Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

choc chip cookie bars lbbakes

 

Hello from New York!  I just arrived late last night from Florida, and, well, aside from the lack of palm trees, it pretty much feels the same.  Gotta love a classic summer heat wave!  I think it’s best to embrace the warmer temperatures, because we all know it’ll change soon enough.  Nonetheless, I see lots of iced coffee, swimming, and ice cream in my future.

choc chip cookie bars

Speaking of ice cream, I’d say a big scoop of vanilla (or cookie dough) would be the perfect accompaniment to these perfect chocolate chunk cookie bars.  What makes them so perfect, you ask?  Well, if I had to name 3 ingredients that make them perfect, they’d be:

Brown sugar.  And only brown sugar, no white.  It makes the bars chewy and soft.  Even better, using brown sugar exclusively means the bars will actually be softer the day after you bake them.  Love baked goods with staying power!

Cornstarch.  It’s one of the secrets to my Levain Bakery copycat cookies, as well as one of my more recent chocolate chip cookie recipes.  Like the brown sugar, cornstarch helps soften the cookie bars.  And the great thing about these bars is they still have crispy edges, but the cornstarch ensures they have that soft, doughy-like interior we all know and love.

Chocolate chunks.  Slash chocolate disks, or whatever larger chocolate piece you can get your hands on.  I actually used these Hersheys baking melts I found at the store a couple months ago, but any thing would do — you could even chop up a couple chocolate bars.  Using larger chocolate pieces instead of chocolate chips means more melty chocolate.  I’m pretty sure melty chocolate never does any harm.

chocolate chip cookie bars

Must. go. find. ice. cream.

[print_this]Perfect Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

Super-soft cookie bars loaded with semisweet chocolate chunks.  If you can, prepare the dough a day or two before baking and refrigerate until baking — this enhances the flavors of the cookie dough, and also makes for a “doughy” cookie bar.

Makes about 16 bars

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 25-30 minutes

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (if using regular AP flour, add 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cups semisweet (or dark) chocolate chunks

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and vanilla; mix until smooth.

In a separate mixing bowl, stir the salt, baking soda, cornstarch, and flour.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; stir until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chunks.

Place the dough in a large plastic bag or container.  Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours, or up to 48 hours.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator.

Spread the dough into the prepared pan.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown (the bars may seem “doughy” when you remove them from the oven, but trust me, this is a good thing!).  Allow the bars to cool before cutting. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days, or freeze  extra.[/print_this]

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Healthy! Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Peanut Butter Banana Bread 2

As if there weren’t already enough banana bread recipes swirling around the Internet… I thought I’d add one more to the mix. 🙂

You know how it is though, summer comes, the humidity skyrockets, and bananas seem to ripen in the amount of time it takes you to drive home from the grocery store.  Right?  One of my go-to uses for ripe bananas is freezing them for smoothie bowls (so good) but every now and then I default to banana bread (or scones!).

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

This particular batch of banana bread is quite nutritious.  In addition to the ripe bananas, a small amount of greek yogurt keeps the bread nice and moist.  Using greek yogurt (instead of oil) also allows for healthier fats to sneak into the bread.  Same goes for the peanut butter — plus, you can’t ever go wrong with peanut butter, right? 😉

I sweetened the bread with date paste (instructions on how to make the paste are here).  Using dates in the banana bread is a great way to use natural ingredients as a sweetener, but if you don’t have any dates, you can simply substitute sugar instead.  It’s still a pretty healthy banana bread, dates or no dates. 🙂

Peanut Butter Banana Bread lbbakes

[print_this]Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Banana bread made with greek yogurt, peanut butter and dates for a nutritious breakfast or snack.  If you don’t have dates, simply substitute sugar for the dates (see note in recipe). 

Makes 1 loaf

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45-55 minutes

  • 2 large overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup plain low fat (or nonfat) greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup date paste*
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (or 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a loaf pan (9 to 10 inch) with nonstick cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, stir the bananas, peanut butter, yogurt, eggs, and date paste until smooth.

In a separate mixing bowl, stir the remaining ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; mix until just combined (do not over mix).

Spread the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake 45 to 55 minutes (time will vary depending on pan size), until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.  Allow the bread to cool before slicing.

