Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingerbread Muffins--super healthy and delicious...

As many of your know I have been doing Weight Watchers on line for the past 5 months and have lost 46#. It is a great program and pretty easy to follow. My downfall has always been baked goods. And, the biggest problem is that I LOVE to bake.  So, I have been trying to balance my love for eating and baking with my love for not being fat and there is always quite a bit of tension between the two things.

I modified a muffin recipe I liked and then modified it some more and then again, and I have finally come up with a fantastic recipe that is super healthy and tasty. I eat one about 4-5 mornings a week along with a cup of tea and some Oikos Vanilla Greek Yogurt. If you know WW points, the muffins are 3 WW Points+ and so is the yogurt, so for 6 points I have a healthy and satisfying breakfast. But, you don't have to be watching your weight to love these muffins.  Here is the recipe, it makes a dozen nice sized muffins. I bake them in a Pampered Chef stone muffin pan without using cupcake papers. I tried other pans but they don't rise as high.

Gingerbread Muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the following dry ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 C flour, I use 1 C whole wheat and 3/4 C regular unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
Mix the following together, then add to the dry ingredients, stirring till combined, but it is OK if it is a bit lumpy:
  • 1 C canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 C applesauce, unsweetened [you could use oil instead, but I wanted a low fat muffin**]
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 C water 
  • 1/2 C sorghum [or honey]
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Scoop into 12 muffin cups. I like to use a 1/2 C ice cream scoop and then just plop a scoop into each muffin cup. [3 WW plus points per muffin, 2 for 5 points if you use sorghum rather than honey]. Bake for about 20-25minutes till the middle of the muffin pops back when you touch with your finger.

You may want to add nuts, raw sunflower seeds, cinnamon chips or dried fruit to batter before baking. I like to top with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar before baking, or what I did to the muffins in the photo above was add 1 tsp of streusel to each muffin.

Streusel topping: I make up a batch of this and keep it in the fridge in a zip-loc bag. It will last a long time and then it is easy to scoop some out to top muffins or coffee cakes. 1 tsp doesn't add any WW points, but when I use it, I count 2 muffins as 6 points.

 Mix together till crumbly: 
1/4 C butter [1/2 stick]
1/4 C  white sugar
2/3 C flour. 

Store in a bag or jar in the fridge and spoon it out as needed. 

Take care,

Note: For a more pumpkiny muffin which is not so gingerbready, omit the cloves and the ginger. 
**If you use a WW healthy oil in place of the applesauce, count the muffin as 4 WW+ points and each one has one healthy oil to help meet your daily healthy guidelines. If you have problems getting your healthy oils in daily, this may be a great way to do it. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hot Cocoa

I made hot cocoa last night and tried something new that worked well.I wanted to make a lot. So, for 2.5 gallons of hot cocoa I did the following:

Heat in a pan to boiling:

2 C water
2C dry cocoa powder
2C sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

Once this boils you can put it into 2 clean pint jars. When ready to make the cocoa, put the contents of one of the jars in a pan and heat, then add 1 gallon of milk and heat until it reaches 180 degrees-the perfect drinking temp for cocoa.  You can make both jars of syrup into cocoa at the same time, or save a jar for later. Just put it in the fridge and it will keep for a long time. I put a bowl of mini-marshmallows along side of the thermal container the cocoa was in. [We use Cambro  beverage Camtainers and they are pricey, but fabulous and well worth the money if you have lots of get togethers. If you do put it in a thermal container like this, I suggest heating the cocoa to 183-185 degrees so it will stay hot for hours.]

We like it less sweet, but if you are serving to company or children you may want to add some extra sugar or a squirt or two of chocolate syrup.

I made 2.5 gallons last night and there wasn't a drop left at the end of the evening.

Take care,

Cinnamon Rolls

Once a year we have a cinnamon roll open house and last night was the night. So, here is a photo diary of the process. Sure wish you could smell them too.  Here are some of them. You may notice one in the middle is gone--I had a fresh hot one right from the center.

You can see my kneader and the two most important ingredients, flour and brown sugar.

 I use my kitchen aid for making the filling.

 My kneader is full to the brim of my basic roll dough. [Recipe at the end of this blog.] I use this dough for making dinner rolls, coffee cakes and cinnamon rolls. It is a good all around dough.
 The dough after a brief rest. I just uncovered it so I could begin making the rolls.
 I divide the dough into fourths so I can work with it.

