Thursday, January 3, 2013

Low Carb and Gluten Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Hmm. Carrots were staring me in the face today. Huge carrots, seriously 2 1/2 inches thick! A friend of my mother-in-law brought them by a few weeks ago, from their garden plot. I've never seen carrots this thick, and they deserved to be baked into something.

However, I'm trying really hard to be good with my healthy carb lifestyle. And that means tempering all those gourmet cupcakes I've been baking (and eating) with something a little lower on the sugar scale. I could have gone with a whole wheat pastry flour, but thought I'd play a little more with gluten free.

These aren't low calorie, thanks to the butter and the oil. But to me, baked goods that try to be both low sugar and low fat do NOT work! You have to have one or the other, or it's going to taste horrid... Trust me. Either that or the texture is way off. But they are still lower in calorie since they don't have the sugar. (Unless you want it there, then feel free to use the real stuff.)

I must note that Mark said, and nearly direct quote, "For being low carb and gluten free, they're really good! You almost can't tell the frosting has no sugar..."  He doesn't always love when I do things with alternative flours, or sweeteners. So this is the highest form of praise. Just saying. :)

1 cup ground almond meal
1/2 cup ground flax seed meal
1/2 cup oat flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt

Mix together in a bowl. Set aside.
Cream together:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup Splenda
1/4 cup brown sugar substitute
2 tbsp molasses 

(You could also use 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar if you want.)

When light and fluffy, add in:

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup oil

When that's all blended, add in the "flour" mixture and beat until combined. Add in 1/2 cup milk and mix until just combined.

Bake at 325 for 22 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean and they aren't too squishy. The tops of these don't spring back like a normal cupcake. So they will need to cool in the tin for a good 5 minutes to help them set before removing them. You want them to finish cooking the inside without burning the bottoms.

Once cooled, you can frost them. I used a cream cheese frosting.

1 8oz package of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter
2 cups either powdered sugar, or powdered sugar substitute

To make substitute, place 2 cups of granulated sugar substitute, like Splenda, in a blender or food processor and blend until powdery.

Beat butter and cream cheese until well combined. Add in 2 cups of powered sugar or substitute and beat. You can thin out with some milk or cream if you need. I wanted a softer frosting, so I added in about 2 tbsp of cream. The cream thins it out, but helps it stay fluffy when beaten really well. Beautiful texture!

The cupcakes didn't look so pretty once cooled. Frosting, however, hides a multitude of sins. :)

Since there are eggs in this, and dairy in the frosting, they should be stored in the fridge. Normally this wouldn't be necessary as sugar acts as a preservative, but there isn't any in this.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes!

Finally, I'm getting this one posted! 

For the candied pecans on top, I got the recipe here.

You really should try them! Super easy, and tastes like those pricey sugared almonds you get at the fair. In fact, you could do this to almonds too, and they would be great to hand out at the holidays to people you especially like. :)

As for the cupcakes-

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper (yes, you read that right.)
 2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (not the pie mix)

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat the butter and sugars on medium until fluffy. This will take about 3-5 minutes, don't cheat! 

Mix together in a bowl the flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pepper. 

Add eggs one at a time to butter mixture, beating well after each egg. Add the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk , beginning and ending with flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. 

Fill your cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

For the frosting- I know the general vote was for pumpkin cream cheese. However, as the chef, I vetoed you and went with the maple instead... Were you perhaps thinking of the maple glaze on donuts? Or maple syrup? Don't worry, this is VERY lightly flavored, the slight maple taste really accents the pumpkin well. In fact, the strongest flavor is that of the pecans on top! 

And I promise, the recipients of these cupcakes thought they were amazing, and he doesn't even really care for pumpkin. :-)

2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar (add more if needed for desired consistency)
1 tsp maple extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

Beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until fluffy. 

This is a softer frosting. But delicious! If you'd rather make this into a cake and need a stiffer frosting, use 2 sticks of butter, and only 1 1/2 packages of cream cheese.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Low Carb Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had an odd craving today for chocolate chip cookies. Probably because I had to get into the freezer for something and saw the chocolate chips. Who knows?

