Strawberry Chia Jam

Strawberry Pineapple, Peach and Strawberry Chia Jam

Have you heard about chia seeds yet?  They are an awesome super food that have so many health benefits, it’s truly unbelievable.  From lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol to helping surpress appetite, I am sold on these little seeds of goodness. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find all kinds of information on them.

The first time I ever saw them was in a water bottle that the cashier was drinking out of at my local health food store.  They looks like hundreds of little bubbles in her water.  She explained what they were and all the benefits and I was intrigued but didn’t purchase any until recently.  I love to put them in my oatmeal and my juicing concoction I make in the morning.  I’ve also had them baked into thin, crisp bars (recipe courtesy of my friend Joelle…I’ll be blogging it soon!)  and can now add jam to my list of uses for chia seeds!  The seeds actually absorb water like crazy so instead of using pectin to make the gel-like consistency of jam, these seeds do all the work!  It’s totally amazing and so, so tasty.  I just used honey to taste to sweeten this jam, so even though I list an exact measurement, feel free to use however much tastes good to you.

Gorgeous Strawberries

I made three different kinds, Strawberry, Strawberry Pineapple and Peach.  I think I like the Strawberry Pineapple the best.  Because I made three different kinds, I went ahead and froze two of them, so we’ll see how those hold up after they’re thawed out.  So far I’ve enjoyed it by the spoonful, on whole-grain sprouted bagels and plan to make some whole wheat waffles to try the spread on.  I am so excited about this stuff…healthy and good for you.  Enjoy!

Original recipe by Tosca Reno 

No-Sugar Strawberry Chia Jam
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Fresh Strawberries (or fruit of your choice), finely chopped and slightly mashed (you can also pulse the fruit in your food processor, which I'm going to try next time)
  • ¼ c. Water (I would use a little less if you have a significant amount of juice from your fruit)
  • 2 T. Chia Seeds
  • 3 T. Raw Honey (or agave, stevia or other natural sweetener)
Instructions
  1. Warm fruit and water in a bowl in the microwave for 1 minutes. Stir in chia seeds and honey and let set on the counter until cooled. Place a jar or other air-tight container and let gel overnight. Top whole grain bread, bagels, pancakes, waffles, etc with the jam...or just eat by the spoonful. 🙂
Notes
Makes 1 cup.

Strawberry Chia Jam on Whole Grain Sprouted Bagel

 

 

 

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Ice Cream Goodies

The days have been getting noticeably warmer lately…as in it feels like July and it’s only May kind of warmer.  And just about every day around 2:30 in the afternoon I start craving ice cream.  Ugh.  I then have to play referee between Good, Healthy, Angelic Sarah and Dessert Loving, Devil Sarah (umm, yeah that’s what it feels like!).  Thankfully, most days I am able to rationalize myself out of NOT eating Andy’s Frozen Custard for dinner.  And can I just say that is quite the feat when they are less than half a mile from your house?!  Don’t think I haven’t thought “hey, I’ll just walk there and that totally justifies eating it!”  Because I have.  Oh, I have.

So ice cream remains a treat, like it should.  And because I’ve got ice cream on the brain, I looked up some fun ice cream recipes online and wanted to share with you all.  Tell me these don’t get you drooling?!?

First, Key Lime Pie Ice Cream from yours truly.  I loooooove this stuff.  It totally transports me to Florida and white sandy beaches.  Ahhhhhh.

This recipe is from kevinandamanda.com and it’s for Homemade Ice Cream…WITHOUT an ice cream maker.  How brilliant is this??  Love how they do four different variations with the same ice cream base.

Nutella Peanut Butter Chip Ice Cream by Kevin and Amanda

Next up are these Confetti Ice Cream Pops from Country Living.  I love that you don’t have to have a special ice cream popsicle mold…just use small paper cups!  Brilliant.

Confetti Ice Cream Pops by Country Living

While not quite ice cream per se, an ice box cake is a frozen treat that I have been wanting to try FOREVER.  And this recipe for a No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake has inspired me to finally do it!  It’s just so pretty.

No-Bake Strawberry Ice Box Cake by theKitchn

Chocolate Covered Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich.  Want.  Now.

