Tuesday, April 27, 2010

my own personal brand of heroin [and TWD]

I've been obsessing. Sometimes things are so good that you just can't get enough! Here's the list that's kept me smiling lately:
1. Champagne with friends just because we like the bubbles
2. My Asics Gel Nimbus running shoes that are keeping my feet blister-free
3. The 4 H&M summer dresses from the "garden collection" I just bought for $150
4. Feeling fancy in Maybelline's Color Sensational "Are You Red-dy" lipstick
5. The return of "Glee" (and Sue Slyvester) to Tuesday nights
6. Chateau de Bonhoste 2009 Bordeaux Blanc (it's $12!)
7. Colorful tulips in my flea market blue Mason jar vase
8. Kiehl's Creme du Corps super rich body moisturizer
9. Green Giant Just-for-One broccoli and cheese sauce frozen veggies
10. These ridiculously addicting cookies from Runner's World magazine (via Champagne Bubbles)

I've been making Camilla's "Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chip Piles of Deliciousness" since she shared them with me for three reasons: 1. Her personal trainer told her about them (so they must be healthy?) 2. They came out of Runner's World magazine (so they can't be bad for you?) and 3. They're everything I love mixed into one cookie (chocolate, oats, nuts and dried fruit).

I made a batch last Friday and then another batch on Sunday night because I can't stop eating them, and with only 1/2 cup of sugar and egg whites I really don't believe they're bad for me. Plus, the recipe makes a "reasonable" amount of cookies and the tablespoon scoop of dough makes a perfectly bite-sized cookie.

So then I opened Baking: From My Home to Yours for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe and... holy crap. They're basically the same cookies I've been baking non-stop for weeks! Dorie's "Chockablock Cookies" have the same basic ingredients - sugar, flour, eggs, oats, chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit, and chopped chocolate.

What's great about the Runner's World cookies (and Dorie's as well) is that you can add in whatever you like. I've followed the recipe with chocolate chips and Craisins, I've tried it with dark chocolate chunks, flaked coconut and dried cherries, and the last time around I used coconut, chopped dark chocolate (Lindt chocolate with a touch of sea salt to be exact!), chopped walnuts and raisins.

Since the recipes are so close I'm sharing my Runner's World addiction for my TWD post. And with less sugar and just egg whites they might be a little healthier, so feel free to stuff your face a little more! I'll have to give Dorie's original version a shot next time.

p.s. I love to eat these out of the freezer for a real treat. I put the batch in a gallon-sized ziplock and freeze them. Might sound weird, but they're delicious!

Runner's World Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Chocolate Chips

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
3 egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries (or raisins or dried cherries)
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate chunks)
add ins: 1/2 cup flaked coconut, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray (or parchment paper).

In a large bown, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar, oil, egg whites, and vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips. Add to the flour mixture; stir until just blended.

Drop the batter by scant tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown.

Cool the cookies on racks. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, April 19, 2010

like a cozy hug: compost bread

The weather in NYC has been teasing lately. First it was a few weeks of 70+ degree weather and everyone broke out flip flops, toasted margarita's at the Boat Basin and rejoyced that summer was finally here. Then it dropped to the 50's and we were forced back into pashmina scarves and boots. And now it's hovering in the 60's just cold enough to force peeping toes inside and keep me in a perpetual state of chilly.

Despite the bite in the air, we underestimated the sun and braved the park this weekend intent on warming up. Instead of heat, however, we got a windy afternoon that even my Patagonia fleece couldn't fend off. So what gives, Mother Nature? I'm ready for some heat.

The only way to get it was to cozy under some blankets and find the nearest warm-blooded person to snuggle next to - which is how I spent most of my Sunday. To get the feeling back I thought about what to bake tonight as an excuse to turn my oven on and heat the apartment. The coziest thing I could think of short of mac & cheese was banana bread... or zucchini bread... or chocolate chip muffins - so I did a quick search and decided on "Compost Bread," inspired by Momofuku Milk Bar's Compost Cookies. The irony is that you're supposed to just use up what's in your pantry (potato chips, chocolate chips, pretzels, Rice Krispies, etc.) for Compost Cookies, but after another busy weekend I still had an empty kitchen cabinet. So I grabbed 3 ripe banana's and 2 small zucchini from my corner fruit stand and got to work.

