Claudia and Hans Make Stuff

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Molasses sugar cookies (You won’t be able to stop eating these)

I love molasses sugar cookies and these ones are better than store-bought. Hans made them a while ago…but I had never found the time to post the recipe. Watch out though, they are irresistable, so either plan to share them with others or eat way too many ;-P

Ingredients (Makes about 30 cookies):
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoons cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup raw sugar

Preparation :
1. Mix all the dry ingredients (except sugar) together. Mix the shortening, sugar, molasses, and egg together, separately.

2. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient mixture, mixing it with a fork. Refrigerate in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and roll each ball in sugar. (Pour some sugar in a bowl and roll each dough ball to cover it with sugar.)

3. Place sugar-covered ball on cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes.

Molasses sugar cookies_small

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Can’t-taste-the-carrot brownies (fudgier version)

We were trying to make the brownies “fudgier” and here is what we came up with. Please let us know what you think

Ingredients:
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted (plus 1 tablespoon to sprinkle unmelted over the dough before baking)
3/4 cup organic baby carrots
1/2 cup raw sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Nonstick cooking spray

Preparation (Preparation time approximately 60 minutes):
1. Slowly let chocolate chips melt. Place chocolate chips into stainless bowl and place on fire place. Alternatively, you can place the stainless bowl in hot water. Make sure that the height of the water is lower than the rim of the bowl containing the chocolate chips.

2. Wash the baby carrots and steam for 10-12 minutes. Steaming is preferred to cooking, as cooking will remove more of the nutrients than steaming does. Puree the carrots in a food processor for 2 minutes. It should yield about 1/2 cup of carrot puree.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 8×8-inch baking pan (see note) with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate, carrot puree, sugar, cocoa powder, butter, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Mix in the egg. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt with a wooden spoon. The batter will be smooth and a bit sticky. Transfer the batter into the pan and bake 25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean.

Note: The dough only made a 1-inch layer of dough, so make sure to not overbake the brownies, otherwise they will not be fudgy.

Dough before baking

Dough before baking

Fudgier brownies_2_small


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“I <3 fruits” smoothie

I used to eat cereal with fresh fruits and soy milk for breakfast. Well…and then I was trying to increase my protein intake as a nutritionist had suggest that I need more daily protein based on my activity level. So I started making smoothies for breakfast. The combination of ingredients is basically endless.

My favorite fruit ingredients:
berries (such as raspberries, blackberries, avocado, and banana–look it up!)
strawberries
mango
pomegranate
kiwi

My favorite veggie ingredients:
kale
spinach
chard
collards
broccoli
celery

Other ingredients (to increase protein content of smoothie):
peanut butter
nuts (such as almonds)
flax seed
protein powder (I like using Nutiva Hemp Protein Powder either available local, but definitely through Amazon)

Even though there is an endless variety of combinations, here is a smoothie that I make quite regularly:
1 banana
handful of fresh spinach leaves (Note: can be frozen)
handful of blackberries
handful of raspberries
4 strawberries
1 tablespoon peanut butter
< 1/2 cup coconut water (Note: Coconut water has electrolytes, so it is perfect for somebody who has low blood pressure)
protein powder, optional

Place all ingredients into blender and blend until well-mixed. Makes about 16 ounces.

Note:
* I like using fresh green leafy veggies as they are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Be careful though, too many leaves added to the smoothie may overpower the flavor of the fruits.
http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/leafy-greens-rated
* The smoothie can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days in an airtight container. I usually use a container from Whole Foods. The very top layer may change color a bit due to oxidization, similar to how the surface of a cut apple turns brown.
* Also be careful using blueberries. If you use too many, after storing overnight the smoothie resembles “blueberry concrete”.

I <3 fruits

I heart fruit!

Prior to blending

Prior to blending

Blended

Blended

Smoothie storage

Smoothie storage


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Can’t-taste-the-carrot brownies

Remember that large bag of organic baby carrots from Costco?! Well…we still had some left over…and I just decided to see whether I can use them in brownie batter. The first attempt was alright, but I decided NOT to share it on the blog. By sauteing the shredded carrots in oil and the cocoa powder, the brownies had a cake-like consistency and the presence of carrots was noticeable.
For the second attempt, I decided to steam the carrots before adding them to the recipe. We also decided to use semi-sweet chocolate chips in addition to the cocoa powder. The dough made much more than anticipated and the brownies, which show no trace of carrots, are delicious.

