Tag: cooking’

Semi-healthy brownie cookie bites

 - by Sarah Lipoff

brownie cookie bites

I was really craving something deliciously chocolate-y the other day but didn’t want all that butter, sugar, and fat. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted cookies or brownies (yeah, I’m indecisive) so decided to combine the two with an egg-free and semi-healthy recipe that totally took care of my chocolate craving. And this recipe is so easy your kid can make it. Really. Mine basically did.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon applesauce

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup sugar

Dash of salt

1/2 cup flour (you could use whole wheat or half white and half wheat)

1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (optional – or you can swap with carob chips)

Directions

Measure and add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir until incorporated. While you are getting things ready, preheat your oven to 350˚ F and line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread, creating a nice and even layer of goodness. When your oven is ready toss the brownie cookie bites into the oven. For really fudgy bites, bake for 12 minutes. For a crisper crust, and a nicely set brownie cookie, leave in the oven for around 18 minutes, which what I did. Remove and let come to room temperature before even touching them.

brownie cookie bites2

These bake wonderfully, but if you try to cut them right now, they’ll be a big melty mess. Yes, a big melty mess is still wonderfully tasty, but your brownie cookie bites will resemble a warm baked pudding more than a crisp and gooey brownie cookie bite if you cut them fresh from the oven. After around 30 minutes, remove from the pan with the help of the parchment paper and cut into small squares.

brownie bites 3

Depending on how big you like your brownie cookies will decide how many you get from the pan. I think we cut around 20, but ate at least four right away. I’ve experimented with healthy brownies in the past, and these totally won out on flavor and gooey factor. And you can make them even healthier by using whole wheat flour and swapping a banana for the veggie oil (they just might be a bit denser with a touch of a nana tang).

 

Cooking with Kids: Peanut butter oatmeal finger cookies

 - by Sarah Lipoff

cooking with kids

I love cooking with my tot and have been exploring the wonders of the kitchen with her by my side for quite some time now. But there are times that I would love for her to get out of my kitchen and do some pretend cooking on her own. But the other day, when she was insistent on making some sort of treat, I caved. Well, yeah, I kinda wanted some sort of treat too.

We didn’t have much for tossing together something super sweet, but did have a few basics that, once expertly mixed together by my tot, would be just fine. And I’ve discovered that it doesn’t really matter what we make, or how it tastes, she usually eats it if she made it. There are a few things I’ve learned from inviting my youngster into the kitchen:

-The first, and most important, is to NOT worry about the mess. Really. You’ve got to let it go. By containing the potential disaster, you’re able to make clean up less time consuming. I try to have all ingredients, mixing spoons, bowls, measuring cups and spoons, and damp paper towels at the ready so I don’t have to leave my tot while she’s mixing.

-It’s probably not going to taste amazing. Even if you measure everything exactly, when cooking with kids, stuff just happens. Your tot may give the salt shaker an extra sprinkle, the oil may be drizzled too long, or something may be forgotten in the chaos. Guess what? Your kid won’t care — she’s excited about the process, and doing some actual cooking. So try not to wrinkle up your nose and dig in, which will show your child that you are impressed with her budding culinary skills.

-Keep it simple. Please. Now is not the time to try making perfectly cooked macaroons or something you’ve never attempted before. Stick with things you’re comfortable cooking and baking so your little one isn’t overwhelmed with the idea of getting in the kitchen.

We made these super easy and wonderfully adjustable peanut butter cookies the other day, and not only are they tasty, they are healthy. So grab your little one and get in the kitchen!

Ingredients

1 cup peanut butter

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1 cup oats

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Dash of salt

1 cup flour

(You could add chocolate chips, a dash of cinnamon, raisins……)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350˚F.

It’s as easy as helping your child measure and add the ingredients as they are listed to a mixing bowl. Our rule is that there is no taste testing after the egg has been added to any recipe, and to HOLD the BOWL while stirring. I try to stand back and let her at it. Yes, sometimes I need to give a helping hand when measuring and adding ingredients, but letting your child figure it out makes cooking together really special.

cooking with kids 1

cooking with kids2

cooking with kids3

The dough holds together really well, making it perfect for rolling in balls and then pressing flat with your fingers, which is why we decided to call them finger cookies.

cooking with kids4

cooking with kids5

cooking with kids6

cooking with kids7

For extra sweetness, sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sugar or drizzle with a bit more honey. Pop in the hot oven for 12 minutes, let cool, and enjoy.

photo-12

What’s your favorite kid-friendly recipe? Leave a link in the comments below!

