Cranberry-Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whole-wheat cookie: why?

In my ongoing quest to eat (and cook) more healthfully, I’ve been perusing Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2007.  When I saw these cookies I decided I would (as is typical in my world ) slightly tweak the already pretty darn healthful recipe and try out a batch with Better Half being the designated guinea pig.  He’s very truthful (as is my friend R) about telling me if something is thumb’s up or thumb’s down.  I gotta be honest; when I first saw the cookies come out of the oven I thought what a dud, but it turns out they’re pretty tasty!  My changes to the original recipe are in red and, seriously, eight hours in the fridge?  I like fairly instant gratification–two hours is sufficient!

If you’re on Weight Watchers, these little gems are only 2 points a cookie–not too shabby, eh?

Cranberry-Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies

¾ c all-purpose flour
¾ c white whole-wheat flour
¾ c regular oats
½ t baking powder
¼ t baking soda
¼ t salt
¼ c dried cranberries
2½ T finely chopped walnuts pecans
1 T sunflower seeds
2½ T semisweet chocolate minichips
¾ c packed brown sugar
5 T butter, softened
2 T honey
¾ t vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white
Cooking spray Parchment Paper

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flours, oats, baking powder, and the next 5 6 ingredients (through chips) in a large bowl.  Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add honey, vanilla, egg, and egg white; beat well.  Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed until well blended.  Cover and refrigerate 8 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 10 12 minutes.  Cool 2 minutes on pans.  Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.  Makes 36 cookies.

I’m feel healthier already!

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

Gooey Meets Crunchy

Since I’ve been on my kick to eat better, get in shape, blah, blah, I haven’t been cooking as usual.  I’ve been jonzing for butter and chocolate.  Enter these amazing cookies.  Don’t be put off by the peppers.  I dislike black pepper but do like cayenne, paprika, chili, etc.; black pepper=ick.  This recipe is courtesy of Cooking Light, but these cookies taste anything but light.  They’re crispy on the outside and fudgy-gooey on the inside with a hint of cinnamon and a little unexpected kick.   Better Half, a man of few words, was very vocal in his admiration, and we’ve decided this is our new favorite !

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

5 ounces bittersweet (60%-70%) chocolate, coarsely chopped
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Dash of black pepper
Dash of ground red pepper
1¼ cups sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°.  Place chocolate in a small glass bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth.  Cool to room temperature.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.  Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper); stir with a whisk.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes).  Add egg; beat well.  Add cooled chocolate and vanilla; beat just until blended.  Add flour mixture; beat just until blended.  Drop dough by level tablespoons 2 inches apart on baking sheets covered with parchment paper.  Bake for 10 minutes or until almost set.  Remove from oven.  Cool on pans 2 minutes or until set.  Remove from pans; cool completely on a wire rack.  Optional:  sprinkle cooled cookies with powdered sugar.

Buttery Crescent Rolls

Whadda think of these, Doughboy?

Ah, the crescent roll.  Who among us hasn’t popped open a package of the ubiquitous refrigerated tubed crescent rolls?  Honestly, I have, but rarely, and it’s because I need to make an appetizer and they’re an integral part of the recipe.   I do not make them for “rolls.”  (Bit of roll snobbery there, eh?)

My crescent rolls are good.  No, I mean GREAT.  They are fool-proof, amazingly tasty and flaky, and easy to make.  Lovely daughter begs me to make her these crescent rolls, and usually I oblige.  Two years ago I ignored her request and instead made homemade bread.  I’ve been reminded many times of that little indiscretion.

Lovely daughter and I made these on Thanksgiving Day.  She sprinkled part of her batch with cinnamon-sugar, and we baked those for breakfast the next day.  Oh, Lordy, Lordy, were they good!  Enjoy these scrumptious crescent rolls, and check out other yeast love on YeastSpotting!

Buttery Crescent Rolls (24 rolls)

5 teaspoons active dry yeast
¾ cup warm milk
½ cup sugar
¼ cup softened butter
2 tablespoons shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour (KAF please!)
2 tablespoons softened butter

In bowl of mixer fitted with paddle (I’m using my KitchenAid), dissolve yeast in milk and allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Add sugar, ¼ cup butter, shortening, eggs, salt, and 2 cups flour, beating until smooth.  Add remaining flour and knead (using kneading paddle) for approximately four minutes.  Place in well-greased bowl, turning to cover all sides of dough and allow to rise until doubled (approx. 2 hours).  Punch down dough and divide in half.  Roll each half into a circle approximately 12 inches.  Spread each half with 1 tablespoon softened butter.  Using pizza cutter or knife, cut each circle into 12 pie-shaped wedges.  While stretching wide side and pulling long end (makes more layers), roll up wedges into crescent shape.  Curve slightly and place point end down on greased baking sheet.  Cover and allow to rise until doubled (approx. one hour).  Bake at 375° for 8-11 minutes or until golden brown.  Slather with more butter if you like!

