Sunflower Seed Butter (Sunbutter) Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Sunflower seed butter is made from roasted sunflower seeds. NOT RAW. Found this out the hard way… after trying to pulverize raw sunflower seeds in the Vita-Mix to only come out with grayish, powdery, thick … something.

I roasted the unappetizing mess at 350° for 25 minutes to try to redeem myself, and it worked! The roasted seeds dispersed their oils beautifully, and in no time I had roasted sunflower seed butter. Two cups. From 12 ounces of seeds.

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What to do, what to do? Besides shoveling it in by the spoonful taking little licks from the knife?

A paleo cookie! Naturally. A paleo cookie = a flourless cookie, usually made with a nut butter, an egg or two, some baking necessities (powder, soda, vanilla, etc), a little bit of sweetener and some spices. Generally, a very delectable treat. However, something kind of turns me off from eating what is basically straight-up nut butter in cookie form. Filling yes, but high in fat… Even though it’s good fat. I like to have fifths seconds or thirds of desserts like cookies… especially healthier cookies.

So, this led to the addition of oats! No longer strictly paleo, but I don’t subscribe to any one “diet/lifestyle” and just eat what I find works for me. And I LOVE oats.

And what goes with peanut butter, or sunbutter?

… Ginger. Obviously.

Oh, and chocolate.

 

Sunflower Seed Butter (Sunbutter) Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Eat Well, Adventure Well

1 cup sunbutter (or other nut butter) (I used my homemade one, to which I added some sea salt and roasted flaxseed)

1/3 cup honey

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon

dash salt

1/4 cup minced ginger, chopped finely

1 to 2 cups oats

chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a pan with parchment paper.

Mix everything but the oats and chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl. Add the oats, more or less depending on the consistency and how you prefer your ratio of oats to nut butter.

Dollop the “dough” by the tablespoonful and top with 4-5 chocolate chips per cookie; press down to flatten a bit.

Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

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These were SO good… Really, truly reminiscent of the texture of Kashi cookies (but of course, much better). They are lightly sweet, and the crystallized ginger adds to much depth and deliciousness. The small amount of chocolate on top is perfect–just enough, not overdoing it.

Plus, they’re vegan [if you sub maple syrup for strict vegans], babe. Even if no longer Paleo.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

If super-soft, rich-tasting, oozing with chocolate peanut butter cookies are your thing, look no further.

If all of the above is necessary, plus the healthy factor, well, you’ve just hit the jackpot.

If you are craving chocolate, in cookie form, but don’t want to make enough to feed five bake sales, this recipe is perfect.

And if you like ice cream with warm chocolate chip cookies… wait, why did I even write “if” in that sentence? There’s no question!

Above, the cookies with vanilla banana soft serve. Perfect pairing!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Texanerin (for more round, exact looking cookies, follow her recipe! Below is more like drop-cookie style)

1 1/4 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter, if unsalted also + 1 pinch of salt
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup-ish chocolate chips/chunks, homemade or Nestle

Preheat oven to 350.

In a food processor, combine everything but chocolate chips. Get it super smooth.

Remove to a separate bowl and stir in chocolate chips.

Dollop about 2 tablespoons worth onto a parchment-papered cookie sheet.

Bake 12 minutes or until desired doneness. Makes about 12 cookies.

So if you’ve actually read this far, you will have noticed that chickpeas are the secret weapon here, much like in these blondies and this chocolate chunk cookie cake. Chickpeas are mild in flavor but lend a rich-feeling texture when pureed–and match well with whatever sweetener they are imbued with and are especially delicious with chocolate. The batter was wetter than I wanted it to be, but I should probably have dried off the chickpeas like the original recipe told me to… and I just totally didn’t even see that step.

These are super dense in the middle, soft and good warm or cold. The whole tray was gone in less than 24 hours. Plus, with minimal sweetener, chickpeas, peanut butter and heart-healthy cocoa, I wouldn’t mind calling these more of a snack than a dessert! But of course, they’re delicious either way.

Brown-Sugar-Mustard-Glazed-Salmon with Edamame-Cauliflower Puree

TGIF! Okay, well, a day late. TGIS! In fact, TGITW (the weekend). Woo!

For real.

Bobby Flay did not steer me wrong. He hasn’t won Iron Chef 1580153 times for NOTHING.

A lot of my love for this recipe is for this little gem.

