Mini Orange Scones

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I think one of my most favorite guilty bakery pleasures is the Scone. Sadly, typical bakery scones are high in sugar, fat, and calories. I wanted to create a scone that was not too- sweet,  and still had the tasty, light and crumbly goodness of my favorite treat.

img_1211Mini Orange Scones

Recipe Tips

  1. Misen en Place is a French cooking term meaning “putting in place”. Making scones is quick and easy when you organize and arrange all your kitchen tools and ingredients in order before starting the recipe.
  2. Have the right kitchen tools. A food processor and zester will help give you the most perfect scone every time.
  3. Use chilled or frozen butter.  If the butter is allowed to soften too much it can react  with the baking powder and baking soda too soon resulting in a tough, dense scone. 
  4. Do not overmix ingredients. For light and flaky scones gently fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until a soft dough begins to form and there is still some crumbled dough.
  5. Use fresh ingredients. For the best citrus flavor use freshly squeezed orange juice and grated orange zest.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose white flour sifted
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter frozen and cut into 1/4 teaspoon or pea size pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried and diced fruits such as currants, prunes, apricots, and cranberries
  • 1/2 cup plain 2% yogurt
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 teaspoons maple syrup
  • white sanding sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

This recipe makes 16 mini scones

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  1. Place the flour, sugar, grated orange zest, baking powder, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the mixing blade. Pulse to combine about 6 pulses.
  2. Scatter butter pieces evenly over the flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the flour mixture to a large bowl and stir in the dried fruit.
  3. In a separate bowl mix together the yogurt and milk until smooth.  Add the orange juice, vanilla, and maple syrup mix until well blended.
  4. Fold the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients just until combined and a dough begins to form.
  5. Transfer dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead 3-4 times or 5-10 seconds.
  6. Divide dough in half and lightly pat into two 7 inch circles about 1/2 inch thick. Cut each circle into 8 equal size wedges.
  7. Place the wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  8. Sprinkle wedges with white sanding sugar.
  9. Bake scones 18 to 20 minutes or until the tops are puffed and lightly brown. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Scones taste best fresh from the oven but can be stored for a few days in an airtight container.

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Enjoy a  Mini Orange Scone with your favorite tea or coffee beverage.

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

 

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I wanted to create a healthy version of a Chocolate Crinkle Cookie that would be moist and have the same fine texture and delicateness of a traditional chocolate crinkle cookie.This recipe is adapted from the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook , a well known resource for cooking and baking. The changes I made to the original recipe are:

  • Decrease the amount of brown sugar from 1 1/2 cups to just 1/2 cup of brown sugar, The dark chocolate, cocoa, and espresso  enhances the rich chocolate flavor without the added sugar.
  • Decrease the number of eggs from 3 to 1, and add plain Greek yogurt.  Substituting Greek yogurt for part of the eggs in a cookie recipe helps to maintain protein content while decreasing the amount of fat and calories.  In baked goods a 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt can be substituted for each egg.

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

This recipe makes 30 to 32 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup white flour (5 ounces)

1/2 cup unsweetened 100% cocoa (1 1/2 ounces)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup unsalted butter (4 tablespoons)

3 ounces dark chocolate chips

1 large egg

1/2 cup light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)

1/2 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons espresso powder

1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces )

1/2 cup  confectioner’s sugar (2 ounces)

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Using a food scale to measure ingredients helps to ensure accuracy and quality of cookies

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Into a medium bowl sift  flour and cocoa. Mix in the baking powder and baking soda.
  3. Microwave the chocolate chips and butter together in a bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Whisk brown sugar, egg, Greek yogurt, espresso powder and vanilla together in a large bowl.
  5. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and stir together until well combined. Fold in the flour mixture until no dry streaks remain. Chill dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. Place granulated sugar and confectioner’s sugar in two separate small bowls. Form cookie dough by using  a one tablespoon cookie scooper and rolling dough into balls. Roll balls of dough first into granulated sugar and then into the confectioner sugar. Evenly space balls of dough on to prepared cookie sheets.
  7. Bake cookies one sheet at a time, until cookies are puffed and cracked and the edges have begun to set, and the centers are soft but not gooey. Bake about 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cookie rack and cool completely.