*Link above includes instructions on how to make date paste.  However, if you are in a hurry, you can replace the date paste with 2/3 cup brown sugar.[/print_this]

Coconut Blueberry Muffins

coconut blueberry muffins

This is going to sound pretty obvious based on the title of this post, but if you like blueberries and you’re a fan of coconut… you’ve come to the right place!

The coconut in these muffins is inescapable, so if you’re not a fan of coconut, I have to let you know you may not love these muffins.  That’s because the coconut comes at you not once, not twice, but three times: coconut oil, coconut flakes, and coconut greek yogurt.

Coconut greek yogurt?  Yep — these muffins were inspired by the new coconut Chobani greek yogurt.  Remember when they sent me all those “top secret” new flavors to try?  Well, I’m letting the cat out of the bag — coconut was one of those.  And it’s delicious.

coconut blueberry muffins little bitty bakes

I’ve been trying to use up my stash of blueberries here in Florida before I head up north to New York (for a month!) next week, and these coconut blueberry muffins are my latest creation.  My sister already knows how obsessed I am with these muffins — I’m pretty sure I’ve texted her every morning this week explaining to her the awesomeness of these little gems.  Abby, I will be forcing you to try them very soon — we can even do a gluten free version.

The yogurt keeps the muffins really moist while the coconut oil gives the muffins that crumbly texture we all love.   I also relied on the same trick I did for these muffins with baking time, which means you get tall and fluffy muffins.

If you’ve got any extra blueberries lying around this blueberry season, I’m urging you to make these.  Even though I’ve made quite a few muffin recipes using greek yogurt before, but these are easily my favorite.  A must-try!

coconut blueberry muffins lbbakes

[print_this]Coconut Blueberry Muffins

Coconut greek yogurt, coconut oil, and shredded coconut are added to traditional blueberry muffins for a tropical twist.

Makes 12 muffins

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

  • 12 ounces (2 6-ounce containers) coconut Chobani lowfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries*
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut or coconut chips**

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small mixing bowl, stir the yogurt, milk, eggs, oil, and sugar until mixed.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir to combine.  Add the yogurt mixture to the dry ingredients, mixing gently with a rubber spatula until the batter is just mixed (the batter will be thick).  Fold in the blueberries and coconut.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins.  If desired, sprinkle the top of each muffin with additional coconut.  Bake at 425 degrees F for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to 375 degrees F and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the muffins are fairly firm to touch.  Allow the muffins to cool in the tins 5 to 10 minutes before removing.  Store any leftover muffins in an airtight container for up to 2 days.  You can also freeze any extra — simply wrap each muffin in aluminum foil, and place the muffins in a freezer bag.

*If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw the berries before adding to the batter — simply fold the frozen berries into the batter.

**I used Trader Joe’s coconut chips, but shredded coconut would work fine as well. [/print_this]

Blueberry Banana Scones

blueberry banana scones

Did you know July is national blueberry month?  It is.  And well, you know what that means…

Blueberry picking (!)…  An abundance of blueberries (!!)…  Lots of blueberry recipes. (!!!)

I’m just apologizing in advance for what is sure to be an onslaught of blueberry recipes in the coming weeks.  Starting with these blueberry banana scones.  One of these and a mug of coffee on a lazy summer morning — I’m not sure it gets a whole lot better than that.

blueberry banana scones littlebittybakes

These scones are very similar to the strawberry banana scones I made awhile back, but with a few differences.

I used banana lowfat Chobani greek yogurt in the recipe, which gave the scones even more banana flavor while also upping the moisture factor and keeping the nutrition situation in check.  I should warn you that by using greek yogurt in the recipe, and therefore less butter than a typical scone recipe, these scones are a bit softer than you might buy at a bakery.  But I assure you that isn’t a bad thing in the slightest. 🙂

Also, using part oats in the recipe gives the scones a bit more texture and chewiness than you might get in a typical scone.  I love adding oats into recipes here and there for their wholesomeness, extra fiber, etc., but if you don’t care for that, you could simply replace the oats with extra flour.

blueberry banana scones lbbakes

If you don’t have fresh blueberries on hand, go pick some you can easily substitute frozen berries in this recipe.  Just make sure you don’t thaw the frozen blueberries before adding them into the batter, or else you’ll end up with very blue scones. 🙂

See you later this week for another blueberry recipe — I think it’s even better than these scones!

[print_this]Blueberry Banana Scones

Scones baked with banana and greek yogurt for extra soft, fluffy texture.  Blueberries add fresh, sweet flavor to the scones; feel free to substitute your favorite berry for the blueberries.

