Thursday, May 30, 2013

Brownie in a Mug

I tried to convince my sister to do a guest post on my blog about this brownie in a mug, but she wouldn't do it. I tried one other time when we made her super most and ooberly delicious banana bread, but she also said no then too. What is she so scared about? Her exact words were, " I can't write as well as you!". Pshhh. I beg to differ, especially since she's part English major and two years through her PhD program at Berkeley. She's a strange cookie (or should I say brownie), but I love her anyways. Nevertheless, I decided to share this amazingly awesome recipe with you because my sister is pure genius. Pure ooey gooey brownie genius.

I am just going to put this out there before I tell you all that I love about this mug brownie - I don't know if I hate my sister or love her for this recipe. Wait. That sounds kind of mean. Let me explain. This recipe is so darn easy that it's the perfect thing to make when you want a warm and gooey brownie to cure that chocolate craving, but it's also soooo easy to make that it's deadly. I mean, come on - a brownie you can make anytime you practically want? That's so good, but so bad. You know what I mean? Deadly delicious of course. The standard brownie in a mug starts out with your traditional brownie ingredients, but in smaller quantities - a few tablespoons of flour, cocoa powder, sugar, a little oil, water, vanilla and if you are feeling extra wild, you can throw in a small handful of chocolate chips. Chocolate chips make the world a better place. Let's be honest though, you have to use chocolate chips if you have them. It's the best part! You simply mix everything together in the mug (try not to eat all the batter!) and cook in the microwave for one minute. One minute - that's all! One minute to an ooey gooey fresh and warm brownie.

Just think of the endless brownie in a mug combinations you can do (and ones I can't wait to try!):

  • Add crushed pretzels for a salty twist
  • Swirl in some peanut butter
  • Add in some chopped nuts
  • Drizzle with caramel and sea salt
  • Mix in mini marshmallows and almonds for a rocky road brownie
  • Kick it up with a dash of espresso powder
  • Swirl in some fresh raspberry jam and top with berries
  • Add a punch with some fresh orange zest
  • Top it with a scoop of ice cream 

The list could go on and on and I bet by sister would agree too. She is a brownie lover from way back. In fact, brownies may just be her favorite dessert. Wait no. I stand corrected. Brownies are her favorite dessert! And thanks to her, mug brownies may just be my new favorite thing (and may help me get through those long study nights with grad school that are just around the corner!).

60 seconds to pure bliss!

Brownie in a Mug 

4 Tablespoons Flour
4 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Water
Dash of salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons chocolate chips (optional, but so so good)

Add the sugar, flour, cocoa, and salt to the mug and mix. Then add the oil and water and mix the dry and wet ingredients together. Mix well and then stir in chocolate chips or other ingredients, if desired. Place mug in microwave and cook for one minute. When the brownie comes out it will be warm and gooey. Enjoy!

What are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen and make a mug brownie tonight!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Skinny Crock Pot Chicken Verde

This crock pot recipe may be the easiest and one of the best crock pot recipes of all time. I kid you not. All you do is throw in some chicken tenders, a jar of your favorite salsa verde and then cumin, garlic powder, oregano and salt and pepper. Turn on and cook for 2-3 hours on high. That's it. Seriously! Doesn't get much easier than that. 

This chicken is so amazingly moist and delicious and can be used in so many ways. You can make taco bowls with a little Mexican brown rice, some black beans, this chicken and whatever toppings you like. You can use this chicken for tostadas, enchiladas, tacos or even burritos. The possibilities are truly endless. If I had to say one bad thing about this recipe, if you can even call it a bad thing, is that it's not a crock pot recipe that you can let cook all day while you are at work. It really does only take a couple of hours and if you let it go all day, the salsa may burn and you'd overcook your chicken. No one likes overcooked chicken! Do note that if you decide to double this recipe (it's great for large crowds or to keep extra servings frozen in your freezer for ready to go meals!), it may take up to four hours to cook. Just remember to keep an eye on it after three hours. You don't want to serve raw meat to your family or friends. That's never a good thing.

No matter how you serve this amazingly delicious chicken, this is sure to become a recipe you will come back to time and time again! Not to mention, it's good for you - you get a generous 1/2 cup serving for 145 calories, 2 grams of fat and over 25 grams of protein. That's a meal you can feel good about eating and one that will keep you full and going strong well after you eat it.

just a few simple ingredients

chicken dusted with seasonings and spices

cover in salsa verde

half way through (yes, I know I should not have taken off the lid, oops)

shredded and ready to enjoy!