 

Sexy food: Breakfast pizza

 - by Sarah Lipoff

breakfast pizza

Valentine’s Day is this week and there’s no denying that along with the giving and receiving of hundreds of cheesy and impersonal cards, lots of lovebirds are heading out for special dinners, giving small blingy tokens of appreciation, and trying to figure out last minute ways to show some love. What I find absolutely and  wonderfully sexy is a great homemade breakfast that you can eat in the comfort of your own home (especially now that I’ve got a small thing running amok in the house as early as 6 am). The idea of eating a velvety, luxurious breakfast on a special morning (Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Birthday, Christmas, Child’s Birthday, Saturday…) is the perfect way of showing true adoration.

My husband is known to toss together amazing slow-cooked scrambled eggs that melt in your mouth.

Delicious.

And, thus, why he is my husband.

But this Valentine’s Day, I had plans for making a special breakfast that would  fill my sweetheart’s tummy with savory goodness. And the Shine Supper Club’s challenge this month is all about sharing sexy dishes, making this breakfast recipe wonderfully fitting.

Breakfast pizza.

Crisp crust topped with thinly sliced prosciutto, slivers of fresh Parmesan, and topped with soft eggs that spill and run all over the whole shebang. How perfect is that? And you can use store purchased pizza dough, which makes this recipe wonderfully easy for any home chef.

Ingredients

Pizza dough (homemade or store bought)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese

1/8 pound thinly sliced prosciutto

Fresh spinach leaves

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

4 eggs

Fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Preheat your oven to 425F so it’s really hot when you’re ready. Having your oven temperature just right ensures those eggs will set properly on the breakfast pizza.

Lightly grease your pizza pan and then press out the dough to create a nice even thickness. Top with the olive oil, Italian seasoning, and the spinach leaves.

breakfast pizza 1

Now layer on the prosciutto and sprinkle half of the shredded cheeses over the pizza. Carefully crack and add the eggs to the pizza and then toss the rest of the cheese over the eggs.

breakfast pizza 2

Carefully place in the hot oven for 10 to 13-minutes, or until the eggs are just set.

Give the finished pizza a light covering of fresh cracked pepper, slice, and serve alongside fresh strawberries, hot coffee, a big kiss, and you’ve got the perfect sexy breakfast. And the longer you let the pizza sit before cutting, the eggs will set to your liking.

breakfast pizza 3

*Just so you know, this recipe is also wonderfully delicious as a late-night snack…

 

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Florentine

 - by Sarah Lipoff

slow-cooker-chicken-florintine

The other day I was hanging out with a good friend and we were chatting about how she’s not super excited about getting in the kitchen. I love to cook so am always a little befuddled when I discover someone who just isn’t into it. While we were having a lovely time hanging out, and watching out tots playing, I decided it was the perfect opportunity for a spontaneous “How to Use Your Slow Cooker”  creation. We tossed a few things together that she had hiding in her fridge and freezer, I added a bit of seasoning, and hoped it would be delicious.

Yeah, I guess the final result was a bit spicy.

I own a slow cooker but have to admit to not using it very often. I love slowly braise big cuts of meat in Dutch ovens, baking chicken until it has a crispy skin, and quickly searing tasty meats. The slow cooker seems like a gooey-ooey mess of shredded and over cooked ingredients. But I was determined to figure it out and put together a wonderfully delicious recipe for my friend.

Chicken Florentine.

This is seriously easy, takes only a few minutes of morning prep, which makes things wonderfully simple.

Ingredients

1 pound chicken breasts

1 garlic clove

1 small onion

2 cups whole mushrooms

1 10-ounce can of cream of mushroom soup

1 1/2 cup chicken stock

1 cup frozen spinach

Parmesan cheese

Cooked pasta

Directions

Slice the onion and mushrooms, and chop the garlic, adding them to the slow cooker. Doesn’t matter how you chop or slice the ingredients — the way you do it totally fine.

slow cooker 1

Now you can add the chicken and cover with the soup and chicken stock. That’s really it. Cover and set on low for eight hours. Go to work or do whatever you do.

slow cooker 2

After several hours of simmering away, you’ll have something that looks like this. Give things a stir and let simmer while you relax after your long day until you’re ready to eat dinner.

slow cooker 3

Boil some pasta and add the frozen spinach to the chicken Florentine.

slow cooker 4

By the time your pasta is ready, the spinach will be nice and hot. Place some pasta in the bottom of a bowl, cover with a big ladle of the yummy chicken, and cover with a grating of fresh Parmesan cheese. Dinner is served!

My Set, My One-Pot Quick and Healthy Chicken Stroganoff

 - by Sarah Lipoff

Have you ever wished you could customize a cookware set for the way you love to cook? Well now you can, with Your Set by Calphalon. I was lucky enough to receive two incredibly versatile pieces, and I used them for some of my favorite dishes.

See how I used the AccuCore Stainless Steel 3-quart Sauté Pan for My Set, My Healthy Chicken Stroganoff.