Ingredients:
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
3/4 cup organic baby carrots
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Nonstick cooking spray

Preparation (Preparation time approximately 60 minutes):
1. Slowly let chocolate chips melt. Place chocolate chips into stainless bowl and place on fire place. Alternatively, you can place the stainless bowl in hot water. Make sure that the height of the water is lower than the rim of the bowl containing the chocolate chips.

2. Wash the baby carrots and steam for 10-12 minutes. Steaming is preferred to cooking, as cooking will remove more of the nutrients than steaming does. Puree the carrots in a food processor for 2 minutes. It should yield about 1/2 cup of carrot puree.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 8×8-inch baking pan (see note) with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate, carrot puree, sugar, cocoa powder, butter, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Mix in the egg. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt with a wooden spoon. The batter will be smooth and a bit sticky. Transfer the batter into the pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean.

Note: Believe me, use an 8×8-inch baking pan. We used a much smaller pan, because we thought it was too little dough. The dough raises quite a bit and the 8×8-inch baking dish should be great.

Yummy brownies

Yummy brownies

And of course, we couldn't wait until the brownies are cooled completely...

And of course, we couldn’t wait until the brownies have cooled completely…


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Home-style vegetable chili

(Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Vegetarian Cooking)

Cold snowy night  or just cold and windy?! You want something to warm you back up, this may be the recipe to try. It is simple and can be adapted easily to whatever beans and veggies you like, or whatever your fridge and pantry have to offer.

Ingredients (Makes 4 large servings):
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cans (15 ounce each) organic dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans (14.5 ounce each) organic diced tomatoes, undrained
shredded cheese, optional (cheese suggestions: Mexican style cheese or Cheddar cheese)
sour cream, optional

Preparation (Preparation time approximately 40 minutes):
1. Add olive oil to medium-sized saucepan and heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions, carrots, bell pepper, and chile pepper. Cook  the vegetables for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients (except shredded cheese and sour cream). Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes (or until vegetables are tender), stirring occassionally.

3. Serve chili with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with shredded cheese.

Home-style vegetarian chili

Home-style vegetarian chili


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Homemade bread crumbs

I grew up in Germany and my mom always made home-made bread crumbs. When I came to the United States, I was amazed to find an endless variety of flavored bread crumbs in the grocery stores. However, being wary of long ingredient lists, I have continued making my own bread crumbs. It is surprisingly simple.
In addition, it comes with great benefits including reduction of food waste, saving money, minimizing landfill (from containers bought in the grocery store), and reducing ingredients in your diet that you cannot pronounce. =)

So what do you need:
Stale, old bread, preferably white bread (make sure it is completely dry and hard)
Grater (alternatively food processor)
Bowl
Ziploc bag/air-tight container to store bread crumbs in

How to make the bread crumbs:
1. If you have left-over bread that has gone stale before you could finish eating it, place the bread in a dry area to let it dry out completely. The bread should be really hard and dry. If it is a large piece of bread, it may be best to cut it into smaller chunks to allow faster drying and easier grating.
2. Use the bread chunk and grate using a grater. Alternatively, you may want to try a food processor. It should work, I just have never tried it. =)
3. Store the bread crumbs in an airtight container and use the same way you would use store-bought breadcrumbs.

Note:
* If you like seasoned bread crumbs. Use your favorite dried seasonings, such as basil, parsley, garlic, or salt and season to taste. (1/2 teaspoon of season for each cup of bread crumbs)
* Unseasoned bread crumbs will store almost indefinitely, provided that the bread was fully dry. Adding seasoning will shorten the life-span.

Bread crumbs

Bread crumbs


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Lemony pasta with asparagus

Asparagus was on sale and of course I ended up buying it. So now we had asparagus and it was time to try out a new recipe.

(Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Vegetarian Cooking)

Ingredients:
2 cups uncooked pasta, such as rotini or bow-tie pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel, lemon zest from one lemon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 frozen lemon cube
1 (14-ounce) can organic cannellini beans

Preparation
1. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package to al-dente consistency. Set aside. (Make sure not to over cook the paste. Also, do not prepare the pasta too early resulting in the pasta to fully cool.)
2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper, asparagus, lemon peel, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender (approximately 10 minutes).
3. Add lemon cube and beans into vegetable mixture. Heat, stirring occasionally, until beans are hot. Add pasta and toss.
4. Sprinkle with freshly grated Asiago cheese, optional.

Lemony pasta with aspargus

Lemony pasta with asparagus

Note: Even though it only contained salt and pasta, the dish turned out very flavorful and “spicy”. Must be the lemon zest and/or the Asiago cheese. I was skeptical at first about adding the beans, but they actually fit nicely with the dish and add extra protein to this dish.