Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tasty Snack Tuesday - No-Bake Energy Bites

 Since I gave you a deliciously indulgent recipe yesterday, I thought we should balance that out with something on the healthier side.  I am always on the lookout for tasty, healthy snacks, not just for myself, but also for Chris and our little monster guy.  I have a relentless sweet tooth and am not the type who can quit sweets.  Its just not going to happen.  What would life be without sweets?  I stumbled upon these while browsing Pinterest one day, and have made them twice now, and Chris and I agree that they are delicious.  The great thing is that you can really play with what goes into them.  Here is my slightly adapted version:

No-Bake Energy Bites

1 cup dry oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed (I subbed chocolate peanut butter protein powder on another batch)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey (or liquid sweetener of your choice, I have used maple syrup as well)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.  I found that bars were much easier to deal with, so I pressed the mixture into an 8x8 pan that I lined with parchment paper.  Pop that into the refrigerator until its set, then remove and cut into 16 squares.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week, but they probably won't last that long.

When I thought I could tempt my picky 21-month-old with such a healthy treat, I made the batch with flaxseed and maple syrup (since kids shouldn't have protein powder, and honey is still a no-no until age 2).  He tried one, but was soon onto my game.  But, Chris really liked these, and I do too.  They are perfect for a light snack, especially before or after a workout.  I think they would also be really good with raisins or dried cranberries (really any dried fruit), coconut (which the original recipe called for, but Chris doesn't like the texture).  If you make these and choose to throw in additional ingredients, you made need to add a bit more liquid, but just add it a tiny bit at a time until everything comes together.  These will probably become a staple in our house.

Original recipe from Gimme Some Oven, as adapted from Smashed Peas and Carrots

Monday, January 28, 2013

Let's get started, shall we?

Peanut butter and chocolate anyone?

What's better than beginning with a classic?

As I will tell you over and over one of my favorite things in the world is baking.  I love to be in the kitchen, surrounded by my ingredients, a recipe in front of me (or not), something delicious just waiting to be made.  I decided that my first recipe feature should be one of Chris's favorites, a classic, and it just happened to be his request for the weekend, which is when I do the majority of fun, "just because" baking, so I give you peanut butter chocolate chip cookies!

Sure, with peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, if you find yourself short on ingredients and/or time, there's always the go-to 3-ingredient recipe (peanut butter, sugar, egg), and those cookies taste delicious, but if you really want to put some love into a batch, I recommend the recipe below.  They are peanut-y, chocolate-y, and have a delicate crispness to the outside.  In short, they're delicious, and the husband was not disappointed.  He asked me what he was going to snack on when the weekend was over because they might disappear that fast!  (Side note, he's been pacing himself, so they'll last a few days).  So thank you, Joy the Baker, for one of your always awesome recipes.  Here is this one, barely adapted:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg
2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
sugar for rolling the cookie dough in before baking

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper if you're using it (I STRONGLY recommend that).

Whisk your flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a smallish bowl and set it aside.  Cream the butter until smooth, then add your sugars and eggs and thoroughly incorporate.  Beat it all together until its nice and smooth for a couple of more minutes.  Gently add your dry ingredients and mix on low until everything is incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Grab a tablespoon and scoop up level bits of dough.  Roll the dough into a nice little ball and toss it in sugar to coat.  Then, using a fork, make the traditional criss-cross pattern, which will flatten your dough to somewhere between a quarter and a half inch - that's just perfect.  Position your cookie dough so that there's at least an inch between each piece on the baking sheet.  Bake for 12 minutes (which was exactly perfect for me), and then let your cookies cool for a minute before transferring them to a cooling rack (I pretty much just put them right on the rack and they were fine).  Repeat until you're done!  I got about 6 dozen cookies out of this recipe.... might have gotten a few more had I not continually sampled the dough.

Original recipe from Joy the Baker found here