DIY Whole Wheat Cake Flour

DIY Whole Wheat Cake Flour

 

You know what is not easy? Taking pictures of flour.

DIY Whole Wheat Cake Flour

 

I know, I know….food blogger problems…

DIY Whole Wheat Cake Flour

There have always been a lot of recipes that I pass up on making because I reallllly don’t like to use white flour. It’s a weird thing. I don’t freak out if someone else makes something with it, but I just really prefer to use whole grains, especially when I’m creating things for Ari’s Menu.

DIY Whole Wheat Cake Flour

 

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but it always seems silly to buy an entire container of something I know I’ll only use once. In fact, I only really buy two flours: whole wheat pastry, and white whole wheat, but you know what? I would package this up and buy it in a heart beat!

DIY Whole Wheat Cake Flour

 

I’ve never seen whole wheat cake flour in the grocery store, so I decided to get creative, and make my own. There are a lot of tutorials out there that teach you how to make your own cake flour, so I used to same concept, and just used whole wheat pastry in place of all purpose. You could probably do the same thing with white whole wheat flour as well, I’d imagine, and even plain old wheat, although it would probably bake a bit denser.

DIY Whole Wheat Cake Flour

 

As soon as I made this, I used it to whip up a batch of cookies. Very special cookies. They came out amazing, so I’d say the flour was a big success! They baked up fluffy, and cake-like (which is perfect for these cookies). Creating the cake flour took me all of an extra 2 minutes in the process, so I would highly recommend giving it a try next time you find a recipe that calls for cake flour–here’s an easy way to healthy it up in minutes.

DIY Whole Wheat Cake Flour

 

 

DIY Whole Wheat Cake Flour

yield 1 cup

  • 1 cup minus 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Measure out 1 level cup of whole wheat cake flour and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Remove 2 tbsp of flour and replace with 2 tbsp cornstarch. Lightly whisk together. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container just as you would any other flour.

Best of 2012

This has been an incredible year for my little blog. This time last year, I had my first day with over 100 visitors, and I was thrilled! Since then, I’ve gotten a little better with the camera and in the kitchen, and I have put out a lost of posts and recipes that I am really proud of. I love seeing what posts you guys love most. So here are your favorite recipes of 2012!

10. Gluten-Free Cannoli Bars

9. Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese

8. Salted Chocolate Cookie Butter Cups (vegan)

7. Cookie Butter Brownie Bars

6. Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

5. Skinnified Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

4. Skinnified “Fettuccine” Alfredo (gluten-free)

3. Vanilla Bean Cookie Butter Cup Cupcakes

2. Cake Batter Dip

annnndddd dun duh duh dunnnnnn

1. Cranberry Apple Chicken Salad

I have to say, I was pretty surprised by #1! I mean, I LOVE that recipe, and I literally make it all the time, but for some reason, I didn’t think you guys would love it as much as I do. However, it was the clear winner, and it has inspired an other awesome dish that is sitting in my fridge, and will be coming your way very soon. ;)

I also wanted to share my  favorites from the year. Ummm, that’s hard. I truly do love every recipe I share. If I don’t love it, I’m not going to tell you to make it. That’s silly. But there are definitely some that stand out to me, so in no particular order, here are my 10 favorites. Some of them are repeats because you guys have great taste! ;)

Okay, I fibbed. That was 11, but I just really loved them!

YOUR TURN!! Tell me your favorite recipes of the year–from my blog, your blog, anyone’s blog, ANYWHERE! :) Feel free to leave links to some of yours and hopefully get some love on your favorites!

Spaghetti Squash Boats

Spaghetti Squash Boats #glutenfree

 

I have a confession. I kind of secretly dislike all of those “Get Back On Track After The Holidays” posts that go up. I know, I know…. And the thing is, I know that the best way to get back to feeling great after a period of eating less than great is to fill up on good healthy food and remind myself that contrary to recent events, I do actually love vegetables.

Spaghetti Squash Boats #glutenfree

 

It just seems so….cliche. However, I know there’s always this big “problem” of WHAT DO WE EAT BETWEEN CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEARS??? Family is in town, you’re sick of leftovers, and every restaurant in town seems to have a two hour wait.

Spaghetti Squash Boats #glutenfree

 

*Insert mandatory cliche about how this dish will help you stay healthy during the holidays*

Spaghetti Squash Boats #glutenfree

 

Okay, but seriously, how can your family not enjoy these super cute spaghetti squash boats??? Everyone gets their own individual “boat”, and it looks so much fancier than it actually is! In fact, the only real time spent on this recipe is the time it takes to roast the squash. Then you just whip up a quick meat sauce, and you’re good to go! That leaves you with less time in the kitchen, and more time to relax and spend time with the people in your life.

Spaghetti Squash Boats #glutenfree

 

Ever since I discovered spaghetti squash, I almost never go back to real pasta. It’s probably my favorite discovery in healthy cooking. I mean let’s be real here, we eat pasta to get to the sauce. No one orders plain spaghetti with no sauce. The pasta is merely the vehicle, and this squash is, in my opinion, a MORE delicious vehicle. It may not take the place of a gnocchi or ravioli,  but when it comes to noodles, I find it more delicious, and as someone who loves to eat, I love the fact that I can load my plate up and still feel great afterwards! It’s the perfect way to sneak in veggies.

Spaghetti Squash Boats #glutenfree

 

I used a spicy meat sauce, although you could use regular if you don’t like spicy, and loaded it up into each squash, then topped each boat with a little mozzarella cheese that I broiled until brown and crispy–just how I like my cheese! I served it up to a group of friends, and there was not a single bite left at the end of the evening. If you’re on the fence about the pasta swap, trust me, this is the way to try it!