Click here to read my post and enter for a chance to win one of 16 prizes worth $8,500! You can win a $1,000 cash gift card or one of 15 $500 Your Set by Calphalon gift cards so that you can build your own perfect set!

Click here to start customizing Your Set right now!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

There’s nothing like a one-pot dinner that’s also heathy — and seriously easy to make. With the help of a seriously amazing AccuCore Stainless Steel 3-quart Sauté Pan, I had dinner on the table in no time and in serious style. I’m always trying to find ways to put a healthy spin on dishes and experimented with a twist on the traditional stroganoff by using skinless boneless chicken thighs and swapping sour cream for yogurt.

-keep reading for how to win your own set of Calphalon pans and for my recipe!

Easy homemade tomato sauce

 - by Sarah Lipoff

We’ve had a bit of rain, and a couple of cold nights, which means it’s time to harvest all the veggies before they go bad. Down the road there’s a local farm that welcomes members to pick all the goodies and leave some cash based on the honor system. I headed over and loaded up on tomatoes, brought them home, and picked the few remaining from our sad little vines. I haven’t made homemade sauce before, but knew it was the best way to savor the wonderful flavor of the ripe red beauties.

I started by peeling the tomatoes, which is as easy as using a sharp knife to make a big X on the bottoms of the tomatoes and then tossing them into boiling water for a couple of minutes. I had around four pounds of tomatoes and figured that would make a good amount of sauce…

Place the hot tomatoes in a bowl of ice water and let sit for a moment.

Now the skins will just peel away from the tomatoes. While you’re removing the skins, place the tomatoes over a bowl with a strainer over the top, and give them a squeeze to remove the seeds, but save the juice in the bowl beneath.

Warm a tablespoon of olive oil with a few cloves of crushed garlic until the cloves start to sizzle and then add the crushed tomatoes and juice, ditching the seeds and skins. Sprinkle in some salt, a pinch of sugar, and a good dash of Italian seasoning. Let simmer for 10-minutes.

Now remove from heat and blend the tomatoes with a hand blender or in batches in the blender. Be careful — this stuff is hot! Give your sauce a taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

Place the sauce back in the pan and simmer on low for at least 30-minutes, reducing the sauce and deepening the flavor.

Once you’re happy with the consistency and flavor, turn off the heat and let the sauce cool before ladling into jars. Use for topping your favorite pasta, making tasty lasagna, or as a pizza sauce.

Chocolate peanut butter oatmeal yogurt cookies

 - by Sarah Lipoff

 

Yeah, that’s right. All those ingredients are in these cookies and they are good. And along with begin tasty, they are really easy to make. In fact my toddler did most of the work this afternoon. We needed something sweet and gooey that also was filling but not loaded with sugar. So this combination of healthy ingredients seemed wonderfully perfect. Along with being just slightly sweet the cookies are have healthy protein from the yogurt and peanut butter and fiber from the oats. So grab a bowl and get mixing, these cookies are ready to eat in less than 15-minutes.

Ingredients

1/2 cup room temperature butter

1/2 cup yogurt

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Dash of salt

Directions

Blend together the room temperature butter, yogurt, and peanut butter in a medium-sized bowl. Preheat the oven to 350 F so it’s nice and hot when you’re ready.

Now you can add the sugar, vanilla, and egg and mix until blended nice and smooth.

Measure and add the oats, baking soda, dash of salt, and then the flour, stirring until everything is incorporated.

Drop big spoonfuls of the batter on a sheet pan, pressing them gently to form flattened rounds — the cookies don’t spread much.

Pop the cookies in the oven for 12-minutes and then let cool for a minute or two before eating.

Yum!

 

 

How to roast a duck

 - by Sarah Lipoff

The other day there were whole ducks at Costco. It’s not every day that you pick up a whole duck to cook up for dinner, but the price was not to be passed up — $14 for a 4 pound birdie seemed like a total steal. Humanely butchered and also kosher, we picked up three and quickly walked to the check out.

WIN.

Because we don’t have a deep freeze, orchestrating the proper positioning of those ducks in the freezer took much more time than I ever imagined. But it was totally worth it. Roasting a duck isn’t a quick thing. For a little birdie, slow and low is the way to go.

Start by removing the innards from the duck. You can do wonderfully delicious things with the liver, but that’s a post for another day. Give your duck a quick wash in cool water and remove any feathers if neccesarry.

Prepare your roasting pan by lining with two layers of tin foil. Yeah, you want to save that duck fat — really, you do. Now place a turkey rack in that pan and give it a good coating of oil. Tuck the wings under the duck, place it on the greased rack, and give it a quick sprinkle of salt.

I decided to stuff my duck with a quartered orange and a couple of smashed cloves of garlic. Truss the legs to keep that birdie pristine. Use a very sharp knife to poke the duck all over the place. We’re not talking stabbing, just a nice decent jabbing. This helps release the fat from the skin so you’ll have a nice, crisp skin when that duck is finished roasting.

