Baking Cookies Everyone Will Enjoy

Closeup of a tray of fresh baked cookies, Chocolate Chip, oatmeal raisin Chocolate and white chocolate chip cookies on baking sheet and parchment paper -Baking Cookies Everyone Will EnjoyMost everyone enjoys a good cookie. But if you were to take a poll, and ask people what is a good baked cookie for them? Some might say, a cookie that is thin and crispy, another may say, soft and chewy, and yet another, light and cakey.

Crisp and Thin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Image Credit: Thin & Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies by: Handle The Heat

Do you have cookie lovers in your home who may prefer a cookie that is made the way they like it, that is crispy, or chewy, and possibly light and cake like? We have the solution to please all cookie lovers in your life.

To get a Thin & CrispySoft & ChewyLight & Cakey cookie, you need to make a slight modification to the ingredients in the cookie recipe.

Let’s use a basic Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. The following ingredients do not include the butter and sugar, as these ingredients are what determines what your cookies out come will be.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs, room temperature

12 ounces chocolate baking chips

soft and chewy whole grain peanut butter cookie

Image Credit: Soft & Chewy Whole Grain Peanut Butter Cookies – by: An Oregon Cottage

If you want a Thin & Crispy cookie, you add this amount of butter, and sugar, with the addition of brown sugar.

2 1/2 sticks butter, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

If you want a Soft & Chewy cookie, you add this amount of butter, and sugar, with the addition of brown sugar.

2 sticks butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

soft and chewy whole grain peanut butter cookie

Image Credit: Soft & Chewy Whole Grain Peanut Butter Cookies – by: An Oregon Cottage

If you want a Light & Cakey cookie, you add this amount of butter, and sugar, with the addition of brown sugar.

Take note, that in this adjustment you use unsalted butter.

1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

Baking Cookies 101

How does sugar effect cookies? To answer, we will share a little Cookie 101.  All sugars, either granulated, brown, powder or confectioners, have the ability to attract water. By doing so, sugars attraction of moisture helps keep it away from structure builders of the cookie, like the starch and proteins that are present in the flour and eggs.

The adjustment in the amount of sugar you do or do not put will determine the structure or substance of your baked cookies.

Another suggestion that will help to please your cookie lovers is using room temperature ingredients, particularly the butter and eggs.

How many recipes have you seen that call for room-temperature butter and eggs? Quite a few. Bon Appetit says that it’s a step you should not ignore, as many baked goods start by creaming together butter and sugar, which is made infinitely easier with gently warmed ingredients.

Is creaming the butter and sugar a big deal? Yes it is. Bon Appetit says, “Creaming together butter and sugar with a handheld or stand mixer, for example, should be done before the addition of wetter ingredients, like eggs. Why? The fat in butter holds air, and when whipped, expands. In the creaming process, sharp sugar granules slice through the butter, creating air pockets that ultimately give the pastry lift. Skip that step (or do it half-heartedly) and your end result will be dense and heavy (BonAppetit).

Here is Amanda Grant, editor of The Co-operative Food magazine to show us how to properly cream butter and sugar together.

Now you know how to make a cookie, that all cookie lovers in your life will go for. And you may just become, the Master Baker At Baking The Perfect Cookie.

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Spanish Flan

Slice Of Spanish Flan seen ovcer head on a white dessert plateThe Romans are said to have invented the culinary dish they called Flan. After hundreds of years being enjoyed by many cultures, Spain popularized flan as a sweet custard dessert made with caramelized sugar, and the Moors added

Orange and Almond Flan by Patis Mexican Table

Orange and Almond Flan by Patis Mexican Table

citrus and almonds to the Flan. The Moors were Muslim inhabitants of Maghreb, the Iberian PeninsulaSicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages.

When Christopher Columbus the Spanish explorer found America, flan had soon after that made its way throughout Mexico, central and South America.

Though flan today is especially associated with Mexico where it prepared in the kitchens of most all the inhabitants of Mexico.

