Running Away (Gluten Free, Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies)

Heart pounding, I run. My lungs, once full of air are now deflated and scrambling, but still continue. My shins absorb the impact of the worn concrete, walked by countless people, yet run by me. Aching arms continue to sway mechanically back and forth, they scream for a break, but none comes. Head held high and with determination holding me from looking back, I run.

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Saving the orangutans one run at a time.

I like to run. Trust me it’s not as bad as it sounds. As a former 3 sport college athlete I need something to keep my adrenalin going, something to hold hope that there will be one more game. I run because I can, it keeps me in shape, it clears my mind. The benefits of running are strongly outweighed by the cons and keep me happy, healthy and strong.

Last Sunday, April 27, 2014 I ran my first 5K. It was the Philly Run Wild through the Philly Zoo all to benefit the orangutans. First of all you have to understand that 3.1 miles for me is a warm up. I can easily run for 7+ miles without skipping a beat. In fact I think I held myself back a little during this race because I was still budgeting my energy for a longer run. But it was so much fun! The next day I came back to work and signed up for another 5K at the Working Dog Winery in East Windsor NJ!

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Right after Jess finished, is it just me or does she look a little tired?

With 5k fever on my mind I thought about eating cleaner, which is rough when your two best friends are Ben and Jerry’s, and the new Core Flavors, MMMM let me tell you, such an amazing game changer. Anyways, yes it’s true I don’t eat as clean as I should. I also have a small problem with gluten, or rather it has a small problem with me. I eat it, it kicks my ass, you get the picture. So I decided to cut out as much gluten as possible, and add more protein to my diet to hopefully gain those sexy running muscles (HA!).

With protein on my mind, and gluten out of my body I set out this week to develop a cookie that I won’t feel too bad eating, Ha, yeah right. While this recipe does not contain flour, it does contain a cup and a half of sugar, so you win some, you lose some. But on the positive side I do feel better when I grab 2 for breakfast.

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Fresh from the oven!

Flourless, Gluten Free, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the past I have made a gluten free, soy free, lactose free cookie similar to this, but not quite. If your dietary needs are all that and more please refer to Kim’s Kookies!

Makes about 36 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups natural crunchy peanut butter

1 ½ cups sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 bag dark chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Put peanut butter, sugar, beaten eggs, baking soda and salt into a large bowl and mix.
  3. Mix in chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop into tablespoon sized bowls and place 2 inches apart on parchment paper lined cookie trays.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they start to golden.

 

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Confessions of a Lazy Baker (Oatmeal M&M Cookies)

4 million dollar, 4 million, that’s how big my mistake was at work this week. Needless to say I am stressed, and when I’m stressed I eat. On Monday I found myself pacing back and forth outside of a conference room because I wanted left over cookies from their lunch meeting. There were no leftovers.  I raced up and down the aisles at work to get a small bite of chocolate, no one had any. When I was stressed and needed it the most my work let me down.

Cookie dough... Reminder: do not eat all of it.

Cookie dough… Reminder: do not eat all of it.

I decided I was going to make a sweet treat for me, I mean everyone at work. I also lost a bet to one of the departments and promised them cupcakes. But the thing is, on Tuesday when I came home from the gym, I realized I did not have enough butter for a butter cream frosting. I also did not have any cream cheese for a cream cheese frosting. And on top of all of that it was 8:30 pm, I was not going out to get anything. So I settled with cookies.

What I really wanted to make was double chocolate chunk espresso cookies. Well, let me tell you, I did not have anything to make that. No espresso, no Dutch processed coco, and not enough butter. This whole baking thing was starting to stress me out almost as much as my 4 million dollar mistake.

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TO THE INTERNET! I don’t often borrow recipes from the internet but when I do I make sure the recipe is legit. I borrowed Chewy Oatmeal M&M cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction, AND MAN DID THEY COME OUT WONDERFUL! I made two batches, one for my work fellows and one for the house. For the first batch I followed the recipe to a T. I was pleased how they came out however the cinnamon was throwing me off, something with the cinnamon and the chocolate was not working for me. However it did take me 3 cookies to decide this. For my second batch I dropped the cinnamon and added another teaspoon of vanilla. These came out much better for my liking. Chewy, soft, hearty with the oatmeal, and still sweet with M&M’s thrown in. A perfect distressing snack.

Chewy Oatmeal M&M cookies

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Makes roughly 24 cookies

Ingredients

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

3/4 Cup brown sugar

1/4 Cup granulated sugar

1 Large egg

3 Teaspoons vanilla

1 and 2/3 Old Fashioned rolled oats

1 Cup all-purpose flour

½ Teaspoon baking soda

A bag of M&M added to taste (small or large does not matter, I used large because again, I did not have small)

 

With a stand mixer cream the softened butter and the sugars, add the eggs and vanilla and mix.

