Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bocce Ball Cookies (Almond Butter Sandwich Cookies with Orange Cream Filling)

A special Kissing the Cook welcome to new subscriber, and long time Facebook friend, Pauline Motzko! (Pauline’s “Cookng Up a Storm All Over the World” site is a resource that may be of interest to KTC readers as well.)

Should any readers be concerned that this is a recipe for a cookie inspired by a hard round item of sports equipment, fear not. The real inspiration for this delicious, sweet (and, as always, reduced-fat) cookie is an under-appreciated cocktail called a Bocce Ball, consisting of Amaretto (almond liqueur) and orange juice.

And so we have Bocce Ball Cookies, delicious almond butter sandwich cookies with orange cream filling. If you don’t want to use almond butter, peanut butter might work as well, but since I have never liked peanut butter I didn’t try it. Besides, almond butter comes with some real health benefits! Click here to check out what the folks at had to say about almond butter.

Speaking of ingredient substitutions, it’s possible to use either almond extract or Amaretto when making the cookie dough. The choice is yours. Also worth a mention is the fat-free half-and-half that helps make the orange filling so good. It’s an ingredient I can recommend as an important part of your low-fat baking tool box.

This recipe makes 18 sandwich cookies, each about 2-1/2” in diameter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, ¾ teaspoons baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt.

In another bowl, using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer with whisk attachment, combine ½ cup of very cold butter substitute (I used Smart Balance for its texture, which is firmer than many other butter substitutes), ½ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup packed brown sugar, ¾ cup of almond butter (either creamy or chunky), and 1 teaspoon of almond extract or amaretto. When combined, beat in 1 egg substitute egg and 2 tablespoons skim milk.

Add the flour mixture to the almond butter mixture and beat till combined to form a soft dough.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

While the dough is chilling, make the orange filling as follows:
  • Melt ½ cup of orange marmalade and 1 tablespoon of butter substitute in a medium saucepan over low heat.

  • Add ½ cup of fat-free half-and-half, little by little, waiting till each addition is incorporated before adding more. (Adding the half-and-half too quickly may cause it to separate.)

  • Simmer until the mixture is reduced by half, about 10 minutes, stirring very often avoid burning. Once the mixture is reduced, pour into a separate bowl and set aside to cool until ready to use.

Roll the dough out to 1/8” thick, and cut into about 36 cookies with a 2” diameter cookie cutter. (They’ll spread to about 2-1/2” in the oven.) Bake about 12 – 14 minutes on parchment lined sheets, turning the cookie sheets halfway for more even baking.

After the cookies have finished baking, allow to rest on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to racks till cooled.

Turn half of the cookies over so that the flat sides are facing up. Spread about a teaspoon of filling to each flat-side-up cookie, and allow to rest until the filling has cooled.

After the filling has cooled, gently place the flat side of the remaining cookies on top of each frosted cookie. Serve immediately or, even better, after chilling in the refrigerator.

Also: here’s a link for a bonus “rerun” recipe for your cooking enjoyment! Peach Crepes

Enjoy these delicious, low-guilt cookies! And I hope you’ll visit again next week for another kitchen-tested, reduced-fat recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Low-Fat Cranberry-Orange Muffins with Raspberry Liqueur or Orange Puree Glaze

One of my favorite (and simple!) ways to bring baked goods to a new level is to add a nice glaze. In this recipe, we’ll take an easy cranberry-orange muffin, give the cake a creamy texture using fat-free Greek yogurt, and top it with either of two glazes, one made from orange puree and one made from raspberry liqueur. (The photo at right shows both; the muffins on the left have the orange glaze, the ones on the right have the raspberry glaze.)

How easy are Low-Fat Glazed Cranberry Orange Muffins? Years ago, before I was ever interested in real cooking, I could make two things: pancakes, and cranberry-orange muffins. A while back I updated the pancake recipe (check out Fluffy and Reduced Fat Blueberry Pancakes with Fresh Strawberry Syrup), and now it’s the muffins’ turn.

Two points to mention before we start:
  • Although I’m showing two particular flavorings for the glaze, feel free to substitute any flavor you like. Just substitute the appropriate liquid in place of the orange puree or the raspberry liqueur. Glaze made with lemon juice, for example, is often used and works with a lot of baked goods.
  • One of my pet peeves is when fruit muffins are made with practically no fruit. (We’ve all had blueberry muffins that turned out to be called that only because the baker passed a blueberry over the batter before baking it, and putting the blueberry aside to wave over the next batch.) I think we should be able to pick up a muffin and see fruit starting to show through the sides. (Don’t overdo this, though; too much fruit and the muffins won’t hold together.)

This recipe makes about 8 large muffins. (You can also use it to make more small muffins, but who wants small muffins?)

Sift together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, a generous pinch of salt and 4 teaspoons of baking powder into a large bowl.

Add 1 cup of sugar and stir to combine.

Make a well in the flour mixture and add the zest of one orange.

Then add 1 cup of fat-free Greek yogurt, ¼ cup of skim milk, 3 tablespoons of melted butter substitute, 2 egg-substitute eggs, and . Mix the wet ingredients in the well, then stir into the dry ingredients to form a batter.

Fold 1-1/4 cups of dusted whole cranberries (cranberries tossed with flour to coat them lightly) into the batter. (Fresh or frozen both work well; if you’re using frozen there’s no need to thaw them.)

