Thursday, October 22, 2009

Healthy-ish Oatmeal Cookies

I love oatmeal. Always have. Always will. When I was growing up, oatmeal was a regular at the breakfast table. And I get it. Some of you hate oatmeal and I totally understand why. Particularly every time I order it at a restaurant or plop out some into a bowl at a hotel's continental breakfast buffet. Plainly and simply: Other people's oatmeal SUCKS.

I mean, no wonder people hate oatmeal. Other people make it and its gloopy and pasty and flavorless. It's gross. When you make it at home... the way my mom always made it, with brown sugar, salt (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T FORGET A HEALTHY PINCH OF SALT) and two slices of buttered whole wheat toast, it's heavenly. It's like a warm hug for your insides. I used to break up my buttered toast and toss it into the oatmeal and swirl it around, until it became soft, buttery bits in my oatmeal (I know, I have this gross obsession with things that are supposed to be crunchy being soggy. Don't even talk to me about my favorite part of a platter of nachos). Or, if I didn't do that, I'd slather the oatmeal onto my toast and eat it like a sandwich. Yum. Oatmeal sandwich.

Okay, so before I totally lose you oatmeal haters out there (if I haven't already), let's talk about other uses of oatmeal. Like... cookies. Oatmeal cookies. Yum. A cookie with oatmeal is hearty and filling... almost as much of a hug as the bowl of oatmeal is. There's something homey about an oatmeal cookie. And... bonus: Oatmeal is fairly good for you. It's got loads of fiber (which is supposed to make you feel fuller, but, dude... nothing makes this stomach of mine feel full) and probably some other good stuff in it that I'm too lazy to look up right now.

Sometimes, I'm just in the mood for a healthy treat. I mean, not MOST of the time. Most of the time I'm in the mood for something loaded down with butter and sugar, but SOMETIMES I want something a little healthier and when I think of a healthy baked good, I usually think: Oatmeal.

I found a recipe at David Lebovitz's site (although, generally... don't go there if you're looking for something healthy. Cause he'll easily distract you with ice cream recipes) that I decided to tweak a bit and attempt to make even healthier. I tried to used a ripened banana for most of the sugar. Good idea, right? Yeah, I thought so, too. Until I tasted the batter. And immediately pulled the sugar out of the cupboard and added some (just for good measure, ya know).

Chewy-Almost-Healthy-Oatmeal Cookies
original recipe from Nick Malgieri, adapted from David Lebovitz's adaptation.

This is the recipe I used, with the addition of the sugar that I originally tried to leave out. The cookies turn out very chewy and cakey. Very delicious. Normally, I'm not a cakey cookie kind of girl, but I find that when I'm eating something that I know has things in it that are good for me, I tend to ease my texture demands.

I will definitely make these again. And I might even experiment further to try and make these actually healthier.

1 cup of white whole wheat all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp of unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed, light brown sugar
1 ripe banana
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups rolled oats (not instant!)
3/4 cup dark raisins (I used chocolate chips, can use any dried fruit)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and banana until smooth-ish. Mix in the egg, applesauce and vanilla.

Stir in the dry ingredients, then the oats, then the raisins (or whatever you're using).

Drop the batter by the rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Use a fork to gently flatten the dough.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Flaky Apple Turnovers

There are two ways to look at this post.

You can look it as a being a rewind Tuesdays with Dorie post. Or you can just look at it as being a very late entry (as it was chosen by Jules of Someone's in the Kitchen and supposed to be posted back on September 8). Either way, I was determined to get around to this recipe soon.

You see. I always fancied myself a chocolate lover. But, as I've gotten older and started baking more, I realize... that I actually prefer fruit desserts over chocolate ones. I know. The horror! And while it's true that when presented with the choice of say a slice of apple pie or a brownie, I will almost always assuredly choose the brownie. And then immediately regret the decision when I dive into the overly indulgent chocolate brownie.