Chocolate Covered Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich by Good Life Eats

Mint and chocolate are one of my weaknesses which makes this Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake oh so very tempting to me.  I think if I try it, I’ll use a boxed Devil’s Food Cake mix, just to save some precious time.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake by Southern Living

And last, but certainly not least, Almond Milk Ice Cream.  Jeremy and I have cut dairy from our everyday diet and I have been dying to try a recipe for almond milk ice cream.  This one looks good and I think I’ll try making it in my ice cream machine after mixing all the ingredients together and letting them chill.  I’ll definitely post my results on here!

Almond Milk Ice Cream by The Science of Eating

 

 

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Champagne Soaked Peach Sauce

Guess what is showing up at our local farmer’s market right now?  Peaches!  Beautiful, soft, juicy peaches.  This past Saturday I arrived at our local farmer’s market, Farmer’s Market of the Ozarks, at exactly 7:30 a.m. (yes, this is when they open and quite a few people had already beat me there!) to be sure I could get my hands on some before the crowds arrived.  I made a beeline to the booth that had them and happily paid for my peck of peaches.  I also managed to score some strawberries but barely, there were only a couple of pints left!

So I got what I came for and headed back to my kitchen…I had a plan for these peaches that involved champagne, brown sugar and lots of spices.  I could hardly wait to get started.  What resulted was one of the most delicious ice cream sauces I have ever tasted.  My kitchen smelled like a cross between Christmas from all the spices in the sauce and summer from the orange zest and peaches.  Pure. Heaven.  If you are a fan of peach pie, this will remind you of just that…but without the crust!  It is decadent and delicious over vanilla ice cream, especially homemade vanilla ice cream, which is exactly how we enjoyed it this past weekend.  Next week I’ll have another recipe that involves this peach sauce that is OUT OF THIS WORLD.  Stay tuned!

Champagne Soaked Peach Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Champagne (I used a Spumante)
  • 1½ c. Light Brown Sugar
  • ½ t. Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Nutmeg
  • ¼ t. Ground Ginger
  • 3 t. Cornstarch, divided
  • Zest of one Large Orange, finely chopped
  • 4 c. Sliced Peaches
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the champagne, brown sugar, spices and 1 t. cornstarch to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Add orange zest and let cool completely.
  2. Place peaches in a shallow dish and pour the sauce over the peaches. Refrigerate overnight. Remove the peaches the next day and place in a bowl. Pour the sauce in a small saucepan again, whisk in 2 t. cornstarch and bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Cool completely. Sauce will thicken as it cools (mine was VERY thick after being in my refrigerator overnight).
  3. Serve sauce over ice cream with reserved peaches.
Notes
Serves 12-15.

 

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Honey Almond Date Balls

Memorial Day weekend is coming, bringing with it lots and lots and LOTS of food.  And I don’t know what it’s like where you’re at, but here it’s in the 90s already!  And you know what that means…pools.  And lakes.  And…bikinis.  Yes, it’s already swimsuit season!  Yikes!  Are you ready?!?  It kinda snuck up on me, I gotta admit, but I am trying to incorporate more and more natural sweets (as in honey, fruits, etc) into our diet so we don’t look like the michelin man when we bare it all at the first water-type event this year.  Of course, can’t do anything about the whiteness (trying to avoid that pesky skin caner) but we CAN do something about the shape of our bodies and our overall health!

(Sorry, little peptalk for myself there.  Ahem.  Ok, back to the recipe…)

If you are watching what goes in your mouth this weekend (like me and my husband) and are kinda scared about the next 72 hours of festivities and merriment, may I suggest these Honey Almond Date Balls as a sweet and healthy alternative?  You might want to double or triple the batch because once people taste them, they will want more.  Seriously.  Jeremy doesn’t even like coconut and he LOVES these things.  I left the recipe alone for the most part except instead of rolling the balls in more almonds, I rolled them in unsweetened coconut.

We love ’em.

We’ve made a double batch for this weekend.

We’re ready to battle the crazy food war.

BRING IT.

Original recipe by David Lieberman

Honey Almond Date Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Raw Almonds (do 2 cups if you plan on rolling the balls in almonds)
  • 2 c. Pitted Dates, preferably Medjool
  • ¼ c. Raw Honey
  • ⅓ c. Dried, Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grind almonds in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant and a shade darker.
  3. Roughly chop dates and add to food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and dates form a ball. Remove from processor to a bowl. And the almonds and honey to the dates. Mix together until evenly incorporated.
  4. Using a damp washcloth to dampen your hands periodically, for the mixture into 1" balls and roll in the coconut.
  5. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for a few days or transfer to the fridge and they will keep for a couple of weeks.
Notes
Makes 25 balls.

