Thursday, March 6, 2014

white chocolate biscotti

White Chocolate Biscotti via design. bake. run.

lent started yesterday. my MIL is giving up cookies for lent. as a little cookie send-off, i baked her some of her favorite cookies, biscotti, monday night and finished it tuesday morning; so she could eat the entire batch to her heart's content. hehehe ;)

i don't make biscottis very often. i've only made it a few times and always with the same recipe. but this time around i decided i'd try a different recipe. after a quick search online and going through multiple recipes, i settled on one from myrecipes. theirs seemed simple enough (and it was!).

as i said above, i've only made biscotti with one recipe in the past. this one from myrecipe was slightly different and uses no butter. i have never made biscotti without butter before (never even knew that traditional biscottis were made without butter!). anyway, these biscotti are so, so good. must be because they contain no butter, the way they should be made. this recipe produces the most super crunchy biscottis ever, especially if you eat it soon after they've cooled. i absolutely love the white chocolate-vanilla combo because it is like the perfect little bite of sweetness in your mouth. and the added lemon zest is a wonderful little surprise too. it's like a hint of freshness, refreshing and delicious.

so what are you waiting for? if you're a fan of biscotti, why not bake some today?!! and if you're not, you'll instantly become a fan. m doesn't care for biscotti, but he absolutely loves these. :)

White Chocolate Biscotti via design. bake. run.
this biscotti recipe is so simple to make and produces the most crunchiest biscotti ever.

White Chocolate Biscotti via design. bake. run.
these are insanely good. i've never thought i'd love biscottis this much. i seriously ate 3 in a row.

White Chocolate Biscotti via design. bake. run.
i absolutely love how these contain only 55 calories in one serving. i could have 2 biscottis and not feel guilty at all!

white chocolate biscotti
recipe adapted from myrecipes.

ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (6-ounce) bar premium white chocolate, chopped or 1/2 bag of white chocolate baking chips

directions:
  1. preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. place first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. combine flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to sugar mixture, beating until well blended. stir in chocolate.
  3. turn dough out onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. shape dough into 2 (12-inch-long) rolls; pat to 2 1/2-inch width.
  4. bake at 300° for 35 minutes. remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack.
  5. cut rolls diagonally into 24 (1/2-inch) slices. place, cut sides down, on baking sheet. bake at 300° for 10 to 12 minutes. turn cookies over; bake an additional 10 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool). remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack.


makes 24 (or however many depending on how thick/thin you slice it). these taste most delicious on the day they're baked, but will keep in an air-tight container for a few days.

55 calories per serving.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

observing lent and the no junk food challenge

being that tomorrow is lent, is anyone observing it? i'm not catholic but m & my MIL are and they'll be giving up something for lent. i've done it several years now with them. this year, i can't seem to think of what to give up so i've decided to add on. and in doing so, i'm hoping that it will help me give up or eliminate some things i really shouldn't be doing or eating.

this year i've decided that i will eat more fruits and vegetables. at least the daily recommended amount, which is 5 servings. you see, i don't get enough fruits and vegetables in my diet. i'll go days and days without eating a single serving of fruit. vegetables are easier to come by since we do eat a proper dinner at our house everyday. apart from that, it's pretty bad. of course, there will be times when i eat nothing but fruit. i'll go on a giant fruit binge and eat like a whole 1-lb thing of strawberries or a 6-oz thing of raspberry and some kiwis. there's even been times when i ate like 10 nectarines in one day (over the course of a few hours). i know, my fruit and veggies eating is all out of whack. i need to be better at it.

my trouble is that i don't care for your typical apples, oranges, pears, bananas, etc that you can can get just about any time of year. i like to think that the fruits i like are more tropical, seasonal… more exotic? hahaha, something like that. i love fruits that are crunchy with lots of hints of sour/tartness to them. yes, like super firm and crunchy nectarines or peaches. or very green mangoes. pineapples are good too, and for sure passionfruits but those are hard to find here. and all the berries you can think of is definitely a go too. but all of these are hard to come by sometimes, especially when they're out of season or just isn't readily available (or too expensive). regardless, i've told myself that price isn't the issue here and that i should just suck it up and eat more. so, starting tomorrow, we shall see!

also starting tomorrow is this new thing m and i are going to try. it's really 21 days but we've decided to cut it short to only 20 days since we're taking off to europe by that time. so what do you think? want to do it too? why not! no junk food for 21 days (or 20 days for us). i saw this on pinterest and decided to give it a go. :)

No Junk Food Challenge via design. bake. run.

