Thursday, October 20, 2011

A New Favorite Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note:  I updated this recipe on 5/30/12 and now I think it's even better.  A friend told me she tried the recipe but the cookies seemed a little greasy, so I experimented with proportions of fat and flour.  The recipe below has been revised, using less fat than before, but I think the result is better.  And try using coconut oil--we love it!
The internet is swarming with CC Cookie recipes, all claiming to be the best.  I’ve tried them all, I’m pretty sure.  Most have not lived up to their claims, in my book.   If I’m going to indulge, it has to be worth it.  I don’t like flat, crunchy cookies, or thick, cakey cookies.  My goal is somewhere in between.  Barely crisp on the edges and soft and chewy in the middle.  And I want a cookie that I can mix up and bake right away—no “refrigerate dough for 24 hours or more” (hello, NY Times famous cookie recipe).

But in my quest for better cookies, there are a couple of ingredients that I refuse to use:  shortening and white flour.  I know what you’re thinking:  No wonder those other recipes don’t turn out well for her!  For years I’ve been making pretty good cookies with whole wheat flour.  And sometimes I play around with reducing the fat and using less sugar.  It is hard to find the right balance between delicious taste and texture and a cookie I don’t have to feel as guilty for eating.  I’ve made many low-fat or low-sugar cookies that were edible, but not great.  Until now.

A few days ago I was reading on someone’s blog about her mother’s famous chocolate chips cookies.  I recognized the recipe immediately.  Been there, tried that.  But I glanced at the comments and noticed that someone said she makes the same recipe but uses olive oil instead of shortening.  A few comments later, someone else remarked that they cut the sugar in half, with excellent results.  So I decided to try both modifications, along with using whole wheat flour instead of white.  Success!  (maybe one day I’ll get rid of the butter entirely and use all olive oil, but I like the butter flavor so I’m leaving it in for now.)
And so I share with you my new go-to recipe for CC Cookies.  Can you find one that tastes better, looks better, or is just like the ones at some famous bakery in NYC?  Maybe.  Go for it.  But will you find another recipe made with whole grain, heart-healthy oil, and half as much sugar that tastes this wonderful?  I think not.  (But if you do, please let me know!)  Will this be your new favorite?  Try it and see.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup olive oil (light, NOT extra virgin)
1/2 cup butter, softened (or coconut oil)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups white whole wheat (see note below)
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar, optional
12 oz. (2 cups) chocolate chips (the darker the better!)
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Mix oil, butter, and sugars until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until light and fluffy.  Add flour, soda, and salt and pulse until just combined.  Add chips and nuts, if desired.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, depending on size.  I used a small cookie scoop and they were done at 11 minutes.  I bake my cookies using a Silpat mat on the cookie sheet, but parchment paper or a baking stone gives similar results.

Note:  I don't use white wheat as much anymore, except in bread.  For most baking I grind equal parts of brown rice, spelt, and barley.  (Chef Brad of Fusion Grain Cooking on BYUtv named it "wonder flour")
Disclaimer:  While these worked perfectly in my kitchen, I cannot be responsible for the differences in your oven temperature, the type of cookie sheet you use, your altitude, the room temperature or humidity in your kitchen, or your measuring techniques.  So many variables!  No wonder there are so many recipes out there.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Apple Pull-Apart Bread

I made this on Sunday morning before General Conference.  My kids wanted monkey bread, but I wanted to use the apples that we’d been given.  I found this recipe that I’d clipped from an old Taste of Home magazine but never tried.  It was delicious!  I used whole wheat flour instead of white but it still rose high and was nice and soft.  We’ll definitely make this again.  It’s more time consuming than monkey bread, but I had Corinne and Jillian helping me to roll and stuff each dough ball and the process went quickly.
Apple Pull-Apart Bread
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 medium tart apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3 to 4-1/2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in milk. Add 2 tablespoons butter, egg, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.   (I kneaded this in my Bosch for 10 minutes and skipped this first rise.)
  • Combine the apple, pecans, cinnamon and remaining sugar; set aside. Punch dough down; divide in half. Cut each half into 16 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, pat or roll out each piece into a 2-1/2-in. circle. Place 1 teaspoon apple mixture in center of circle; pinch edges together and seal, forming a ball. Dip in remaining butter.
  • In a greased 10-in. tube pan, place 16 balls, seam side down; sprinkle with 1/4 cup apple mixture. Layer remaining balls; sprinkle with remaining apple mixture. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack. Combine icing ingredients; drizzle over warm bread. Yield: 1 loaf.
It disappeared quickly!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I started out planning to make these Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies for the varsity cross county pre-meet dinner at our house.  So I made the cookie dough.  Then decided that I didn’t want to go to the store just to buy Oreos.  I was going to turn it into Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars, until I remembered that it was the first day of fall.  So I added one cup of pumpkin puree and some spices and the result was an amazing cookie.  My teenage daughter is a fellow cookie fan and lover of fall, and she proclaimed these the best pumpkin choc. chip cookies she’s tasted, because they weren’t as soft and cakey as usual.  They disappeared fast and I’m craving more.  I’m posting this recipe before I forget how I made them!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 sticks softened butter (1 cup)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
4 cups white whole wheat flour (for low altitude you may only need 3-1/2 cups.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
12 oz bag of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars until well combined.  Add eggs and vanilla and pumpkin until well combined.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.  Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients along with the chocolate chips until just combined.  Using a cookie scoop or a spoon, place cookies onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake cookies 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let cool 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Pumpkin Waffles

