Monday, January 21, 2013

Whole Wheat Apple Pie!

This pie was super easy to make! Back in September, we went to Julian apple picking with some friends. We brought home lots of apples and were not in the mood to eat them all. I did some googling and found a recipe to make apple pie filling to freeze.

The recipe is pretty straight forward. I am sure you could sub out some of the sugar for honey and use less water. I definitely halved or quartered this recipe because I didn't have 6-7 lbs of apples, but you get the idea.  The author also says this recipe will last up to a year in the freezer! I have also made Apple Crisp Pizza with my frozen pie filling and it was delicious!

So we were celebrating one of our friends birthdays and I decided an apple pie would be a perfect 'birthday cake'.  I pulled out one of my frozen apple pie fillings that morning and let in thaw on the counter/fridge until about 3pm when I starting baking.

Adapted from:
Whole Wheat Pie Crust
  • 2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1/2 c Coconut Oil
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tbs)
  • ~1/4 c vodka
  • ~1/4 c water
Don't let the vodka scare you. I did a little research and it is legitimate and makes for a flakey crust.

Mix together the dry ingredients and cut in the butter and coconut oil. I don't have a pastry cutter, so I just used my hands. Mix it in well. I will be slightly crumbly. Now add the vodka and water and stir with a spatula. I used just under 1/4 cup of each. The dough will be wet! I promise it all turns out okay. Split in half and refrigerate in baggies or container for at least a half an hour.

After it has chilled, use two pieces of plastic wrap and roll out the dough between it. You want it just bigger than the pie pan.  Press into a greased pie pan. Pour the filling into the pie. Mine was still cold. Roll out the second ball into the same shape and cut into slices for the lattice top. Weave it on top and you are ready for the oven. Bake @ 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream and caramel if you are feeling adventurous!

I want to make the blueberry pie on the crust website. Has anyone ever had or made a blueberry pie? What did you think?


Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Healthier Me

I debated whether to put this post up more privately on my other Blogger, but I think since it is about food and health, it can fit in just fine here.

So anyone who knows me well, knows I don't usually watch what foods I eat and don't work out. Since my husband and I have moved to CA both of these things have been challenged a lot more than I expected. There is a huge availability of fresh fruits and vegetables here, not to mention the big introduction (to me anyways) of organic foods.

In my house, growing up, I think we had a balanced enough diet, especially being that I was growing up and it was okay to gain weight as I went. We usually had a vegetable with dinner and shoved some fruits in. I ran throughout high school and that was a savior in the way my body looked and felt. However in college the typical happened. We ran to quick and easy foods and that was definitely not what we should have been eating.

 But the point is I am trying to make a change in the way I eat and live my life. I know it will be slowly and I am not looking to jump into this all at once. I have a feeling I won't ever be able to cut sugars or carbs completely out of my diet. I am from a good ole' midwest family and I am Italian. You mess with my pasta, I mess with you ;). I am not looking (yet anyways) to change the whole way I cook, bake and eat, but I want to make a start by adding in veggies, fruits and healthier recipes overall!

So I went to the grocery store yesterday and came home with lots of fruits, veggies, greek yogurt, almond milk, chicken, good snacks and yes, a bag of sugar. (I just can't do it people!)  I spent a good amount of time prepping the food and will spend some more time today. I don't want any excuses for not being able to eat healthy on a time crunch!

 So I gathered my fruits and veggies for smoothies. I love my green smoothie (spinach, pineapple, banana and apple or pineapple juice).
I wouldn't usually get frozen fruit, but the commissary didn't have good prices on fresh strawberries so I opted out. The frozen packs are nice though because they have a variety of fruit and also a 'smoothie' powder pack, which I wasn't going to use but it made my green smoothie so good!  But yeah, I chopped up the pineapple, banana and spinach and let it individually freeze before bagging it.

I think I made 6-8 smoothies bags. I like my fruit frozen and add either juice or milk to mix it, because I hate a 'warm' or thin smoothie. I like it thick and cold!

I also pre-chopped and mixed up a salad. I bought 3 bundles of fresh spinach and a bundle of lettuce greens. This salad bowl is only a small portion. The photo is actually what I still have left of greens. In the salad I have greens, some broccoli, green pepper, and shredded carrot.