Beat in the oats, flour, and baking soda until combined. Stir in the M&Ms/

Preheat the oven to 350. Line pans with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes or until golden

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These were a hit at work!

To the girl who gave me advice (baking myths tackled)

“If you wear your pajamas inside out and backwards it will snow.”

Mrs. Poinsett my second grade teacher would tell us this daily in winter, and being a snow enthusiast, I listened. Let me tell you how hard it is to zip an onesie inside out and backwards… Have you ever tried to take off a wet wetsuit? How about ever tried to hook a tiny necklace clasps with fake nails? Have you ever sneezed spraying  purple tie dye powder all over your mothers freshly cleaned kitchen; then tried to clean it  up and found out it just stains everything when you get it wet? Oh come on I can’t be the only one that has happened to!! My point is it’s close to impossible.

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How did this myth or superstition come into practice? What started this phenomenon that now has children morphing into contortionists to zip their onesies? Some myths out there are so ridiculous. If I step on a crack, I can guarantee I will not break my mother’s back.  And if I stare at the microwave while its running my eyes won’t turn green and glow at night (trust me I tested this daily as a child, don’t get your hopes up).

The topic of baking does not escape the rapidly running rumors and myths. This topic actually sparked my interest because in a class I took (Writing about Food, at Cedar Crest College); a girl had the audacity to tell me my cookies would be better and softer if I stored them with a piece of bread. A piece of bread, A PIECE OF BREAD!!! What the hell would a piece of bread do? How dare she question my supreme baking abilities, who was she to question my authority!!! I’ll attack this myth later. Before I go on another rant about how much this upset me…

Baking Myths Tackled!

Myth: Shorting instead of butter will make cookies fluffier.

Answer: Sort of. It depends how much of a butter expert you are.

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Right out of the fridge butter is a solid, while right out the microwave butter is a liquid; and at room temperature butter is an odd mixture of both. In order to get butter right for cookies it has to have a certain consistency that is somewhere in between a liquid and a solid. Shorting has the correct consistency all the time and does not need to concern itself with the troubles of room temp vs. liquid state of butter.

Another reason that shorting produces a fluffier cookie is butter contains water. Shorting contains, well you don’t want to know, just know that there is no water. By containing no water, cookies with shortening are guaranteed to always stand a little taller than those made with butter.

Myth: All the alcohol in my chocolate stout cake will bake out in the oven

Answer: Eat the whole cake and you might start to get a buzz, or diabetes.

It is believed that alcohol will bake out because it has a lower boiling point than water does, but that does not mean that all of the alcohol will bake out. There can still be up to 50% of the alcohol remaining. You would have to bake a cake for over three hours to get the cake down to 5% alcohol.

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I majored in psychology in college, but I’m about to go all science on you. Alcohol can bind with both fat and water molecules. Binding to the fat molecules gives the food the flavor of the alcohol, while binding with the water makes it almost impossible to get rid of.  When water and alcohol bind they form an azeotrope, and when you boil or bake this mixture the ratio of the alcohol will always stay the same. Unless you boil out all of the liquid, but no one like a dry cake.

Myth: Baking soda and Baking Powder can live forever with the cockroaches.

Answer: While baking soda can be passed down from generation to generation, baking soda only has a shelf life of about a year (which makes me think I should restock the one in my baking supply shelf).

While baking soda is sodium bicarbonate which means when it is introduced to liquid and an acidy ingredient it bubbles which make your cakes rise. While baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate it also contains an acidifying agent and a drying agent. When baking power is added to dough it is activated by the heat of the oven.

So how do you test if your baking powder is ready to erupt? Since it is activated by heat and liquid add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to hot water. If it bubbles, it’s still fresh, If not (like I fear mine will do),  time to run to the store.

Myth: Salted Butter doesn’t spoil when it is not refrigerated

Answer: disgustingly true.

I have an aunt who doesn’t refrigerate her butter and it always look like something I just sweated out and congealed. Needless to say unrefrigerated butter grosses me out.

The reason that salted butter does not spoil is the salt. It contains so much salt that it inhibits the growth of bacteria. However unsalted butter, which I prefer, will spoil in about a week if left out to fend for itself.

Just to be safe, please, always put the butter away.

Myth: Why something is baking in the oven, opening the oven will ruin it.

Answer: Depends on what you are baking, but no for the most part

Mom this one is for you. When making cupcakes, no opening the oven will not cause them to not rise, however if you are making a soufflé I promise I will not open the door. Delicate things such as a soufflé are harder to preserve and they could flop if the door is open.

Myth: Putting a slice of bread in a sealed container with your cookies will keep them soft.

