Christmas Baking 2012

2012 Xmas Baking

I have said this time and time again.  I cannot bake.  I don’t enjoy it (though I’m really trying – I am), I typically have to start over at least, at least once.  And this time is no different than any other.

But it’s Christmas time and Santa needs cookies to eat right?  Oh and there’s this other little matter called a cookie exchange that I’ve been invited to.  Caleb played football and now basketball on Saturdays.  You get to know the parents.  Well there is a boy that was on his football and now basketball team.  I sit by his mom every Saturday.  Two Saturday’s ago she told me about this cookie exchange that she’d like to invite me to.  I sit and wonder if I had this terrified look on my face because that’s exactly how I felt.  Me?  To a cookie exchange?  The first thing I did was text my other Two Girl, Jodi and told her I’d pay her to bake me 5 dozen cookies.  She gladly agreed if I would watch her new little bundle of joy.  And though that thought sounds much better than me in the kitchen baking, I decided to give this a try.

For some odd reason I thought that I needed to bring a dozen of 5 different kinds of cookies.  So today I gave it some thought and started to put a list together.  I went to my favorite baking site www.browneyedbaker.com and started searching.  It’s not hard to find something on her site.  She does this well.  She can bake.  Her pictures are amazing.  I even wonder to myself who the heck eats all of this sugary food that she bakes almost daily.  On her site I found these four recipes:  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies, Toffee Pretzel Bark, Peppermint Bark and Home made Peanut Butter Cups.  The fifth recipe I got from a friend from work on the Betty Crocker site.  They are called Caramel Fudge Turtle Cookies.  When searching on the site I found the Dark Chocolate Apricot Cookies.  Since the family prefers white chocolate, I’m going to give this one a try for now.  If it works, then I’ll try the Turtle ones as well.  Hey, if I’m baking, I may as well go all out!!

In the mean time, I send an email to Mary asking her about the cookie exchange (since this is my first time – and hopefully not the last time) needing more information.  She got back to me and told me that I need to make one type of a cookie and 4 1/2 dozen on eight different plates.  Still, I’m in a panic.  What if I can’t do this?  What if these other ladies have these fancy cookies decorated beautifully while mine are either made by Jodi or store bought!!!

Then I remember I made cookies last year and put them on our blog.  They were THE softest cookies I’d ever made.  So I looked up the recipe on our site and combined it with the Betty Crocker recipe.  The Betty Crocker recipe calls for the bag of sugar cookie mix (and I can still fall back on that if this home made dough doesn’t turn out).

Craig comes home from work…asks what I’m making.  He too, knows that this is a rough subject for me.  He tasted the first batch with the Wheat Flour.  Gave me that look and asked me what was in them.  When I told him apricots, he said he didn’t’ like them.  However, and I say, however….when the second batch comes out of the oven with the All Purpose Flour, he tastes one…then takes two more.  And that’s before I even put the white chocolate no them!! <big smile on my face>

Here’s the recipe that I have for the Softest Sugar Cookies on our site (under Softest Sugar Cookie):

1 cup BREAKSTONE’S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
1 tsp.  baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1-1/2 cups  granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp.  ground nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla

4 cups  flour

MIX sour cream and baking soda; set aside. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs; mix well. Blend in nutmeg, vanilla and sour cream mixture. Gradually add flour, beating well after each addition. Refrigerate 30 min.

 

HEAT oven to 350ºF. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough, 2 inches apart, onto greased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 min. or just until centers are set and edges are lightly browned. Let stand on baking sheets 3 min.; remove to wire racks. Cool completely.

From the Betty Crocker site I added the dried apricots and used the orange extract and  1 bag of white chocolate chips instead of the chocolate.  The nutmeg in this cookie mix just pops in your mouth.  You can smell it before it’s even in the oven baking.  (Wow did that really come from my mouth)!

I’ll admit, I tried to substitute All Purpose Flour for Wheat Flour.  Why?  Because I do not know any better, that’s why.  I baked a batch, let them cool, tasted them, and realized that I should not have made that change without first checking with someone who knows what they’re doing.  So I just pulled the second batch out of the fridge and have the oven warming to start this over again.

Cookie dough with wheat flour

Here’s to family fun and tons of baking for this Christmas season!  Wishing me luck on my baking adventure!

Yay! I did it!

Patricia – Two Girls Cooking.

Chicken Breasts w/Potatoes

Ok so a portion of the holiday is past.  I didn’t watch what I ate as much as I should.  And really, who does at this time of the year?  So on Turkey day I ate the meat, had the stuffing, had the vegetable medley and or course a piece of cream cheese pie and two brownies.  Lets not forget to count all of the snacks that came before dinner!

So here I am back to my workouts today and cooking a better meal for my family and myself.  I tend to get the “what are we having for dinner” question as soon as I get the kids from the bus stop.  And as soon as they hear the word chicken, they both say “yuk”.  Brooklyn can’t believe that we actually eat a chicken and I’m not sure why Caleb says it.  I’m sure because his sister does.  If Brooklyn knew that there was a portion of chicken in chicken McNuggets, I wonder if she’d eat them too!

