Sunday, March 11, 2012

Going Nuts

During the work week, I often get a craving for sugar after lunch, but I also need something more substantial to get me through the last few hours of the day. Granola bars usually work, but I get kind of sick of the sticky-sweet texture.

These cookies are a good compromise between sugary treat and healthy snack - they have almonds, walnuts, and whole-wheat flour. The whole-wheat flour gives the cookies a chewier texture than white flour, while the almond meal keeps the batter from being too dry or cardboard-tasting (common complaints when using whole-wheat flour in baked goods). I buy almond meal from Trader Joe's - it's a little coarser than almond flour, but it's also cheaper and works well in many baked goods (like this one).

Chocolate chip double-nut cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed/li>
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, baking soda, and salt and mix well. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract together until creamy. Add the eggs in a beat well. Gradually add the flour mixture in and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until golden. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove and let cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Too many lemons

I enjoy lemons, especially in baked goods. When I was young, my mother used to make lemon squares for a lot of get-togethers, and I always got to help squeeze the lemons. It's become one of my go-to recipes as well. For the holidays, I made a large batch of lemon squares and some shortbread for my coworkers:

I bought about two bags of lemons to make those, since each batch of lemon curd uses 4-6 lemons. Almost every other citrus recipe I've come across calls for two lemons at most, so you can imagine how flavorful these treats are.

In January, I came back to San Diego with a bag of lemons from my uncle's tree, only to find that my roommate had also brought some back from her family's tree. Too many lemons! I finally got around to making another batch of lemon curd this weekend, and was fortunate enough to come across a recipe that would work perfectly with it.

Lemon curd-filled almond muffins

Make a batch of easy lemon curd. This method is pretty easy and creates a very smooth, delicious curd. If you like your desserts tart, up the lemon juice a little and reduce the amount of sugar. Refrigerate the curd overnight to let it thicken.

Follow this recipe for almond dulce de leche muffins, omitting the cinnamon and substituting lemon curd for the dulce de leche. I modified the ingredients a bit further by using half whole-wheat flour and regular sugar.

Enjoy! I'll be eating these for breakfast all week!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Stuffed pizza for a winter day

Here comes my annual post. I've been craving pizza lately, so I made this kale-stuffed pizza for this week's lunch.

This recipe started originally came from an American Heart Association booklet as spinach-stuffed pizza, complete with a recipe for dough and instructions for a marinara-mushroom topping. I always take the easy route and just buy pre-made whole-wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe's. I'm not very big on mushrooms, either, so I usually go with extra cheese and pesto on the top instead. And while spinach is nice, it often gets a little to soggy between the crust. I've been using heartier greens like kale and collard greens in its place - they hold up better, give off less water, and the flavor is not much different. This recipe is very adaptable, so you can swap out ingredients to suit your own tastes.

Vegetable-stuffed Pizza

  • 1 package of whole-wheat pizza dough
  • 1/2 pouncd fresh spinach OR 1 bunch of other leafy greens (kale, collard greens)
  • 1 pound of mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup marinara, pesto, or other sauce
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, chopped

Preheat the oven to 475°F and place the oven rack in the middle. Grease a pie tin with olive oil, making sure to cover the sides and creases.

Split the pizza dough into two equal pieces. Set one half aside. Stretch the other piece out to cover the bottom and sides of your pie tin. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork at 1-inch intervals. Bake the crust for 4-6 minutes, then remove to a rack and let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 450°.

While the bottom crust is cooling, wash the vegetables and chop them into bite-sized pieces. Heat a skillet with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and some salt in once hot, and let the pieces brown for about 1 minute. Add the vegetables in and stir occasionally, until they are bright green and wilted. (If you use kale or collard greens, you may also want to add a tablespoon or two of water about a minute after you add the vegetables to "steam" them. This will make them a little more tender.)

Layer about 3/4 of your cheese and all of your vegetables on top of the crust. Press the filling down with a spoon if it's higher than the sides of the pie tin. Stretch your second piece of pizza dough out to cover the top of the dish, tucking the edges around the bottom crust layer. Cut a 1-inch slit in the center of the top crust.

Top the crust with your sauce of choice and the remaining cheese. You can also add other toppings here, like sliced tomatoes or mushrooms.

Bake the pizza at 450° for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature again to 400° and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the edges are a deep golden-brown. Remove and let cool for 10-5 minutes before slicing.

And here's some music for you, courtesy of Jagjaguwar Records. Bon Iver, who was recently nominated for four Grammys, makes absolutely beautiful music. Their latest self-titled album has been on repeat on my iPod since it came out in June. If you enjoy the tracks below, please consider purchasing their album.