Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Triple Chocolate Rosemary Shortbread Cookies

shortbread is just about the easiest most versatile cookie dough there is.
i found this basic shortbread recipe and "method" a few years ago from Smitten Kitchen and have been using it ever since.  Deb posted a recipe called Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies created by Dorie Greenspan, chef extraordinaire !  it's a simple, easy, must try recipe to get you started.
once you get the basics you can run with all kinds of interesting flavor combos.  i've created a few...Rose Shortbread with White Chocolate, Chocolate Bacon Shorties (to be posted soon), Chocolate Coconut, Haute Chocolate Chili shortbread, Maple Pecan Shortbread Bars and i started with good ol' Chocolate Chip Shortbread Tiles back in 2009 when i fell in love with this recipe.

the best part of this shortbread is the method...
you can get a visual over at Smitten Kitchen's blog or check out Use Real Butter's blog "step by step".
another bonus... as you can see, the dough produces a cookie with sharp crisp edges that will retain the shape you choose, be it square, round or your favorite cut-out-do-dahs.

adapted from Deb at  Smitten Kitchen (fabulous blog!) who in turn was sharing a recipe from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking From My Home to Yours"

1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
2 Tbsp good cocoa powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups AP flour
22 grams cocoa nibs
1 large tsp home dried rosemary, fine mince/chop
dark chocolate for drizzle, optional for "triple chocolate"
and coarse sea salt for a sprinkle

in a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar until very smooth.  beat in the vanilla and rosemary.  turn to low and add the espresso powder and flour in approx. 3 batches until everything is incorporated.  do not over mix.  gently mix in the cocoa nibs in the machine or by hand.  again, not to over mix.
the best part...THE ZIPLOC BAGGIE TRICK.
i learned this from Smitten Kitchens post about these Dorie Greenspan cookies.  please check the link and go to her fabulous blog to see some photo instructions.
but in a nut shell this is what you'll do...transfer the dough into a gallon size Ziploc plastic bag.  flatten the dough out in the bag, first with your hand then with the rolling pin.  flatten until it is solid to the edges of the baggie.  as you are rolling...flip the bag a few times to ensure it's even and there are no wrinkles.  press the air out and seal the zipper.  you will have one big flat baggie of dough about 1/4 inch thick.  refrigerate on a flat surface for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

when ready to bake...remove from fridge and simply slice the baggie on 3 sides and peal it open.  cut the dough with a sharp knife and a straight edge, peel squares off of the plastic and set on parchment lined cookie sheet.  prick each cookie with a fork 2 times.  i like to stick the whole sheet back in the fridge for about 10 minutes to ensure the nice crisp sharp edges after baking.

bake for 18-20 minutes.  don't wait until they darken around the edges...they should just be firm to the touch.  transfer to a wire rack to cool.
melt chocolate of choice, i prefer dark chocolate, and do a little drizzle.  sprinkle sea salt on before chocolate sets.
they are pretty durable so if you are making cookies ahead of time this is a good one to start with...just drizzle chocolate later in case your chocolate might soften or bloom.  they package great if you put parchment in between drizzled cookies.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie...Gluten and Guilt Free

chocolate and pumpkin...a delicious pair


super easy to make, no crust to deal with, diet friendly, can, should, be made ahead of time and leftovers are fabulous for breakfast or healthy treat with a little vanilla greek yogurt and fresh berries.
a chocolate dessert that's low calorie, full of protein and low-fat...a healthy end to a over stuffed Thanksgiving throw-down or for a great early start to a big "Black-Friday" shopping day.

would you rather have this or some dumb ol' protein bar...?

here are the nutrition facts 
10 pie slices and 2 small ramekins...12 servings total
(made with sugar substitute and 3 scoops pro. powder)

calories... 83

CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN PIE...gluten and guilt free
ORIGINAL "Protein Pumpkin Pie" recipe found at Habits of Contradiction.
and my recent version of Protein Pumpkin Pie seen HERE

preheat oven to 350 F.
prepare LARGE pyrex pie dish and 2 small ramekins or an 11 x 7 glass pyrex with non stick spray.

2 cups pumpkin puree...(not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup non fat or low fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup non fat milk
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar substitute.(plus a little more to taste.
don't be afraid to taste the batter for sweetness when done mixing. add more if needed
i use Zsweet.   real sugar would probably be fine.  i have not tried it. 
2-3 scoops protein might want to start with 2. 
i use 2 choc. scoops and 1 vanilla scoop Jay Robb Whey Protein Powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp espresso powder
4 Tbsp good cocoa powder...generous tablespoons, but not heaping

combine dry ingredients in a small bowl, set aside.
blend cottage cheese, eggs and 1/2 cup milk until smooth.  add remaining milk and 1 cup pumpkin...blend until very smooth. 
add remaining  pumpkin and blend until very smooth.  add dry ingredients slowly to prevent clumps.  i use an immersion blender and work it through the batter very well.   you do not want to see any lumps of pumpkin, clumps of dry ingredients or bits of cottage cheese.  there is no gluten or flour so this can be well mixed.
NOTE...i don't think a regular stand mixer will do the job.  maybe a blender, but as i said...i use a stick blender.