Preheat the oven to 350F and then score the breast with a sharp knife. You don’t want to butcher the thing, just criss-cross the skin delicately and then give it a good seasoning with salt and pepper. You’ll notice I tossed the neck bone in the bottom of the pan for extra lovely duck flavor…

Pop that duck in the oven and set the time for one hour.

Roast.

Take the duck out and baste with its own drippings. Carefully turn, poke, baste again, and then roast for another hour.

Roast.

Take the duck out and baste. Carefully turn, poke, baste again, and then roast for another hour.

Roast.

Take the duck out and let sit for a moment. Now is the time to decide on your flavor profile. If you are wanting a Peking duck kind of flavor, baste on some duck sauce or soy sauce and have a great time. But what tastes even better is mixing together you own tasty coating. I squeezed an orange, mixed with 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon ketchup, a touch of soy and Worcestershire sauce, and a dash of salt and pepper.

Give your duck a big basting and then toss in the oven for another 2o-mintues or so. You can take your birdie out and check its temp and give another basting. Your bird might need up to an additional hour of cooking at this point, so just check back often. It’s suggested that the leg joint temp should read 175F, but if you’re around 165F  or 170F, pull that duck and let it rest for a few minutes.

Give your duck at least 10-minutes to set before you start carving. While you’re waiting you could make a lovely sauce from the fat, steam some broccoli for a side, enjoy a glass of wine….

Carve your bird and serve with whatever you love.

Enjoy!

 

 

Honey ricotta snack muffins

 - by Sarah Lipoff

ricotta muffins

The other day the whole family had the sniffles. We didn’t feel sick, just stuffy. Then my ears started ringing, and my husband commented his were too. It’s been warm and windy here and a few trees are enjoying a late bloom, so figured this was the culprit. We have a Mimosa tree, which is seriously beautiful, but it’s in full bloom and dripping pollen.

Thus our stuffiness.

The husband and I can pop pills to ease our sniffles, but I’m not so excited about giving anything to the tot. While at the local farmers market the other day, I ran into mama friend and she suggested picking up some local honey, which might help. See, those bees love the pollen from the trees, head back to the hive and make the delicious honey, and when we eat it, the honey helps build the body’s immunity to allergens.

Something like that.

I love honey and had some ricotta in the fridge that needed to be used, to combined the two with these seriously good snack muffins. I even popped a spoonful of organic strawberry jam in the middle for an extra pop of fresh summer flavor.

Ingredients

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup jam

Direction

There’s not much to say — just toss all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, except the jam, and give things a good stir until everything comes together. While things are mixing, preheat your oven to 375F so things are nice and hot when you are ready.

Lightly grease your muffin tin and add a spoonful of the muffin batter to each. Spread to cover the bottom and then drop about 1/4 a teaspoon of your favorite kind of jam on each.

Cover with another dollop of the batter, sprinkle with a bit more sugar — or drizzle with honey (or both like we did), and then pop in your hot oven for 15 to 17-minutes.

ricotta muffins

Let cool for a few minutes, use a knife to help remove your tasty honey ricotta snack muffins, and enjoy!

 

Yogurt Alfredo

 - by Sarah Lipoff

Yogurt Alfredo

I love Alfredo sauce. All that cream and butter smoothed lusciously together and then slathered on pasta – yum. What I’m not so in love with is all that cream and butter and cream and more butter. I love pasta but am also trying to switch our sides to healthier salads or bean concoctions. Amazingly, the tot inspired this recipe. The other day I boiled up some noodles to serve plain with a drizzle of good olive oil, roasted garlic and fresh herbs when she spied the yogurt in the fridge. She insisted on having yogurt with her pasta, which kind of sounded a bit icky to me. But, whatever makes her happy, right?

By the end of dinner, curiosity got the best of me and I snatched a forkful of her yogurt pasta. And, surprisingly, it was good. Sure, it needed tweaking, but it was creamy, tasty, and healthy.

This is a super easy way to liven up pasta – without all that cream and butter. You can add flavors your family loves, or leave it plain and simple. Use a thick, Greek-style yogurt for making this light Alfredo sauce.

Ingredients

1 lb. pasta cooked (whatever shape you like)

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper and dried oregano

Directions

Boil your pasta until tender and drain. In the same pot, melt the butter along with the chopped garlic until the edges just start to brown. Add the pasta back to the pot and stir to coat.

Turn the heat to low and add the salt, yogurt, and milk. Give things a gentle stir until the yogurt has melted into the pasta.

Now turn the heat off and add the grated Parmesan cheese. Mix things together, do a taste test, and adjust seasoning as needed. If you like creamier pasta, add a splash more milk. Want more cheese? Sprinkle some over the top of the pasta before serving.

Enjoy!