Crispy blackened salmon skin. Hardly anything gets better than that. Okay, well, maybe 100% dark chocolate chips in homemade mint chip banana soft serve… or Coach rainboots… or perfectly ripe avocado… or getting a handwritten letter/postcard in the mail… but I mean, crispy salmon skin is HIGH on the list.

And if you love crispy salmon skin in forms other than sushi (which, I have yet to try such a roll–AHHH!), then I recommend the following:

Brown Sugar Mustard Glazed Salmon with Edamame Cauliflower Puree

Adapted from Bobby Flay (Food Network)

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup dijon or spicy brown mustard

1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced ginger

4 salmon filets

vegetable oil for grilling

salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan on medium heat, melt the butter with honey and brown sugar. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, minced ginger. Season to taste if desired, or add more soy sauce (I cut way back on the soy sauce and it was 100% delicious; however, feel free to peruse the original recipe).

Heat a grill pan on medium heat.

Rinse off the salmon if thawed from frozen-ness and pat dry. Spread vegetable oil on the skins. Once pan is hot, placed salmon skin-side down; spread mustard glaze over the flesh part. Save remaining glaze. Grill 6-8 minutes (it will splatter at you so use a mesh cover). Flip if desired, probably unnecessary, around 5-6 minutes in. The skin came off on mine but my dad and I feasted on the charred crispy skin (my mom gagged inwardly and happily dug in to the pink).

For edamame cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into small pieces, steamed until fork-tender

1/2 cup edamame beans, cooked

sprinkle of garlic powder

dash of salt and pepper

a few huge dollops of 0% Greek Yogurt (optional, for creaminess–you really don’t taste the tang at all!)

Using a handheld immersion blender or food processor, process everything until smooth and creamy. Season to taste. The result? A really yummy and protein-packed, low-carbohydrate alternative for mashed potatoes.

To serve, simply plate a filet, a bit of crispy salmon skin, some cauliflower puree, a spoonful of leftover glaze, and a small side salad with orange-yet-sweet grape tomatoes. Divine!

Am I a weirdo for liking salmon skin? Is it a half-Asian thing? My mom recoils at the thought but my dad (Chinese) has always eaten it and taught me to eat it too. I ain’t arguing. The skin is where the bulk of salmon’s healthy fats lie! Maybe it’s not that healthy to eat the skin that’s crisped to a black char but… it’s… so… yummy…

This dinner ROCKED. So good! The cauliflower edamame mash complimented the salmon well, and the glaze was perfect. I kept “taste-testing it” by the spoonful even prior to spreading it on the salmon (butter and brown sugar, can you really go wrong?) and it really couldn’t be easier to make this healthy, delicious, filling meal.

Sure beats meatloaf and potatoes any day. Well, meatloaf makes me  recoil in disgust; I guess we all have our loves and our hates.

Power Peanut Butter Granola Snacks

Oats, peanut butter, almonds, honey, chia seeds, raisins… what a delicious way to start a morning. Or, to rev up a work out! Today I tried doing a Fartlek run–and these were just the ticket to get me out of bed. I threw them together last night–extremely easy recipe, with no extra oil and lots of rooms for additions and subtractions!

Power Peanut Butter Granola Snacks
Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Makes about 10-12 cupcake liners’ worth, depending how much you eat in the process of making

2 heaping cups rolled oats

2 tablespoons chia seeds

3/4 cup peanut butter, melted in microwave

1/2 cup honey (or brown rice syrup to make vegan!)

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup almonds

Combine oats, chia, and almonds in a large bowl. Add honey and stir. Add melted peanut butter and mix, throw in any add-ins such as the raisins (I used) or coconut, other nuts, wheat germ, flax, dried fruit, chooocccollattee…). If too dry and crumbly add more honey or peanut butter (or both) to get a good consistency. I didn’t bake these, just simply pressed them into muffin liners and refrigerated. However, if you wish to bake, do 350° F for 15-25 minutes.

These were great, unbaked–very chewy but also crumbly; the muffin liner works well for catching the crumbs! While peanut butter holds the bars together, I opted for using whole almonds instead of pieces of peanuts–giving a nice texture contrast. Honey and peanut butter taste so delicious together as well; it’s one of those combinations that just ALWAYS works (for example, tomatoes + basil, roasted red peppers + goat cheese, strawberries + chocolate, apples + cinnamon, oreo cookie outside + oreo creme inside…). I love that these don’t need extra butter or oil to hold together.

If you did bake these, I imagine some vanilla ice cream on top of a bar would be… divine. I can taste it now!

