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[Recipe] Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 May

If you need any proof that I’m getting older, look no further than my cookie preference, which used to look something like this:

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Once appalled at the fact that someone would ruin a perfectly good cookie by putting raisins inside, I oftentimes find myself rejecting the classic chocolate chip in favor of the formerly shunned oatmeal raisin cookie.

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It’s shocking, really.

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Well, I love Josh Groban, so I guess that makes me an old person who likes raisin cookies.

Actually, I am hesitant to even call these cookies, because they’re really more of a breakfast food. The only “dessert”-y aspect is the added sugar – all the other ingredients could be in your morning oatmeal! But they look like cookies and they bake like cookies so that’s what we are going to call them.

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These little nibbles are super tasty and uber healthy for a dessert. If it makes you feel better to call them something else, by all means label them “circular breakfast bars” or “round chewy old people treats”. A rose by any other name, right?

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Oatmeal raisin cookies are old. They are a later version of oat cakes, which have been popular in Scotland and England since oat harvesting first began in 1,000 B.C. Somewhere along the line, it occurred to somebody to add some raisins for some sweetness and since the Middle Ages, “oat cakes” have contained nuts and raisins. The first recorded oatmeal cookie (albeit sans nuts or raisins) recipe was written by Fannie Merritt Farmer in 1896 (here’s the original recipe!). It was touted as a “health food,” because sugar hadn’t been demonized in the 19th century. They were too worried about famine or something to focus on counting calories. Anyway, they became super popular and by the early 1900s (which is why all the old people dig them), an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe appeared on every container of Quaker Oats.

Nowadays we know better than to think anything with this much sugar is a health food, but I still maintain that these cookies are perfectly acceptable to eat for breakfast. Think of it as baked oatmeal. In delicious cookie form. I wouldn’t be opposed adding a scoop of ice cream to them either. Versatility: I like that in a cookie. Are they growing on you yet? Here’s the recipe. Give it a go and try not to age 50 years in the process.

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Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Makes 2 dozen, 2″-sized cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (optional, but I like the added crunch!)

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Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, mix the applesauce, sugar, yogurt and vanilla until smooth and well-combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Add raisins and optional chopped walnuts/pecans.
  6. Bake cookies on lightly sprayed or parchment-lined baking sheet. Even without the spray and parchment I found that they only stick a little, but this will make your life easier.
  7. Bake cookies for ~12 minutes, depending on your oven. You’ll know they’re ready when they are golden and crisp around the edges, but soft (almost undercooked) in the middle.
  8. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then eat 1 or 4 as soon as you can and tell me it doesn’t taste like breakfast!

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Last Day of WOL + Chocolate Covered Strawberries [recipe]

15 Feb

Good morning, world! It’s Friday and I am so grateful.

Stefano and I had a very nice, low-key Valentine’s day celebration, which was exactly what I was hoping for.

IMG_2040[1]We ended up having southwestern-style stuffed bell peppers (recipe next week) and a big ol’ salad.

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We exchanged cards and had some lovely conversation, but we were basically just waiting until we could get to these:

IMG_2042[1]I decided to try my hand at chocolate covered strawberries because I don’t think I’ve ever even had one and I know I’ve never made them. Luckily, it turned out to be pretty straightforward.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Makes 12 strawberries

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  • 1 dozen strawberries
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (milk, semi-sweet, doesn’t matter!)
  • Optional: shredded coconut or other toppings to sprinkle on.
  1. First I washed and dried the strawberries and laid them on a cookie sheet that was covered with parchment paper.
  2. I put a big pot of water on the stove, then made a make-shift double boiler by putting a glass bowl inside and turning the heat up to medium.
  3. After added the chocolate chips to the double boiler, I made sure to stir frequently and keep a close eye on the melting status. Pro-tip: Be sure not to get any water inside the bowl – it will totally ruin the consistency of the chocolate.
  4. As soon as the chocolate was melted through, I turned the heat down to low (make sure you don’t burn the chocolate) and started dipping away.
  5. After placing the chocolate-dipped strawberries on the tray, I sprinkled some shredded coconut on each strawberry (you want to do this while the chocolate is still hot so it will stick!).
  6. Once I finished dipping and topping the strawberries, I popped the whole tray in the fridge and sat down for dinner. By the time we had finished eating, the chocolate had hardened and those little babies were ready to eat!

This is such an easy yet indulgent treat and you can make as few or as many as you want – the recipe is totally flexible.

Since today is Friday, it is the last day of the Week of Love Challenge. Sad days! I was enjoying making the conscious decision to express my love to the people I care about. Today’s challenge is to remind us that we are all connected to each other and it is up to us to care for the people all around us. Therefore, I present to you the Random Act of Kindness Challenge!