Skinny CrockPot Chicken Verde (slightly adapted from Skinny Taste)

1 1/2 pounds raw skinless chicken tenders
1/2 - 1 teaspoon garlic powder (if you like more, use 1 teaspoon, if not, just 1/2 teaspoon will be fine)
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
16 oz your favorite salsa verde

Season chicken with garlic powder, oregano, cumin and salt and place in the bottom of the slow cooker. Cover with salsa verde, cover and cook HIGH 2-3 hours (3-4 if you are doing a double recipe).  When the chicken is fully cooked, remove chicken and shred with 2 forks. Place shredded chicken back into the crock pot, adjust seasoning to taste if needed and keep warm. Enjoy!

Easiest crock pot recipe EVER!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cookie Dough Stuffed Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Happy national chocolate chip day everyone! And what better way to celebrate than with a cookie dough stuffed dark chocolate cupcake. Yes, you heard me right. A cupcake stuffed with cookie dough. Could it get any better? Not much.

This cupcake recipe comes from the one and only, Lindsey over at Love and Olive Oil. She is such an amazing blogger and has recently published two cookbooks - both of which are now in my collection (and I am pretty certain they should be in yours too!)! Her Cookie Dough Lovers Cookbook is absolutely perfect and has more recipes with cookie dough then I know what to do with - cookie dough layer cake, cookie dough truffles and cookie dough popsicles, just to name a few. To be honest, I am pretty much planning to try every recipe in the book. No joke. In fact, my mom has already requested the cookie dough layer cake for her birthday in October. Needless to say, when I needed a new cupcake recipe to make for one my coworkers for his birthday, I knew Lindsey's cookie dough cupcake was the one to make. I mean, come on. Cookie dough inside a cupcake!

This cupcake is super easy to make and when they bake up, they come out perfect. I am serious. This recipe makes exactly how many cupcakes it says it's going to make and the chocolate cupcakes come out of the oven looking like little mounds. Perfect little chocolate mountains! It's not everyday you get a cupcake that does that and when it does, it's a good day. Trust me. While the cupcakes are cooling, it's time to make the cookie dough filling. Not to worry- this is eggless cookie dough so you don't have to worry about eating it and getting a tummy ache from the raw eggs. The bad part is that this cookie dough filling tastes so darn good that you may eat it all before it actually goes in the cupcakes. Don't say I didn't warn you. It's that good. To make this cupcake even better, you take part of the filling and mix it into the frosting to make a cookie dough frosting. Oh man, my mouth is filling up with saliva. Is yours? Whether you are a cookie dough lover or chocolate chip lover, this cupcake it for you. It's perfect in every little chocolate chip way and the ultimate cookie dough and chocolate lovers cupcake.

this cookbook is a must have!

brown sugar in the batter - heck yes!

this recipe calls for the dry to be mixed before adding the wet. somehow, it works!

wet ingredients. ps. this bowl is as old as I am, just ask my mom.

want to lick the beater?

cookie dough filling. YUM!

see, I told you - chocolate mountains!

my super fancy filling piping bag - a gallon ziploc!

cookie dough frosting!

get in my belly!

Cookie Dough Stuffed Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (from "The Cookie Dough Lovers" Cookbook)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Cookie Dough
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup of the cookie dough mixture

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together into a large bowl (I almost never sift, but find it's the best way to deal with lumps in cocoa powder). Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. Add the milk, oil, vanilla and both eggs to the dry ingredients and whisk just until all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the wells of the prepared pan, filling each about 2/3-full.

Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes, or until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes, then remove them to the rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the cookie dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the half-and-half and the vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the flour and the salt and beat just until incorporated. Remove 1 cup of the cookie dough mixture and set aside to use in the frosting. Add the mini chocolate chips to the cookie dough left in the mixer bowl and stir to evenly distribute. (At this point, I remove the prepared cookie dough from the mixer bowl so I can use it to make the frosting - I don't bother washing it out.)

To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar to the bowl, about 1/2 cup at a time, and continue beating until the mixture is smooth. Add the cookie dough mixture (the 1 cup you reserved before adding the chocolate chips) to the frosting and beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

To assemble the cupcakes: Use a small paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece from the center of each cupcake or a cupcake corer tool. Fill the hole with some of the cookie dough mixture, then replace the top portion of the cone (you'll need to slice off the tip). Transfer the cookie dough frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a tip. Pipe frosting into a swirl on each cupcake. Garnish with additional mini chocolate chips, if desired. 

