Monday, August 31, 2015

Easy Four-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies


I love baking cookies. But sometimes recipes have like 50 ingredients and it's very time consuming to get all the ingredients out of the cupboards, measure them out, and then put them away (first world problems, I know). That's why I love simple, few ingredient recipes.

There are only four ingredients in these easy peanut butter cookies: peanut butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. I also sprinkled sea salt on top for a little sweet and salty combo.

When I told my mom about the recipe, she was skeptical they wouldn't set without flour. But they baked just fine and were soft and chewy.

Also, this is a great recipe for anyone who is gluten intolerant because there isn't any flour.

Additionally, I want to make note that I used all-natural, no sugar added creamy peanut butter. Regular peanut butter is perfectly fine to use in this recipe, but since I was already dumping a cup of sugar into the cookies I decided to cut down the sugar in the peanut butter.

Easy Four-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
Yield: One dozen cookies

Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Optional sea salt to sprinkle on top
 Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray and set aside
  3. In a large bowl mix together peanut butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
  4. Scoop out tablespoon-sized balls of cookie dough, roll into balls, and place on sheet.
  5. Using a fork, press criss-cross marks into each cookie.
  6. Optional: Sprinkle a little sea salt on top (or kosher salt if you can not get sea salt)
  7. Bake cookies five minutes, turn pan and bake five more minutes. The bottoms will be slightly browned and the cookies will be very soft.
  8. Let rest on pan for five minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to finish cooling. They will firm up as they cool.




Sunday, August 23, 2015

How to Make Cinnamon Roll Waffles


For my dad, the most exciting part of staying in a hotel was always the waffle iron at the continental breakfast.

So for Christmas last year my mom surprised him with a waffle iron (it was cheaper to buy a waffle iron than stay in a hotel every time we wanted waffles).

And with the acquisition of the waffle iron has come experimentation with the waffle iron.

So what happens when you take a can of cinnamon rolls and put them in a waffle iron? You get: CINNAMON ROLL WAFFLES! We made these on vacation and they were a big hit!

You can either put one pre-cut cinnamon roll dough in the center or evenly space out three to four cinnamon rolls. Just make sure to put the dough close to the center so that it will merge together as one waffle.

Now I can already hear the critics…

Critic: “Wow, a waffle consisting of four cinnamon rolls? That's a lot of calories!”  
Me: “This isn’t something I eat everyday! Like I said above, we made these on VACATION. And if you do eat these everyday, I would like to direct you to some healthier breakfast recipes to try on my website like this egg casserole.”

Critic: “This isn’t really a recipe. Your only ingredient was a can of refrigerated cinnamon rolls.”
Me: “Recipes don’t always have to be complicated. Sometimes a recipe is just a unique way of doing something.”

Ingredients
  • 1 can refrigerated cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing
Directions
  1. Heat waffle maker and spray with cooking spray. Remove cinnamon rolls from can; set icing aside.
  2. For each waffle, place 1, 3, or 4 cinnamon rolls in the center of waffle maker; close.
  3. Bake for 3 to 4 minutes or until waffle is thoroughly cooked and golden brown.
  4. Spread icing over waffles and serve.



Friday, August 14, 2015

Fresh Peach-Blueberry Crisp


Recently, my family went on vacation to one of my favorite places – Kiawah Island, South Carolina! And my favorite souvenir from the trip was a bushel of fresh peaches!

That’s right! As we were driving through the southeastern United States we came across a peach stand with bushels and bushels of peaches! And I really think it’s pretty much impossible to turn down fresh peaches.

There are so many possibilities with peaches! Personally, I love just eating plain, fresh peaches. They taste COMPLETELY different than canned peaches. I honestly don’t know if they’re the same fruit.

But one of my favorite ways to use fresh peaches is by making a peach crisp! So that’s exactly what I did!

I wanted to make a very healthy peach crisp – mainly so that I didn’t feel guilty for eating it at breakfast.

So I made it completely sugar-free (using only a little bit of Splenda). I think the peaches are sweet enough on their own and don’t need much sugar.

Also, I made the peach crisp gluten-free for all of my friends with dietary restrictions. I did this by using oat flour in the recipe. To make oat flour, just pulverize gluten-fee rolled oats in a food processor.  (If you don’t have any dietary restrictions, feel free to use regular, all-purpose flour or whole-wheat flour).

