Cookie Dough Truffles

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Cookie dough ice cream, cookie dough milk shakes and now cookie dough truffles!  I, like most people, always wanted to lick the spoon after making cookies with my mom.  However, before sneaking a bite or two my mom would berate me for eating raw eggs.  The solution?  Eggless cookie dough!  Not only does the recipe curve my sweet tooth, but I took it one step further by making the cookie dough into truffles.

cookiedoughtrufflesThe “American truffle” is a half-egg shaped chocolate-coated truffle, a mixture of dark or milk chocolates with butterfat and, in some cases, hardened coconut oil.  The “European truffle” is made with syrup and a base made up of cocoa powder, milk powder, fats, and other such ingredients to create an oil-in-water type emulsion.  The “French truffle” is made with fresh cream and chocolate and then rolled into cocoa or nut powder.  The “Belgian truffle” or praline is made with dark or milk chocolate filled with ganache, buttercream or nut pastes.  The “Swiss truffle” is made by combining melted chocolate into a boiling mixture of dairy cream and butter, which is poured into molds to set before sprinkling with cocoa powder.  As you can see there are many ways to make a truffle, but this recipe simplifies and hits the nail on the head: a win-win.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I halved the cookie dough recipe.
  2. I think the recipe was too sweet, so I suggest adding more flour as a thickener and less brown sugar.
  3. Make sure your butter is softened allowing it to incorporate evenly.
  4. Add any type of filling–chocolate chips, M&Ms or any other candy.
  5. Make the truffles using a melon baller or similar instrument.
  6. Place your truffles on wax paper in the freezer until they harden.  You can put them in the fridge, but they take longer to harden.
  7. I used semi-sweet chocolate as the coating.  I suggest dark chocolate to cut the sweetness.  You can use any type of your choosing.
  8. Place the truffles back in the fridge or freezer to harden after coated in chocolate.

Cookies are extremely versatile.  These truffles are no different.  You can mix and match add-ins; you can mix and match the chocolate coating.  These sweet treats are pop-able and delicious.  Without getting sick, you can enjoy your favorite dough without hesitation.  For up to three months, the cookie dough can be stored and enjoyed–unless you, like me, cannot keep your paws off it.

Leave a comment with your favorite cookie add-ins.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

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Overripe bananas on sale at the grocery store or you purchased more than you anticipated eating? Banana oatmeal breakfast muffins are an exceptional way to save “wasted” bananas. Unlike muffins from Starbucks, these easy breakfast or snack treats are free of sugars and loaded with nutritional benefits like flax seeds

Flax seeds come in two basic varieties: brown and yellow (also known as golden linseeds). Most types have similar nutritional characteristics and equal numbers of short-chain omega-3 fatty acids. The exception is a type of yellow flax called solin (trade name Linola), which has a completely different oil profile. Solin is very low in omega-3 fatty acids. Although brown flax can be consumed as readily as yellow, and has been for thousands of years, it is better known as an ingredient in paints, fiber and cattle feed. Flax seeds produce a vegetable oil known as flaxseed or linseed oil–is one of the oldest commercial oils­–and solvent-processed flaxseed oil has been used for centuries as a drying oil in painting and varnishing.

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Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I like to use Chobani when baking or cooking with Greek yogurt because of its
    thicker texture.
  2. You can use vanilla yogurt just remember to nix the teaspoon of vanilla.
  3. The honey works well to add sweetness to the dish.
  4. Do not use agave!!! Although agave is becoming increasingly popular, agave is made with high fructose corn syrup.
  5. The flax seed is an added nutritional benefit as noted above.
  6. Your bananas should be spotted brown and very ripe. They will mash easily; the riper the banana, the sweeter the taste.
  7. I cooked my muffins at 400 degrees and they were still moist and delicious.
  8. Pulsing the oats in a food processor creates oat flour.
  9. I added pecans to my batter.
  10. The muffins will be dense and moist from using a banana base.

Muffins are always a great way to create a grab-and-go breakfast. The use of sweet bananas and the acidity of the pecans work as a perfect pair. There is room for diversity in ingredients. Try dark chocolate for a dessert muffin; try raisins for a healthier muffin; try strawberries for a fruity muffin. Any way you like it this muffin can offer.

Leave a comment with your favorite muffin mixes. Follow my Pinterest. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Almond Butter

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Everyone has always strayed from fats because society has brainwashed us into thinking they are big, bad and scary.  The truth of the matter is that a balanced diet includes fat; one just needs to balance the amount they eat daily.  Nuts are a great source of protein and fat.  When I want to splurge, I choose to eat a peanut butter, or in this case nut butter, sandwich.

