      · 1/2 green pepper, sliced
      · 1/2 red pepper, sliced
      · 1/2 yellow pepper, sliced
      · 1/4 teaspoon salt
      · 1 (12 ounce) loaf Italian bread (preferably whole-grain)
      · 8 meatballs or sautéed (or grilled) Portobello mushrooms
      · 1 cup Marinara or tomato sauce
      · 1/2 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese

      Directions

      1. Preheat the broiler.
      2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, and salt and saute for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If using mushrooms, throw them in with during this step.)
      3. Cut the bread into quarters crosswise and cut each quarter in half, being careful not to cut all the way through, so the 2 haves stay connected. Scoop the soft center out of the bread.
      4. Put the bread, open-faced, on a baking sheet. Place 1 meatball (or mushroom) and some sauce on 1 side of each piece of bread. Top with some of the pepper mixture. Moisten the other side of each sandwich with a little sauce and sprinkle with the cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.

      *This recipe was altered to accommodate a vegetarian diet.

      Mountaineer Oatmeal Cookies

      · 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 1/3 ounces)
      · 1 cup regular oats
      · 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      · 1/4 teaspoon salt
      · 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
      · 1/4 cup butter, softened
      · 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      · 1 large egg
      · **3/4 cup chunked dried or fresh blueberries, depending on preference
      · 1/3 cup premium white chocolate chips (such as Ghirardelli)
      · Cooking spray
      · Yellow and blue sprinkles

      1. Preheat oven to 350°.
      2. Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt; stir with a whisk. Place sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add vanilla and egg; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until blended. Add fruit and chips; beat at low speed just until blended.
      3. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes and remove from oven. Sprinkle yellow and blue sprinkles on top of the cookies and put back in the oven for an additional 2-5 minutes, or until cookies are browned.
      4. Remove from oven; cool on pan 1 minute. Remove cookies from pan; cool completely on wire racks.

      *I took this idea from a recipe from Laura Zapalowski, Cooking Light Issue May 2007.

      **Use fruit and sprinkles that match your favorite team colors.