Friday, September 17, 2010

A "Healthy Dessert"

I don't know what came over me last week, but I decided I needed a "healthy dessert" to tide me over at work. Chips Ahoy! and Oreos were just not cutting it as an after lunch dessert that didn't make me crash.

So, I researched and found a Creamy Grape Dessert.
I was skeptical about it, seeing it was being touted as a healthier dessert option. A "healthy dessert"? Sounded like an oxymoron. I wasn't sure how well this would turn out. 
I decided to grab organic supplies of what I needed to make it even HEALTHIER! Someone stop me! (I already had sugar and vanilla, so those were the only conventional ingredients I used.)

Can I just say how grateful I am that my mom gave me some new knives? She got them for free and I became the owner. Cutting two pounds of grapes in half with my old dull ones would have been so painful!
With my new knife I cut through those pretty grapes in no time at all, and this made me happy.
(I'm sorry! I can't help it! I see faces in a lot of things I do!)

Anyway, the dessert was easy to make and actually tasted GREAT! Since the recipe makes plenty, I've been enjoying it at work all week long. Guess it showed me that desserts CAN be healthy AND yummy!
Creamy Organic Grape Dessert (from Delightful Bitefuls who adapted it from: Skinny Taste)

1 lb green seedless grapes, washed and dried well
1 lb red seedless grapes, washed and dried well
8 oz sour cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tbsp brown sugar, packed
1 cup chopped pecans

Cut grapes in half and set aside. Mix sour cream, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until blended well. Stir grapes into mixture, and pour in large serving dish. Combine brown sugar and crushed pecans. Sprinkle over top of grapes to cover completely. Chill overnight or until ready to serve.
(Erika's Extras: To make it even healthier, use lowfat cream cheese and lowfat sour cream. Also, don't use the white sugar. Grapes and brown sugar make it sweet enough.)
Bake well and prosper!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Early Bird Gets The Cookie

I woke up at 6 this morning to make cookies. I know this may not seem early to get up and bake to some, like people living on a ranch (I'm looking at YOU, Pioneer Woman), but it's early for me. I was scared I would wake the neighbors with my mixer!
See! Proof! I put the first batch of cookies in the oven a little after 6:30. You can see the first rays of sunshine beaming through the NYC haze and into my apartment. If I'm ever up this early it's usually because I'm working out, traveling, or traveling to work out.

Why was I making cookies this early, you ask? Well, I'm traveling to Virgina tonight with my boyfriend. We're staying at his dad's place and on Sunday he is racing in a triathlon. (I can't say running in a triathlon, because he also swims and bikes...) And of course I can't show up at my boyfriend's dad's place empty handed!
Oh, whoops...that's empty MESSY handed. And yes, messy hands are what I had for this recipe, so I KNEW they would be good.
Cinnamon Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (from
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, brown sugar and white sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon. Mix in the oats and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Bake well and prosper!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chocolate Eclair Dessert

I make a lot of recipes from my Mom's Best Recipes Cookbook. It's a compilation of all my siblings' and my favorite recipes that she's made throughout the years. I'm sad to think that someday there won't be any desserts in there I haven't posted here. HOWEVER, while I'm still posting them, I still get to call my mom in case I have questions. How cool is it to get to go to the source who has made these recipes over and over?!
(Old picture of my mom's book and my favorite cookies)

For instance, I called my mom to inquire about the 2 squares unsweetened chocolate in the topping recipe below. I asked, "Is that baking squares, chocoalte bark/candy coating, or what?" (I HAVE made this recipe before, but it was 6 years ago!) We had a lovely discussion on how it's Baker's Chocolate Squares and that those were really all one could get back in the days in TX. Then we went on to discuss that if one square equaled an ounce, one could substitute chocolate chips for the squares or candy bars for the squares. (It's a small mother/daughter bonding moment, but allow me to geek out on it, k?)

So, without further ado (and geekiness) here's the recipe I made for a Labor Day party filled with runners. It was a hit!

Chocolate Eclair Dessert (from my Mom's Best Recipes Cookbook)

1 box graham crackers
2 pkgs instant vanilla pudding (and milk)
1 9-oz container Cool Whip

Butter 9 x 13 pan. Line with graham crackers.
Make pudding and mix in Cool Whip. Pour half of pudding mixture onto crackers.
Add another layer of graham crackers.
Pour remainder of pudding mixture over crackers and top again with layer of graham crackers. Spread topping as evenly as possible.

Topping (mix all together)

3 T butter, melted
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (Baker's squares)
3 T milk
2 T white corn syrup
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 C powdered sugar (Erika's Extras: I would suggest sifting the powdered sugar)

Make dessert at least one day ahead and refrigerate. (Erika's Extras: My mom's recipe says 2 days ahead, but I think it tastes best the day after.) Serve cold.
Bake well and prosper!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Best Donut in America

I know my blogs usually contain recipes of desserts I bake. But when I travel it's nice to share some dessert I just eat with no assembly required. Today I would like to share with you the BEST DONUT IN THE NATION. Meet a Round Rock Donut:
I know what you're thinking. That's just my opinion that it's the best. Au contraire. It's always in the top 10 donut lists that I've seen and has been ranked #1 in many polls. I've seen them featured on the Food Network, Travel Channel (Man vs Food), and on yahoo news.
What makes these so good? I'm not really sure, but I think it has something to do with the weird yellow orange color of the donuts. My favorite is the chocolate covered one (featured in this blog.) The chocolate isn't too fake or too sweet. It's just perfect with a great texture (as in not waxy). And the donut itself is always pure bliss with its wonderful light, fluffy dough and scrumptious flavor. In fact, when I was taking some quick pictures to share with y'all, I couldn't help but take a bite out of one. They are just THAT irresistible!
The only problem is that you can only get them in Round Rock, TX and various shops that sell them in Austin, TX. So, whenever I visit my parents, it's one of the to dos on my trip. (And, since I get them about once a year, I also have to gobble down tons in one sitting. You know, to make up for lost time...)

To find out more, visit their website: Round Rock Donuts

Bake well and prosper!