I’ve been dying to make my own nut butters previously, but I had this terrifying thought that it was too hard.  Boy was I completely wrong.  All you need is a food processor and the nuts of your choice.  While most nut butters are made from peanuts and almonds, you can make them with any type of nut.  The essential part of making the nut butters is grinding the nuts until they release their oils creating the creamy texture.  Take note that nut butters tend to have a grimy texture unlike processed peanut butters and may need to be mixed before eating it to reincorporate the oils.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I made half the amount of butter than the recipe; however, making more takes less time, funnily enough, because there is a higher volume of food being processed.  Ergo, you won’t have to stop 20 extra times to scrape the sides.almondbutter
  2. You can make as much or as little nut butter as you choose.  Be sure to keep it in an airtight container.
  3. Add any type of flavors to the nut butter: honey, white chocolate, dark chocolate, salt or chia.
  4. I suggest adding a pinch of salt to the butter or buying salted nuts from a whole grocers, like Sprouts.  Salt enhances flavors when cooking.
  5. Roast the nuts before processing them in a 350-degree oven for no more than ten minutes.
  6. Roasting the nuts brings out a nutty aroma, making your kitchen
    smell delicious.

Ta-Da! You’ve made your own, healthier and personalized, nut butter: simple and easy without those pesky preservatives.  Make as little or as much of the nut butter as you’d like for less than grocery store prices.  Individualize the butters with your favorite flavors to build new creations.

Leave a comment with your favorite nutty flavors.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Banana Coconut Cake

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Craving a sweet tooth, but you don’t want to damage your diet?  The banana coconut cake hits the spot without busting your diet plan.  Made with real bananas I added a light whip topping to make it even healthier (for a sweet).

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. For the cake, I substituted a thick Greek yogurt for sour cream which will provide the same consistency with less calories and more protein.
  2. Use skim milk instead of whole milk for a better balanced diet.
  3. Be sure to use a very ripe banana.  Not only will it cook better, but you can use up those ones you haven’t had time to eat and it mashes easier.bananacoconutcake3
  4. Instead of using thick, sugared frosting, I substituted for a light, whipped topping.
  5. Between each layer of whipped topping I added
    toasted coconut.
  6. The toasted coconut will only take a few minutes (3 at max) to brown in the oven at 350 ˚F.
  7. Instead of icing the entire cake, ice the layers and leave the rest exposed.  It will give it a more modern look and
    less calories.
  8. The cake itself will be denser since there is banana and thin because of less batter.
  9. Lay it on a cooling rack to cool before handling.  This process will allow the cake to firm up and stack easier.
  10. Use can use pam to coat the cake pan instead of butter again for less calories and
    no sticking.

banancoconutcakeCut the cake into 2 or 4 pieces to share or save for later.  Scoop a mouthful and satisfy that sweet tooth.  The cake is a dense banana cake with a touch of sweetness.  The toasted coconut helps bring that coconut flavor forward and adds a crunch.  In place of coconut, you could use toasted walnuts or another topping of your choice.  There are tons of possibilities to try and indulge your guests in.  You won’t have to break your diet with this cake.

 

Leave a comment with your topping ideas.  Follow my Pinterest for more delicious recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Whole-Wheat Honey Bread

 

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Since I was a kid, I have always loved bread; however, breads need to be eaten in moderation.  Making homemade bread can warm your house and provide aromas to your senses.  This whole-wheat honey bread takes me back to the days where my grandparents baked everything from scratch or my mother would take us to the local bakery.  In other countries, making bread is standard.  Rarely do individuals buy pre-processed Wonderbread from a grocery store.

honeywheatbread2After baking, there is nothing better than eating a warm piece of freshly baked bread as a sandwich, side dish or peanut butter lathered snack.  Using whole-wheat flour can increase the health benefits such as dietary fiber leaning towards less weight gain.  If you are like me, insulin resistant, whole-wheat grains can help reverse the cycle along with other necessary precautions.  The high fiber and low glycemic index of whole wheat grains allows for a well balanced diet when reaching for those carbohydrate filled breads.

 

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used regular whole-wheat flour in place of bread flour.  It made the bread denser, but every piece was like the center: gooey and delicious.honeywheatbread
  2. I suggest melting the butter before adding it to the milk.  This allows the milk to keep its temperature and having to take time to mix until the butter melts.
  3. You’ll need a dough hook for this recipe.  Dough hooks keep incorporating the mixture without flour and pieces getting stuck in the center of a whisk.
  4. You can mix the dough with your hands in place of dough hooks.  Be sure to knead it well and flour your hands.
  5. Allowing the dough to rise is important.  It should triple in size by the time it is ready to cook.  Do not rush this process.
  6. Allow the bread to cool before setting it on the cooling rack.  It will harden and keep its form better.
  7. I cut my bread into slices before packing it away.  Allow it to cool so that you don’t smash the bread in the process.

Making bread is a process that takes time.  It needs to rise and rest allowing the gluten structure to become finer and preventing large air holes in the bread.  Also, it provides texture to the bread and permits the yeast to convert more sugars from the flour giving you a nice flavor complexity.  The bread will be delicious along with your satisfaction of making food from scratch.  Scrap all those pesky preservatives and aim for a higher goal.  The bread can last for two weeks in the cupboard or fridge and about one month frozen.  Lather it with nut butter or pumpkin pecan butter for a delicious pairing.  The sweetness of the honey and the nuttiness of the butters create a mouth-watering delicacy.