 

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Sparkling Basil Lemonade

This past Friday night we had our once-a-month Gourmet Cooking Club that my friend, Shawna, hosts at her house.  It was a pizza themed event this time (yum!) and while everything was delicious, my favorite thing was actually a drink that Shawna made.  When we walked into her kitchen there was a beautiful glass punch bowl with what looked like lemonade but with something additional floating on top…basil leaves and sliced jalapenos!  Yes, somewhat uncommon for a sweet punch but trust me on this, it is AMAZING.  The lemonade is sweet and tart and bubbly and the basil is the perfect, refreshing addition.  And then there is just the slightest kick and spice from the jalapeno…it’s barely there but definitely noticeable and honestly, delicious!!

Put this one on your list for your Memorial Day party–I guarantee it will end up in your regular drink rotation for the summer!

Recipe by Better Homes and Gardens

Sparkling Basil Lemonade
 
Ingredients
  • 4 c. Water
  • 3 c. Sugar
  • 2 c. Fresh Basil Leaves (about 1-1/2 ounces)
  • 2, 1-liter Bottles Club Soda, chilled
  • 2 c. Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 Fresh Jalapeno Chile Pepper, sliced*
  • Fresh basil leaves
Instructions
  1. For basil syrup, in a large saucepan combine water, sugar, and basil. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Strain syrup and discard leaves. Cover and chill syrup for 2 to 24 hours.
  2. For lemonade, in a very large punch bowl combine chilled syrup, club soda, and lemon juice. Serve over ice and garnish with jalapeno slices and fresh basil leaves.
Notes
Makes 16, 8 oz. Servings *Tip:Because chile peppers contain volatile oils that can burn skin and eyes, avoid direct contact with them as much as possible. When working with chile peppers, wear plastic or rubber gloves. If bare hands touch the peppers, wash hands and nails well with soap and warm water.

 

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Blackberry, Almond and White Chocolate Muffins

Every time I walk into the grocery store lately, all the beautiful berries are calling my name. Strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are just begging to be bought right now and I just had to find a recipe that I could use some of them in.  I was struggling to find something that wasn’t a pie or layered cake when all the sudden I remembered a recipe I had made years ago for Strawberry Almond Muffins.  I also remembered it was very good so I thought maybe I’d give it a shot…but with a few changes, of course. 😉

Instead of strawberries I decided to use blackberries and also wanted to add some white chocolate.  The original recipe called for all-purpose and whole wheat flour but I wanted a slightly lighter muffin so I went with cake flour in place of the whole wheat.  What resulted was one of the most delicious, tender and tastiest muffins ever!  Now you could say this muffin was verging on cupcake status but hey, I see nothing wrong with that!  All I know is I loved these and if you need a recipe to use up some berries, I encourage you to try this one!  Feel free to substitute raspberries or sliced strawberries, if you’d prefer.  You really can’t go wrong with whatever you choose.

Enjoy!

Blackberry, Almond and White Chocolate Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 T. Almond Extract
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. Whole Milk, room temperature
  • 2½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Cake Flour
  • 1½ T. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Sliced, Toasted Almonds
  • 1 c. White Chocolate Chips
  • 2 c. Blackberries (or more if you'd like)
Instructions
  1. Line 2, 12-cup regular muffin tins with cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in almond and vanilla extracts.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Beat ⅓ of the flour mixture until the butter/sugar mixture, then beat in half the milk. Beat in another ⅓ of the flour. Beat in the final half of the milk and then the last ⅓ of the flour. Fold in white chocolate chips and almonds. Very gently fold in the blackberries and divide the batter evenly between the muffin tins (some of mine were quite full so you could probably get more like 25-28 muffins out of this recipe).
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack or eat while they are still a bit warm...they are VERY good like that. (I topped mine with a little white chocolate and single blackberry for the photos..up to you if you want to do that but be sure they have cooled completely if you do.)
Notes
Makes 24, regular size muffins.