Flan is a favorite desert at our house. Once you get the hang of it, flan is easy and simple to make. Here is what you will need to make Splendid Recipe and More’s version of Spanish Flan…

½ cup sugar
1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
5 eggs
1- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1- 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 tsp. Vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a small, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, add sugar, stirring constantly (can also vigorously move sauce pan back and forth over burner with one hand while stir with the other) until the sugar becomes liquid and golden.

caramelized sugar for Spanish Flan in a 9-inch metal pie panPour into a 9-inch round metal baking dish, tilting to coat bottom and sides if possible. We found that a metal pan works’s the best for making flan. Also after pour the hot golden liquid sugar into the pan, use gloves as you move the pan about coating it, as it will become hot to the touch. Set aside.

three images preparing Spanish Flan

In a food processor, or a large boil with a hand beater, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Mix in condensed and evaporated milks and vanilla until smooth. Strain egg mixture while pouring into the caramel coated pan.

Spanish Flan in a roasting pan - filled with hot waterPlace pan into a roasting pan. Carefully fill the roasting pan with hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the metal baking dish.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until flan is just set (does not wobble). place the flan on a wire rack. First loosen the sides with a knife and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Spanish Flan inverted onto a platter seen over head Next invert carefully on a rimmed serving platter. Be careful as the liquid caramel will flow out over flan and down the sides. Place platter in the refrigerator and chill 3 hours up to 24 hours.

Spanish Flan with a picture incert of a slice on a dessert plate When chilled, and you are ready for dessert, remove flan from refrigerator, plate and serve.

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National Gluten Free Baking Week

National Gluten Free Baking Week According to National Day Calendar, December 13th thru the 19th, it’s “Gluten Free (GF) Baking Week.

Gluten is a complex protein found in wheat, rye and barley and for some people that spells trouble.

Why Gluten Free Baking?

Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Bread

Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Bread – Click Image For Recipe

GF baking is one that excludes any type of flour that has gluten, which is a particular protein composite found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale.

Without becoming too technical or medical, wheat, rye and barley wreaks havoc on some, if not many individuals their digestive tract.

Gluten free baking doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite traditional desserts. It just means modifying your desserts by using gluten free flour choices.

Gluten Free Flour Options For Baking

Creative minds have discovered ways to bake with GF flours, and such flours can be found at your local market. Let’s examine in short what some of your choices are.

Bean Flours

Including garbanzo bean flour and romano bean flour, these flours are typically high in protein and have a distinct flavor. They are better suited for heartier recipes, such as breads.

Brown Rice Flour

This is a supplementary flour, and works great when blended with teff, buckwheat or sorghum flours. It is great for baking those sweet desserts.

Millet Flour

This is a light in color and a drier flour than most other gluten free flours. It is best when mixed with heartier flours, like Teff, Hemp, or almond flours.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting

Gluten Free Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting – Click Image For Recipe

 

Buckwheat Flour

Yes, it has wheat in the title, but this flour is related not to wheat but to the rhubarb plant. It has a distinct taste, which makes it best when combined with other, more bland flours.

This flour alternative for use in muffins, cakes and pancakes. In order to work well with the dough, adding a starch would help, like arrowroot, tapioca, or a nongmo cornstarch.

Sorghum Flour 

Made from sorghum, which is a relative of sugarcane. It’s tender and adds a mild sweetness, but is rarely used alone.

Coconut Flour

This flour lends a pleasant flavor to baked goods. Since coconut flour absorbs moisture more than other flours, it is suggested for recipes that have at least as much liquid as flour required in a recipe. Because this can be a tricky art, it’s suggested that as a beginner, you use recipes specifically designed for coconut flour.

Almond Flour

This is a great choice for baking. Using almond flour to a dessert recipe will add moistness, binding, a light almond flavor, and a good amount of density to cupcakes, muffins, brownies, cookies, breads, and cake recipes.

Keep in mind that any nut flour cannot be substituted in equal quantities for flour, because nut flours are more dense and very high in protein. They can be used to replace a portion of other GF flours, such as Oat Flour, being used in the recipe.

Buying Commercial Gluten Free Flour Choices

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread – Click Image For Recipe

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free is a fine blend using as its base garbanzo beans, potato starch, and tapioca, to name a few of the ingredients. See Bob speaking here about his flour choices, along with nutritional information, reviews, and GF recipes.