Leave a comment with your favorite bread recipes.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Almond Biscotti

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I decided to try my hand at some biscotti.  Almond biscotti is a great addition to your coffee, glass of tall milk or tea party.  Because of the dry texture, biscotti is usually served with a drink (dunking required!) as a dessert.  These tasty treats are easier than I expected to make.  Their shortbread, crumbly texture and delicious flavors make it a must for an evening, family
get together.

almondbiscottiBiscotti is a twice-baked, oblong-shaped cookie or biscuit made dry and crunchy.  Theprocess relies on cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking in the oven to prevent a pile of crumbs.  It also relies on baking it twice to create that firmer texture.  Biscotti is made in these methods for long storage periods.  There are various forms of biscotti flavors, usually made with almond and nut bases.  Modern biscotti is made with nuts and seeds (almonds, pine nuts and pistachios) and dipped in chocolate.  Today, they are enjoyed in numerous coffeehouses around
the world.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. You can use almonds in the flour mixture or almond meal (ground almonds).
  2. Toasting the almonds is essential because it gives them a delicious aroma to the biscotti and your house.
  3. I used Truvia, which allows for ½ the amount of regular sugar.  You can use Stevia (1-to-1 ratio) for sugar free treats.
  4. I used an even amount of all purpose flour and wheat flour for a healthier variation.  You can use all wheat flour or gluten free flour in substitute.
  5. Since I used wheat flour, my dough was not as sticky and easy to work with.almondbiscotti2
  6. I suggest chopping the remaining almonds into slivers to pieces, so they stay in the dough mixture.  I kept mine whole, which left me with a pile of almonds that wouldn’t fit in the dough.
  7. Smoothing the top of the biscotti is essential.  You want thin long pieces in
    the end.
  8. Let the biscotti cool just enough to handle, but not enough to harder too much because you’ll want to keep it from breaking when cutting it into pieces.  Your cut pieces should be in the iconic biscotti shape.
  9. Cooking it a second time creates that hard, signature crunch of biscotti.
  10. Once cooked, dip the biscotti in chocolate.  Dark chocolate works well complimenting the sweetness of cooked almonds.
  11. Let them cool at room temperature.  While the chocolate might melt at your fingertips, refrigerating it will make it harder than a rock.  The chocolate should set within an hour.

almondbiscotti3Enjoy a cheese and wine plate for dinner; then, dazzle guests with coffee and homemade biscotti.  Since biscotti lasts for long periods, it is a great gift to send.  Swap the overpriced, manufactured cookies for these delicious treats that will make your house smell glorious.  Surprise the office by bringing these treats in for coffee and meetings.

Leave a comment with your favorite drink to enjoy with biscotti.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

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I have an addiction to peanut butter, and I usually make special treats for my dad when I’m home.  I decided to try my hand at the easiest, microwave, chewy, peanut butter granola bars.  Granola bars are a great way of combining a healthy snack with peanut butter.  These treats are also some of the quickest and yummiest granola bars ever made; they take 5 minute with only 2 minutes of cooking–if you can call it cooking.

Fun fact–peanuts are not in the nut butter family. They are categorized into the legume family. The method of making peanut butter is the same as nut butters. The nuts are ground into a paste like form. Peanuts, being about half oil, are half fat. Peanut oil is about one-half monounsaturated fats and one-third polyunsaturated fats, with the remaining 15 percent saturated fats. Peanut butter provides protein, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate, dietary fiber, resveratrol arginine and high levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid. Funny enough, the United States is the leading exporter of peanut butter. Apparently, I’m not the only fanatic of peanut butter.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I would suggest using less Rice Krispies than suggested.  Start out with 1 cup; you can always add more after the fact.
  2. I used natural peanut butter, which has a grainy texture.  You can use any type you’d prefer just keep the ratios in control.
  3. My peanut butter was cinnamon honey flavored; so, I used ½ the honey and vanilla in
    the recipe.
  4. I used light brown sugar because it’s a little healthier, and I had it on hand.
  5. If using a powerful microwave, heat the mixture for 30 seconds at a time to avoid over cooking the mixture.
  6. You can either use aluminum foil–making it easy and fewer cleanups afterwards–or use pam to prevent sticking.  The granola bars work like Rice Krispies treats.
  7. I suggest refrigerating the bars longer because freezing them makes it harder to enjoy them afterwards.

The greatest part about these bars is that they are easy and quick to make.  They take two peanutbuttergranolaminutes cooking and a few minutes for prep.  The hardest part is keeping your paws off of them while they cool and set.

Making your own granola and granola bars allows for a large room of interpretation.  You can add peanuts, walnuts, almonds, raisins or dried fruit.  Use two smaller pans and try your hands at two different bars.  The possibilities are endless.

Leave a comment with your favorite add-ins.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Be sure to check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.