Today I’m using my trusty low fat cook book again.  I made out my dinners for the week and came across one that we haven’t tried yet.  And might I just say that if my family weren’t so picky I could make more from this cook book than just the chicken and desserts.  Soups?  That’s not for dinner.  Sandwiches?  Yuk, that’s for lunch.  As we say in our family (as I’m sure many do), you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.  Or you just choose not to eat and make yourself a bologna sandwich anyways!

But because I feel much better feeding them and myself something that is good for us, I chose this meal over hearing their yuks.  Which I’ll hear again once their plates are set before them!!!

This one was simple to make and not much effort put forth.  What more can you ask for!  This leaves room for some of the banana squares afterwards!

Here’s what you need:

12 small red new potatoes – I had the yellow potatoes so thats what we used

2 tbs olive oil

1/8 tsp white pepper (I used regular pepper)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano leaves

2 tbs Dijon mustard

4 (4oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used lemon pepper flavored)

1 cup cherry tomoatoes (Need I say I left these out due to the huge dislike of tomatoes on MY part)

Here’s what you do:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a roasting pan with parchment paper (I didn’t have any so I sprayed the pan with Olive Oil spray) and set aside.  Scrub potatoes and cut in half (because I used the bigger potatoes, I had to cut mine smaller).  Place in prepared pan.

2.  In a small bowl, combine oil, pepper, garlic, oregano and mustard and mix well.  Drizzle half of this mixture over the potatoes and toss to coat.  Roast for 20 minutes.

3.  Cut chicken breasts into quarters.  Remove pan from oven and add chicken to potato mixture.  Using a spatula, mix potatoes and chicken together.  Drizzle with remaining oil mixture.  Return to oven and roast for 15 minutes longer.

 

4.  If you MUST add the tomatoes you would add at this point.  Roast them for 5-10 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and browned and chicken is thoroughly cooked.

<This from the cook book> This easy one-dish has the best combination of flavors. Mustard adds a nice bit of spice to tender chicken and crisp potatoes.

Nutritional:

Calories: 395; Fat: 9.57; Saturated fat: 1.85; Dietary Fiber: 5.21; Sodium: 142.98; Cholesterol: 61.23mg

A happy start to the beginning of the work week with a quick and easy meal!  All kidding aside from the kids and the pickiness, this is a great dish and the mustard and the garlic really do add a great flavor.  The kids put a bit of Ranch on top of theirs, so I followed suit.  Great touch little ones.

Happy Cooking

Patricia – Two Girls Cooking

Banana Pudding Squares

 

 
With the holidays comes desserts.  Good desserts.  Desserts that aren’t good for you (or me at least).  So here’s another awesome one I found on the Kraft website under Healthy Cooking.  Now if you look at their picture and compare it to mine…..well mine does not look quite like that at all.  In fact, I’m not sure how they get those photos to look the way they do.  I’m certain they are pictures of fake food (or I just can’t take pictures – at all – which is pretty true).  But since I love to eat.  Love to blog what I eat.  And like to make desserts that I can’t ruin, then I’m satisfied with what you see.

This is a make over from the true version they have on their site as well.  Using all low fat and sugar free items (excluding the powder sugar).

Here’s what you need:

35 Reduced Fat NILLA Wafers, finely crushed (about 1-1/4 cups)
1/4 cup  margarine, melted
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, softened
1/2 cup  powdered sugar
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Sugar Free Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
3   bananas, sliced
2 pkg. (1 oz. each) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Fat Free Sugar Free Instant Pudding
3 cups  cold fat-free milk
1/2 square BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, grated
Here’s what you do:
MIX wafer crumbs and margarine; press onto bottom of 13×9-inch dish. Refrigerate until ready to use.
BEAT Neufchatel and sugar in medium bowl with whisk until blended. Stir in 1-1/2 cups COOL WHIP; spread over crust. Top with bananas.
BEAT pudding mixes and milk with whisk 2 min.; spread over bananas. Top with remaining COOL WHIP and chocolate. Refrigerate 3 hours.
The kids enjoyed licking the spatula and the whisk!!!  They had to get their fun in too!

kraft kitchens tips

HOW TO EVENLY SPREAD COOL WHIP OVER DESSERT
Stir remaining COOL WHIP gently in tub until creamy; spoon small dollops over dessert. Use small metal spatula to spread COOL WHIP over dessert.
HOW TO EASILY REMOVE DESSERT FROM DISH
Line dish with foil before using, with ends of foil extending over sides of dish. Use foil handles to remove chilled dessert from dish before cutting to serve.
MAKEOVER – HOW WE DID IT
We’ve made over this favorite dessert to save you 80 calories and 13 g of fat per serving compared to the traditional recipe. We used Reduced Fat NILLA Wafers and margarine instead of flour, butter and peanuts for the crust. In addition, we cut the amount of sugar and chocolate in half and used better-for-you products in the creamy layers. These simple changes result in a great-tasting dessert that can save you both fat and calories.
I just told Craig that this dessert was made with all sugar and fat free items.  He had the biggest smile on his face.  Why?  Because he had no clue!!  It tastes just as good even without the added fat and sugar.

