Whole Wheat Carrot Oatmeal Cookies

We’ve been getting tons of carrots in our CSA the past few weeks, and I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how to use them.  Carrots are probably one of my least favorite veggies, so I usually use them to bulk up a dish like veggie fried rice or spaghetti.  I’d love to be one of those people who just eat carrots raw or dipped in ranch, but that’s just not going to happen (and I have yet to perfect my homemade ranch recipe).  I can tolerate carrots dipped in peanut butter, but it’s still not my snack of choice.  I’ve heard that carrots can be used to help bad doggie breath, so I’m thinking of feeding Socrates about 20 pounds of carrots when I get home today (seriously, that’s how bad his breath is…).

My favorite way to incorporate carrots into my cooking is by using them in sweets.  Carrot cake pancakes have been a breakfast (and dinner) hit in our house, and I recently experimented with these carrot oatmeal cookies.  One of the only good things about carrots is that you can put them in baked goods, like pancakes and cookies, and justify eating a lot simply because it’s packed with nutritious veggie goodness. 🙂

These cookies are actually pretty healthy, but are also still delicious enough to be worthy of the cookie name.  I love that the recipe uses maple syrup, a natural sweetener, instead of refined sugar.  I’m constantly trying to find ways to substitute honey or maple syrup for white or brown sugar in my baking and a lot of times it is hit or miss since you’re dealing with substituting a dry ingredient for a liquid like honey or maple syrup.  Sugar is sugar though, and no matter if I’m using white sugar, honey, or maple syrup, I still try to be mindful of using them all in moderation.

Whole Wheat Carrot Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 cup oat flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup rolled oats

2/3 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, etc.)

1 cup shredded carrots (I had a lot of carrots so I used about 1.5 cups)

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup coconut oil (melted until in liquid form)

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or Silpat)

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, salt, oats, and nuts

3. Pat the carrots dry to remove some of the excess moisture, add to the dry ingredients, and mix together

4. In a small bowl, whisk to combine the maple syrup, coconut oil, and ginger.  Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

5. Drop batter onto baking sheets (I used a tablespoon cookie scoop), leaving about 2 inches between each cookie

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are golden on top and bottom

Of course Socrates was waiting patiently to try these out.  He gobbled one up in about half a second, so I assume that he approved.

I did store these in a plastic container and they got really soft/soggy/somewhat inedible.  It may have been due to my impatience in waiting for them to cool completely which created condensation in the container.  I do find that baked goods I make using whole wheat pastry flour get a little soggy once stored, so I’ll be doing a little research to find out how to fix that.

Happy Baking!

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Play Time With Jake + Whole Wheat Banana Nut Doughnuts Recipe

Steve was in Texas all last week/weekend so it was a perfect time for me to head back to Snow Hill to visit the cutest toddler on the planet (with some work mixed in, of course).  I had to help my mom cater a wedding, but I took the day off on Monday so that left plenty of time to play with Jake and bond with the fam.  I actually took a few pictures of the days adventures, and the pretty weather definitly helped to capture some good shots.

Needless to say, Socrates thoroughly enjoyed his play time outdoors.  It’s rare that he gets to run around freely in the city since he’s not smart enough to not run out in front of the oncoming traffic (silly puppy).  He’s slowly warming up to Jake after over two years of meet and greet sessions, but I still think he holds a slight grudge since Jake stole the love of his Grandma Doris and everything (who could blame him?) 🙂

I scrambled around in the kitchen before I left trying to use up all of my food that may spoil before I returned.  I ended up freezing a bunch of my almost too ripe bananas to make ice cream a little later on this week, but I also decided to try out a banana doughnut recipe that I’d been eyeing for a while (and to finally use the doughnut pan that has been sitting in my kitchen all lonely for the past 6 months).  These were really delicious right out of the oven, especially when coated in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Doughnuts

recipe adapted from Naturally Ella

Yields: 6-8 regular sized doughnuts

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons coconut oil (melted so that it’s liquid)

1 egg

1 banana

2 tbs maple syrup

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease the doughnut pan with butter

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, nuts)

3. In a separate bowl, mash the banana.  Whisk in the milk, oil, egg, and maple syrup.  Pour the liquid into the dry and stir until just combined

4. Using a pastry bag or ziplock bag with the corner cut off (I used a pancake pen), squeeze the batter in even circles around the doughnut pan

5. Bake for 12-15 minutes until doughnuts spring back to the touch.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then flip onto a wire rack to cool.