So I got hunting around on the internet for a recipe, but none of them looked appetizing. Either too grainy, or spread too much. I've made enough batches of cookies to know that the proportions of wet to dry/ fat to sugar have to be right or they won't work well. I wanted chewy, but dry so I could dip them in milk if I wanted without them falling apart. I wanted them to hold their shape, and maybe taste good in the process.

So I sat and looked at the flours that I have. Oat, almond meal, coconut, all-purpose, and whole wheat pastry... Almond meal tends to be grainier. Coconut absorbs liquid better so you need less flour altogether. Oat is cheap because I grind up my own oats and has a chewy texture with nice flavor. And whole wheat pastry is finer than regular whole wheat yet still has fiber! So this one isn't really gluten free, but if that's what you need, you can substitute more oat flour or something.

* A note about sugar substitutes: The reason I have several different kinds and use them, is that when you mix different sugar alcohols, the combined effect is greater and therefore you can use less. This is a good thing if you tend to be sensitive to them and don't want an upset stomach or random gas in public areas... Just saying. If you prefer to use the Splenda for Baking, both white and brown varieties, that would work just as well. Use what the package tells you would be equal to 3/4 cup white sugar and 3/4 cup brown. Note though that both the calories and carbs would be higher. I could barely taste any artificial sweetening with my mix though, and I used all store brand sweeteners.

**A note about mixing flours: Mixing flours allows you to get a better texture and flavor. Coconut flour is cheaper than almond meal flour. Whole wheat pastry I found at Fred Meyer's bulk section by all the health foods, although you can buy it by the bag with the Bob's Red Mill fancier flours or Hodgson's Mill - both brands do a larger bag. Oat flour is even cheaper because you can literally just throw some old fashioned rolled oats in a blender or food processor and whiz it around until it's powdery!

Alright, before you keel over with boredom, here it is!

1/2 cup butter (yes, higher calorie, but no more than margarine and no trans fats. So there. You need it to hold the structure of the dough. Trust me.)
1/4 cup granulated stevia
1/4 cup granulated splenda
1/2 cup brown sugar substitue (I used a granulated xylitol/molasses mixture I got at Fred Meyer.)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp (if needed) whole wheat pastry flour (A finer ground flour, unless you want grainy cookies.)
1 cup oat flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (to stabilize the dough)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Cream your butter and "sugars" together. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and mix in.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours (just the first 1/2 cup of wheat flour), xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the wet mixture and combine. Let sit for a couple minutes to let the coconut flour absorb in. If it seems too sticky after waiting, go ahead and add in the other 2 tbsp of whole wheat pastry flour.

Stir in the chocolate chips. The dough should be stiff. We are doing small cookies, so you really don't need more than the 1/2 cup of chocolate.

Preheat your oven to 350. Place your cookie dough on the sheet, I lined mine with one of those silicone baking mats, by the heaping tbsp. You'll have to flatten the cookies a little before baking, they won't spread. At all. Bake for 8-9 minutes. They'll get a little brown, but not a lot. This is just when I noticed the bottoms browned on my silicone and that they weren't wet squishy when I pressed on them. They stayed softer even after cooling, which I did on a wire rack, removing from pan immediately so they didn't over-bake.

I was able to get 30 cookies out of my batch, so I did nutrition info based on that. I'll give the batch info too, in case you do bigger or smaller cookies. But mine ended up pretty small, 2 inches across and 1/2 inch tall... ish.

Per cookie: 66 calories
                  4 grams fat
                  6.3 carbs
                  1.4 fiber

Per batch: 1,977 calories  (still less than some hamburger meals!)
                 120 grams fat
                  188 carbs
                  40.5 fiber

Crock Pot Pizza Soup

 Being a huge fan of both pizza and crockpots... I figured why not combine the two? This would be really good with a slice of garlic bread, if I were allowed, but I'll let you have all the fun and tell me about it later. Okay? Just promise not to gloat.

