Browsing Tag


No-Bake Chocolate Clusters

November 12, 2009

Crazy, busy, wonderful. Those three words really are not even close to being enough to describe my past two weeks, but they will have to suffice for now, because my brain is only functioning at 50% at the moment due to over-use and exhaustion. I’ve spent the better part of the last couple weeks filming holiday craft and decorating videos for Better Homes and Gardens – 100 Days of Holidays.

I was introduced to a whole new world that doesn’t involve food and had the opportunity to learn so much about decorating! It was awesome to spend days going to the Christmas tree farm, decorating wreaths, and hanging garland. It really got me in the holiday spirit, so much so that I feel like Christmas should be right around the corner. The videos aren’t online yet, but I’ll make sure to post a link when they are, which should be right around Thanksgiving time.

Simplicity is the name of the game for these chocolate clusters, because sometimes you just want a bit of something sweet right now, instead of laboring in the kitchen over a fancy dessert. I melted a bag of milk chocolate chips, though I would have used dark chocolate if we had it around the house, then stirred in a cup of shredded coconut, a cup of chopped pecans, and a half a cup of dried cranberries. Stirred it all together and dropped it in heaping tablespoons onto parchment paper. Give these little chocolate treats a half an hour in the freezer before eating and you have yourself a delicious and quick no-bake chocolate dessert.

Happy cooking!


Fruit and Nut Breakfast Muffins

October 19, 2009

Whew! After a crazy two weeks of papers, tests, and general craziness there was nothing more I wanted to do than mentally check out of school mode and into creative baking mode. Nothing even remotely related to school was allowed this past weekend, just baking and more baking. Of course, man (or woman) can not survive on decadent sweets alone.

For that reason, I give you Fruit and Nut Breakfast Muffins. Truly healthy, hearty, and utterly satisfying in every sense of the word. The whole wheat flour and fruit make these treats dense and give them a texture that’s part scone, part cakey muffin. I all but eliminated sugar in the batter, used all whole-wheat flour, tossed in some rolled oats, and cut down the oil to only 1/4 cup. The fruit in these muffins? Dates! One of Mother Nature’s most delicious, fruity gifts. Because of the natural sugar in the dates, I figured cutting the added sugar wouldn’t be a problem.

These muffins are best when straight from the oven with a bit of butter, but are also great the next day re-heated with a touch of peanut butter. Well, I say peanut butter because I think it tastes great on everything, but maybe fruit preserves would be a bit more appropriate for most people. 🙂

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/4 cups fat-free or 2% milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 package dates, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped pecans

*Preheat oven to 350F.
*Mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, rolled oats, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
*With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat in egg, milk, and oil until well combined.
*Stir in dates and pecans. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, 2/3 full.
*Bake muffins at 350 for 10 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Happy cooking!


Chocolate Chip Pecan Scones

September 22, 2009

This morning I woke up rather groggy, wishing coffee had the power to make you look as awake as it made you feel. I had every intention of being well-rested today, going to bed early so I could catch up on a bit of much needed sleep. All was well until around midnight, when I woke up hungry. Staring at the ceiling, thinking about my midnight cravings and trying not to give in to any of them, the scones I made a couple days ago were on my mind.

In keeping with my belief that all breakfast pastries can, and should, be made a bit healthier whenever possible, I have loosely adapted a scone recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook. They are made entirely with whole-wheat flour, a bit of butter, brown sugar, pecans, and skim milk in place of cream. I don’t think the all-purpose flour or heavy cream will be missed, and your waistline will thank you.

*2 cups whole-wheat flour
*2 tsp. baking powder
*1/2 tsp. salt
*4 Tbsp. butter
*2 eggs
*1/3 cup skim milk
*1/2 cup chopped pecans
*1/2 cup chocolate chips

*Preheat oven to 425.
*Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with a pastry mixer until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in eggs, one at a time, then add in milk, pecans, and chocolate chips.
*Roll onto floured surface into 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into circles with a cookie cutter or squares with a knife.
*Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and crisp on the outside.
Makes 10 scones

Sorry for the short post. A long day is ahead of me and I have to run. Enjoy!