Makes 12 scones

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

  • 2 large overripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons milk (any kind; I used unsweetened vanilla almondmilk)
  • 1 (6-ounce) container Chobani low fat banana greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Coarse sugar, for topping

In a small mixing bowl, stir the mashed banana, milk, yogurt, honey, and vanilla until mixed well.

In a large mixing  bowl, stir the flour, oats, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in the butter with a fork, until the mixture is crumbly.  Stir in the wet ingredients, mixing until just blended (do not overmix!).  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Turn the dough onto a surface lined with parchment paper.  Form into 2 disks, each about 1 inch thick.  Cover with an additional sheet of parchment paper; place the disks on a cookie sheet.  Chill in the freezer 10 to 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Remove the dough from the freezer, removing the top sheet of parchment paper.  Slice each disk into 6 equal slices; use a spatula to pull the scones apart (I recommend placing them at least 1 inch apart).  Sprinkle the top of scones with coarse sugar, if desired.  Bake 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.  Allow the scones to cool slightly before serving.[/print_this]

Honey Whole Wheat Pancakes

Honey Whole Wheat Pancakes by lbbakes

Happy Monday and happy July!  Yikes, where is summer going?!  Let’s slow things down a little…

Pancakes = ultimate slow down breakfast food, no?  This recipe is a long time coming.  I looove eating pancakes for breakfast, but so many mornings I just don’t have the time to make them.  Well, I’m finally in summer vacation mode (the plus side of being a doctoral student, I suppose), which means I’ve had a little time to perfect a wholesome pancake recipe.

Honey Whole Wheat Pancakes w strawberries

I’ve tried to make whole wheat pancakes in the past, but they always seemed to end up dense instead of the fluffy pancakes you get with regular all-purpose flour.  Luckily, the athlete in me loves a challenge, and I was bound and determined to make a fluffy whole wheat pancake. 🙂

Honey whole wheat pancakes_lbbakes

Success!  By using white whole wheat flour (I recommend King Arthur) instead of regular, and adding extra baking powder, these little hotcakes puffed up quite nicely.

And the taste… sooo good.  The honey in the batter goes a long way to sweeten the pancakes just perfectly.  I use local (FL or GA) tupelo honey which I personally believe is the best honey in the world, but I suppose any honey will do. 😉

I topped these pancakes with a drizzle of honey and fresh strawberries, since berries are so fresh lately.  But the topping options are endless.  With the 4th coming up this week, a combination of blueberries + strawberries (and a little greek yogurt!) would make the perfect patriotic breakfast.

Honey Whole Wheat Pancakes

[print_this]Honey Whole Wheat Pancakes

Serves 2 to 4 (depending on appetite 🙂 )

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk (any kind)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil (I use coconut oil, but canola would be fine)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Meanwhile, stir the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir the remaining ingredients until mixed well.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients; mix until just blended (do not over mix; a few lumps may remain, that is fine).

Pour the batter by 3 tablespoon amounts onto the heated griddle (for larger pancakes, use 1/4 to 1/3 cup per pancake).  Cook until the pancakes have bubbles and dry edges, then flip with a spatula and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes.  Serve the pancakes warm with desired toppings.  Extra pancakes may be frozen and reheated on a griddle or frying pan.[/print_this]

Chobani: Classified!

Chobani has kindly sent their new flavors my way, without compensation. All opinions expressed are my own original thoughts…now back to my regularly scheduled CHO!

Can you keep a secret?  A super top-secret?  It’s okay, I’ve always struggled with that too. 😉

chobani classified

I was going to share my new favorite pancake recipe with you today, but then this box made its way to my apartment yesterday afternoon.

Chobani boxes = perfect Wednesday.  Chobani Classified?!  Flavor guessing?!  As you might suspect, for greek yogurt obsessed folks like myself, this is kind of a big deal.

chobani

Chobani’s got some new flavors in the works.  I received 5 different flavors to try, and there may even be more than that!  The CHO folks said the new gems will be hitting shelves at a store near you in July!  Summer just got a whole lot better.

I’ve only tried one flavor so far but I’m quite impressed.  It has a very tropical flavor… if you mix it with Chobani 2% pineapple, I’m pretty sure you’ve got the greek yogurt equivalent of a pina colada.  And no, it’s not rum greek yogurt. 😉

chobani new

I’m sure I’ll quickly be making my way through all of the other new flavors in the next few days!  Follow along on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram (links on the right) to keep up with my sampling.