 

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Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls

This was my first time making anything sweet with quinoa and can I just say, I am forever changed!  Knowing that I can incorporate something into my desserts that is so nutritious and protein packed, is revolutionary.  Not kidding.  I was definitely skeptical how this would work, but once you mix all these ingredients together, you don’t even know the quinoa is there…all you know is that these balls are DELICIOUS.

I found this recipe on the eat, live, run blog.  I used her original recipe but once I had everything mixed up, it was VERY loose and absolutely not sticking together.  I might have done something wrong…who knows?  But I still thought the mixture tasted AMAZING and decided to just add some more stuff and hope it would come together.  The recipe was originally gluten-free but to get it to stick together I had to throw in some white whole wheat flour (which is the only one I had on hand).  You could use another type of gluten-free flour though if you have issues with gluten.

In the end, the balls stuck together nicely and tasted sooooo yummy.  They seriously remind me of an oatmeal cookie and are definitely my new favorite healthy sweet treat…well, after my No-Bake Almond Butter Rice Krisp Treats.  Those things can’t be beat.

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Thick Rolled Oats, dry
  • 1 c. Cooked Quinoa
  • 1 c. White Whole Wheat Flour (or whole wheat pastry, almond flour, etc)
  • ½ c. Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
  • ⅓ c., plus 2 T. Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • ⅔ c. Dried, Unsweetened Dark Tart Cherries
  • ⅔ c., plus 2 T. Agave
  • ¼ c. Organic, All-Natural Peanut Butter (no added salt, oil)
  • 1 t. Sea Salt (I use pink himalayan)
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the oats and next five ingredients. In a small pot on the stove, bring the agave to a simmer over medium/low. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, salt and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture and mix well until combined. Let cool. Add mini chocolate chips into mixture. Form into 1" balls with your hands. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Notes
Makes 50, 1" balls.

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Simple Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe was inspired my two things:  1.  The abundance of strawberries AND strawberry recipes right now and 2. my brand spankin’ new cupcake carrier!  That’s right, I FINALLY am the proud owner of a collapsible cupcake carrier (yes, I had to improvise for quite awhile to transport them!) all thanks to my boss.  A couple of weeks ago it was Administrative Assistant’s Day and my boss was out of town so obviously I knew I wouldn’t get anything and it wasn’t a big deal to me.  But he got back the Friday of that week and when I came back from lunch, this beauty was sitting on my desk.  Ain’t she purty?  And can I just say this thing ROCKS??  It’s both a cake and a cupcake carrier.  I was a little skeptical it would work, but it totally does and I highly recommend getting one if you don’t have one yet!

As for the recipe, do you know how hard it is to find a strawberry cake recipe that doesn’t call for strawberry Jello and a white cake mix?  It’s dang near impossible!  But a couple of years ago and did manage to find one and for the life of me I can’t remember the website I got the recipe from but all I know is it’s titled Katie’s Strawberry Cake, so whoever Katie is, thank you!!  I was so happy when I found the recipe that I made it three times within two weeks…yes, it’s that good.

The method of this cake is a little different because you beat the butter into the dry ingredients and then add the liquid but have no doubt, it totally works.  I absolutely loved these cupcakes…there were small pieces of fresh strawberry in every other bite and the chocolate cream cheese frosting was to-die-for.  The only thing I’d do different is maybe just leave the chocolate out of the frosting next time and do a plain, vanilla cream cheese frosting, as the strawberry cake is such a delicate flavor it almost overpowers it.  But it’s still delicious.

If you are looking for a true “from scratch” strawberry cake, look no further!  This one definitely fits the bill.

Simple Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Ingredients
Strawberry Cupcakes
  • 1 c. Strawberry Puree, room temperature (see below for recipe)
  • ¼ c. Whole Milk, room temperature
  • 6 Large Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2¼ c. Cake Flour
  • 1¾ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 12 T. (1½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened and cut into 1" chunks
Strawberry Puree
  • 2 c. Sliced Strawberries
  • 2 T. Granulated Sugar
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1, 8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold
  • ¼ c. Crisco
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 3 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 5 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 4 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, melted
Instructions
For the Strawberry Puree
  1. Place strawberries and sugar in food processor or blender and puree.
For the Strawberry Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the strawberry puree, milk, egg, vanilla and whisk well. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk thoroughly. Beat the butter into the dry ingredients on low speed and mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.
  3. Add liquids to the butter/flour mixture and beat a medium speed for about one minutes or until evenly combined. Stop mixer, scrape down sides of bowl and beat for 30 more seconds. Place three tablespoons of batter into each muffin tin.
  4. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for a few minutes and then remove from pans and let cool completely.
For the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Cream the butter, shortening, cream cheese, salt and extracts on medium speed until combined. Beat in the powdered sugar and then the melted chocolate and beat until combined (do NOT overbeat or the cream cheese will break down). Frost cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting.
Notes
Makes 24 cupcakes.