pour into prepared cooking vessel of choice.  gently knock a few times on a surface to release any air pockets.  decorate with a few pecans as you see fit.  bake for 40-45 minutes or until the center looks firm.  the whole thing should rise a little and puff up.  the edges will brown a bit.  do not be alarmed.  it will deflate and fall into a normal looking pie.  let the pie rest to room temperature and then refrigerate.

  serve chilled or room temperature with a drizzle of chocolate and whipped cream,...or as noted above, i like it for breakfast or snack with vanilla greek yogurt and fresh berries.

can be made in individual ramekins.  this happened out of necessity so i don't know the exact cooking time.  i had over-flow from the LARGE pie dish.  these are probably 7-8 oz ramekins shown here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Forbidden Rice Risotto

comfort food.  that's what cold weather is all about...
but with a HEALTHY TWIST

let's just say that this is NOT your typical "risotto".
i would call it "risotto-like"...but it definitely fits the comfort-food category

all the deep rich flavors from the slow cooking and reducing are there, but the black rice has a different texture...almost "al dente-like" to regular rice.  it maintains it's shape no matter how long you cook it.  i cooked this for a good 1 hour and 20 minutes!  the black rice does not act like the Arborio used in classic risotto, but it does make an interesting twist on a popular comfort food dish.  
the end result was delicious and worth the effort, but i think i'll leave the risotto up to the professionals.
on the other hand....
for a fabulous easy recipe using this super-food on the sweet comfort food list, check out my post on "Black Rice Pudding".  i'm not sure i will make the risotto again (due to the time and effort), but i will surely be making the rice pudding for a healthy dessert alternative or breakfast treat..

Forbidden Rice...once revered for Emperor's now considered one of the new "super-foods".
not only is it full of antioxidants, it is packed with a load of health benefits and more are being discovered.  for more information you might want to click HERE  and  HERE.


1 cup dried forbidden rice
2 1/2 - 3 cup vegetable or chicken broth
NOTE...i ended up using 4 cups homemade broth AND almost 1 can of low sodium broth (see more notes)
1 tbsp butter
1/2 medium shallot chopped fine
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 big Tbsp shiitake mushroom powder
1/3 cup white wine
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
fresh thyme, basil or Italian parsley for topping
8-10 crimini mushrooms, sauteed and browned for additional topping

in a saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat and saute shallots until translucent.  do not brown.  add the forbidden rice and cook for a minute, stirring well so that the rice is well coated with butter and shallots.  deglaze the pan with the white wine and stir to incorporate.  when the wine reduces turn the heat to medium-low and add warm chicken stock...1/2 cup at a time.  add the dried thyme and shiitake mushroom powder.  when 1/2 cup has absorbed, add another...then do this again and again until all stock has been used and risotto looks creamy, done and delicious.  i guess this is "risotto 101".  i have never made risotto, but this is what i was told to do.  i'm sure it takes practice for a perfect risotto.
when you feel it is done, check for seasoning, stir in some grated parmesan and top with fresh thyme, basil OR Italian parsley...and sauteed crimini mushrooms.

A FEW NOTES...if i were to cook this again...i would probably pre-cook the black rice.  then go on with the risotto-like instructions.  i bet it would shorten the overall cooking time, make for a softer bite and it would take less stock.  the recipe called for 2.5 cups of stock and i went through about 5-6 cups of liquid AND it was on the stove for about 1 1/2 hours before it was done..
also when reheating (i had left-overs) just add a little more stock.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Protein Pumpkin Pie. Low carb and gluten free

yes, you are correct...

it IS topped with Brown Sugar Bacon Candy
and spicy pecans. IS a Protein Pumpkin Pie

and bacon IS protein...right ?...

i bet this is the best low carb, low fat, GLUTEN FREE, protein packed Pumpkin Pie you will ever taste.  i've been making it for 3-4 years and eat it for breakfast all the time...
and who doesn't love a little BACON CANDY...


it's's cold and it's pie time.
AND it's pumpkin time.
if you're anything like me...maybe not, but...
 after the big Thanksgiving throw down, i just can't fathom eating one more thing...i like a huge piece of MOM's pumpkin pie the next morning, chilled with a little vanilla greek yogurt and fresh berries.
i'll hide a piece in the back of the fridge just to insure i get my breakfast pie.
my mother does make a mean pumpkin pie and i do indulge in the real thing, crust and all...once a year,

BUT...i have this delicious protein packed pumpkin pie all year 'round.  i stock up on pumpkin around this time and make it just about once a month.

i usually bake it in this 11x7 glass pyrex dish and get 12 servings.  it's easier to store in the fridge.  it keeps for a week and i can usually polish it off by then with a little help from eager friends.
for presentation purposes i used a LARGE pyrex glass pie dish with 2 small ramekins for overflow.  (both versions are shown in photos)

nutrition facts look like this...12 servings
88 cals...11g protein...6.5g carbs...2.4g fat...2g fiber...

can you believe it !!!???