Chocolate chip cookie dough. Does it get any better?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mexican "Unfried" Ice Cream

I am always looking for new recipes that are low in calories, but taste totally amazing. Especially desserts. As you know, a lot of the desserts I made are not the lowest in calories, but boy are they delicious. As the captain always tells me, everything in moderation. He's usually right. Wait, no he's always right. I am starting to notice that a lot lately. He's a smart cookie, but we already knew that. Nevertheless, when I find a really great low calorie dessert recipe that looks fabulous, I just have to try it. So, when I saw this recipe for "unfried" ice cream, it was a must make. Plus, it was Cinco de Mayo, so it was kinda a given that I had to try it. Don't you think?

Fried ice cream is really popular in Mexican restaurants, but boy oh boy it is loaded with calories and fat. Have you seen how many calories are in a serving of fried ice cream? I don't even think you want to know, but I will tell you anyways - over 800 calories! 800 calories of deep fried vanilla ice cream that is coated with a cinnamon cereal like coating and then topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. I am starting to drool, are you? I sure hope so because I am about to tell you how to make the same sweet treat for only 180 calories a serving. That's right. 180 calories! Even better, it taste just like fried ice cream. If not better. Way better.

To make this "fried" ice cream, you'll only need a few ingredients - non fat vanilla frozen yogurt, rice krispies, cinnamon, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. I used rice krispies instead of the recommended Special K cereal, but you could use anything you'd like really. Corn flakes would work well. Chex cereal would also work well, especially if you are trying to go gluten free. Any of those options would work just fine. To start this recipe, you will need to scoop your frozen yogurt into four, 1/2 cup servings and freeze until they are hard. I decided to use fat free Greek vanilla frozen yogurt, but you don't have to go Greek. I just liked the idea of added protein in my dessert! Once the balls are frozen (this takes a few hours), you coat each one in the cinnamon and crushed cereal until they are nice and coated. Really pack it on. This will give it that fried ice cream flavor and texture we all know and love! 

Once the ice cream balls are all coated, you can serve them right away or keep them in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy. When you are ready to serve, drizzle with a little chocolate syrup, a dollop of whipped cream and a fresh cherry, if you have it. When you take your first bite of this "fried" ice cream, you may honestly think you are eating fried ice cream. It's that good! There is just something about that sweet cinnamony crunchy coating. I can't explain it, so you just have to try it. Once you do, this dessert may become a regular on your menu. Unfried ice cream is no longer just for Cinco de Mayo!

This Ciao Bella Adonia greek frozen yogurt is delish!

I tried to make the ice cream nice and round with my hands, but it just ended up melting. Oops.

coating station!

make sure to really press on those "fried" crumbs!

almost too pretty to eat.

Mexican "Unfried" Ice Cream (slightly adapted from SkinnyTaste)

Makes four servings

2 cups fat free vanilla frozen yogurt (I used fat free vanilla Greek frozen yogurt)
2 cups Rice Krispies, crushed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp chocolate syrup
Cherry for topping (optional)
Whipped cream for topping (optional)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With an ice cream scooper, scoop out 4 balls of ice cream 1/2 cup in size and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 2 hours, or overnight, until the ice cream is very hard. Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, combine the crushed cereal and cinnamon. Using rubber gloves, roll the balls of ice cream in the cereal coating, packing them together into a smooth ball. Return the coated ice cream to the baking sheet and freeze until ready to serve. 

To serve, drizzle with chocolate syrup on top with whipped cream and cherry, if desired.

Unfried ice cream may just be my new favorite way to eat ice cream. That's saying a lot of a lactose intolerant girl!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Creamy Chicken Baked Taquitos

Well, another year has gone by and cinco de mayo has come and gone. A lot of you may think it’s just Cinco de Mayo, no big deal, but it means more to me than just the fifth of May- especially this year. Cinco de mayo this year is my five-year anniversary at my job and I couldn’t be happier. Five years has gone by in the blink of an eye and I have learned so much from my colleagues and friends there. Yes I said friends. That’s the one great thing about everyone I work with – they are more than just colleagues and people I see at work everyday. They are like my second family. Truly. I kid you not. They all are amazing people and I could not ask for a better group of people to work with. Here’s to five more years (and more!).