 

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Sweet This and That

As you can see, I couldn’t really come up with a title for this somewhat random post.  Sometimes inspiration or whatever you want to call it just doesn’t strike and you have to call it what it is!  Hence, the title.

If you remember, back in March I visited my good friend Joelle and we had the BEST time shopping and eating our weight in cupcakes (see pics here, here, here and here).  And she also had the sweetest goodie bag waiting for me when I got to my room…it was packed full of my favorite sweet treats such as cayenne covered dried mango, dark chocolate covered macadamia nuts, gourmet hot cocoa and some other fun dessert-themed treats which I wanted to share!

I believe most of these came from World Market so if you have one near you, check it out for these items.

White Chocolate Mousse Body Wash and Body Butter.  Smells heavenly.  Trust me on this.

Cupcake Bath Fizz.  I love this little thing.  But it’s so cute I don’t want to use it!  What to do?!

Cupcake Mints.  The BEST way to “freshen” your breath.

This is a shirt I actually got at Kohl’s.  Had to share!  (Yes…I am FULLY aware that I am 30 and wearing Hello Kitty…and I don’t care!)

And these are my current obsession.  Believe it or not, I had never made cake pops until about a month ago but I LOVE making them and they are sooooo yummy.

Well, thanks for visiting and checking out my randomness!  Hope it made you smile. 🙂

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Sugar Cookie Bars

If you’re like me and LOVE frosted sugar cookies but don’t have the patience for the whole rolling and cutting part, I have a solution!  A completely delicious solution.  I had seen recipes online for sugar cookie bars but all the ones I was finding called for an absurd amount of flour (5 cups!), etc and a huge baking pan that I didn’t have and there was no way I was going to go look for and buy one just for this recipe.  So I played with the amounts of ingredients and am happy to report that I hit it out of the ball park on the first try!  These sugar cookies are made in a 9×13 pan and are absolutely, incredibly, amazingly YUMMY.  I love almond so I added that flavor.  If you’re not an almond fan, feel free to substitute more vanilla extract.  These bars and soft and slightly chewy and in my opinion perfect in every single way.  To say I had a couple would be an understatement…but we won’t get into that.

Hope you love them as much as I did!

Sugar Cookie Bars
 
Ingredients
Sugar Cookie Bars
  • 1½ sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1½ t. Almond Extract
  • 3¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ t. Salt
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
Almond Buttercream
  • 1½ sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 3 t. Almond Extract
  • 1½ t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 3 T. Heavy Whipping Cream (or milk)
Instructions
For the Sugar Cookie Bars
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla and almond and mix well. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. And to butter/sugar mixture and beat until just combined. Spread into baking pan.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick/tester comes out clean (mine were done closer to 15 minutes). Cool completely and frost.
For the Almond Buttercream
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add almond and vanilla extracts. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, then add heavy whipping cream and beat until smooth. Spread onto cooled sugar cookie bars.
Notes
Makes 18 bars.

 

 

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No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, Take Two

A little over a month ago I posted this recipe for some scrumptious no-bake peanut butter bites.  Since that time I have tinkered with the recipe just a bit and Jeremy and I now have a new favorite healthy sweet treat.  We both agree that these taste just like no-bake cookies except, of course, without the butter, refined sugar and all the other not so good for you stuff.  These are so delicious and so easy, all made in one big bowl.  We love them and think you will too!