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Slow Cooker Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Homemade Baked Pita Chips

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My favorite go to appetizer  for  family get-togethers and parties is Slow Cooker Spinach and Artichoke Dip. A slow cooker can be one of your best kitchen helpers when you are entertaining.  I like that you can make this appetizer ahead of time, you can do other things while your food cooks, and  it frees up your oven and stove top for other cooking and baking. This dip is also easy to transport and stays warm and delicious while entertaining. Instead of store-bought chips I like to make home made baked pita chips.

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Slow Cooker Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Ingredients

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry

14 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and diced

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup olive based mayonnaise

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

8 oz. lite cream cheese, cubed

8 oz. lite sour cream

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup milk/heavy cream (optional)

Directions

Spray a slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir together until ingredients are evenly distributed and then pour into the slow cooker.

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Cook on high for 1 and 1/2 hours. Stir well and continue to heat for 30 more minutes  until cheeses are melted and the dip is heated through. If the dip is too thick, stir in milk or heavy cream little by little until desired consistency. Turn the slow cooker down to low and keep warm during service.

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Serve with homemade baked pita chips (recipe to follow), bread or crackers or with assorted fresh vegetables such as  celery, carrots, and cucumbers.

img_1124Homemade Baked Pita Chips

These pita chips are much healthier than fried store-bought chips, are easy to make, and can be customized with your favorite seasonings.

Ingredients

5 Round Pita Pockets

Olive oil

Garlic Salt

Dried Chopped Basil Leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

  1. Cut each whole pita round in half, then into quarters, and then into eighth’s to make eight equal size triangles.
  2. Place on a single layer on a large sheet pan lined with parchment paper
  3. Using a pastry brush lightly brush triangles with olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic salt and dried basil leaves.
  4. Bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes until lightly crisp.

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Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Cranberries, Apples, and Walnuts

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Quinoa is an ancient grain which has become one of the most popular health foods today. Quinoa is  high in protein, vegetarian friendly, and unlike many plant proteins contains all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. We can only get essential amino acids through the foods we eat.  Quinoa is gluten-free,  high in fiber, and a good source of B-vitamins, iron, potassium,  magnesium, phosphorus, and heart healthy fats. Quinoa is not only nutritious but is easy and quick to prepare.  It can be incorporated in to many dishes including salads, stir fries, soups, casseroles, side dishes, and even baked goods.

I really enjoy this quinoa salad as it is easy to make, can be a everyday healthy salad, and also served as a beautiful salad for the holidays.

Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Cranberries, Apples and Walnuts

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Ingredients

  • one cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • one can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • two medium honey crisp or Granny Smith apples chopped into small pieces
  • one cup crumbled goat cheese
  • one cup candied walnuts (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette or Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing (see recipes below)

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Directions

  1. First prepare the quinoa. Rinse one cup quinoa in a fine mesh colander under cold running water for 30 seconds. Rinsing quinoa removes the saponins which can cause bitterness. In a medium saucepan bring quinoa and 2 cups  vegetable broth to a boil, turn down heat to a simmer and cover. Lightly simmer for 15 to 20minutes until liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat,  stir in dried cranberries re-cover  and set aside  for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Allow to cool before adding to salad.
  2. Make candied walnuts. On a stove top on medium heat melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet. Add one cup chopped walnuts, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, and one tablespoon maple syrup. Sauté for 5-6  minutes and pour over parchment paper. Gently separate nuts.
  3. In a large salad bowl or platter combine the cooled quinoa, chickpeas, chopped apples, and baby spinach.
  4. Top with candied walnuts and crumbled goat cheese.
  5. Drizzle with Balsamic Vinaigrette or with Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing (Recipes below)

img_1010Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing :

  • Ingredients : 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Directions: place all ingredients in a container with a tight feeding lid such as a mason jar. shake vigorously for 30 seconds until well blended and emulsified.Store in the refrigerator.

Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing:

  • Ingredients: 1 cup fresh cranberries, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • Directions: In a small sauce pan over low heat cook cranberries, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup for 10 minutes until soft. Remove from heat and cool. In a blender or food processor blend cranberry mixture. Add orange juice, Dijon mustard, and salt. Blend well. Slowly add olive oil while blender or food processor is running. Store in the refrigerator.

