Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Low-Fat Chocolate Cake

We all know that sometimes there are days when you just NEED a piece of chocolate cake to make everything better. Chocolate cake will listen to your problems. Chocolate cake will boost you morale. Chocolate cake will make everything better….

Until you realize that you just ate 1,800 calories in one sitting and the sugar is causing your anxiety to go through the roof!

So you decide to quit your relationship with chocolate cake cold turkey, but then the craving hits you really hard and you’re back to being two elbows deep in chocolatey goodness.

If only there was a way to make carrot sticks taste like chocolate cake… If I could figure that out I’d be the richest person in America!

But I can tell you about the next best thing – LOW FAT CHOCOLATE CAKE! Yes, just like the Lochness Monster and Bigfoot, it really does exist! In fact, it has less calories and fat than that granola bar hanging out in your lunch box.

And my favorite part about this cake is that it doesn’t have any weird ingredients, like purified cauliflower or avocado. I guarantee you already have all of these ingredients in your pantry right now!

So how does it work? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you! (I hope you’re not tired yet of me asking questions and answering them myself.) I made a very important ingredient swap to cut down on fat and calories.

I replaced the oil with yogurt!

Oil, whether it be vegetable oil or canola oil, is found in most every cake recipe. That’s because oil is what makes the cake moist. But it’s also the least healthy ingredient – 1 cup of vegetable oil contains 1,927 calories and 218 grams of fat. Wow! So by replacing the oil with yogurt you can save a LOT of fat and calories.

Yogurt works in the same way oil does – it helps moisten the cake. It’s important to note that if you make this substitution you should add a little fat in the recipe to help with consistency. That’s why there’s 1/4 cup of peanut butter in this cake.

In review, one piece of this cake has about 150 calories and 3 grams of fat. Compare that to Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake recipe, which has a whopping 490 calories and 14 grams of fat! That’s a HUGE difference!

So my friends, with this recipe you can have your cake and eat it too! (You knew I was going to make that joke somewhere in this post!)

Low-Fat Chocolate Cake
Yield: 10 servings

  • 1 cup all-purpose or gluten-free flour (125 grams)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (150.75 grams)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • 6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (45 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (60 grams)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter or any nut butter or allergy-friendly alternative (67 grams)
  • 3/4 cup milk (171 grams)
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease 9-inch round pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, optional chocolate chips, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine Greek yogurt and peanut butter; stir well. Whisk in milk and pure vanilla extract until smooth.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour batter into greased pan.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean when inserted.
  6. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove cake from pans and onto wire rack to finish cooling.
  7. You can serve plain or sprinkle powdered sugar on top or add fat-free whipped topping to cake before eating.

Recipe adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Yield: Makes about 24 blondies

  • 2 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (291 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature (1 and 1/2 stick)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar  (310 grams)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup white sugar (50 grams)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9x9 or 11x7 inch-baking pan with aluminum foil. This will make it easier to cut the blondies when they’re done.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a mixer, beat the butter on high speed for at least one minute until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Add brown sugar and beat for another two minutes on high until creamy.
  5. Beat in the eggs and vanilla on high speed.
  6. On low speed, add in the dry ingredients until just combined.
  7. With a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the white chocolate chips.
  8. Spoon half the batter into pan.
  9. Combine the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on top of the bottom layer, saving 1 Tablespoon to sprinkle on top. 
  10. Spread the remaining batter on top. Sprinkle the top with remaining cinnamon-sugar.
  11. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Store bars in an airtight container at room temperature for about three days. The bars will also                                                                                                                             freeze well, up to 3 months. Simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Leftover bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to 1 week.
 Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.

    Thursday, January 21, 2016

    Brown Butter Blondies

    If you pay attention to the “foodie world,” you’ve probably noticed that brown butter is the new “it” ingredient!

    So what is brown butter anyway? It’s just regular butter that you cook on the stove top on medium high heat just barely past its melting point. While cooking the butter, you have to keep an eye on it, and stir it fairly frequently. It will begin to foam and it will turn from golden yellow to tan and brown flakes will fall to the bottom of the pan. Once that happens, you must immediately remove the butter from the stove and pour it into a heatproof bowl. And voila! Brown butter!