(check your protein powder for gluten)
i found the recipe four years ago at Habits of Contradiction and have been making it ever since.
please check out the original and start from there if you'd like...i have tweaked it just a little bit.

2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup low fat or non fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup non fat milk
1/2 cup regular milk
2 large eggs (i have used egg-beaters, but like real eggs better)
1/2 cup sugar substitute (or real sugar)...i like Zsweet.  much better than Splenda
2-3 scoops vanilla whey protein powder.
note... you might want to start with 2, but i use 3 scoops Jay Rob Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp maple extract...optional
12 pecans for the top

preheat oven to 350F.
spray LARGE pie dish and 2 small ramekins  or rectangular 11x7 glass pyrex dish.

blend cottage cheese, eggs and 1/2 of the milk until smooth...until you can not detect any cottage cheese specks (SEE IMPORTANT NOTE BELOW).  add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth...VERY SMOOTH.  there is NO FLOUR so you don't have to worry about over mixing.
pour into sprayed cooking dish of choice, decorate with pecans and bake for 40-45 minutes or until middle is set and solid.  it should not jiggle at all
NOTE...(photo below) do not worry if the sides brown a little and the whole thing PUFFS UP.  it will deflate and settle.  this is a hard pie to "over-bake".
above is an example of extreme puff-age...not to worry, it will deflate if this happens
IMPORTANT NOTE...blending is key with this recipe.  i use an immersion blender (above photo).  i don't think i've tried a blender.  i bet it would work, but it might get to mousse.  who knows...maybe something else delicious.  i will say that a regular mixer will not work.  you want smooth as silk texture.

BY THE WAY...this pie can definitely be made ahead of time.
please ENJOY some PIE !!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Parmasen Pound Cake #3-Light Crumb and Texture

Parmesan Pound Cake #3

yes...#3.   i admit...i border on obsession in the pound cake department.  i hope you all saw Parmesan Pound Cake #1 and Parmesan Pound cake #2.  go ahead and check them out...they were also a big hit around here.
this one has a beautiful crumb with a light and airy texture.  folding in the sweet meringue really sets this one apart from the others.  it might not be as parmesan-ie, but it sure is a fabulous way to create a lovely light pound cake worthy of any dessert, breakfast or maybe an afternoon snack with a warm cuppa tea.
all three are different, but all three are fabulous.  i would say Parmesan Pound Cake #1 IS #1 in my books, but it is a lot different than what would normally be considered a "pound cake".
this one, as you can see in the photos, resembles a good classic pound cake...tight crumb and buttery smooth.

crisp edges, warm and fluffy regular cake with pound cake texture.
with a hint of Parmesan, a little cream cheese, a splash of vanilla and the pillowy meringue folded into the batter...this makes a delicious anytime cake.

adapted from
i changed a few things so definitely check out the original and the beautiful blog from Dhi in Pudong, Shanghai

makes 3 med. loaf pans...8x4
NOTE...the original was in grams so i weighed and measured everything out.  i thought it might help a little in case you do not go by weight.

cake flour...400g or 3 cups and 3 Tbsp
salt...6g or 3/4-1 tsp
cream cheese...20g or 2 Tbsp...i used 1/4 cup
unsalted butter...250g or 2 sticks plus 1 1/2 Tbsp
sugar...160g or 3/4 cup plus 2 tsp
egg yolks...170g or i used 7 yolks from large eggs
vanilla extract 1 Tbsp
Parmesan cheese 20g...equals 3 Tbsp, but i used 1/2 cup

for the meringue to be folded in...
egg whites...250g or 7 whites
sugar ...250g or approx. 1 cup and 2 1/2 Tbsp

preheat oven to 350F and prepare loaf tins with butter and parchment
sift flour and salt in mixing bowl and set aside.
beat cream cheese, butter and sugar until fluffy.  gradually add in yolks, vanilla and Parmesan cheese.
fold in flour mixture and set aside.
prepare meringue.  mix egg whites until foamy, add sugar and continue whisking until fluffy with medium peaks.
put 1/3 meringue mixture into the batter and gently mix until well incorporated...then fold in the next 1/3 with a little more delicate touch and again the last 1/3 until it is well mixed, but still fluffy.
bake for 25-30 minutes...i tented the cakes after 15 minutes to prevent browning too much.
my cakes took 37-38 minutes.
remove cakes from oven and let cool completely.

i am a true believer that pound cakes are best after a good night's rest, but you'll have 3 cakes so go ahead and break into one of them...then let the other 2 rest.

i also find that if kept in the fridge, not only will they keep for over a week, but they also cut very well for a nice clean slice.

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