No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, Take Two
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. All-Natural, Organic Peanut Butter
  • ⅔ c. Raw Honey
  • 1½ T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1½ t. Fine Sea Salt (recommend pink himalayan)
  • 2 c. Thick Rolled Oats
  • ¼ c. Wheat Germ
  • ½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • ¼ c. Cocoa
  • ¼ c. All-Natural Chocolate Protein Powder (or just use more cocoa)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl stir together peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add oats, wheat germ, white whole wheat flour, cocoa and chocolate protein powder (if using) and stir until thoroughly mixed together. Form into 1" balls and store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 50, 1" balls.

 

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Cinco de Mayo Cupcakes

Hey guys!  In case you didn’t know, Cinco de Mayo is this Saturday!  I know the day is typically celebrated with LOTS of alcohol and good food but may I suggest a cupcake?  I’ve got a few drool-worthy options and yes, even a couple with a bit of alcohol thrown in!  The Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcake is my top pick to make…anything with cayenne and chocolate is a MUST make for me.  It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations!

How do YOU celebrate Cinco de Mayo??

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Photo by cheekykitchen.com

Margarita Cupcakes

Photo by browneyedbaker.com

Tres Leches Cupcakes

Photo by bakersroyale.com

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

Photo by kokocooks.blogspot.com

Churro Cupcakes

Photo by dishingthedivine.com
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No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

Ok, that title is a little misleading…it is kind of a baked pie, at least the crust is baked.  But it stays in the oven for such a short amount of time it hardly counts, hence I christen this pie, no-bake!

I dreamed up this concoction when brainstorming what to make my fabulous sister-in-law Rachel (of foodierachel.com!) for her birthday.  I wanted it to be something that she would LOVE not just something that sounded good to me or a new dessert recipe I wanted to try.  So I thought of peanut butter first…and then banana, caramel and chocolate.  Yes, pretty sure all these ingredients met the “will Rachel love it?”  criteria!

I have to say this pie was AMAZING…just the right amount of peanut butter, chocolate, banana and caramel.  It is, however, very rich so one slice is more than enough!  I made a homemade salted caramel sauce from scratch which I think sent it over the top, but for the sake of simplicity I’d just buy a good-quality caramel sauce if I were you–unless you are feeling very ambitious!

It was a big hit at our family dinner and I’m already looking for an excuse to make this one again!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1 c. High-Quality Caramel Sauce
  • 1½ Ripe Bananas, sliced into ½" pieces
  • 1, 8 oz. package Cream Cheese
  • 1½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1¼ c. Smooth Peanut Butter
  • ½ c. Milk
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 16 oz. Whipped Cream Topping
  • 6 T. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, melted
  • 2 T. Dry-Roasted Peanut Halves
Instructions
For the Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Combine melted butter and graham cracker crumbs and press into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes and cool completely on a wire rack (I did pop mine in the freezer for a few minutes to speed things up).
For the Filling
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until completely smooth. Add peanut butter, milk and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in ¾ of the container of the whipped cream, until there are no white streaks left.
To Assemble
  1. Pour the caramel into the graham cracker crust and spread evenly. Place the banana slices in an even layer over the caramel. Spread the peanut butter filling evenly into the pan. Drizzle with the melted chocolate and sprinkle with the dry-roasted peanuts. Place in the freezer for a couple of minutes to allow the chocolate to harden. Cover with foil and freeze for 4-5 hours until mixture is stiff. Slice and serve immediately.
Notes
Serves 12.

 

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Brown Sugar Cashew Blondies

There’s really not much that needs to be said about these bars except that they have lots of butter, lots of brown sugar, lots of cashews and oh yeah, they will melt in your mouth.  I really don’t think you could have a more perfect combination of more glorious things.  If cashews aren’t your nut of choice, I’d imagine you could swap them out with toasted pecans or macadamia nuts.

You can literally have these whipped up in no-time…although the cooking time is an entirely different matter.  The original recipe said 35-40 minutes but mine didn’t get done until the 50 minute mark.  So I’d say just start testing them around 40 minutes and keep an eye on ’em.

Perfect treat for a lazy Sunday evening…

Adapted from bakeorbreak.com

Brown Sugar Cashew Blondies
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 c. Packed, Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 8 oz. Salted Cashew Halves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in 1 cup of the cashews.
  5. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining cashews, pressing down lightly with your hands. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
Notes
Makes about 12 bars.

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The Next Big Thing…Pudding?