I adapted this recipe from one I found in Family Fun magazine years ago.  I use whole wheat flour instead of white, and I doubled the pumpkin.  Add a little more milk if the batter is too thick.  I double this recipe for my family of 8 and usually have a few leftover to freeze for busy mornings.   These waffles are great served with maple syrup and chopped pecans (you can even stir the pecans into the batter), or for a special occasion, try the Cranberry Maple Butter recipe below.
Pumpkin Waffles
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (or use oil)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  1. In a medium-size mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter, and pumpkin. Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mixture and stir just until combined.
  2. Coat the preheated waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour the waffle batter onto the center of each section of the iron. (You will need 1/4 to 3/4 cup of batter for each waffle.)
  3. Cook the waffles for about 4 to 5 minutes or until they are crispy and light brown. (Read the manufacturer's directions for details about how long you should cook the waffles in your particular waffle iron.) Serve immediately with maple syrup and butter. Serves 4.
Cranberry Maple Butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup butter, softened
In a small saucepan, combine cranberries and syrup. Cook over medium heat until berries pop, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; cool slightly. Beat in butter until blended.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Spinach and Zucchini Soup

I posted this two years ago, but it's such a favorite around here and zucchini is abundant so I'm reposting and adding a picture.   This is a perfect end-of-summer, early-fall soup.  It tastes so creamy and fresh with the lemon juice and cilantro.  Try it and let me know what you think!

We call this "green soup" and everyone loves it. My somewhat picky college age brothers had seconds--even after they found out what was in it!

Spinach and Zucchini Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
3 potatoes, peeled & cubed         
2 medium zucchini, diced
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 lemon

Heat oil in large pot and saute onions and garlic until soft. Add salt, potatoes, zucchini, and broth and simmer until vegetables are tender (10-15 min.)
Add spinach and cilantro and stir until just wilted. Puree in blender until smooth, then return to pot to keep warm. Serve with lemon wedges and squeeze juice into the soup.

My kids eat this with their favorite toppings: sour cream, bacon, cheese, croutons, etc.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Just eat it—I promise there are no surprises!

They don’t trust me!  Everything I served them today they smiled and inspected closely but wouldn’t take a bite.  “I bet there’s lots of salt in it!”  “She probably made it really spicy.”  “I think there’s paper inside.”

Who me?  Would I do that?  In past years, yes.  But this year I was normal as can be, not a single trick up my sleeve.  I loved watching them squirm, looking and waiting for the unexpected all day long.  Which never came.  All part of my plan.  Until dinner, when I served this:


Taco Salad (sundaes)


And bundt cake (stuffed pizza with cheese on top).

I love April Fools’ Day!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Whole Grain Pancake Mix

Whole Grain Pancake Mix (made with buttermilk)
Source: King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking
Yield: 10 cups dry mix; a batch using 1 cup of mix will make about 10 (3 1/2-inch) pancakes.
Whole Grain Pancake Mix
3 1/2 old-fashioned rolled oats
5 cups white whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 cup vegetable oil
To make the mix: Grind the oats in a food processor until they're finely chopped, but not a powder. Put the ground oats, flours and remaining dry ingredients into the bowl of a mixer with a paddle. Mix on slow speed, and drizzle vegetable oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running.  Store in an airtight container indefinitely in the freezer.  (I keep it in a 1 gallon ice cream bucket in my pantry.  I’ve had no problems with it staying fresh for about a month—it's usually gone by then so I don’t know how much longer it would last.)  To make the pancakes: Whisk together 1 cup of mix, 1 cup buttermilk (or you may use 1/2 cup plain yogurt plus 1/2 cup milk), and 1 large egg. Let the batter stand for at least 15 minutes before cooking (it will thicken as it stands—let it stand for 30 if you have time and the pancakes will be fluffier). Heat a nonstick griddle if you have one, or a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron. If your surface is not nonstick, brush it lightly with vegetable oil. When the surface of your pan is hot enough that a drop of water sputters across it, give the pan a quick swipe with a paper towel to remove excess oil and spoon the batter onto the hot surface, 1/4-cupful at a time. After 3 to 4 minutes, when the surface of the cake is no longer shiny and small bubbles are beginning to form around the edges, it's time to flip the cake. Cook other side until it's browned, 1 to 2 minutes more.
This recipe is a great base for adding your favorite ingredients—blueberries, chocolate chips, bananas, apples, pecans or walnuts, etc.  I like to sprinkle coconut on the batter after pouring it on the griddle.  When the pancakes are flipped, the coconut gets lightly browned and crispy.
Whole Grain Pancake Mix w/powdered milk in the mix and water added before baking
The pancakes in this picture were made immediately after the batter was mixed.  The pancakes in the top picture of this post were cooked after the batter rested for about 25 minutes.  They both tasted great, but I prefer the fluffier ones.  However, in our family taste-test, many of my kids preferred the flatter ones.  So, if you’re in a hurry, you could skip the rest time and your family would never know the difference.