Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cranberry Pistachio White Chocolate Bark

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Sometimes when I come home from work in the winter and it's already depressingly dark outside, I just need a quick jolt to liven my senses. Homemade chocolate bark is a great solution. Believe me. It's easy peasy.

On top of that, with its deep red berries and brilliant green pistachios, it practically screams Christmas. And if that's not good enough for you, a few dear family members stared at a bag of this freshly made bark before even tasting the stuff...they claimed they didn't like white chocolate. But after one nibble, that claim no longer held true!

Cranberry Pistachio White Chocolate Bark [click to print]
  • 1 c. pistachios, shelled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 c. dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 2 c. white chocolate chips
1) Line 13x9 pan with parchment paper and set aside. If you don't have parchment, heavily coat foil with nonstick cooking spray.

2) Combine nuts and berries in bowl and set aside.

3) Heat white chocolate in double boiler, stirring constantly, until only a few lumps remain. Remove from heat and continue stirring until smooth.

4) Stir chocolate into nut and berry mixture until all pieces are well coated. Press into prepared pan and spread as thinly as possible. It's okay if the mixture doesn't reach all the edges of the pan. Allow to set completely at room temperature or about 1 hour in the freezer. Break into pieces and serve or package as gifts!

Source: Adapted from Skinny Taste

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Coconut Macaroons

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We're gearing up for another round of The Biggest Loser at work. Last time we did it, I totally won! I've kept most of the weight off and even got in good enough shape to run a half marathon last fall! That was a great feeling. 

So maybe it's the wishful thought of running in the warm sunshine, slathered with a nice layer of Banana Boat, or craving whatever treat my dad says sounds kind of good, but I've had coconut on the brain! And these macaroons are surprisingly low in fat, although the sugar might get you if you indulge too many times. And the best part is, they really aren't that hard and they taste so good! Totally worth running that extra block.

Coconut Macaroons [click to print]
Makes about 2 dozen
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1-1/4 c. sugar
  • 14 oz. bag shredded coconut
  • 1 to 2 c. dark chocolate chips
1) Whisk together egg whites and sugar in heat proof bowl. Create a double boiler by placing bowl over pot with about an inch of boiling water. Whisk continuously until sugar dissolves. (Hint: Listen for the gritty, sandy sound to disappear and you're good to go!)

2) In large bowl, pour about half of egg white mixture over coconut. Stir well to completely distribute wet ingredients. Slowly add more egg white mixture, about a tablespoon or two at a time, until the coconut is wet enough to just hold together when scooped. You may not need all the egg whites, so stir well between each addition!

3) Pack mixture into cookie scoop or press firmly into ball about 2 T. in size. Place on cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, and bake at 350 F for 10-15 minutes or until just barely golden. The cookies will be very fragile at this point. Carefully slide the entire sheet of parchment paper off the baking sheet and allow to cool completely.

4) In small bowl, microwave chocolate in 10 second intervals, stirring between each nuke. If the chocolate is still too thick after completely melted, add a teaspoon of butter or shortening and stir until incorporated. Dip macaroons into chocolate, wiping against edge of bowl to scrape off excess chocolate, and place on parchment paper to set.

Source: Adapated from L'Academie de Cuisine

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Coconut Banana Bread (butter and oil free!)

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I know, you're rolling your eyes at me right now. As I type C-O-C-O-N-U-T you're quietly calling me a N-U-T under your breath. But I promise you, coconut is completely appropriate for the middle of fall when you mix it into a warm, moist loaf of banana bread!

I've just been in a coconut-craving, impatient sort of mood lately so my vote was for something quick and easy and delicious. And since the black bananas have been piling up in my freezer lately, Coconut Banana Bread was the logical choice. Plus, it doesn't even have any added butter or oil so you can easily rationalize that you're eating an entire fruit basket as you devour this loaf!

Coconut Banana Bread (butter and oil free!) [click to print]
Makes one loaf
  • 1/2 c. applesauce
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 c. flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 medium bananas, extremely ripe and mashed (about 1 c.)
  • 1 c. coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. sweetened shredded coconut
1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.

2) Stir together applesauce, sugar and eggs until smooth.

3) In separate bowl, whisk together flour, powder, soda and salt; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together bananas, milk and vanilla. Alternately add flour and banana mixtures to egg mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in coconut.

4) Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 60-75 minutes or until top is golden and springs back lightly when touched. Cool about 10 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Adapated from Fat Girl Trapped In a Skinny Body

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Monkey (Ginger)Bread

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The first time I had monkey bread was during college. We were having a breakfast bash and my friend brought this hot, gooey mound of pull apart bread and I realized that I was in love. I've always gone a little weak at the knees over sticky, caramelized, breaded pastries and this stuff is no different.

Except for this isn't your ordinary monkey bread. This stuff tastes like the holidays and is packed with fragrant spices and molasses. And, it's really a lot easier than it sounds!

Monkey (Ginger)Bread [click to print]
makes 1-bundt

For bread
  • 3-1/4 c. flour
  • 2 T. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (or 1pkg)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 1/3 c. warm water
  • 1/4 c. molasses
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
For coating (prepare in separate bowls)
  • 3-4 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c. brown sugar
1) Generously coat bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour (very important to use the kind with flour!). 

2) In bowl of stand mixer, whisk together flour, spice, salt and yeast. Add milk, water, molasses and vanilla. Continue mixing with hook until dough starts climbing the hook. 

3) Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until dough forms a smooth ball. Place in oiled bowl and cover with damp cloth and set in warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. 

4) When risen, transfer dough to floured surface and gently punch down and shape into 8" square. Use a pizza cutter to dough into 64 pieces. Coat each ball in melted butter, then brown sugar and start piling into bundt, trying to distribute them somewhat evenly. 

5) Cover bundt with damp towel and place in warm area to rise about 1 hour; the dough balls should be puffy and about 1" below top edge of bundt pan. 

6) Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan no more than 5 minutes. Turn out onto plate and allow to cool another 10 minutes before serving. 

Source: Adapted from Food 52
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