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, it’s time for an ole ole recipe. Don’t you agree?  The idea for this recipe came from the captain’s Dad, Dean and his wife Barb. Hiiii Dean and Barb! There was a recipe for baked chicken taquitos in one of the cookbooks I got for them for Christmas – Jenny Flake’s Picky Palate Cookbook. If you don’t’ already have a copy in your collection, it’s a must have. You can check it out here.  Not to mention she is a fabulous fellow food blogger and is one of my favorite to read. I pretty much drool over all her recipes.  Drool all over. To be honest, she has so many fabulous recipes and there hasn’t been one I haven’t liked yet.  My favorite so far may be her green chili enchilada casserole. It's something I make quite often and it's always delicious. Quick, easy and totally satisfying (here is the recipe!).  So, when Dean and Barb sent me a photo of the baked taquitos they and told me how good they were, I knew I had to try them for myself. Or at least a version of them.

To be honest, it probably took a couple of months after that picture to get around to making these taquitos, but I finally did. I wanted to make something different for the captain and I and these chicken taquitos seemed perfect for a quick and easy dinner. And that they were! To be honest, the hardest part of making these (if you can even say that), is baking the chicken. That’s the longest part at least. Once the chicken is baked and can be shredded without burning your hands, you just mix it up with a little cream cheese, shredded pepperjack (for a little spice – you can use cheddar if you wish or even monterey jack to keep it mild), green onions, green salsa, and seasonings. Once the mixture is ready, you roll them into flour tortillas and line on a cookie sheet. Now, if you want to cook them right away, you can, but my favorite way of making these is ahead of time. Just freeze the unbaked taquitos on a cookie sheet in the freezer until they are firm and them place in a Ziploc freezer bag until you are ready to enjoy. Now, who doesn’t love a quick and easy meal in the freezer ready to go? I know I do and I know you and your family will love these too!

These taquitos are perfect for anytime you are craving something Mexican. You can make them smaller in corn tortillas for more of an appetizer or make them in flour tortillas and have them as your main meal. Serve them with some homemade guacamole, black beans and a fresh corn salad (or green salad!) and you are good to go. Quick, fresh and easy. Plus, none of the junk that is in the processed taquitos you can get in the store and something you can feel good about eating. Now that’s what I am talking about. Ole!

yummy ingredients

don't forget to season your chicken breasts with olive oil, and salt and pepper

lots of flavor!

the only way to shred chicken - your mixer!

the chicken mixed with the creamy goodness

place the chicken onto the torilla

wrap up extra tight

freeze and place in a Ziploc for a quick and easy dinner

baked up nice and crunchy

dinner is served!

Creamy Chicken Baked Taquitos (slightly adapted from Our Baking Bites and Picky Palate)

1/3 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup green salsa (medium or spicy)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup chopped onion (red or white)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (you can even use shredded pork or beef in these too!)
1 cup grated cheese (use pepper jack for a kick or cheddar or monterey jack for something mild)

If baking right away, preheat oven to 425 degrees, line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. If you are freezing, simply follow the directions below and freeze before baking. 

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it’s soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion and granulated garlic. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well. Place 1/4 a cup of the chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges and roll it up as tight as you can. Place seam side down on the baking sheet. 

At this point, if you are freezing for later, freeze until they are solid and store in a Ziploc bag. If baking right away, lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and sprinkle some sea salt on top. Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown. 

Ole! Ole! Ole!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Salted Caramel Brownies

Now, ya’ll (I was just in Texas a few days ago, so it’s still okay for me to say that) remember when I made those ooey, gooey, over the top, out of this world salted caramel cookie bars? Those were such a hit over the holidays that everyone was asking me for them and not just the recipe. People were ordering these from me by the dozen.  I am talking triple and quadruple orders It was out of control. Then again, I don’t blame anyone and they were so easy to make eat. They are pretty much like crack. No joke.  So, when I first saw this salted caramel brownie recipe from Ina Garten, I knew I had to try it. I mean come on – salted caramel brownies? You’ve got to be kidding me!

The captain and I were down in San Luis Obispo visiting his mom a couple of weekends ago and decided that we had to make these for dessert. I had been eying them for a couple of weeks and what better time to make them then for a dinner with his family! You always have to have dessert. At least that’s the rule in our house. Let me just say, these brownies couldn’t be easier to make. Seriously. Don’t believe me? First of all, and maybe the best part, there is no need for a mixer. As much as I love my kitchen aid, I do love when a recipe is simple and only calls for a big bowl and a wooden spoon. Don’t you?  Plus, there is no dirtying anything else. You just melt the butter and chocolate all in the same bowl and then add all the other brownie ingredients in after that – eggs, flour, sugar, instant coffee, vanilla, salt and chocolate chips.