Banana Pudding Photo by Bakerella

So, the word on the street is that pudding (yes, pudding) is going to replace cupcakes as the next big dessert trend.  Now in the past, predictor types have also foreseen pie, whoopie pies and macaroons dethroning the almighty cupcake but so far…hasn’t happened.  This article mentions a couple of new pudding restaurants that have popped up in New York where alot of trends start.

Don’t get me wrong I do love pudding, ESPECIALLY totally-from-scratch butterscotch pudding, but I really can’t imagine saying to my girlfriend during girl’s night out, “Hey!  Let’s go get some pudding!”  I mean, it’s going to either be ice cream (if we want something cold) or a cupcake.   And I really don’t see mom ordering a big ‘ole bowl of chocolate pudding for little Mary Sue’s birthday party anytime soon.

Chocolate Pudding Photo by Smitten Kitchen

But hey, what do I know?  Do you think it could be the next big thing?  Should cupcake shops start diversifying now and slap pudding on their menus??  Something to think about…

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DC Bakery Review #4: Alexandria Cupcake

Ok, here it is, Alexandria Cupcake,  the last place we stopped at on our whirlwind DC cupcake tour!  And thank God it was the last one…I don’t think I could have taken much more.

But things ended on a high note because this place was AWESOME.  Located in Old Town Alexandria, it was in a super tiny little space that was very basic and no frills (as you can see from the pics) with only one tiny table and two tiny chairs, but it was by far our FAVORITE place we tried out of the four.  These people totally know how to do cupcakes…the cake was super moist and perfect texture and the buttercream was exactly that…BUTTERcream.  It was so silky smooth and delicious…holy cow, I could have just eaten the frosting.  And nothing artificial was used to flavor these cupcakes, which I could really appreciate!

Our box of cupcakes...should have gotten four. It just looks wrong with only three...

We chose 3 different kinds and somehow managed to eat every last bite of them.  You know a cupcake is good when after eating a dozen plus cupcakes, you somehow manage to find room for three more–thank God we were sharing!!

Stout Cupcake with Bailey's Cream Cheese Buttercream.
Vanilla Bean Cupcake with Raspberry Buttercream.
Almond Cupcake with Almond Buttercream (my personal favorite).

Well, that’s a wrap of my DC cupcake binge.  HAH.  Hope you all enjoyed reading and found some new cupcake places to visit next time your in the DC area.  And if you know of any I didn’t get to, I’d love to hear about them!

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Homemade Chocolate Truffles

Hey friends!   Hope everyone has had a great Easter Sunday…ours was filled with a wonderful church service, lunch with family and…well, that’s about it!  Yay for lazy Sundays!

I wanted to share a recipe for homemade chocolate truffles with you guys tonight.  You know, the kind you pay major bucks for at Godiva or another fancy chocolate shop??  Yeah, that’s the kind I’m talking about! It’s soooo easy to make gourmet truffles on your own at home.  They are probably one of the first candies I ever made.  I moved on to other things like homemade marshmallows, chocolate covered cherries, turtles, caramels and toffee, but honestly, there is just something so decadent and indulgent about chocolate truffles.  Especially when they are made with quality ingredients.

When I first started making truffles, I really enjoyed experimenting with them.  I remember how many bottles of liquor I had in my house…and NOT for drinking!  Hah!  No, no it was all used for candy making!  It is super simple to add a little citrus zest, extract or liquor to your chocolate and get a variety of gourmet chocolates.  Some of my favorites were Starbucks coffee liquors and berry liquors.  Can you say YUM??  So use this recipe as a starting point and see what flavors you can add for your own homemade box of chocolates!  I think once you see how easy it is, you’ll never visit a pricey chocolate shop again!