 I grease pyrex baking pans with a mixture of 1 part liquid lecithin and 2 parts veggie oil.
 I put some oil on the counter and then roll the dough out long and thin.  I try not to make it wide because then the rolls are so big and some gets wasted.
I mix up the filling in my Kitchen Aid and divide into fourths, using 1 part for each piece of rolled out dough. I spread it with a thin spatula.
 I spread the filling thin, top with broken pecan pieces and roll up like a jelly roll.
 Here it is rolled up. Then I put it on my long cutting board in order to slice.
 I slice about 1 inch thick.
 I put them loosely in the greased Pyrex baking pan. When the pans are greased with the lecithin/oil solution they slide right out after baking.
 Here they are rising. I covered them up with flour sack towels as I went along, but took them off for the photo.
 In the oven.
 I make up the frosting while the first ones are baking.
 The first rolls are out of the oven. I put 15 to a pan, and eventually made 133 rolls out of this triple size batch. I tip the pan up and the rolls slide right out and after a few minutes I spread with a light frosting and they are ready to eat.

My kneader does a great job of kneading the dough, making this job much easier.

I have added the recipe below. I made a triple batch for the party.

Take Care,

BASIC ROLL DOUGH (For dinner rolls and coffee cakes)

7C flour                       1/2C sugar
2T yeast                       1/2C margarine
2 1/2 C milk                2t salt
2 eggs

In mixing bowl, combine 3C flour and the yeast.  Heat milk, sugar, shortening and salt just till warm (115°-120°).  Stir constantly till shortening almost melts.  Add to mixture; add eggs.  Beat at low speed of mixer 1/2 minute, scraping bowl.  Beat 3 minutes on high. By hand, stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Shape into a ball.

Place in lightly greased bowl; turn once to grease surface.  Cover; let rise in warm place till double, 1 1/2-2 hours.
 ** Punch down; turn out on floured surface.  Cover with bowl and let rest 10 minutes.  Shape.

For dinner rolls, make into small balls, and put on greased cookie sheets, cover and let rise till doubled. Then bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes, till brown.
The best ever!

Make Basic Roll Dough [above]
Grease* 2 large pans, I prefer pyrex glass pans, the 10x14 size, or you could use 3 smaller pans.

While dough is resting, mix together the following:
            2 sticks softened butter
            3T cinnamon
            2C brown sugar

After resting, roll out dough and spread dough with above mixture.You may want to top with broken or chopped pecan pieces.

Dough:  Roll up dough and cut into 1" to 1 1/2" slices and put in
prepared pans.  Let rise till doubled (30-45 min).

BAKE:  350°. for about 20 minutes.  When brown, take out of oven, let
sit about 5 minutes.
After baking, when rolls are warm but not hot,  top with a frosting

Frosting:  Combine about 1 1/2 C powdered sugar, 1-2 T milk and a dab of  butter..

You can make these the night before, and put in fridge to rise, then let warm at room temp 2-3 hours, then bake.

 This recipe makes about 24 large, or 40 medium rolls.  I usually use two 10 x 14 pans, or three 9 x 13 pans.

*  A great way to grease pans is to buy liquid lecithin at a health food store.  Mix 1 part lecithin and 2 parts oil and keep in a small mason jar.  Apply with a pastry brush to grease bread pans or cookie sheets.  Baked goods slide right out. This mix does not need to be refrigerated.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Family Time...

We have had some great Family Times lately, so I thought I would share some photos. 

This is Ellie and I a few weeks ago. She made herself a great pretend sandwich, complete with lettuce and tomato.
 Trying to get the perfect Christmas photo--orange juice Popsicle were a hit. The girls are waving to their Mommies.
I think Ellie froze her mouth on the Popsicle.

 These cousins are beginning to really like each other and it is cute to see their friendship forming.
 Allison looks like she is having a great time.
The whole family was together at Thanksgiving. We all live in the same general area, but it never seems like we all get together and are awake at the same time. Here is a quick photo in our living room.

 My sister and her family came to visit for Thanksgiving too. It was fun to have a big family gathering.  Their family is scattered from Michigan, to Knoxville, TN to New York City.

Kentucky make the perfect meet up. What  a fun time we had.

For me, the best times in my life are when family gets together. I LOVE it when all my kids are all together in the same place at the same time. And, when we added in my sister's family [less on daughter and son-in law], it was fantastic.

May your holidays be a wonderful time with family and friends.

Take care,