Answer: She was right.

It kills me to say this. Yes Amber you are right. Putting a slice of bread in with your cookie will make them soft. BUT WHY, WHYYYYYYY?!?!?!

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Cookies contain sugar, more sugar than breads with yeast. The sugars in these cookies are “hygroscopic” which in English means that they draw water out of the air into the sugar structure. Bread (white, wheat or rye) are not hygroscopic and evaporates its water into the air.  When a bread and cookie meet in the same environment the cookie starts taking water from the air, and the bread starts giving water to the air. So the Cookie gets soft and the bread gets hard.

Bitch.

Kim’s Kookies (Gluten Free, Lactose Free Peanut Butter Cookies)

College can change everything in someone’s life. When I went into college I was a young naive student who just wanted to play field hockey and learn about psychology. Four years later and today all I want to do is travel the world, learn about food and cultures, and play field hockey (and party, but hey that’s the college way of life).Image

When I first started college one of my first friends was Kim. Kim and I are exactly alike. We are publicly crazy (some would call us a nuisance), we are loud, have a passion for sports, and we both have a wicked sweet tooth.  During college Kim was diagnosed with a glucose intolerance as well as lactose intolerant as well as soy intolerance. The only thing she can eat when she doesn’t feel like cooking is lettuce.   

To combat Kim’s wicked sweet tooth I developed a recipe that is gluten free as well as lactose free. If soy is an allergen problem in your case as well I have found a website that sells soy free chocolate chips.

Kim absolutely loves her treats, as do I and all of our friends. There is no taste difference in these gluten free cookies, just a whole lot of peanut butter.

 

Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter

½ cup Brown Sugar

½ cup Sugar                

1 Egg

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

¾ cup Chocolate Chips

Directions:

–          Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

–          Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

  1. Beat together peanut butter, brown sugar, sugar, egg and vanilla
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips
  3. Roll the cookie dough into one inch balls and place on cookie sheet leaving about 1.5inches between each cookie dough ball
  4. Bake for 7 minutes and check on them
  5. If they are not flattening on there own take a fork and flatten slightly (I have not had a problem with this but I have heard of it occurring)
  6. Continue to bake the cookies for 2-4 minutes or until they are golden
  7. Let cool then enjoy!

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    The dough sort of tasted like a butterfingers.

Just Sugar (Cookie) me up for Valentine’s Day!

When things say they are the best, I have to try them. Like Genos and Pats cheese steaks, they both say they are the best so I have to try both. And you know what my outcome was? They are both the same. But today was different. I was not looking for cheese steaks, I was looking for the best cake-like sugar cookie there is.Image

You know the sugar cookies that come prepackaged in the store with the pretty frosting? That was exactly what I was looking for. I found one recipe online that claims to be an exact replica, but I don’t have two days to let the dough chill in my fridge, I have about thirty minutes.

Finally I found one: “THE BEST SUGAR COOKIES”. Well, the best? Hmph, I don’t think so. I had to tweak the recipe, but don’t worry three batches later, I got it.

Not the best, THE PERFECT SUGAR COOKIE (and frosting)!!!

Cookie Ingredients:                                                                                                         

2/3 Cup butter, room temp

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

Frosting ingredients:

½ cup butter (one stick)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups powder sugar

3 tablespoons heavy cream

several drops of food coloring of your choice

sprinkles (if you feel obligated)

Directions:

  1. With an electric mixer in a large bowl mix butter on a medium to high speed for 30 Imageseconds. Add the sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix till combined. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Add the flour one up at a time beating it as you add the two cups. Divide the dough in half, and cover (I put in a gallon size zip block in two balls). Chill in the fridge for thirty minutes or until its easier to work with.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375. On wax paper place one ball of dough, place another sheet of wax paper on top of the ball of dough and flatten with  roller (I used tinfoil due to lack of wax paper). Flatten to about 1/4inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut the desired shape. Place the cutouts 1 inch apart on a parchment lined pan (if you don’t have parchment paper you can just use an ungreased cookie sheet).
  3. Bake for about 8 minutes, just when the edges start to turn a light brown take out of the oven. Place on a wire rack to cool. Wait until cool to frost.

(ONLY MAKES 18 COOKIES)

Frosting directions:

  1. With the electronic mixer cream together the butter and the butter and the vanilla
  2. Slowly add the powder sugar and beat until smooth.
  3. Add in the heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the desired spreading consistency.
  4. Add in food color, mix, and take finger and test it out… I mean, Spread on cookies with knife.

This came out fabulously but some things I learned on this adventure are: don’t put a pan that just came out of the oven on a zip block, it will melt it and don’t put the mixer on super-duper fast right after putting powder sugar in, it will go everywhere.

ENJOY.