Cookies Instead of Candy

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For Easter this year, I decided that my children would enjoy cookies instead of traditional Easter candy (yes, they are grown up children)!

I found two great recipes that really made them happy.  The first, Rocky Road Brownie Bites, was the most loved.  A traditional brownie, the size of a cupcake cup, topped with Rocky Road “bark.” Delicious!

The other cookie was Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies with Cream Cheese Glaze. These cookies are just what the name says……really…..a cookie that tastes like the cake.

These cookies were perfect to mail to my far away kids.  It made them smile, and I felt that I was, in a small way, celebrating the Easter holiday with them.  That makes me smile.

 

IMG_4979aRocky Road Brownies Bites 

(adapted from climbinggriermountain.com)

Ingredients for the Brownies:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
7 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 tablespoons flour

Ingredients for the Rocky Road Bark Topping:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey or light corn syrup
pinch of salt
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup mini marshmallows

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Prepare the Rocky Road Bark first:

Have ready a sheet pan lined with waxed paper. Combine all the ingredients, except the peanuts and marshmallows, in the top of a double boiler (a bowl on top a pan of simmering water will do) and melt over low heat (you can also pulse in a microwave-safe bowl at 50% power until melted). Once the chocolate is shiny, stir in the peanuts. Finally, stir in the marshmallows. Pour the mixture on the prepared sheet pan and let cool until it can be broken into pieces. You can put it in the refrigerator to speed things along.

Then prepare the Brownies:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease four cups along the edge of a muffin pan with extra butter. In a medium-size, microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the microwave, and stir the ingredients together. It’s okay if the butter isn’t all the way melted when it comes out of the microwave, but once you stir it together, it should melt entirely. If you want to use the stove to melt that butter, sugar and cocoa powder, just put all the ingredients into a pan over low heat until melted. Take the pan off the burner.

Add the salt and vanilla and continue to stir for about 1 minute to cool down the mixture. Add the egg and stir very well.

Sprinkle in the flour, and then give the batter about fifty brisk strokes, using a wooden spoon, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go. Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin cups. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out almost clean. Let cool for a few minutes before removing them from the pan to a cooling rack.  Note that the brownies may sink slightly in the middle if you under baked them to keep them gooey.

Break the bark into pieces the size of the top of the brownies.  Gently press one piece of bark on to the top of each “bite,” pressing into the brownie so that as the brownie cools, the bark melts slightly, adhering to the brownie.  Let the brownies cool completely.

 

 

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Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies with Cream Cheese Glaze

(adapted from twopeasandtheirpod.com)

For the Cookies:
1 cup white whole wheat flour**
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

For the Cream Cheese Glaze:
1 ounce cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine coconut oil and sugars, mix until smooth. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. Next, add the shredded carrots. Mix until combined.

Slowly add flour mixture until just combined. Stir in oats and coconut.

Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are slightly golden around the edges and set. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

While the cookies are cooling, make the cream cheese glaze. Mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl stirring briskly with a wooden spoon.  Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies using a spoon or fork. Let cookies sit until glaze hardens up.

**Note-you can use whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour instead of white whole wheat flour. Use the same amount.

5-Ingredient Granola Bars

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An article written by Audrey Brashich in the Washington Post titled “Why I became a Snacktivist” is interesting reading.  This is one women’s story about American kids’ snacking habits and might just be applied to, really, everyone who snacks!

She quotes one of food activist and author Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” that I completely support:  “eat all the junk food you want…as long as you cook it yourself!”

Make these yummy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars and you will feel happy about snacking.

Healthy 5-Ingredient Granola Bars

(adapted from minimalist baker.com)

1 cup packed dates — you can find them in the bulk food aisle of Wegmans–cut in half and remove the pits

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut or almond butter

1 cup dry roasted unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped

1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats

Optional additions:  chocolate chips, dried fruit, etc.

–Turn the oven to 350 degrees and toast the oats so they become slightly brown, about 15 minutes (you can usually smell them when they are ready).

–Line an 8 x 8 inch dish or pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap.

–Process the dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should form a “dough” like substance.

–Place the oats, almonds and dates in a bowl and set aside.

–Warm the honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir and pour the honey mixture over the oats and combine thoroughly, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.

–Once mixed, transfer to the prepared pan.  Press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with plastic wrap and let set in the fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.

–Remove from the pan and cut into even bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days.

 

 

 

 

 

Cream of Tomato Soup

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This winter has been harsh in Happy Valley.  Though the last few days the sun has been shining, the snow has been melting and spring is just around the corner, don’t get used to it yet!

Although we all want to start wearing our flip-flops, we know that there are going to be more cold days ahead.  This soup is a fine meal to warm you up, it is easy to make and you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen already.

Cream of Tomato Soup

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup butter

2 Tablespoons chopped onion

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup cooked rice (optional)

Combine the tomatoes, butter, onions, baking soda and chicken broth in a large pot.  Cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Add the cream (and the rice if you wish) to the soup just before serving.

Yields 6 to 8 servings

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