I added chopped pecans and chocolate chips (cuz I love them) and the smell added a layer of much-needed cozy to my Monday night - the heat from the oven didn't hurt either.

This recipe made a gorgeous loaf, complete with cracked top and golden edges. And the flecks of green inside were a lovely addition. I love banana and zucchini bread separately, so why haven't I ever thought to marry them with a sprinkle of chocolate?

Need some cozy? Pop this into your oven and try to resist the urge to layer the warm pieces all over your body in an delicious banana blanket.

Compost Bread
or, "The Marathoner's Banana Bread" via Q's Eats

1 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used Canola oil)
t tbsp. fat free vanilla yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup zucchini, shredded
3/4 cups walnuts (I used pecans)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (dark chocolate would be great here!)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan.

Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine eggs and sugar and beat at medium-high speed until mixture is very thick and pale and forms a ribbon when beater is lifted. Reduce speed to low and add oil in a slow stream, then mix in yogurt, vanilla, bananas, and zucchini. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in flour mixture and walnuts and chocolate chips until combined.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, spreading evenly, and bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown, about an hour and 10 minutes.

Cool loaf in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack. Turn loaf right side up and cool completely.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

40 minute dinner party: pizza dough

This post will be short and sweet, just like the prep time for the dinner party I threw tonight. You see, a dear New York-by-way-of-Texas friend of mine is moving next week. What's that? Where, you ask? Oh, she's moving to Napa Valley. Yeah... that's right. We don't feel so bad for her. Instead, we feel bad for ourselves because we're going to miss her seeing her beautiful face, hearing her infectious laughs and listening to her puppy dog-Baxter stories more than she knows.

So, to celebrate/cry about her departure I had a couple of the girls over tonight for one last dinner from the kitchen-closet. The caveat here is that while earlier in the week I had dreams of baking a fresh baguette, pulling my own pasta, simmering a ragu and sending her off with a home-baked strawberry-rhoubarb pie, it all came down to 40 minutes of prep time and a fridge devoid of ingredients.

Luckily, with Real Simple on the brain (our 10th Anniversary event is in NYC at Grand Central tomorrow from 12-7pm ::shameless plug!::) I remembered an article in the back of the May issue and threw it in my purse as I dashed from the office at 5:40pm intent on meeting my guests on time at 7pm.

A quick stop to the grocery store and then I was home rolling pizza dough and layering ingredients. It's almost a joke how good the dinner turned out given the ease in which it was thrown together. In fact, I could kiss Sara Quessenberry and Kate Merker (our Food Editor's) for the brilliance of the article "10 Ideas for: Pizza Dough" and for making me look like a hero chef tonight.

It literally took me under 40 minutes to prep these two dishes, and that's including a slow 15 minutes thinly slicing the red potatoes since I still don't own a mandolin (I know, I know). And the girls loved them... bonus.

I'm off to bed but wanted to share my latest feels-like-I'm-cheating-cause-they're-so-damn-good dinner recipes. Give 'em a shot!

Potato and Rosemary Flat Bread

Shape the dough (1 pound whole-wheat pizza dough, at room temperature) into a large oval; place on a cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. In a large bowl, toss 2 thinly sliced red potatoes, 2 cloves sliced garlic, 2 tbsp. rosemary leaves, and 2 tbsp. olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Scatter evenly over the dough and bake at 425 F until golden brown, 25-30 minutes.

Salami and Spinach Stromboli

Shape the dough into a 12-by-15-inch rectangle. Top with 1/4-pound sliced salami, 4 cups fresh spinach, and 1/2-pound thinly sliced provolone. Working from a short end, roll up the dough. Place seam-side down on an oiled baking sheet; brush with olive oil. Bake at 425 F until golden brown, 25-30 minutes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

yikes: german chocolate coconut bars

I'm sorry.

I've been totally slacking.