2 (16 ounce) cans crushed tomates
8 cups beef broth
4 small cans mushrooms
2 medium green peppers, diced
1 medium onion, diced
20 oz package turkey Italian sausage links
2 pkgs turkey pepperoni (about 4.5 oz each)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp Italian seasoning
2 cups grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Cook sausages. Let cool a little and slice.

Add all ingredients except cheeses in your crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

Makes about 16 servings, so some to eat and some to freeze. Filled a 6 quart crockpot!

Per serving: 271 Calories, 114 from fat
                    12.7 grams of fat
                    7 grams of carbs
                    2 grams fiber
                   31 grams protein

With cheese on top: 313 Calories, 140 from fat
                       15.5 grams fat
                         8 grams Carbs
                         2 grams fiber
                         35 grams protein

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chewy "Brown Sugar" Muffins

Due to a full sink and lack of dishes for cereal today, but a mysterious craving for oatmeal-y goodness, the boys and I decided that some really good and chewy oatmeal muffins were in order for breakfast. You know, the kind that remind you of fall a little as they bake, and make the kids ask if I made cookies for breakfast? Yep, those.

Of course, the problem is that those are usually full of sugar. Sad. And flour. Still sad. I have a cookbook of old-fashioned breakfast recipes where I found a Chewy Brown Sugar Muffin page that had possibilities. Why not take one of my favorite muffins from when I could have all those delicious carbs, and just make some modifications?

Heavy cream became Half and Half. An entire cup of pancake syrup became my sugar free syrup. Half the flour got substituted with a lower carb and richer oat flour mixture. Even the brown sugar got a makeover! At Fred Meyer (the only place I've found it) their store brand has a "brown sugar" sweetener. It's xylitol mixed with just enough molasses to give in the brown sugar dark color, smell, and taste. Granulated and measures cup for cup of "packed" brown sugar. Whereas sorbitol has the tendency to give me an upset stomach, I haven't found the same problem with xylitol. Hurray!

So here we go!

1 cup half and half

1 cup sugar free pancake syrup (I recommend Golden Griddle brand, it has less sugar alcohols and calories than the Cary's brand. And it's a LOT cheaper too!)

2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar substitute (Feel free to use the Splenda brown sugar for baking blend, but the calorie and carb count will go up. )

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup oat flour (I measured out 1/2 cup rolled oats, put it in my little food processor, and whizzed it around until it was all ground up. It measured to just over 1/2 cup of flour/powder. You can use commercially prepared oat flour if desired.)

1/4 cup almond meal

3/4 tsp xanthan gum (adds stability that the gluten in flour usually would. Sort of a good idea when using alternate flour options to help the leaveners grab on the the flour and actually work. If you don't have it, you could try some corn starch.)

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup broken walnut pieces (optional, but I used them, so the nutrition information is for nuts included)

This is one of those beautiful recipes where you can just toss everything in a bowl and whisk it in! Add the nut pieces last so you make sure all the flours and leaveners are incorporated.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease up your muffin tins. I used a heaping 1/8 cup to fill each cup, a little over halfway full, and got 20 muffins. Without the nuts it would be closer to 18.

Bake 20 - 22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let sit for a minute before popping out of the tins.

These don't bake up as high as some other muffins do, but the original recipe was meant to be a denser, more filling muffin. So I don't attribute that to the flour substitutes. They had great color, and the house smelled like oatmeal cookies! And at only 126 calories (With nuts and making a batch of 20) they aren't going to kill your diet. I might add some flax seed meal next time for more fiber, just for kicks. There aren't enough left to freeze, but I imagine they'd do that just fine too!

Per muffin: 126 Calories, 60 from fat (but it's from the nuts, so it's a good kind of fat!)
                   6.7 grams of fat
                   1 grams of which is saturated fat
                  13 grams of Carbs
                  2 grams of fiber
                   4 grams of protein