King Arthur Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour

King Arthur Flour is a blend of white rice and whole grain brown rice flours, along with tapioca and potato starch. What’s great about this product is that ‘it’s multi-purpose’ and can therefore be used for both baking and cooking, cup-for-cup, the same as any gluten flour product.

Tips For Beginners Of Gluten-Free Baking

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake – Click Image For Recipe

Experiment, experiment and experiment. There is a learning curve when you first start with Gluten free baking, but once you get some practice and experience you will become an expert about what works and what dosen’t.

Stay with it and don’t get discouraged. There will be failed recipes because you have to learn which flour combinations work best, but it just takes practice and testing. It’s best to get guidance from recipe books or online guides when first trying your hand at gluten free baking.

Begin with simple baking recipes and learn the basics.

Try some of our gluten free dessert recipes by clicking on the images above that are accompanying this article, or by clicking the links below.

Gluten Free Tropical Carrot Cake

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Pancakes with Orange Maple Mascarpone Sauce

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Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice 

Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice 

The softer, orange-fleshed variety of sweet po...

The softer, orange-fleshed variety of sweet potato, commonly referred to as a yam in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you know the difference between a yam and a sweet potato? In some parts of North America, including Canada, the yam and sweet potato are enter twinded or in other words people think they are same.

The fact is, they are not. They both are tubers, and that is as far as it goes to being similar.

The yam are monocots related to lilies and grasses. Were as sweet potatoes are related to or we should say the unrelated morning glory family (Wikipedia ).

Yam in a market

Yam in a market (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to About Foods, yams are mostly sold in chunks sealed in plastic wrap, as they can grow up to 7 feet in length and weigh up to 150 pounds. (Home Cooking – About Food).

Better Homes and Garden (BHG) suggests storing yams in a cool dry place. Much like you would do with potatos.

BHG says do not store yams in the refrigerator as they will dry out (BHG).

Before we get on with our featured recipe, here is a link to a pdf file from the University of California on yams and sweet potatoes: LINK HERE.

Our featured recipe is: Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice, and here is what you will need.

2 medium yams, washed and diced with skin on

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 to 2 teaspoons dried cumin

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1/2 lime

diced yams with olive oil in a large bowel Add the oil, cumin, and salt to a large mixing bowel. Mix together, then add died yams and toss to coat.

Roasted Yams with Cilantro and Lime Juice  - close upSpoon yams onto a baking sheet spread out evenly. Place baking sheet into a preheated 425 degree oven, and roast the diced yams for 30 to 40 minutes or until a fork can pierce them, turning once during the roasting process.

Remove from oven and let cool about 5 minutes. Add yams to a serving bowel along with chopped cilantro and lime juice. Mix gently to coat roasted yams.

Eat the dish as is or as a side dish with your favorite meat.

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Italian Five Cheese Chicken Roll Ups

Italian Five Cheese Chicken Roll UpsWith little more than your favorite spaghetti sauce (we used a sauce made with cream and vodka – from the Whole Foods Market), cream cheese and a shredded Italian cheese blend, you can have yourself some chicken roll-ups. They are super easy to prepare.

Here is what you will need:

2 oz. of cream cheese softened

¼ cup bell pepper; diced (red, yellow, orange, green, use all colors, or your choice – we buy tri-colored frozen bell peppers)

¼ tsp. garlic powder

4 chicken breasts; boneless skinless

1 cup Italian 5-cheese blend, finely shredded

½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 cup spaghetti sauce (your favorite)

salt to taste, optional

Heat oven to 400°

ingredients for Italian Five Cheese Chicken Roll Ups

 

mix ingredients  togetherIn a medium bowl mix cream cheese, ½ cup of cheese, bell pepper, oregano, garlic and salt to taste.

When we salt in our recipes, it is always use Himalayan salt.

After you mix up the ingredients, set aside.

slicing chicken breast and flatting it with a robber mallet

Cut chicken long ways across breast. Place each cut chicken piece one at a time in a large plastic bag, seal it and with a rubber mallet or rolling pin flatten chicken to ¼-inch thicknesses.

preparing chicken roll ups

At one end of chicken strip roll up with cheese mixture, tucking in ends around filling to completely enclose the filling.