    REMEMBER: You have to be very careful not to burn the butter while it’s on the stove. There’s only a few seconds difference between perfectly brown butter and bitter burnt butter! It takes between 5 to 9 minutes to brown the butter depending on your pan and your stove. I use a non-stick green pan and my butter browns in 8 minutes.

    You may be wondering, “What’s the point in going through the hassle of making the brown butter?”

    ANSWER: The taste! Brown butter has a wonderful caramel, nutty, toffee flavor that is delicious in both sweet and savory dishes.

    I’m using the brown butter in a sweet dish today – I know, that was already obvious by the title. The rest of the ingredients in the blondie are pretty standard – which makes it the perfect recipe to showcase the miraculous effects of brown butter!

    Brown Butter Blondies
    Yield: Makes about 12 blondies

    • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour (250 grams)
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups light brown sugar (414 grams)
    • 2 large eggs, room temperature
    • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips

    1. First you will need to brown the butter. Cut each of the 2 sticks of butter into 8, 1 tablespoon slices (ensures the butter will melt evenly). Melt the butter over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir the butter occasionally. Once the butter has melted, the butter will begin to foam. About 3-ish minutes after it starts foaming, it will begin to turn tan. Once that happens, remove it from the stove and pour into a heatproof bowl. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
    2. While butter is cooling, prepare an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan by lining it with aluminum foil. This will make it easier to cut the blondies in the future. Set aside.
    3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in bowl and set aside.
    4. Combine the brown sugar with the melted butter until it is completely smooth.
    5. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until combined.
    6. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture; stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
    7. Add batter to prepared baking pan and cook for 25-30 minutes. You know the blondies are done when the edges are firm and slightly darker in color.
    8. Remove from the oven. Once cool, lift the aluminum foil up out of the pans and cut into squares.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2016

    Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

    Do you know that song, “Anything you can do” from “Annie Get Your Gun”? To be honest, I’ve never seen the musical or the movie. BUT I know the song well because a few years ago (and by a few I mean 15 years ago) I was traveling in the car with my baby cousin and the only thing that would make him stop crying was that song. So we listened to it for THREE hours. Clearly it still haunts me.

    Anyway, the song has been my mantra lately because I’ve been really into recreating my favorite restaurant recipes! (Example: Asian chickenlettuce wraps) This week I decided that I would recreate orange chicken! And not just recreate it – I decided to recreate it in the slow cooker!

    While reading the ingredients in this recipe, you make think to yourself, “Hmmm I wonder if I can make any substitutions.” The answer to that is yes, BUT I cannot promise the results will be the same! You see, I spent a lot of time working on this recipe, and there were trials and errors. The recipe below is the exact combination of ingredients that I think works the best. So if you make substitutions, I’m sure it will still be tasty, but I can’t promise it will taste the same.

    IMPORTANT: As you can see in the recipe directions, you use half of the marinade to, of course, marinate the chicken, and then you use the other half to make a sauce once the chicken is done cooking. So make sure to split the marinade in half! Once the marinade has touched the raw chicken it can no longer be used as the sauce.

    Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
    Yield: Makes about 4 servings

    • 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
    • 3/4 cup orange juice concentrate
    • 1/2 cup soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
    • 1/4 cup Sriracha
    • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
    • 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
    • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1 Tablespoon orange zest
    • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
    1. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces; set aside
    2. In a bowl, whisk together orange juice concentrate, soy sauce, rice vinegar, Sriracha, minced garlic, fresh ginger, brown sugar, and orange zest.
    3. Place chicken in large Ziploc bag and pour 1/2 of marinade over chicken. Seal bag and marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour but preferably overnight.
    4. Put other half of marinade in sealed container and refrigerate for later. This will be your sauce.
    5. Once chicken is done marinating, dump entire Ziploc bag of chicken with its marinade in the slow cooker. Cook chicken on low until chicken is no longer pink (in my slow cooker, chicken is done after about four hours).
    6. When chicken is done cooking, take other half of marinade out of refrigerator.
    7. Put marinade in pan and heat on stove to boiling at medium-high heat.
    8. In small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water; add to sauce on stove top and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. The sauce will thicken significantly.
    9. Remove sauce from heat and add chicken from slow cooker to sauce and combine. Serve over rice or quinoa and sprinkle green onions and sesame seeds on top.

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