Zapple Crisp

Do you like apple-cinnamon desserts?

Do you have an abundance of zucchini?

Most you like to be sneaky?

I saw this recipe demonstrated on a local television news show.

"Interesting," I thought.

Two days later, when Dr. Gardens-For-Fun * offered us some freshly picked zucchini, I knew it was fate stepping in, telling me to bake.

We served this to a sister-in-law who enjoys an apple dessert or two (ask her what she did when Costco stopped making the Caramel Apple Pie). I waited until she had tried it and liked it and then I dropped the bomb.

Try this with your family and friends. If you don't tell them it's zucchini, they'll never guess.

Mock Apple Crisp

6 cups chopped zucchini (*I got enough from one gigantic zucchini...I'm telling you, this guy has a green thumb. I want to live in his garden come late summer-early fall).
1 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 to 3/4 c sugar
3 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 1/2 T cornstarch
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 t. salt
2/4 cup cold butter

Peel zucchini and scoop out seeds (scoop out all of the softer center--I used a soup spoon and scraped until I got to the firmer flesh). Cut into bite size pieces. Measure out six cups.
In a saucepan, combine zucchini, applesauce, and lemon juice. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch. Add to zucchini. Heat over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly.

Crust and topping:
Combine flour, 1 cup sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two sharp knives, cut butter into flour until butter is about the size of peas. Press half of this mixture into a 9 by 13 inch pan. Don't worry that is VERY dry. It will come together as a nice crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and top with the hot filling. Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture over the zucchini mixture. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.


Try it.

Sinless Pancakes

Contrary to popular belief, I do not sit at home, eating home-baked treats all day. Oh, how I wish I could.

Ninety percent of my meals are pretty strictly healthy, and, dare I say, maybe even  boring. Watching what I eat quite closely, coupled with the 25-30 miles I run, helps me justify eating one to two indulgent treats each week.
Oh, how I wish it was eight or nine.

This recipe is one of my secret weapons. I eat it almost every morning for breakfast. It was given to me by my ultra-fit sister-in-law. It tastes decadently "carb-y", but actually provides an average woman with 63% of her daily protein (just over 50% for a man). I can eat this right after a run and feel satiated until lunch time rolls around.

Heather's Cottage Cheese Pancakes
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup oats
(I use "Old Fashioned Quaker Oats")
3 egg whites
2 packets Splenda
(If you're opposed to artificial sweetener, use sugar. It will alter the calorie count)
Splash of Vanilla Extract (I use about 1 teaspoon)
Sprinkling of Cinnamon
(about 1/2 teaspoon)
pinch of salt (my addition...I find it boosts the flavor a bit)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Cook on a hot griddle, sprayed with non-stick spray.

I think these are sweet enough to eat plain, but you can serve them with any syrup (sugar-free if you're watching your waistline), jam, or fresh fruit. I love to add blueberries to the batter (1/4 cup will only add 15 some extra fiber and antioxidants). I've also experimented with flavor a little bit. When I'm feeling spunky, I add a pinch each of nutmeg, ground ginger, allspice, and cloves and get gingerbread pancakes. 

This makes one serving. I usually get six average size pancakes out of one batch.

290 calories
4.5 g fat
0.5 g saturated fat
15 mg cholesterol
33 g carbs
4.7 g fiber
29 g protein

This is probably the only time I'll post nutritional info. With desserts, ignorance is bliss.

Sinful Peanut Butter Brownies

Come November, the cyclist and I are boarding a plane and heading to a lush tropical island somewhere.

I have only three months to get this body bikini ready!!!

That means high protein cottage cheese pancakes for breakfast. Egg white omelets for lunch. Chicken and veggies for dinner.

But with a diet that healthy, there has to be room for some dessert, right? I'm not talking about angel food cake, or sorbet, or fresh fruit. I'm thinking something decadent...something that I can really sink my teeth into...something that will stick to my ribs....

Good-bye, bikini.

Hello, MuuMuu.

In all seriousness, these brownies are sooo good. Cut them small (1 inch x 1 inch is perfect...if you still want more, eat another square). They are moist, rich, fudgy. The saltiness from the nuts and pb cups put them right over the top.

1 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup peanut butter chips 

Combine melted butter and cocoa, add sugar then eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bake in greased 9X13 pan @ 350 for 30 minutes.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 Tablespoon water
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 1/4 -3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter, whipping cream, water, cream cheese and vanilla in a bowl on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in cocoa and powdered sugar until smooth. 

Here's the kicker:
3/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
30(ish) small Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, quartered

Sprinkle over frosted brownies.

A word of warning: only make these when you can take them somewhere. Unless you are the type that can walk past a half eaten pan of brownies all through the day and not feel the need to nibble each time you go by. I am not that type.

Baked Peanut Butter Cookies

I have made several things from my "Baked" cookbook. So far, nothing has disappointed. These cookies are divine. The perfect peanut butter cookie. Rich, moist, and with big chunks of chocolate throughout. Don't you just love the PB and chocolate combination?

The dough must chill for a few hours, so plan ahead!

Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted slightly from Baked
1 3/4 c flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar plus more for sprinkling
1 c firmly packed dark (yes dark) brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I'm a Skippy fan)
1 bag milk chocolate chips (I like Guittard--they are larger than the regular chocolate chip)

Sift the flour, soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. The mixture will look light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat until just incorporated.

Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least three hours (I was anxious and got away with two hours).

Preheat oven to 375. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or spray well with cooking spray.

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared pans, at least 2 inches apart. (I used a large cookie scoop and ended up with 27 cookies). With the palm of your hand, very gently press each cookie down ever so slightly; you don't want them flat.
Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the tops of the cookies just begin to brown.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the individual cookies to wire rack to cool.
Eat a few while they are still warm.