Craisin & White Choc Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve had an urge to bake cookies this week – I think it’s the cold, rainy weather – far more than I’ve actually had an urge to eat cookies. Surely I’m not the only person that craves the cook more than the result sometimes? However, the result of this urge wasn’t exactly a hardship: chewy, soft cookies that are tart and just sweet enough. Better yet, the result was just that little bit different to a standard chocolate chip cookie (not that I would ever badmouth such a classic!), without being as indulgent as my Reeces snickerdoodles or blackforest cookies (neither of which have made it to my blog, but surely I won’t hold on you forever!), and therefore the perfect compromise.

At 130 calories per cookie, these are pretty standard in terms of your chocolate chip biscuit, which was reassuring, because some cookies hit double this without much increase in size or flavour, and really, you want your treats to be worth it. To me, I haven’t met a cookie worth nearly 300 calories, but I find 130 calories is easy to build into a reasonable day. And really, we’re all entitled to a little treat now and then. The more time I spend in this healthier lifestyle, the less I worry about numbers. It’s a liberating feeling, but I still like knowing what I’m eating, so I keep tabs on caloric values, even if I no longer count them like I used to.

Yield: 24 cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 egg

1tsp vanilla extract

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup self raising flour

pinch of salt

3/4 cup craisins

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175C and line 3 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Beat sugars and butter for 5 minutes, until pale and creamy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat to incorporate.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add to butter mixture a little at a time, mixing until completely combined.
  4. Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and place 8 on each tray, leaving a few centimetres for slight spreading.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes until firm and golden. Cool on tray for a few minutes, then move to a cooling rack.

NB from Master 12, Miss 9 and The Husband: apparently, they make a fantastic ice cream sandwich.

NB from Mac the dog:


“I am the goodest boy and didn’t eat the cookies, even though Mama left us together unsupervised. She should reward me. With cookies.”

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Tropicana rolls

OK, this one’s more for the kids. That’s not to say that they’re not delicious – they are – but I prefer a less dense, carby lunch option most of the time. At over 300 calories per roll, they’re not the most calorie-efficient option in my repertoire. However, the kids and their friends gobble them up, and they’re such a cheap and easy fun alternative to fast food or boring old sandwiches. I make them every now and then during term for the kids to take to school, and more often again during the holidays to throw in a bag with some fruit and snacks for days out, or afternoons at baseball (go the Blue Sox!). They freeze really well, too, so it’s super handy to make a double batch and stash a few for whenever you need them. Oh! And you can definitely fry up some diced bacon instead of the pepperoni with no decrease in deliciousness, but the pepperoni is much easier and my kids prefer the little spicy kick that it provides.

With an almost-teenaged-boy-who-is-growing-like-a-weed in the house, I make them pretty big to try and keep his stomach quiet for more than a few minutes, and find that they’re not too big for the also-won’t-stop-growing 9 year old daughter. You can stretch these out to yield 12 rolls, but we make 8 with no complaints from anyone, ever.

Ingredients

4 cups self raising flour

1 cup grated cheese

180g pepperoni, diced

1/3 cup diced pineapple, drained

500ml butter milk (or whole milk with 2tbs lemon juice, left to sit for about 5 minutes to curdle, which is how I normally do it), plus just a little more for brushing.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cheese, pepperoni and pineapple. Stir to combine.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add milk. Stir until dough comes together in a craggy ball.
  4. With damp hands (because the dough is STICKY), shape dough into 8 balls and place on prepared trays.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden on top, and hollow-sounding when tapped.

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Amelie’s Banana Choc Chunk Cupcakes

As with most kids who like to cook, Miss 7 loves baking, and that’s where her culinary career started – helping me make cakes and muffins. It’s simple and easy, and has a fabulous reward at the end – of course kids love it! However, Miss 7 isn’t really much of a cake person (unless we’re talking chocolate cake!), but she is an attention-loving person. She’ll shamelessly admit that she loves cooking, not for the end result, but for the credit. Chefs and their egos start young, it seems!

This recipe is pretty foolproof – remove the chocolate and the bananas, and you’re left with a moist and tasty basic cupcake recipe that you can pretty much add anything too. I can’t even remember where I found that particular recipe, but for the past 15 years or so, I’ve stayed pretty loyal to the flour, butter, egg, milk and sugar ratios, because it’s never failed, and everybody seems to love it. Then, a world of toppings and additions await, and the sky’s the limit.

I have calculated that the base cake recipe has 200 calories, so with the addition of the banana and chocolate, each muffin is about 240. I hesitate to become too technical with these because after all these years, I barely measure anything anymore. I tend to just estimate the calories of whatever I add to the base and call it a day. I mean, I’m not eating them when I’m being particularly fastidious about my food intake, anyway.

Makes 18 smallish cupcakes.

Ingredients

2 large bananas, peeled and broken into large pieces

125g butter

3/4 cup raw sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups self raising flour

1/4 cup mik

1/2 cup chocolate buttons (we used Nestle melts), chopped coarsely. There’s no reason you can’t use choc chips, but the large, uneven chunks have a charm of their own.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C and line 2 muffin pans with 18 patty cases.
  2. Beat bananas until they form a soft mush – I use my stand mixer for this. Add butter, sugar and vanilla, and beat until well combined.  The mixture will be very wet.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until well combined.
  4. Sift flour into mixture and stir gently to combine.
  5. Gently fold in choc chunks.
  6. Spoon mixture into prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes, or until an insterted skewer comes out clean.

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