Or better yet!…

Here’s where you should get really interested.  Leave a comment  on this post by Sunday (June 30th) and you’ll be eligible to receive your very own sampling of Chobani’s mystery flavors!  I’ll randomly select a winner on Monday morning.  Tell me any or all of the following:

  • Your mystery flavor guesses!  I’ve already hinted at one, but guess the others!  Think berries, stone fruit, citrus, and… creamsicles. 🙂
  • Your ideal greek yogurt flavor.  I think my dreams came true with Chobani apple-cinnamon, but I would never ever be opposed to a good 2% blended pumpkin spice.  Even if it was only available in the fall/winter.  Hint. Hint. 😉

 **This giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to all who entered!**

Summer Veggie Burgers

Summer Veggie Burgers Little Bitty Bakes

Veggie burgers.  Are you a fan?  I’m a big veggie burger fan with one major contingency: I like to see vegetables in my veggie burgers.   Sounds strange, but I feel like I’ve eaten so many mystery-veggie burgers in the past.  If it’s a veggie burger, I want real, fresh vegetables in there, you know?

Seeing as how we’re now officially into the summer season, I whipped up a batch of summer veggie burgers late last week.  What makes a veggie burger a summer veggie burger?  By loading them up with all of your favorite summer veggies, of course!

Summer Veggie Burgers

Zucchini, yellow squash, onion, corn, and carrots… gang’s all (in) there!

In addition to the surplus of veggies, I used white beans + corn meal to bring the burgers together.  A lot of veggie burger recipes call for an egg to bind, but between the vegetables, beans, and corn meal, these hold their own without the egg.

The veggies are all good, don’t get me wrong, but the real start ingredient in there?  Mustard!  I mixed Barhyte’s Saucy Mama dill mustard right into the veggie burger mix to give them an extra unique flavor.  I know this sounds silly and obvious but, if you are a fan of mustard and dill, you need to try this mustard.  I think it should be called summer mustard!  If there’s a single herb that reminds me of summer, it’s dill.  Actually, that’s a lie — I live for fresh basil in the summer.  But dill is a close second. 😉

Summer Veggie Burgers with Dill Mustard

Anyway… a couple weeks ago I shared a recipe for bacon wrapped dates as part of a mustard recipe contest with Barhyte Foods and, well, I made it to the next round!  I definitely feel like I’m on the food blog version of chopped. 😉

These veggie burgers are my entry to the second round of the mustard recipe competition.  This time around, we had to make a dinner recipe that also incorporated beans as a secret ingredient.  I figured there’s no better way to enjoy dinner in the summer than with a minimal prep burger of some sort… here’s to hoping my recipe is enticing enough to the judges! 😉

Summer Veggie Burgers w Dill Mustard

I kept my veggie burger toppings simple the first time around (as pictured in this post) with just spinach, tomatoes, and a little extra dill mustard on a whole wheat bun.  But, as with most burgers, the the topping options are endless!

[print_this]Summer Veggie Burgers with Dill Mustard

Veggie burgers loaded with zucchini, yellow squash, onion, corn, and carrots.  Dill mustard gives the burgers a uniquely “summer” flavor.

Makes 4 burgers

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 40 minutes

  • 1 (15-ounced) can white beans or black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup shredded summer squash (I used a combination of zucchini and yellow squash)
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • Corn kernels from 1 small ear of corn (cooked)
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons corn meal
  • 2 tablespoons Saucy Mama dill mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/ teaspoon ground black pepper

Place the beans in the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until the beans are broken up (do not puree them completely).

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Use a fork (or clean hands) to mix until combined.  Chill the veggie burger mix in the refrigerator 30 minutes (this allows the mix to firm up a bit, so it is easier to shape them into patties).

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Form the chilled mixture into 4 patties, each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.  Place the burgers on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes, flipping the burgers half way through baking.  If grilling the burgers, first bake them for 30 minutes (flipping half way), then finish them on the grill.*

*The bake/grill option can be done partly ahead of time.  Simply bake the veggie burgers 30 minutes, allow them to cool completely, then wrap each burger individually and freeze.  Remove the frozen veggie burgers as you need them, grilling them to reheat.

This is an original recipe from http://www.littlebittybakes.com. [/print_this]