Pour into muffin tins (1/2 to 2/3 full) and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes till the tops are firm and the edges are lightly browned. When they’re done, a toothpick inserted into the center of one should come out clean.

After baking, let the muffins rest in the muffin tins for about five minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.

When the muffins have cooled, prepare the glaze by combining one cup of confectioner’s sugar with 1 Tbsp of orange puree (made from the orange you zested earlier) or raspberry liqueur. Add additional liquid, little by little, until the glaze is thick but spreadable and does not ball up. Apply the glaze to the top of the muffins and let firm up for about 30 minutes.

Be careful. These can be mighty addictive!

I hope you enjoy making – and eating – these tasty (and, let’s not forget, low-fat) muffins!

See you next week with another delicious, kitchen-tested, reduced fat recipe! Till then, and as always, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Glazed Chicken Calzones with Peppers and Onions

A warm Kissing the Cook welcome to new subscriber Kitchen Stories. Welcome aboard!

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for a delicious, herb-infused savory pizza crust. This week, there’s more good news: whether you use that pizza crust recipe or a different one, or even if you prefer to use a purchased pre-made crust, it’s not just for pizza.

I’m talking fresh calzones, ladies and gents! Good calzones can be made with a wide variety of fillings. For this week’s recipe we’re going to make Glazed Chicken Calzones with Peppers and Onions.

This recipe makes six 6 calzones.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rub 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts with olive oil, and season with thyme, salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through.  (It’s not necessary to turn them over part-way.)

While the chicken is in the oven, prepare the glaze as follows:

  • Drain (but don’t rinse) a 15 ounce can of sliced peaches. Place the peaches and 1-½ tablespoons of brown sugar in a saucepan and heat until the peaches break down and the liquid thickens (about 12 minutes).

When the chicken is cooked through, let it cool and tear or cut it into small pieces. Apply the glaze to the cooked chicken pieces.

Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.

To prepare the remainder of the calzone filling:

  • In a saute pan over medium heat, heat olive oil for sauté and sauté a medium, diced onion until soft.
  • Add a diced red bell pepper, 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms, and 6 minced cloves of garlic. Saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until the pepper is cooked and the onions are caramelized. When done, transfer the vegetables to a bowl, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken, vegetable mixture, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Mix well.

Divide a pizza dough into six equal pieces. On a floured surface, roll each of the pieces into a circle about 8” in diameter.
Divide the filling mixture equally among the six parts dough rounds. Top the filling with a mixture of shredded mozzarella, shredded provolone, and grated parmesan. (The six calzones should need a total of about two cups of the combined cheese mixture.) If you prefer not to mix the cheeses yourself, there are packaged pizza cheese mixtures in the dairy aisle that work well too.)
Fold one end of the dough over the other, forming a half-moon shape. Using a fork dipped in flour, press the edges together, sealing the calzones completely. Trim off any excess dough. Make three scores in each calzone to allow steam to escape.

Place the calzones on baking sheets lined with parchment or foil. Bake until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

To serve, place some tomato sauce in the center of each plate. Cut each calzone in half and place on top of the sauce.

I hope you enjoy this tasty twist on a traditional treat! (And that you don’t mind extreme alliteration.)

Visit again next week for a new, delicious kitchen-tested recipe made from easy-to-find ingredients. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Easy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Salsa

With football season underway and the baseball playoffs moving quickly, it seemed a good time to write about salsa. The word itself has several meanings, but since I can’t dance without feeling – and probably looking – like Ralph Kramden doing the Hucklebuck, it seemed best to skip the Latin music and stay with the condiment of the same name.

There are a lot of choices to make when it comes to salsa, including: spicy or mild, thin or thick, tomato-based or not. As with anything we eat, one of the beauties of making your own salsa is that you can fashion it any way you want. Another of the beauties: recipes don’t get much easier than the ones used for making salsa.

The ingredients for this salsa recipe are simple. So is the preparation method: put the ingredients in a bowl and let them rest for a while. (Told you it was easy!)

Only two parts of this entire process even involve turning on the stove. The first is peeling the tomatoes. Place them in a pot of boiling water for about a minute, fish them out, and run them under cold water until they’ve cooled enough to be handled. The skins will peel off easily. The second is roasting the red pepper: click here to see a previous post for Chicken Pasta Primavera in which that was described.

So get out the tortilla chips (or click here for a recipe to make them fresh yourself!), or use the salsa for braising chicken, putting on burgers or omelettes, or for anything else you like. Just enjoy it!

This recipe makes about 3 cups of mild-medium salsa. Adjust the amount of jalapeno to the desired heat level.)

Peel, seed and dice 4 – 6 ripe plum tomatoes. Let rest in a colander to drain the excess liquid, then transfer the tomatoes to a large, non-metallic bowl.

Add the following remaining ingredients and mix well: ½ cup cooked sweet corn; 1 roasted red pepper, minced; ½ green pepper, minced; ½ cup onion, minced; 4 garlic cloves, minced; 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper; 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro; 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice; 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice; ½ tablespoon salt; ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper; and 2 – 6 tablespoons of tomato paste to desired thickness.

Let rest 30 – 60 minutes before serving. Gives all those nice ingredients a chance to get acquainted.

Hope you’ll visit again next week for another low-fat, fun and easy recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)