Once these brownies bake, they are fudgy and so so rich. Of course they would be fabulous on their own, but Ina takes these brownies to a whole new level. When the brownies come out of the oven, you drizzle them with caramel sauce and sea salt. Not just regular ‘ol table salt though. Flaked or chunky sea salt or fleur de sel (if you have it). Of course you can make your own caramel sauce, but since the captain and I were in a rush to get these done and didn’t want to spend an hour unwrapping eating all the caramels, we bought a local made caramel sauce at one of the grocery stores in town. Make your own or use what you can find at your local store. No matter what you use, it’s going to be good - that I can promise you.  The brownies will still be just as amazing even if you totally forget that you need to put on the caramel right after they come out and wait a few hours after they’ve cooled to do so.  Yes, I totally failed to read the directions close enough to see that part. Oops. You'd never know though. They were so delicious!

There is just something about that sweet and salty with the chocolate. I can’t explain it. It’s just that good. These brownies may just be my all time favorite brownies. A little salty, a little sweet, and a whole lot chocolaty.  If you want to live life on the edge, serve these brownies warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Now that’s what I call dessert perfection.

chocolate and butter. you know these are going to be good!

melted chocolate and butter on the right, eggs, sugar and more on the left.

just a little flour makes these brownies extra fudgy

I forgot to toss the chocolate chips in flour. Oops.

please don't lick the screen

Salted Caramel Brownies (By Ina Garten)

2 sticks unsalted butter
8 ounces plus 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules (I use decaf to avoid too much caffeine, but use what you like!)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 to 6 ounces good caramel sauce (homemade or store bought)
2 to 3 teaspoons flaked or chunky sea salt (not table salt!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour or spray with non-stick spray, a 9 x 12 x 1 1/2-inch baking pan.

Melt the butter, 8 ounces of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium, microwave bowl. Do not over cook! Make sure to melt everything together slowly, at half power and in one minute increments. Once all melted, allow to cool for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature. If you don't, all the chocolate chips will melt!

In a medium bowl, sift together 1/2 cup of the flour, the baking powder, and salt and add to the chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining 6 ounces of chocolate chips and the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour in a medium bowl and add them to the chocolate mixture. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Don't over bake!

As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, place the jar of caramel sauce without the lid in a microwave and heat just until it's pourable. Stir until smooth. Drizzle the caramel evenly over the hot brownies and sprinkle with the sea salt. Cool completely and enjoy!

There are no words for these brownies. They are that good.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Homemade Skinny Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

I love salad, but I always hate how high in calorie dressing is. Don't you? It's crazy. I mean, come on - you go out to a restaurant thinking that a big salad is the best and healthiest choice on the menu only to find out that it's over 1,000 calories. FOR A SALAD. That's ridiculous! Salad should not be more calories than a cheeseburger. That's just wrong. Way wrong. So wrong. So, what's a salad loving girl to do when she wants a dressing that's thick and creamy, yet low in calories and still tastes amazing? Make her own!

There are a few dressings out there in the stores today that are low in calorie and taste pretty good. I use those pretty often, but as you know, I am always trying to find new ways to make things at home that are easy to make and taste just as good. Not to mention, fresh and something everyone can make. This ranch dressing could not be easier to make and it's everything I have been wanting - it's thick and creamy, loaded with fresh herbs and garlic. Plus, it's tastes just like ranch! I know that seems strange to say, but some low fat ranch dressings say they taste like ranch, but they taste like something else. I don't know what, but they don't taste good. This ranch is totally adaptable too with the herbs and other seasonings. I added a bit more garlic powder (because we all know I am obsessed with garlic), more black pepper and also added fresh dill. There is something about the dill that makes the dressing sing. If you don't like dill, you don't need to add it, but if you do, you should definitely try it. It kind of reminds me of La Bou's dill dressing. Not exactly, but that dilly hit sure makes me want to dip a french baguette in it. You fellow Sacramento folks know exactly what I am talking about. At least I hope you do!