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Can’t wait to hear about the wonderful RAKs you do today!

This weekend I have so many things to look forward to. Tonight is a birthday dinner for my friend Ellen at Ardeo Bardeo. I have been there for brunch before, but this will be my first time for dinner. Then on Saturday, I am going to bust a move or two at a Zumba party with Allison! The event is being put on by Vida, one of the gyms in DC and is taking place from 5-7 PM at the U Street Music Hall. DMV-ers, come join the party (and after party)! I’m sure I am going to look ridiculous, but it’s going to be amazing.

On Sunday I have to prepare for the arrival of a special guest. My friend Lars is visiting the US for the very first time from Germany and will be hanging out with me until Wednesday. I am so excited to show him around, but I feel a tremendous amount of pressure to make sure I help give a good impression 🙂 I have plenty of day-time ideas, but if anybody from the area wants to recommend places to go/things to do in the evenings, I am totally open to suggestions.

Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? Spill!

Wishing you the happiest of weekends – I love you guys!

WOL Challenge Day 2 + [Recipe]

12 Feb

Good morning loves! How did day one of the Week of Love Challenge turn out for you? I got some wonderful feedback from people about how it was helpful for them and it put a big ol’ smile on my face. I won’t deny that my eyes started to tear up when reading Allison’s blog this morning. If this week helps even one person, then I feel like it is a huge success.

You ready for day 2? Today is about honoring the female presence in your life. Being constantly bombarded with celebrities, models, and other female examples in the media, it is difficult to focus on the women who matter; the women in your life who cheer you on, build you up, and catch you when you fall.

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via Pinterest

This could be your mother, your sister, your aunt, your cousin, your best friend. Is there a woman who helps you be the best you? Let her know! It could be something as simple as a phone call, email, or text message. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could get crafty and create a care package for them to remind them how much they inspire you to be better.

WeekOfLoveTueI am fortunate to have so many strong, wonderful women in my life. My mother, grandma, and aunt are such strong role models and my close girlfriends are forces to be reckoned with! I know that life gets busy and they don’t get upset if they don’t hear from me in awhile, but life is short and if you love somebody, don’t hesitate to tell them – not even for a moment. No matter how small, I am sure that they well appreciate any sweet gesture you make.

Speaking of sweet…I promised you all that I would have a recipe for you and I do! This is for basbousa, which is a Mediterranean dessert. I know it to be Egyptian, but I know that Turks and Greeks and even other Arabs have different names for the same thing. It has already appeared on the blog, but I didn’t include a recipe the previous time. After making it twice and having positive feedback both times, I figured it was time to share the recipe. A lot of my American friends say it reminds them of a honey-drenched corn bread.

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Basbousa

Serves 12

For the cake

  • 2 cups fine semolina
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • Almonds for decoration (optional)

For the syrup:

  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (or orange blossom water, if you have it on hand)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 345 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl mix all the dry ingredients.  Add in the melted butter and milk and stir until well combined.
  3. Put in this mixture into a buttered, shallow medium sized oven proof dish.
  4. Bake golden brown on the top and edges, about 40 minutes.
  5. While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup by dissolving the sugar a saucepan with hot water.
  6. Increase the heat to medium and then bring the mixture to a vigorous boil and cook until it coats the back of a spoon like a syrup.
  7. Stir in the lemon juice or orange blossom water and allow to cool.
  8. As it’s cooling, mix in the hone.y
  9. Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes and then cut it into squares or diamonds (I can never figure out the diamond shape). Carefully pour the syrup over the cake. It looks like a lot of syrup, but the cake will absorb all the syrup, leaving it nice and moist. This might take a couple of hours (I usually leave it overnight). Optional: Add one almond to each slice for decoration.

IMG_2030[1]Have a wonderful Tuesday, beautiful people! Don’t forget to share what you’re doing for the week of love challenge – share the love!

Pho and Cupcakes

18 Jan

Boy oh boy are the temperatures dropping in DC this week! Between the clear skies and the wind chill this morning, it was a freeeezing walk to the bus stop. It sure is a beautiful day, though.

IMG_1897[1]Last night was spent celebrating my roommate’s 25th birthday! We went out for dinner at a Vietnamese place nearby, which serves up delicious bowls of pho and a killer avocado smoothie.

The birthday girl and her avocado smoothie!

The birthday girl and her avocado smoothie!