Nun Bread

Why is it called Nun Bread. . . .

A close friend of mine is an awesome cook.  She’s a nurse with a stressful job who still finds time to cook everything homemade—all the time.  Her husband should bow down and kiss the ground she walks on.  I have no problem telling him that repeatedly.

About five years ago while I was visiting, Fluffy (her Better Half’s term of endearment) made the most amazing rolls, and when I asked what they were, she replied, “Nun’s rolls.”  What?  They were crispy on the outside with a great chewy bite inside.  I’m normally your All-American white bread kind of gal, but this was made from cracked wheat and steel-cut oats, and mmm, honey.  I asked for the recipe and of course it was in her head, so she jotted it down on a notepad.  The next week I tried making the rolls, but into bread.  When reading her notes I could see something wasn’t right.  I called and asked her if perhaps the recipe should contain yeast.  Oops, yes.  Salt?  Oops, yes.   I couldn’t get the taste exactly the same, but over time I have messed around with it and am pretty close.

This makes one lovely loaf or round, or about 12 rolls.  If you think you’re not a fan of wheat, you must try these.  Here’s my recipe for Nun Bread—yeast and salt included!

Nun Bread

2-1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup cracked wheat
1/4 cup steel-cut oats
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2-1/2 cups all-purpose (unbleached) flour

In mixing bowl dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.  Allow to proof for 10 minutes.

In medium-sized bowl, pour boiling water over cracked wheat and oats.  Add butter, honey, and salt, stirring until butter melts.  Allow to cool slightly.

Pour wheat/oat mixture into yeast mixture.  Add flours, mixing well.  Knead mixture until smooth (it will be somewhat sticky).  Place in a greased bowl, cover with towel, and allow to rise until doubled (approx. 2 hours).  Punch dough down and either place in loaf pan or shape into round loaf or rolls and allow to rise (approx. 1.5 hours).

Bake at 350° for approximately one hour (for bread) and approximately 40 minutes for rolls, or until golden brown.

For more yeast love, please check out: YeastSpotting!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls w/ Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

Ahhhh, la, la, la  (I’m singing, can’t you tell?).  The weather is cool[er] and my pumpkins are off the vine, and this makes me happy, happy, joy, joy!

These little gems are my gift to you.  Well, not really, because I’m not up to sharing. . . .   But the recipe is my gift to you.  Bonus:  the pumpkin replaces most of the fat in the roll recipe without sacrificing flakiness or tastiness!  Thank you pumpkin!  Start puréeing those pumpkins kids and get busy.  Fall has arrived!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls w/ Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

3¼ teaspoons dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 cup milk, scalded
½ cup puréed pumpkin
⅓ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
4 to 5 cups all-purpose (unbleached) flour

Filling:

1 tablespoon water
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon
2-4 tablespoons milk or half/half

In measuring cup, mix yeast with water and allow to proof 10 minutes.

In large bowl (I used my trusty, beloved KitchenAid) mix milk with pumpkin, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Cool for 5 minutes.  Add yeast and egg.  Using kneading paddle, add flour, one cup at a time, mixing and then kneading for approximately 6 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.  Let dough rise, in an oiled bowl, until doubled in size (approx. 1½ hours).

Punch dough down and roll into a rectangle approx. 18″ x 14″.  Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.  Sprinkle water on your hands and rub onto dough.  Sprinkle dough with sugar mixture.  Roll up jelly roll style, starting with the long side.

Cut into 12 pieces using scissors or string and place into a lightly greased 13″ x 9″ pan.  Cover with clean towel and let rolls rise for approximately 1½ hours.

Prepare frosting by mixing all ingredients together.  You can tweak the milk and sugar to reach the consistency you desire.  Set aside.

Preheat to 350° and bake approximately 20 minutes or until rolls are done.  Ice the rolls and let the fun begin!

Note: I tried putting the rolls, once sliced, into the refrigerator overnight for a rise in the morning.  I didn’t like what happened to the filling.  However, I also put slices in the freezer for a later time, and they froze beautifully.

As always, for more yeast love, check out: YeastSpotting!

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