Monday, March 3, 2014

motivational monday: one thing at a time

take care of your body

i wrote this long blog post last week thinking i'd post it, but i never did. what was it about? umm... about m and i, running for 30 days straight. actually, i think it was 32 straight since we started on january 26 and ended on february 26. yeah, pretty crazy, i know... and we actually did it too! we set out to run for a whole month with 1 mile being the bare minimum and we did it. like for real, no crazy excuses thrown in, nada, zilch, period. was it hard? you bet it was. it was insanely hard, especially during the first week. but as the days went on, it got a tad easier. i'm not saying it was easy towards the end or in the middle or at any point. every day we fought the urge to skip our daily runs. and each day the running won. we went out and ran. period.

32-day nike plus running data

last month i personally covered 67 miles (see graphic above) – the most i've ran in a long time. i think if i look back at my nike+ history, there are definitely months that i've ran more than the 67 i did last month. but 67 miles last month was a big accomplishment for me, especially lately anyway. i haven't been running a whole lot the last several months so it's a big deal to me. i'm just so proud of myself for sticking it through and so thankful to have m around who inspires me everyday to keep at it and stay positive.

with a few days of rest out of the way, this week is the start of a new challenge. i look forward to conquering another fitness goal. i'm just hoping that my eating habits will be better and that the number on the scale will actually reflect that. okay, maybe not the scale entirely, but other areas such as loose clothing, etc. you get the point.

below is the new challenge i hope to conquer by the end of the month. feel free to pin it for later, do it now, or whatever you like. and here's to us all getting fit, being healthy(ier) in our own body, our way. :)

30-day plank challenge

i want my body

Friday, February 28, 2014

strawberry-banana cupcakes with strawberry buttercream frosting inspired by sprinkles cupcakes

Sprinkles-inspired Strawberry-Banana Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting via design. bake. run.

happy last day of february!

to close out the month, here are some (mini) strawberry-banana cupcakes with strawberry frosting. sometime last week we had a lone banana going brown. instead of making some banana muffins again or something else with banana i decided to do a take on a strawberry cupcake. i mean, add banana to it. a quick google search later, i landed on good old martha stewart's website. sprinkles strawberry cupcakes recipe, to be exact.

so here you have it. a take on their recipe, but with the pureed strawberries out for strawberry jam and some mashed bananas in, all topped off with a super simple strawberry buttercream frosting. you can't get any easier than this. no fancy blender required! this is my kind of recipe when it comes to using very minimal equipments. ;)

below's the recipe should you want to make some. it's quite good, i should say. you get both the strawberry and banana flavor in the cake. and the added strawberry buttercream frosting on top? that just makes it even better. i know the photos don't show much since you lose out the color once you mix the frosting together, etc... but the flavor is definitely there. i guess you can top it off with some strawberry and/or banana slices if you like. i personally couldn't be bothered to. so go ahead and make yourself some. enjoy and happy baking! :)

Strawberry-Banana Mini Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting via design. bake. run.
strawberry and banana are two fruits that pair well together. the strawberry frosting really balances out the strong banana flavor in the cake and makes for one sweet bite.

