June 4, 2013

Low-Guilt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Please take heed that I titled these cookies "low guilt," not "NO guilt." So, yes, there is a small amount of guilt involved with the consuming of these cookies, but I just love eating cookies so much, I will accept an extra dimple or two on my butt as a token of my affection for this confection.

I do still love whipping up Dreena Burton's yummy Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies when I can, but my pocketbook does not often allow the purchase of maple syrup. Seriously, why is that stuff so expensive?!
So, I took the liberty of altering Isa Chandra's Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen and tried to make it just a smidge healthier, albeit not totally guilt-free.

I replaced half of the oil with unsweetened applesauce, left out the milk entirely, subbed potato starch for tapioca starch (because it's cheaper), subbed whole wheat pastry flour for the dastardly white stuff, and added in an extra quarter cup of chocolate chips (because I flippin' love chocolate).
The verdict? Slightly less evil, but just evil enough to taste amazing. The family went nutso for these, and my husband was shocked that I'd removed an entire 1/3 cup of oil. He said he couldn't tell the difference at all between these and the wonderful Isa Chandra recipe I've been making for years.
Give these a try and let me know what you think!

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons potato starch (this sounds weird, but I promise it's cheap and easy to find)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (can sub white flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly oil two large cookie sheets. In lieu of oil or baking spray, a Silpat works well for these cookies if you have one.
  • Mix together the sugars, applesauce, oil, starch, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. 
  • Add flour, soda, and salt. Stir until well-incorporated and smooth, but take care not to overmix or your cookies will lose that crunchy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside magic that makes them so good.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Use a Small Cookie Scoop to scoop out your dough. Place 16 dough balls on each cookie sheet, and bake for 9 minutes. Watch the cookies closely during that last minute, to make sure they aren't getting too overdone.
  • They will be puffy when you pull them out of the oven, but as they cool, they will flatten and crisp to perfection.
  • Enjoy!

June 2, 2013

I Can Finally Eat Basil. Life is Good.

Look at those lovely, waxy leaves. They smell and taste as good as they look!
I have been waiting patiently for weeks and weeks to eat the fresh basil I planted in my garden. The crazy-deliciousness of fresh basil is just beyond compare. I've been regularly sniffing the leaves (I admit, I am a chronic leaf sniffer), my mouth watering, just hankerin' for the time I could snip off a few and put them on something - anything - edible, to throw it's flavor profile right out of the ballpark. Normally, my thoughts might hint toward spaghetti or whatever is saucy and of the Italian variety. But it's already blistering hot here in North Texas, so I'm trying to use the oven as little as possible.

Instead, I found some gorgeous tomatoes at Aldi, for super cheap. Big flavorful fatties in a four-pack, for a buck and some change. So, I sliced them up, spritzed them with a generous helping of balsamic vinegar, put a fresh basil leaf on each one, then topped them with a slice of cucumber and some black pepper. They were AMAZING! Light and full of the fresh flavors of summer. I am planning to serve these at every dinner party I throw from now until the end of time. Give it a try!

P.S. If you're not already growing your own basil, it's not too late!
Here's a great website with all the info you need to get growing.