nutritional information 

per serving

Calories
 130
 6 g
 5 mg
 200 mg
 17 g
 9 g
Protein
 2 g
Vitamin A
 6 %DV
Vitamin C
 2 %DV
 6 %DV
Iron
 0 %DV
Healthy Living Information
Generally Nutritious
Carb Choices: 1
Diet Exchange
1 Starch + 1 Fat
Nutrition Bonus
This great-tasting dessert is made with better-for-you products and can fit into your overall healthful eating plan.
Enjoy this because you can.  And I did.  I had a piece of pie yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner that was just as good as twice as high in calories and fat.  Give this one a try as well.  It won’t disappoint.
Patricia – Two Girls Cooking

 

 

 

 

BBQ Chicken Fingers

Thanksgiving is over and I have no left overs to make turkey this or turkey that.  Which, I guess is ok.  I didn’t have to cook or clean up yesterday.  I enjoyed a good meal cooked by my uncle and his wife, saw family I haven’t seen in years and didn’t have to clean up a thing.  (I suppose I should have offered, and maybe I did, but it was nice not to have to fuss and get things done).

So today I had chicken in the freezer.  The last meat until grocery shopping.  I planned on making chicken fingers as I normally do.  Coat it with panko bread crumbs and cook them in the oven.  Craig was possibly supposed to bowl in Bayport.  When we go there, we usually eat their BBQ chicken fingers.  Not that I’m comparing their food to what I just made, because you can’t.  But it did give me the idea of making them this way instead of the “normal” way.    The chicken was nice and tender. I used two kinds of Famous Dave’s Sweet and Zesty and then for my hot taste buds, I used Devils Spit!

Here’s what you need:

4 chicken breasts, cut into strips (I had lemon pepper flavored)

whole wheat flour

Egg substitute (Egg Beaters)

All Season Salt

Garlic Salt

Nutmeg

Smart Balance Omega oil

Here’s what you need to do:

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Put the flour (mixed with all of the seasonings) on a plate and the egg substitute in a bowl.  Put each piece of chicken in the flour, in the egg, then back into the flour mixture again.

Heat frying pan with the oil just enough to cover half of the chicken pieces.  Place chicken in the oil and cook on each side until browned.  After the chicken is browned, remove from pan and set aside on a plate.  Pour the BBQ sauce in a bowl and coat each piece and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

I served this along with some Jiffy corn bread muffins!

Not quite so quick, but sure is easy and and tastes even better.  A great after the holiday dinner to try for sure.

Have a great rest of the weekend…

Patricia – Two Girls Cooking

 

Eclair Dessert

I’ve always said that I’m not a huge “dessert” person.  Which would be why I don’t make them often.  But there are some things that happen to catch my eye.

I get emails from Kraft about once a week.  I clicked on the healthy living site under desserts and this happened to pop out at me.  Healthy..this?  And since it was under the “healthy” tab, it must be eaten by me!  There’s no oven required so I knew that I couldn’t mess this one up.  The only hard part about this recipe was putting it in the fridge and letting it sit for 3 hours.  That was hard.   This tastes like a boston cream pie; which just so happens to be a favorite of mine if I must choose!

Why waste time.  Here’s what you need:

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Fat Free Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups  cold fat-free milk
1 pkg. (1 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Fat Free Sugar Free Instant Pudding
1/2 tsp.  rum extract (I did not use this or vanilla)
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2-1/2 cups  thawed COOL WHIP Sugar Free Whipped Topping, divided
78 Reduced Fat NILLA Wafers
1 square  BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Here’s what you do:

BEAT cream cheese in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk. Add dry pudding mix, extract and nutmeg; beat 2 min. Gently stir in 1-1/2 cups COOL WHIP.

LINE 9×5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Arrange 15 wafers, top-sides down, on bottom of pan; cover with 1/4 of the pudding mixture. Repeat layers 3 times. Top with 15 of the remaining wafers. Refrigerate 3 hours.

INVERT dessert onto plate; remove plastic wrap. Microwave chocolate and 1 cup of the remaining COOL WHIP in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 25 sec.; stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Cool 1 min. Pour over dessert. Garnish with remaining COOL WHIP and wafers.

kraft kitchens tips

SUBSTITUTE
Substitute vanilla extract for the rum extract.
NOTE
Be sure to have a full 11-oz. box of Reduced Fat NILLA Wafers on hand since you will need to use most of the wafers from the box to prepare this recipe. (Each box contains about 88 wafers.) Reserve the remaining wafers for snacking or another use.

nutritional information 

per serving
Calories
 180
 4.5 g
 5 mg
 330 mg
 30 g
 14 g
Protein
 6 g
Vitamin A
 8 %DV
Vitamin C
 0 %DV
 15 %DV
Iron
 4 %DV
Healthy Living Information
Generally Nutritious
Carb Choices: 2
Diet Exchange
2 Carbohydrate + 1 Fat
Nutrition Bonus
Since this seasonal dessert is made with better-for-you products, it helps you to eat right.
Since this is only 180 calories, I’m going to have another piece of this.
What a way to end my weekend.
Patricia – Two Girls Cooking