Strawberry-Banana Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting via design. bake. run.
i love making one-bite cupcakes. these mini versions of a full-size cupcake gives you the same yummy taste and satisfaction of a standard size one, but for way less the calories.

strawberry banana cupcakes with strawberry buttercream frosting
inspired by sprinkles' strawberry cupcakes

ingredients

cupcake batter:
  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam or preserves
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites

strawberry frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam or preserves
  • milk or cream as needed

directions

for the cupcake batter:
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. in a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, mashed bananas and strawberry jam; set aside.
  3. in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  4. with the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  5. divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes (or 15-16 minutes if making mini cupcakes). transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before frosting.

for the strawberry buttercream frosting:
  1. in a good size bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until somewhat combined.
  2. then add in the strawberry jam and mix until fully incorporated and resemble the right buttercream consistency. if it's too thick, add a tablespoon of milk to the mixture at a time and blend it some more until you've reach the right consistency. if it's too thin, add in more powdered sugar.
  3. frost the cupcakes and enjoy! :)


makes 12 regular size cupcakes or about 45 mini cupcakes.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

mini apple crumbles

Mini Apple Crumbles via design. bake. run.

i was going through my stacks and stacks of magazines sometime last week and ran across a recipe for mini apple crumbles. yes, i've got piles of shape, marie claire, better homes & gardens, 7x7 and ca home & design magazines just to name some that i've left it piled on (and some i have yet to go through them). i guess i'm still one of the few left who appreciates actual printed materials over those ebooks or e-zines. okay, going off topic here. yes, as i was going through one of my shape magazines from a few months back, i noticed a recipe for mini apple crumbles. i think it must have been shape's november 2013 issue. leafing through the pages and seeing that, a lightbulb went in my head. well, hello… we've got a bunch of oatmeal lying around, i could actually put some to use with this recipe! so off i went with it.

okay, i've actually adapted the recipe a bit because i didn't have any maple syrup on hand or couldn't be bothered with the spices that were in it. but overall, the recipe was pretty straight forward. so go ahead and bake some. these make for perfect little one-bite treats and are great for parties or any occasions. :)

One-Bite Mini Apple Crumbles via design. bake. run.
these one-bite mini apple crumbles make for the perfect little party treats and has only 95 calories.

Mini Apple Crumbles via design. bake. run.
this recipe is super simple to make. i love how you get many different kinds of texture, crunch and flavors from just one tiny bite.

mini apple crumbles
recipe from shape magazine's november 2013 issue

crumble topping:
cooking spray
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch kosher salt
1/3 c maple syrup
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

apple filling:
2 firm apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 tablespoons maple syrup

directions:
preheat over to 350°F. lightly coat a 12-cup mini muffing pan with cooking spray and set aside.

to make the crumble topping, combine oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. stir in maple syrup until well coated. use a fork to smash the butter pieces into the oat mixture until crumbly. Set aside.

to make the apple filling, add apples, maple syrup, and 1/2 cup water to a small saucepan. cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. remove from heat and let cool slightly.

meanwhile, place 1 teaspoon of the oat mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup. see your fingers to gently press down to form  a solid crust. Place 1 tablespoon of the apple  mixture over each and top with remaining crumble distributing evenly among all muffin cups.

bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. remove from oven, let cool to room temperature, then use an offset spatula or a butter knife to gently remove from pan. serve at room temperature.

makes 12 mini apple crumbles. enjoy!

nutrition facts: 95 calories; 3 g fat; 18 g carbs; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber; 22 mg sodium; 20 mg calcium

Friday, February 21, 2014

blood orange cranberry scones

Blood Orange Cranberry Scones via design. bake. run.

i was in trader joe's the other day and noticed they had bags and bags of blood oranges. well, duh me! it is the season. i've just never bothered to look around for them or noticed them in the past. this time, it was so obvious, i couldn't have missed it if i wanted to. i decided to pick up some up thinking i could bake with it, or at least eat them. we don't typically eat blood oranges in our household, but who's to say why not this time?

knowing i'd bake something with these blood oranges, i decided i'd make some scones. lately i've been treating myself to that morning cup of coffee at starbucks and noticed the cranberry orange scones that they have on displayed. i've yet to try one of theirs, but i figure i know how to bake so i may as well make my own. not having oranges on hand, what better alternative than blood oranges?!

below's the recipe for these blood orange cranberry scones inspired by starbucks cranberry orange scones. how were they? pretty good. i accidentally added too much sugar to the scones but i think the mistake was actually a perfect one. i really think you get the right amount of sweetness with the orange flavor. and the dried cranberries give you something chewy and a tiny bit of tartness when you bite into it. overall a great treat with that morning coffee or afternoon tea. now of course, you can drizzle some glaze on top (i was too lazy and couldn't be bothered) or spread it with jam and butter (or clotted cream) and it would just elevate this scone to the next level. very. good.

