Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dark Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

I meant to post a couple of lovey-dovey recipes BEFORE Valentine's Day, but I didn't get around to it. But they make good food any time of the year. The first recipe is a shortbread cookie that I found at Your Homebased Mom. She cut them into hearts so we did too. My son Alex and my daughter Elisa made them with me.

The photo on her blog looks like she used mini chocolate chips, but the recipe just says chocolate chips so I used regular sized ones. Next time, I'll use mini since they make it easier to roll and cut. The hearts didn't completely keep their shape, but Leigh Ann's were beautiful. Cooking time depends on the size cookie cutter you used. My cookies were done in around 10 minutes, well before the recipe time. We had 1 1/2 heart cookies.

I love the combination of chocolate and cherry.
Dark Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

1/2 c. butter, cut into pieces
1 c. flour
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips, melted
Heat oven to 350°. Grease a cookie sheet.
In a food processor fitted with metal blade, process the flour, sugar and butter until moist clumps form. Add in dried cherries and chocolate chips, pulse once or twice to combine.
Roll the mixture to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters and place on cookie sheet. Bake until light golden brown around the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool and then drizzle with melted chocolate.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blueberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins

My daughter Sabrina requested blueberry-chocolate chip muffins for her birthday dessert. I hadn't had any before so I didn't have a recipe. I looked online and found a few and made one a few weeks ago. I wasn't impressed so this time I tried a recipe I found on for Blueberry Muffins and I threw in the chocolate chips. I used only 1 cup of reduced fat sour cream and then 1 cup low fat plain yogurt instead of the 2 cups of sour cream. My kids said there should be more blueberries and chocolate chips, but they tasted pretty good and are very moist. And they were devoured much faster than I expected since the recipe made 24 regular muffins and 24 mini muffins.  
Blueberry-Chocolate Chip Muffins

4 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 c. canola oil
1 t. vanilla extract
4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 c. sour cream
2 c. blueberries
2 c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 400. Grease 24 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
In large bowl beat eggs, gradually add sugar while beating. Continue beating while slowly pouring in oil. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda.
Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with sour cream. Gently fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Low-Fat Zucchini Brownie

I love desserts, but not how tight my pants feel if I've eaten too much of the wrong food. So I have been trying some lower-fat desserts. Nothing too healthy, but there are fruits and veggies in this one. And no butter, oil or egg. There are 2 WW points per serving if you cut the 9x13-inch pan into 24 pieces, according to Spark Recipes where I found it.

I baked it longer than the 25 minutes stated because it was very undone still. You can see in the photo that the top of the brownies still was a little undercooked, but I liked it that way since I didn't add any frosting. These suprised me, being moist and delicious and I wouldn't have guessed they were low-fat. I didn't add walnuts, but I would like that even more with a bit of crunch.
Low-Fat Zucchini Brownie

1/2 c. applesauce
2 small or medium bananas mashed
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 c. finely shredded zucchini
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. walnut, chopped
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour an 9x13-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the applesauce, mashed bananas and sugar. Add vanilla and cocoa and mix together. Then add baking soda, salt, and zucchini and mix together. Add flour and walnuts and mix together. Spread evenly into a prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes until brownies spring back when gently touched.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What They Need Most

A year or two ago, I was listening to a Christian radio station and someone was telling a story right as I was pulling into my parking spot. I decided to wait in the car and listen to the end. It was short, but had a great message. I quickly scribbled down the name of the pastor who told the story, but I have since lost that paper so I cannot give credit to him. I will share what I remember of the story, no doubt in different words.

There was a man who bought a bird and took him home. Not long after, the bird died.
He was talking to a friend and said, "I don't know what happened. I bought a biggest cage that the pet store had, and a colorful, fun swing for him to swing on. And I bought a ladder for him to climb on and a pretty little toy. I gave him everything a bird would want, so why did he die?"
The friend simply asked, "Was there food at that pet store?"
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the fun and the new, that we forget the essential and basic. Our bodies need to be fed and our spirits need to be nourished. Our children need entertainment and down time, but only when balanced and when given proper doses of gospel learning as well. It's great to go to Disneyland or a circus, but if that is all we do when we spend time together, they miss out on simple walks together, baking cookies while laughing, talking while in the car (instead of everyone listening to their own iPods).
Our children need us to teach them rules and values. They need us to show them love. The world will not give them those things, and the few years we have with them in our homes goes by too quickly.
My son Alexander recently sent me a link to the October 2010 LDS General Conference talk Courageous Parenting by Elder Larry R. Lawrence of the Seventy. I am still struggling with being a parent to teenagers, with all the new challenges that come with that. I am grateful for counsel from our leaders who speak plainly and to the point.

"It takes courage to gather children from whatever they’re doing and kneel together as a family. It takes courage to turn off the television and the computer and to guide your family through the pages of the scriptures every day. It takes courage to turn down other invitations on Monday night so that you can reserve that evening for your family. It takes courage and willpower to avoid overscheduling so that your family can be home for dinner."
Elder Larry R. Lawrence, "Courageous Parenting", Oct. 2010

Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...