The truth is I just haven't been baking the past two weeks. I know... who am I? All I'm going to say is that I've been distracted. Lots going on at work, a little travel, my half-marathon about a month away and many nights out with friends have been filling my calendar, but I'll let you use your imagination as to the real culprit. However, there's no excuse to leave ya'll hanging - so you have my apologies! I can't swear it won't happen again (life getting in the way, that is) but I'll always own up to it. Promise.

To ease back into baking the aforementioned culprit chose a chocolate treat that sounded perfect in terms of ease and general deliciousness. My Mom used to make these when I was a kid and I remember being so confused about sweetened condensed milk. The thick stuff looked more like pudding than the milk I poured on my Kix. But it was soooooo good and lick-your-lips sweet.

These "magic" bars are an adaptation of my Mom's classic recipe but the little change made them better than I ever remembered (don't tell!). As a semi-respectable home baker, I don't mess much in the cake mix aisle at the grocery store - but we could be on to something with this new use for boxed mix... as a crust! These bars are 100% delicious and the perfect treat for a decadent dessert. I'm looking forward to finding more uses for boxed cake mixes - the possibilities are endless!

German Chocolate Coconut Bars

1 pkg. german chocolate cake mix
1.3 cup butter, softened
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flaked sweetened coconut, divided
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup (6 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Pour cake mix into large bowl; cut in butter and lightly beaten egg with pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly. Press onto bottom of ungreased 13 x 9-inch pan (I used two 8 x 8-inch pans).

Combine sweetened condensed milk, egg and vanilla in medium bowl; beat until well combined. Stir in 1 cup coconut, nuts and 1/2 cup morsels. Spread mixture evenly over base; sprinkle with remaining coconut and morsels. Lightly press down morsels.

Bake for 30-32 minutes or until center is almost set. Center will be firm when cool. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars (and try not to eat them all by yourself!).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

spring is in the air: strawberry scones

Today was one of those perfect early spring days that screamed "this is why I live in New York City." After several days of clouds and drenching rain the city came alive last night when the sky cleared and the weather this afternoon was positively perfect. I met a friend for a run in Central Park during lunch and you could practically feel the electricity in the air buzzing as thousands of people descended on our beloved 843 acres of green in the middle of Manhattan for some spring sun.

The truth is, spring in Central Park is one of the reasons I live in this town.

[I took this one on my walk home tonight, can you even??]

I love the smiles on everyones faces. I love walking home from work with my trench coat open and ipod humming. I love the new bright green grass of the Great Lawn that's been germinating for the past 4 months. I love "happy hour" evening runs while it's still light out. I love the sunset over the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis reservoir. I love my three favorite water fountains just being turned on again after a winter hiatus. And I love the 4 magnolia trees behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art whose sweet smells waft across the running path like the most delicious perfume.

The sweet smell stuck with me. I got back to my apartment and opened the refrigerator to over-ripe strawberries that were desperate to be mixed into something heavenly -- and the sweet smell that filled my apartment was almost as perfect as the magnolias in the park.

Friends, Irene is right -- these scones are PERFECT. They're as good as the best bakery scone I've ever had. Actually they were so good that I almost couldn't believe they came out of my oven as perfectly as they did. Despite the fact that strawberries aren't "in season" for another 3 months and "eating in season" is my new aspiration, I couldn't pass up the giant Florida-grown juicy-looking strawberries from my corner neighborhood fruit stand last weekend.

Ready for a little taste of summer? Enjoy the late-spring weather we're getting this weekend and then. make. these.

Strawberry Scones

1 cup strawberries
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. butter, in cubes, slightly softened
2/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk (I used 1/3 half-and-half and 1/3 vanilla soy milk)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

If using larger fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle fruit with 1/2 tbsp. sugar; set aside. Be sure to make the pieces small, or they tend to fall out of the dough. They'll still be plenty prominent in your finished scones.

Combine remaining sugar with flour, baking powder and salt. Add butter, using a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut in butter. Stir in fruit; then add cream/half-and-half/buttermilk all at once. Use spatula to gently stir dough until it holds together.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients. Be gentle so you don't break up the berries and don't overwork the dough. Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky.

Press (pat) the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick. If any berries peek out, push them into dough. Cut circle into 6-8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. Bake 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake 5-10 more minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown and spring back when you push them.
Creative Commons License
Baking Therapy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.