Blood Orange Cranberry Scones inspired by Starbucks via design. bake. run.
these blood orange cranberry scones inspired by starbucks are the perfect little treat with any morning coffee or afternoon tea.

Blood Orange Cranberry Scones inspired by Starbucks via design. bake. run.
a little blood orange glaze would go so well with these scones.

blood orange cranberry scones
inspired by starbucks' cranberry orange scones with recipe adapted from here.

scones:
2 cups all-purpose flour
10 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup cold butter
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon raw sugar (or regular sugar works fine too), for sprinkling

glaze: (optional)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon blood orange juice

directions:
in a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, orange peel, baking powder, salt and baking soda. cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside. in a small bowl, combine the cranberries, orange juice, buttermilk and egg. add to flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms.

on a floured surface, gently knead 6-8 times. pat dough into an 8-in circle. cut into 12 wedges. separate wedges and place on an ungreased baking sheet. note: this is the part where i like to stick the wedges in the freezer for a good 15 minutes or so before i bake it. i've read that by doing this it gives the butter time to harden so when you bake it, it makes the scones a bit more flaky and delicious. and is that true? i guess so. i do this almost every time when i have time to spare, otherwise i just skip this part.

brush with milk; sprinkle with raw sugar. bake at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. remove to a wire rack to cool.

for the glaze (optional): combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over scones.

if you like, you can even split it, spread some butter and jam and oh my, what a yummy-looking treat! enjoy. :)

makes about 12 wedges (more or less depending on how you cut it).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

oatmeal-raisin cookies

Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies via design. bake. run.

what do you do when you have a bunch of rolled oats around? umm... like A LOT!?! well, you make oatmeal cookies, of course. what else? okay, maybe a lot more other stuff… but oatmeal cookies will do for now.

i'm actually not a fan of oatmeal cookies because traditionally it's got raisins and cinnamon in it. both things i don't always care for when combined together. but m loves the classic oatmeal cookie so i went ahead and made some anyway. actually, i divided the dough and threw in some butterscotch chips for half the lot and kept the other half classic.

the recipe is super simple to make and makes a ton if you drop them by the teaspoon or tablespoon size. so if you've got some rolled oats or even quick-cooking oatmeal around, why not bake some today?! :)

The Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies via design. bake. run.
this recipe makes a lot and are perfect for gift-giving or sharing with others.

Classic Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies via design. bake. run.
i'm not a big fan of raisins, but this recipe is a classic for any oatmeal-raisin cookie fan and super versatile with different stir-in options (i also used butterscotch chips). m loves the classic taste, but is also a big fan of the other butterscotch version.

oatmeal cookies
recipe from better homes & gardens

ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups regular or quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup raisins*

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in oats and raisins.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons or tablespoons 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Or drop dough using a cookie scoop or 1/4-cup measure 3 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven about 8 minutes for spoon-size portions (bake about 12 minutes for cookie-scoop or 1/4-cup portions) or until edges are light brown and centers appear set. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely.

to store:
Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

*note: if you're not a big fan of raisins, you can certainly substitute a different stir-in option here. chocolate chips is one option, or butterscotch chips (like i did) or even nuts, dried fruits or coconut flakes. whatever your little heart desires. i'm thinking white chocolate chips with some coconut flakes would be perfect. i'll have to make this again with that variation. just keep in mind that whatever you do, you keep the substitute ingredient(s) to 1 cup.
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