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Apple Streusel Kuchen

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My interest in cooking and baking originates from my German heritage. My first lessons in cooking and baking came from my German mother. Our family enjoyed many German specialties. My mother baked beautiful German cakes and tortes. My interest in cooking and baking grew into a passion for nutrition. One of my favorite deserts growing up was an apple streusel kuchen. Traditional German Streusel Kuchen is a butter cake made with a yeast dough that is covered with a sweet crumble or streusel. In my twist of the original recipe, I use a simple butter cake batter, adding a layer of cheesecake, sliced apples, and an oatmeal streusel topping.

Guten Appetit!

Apple Streusel Kuchen

Cake Batter

1 cup all-purpose white flour sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup half and half

Cheesecake Layer

8 ounces cream cheese softened
one large egg lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/4 cup white granulated sugar

Oatmeal Streusel Topping

1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces

3 medium apples (Honey Crisp, Granny Smith, or your favorite cooking apple), peeled, cored and sliced into thin slices

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9 inch spring form pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Prepare the streusel topping. In a small bowl mix the flour, oatmeal, brown and white sugars, and ground cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two forks until topping resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

For the cake batter, in a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture alternately with the half and half, starting and ending with the flour mixture and beating only until combined. Spread the cake batter evenly onto the the bottom of the prepared pan.

To make the cheese cake layer, in a separate bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and mix well. Blend in the beaten egg and vanilla. Spread cheese cake layer evenly over the cake batter.

Arrange apple slices evenly on top of the cheesecake layer. Sprinkle with the streusel topping.

Bake for about 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean and the apples are soft and cooked through. Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing. Dust with powdered sugar.

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Pumpkin Bread with Oatmeal Streusel Topping

 

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It’s fall and that means its time for pumpkin recipes. Fortunately pumpkins are super nutritious and offer many benefits:

  1. Pumpkin seeds also known as pepitas contain many valuable nutrients and micronutrients including protein, healthy fats (polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acids), fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc. Pumpkin seeds can be roasted and served as a snack, in granola, or added to salads and baked goods.
  2. Pumpkin is an excellent source of  beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that is converted to vitamin A in the body and can help to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease,  delay aging and improve eye health.
  3. Pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin is best known in pies and bread but can be used in place of butter or oil in baked recipes. Just be careful not to use pumpkin pie mix as it may contain added sugars.

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Pumpkin Bread with Oatmeal Streusel Topping

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 (15oz) canned pumpkin

Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup raw shelled (green) unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  lightly spray two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2 loaf pans  with cooking spray.

Prepare Streusel Topping. In a small bowl mix the flour, oat meal, brown and white sugars, and ground cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork until topping resembles coarse crumbs. Toss in raw pepitas. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice together. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, with a wire whisk, lightly beat eggs. Add the white sugar, oil, maple syrup, Greek yogurt, and vanilla and mix well. Stir in canned pumpkin until evenly incorporated.

Gently add wet ingredients to flour mixture. Spoon into greased loaf pans.

Sprinkle with streusel topping. Bake 45 to 48 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean. Cool in loaf pans 20 minutes before removing.

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 Decorate with powdered sugar.

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Enjoy!

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Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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I love creating new muffin recipes and as you may have noticed one of my favorite ingredients is zucchini.  My challenge was to create a chocolate muffin that was both kid and grown-up friendly but would meet all my requirements for good for you to.

What makes this chocolate muffin recipe so rich in flavor and good for you to is my surprise ingredient pumpkin puree .

IMG_0857Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Dry Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

Wet Ingredients

3 large eggs lightly beaten with a whisk

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 cups finely shredded unpeeled zucchini

1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  In a separate bowl mix together sugar, eggs, maple syrup, canola oil, pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients just until combined and flour starts to disappear.  Fold in shredded zucchini and add chocolate chips.

Lightly spray a muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or use paper muffin cups to prevent sticking. Divide muffin batter evenly to make 18 muffins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-23 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in muffin pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

 

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