I also made some healthy, sweet snack for breakfast or anytime. Mocha Chocolate Bites and Chocolate Chip PB Bites. Both are no back. I really love the PB ones but I love that the mocha ones have coconut oil. I bought some dates and pistachios to throw in and I think I am going to make up my own version. Since they are no bake, you just need the right consistency to hold them together and taste good :)

One last new thing I am doing is starting to train for a 5k. And you can laugh, I do a little bit. I did a 5k in November and did run most of it, but I was dying! I signed up for one at the end of March with a friend and we are both trying to actually train up to it and be prepared. Plus, what a better excuse to start getting into shape and working out again. This is the basic plan I am following. And we have more than 8-9 weeks til the race, so I am taking it slow and tweaking it to my fitness level. (Which I don't think is fresh from the couch.) The 'training program' is 3 days a week, so I am starting every other day. Thursday=Check!, today= Check! However, I would like to eventually be running everyday.

So thanks for hanging out through that whole post (if you did read it all). I just had a lot to say and share and I want a way to hold myself accountable and share my story! :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Freezing Cupcake Batter

Yes. Genius for us. Only 2 people in our household makes it pretty tough to make a full recipe of any kind, especially sweets. And I can only take so much to work before my coworkers think I am trying t fatten them up. :)

So I did a little research on the internet and found a good page about freezing cupcake batter. I did two of the ways they suggested with this yummy chocolate cupcake recipe.

Mix up your recipe as usual. I actually make 12 of them for last night and froze the rest. But I would also see myself in the near future making yellow cupcakes just for the purpose of freezing. I have become a big fan of freezing lately. I mean who doesn't like a simple thaw and cook meal, snack, etc? I have gotten better about putting stuff in the fridge the night before. That generally helps ;) .

 Anyways, mix your recipe as usual and the first way to freeze them is to scoop them into your cupcake liners as you would normally bake them.
Cover and seal with plastic wrap. I used the sticky cling wrap that seals better than regular. Freeze the cupcakes until solid. I just did overnight.

Now they are ready to come out of the pan and into a freezer bag. I popped the ones out of the silicone and let them freeze a little longer individually before placing them in a bag. They can go back into a silicone or a regular tin for baking. I just didn't want my silicone tied up in the freezer.

 You can let them defrost in the fridge (in a cupcake tin!) or just set on the counter for 10-15 minutes while you preheat the oven. I baked the pink one above in the liner 5 minutes from the freezer and it turned out great. Maybe 1-2 minutes added to cooking time.

-The next way to freeze the batter is to just pour it straight into a freezer bag or freezer safe container. It would be wise to measure out a certain number of cupcakes into a bag, but I had already filled about 20 cupcake liners (paper and silicone) You would just defrost this in the fridge and bake as normal.


Hot Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes with Marshmallow Filling

This recipe isn't mine, at all, but I combined a couple different recipes into this yummy, rich cupcake! I have been on a huge hot chocolate kick lately so this recipe is perfect!

Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder (you can also use regular cocoa powder)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Love these square silicon liners David's mom got me.
Mix (or sift) the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. It did fit in my kitchen aid, but it was close. Add the eggs one at a time and then the rest of the wet ingredients, slowly! Make sure you scrape down the bowl. Mix for two minutes on medium/low. The batter will be really thin. I was worried I messed up the recipe, but they turned out perfectly.  Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Marshmallow Filling
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 7.5 oz Marshmallow Cream
  • 3 Tablespoons heavy/whipping cream
  • 2 cups powdered/confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract  
I whipped this up while the cupcakes were baking. Cream the butter and add the marshmallow creme and whipping cream. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until combined. Finally add in the vanilla.

After the cupcakes have cooled (some if you are impatient like me), its time to core them for the filling. I have an actual cupcake corer that my mom got me. You push in the serrated edge and twist a bit until you can pull out the core. You can also use a knife and cut out a small bit. Hubby had fun eating the core pieces.  Next pipe in the filling. You can spoon it in, but a piping bag/tip would be much easier and less messy.

Hot Chocolate Frosting
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dry hot chocolate mix (without mini marshmallows)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp heavy cream 
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
Start by heating the heavy whipping cream and the hot chocolate mix on the stove over medium-high heat. Whisk it together. It needs to be steaming hot but not boiling. The whole point of heating it is to make a thick hot chocolate and have the sugars dissolve.

While it is heating, cream the butter. Add in the chocolate mix and combine. Then, slowly add the powdered sugar and whip until fluffy. Be sure the scrape down the sides before calling it good.

Now, I did try to use a piping bag and tip to ice these, but I let the frosting cool in the fridge and it was too thick, where as my icing tip was too small. I squeezed out what I could onto the cakes and spread it with a knife so that I didn't mess up the filling in the process.

 Next time I will use a 1M Star Tip or my favorite a 1M Round Tip.

Dip the tops in sprinkles or Mallow Bits and serve!

And I actually tried one today (2nd day) and they were still delicious. The cupcakes were super moist because of the filling!