Once the doughnuts were cooled, I sprayed them lightly with olive oil (butter would also work, I just didn’t have any) and then dunked them in a mixture of 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.  These are sweet enough on their own but I think the cinnamon sugar topping really gave them an extra boost.  Either way, Socrates and I couldn’t keep our hands (paws) off of them!

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Happy Monday Everyone!

I’m kind of dragging today so I’m glad the first day of the work week is over and done.  I had a nice and relaxing weekend, so I should have been a little more upbeat today, but that just didn’t happen.  Steve and I spent most of our weekend watching Dawson’s Creek episodes and enjoying the nice weather.  We actually never watched the show when it came on over a decade ago, so it’s been fun jamming along to the awesome ‘90’s soundtrack and reminiscing about our middle/high school dances and generally just feeling very old.  I’ve also learned that I definitely want to name my first born son Pacey.  Not only does it rhyme with my name, but I (and dare I say Steve too) have a major crush on Joshua Jackson’s cute-as-a-button character, and the name Pacey is just so fun.

We got our CSA from Atherton Market on Saturday and along with the usual veggies, we picked up some homemade butter and a gallon of strawberries.

I haven’t used the butter yet but I’m interested to see how differently it tastes than the much less expensive butter we normally buy from the grocery store.  I’ve been eyeing the butter for a while now but have been put off by the $4.50 price tag for a half pound since that’s what we normally pay for a full pound of organic butter at Earthfare or Trader Joe’s.  I like that I can talk directly to the farmer and find out about the cows environment and diet, and I was finally swayed to try it out when the farmer told me about how the cows were grass-fed and led a super happy life.  I admit it, I’m a sucker for buying eggs/milk/butter, even if they are more expensive, if I can know for sure that the animals are happy and treated well.  I’ll probably continue to buy butter from the farmer’s market regardless of the cost.  Maybe it will encourage me to use less butter and voting with my dollars and supporting local businesses is always a good thing in my book.

On Sunday afternoon, Steve and I went to see The Five Year Engagement so that we could snatch up the cheaper price of the matinee ticket.  I remember when movies used to be $7, and now a regular showing at our local movie theater is $10 or $11 (hey, that’s over a pounds worth of farmers market butter!).  Being the poor couple that we are, we went to the 1:00 showing and got in for $7.50.  It’s always a bit odd coming out of a movie theater in the middle of the afternoon.  There’s just something inside my brain that expects it to be night time when I leave so I wasn’t ready for the blinding sun when I stepped outside.  The movie was awesome, but then again, we both love anything with Jason Segal in it.  I generally love going to see a comedy with Steve because he pretty much laughs at everything and always laughs significantly louder than anyone else in the theater…yeah, he’s that guy, and I love him for it!

I did a bit of baking and ice cream making this weekend too.  I made whole wheat snickerdoodles, which were okay, but not nearly as delicious as they look in the picture.  I need to try them again before the recipe is post worthy.

I also made some whole wheat banana nut muffins since my bananas were about to go bad.  The most delicious item of the weekend was the strawberry ice cream that I made from the gallon of strawberries we bought at the farmer’s market.  A gallon is a lot of strawberries, so we’ve been in strawberry heaven all weekend, and I’m actually munching on a few as I type this (my keyboard is turning a nice shade of pink).

This is the first time I’ve made strawberry ice cream, so I do have a few changes I’ll make next time around.  This ice cream was really good right out of the ice cream maker, but once we froze it overnight it was frozen solid and nearly impossible to eat without sitting it out on the counter to thaw for 15-20 minutes.  Steve says that it’s probably due to the water content in the strawberries, so next time I’m going to drain the juice from the chopped strawberries and just pour in the actual strawberry pieces.  We still have some strawberries left so I think I’m going to try out a recipe I found that uses coconut milk and roasted strawberries (this should take care of the water excess issue).  I’ll let you know how it goes but in the meantime, here’s the recipe I used for my first shot a strawberry ice cream.  You’ll notice that the recipe uses maple syrup instead of a refined sweetener like sugar.  I used this Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker where you make the ice cream in a freezer bowl.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food

Ingredients:

– 3/4 cup heavy cream

– 3/4 cup full-fat milk

– 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup (add a tablespoon or two more if you like your ice cream on the sweeter side)

– 15-20 fresh strawberries

Directions:

1. Combine the heavy cream, milk, and maple syrup in a measuring cup and mix together

2. Chill in refrigerator for at least a few hours

3. Chop strawberries according to how chunky you like your ice cream

4. Pour the milk mixture into your ice cream maker, then add the strawberries (if you’re eating your ice cream right away, pour it all in.  If you plan on freezing some for later, strain some of the excess juice out of the strawberries)

5. Once the ice cream reaches your desired consistency, turn off the machine and enjoy.  For me this took about 15-20 minutes

I was too excited about the yummy ice cream to try to snap a good picture, so hopefully this picture will entice you enough to give it a try!