 

Spaghetti Squash Boats

yield 4 servings

  • 2 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 20 oz 99% lean ground turkey breast (you can also use the 93-94% or 96% lean ground beef)
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried basil
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper (more or less depending on desired spiciness), optional
  • 1 cup freshly grated part skim mozzarella cheese (you can use pre-grated if necessary)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Slice spaghetti squash length wise and scrape out the seeds. Rub 1/4 tbsp olive oil into squash half and season with salt and pepper. Place spaghetti squash face down in a large baking dish and bake for 40-60 min. When squash is done, middle will be tender and pull apart easily.
  2. In a large pan, sautee onion and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper and cook until browned. Add crushed tomato and remaining spices. When sauce starts to bubble, reduce heat to a simmer until thickened (about 3-4 minutes).
  3. When spaghetti squash is fully cooked, flip in the baking dish so that it is now skin side down. Evenly divide sauce between each squash half. Top each “boat” with 1/4 cup cheese. Turn oven to broil, and cook for an other 2 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbling. This happens very quickly–make sure to watch closely, otherwise it can burn easily.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

OOOOMMMMMGGGGG it’s 3 days until Christmas!!!!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies #vegan

The other day I was teasing Nicole about being backed up on her recipe posting. “Are you even going to be able to post everything by Christmas???” I asked her. She responded with “I have to post every day.”

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies #vegan

 

It was so funny until I started counting and realized that I do too…

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies #vegan

You see, I may have gotten a little overzealous in my holiday baking this year. I’ve just been so excited! I didn’t realize how many holiday themed recipes I had to share with you until just now! Either that, or I’ve been in denial that it’s actually Christmastime, not just the time I like to call “Christmastime” that begins on Veteran’s Day…

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies #vegan

 

Perhaps instead of spending my time blogging I should be out, you know, buying presents for the 700 people still on my list. But I already did all the hard work on the recipes. This is just like doing the wrapping, which I LOVE…obviously.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies #vegan

 

Actually, I wish I had 2 dozen more of these cookies to use for gift wrapping fuel right now. Sally always tells me I should use cookies for “fuel” and I’m beginning to think she’s onto something. How much more fun is sitting on the floor in a mess of wrapping paper, dollar store tape, and puppy hair when you have spicy, cinnamony chocolate cookies stuffed with melty, oozy chile dark chocolate to keep you warm and energized??

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies #vegan

 

These cookies will keep you warm and cozy even if you live in a place that actually has winter. Pinky promise. And if the dough didn’t have enough bold spices, I’ve topped them off with a dusting of cinnamon powdered sugar for even more cinnamon sweetness. You will absolutely love with the way the cayenne and cinnamon pair with the sweet, rich dark chocolate. So much love.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies #vegan

 

And if you love it as much as I do, I have to give some love to some of the best cookies I’ve eaten. Ever. Oooooomg, make both batches at once and you will be so happy.

 

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

yield approx 2.5 dozen

  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 5 oz dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3-1/2 chile dark chocolate bar, chopped into fairly large chunks (big enough so that each cookie only needs 1, small enough that a 1″ cookie dough ball can cover it completely)

For the powdered sugar topping:

  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, espresso powder, baking powder, salt, and peppers. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together melted chocolate, sugar, apple butter, almond milk and vanilla, Slowly mix in dry ingredients until well combined. Cover dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes (this is optional, but recommended).
  3. Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 large baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper. Roll chilled dough into 1″ dough balls then press a chunk of chile dark chocolate in the center and re-roll the dough so it is covering the chocolate completely and drop onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes until set. Let stand for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cinnamon, then lightly dust cookies with mixture.

 

Cookie Butter Puppy Chow

Do you call it puppy chow or muddy buddies?

Cookie Butter Puppy Chow

 

I call it delicious.

Cookie Butter Puppy Chow

 

If you’re not familiar, first of all I’m so sorry, you’ve been missing out. Puppy chow is usually Chex cereal mixed with chocolate and peanut butter and then covered with powdered sugar. It’s one of those perfectly simple snacky desserts that takes about 5 minutes to make, and is always a hit. I’ve been making it for years since before I knew how to cook or bake, and I always find myself reaching back into the container to sneak more out.

Cookie Butter Puppy Chow

 

One of the great things about puppy chow is that the possibilities are endless. I used to think I was “fancy” when I would add white chocolate. Back in the day, that’s what I considered “being creative”. I guess you could say that even before I knew what I was doing, I always wanted to change things up and add my own flair. I just can’t help it.

Cookie Butter Puppy Chow

 

This recipe isn’t what you’d call innovative, or let’s be honest….healthy, BUT  it is sososo yummy, and a perfect foodie gift to give to all of your friends, family, after school theatre teacher (they like presents too! ;) ), or you know, yourself. I used TJ’s speculoos cookie butter, but you could also use Biscoff spread. The perfectly sweet spread pairs perfectly to create a mix with hints of cinnamon and ginger flavors to give you some extra holiday spirit.

Cookie Butter Puppy Chow

 

 

Cookie Butter Puppy Chow

  • 2/3 cup cookie butter or Biscoff spread
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (or dark chocolate chips, or cinnamon chips, or butterscotch chips…)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 9 cups Corn Chex cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine cookie butter, coconut oil and chocolate chips until fully melted and combined, stirring constantly. Slowly stir in cereal, mixing gently until cereal is fully coated.
  2. Transfer to a large trash bag or paper bag and pour in powdered sugar. For lack of a better term, shake the heck out of it! Just keep shaking it around (make sure the top is fully sealed! ;) ) until everything has come together. Lay out to cool on parchment paper, then store in an airtight container.