Place seam sides down in 13 x 19 inch baking dish coated with olive oil. Pour spaghetti sauce evenly over chicken, and cover with aluminum foil.

chicken roll ups out of the ovenPlace in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Remove foil, sprinkle chicken with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese. Bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

 

 

 

Italian Five Cheese Chicken Roll UpsPlate and enjoy your Italian Five Cheese Chicken Roll Ups with a salad or your favorite vegetable.

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Ginger-Orange Chipotle Chicken

Ginger Orange Chipotle Chicken

What do you know about the “Blood Orange”? The blood orange is a type of orange with a flesh that is almost-blood-colored. The fruit is about the same size as an average regular orange, though it can be smaller or larger.

Fresh Blood OrangesWhat gives the blood orange its distinctive dark flesh color is due to the a compund called anthocyanin, an antioxidant pigment common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits, making the blood orange a unique piece of fruit.

Due to the blood oranges pigments of red, it contains greater amounts of antioxidants, more than a regular orange.

The three common types of blood oranges, which are the Tarocco, native to Italy, the Sanguinello, native to Spain, and the Moro, which is a newer variety sold at the market. There are 12 lesser common blood orange varieties as well.

The blood oranges can and have been used to make marmalade, and the zest can also be used for baking. A very popular Sicilian salad that is prepared in the winter months, is made with sliced blood oranges, sliced fennel, and olive oil. The oranges have also been used to create Italian sodas among other things.

Now for our featured recipe: Ginger-Orange Chipotle Chicken, and here is what you will need.

3/4 cup ginger-orange marmalade

1 1/2 tablespoons adobo sauce (canned chipotles)

1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 large sweet potato, cut into wedges

2 small blood oranges, quartered

2 tablespoons avocado oil

4 large chicken drumsticks

1/3 cup mixed almond and coconut flour

Preheat oven to 475 degrees

Ginger Orange Chipotle SauceIn a medium mixing bowl, mix first 4 ingredients together, and reserve 1/3 cup of the sauce.

Ginger Orange Chipotle Chicken - Ready to RoastIn a large bowl, add the avocado oil, prepared sweet potato and blood oranges, and toss to coat with oil.

On a foil-lined baking sheet, arrange orange and sweet potato wedges.

Almond Coconut Flour Breaded Chicken LegsToss chicken in flour mixture, then coat with sauce. Because the flour mixture does not contain wheat flour, this dish can be considered a gluten free recipe.

Now add the bread chicken legs to the baking sheet with blood orange quarters and sweet potato wedges. Roast in heated oven for 15 minutes. Turn chicken and brush with sauce. Continue to roast until juices run clear when pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes.

Ginger Orange Chipotle ChickenPlate and serve with reserved sauce. Enjoy!!

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Pumpkin Bacon Pancakes

Pumpkin Bacon Pancakes

According to the Health News Library, you don’t have to wait for Autumn when pumpkins are normally harvested to enjoy their cancer fighting benefits. They write saying that research performed at Tufts University with pumpkins showed that 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin or fresh cooked pumpkin has five times the daily quota for beta-carotene (vitamin-A) per day.

If you were able to read our article Curried Apple Pumpkin Soup, and was able to prepare it, you would find yourself with some left over pumpkin. Well, no worries, as the 1/2 can of left over pumpkin can be used in our featured recipe: Pumpkin Bacon Pancakes.

Here is what you will need…

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Pumpkin Bacon Pancakes - close up3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup pumpkin purée

2 large eggs

2 tbsp. coconut sugar

1 tbsp. coconut oil

4 to 5 strips crumbled cooked bacon

 

Whisk together in a large bowl the first 6 ingredients, and set aside.

In a separate medium bowl whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin, eggs, coconut sugar, and coconut oil.

Gently stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture. Heat a cast iron griddle coat with butter over medium heat. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto griddle to form a 3 to 4 inch pancake. Drop some of the crumbled cooked bacon. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes each side.

Plate and drizzle with real maple syrup.

Prevention magazine (October 2012 issue) says, to better absorb the beta-carotene in the pumpkin add a healthy fat to the recipe, and in this case it  is the coconut oil. If you choose, you can use olive oil. If you cannot get your hands on some coconut sugar, then you can substitute raw honey.

 

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