I think that’s all for the day, especially considering I came home to this note:

And here’s what I found:

Double the Delicious: Two Recipes with Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter

I’m back with two posts in two days.  I guess things are looking up, or shall I say, looking productive.  After professing my embarrassing level of love for my new food processor in yesterday’s post, I decided to use the maple cinnamon almond butter I made to make a couple of chocolatey treats.  Let’s face it, nut butter + chocolate = the best combo ever/love/God’s gift to us as humans (Sorry Socrates, no choco for you).

I’m basically drooling all over the computer while trying to upload these pictures, so let’s get on with the recipes!

Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter Cups

Adapted from Edible Perspective

These almond butter cups are the fancy, adult version of your typical Reese’s.  They are made with dark chocolate, so obviously they are healthy, and the almond butter is homemade, so you shouldn’t feel bad about sneaking a spoonful (or ten) while putting these little pieces of heaven together.  Yield: 12-15 mini cups

Ingredients:

– One batch of maple cinnamon almond butter*

– One bag chocolate chips**

– 1 tablespoon coconut oil

– Optional: 2 plastic squeeze bottles – I didn’t have these but they would be very helpful in keeping things mess-free and making sure the chocolate and almond butter are evenly spread.

Instructions:

1. Line a mini muffin tin with cupcake liners

2. Pour the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and add the coconut oil.  Heat for about two minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chips are melted

3. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of the chocolate into the bottom of each liner

4. Spoon a little less than a tablespoon of almond butter on top of the chocolate

5. Top the almond butter with 2 teaspoons of melted chocolate, making sure the almond butter is completely covered

* You don’t really need an entire batch of the almond butter, but having a sample here and there while making the recipe will be a nice treat to break up the monotony of licking melted chocolate off your fingers every few seconds.  Also, you could just pick up a jar of almond butter from the grocery store to use, or be a square and substitute peanut butter.

** I used Ghirardelli 70% dark chocolate chips, but you could use semi-sweet or milk chocolate.  The almond butter is already sweet from the maple syrup, so I definitely think dark chocolate is the way to go.

Chocolate Covered Almond Butter Frozen Banana Bites

Yes, the title of the recipe is a mouthful but these treats are super easy to make and actually taste like ice cream once they’ve  been in the freezer for a few hours.  I was inspired by this recipe, but decided to substitute almond butter for the peanut butter, and add it right into the banana and mix it all up to give off a more creamy texture.  The result?  Success, and a much more inexpensive and healthy alternative to a container of ice cream.  Yield: 2 dozen

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup of maple cinnamon almond butter (or whatever nut butter you have on hand)

– 3 ripe bananas

– 1/2 bag dark chocolate chips

1. Using a food processor, blend the bananas and almond butter together until creamy (you could stir it all together in a bowl, just make sure the mixture has a very creamy and smooth texture)

2. Chill the mixture in the freezer for at least a few hours, you want to be able to scoop it, so it shouldn’t be frozen solid or too liquid-y

3. Line a baking or cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Using a tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop the banana mixture onto the parchment paper

4. Place the banana bites in the freezer and chill for 20-30 minutes

5. While the banana bites are in the freezer, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth

6. Drop one banana bite at a time into the melted chocolate and stir around until fully covered.  Using a fork, gently pick up the chocolate covered banana bite and place it back on the parchment.

7. If you are using toppings, now’s the time to sprinkle them on.

8. Once all the banana bites are covered in chocolate, transfer the cookie sheet back to the freezer.  Once they are frozen solid, about 2-3 hours later, transfer them to a freezer safe container, or just stand by the fridge and eat them all (just kidding, don’t do that!)

These will last a couple of weeks in the freezer, and they really do get better as they freeze longer.

We’re off to a gym-warming party at Steve’s Crossfit gym tonight, so we’ll probably be indulging in leftovers for dinner.  We used a few items from our CSA to make the delicious sandwiches below, and we also have some leftover veggie spaghetti, so I’m excited to eat good food while avoiding the dirty kitchen and sink full of dishes that normally goes along with it.

Sauteed chard, apple, and cheese panini

Have a happy weekend!