With the cold temps outside, a big bowl of hot soup sounded like the perfect way to end the day. In Seattle, the pho places around the campus of the University of Washington has choices for different sized bowls, which range from extra small to extra large. The extra large bowls are big enough to bathe a small baby inside, which, after explaining this to my other roommate, he suggested performing baby baptisms in pho bowls. Somehow I don’t see that catching on.

IMG_1878[1]I love adding lime and basil to my bowls of pho so they take on a nice citrus-y flavor. I am convinced that a big bowl of this stuff will cure most ailments.

After dinner, it was back to our house for some funfetti cupcakes, specially requested by the birthday girl. I didn’t use any substitutions or try to ‘healthify’ them – they were just some good, all American, straight-from-the-box cupcakes.

IMG_1880[1]Complete with frosting from a container, of course. The boys seemed to enjoy them.

IMG_1894[1]Sorry for the blur – they were just too speedy for my camera.

By the end of the night, the cupcake count was as follows:

K: 5

Birthday girl: 1

Me: 1 (plus inordinate amounts of frosting)

M: 3

Stef: 3? 4? I lost count, because he kept cutting them in half and filling them with frosting to make “cupcake sandwiches”

Attempted house picture while hopped up on sugar.

Attempted house picture while hopped up on sugar.

It was a lovely celebration and reminded me once again of how awesome the roomies are.

This morning, it was time to get creative in the kitchen. I do my grocery shopping on Friday evenings, which means the morning before I go grocery shopping is usually slim pickins. After preparing my lunch, I scrounged together enough ingredients to make a pretty delicious omelette, with a side of sweet potato and juicy red grapes.

IMG_1895[1]Inside the omelette:

  • 3 eggs
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Three sliced mushrooms
  • 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss
  • A few tablespoons of salsa

Good combination of carbs and protein – I’m a fan!

I’m not sure when egg yolks got turned into the bad guy, but I can’t see myself ever tossing them out – I can’t bear to waste any food! I know there’s lots of cholesterol in them, but who ever heard of someone dying because they ate too many eggs? It’s a risk I’m willing to take.

The first part of this weekend is looking pretty low-key, so I’m hoping to get some reading done. I started a book that I picked up at the used bookstore when Stef and I were in Old Town last weekend.

IMG_1898[1]I really like this author, who is Italian (though the book is in English). I read one of his other books, called ‘La Bella Figura’, which is about trying to explain Italian ways of doing things to foreigners. Being a foreigner, but having lived in Italy, I found the book to be totally hilarious in its accuracy. If you have ever lived in Italy, or even visited on vacation, I recommend you read it. In this installment, Severgnini turns the tables and tries to explain the United States from the point of view of an Italian. I am really enjoying it so far and I’m looking forward to reading it on my lunch break today.

Food for Thought: Do you have exciting plans for the long weekend? For fellow DC-ers, are you planning on going to the inauguration?

I am trying to prepare my outfit for Monday, because it’s supposed to be freezing and we’ll be standing out there for hours. Layers, anyone? I’m totally okay with looking like the Michelin Man for a morning if it means I’ll be comfortable.

For your viewing pleasure:

The birthday girl is a huge 90s music/boy band fan like I am (which explains why we get along so well) and she introduced us to the wonder of boy band satire, as presented by a group called 2ge+her (pronounced ‘together’). Their repertoire includes masterpieces like The Hardest Part of Breaking Up (Is Getting Your Stuff Back), with lyrical gems like these:

“You borrow stuff every time I turn my back.
(hey that’s mine!)
I can’t believe I went out with a KLEPTOMANIAC!”

You’re welcome.

Have a wonderful long weekend, everyone!

What Would You Do?

11 Dec

 

I’m still not feeling very chatty this morning, but I still want to tell you about my weekend because it was wonderful before the sad news. Stef and I started the weekend of right with some homemade shrimp Pad Thai…

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…I spent Saturday morning with my friend Marianne, where we explored the Jerusalem Fund’s holiday market, which included some yummy Middle Eastern treats…
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…Saturday night was all about homemade pizza! Trader Joe’s came through for us and we scarfed (almost) the whole thing down…
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…I tried my very first vegetable=based smoothie while I was at Whole Foods. I ordered the ‘Drink Your Greens’ smoothie, which consisted of kale, spinach, strawberry, pineapple, and apple. Actually…

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…I thought it was pretty tasty! No hints of veggie to be found, really…
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…then there was the major dose of cuteness in the form of caroling children in front of the Norway Tree at Union Station…
IMG_1603[1]…finally, I settled into Sunday night with some episodes of Scrubs and…

IMG_1618[1]…what would you do for a Klondike bar?

 

 

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