It's the same with men. I think I'm into one type of dude... you know the type: tall, athletic, outdoorsy, and dumb. (Yes, I said 'dumb.' What can I say? I like to know that my man is never going to ask me how I feel about the healthcare situation. Cause you know what? I.dont.give.a.shit). And then it turns out, the guys I fall for are average height. Athletic and outdoorsy? What luck! All the guys I'm into love getting their exercise and outdoors fix by sitting around on their asses at a football game tailgate party. And last by not least, they're total douche bags who think they know everything and must spend 100% of their time educating me, this poor, dumb bitch that they are doing a favor for by dating. It's true. I'm one of those girls, it seems. I fall for the douche bags. You know the type. The guy who's biggest concern is himself. Yup, that's the dude I fall for. Everysinglegodforsakentime.

So the question is. What the hell is in my brain to make me think I like one thing and then when the choice is upon me, I choose the opposite of what I really want? Is this what men are referring to when they call us bitches crazy?

Sadly, I think so. I think I'm one of those bitches that is riding the crazytrain into town. I want one thing, but choose the other. Who does that?

I'm sure there's some easy psychological mumbo jumbo that explains this phenomenon (despite the fact that it sounds wayyyy technical: "hitching a ride aboard the crazytrain" is not a scientific phrase). But, honestly... does it even matter why? The real point is, that I'm going to make a conscience effort to seek out the things that I REALLY want in life and not the things that I think I want, that I'm supposed to want, or that I think I probably deserve.

Life's short. Just because a dessert has the word "chocolate" in it doesn't mean it's the superior choice. And just because a dude is interested in bestowing his awesomeness on me... it's only awesome if I think it's awesome, too. (And, it never is).
Flaky Apple Turnovers
recipe by: Dorie Greenspan

As with all turnovers, the focus is on the crust and not the filling. The good news? This crust is freaking awesome! It's flaky and crumbly and has a good flavor to it. As always, there's not enough room to fit a bunch of a filling inside, but the cinnamon does help to amp the flavor up a bit.

The crust, like the men in my life, can be quite ornery. It gets soft really fast (okay, so yes, there's an easy pun there, but I'm not touching that with a 10 foot pole. Yikes. ANOTHER pun. I'm stopping now). So, at the first sign of gooeyness, pop that crust back into the fridge to firm up (lord, I'm killing myself today, who knew a crust recipe could be so risque?). Also, like Dorie says, the longer you keep the crust dough in the fridge, the puffier it will be.

For the dough:
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small

For the filling:
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 Fuji or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small chunks
3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small bits

1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
sugar, for dusting

To make the dough:
Stir the sour cream and sugar together; set aside.

Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl, then toss the butter bits over the flour. Working with a pastry blender, two knives or your fingers, cut the butter into the ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Don't worry about being thorough - it's better to have an uneven mix than an overworked dough. Switch to a fork and, using a lifting and tossing motion, gently stir in the sour cream. The dough will be very soft.

Divide the dough in half. Put each half in a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to shape each piece into a rectangle (don't worry about size or precision). Wrap the dough and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour, or for up to 2 days.

Remove one piece of dough from the fridge and roll it into a rectangle about 9 x 18 inches. The dough is easiest to work with if you roll it between sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap - if you want to roll it traditionally, make sure to flour the rolling surface. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter, wrap it and refrigerate it. Repeat with the second piece of dough, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.

To make the filling:
Whisk the flour, sugar, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add the apples and toss to coat.

Getting ready to bake:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats.

Roll out one piece of dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch, and cut out 4 1/2 inch rounds with a large cutter or the edge of a tartlet pan. Repeat with the second piece of dough. If you'd like, you can gather the scraps together, chill them, and make additional turnovers. (The turnovers made from scraps will taste good, but they won't be as pretty and light as the first rounders.) You'll get 7 or 8 rounds from each piece of dough.

Place 1 to 2 tablespoons apples in the center of each round and dot with the butter. Moisten the edges of each round with a little water and fold the turnovers in half, sealing the edges by pressing them together with the tines of a for. Use the fork to poke steam holes in each turnover, and transfer the turnovers to the baking sheets. (At this point, the turnovers can be frozen; wrap them airtight when they are firm and store them for up to 2 months. Bake them without defrosting, adding a few minutes to their time in the oven)

Brush the tops of the turnovers with a little of the egg wash and sprinkle each one with a pinch of sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 10 minutes. When done, the turnovers will be puffed, firm to the touch, and golden. Gently transfer them to racks and cool to room temperature.