Also there are only two tablespoons of butter in the entire recipe! It just goes to show that the fresh peaches are delicious enough on their own that they don’t need a whole lot of sprucing up!

And as you see below, I put blueberries in the crisp, just because I had them on hand and I thought it gave the dish a nice color. But they’re not necessary recipe.

(If you don’t have access to fresh peaches, you can substitute frozen peaches for the exact equivalent. And you don’t even need to that the frozen peaches.)

Fresh Peach-Blueberry Crisp

Ingredients:
For the filling
  • 5 cups sliced peaches, frozen or fresh (about 5-6 medium peaches)
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries (if you don’t like blueberries, you can omit)
  • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free oat flour (or all-purpose flour or whole-wheat flour)
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
For the topping
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda
  • 1/2 cup rolled or old fashion oats (make sure they’re gluten-free oats if you need the recipe to be gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour (or all-purpose flour or whole-wheat flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease an 8-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Prepare filling: Combine peaches and blueberries with oat flour, Splenda, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Toss gently until combine. Spoon into prepared baking dish.
  4. Prepare topping: Melt butter in microwave-safe bowl. Set aside. Combine Splenda, oats, oat flour, and cinnamon together in medium-size bowl. Stir in the butter. Evenly sprinkle topping over filling.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool slightly before serving.
  6. Serve dish warm, room temperature, or cold.
  7. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.





Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies


Perfection in a cookie is a matter of individual preference. Personally, I like my cookies thick and chewy.

No cracker cookies for me, no sirree!

So my tips and the recipe below will yield perfectly puffy chocolate chip cookies every single time.



1.) First of all, make sure to properly measure all of your ingredients. Unlike cooking, baking is a very exact science.

Your cookies’ taste and appearance depends on properly measured ingredients. It is also the key to consistency.

The best way to do this is to measure your ingredients by weight. One of my favorite baking tools ever is the EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale. I use it to measure everything.

I try to add weight (in grams) to each ingredient listed in my recipes, but when I encounter a recipe where the weight isn’t listed, I used this ingredient weight chart to check.

2.) Most recipes call for a mixture of brown sugar and white sugar, but I use ALL brown sugar.

So what makes the sugar brown? Molasses. Brown sugar is essentially white sugar + molasses. Don’t believe me? Check the ingredient list on your bag of brown sugar!

The molasses retains moisture and as a result prevents spreading on the baking – making the cookie thicker.  Also, I personally like the deeper flavor that brown sugar gives the cookie.

3.) My FAVORITE secret ingredient to the perfect chocolate chip cookies is… duh duh duh duhhhhh INSTANT VANILLA PUDDING MIX.

A lot of people add cornstarch to their cookies for extra softness and an added lift. Cornstarch, similar to molasses, retains moisture.

But if you add to much cornstarch, your cookies may have a funky taste.

Well, a package of instant vanilla pudding mix contains cornstarch. So when you add the mix to your recipe, you guaranteed the perfect amount every time.

Also, I think the vanilla in the pudding gives the cookie a deeper flavor.

AND the cookies taste fresh for almost a week with the mix (although they probably won’t last that long).

4.) My final tip for the perfect chocolate chip cookies is chilling the dough.

Chilling the dough allows the ingredients to settle together after the mixing stage.

Also, cookie dough that is refrigerated spreads less. And less spread = thicker cookies!

Additionally, chilling dough gives cookies a more pronounced flavor and it changes the texture. King Arthur Flour wrote an in-depth article on all the benefits of chilled dough.

Cover the dough and chill it for at least one hour. You can also chill it up to three days if you can resist waiting that long!

Once you’re done chilling the dough, pull it out of the refrigerator and let it rest for ten minutes before rolling into balls. That way it’s easier to work with.

And there you have it – my FOUR tips to the perfect chocolate chip cookies! Prepare to be the talk of the town!



Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: About 24 cookies

Ingredients
  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour (281.25 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar (207 grams)
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Measure flour and baking soda in medium bowl. Combine and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together.
  3. Add in pudding package and beat until well blended.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla.
  5. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture until well incorporated.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
  7. Cover the dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  8. Remove dough from refrigerator.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Roll dough into balls (the size of 2 tablespoons) and place on greased baking sheet or silicone baking mat.
  11. Bake for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. (I recommend setting your timer for 8 minutes and checking at that point to see if they need more time)
  13. Cookies stay fresh in covered container for up to one week.



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