This dressing is so quick and easy to whip up. Maybe too easy and it makes A LOT - over three cups of ranch. Now that's a lot of dressing! After all the goodness I've been telling you about, you'd think this homemade ranch would have 150 or more calories a serving, but nope. This ranchy ranch comes in at 50 calories (no, that is not a typo!) for a quarter cup of dressing.  Yes, a quarter cup! That's a lot of dressing, but if you are like me and like a lot of dressing on your salad, this will be perfect for you. This homemade ranch is perfect for salad, perfect for dipping fresh veggies and even perfect on sandwiches. Or however you use ranch. Once you make homemade dressing, you may never go back to store bought again. Just saying.

This dressing will last for a good couple of weeks in your fridge, as long as all the dairy ingredients are fresh!

loving my new ipad stand!

adding in the seasonings to the creamy mixture (the yellow is garlic pow)

lots and lots of fresh herbs!

adding in the buttermilk!

look at all that ranch!

Homemade Skinny Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (slight adapted from Skinny Taste)

3/4 cup fat free sour cream

3/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
1/3 cup your favorite light mayonnaise
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (optional, but if you like dill, definitely try it!)
1 teaspoon salt (I added a bit more, but this is to taste)
freshly ground pepper (I added about 1 teaspoon, but this is to taste)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups 1% low fat buttermilk

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine the sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, powder, onion powder, parsley, chives, salt, and cracked pepper. Mix well. Stir in the white balsamic vinegar; then buttermilk. Adjust the seasonings to taste, adding another tablespoon of balsamic vinegar if desired. The flavors will become bolder over time and meld together.

Stay tuned for a homemade skinny blue cheese dressing. Bet you didn't think blue cheese dressing could be skinny, but it can!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cowboy Cookies

Okay, I know I said that on the captain and I’s last trip I wanted to go with a savory instead of a sweet snack, but I know my man, and a sweet treat is always a must. As different and delicious as the homemade cheez it’s were, I knew I had to make us a cookie. Not just any ‘ol cookie though and definitely not something I had made before. I usually make the captain one of his favorite cookies, my peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies , so I wanted to do something that had oats, but lots of other goodies. Like, lots and lots of goodies in the cookie.

I had my eye on two new recipes recently – monster cookies from the one and only Pioneer Woman and then a cowboy cookie from one of my favorite food bloggers, Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker. The monster cookie has oats, nuts, peanut butter, m&m’s, rice kiripies and all kinds of good stuff. Are you drooling yet? I am. Well, a little. Okay, a lot! A cowboy cookie has a similar flair, but has oats, cinnamon, pecans, chocolate chips and coconut. Both sounded so good that I honestly couldn’t choose between the two. If I I had it my way, I would have made both, but let’s be honest  - those cookies go straight to my booty and I don’t need all those cookies tempting me. So, what did I do? Combine them both to create a crazy cowboy cookie! I took the original cowboy cookie with all it’s goodness and then added rice krispies. How good does that sound? So good!

Now, let me just tell you, I only made a half recipe and the batter nearly overflowed my kitchen aid stand mixer. No joke. In fact, at one point, it even had a hard time mixing everything at the end because there was just so much stuff in there. All good stuff of course. I like my cookies with a lot of stuff in them, can you tell? The half recipe made about 15-20 BIG cookies. Like big as your hand big! Of course you can make them smaller (I used my standard cupcake scoop to make these), but why have a small cookie when you can have a big cookie! There is just something about these crazy cowboy cookies that are so different and so delicious – the oats and coconut make them chewy, while the chocolate chips and pecans give them the perfect crunch. Then there is the cinnamon and rice krispies that just make them that much better. As if they needed it.  Next time you need a chewy, over the top delicious cookie, this is your recipe!

loads of ingredients


swirling cinnamon

adding in the coconut

the best part - the chocolate chips!

rice kripsies!!

almost overflowing

these babies spread quick, so only place four cookies per sheet!

mmm, cooookies!

 Cowboy Cookies (slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

*this is the full recipe*

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
1½ cups packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I did a mix of white and dark chocolate chips)
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
2 cups (8 ounces) chopped pecans

2 cups rice krispy cereal

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or line with a silicone baking mat.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugars and continue to beat until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. With a wooden spoon or large rubber spatula stir in the chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans.

4. For each cookie, drop ¼ cup dough onto the baking sheets, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Bake until the edges are set but the middles still look light and puffy, about 12-15 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Cool cookies on the baking sheets.

These cookies are not just for cowboys anymore!