Grilled Pears with Honey and Bleu Cheese + Spinach Salad with Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette

Mm, pears. Mm, bleu cheese. Mm, lemon vinaigrette. Some of my favorite things (alas, no chocolate?) smooshed together into one dish. It is a salad, but very filling and perfect for a light summer dinner. Most of this can be (and was) eyeballed. I love not measuring stuff. How very unscientific of me. This is why I am not a chemistry major.

Grilled Pears with Honey and Bleu Cheese + Spinach Salad with Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette

Adapted from The Costco Connection, June 2012, p. 65

4 large, ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears

A bit of olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese

4 cups spinach (or mesclun greens)

2/3 cup (or less) extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

a few twists of sea salt

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 garlic clove, minced, or 1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Heat up your grill pan on the stovetop (or if you are feeling the grilling season, go light up your grill. I was not). Cut each pear in half lengthwise and take out the core with a teaspoon, leaving a cute little circle. Brush cut sides with olive oil. Place pears on hot grill pan; heed the sizzle and let the magic happen. For a few minutes. I didn’t really time it. Just keep watching them and let it go for as long–and soft–as you would like, for the pears to get cooked and caramelized.

Melt butter in a little glass bowl and then add honey and mix.

For vinaigrette, mix everything from 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil to garlic with a whisk and season to taste. Toss with spinach.

Ready to plate?

Add a healthy amount of spinach, and place two piping hot pear havles on top. Brush with honey butter and top with bleu cheese in the little hole (see photo). Now, I didn’t do this, but wished I had after my dad did it to his: he drizzled more honey/butter on top of the bleu cheese, which really let the honey flavor come through and melted the cheese more.

This salad was so good! Pears and spinach are full of fiber, and healthy fats in the olive oil helped make this a filling meal. As an afterthought, I would add some toasted walnuts for extra crunch and flavor. I loved the grilled pears–grilling was a  novel way to bring out flavor in this fruit (at least for me), and pears + bleu cheese is just classic. The lemon vinaigrette complemented the spinach and the sweetness of the pears really nicely as well. Now I want more.

Grapefruit Honey Yogurt Scones

So today I tried my hand at making scones.

And yeah, at first glance, they kind of look like fried fish or chicken tenders. My brother walked in the kitchen, saw the tray, exclaimed “EWWW SAM MADE FISH?!”, was told they were in fact scones, and then ate two.

They are moist and delicious scones that go beautifully with tea or hold up quite nicely on their own.

If you’ve never mixed sugar and citrus zest, go do it now. So crunchy! So zingy!

And grapefruit sections right in the batter? Yes!

And these are even whole wheat. But you would never notice.

Grapefruit Honey Yogurt Scones

Adapted from Joy the Baker, one of my favorite blogs.

Makes: 12 scones

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

1 Ruby Red grapefruit, zested and segmented

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Zest the grapefruit and combine zest and granulated sugar on a clean cutting board.  Rub together the zest and sugar with the back of a spoon or a plastic bench knife.  The sugar will be tinted a pale orange color and smell of grapefruit.  Measure 2 tablespoons of the grapefruit sugar and whisk into the dry ingredients.  Save the remaining grapefruit sugar for topping the scones just before baking.

Segment the grapefruit next.  Slice off the bottom and top of the grapefruit, exposing the wheel of grapefruit flesh inside.  Use a sharp knife to cut away the peel and pith of the grapefruit, exposing the pink grapefruit flesh.  Slice in between the white skin segments to the center of the fruit, at a slight angle, circling the grapefruit.  Little grapefruit segments should fall from the fruit as you slice.  Set segments aside.

Dice cold butter into small chunks and add to the dry ingredients.  Using your fingers, and working quickly, break the butter down into the flour mixture until butter chunks are the size of oat flakes or small peas.  The butter and flour combined will resemble coarse meal.  Add the honey, and plain yogurt.  Toss together with a fork until all of the dry ingredients are moistened by the yogurt and  honey. Fold in the grapefruit segments (leave behind any juice that is now probably covering your cutting board. The batter is wet enough as it is).

Turn the scone dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Form into an 8 inch circle, about 1 inch thick.  Use a knife or a bench scraper to cut the dough into 12 scone triangles.  Place on the prepared baking sheet.  Lightly brush the tops of the scones with milk or buttermilk, and sprinkle generously with grapefruit sugar. (A MUST.)

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden brown on top and firm but soft in the center.  Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve warm with butter and jam.  These scones are best served the day they’re made.

I didn’t eat butter and jam with mine.

I didn’t regret it.