Archive | January, 2013

Savoring The Simple Things – Fresh Baked Bread

26 Jan

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There are few things as amazing as fresh baked bread – the simplicity, and the smell that fills the kitchen are just two of the reasons why it’s the perfect treat for a cold day – or any day really!

Oh, and it’s easy to make – that helps too!

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There’s the dough making…

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And the kneading…

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And the rising…

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And the baking…

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And then there’s the best part – the EATING!

 

For this one, my husband kept it simple and used the Betty Crocker recipe for white bread:

 

Ingredients:
6 to 7 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour* or Better for Bread® bread flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
2 packages regular or quick active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
2 1/4 cups very warm water (120° to 130°F)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted, if desired

 

Directions:
1. In large bowl, stir 3 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, shortening and yeast until well mixed. Add warm water. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle.
2. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy. Grease large bowl with shortening. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 40 to 60 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
3. Grease bottoms and sides of two 8×4-inch or 9×5-inch loaf pans with shortening or spray with cooking spray.
4. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough in half. Flatten each half with hands or rolling pin into 18×9-inch rectangle on lightly floured surface. Roll dough up tightly, beginning at 9-inch side. Press with thumbs to seal after each turn. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Pinch each end of roll to seal. Fold ends under loaf. Place seam side down in pan. Brush loaves lightly with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place 35 to 50 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
5. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 425°F.
6. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans to wire rack. Brush loaves with butter; cool.
Makes 2 loaves, 16 slices each

 

It was the perfect addition to our Thanksgiving feast, and was amazing as French toast too! You likely have almost all of these ingredients on hand, so go ahead and give bread making a try – it’s worth the effort, and goes great with everything from soup to peanut butter and jelly!

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Keeping That New Years Resolution With Healthy Cookies

6 Jan

Happy 2013! Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I made some – to try and work on my patience, to work out more, and to eat healthier. Diet/exercise resolutions are really common – and tough on someone who loves to bake! So I got to thinking – how can I keep my resolution while still indulging my desire to bake (and eat!)? Well, I decided to go through my recipe book and give some recipes a makeover – and what better recipe to start with than classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies?

My goal here was mainly to decrease the calories, while making the recipe healthier, and keeping the classic chocolate chip cookie flavor we all know and love

So here’s the classic recipe I started with:

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients
-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-3/4 cup packed brown sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-2 large eggs
-2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi Sweet Chocolate chips

Directions
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

The Makeover Recipe:
Ingredients:
-2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/3 cup vegetable shortening
-3/4 cup apple puree (I made mine in the food processor)
-¼ cup white sugar
-¾ cup brown sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup egg substitute (Egg Beaters)
-1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat shortening, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and apple puree extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add egg substitute and mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto greased baking sheets, flatten each cookie slightly using your fingers or a spoon

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

The yield for both recipes is about 42 cookies, which is what we based the calorie counts on when doing the calculations

Calorie Breakdown:
Original Recipe:
-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour = 990 calories
-1 teaspoon baking soda = 0 calories
-1 teaspoon salt = 0 calories
-1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened = 1600 calories
-3/4 cup granulated sugar = 540 calories
-3/4 cup packed brown sugar = 540 calories
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract = 0 calories
-2 large eggs = 140 calories
-2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi Sweet Chocolate chips = 1610 calories
Calorie total = 5,420 divided by 42 cookies = 130 calories per cookie

Makeover Recipe:
-2 ½ cups whole wheat flour = 950 calories
-1 teaspoon baking soda = 0 calories
-1 teaspoon salt = 0 calories
-1/3 cup vegetable shortening = 605 calories
-3/4 cup apple puree (I made mine in the food processor) = 240 calories
-¾ cup brown sugar = 540 calories
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract = 0 calories
½ cup egg substitute (Egg Beaters) = 60 calories
-1 cup mini chocolate chips = 805 calories
Calorie total = 3200 divided by 42 cookies = 75 calories per cookie

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How we made it healthier
-Lower cholesterol – by trading whole eggs for egg substitute and butter for vegetable shortening, we eliminate all cholesterol
-Flour exchange – We used slightly more flour to help them stick together better but also traded the white for whole wheat flour, which is a far healthier option
-Less sugar – using apples in place of sugar and fewer chocolate chips makes this treat less sweet but keeping the brown sugar leaves that sugary taste we expect from the cookies
-Less fat – shortening certainly isn’t fat free, but by using less of it than the butter in the original recipe, we cut out a lot of the fat

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So the main goal was fewer calories. And I think we succeeded on that count. An original recipe chocolate chip cookie has about 130 calories per cookie, and our makeover cookies have only 75 calories each! That is a reduction of 55 calories per cookie – which is amazing! A healthier cookie means we can enjoy more without the guilt!

As for taste and texture, its slightly more spongy/cakey and not as dense as the regular cookies. They still taste like the classic chocolate chip cookies we all know and love, and the mini chips give just enough chocolate chip taste and allow for the cookie taste to come through too! Overall, this makeover was a raging success, and I have already eaten 3 (or 4…) cookies, which go perfectly with some cold (skim) milk. Yum!

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So give the makeover recipe a try, they are delicious and will help you keep those New Years Resolutions!