Homemade Chocolate Truffles
 
Ingredients
  • 20 oz. Good Quality, Bittersweet Chocolate Bars, finely chopped, NOT unsweetened chocolate or 2¼ c. Dark Chocolate Chips (I prefer Ghirardelli 70% Bars or I have even used their 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, but I recommend using the bars, as they melt easier than chips)
  • ¾ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Citrus Zest, Flavored Liquor, Extracts, etc for flavoring (optional)
  • Chopped chocolate, cocoa, chopped nuts, melted chocolate, flaked coconut, etc (for coating truffles)
Instructions
  1. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream over medium heat just until it boils and pour it immediately over the chocolate. Let it set for 1 minutes and then stir with a spoon or spatula or whisk until completely smooth. If adding flavor, do so now. Let cool completely and then place in fridge for a couple of hours until the mixture is firm but not stiff or refrigerate overnight (if you refrigerate overnight, let it set out for about 30 minutes to it has softened just a bit and you can scoop it more easily). Using a melon baller, scoop 1" size truffles onto a large baking sheet lined with foil. If the mixture is not too soft, roll into balls with your hands. If it is too soft, place in the freezer for a few minutes to allow to firm up a bit. Once you've shaped the truffles into balls, you can roll them in chopped nuts, finely chopped chocolate, etc or dip in melted chocolate.
Notes
Makes 30 truffles, 1" truffles

 

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DC Bakery Review #3: Baked & Wired

Hi friends!  Yes, I have yet ANOTHER bakery review from DC…after this post, it’s three down, one to go! Don’t know if you remember, but in my Sprinkles post I mentioned that a lady there gave us the heads up about a place called Baked & Wired and I am SO glad she did–this place rocked!  My first impression of the place when we got inside was that it reminded me of my favorite coffee shop here in Springfield, MO, the Mudhouse.  The same kind of dim, cool atmosphere, hardwood floors, hodge podge furniture…pretty much knew it was going to be awesome right away.

As for the desserts…holy cow, I don’t even know where to begin.  Honestly, I don’t!  They had a HUGE selection that was pretty much impossible for me to capture the vastness of with my little bitty iPhone camera.  But I tried!  Right when you walk in you are greeted with several jars of massive cookies, some made into cookie-wiches with a layer of frosting in between.  Then you move on and it’s just a sea of homemade brownies, bars, biscotti and possibly the biggest cupcakes I’ve ever seen.  I’m not joking.  They were seriously the size of a small potting plant container…which come to think of it might be what they baked them in!

Everything was very reasonably priced, in my opinion.  The cupcakes were $4 each (worth it for how huge they were) and totally delicious.  The cake was super dense and moist, very reminiscent of a pound cake, and the frosting was thick, creamy and just plain good.  We LOVED them.  We also tried a couple of bars, a brownie and a cookie–all amazing!  I want to go back!  Too bad they’re in DC.  Or maybe it’s for the best.

Here are pictures of the goods with drool-worthy descriptions.  The only thing I didn’t get a picture of was the Mocha (chocolate cupcake with mocha buttercream) and The Flapjack (maple brown butter cupcake with caramel buttercream and candied bacon on top).  But you can use your imagination (which is probably higher quality than these camera pics–ugh).

Lemon Ginger Cookie: Two chewy ginger cookies with chunks of real ginger, sandwiched with lemon buttercream.
Phig Newton: Whole dates that have been cooked down with sugar, lemon juice, and spices to make yummy goo that is sandwiched in layers of homemade cookie crust.
Plain Jane Brownie: A straight up chocolaty brownie with the right amount of fudginess.
O.M.G. Bar: A graham cracker crust is layered with homemade caramel, marshmallow, and a bittersweet chocolate glaze.
Coconut: Vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream topped with lots of coconut.
Chocolate Cupcake with Raspberry Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting
The Tessita: Vanilla Cake with dulce de leche filling and chocolate- hazelnut satin icing.
Elvis Impersonator AKA The Elvis: Banana cupcake topped with peanut butter frosting, drizzled with chocolate and topped with candy bacon..

So to wrap it up–this place ROCKS.  Delicious, sugary goodness…I highly encourage you to visit if you are in the DC area.  Oh, and I happened to find some pics that do the place justice.  You can see them here.

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Easter Desserts

Need some Easter inspiration?  I’ve got it!  Get your crafty on with these pretty pastel treats–delicious and cute!

Bird’s Nest Cookies

Photo by creationsbykara.com

Crispy Easter Eggs

Photo by delish.com

Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Photo by whatmegansmaking.com

Little Lamb Cupcakes

Photo by foodnetwork.com

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

Photo by delish.com

Easter Candy Basket Cupcakes

Photo by bakerella.com

Easter Brownies

Photo by bettycrocker.com

Rice Krispie Treat Bird’s Nests

Photo by kidscooking.about.com

Floral Cake

Photo by delish.com

 

 

 

 

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