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 other gluten-free flour)
  • 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. Raw Honey
  • 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. Dark 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 honey 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 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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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 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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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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Lemon Coconut Cream Scones

Have I mentioned that all I did in DC was eat and shop?  Well, it was.  And part of that eating included these AMAZING scones that Joelle made while I was staying with her.  I had one bite and knew I was doomed.  They are light, soft, flaky…just…amazing.  They are seriously the best scones I have had yet.

Now she made hers a maple flavor which I loved and will most likely do the next time I make these, but I wanted to do something a little “springy-er” so I chose a yummy lemon and coconut combination.  I figured with Easter coming up, these would make the perfect sweet addition to a brunch or even a delicious Easter dinner dessert.

These scones are also unique because of what’s in the recipe..or should I say what’s NOT in the recipe.  They are totally void of eggs and butter!  I had to double check with Joelle to make sure I was reading the recipe right.  Interesting!  And one important thing about these scones–you do NOT want to overbake them (I learned the hard way ugh).  In fact, you want to UNDERBAKE them.  If they start to get brown around the edges, then they’ve baked too long.  The perfect time is somewhere around 16-17 minutes so start checking them around 15 minutes.  They’ll probably still look just slightly not cooked on top in the middle but that’s ok..they’re done, trust me!

Oh and did I mention these take about 10 minutes to throw together?  Gotta love that!

Lemon Coconut Cream Scones
 
Ingredients
Scones
  • 3 c. Bread Flour
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 T. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ½ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1½ c. Cream of Coconut (NOT coconut milk. Look for it in the alcohol section at your store; it should be in with the drink mixers.)
  • ½ t. Coconut Extract
  • Zest of one Large Lemon
Glaze
  • ¼ c. Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juice (2 large lemons)
  • 1 c. Powdered Sugar
  • ½ c. Toasted Coconut (toast sweetened coconut on a baking sheet in oven at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes)
Instructions
  1. Line a 9x9 pan with foil, letting the ends hang over like "handles".
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and then pour in the heavy cream, cream of coconut, coconut extract and lemon zest. Mix the batter together, by hand, with a wooden spoon until just moist. (I used my hands at the end to get all the flour mixed in.) Pour the batter into the foil lined pan and press into an even layer. Cover the dough with another layer of foil and smooth the top.
  3. Freeze overnight. In the morning, let it set out for about 20 minutes. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Place on a cutting board and carefully peel away the foil linings. You can slice them however you like; I cut diagonal and then straight across and then cut some of the slightly larger pieces in half for triangles.
  4. Bake for 15-17 minutes, checking often to make sure they don't brown around the edges. Let them cool on the pans for a couple of minutes and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely. Top with glaze (see below).
Lemon Glaze
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and coconut. Top each cooled scones with a small spoonful of lemon glaze, sprinkle with toasted coconut and let sit out until glaze has dried and hardened slightly.
Notes
Makes 25 scones.

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Pineapple Upside Down Pound Cake

I wanted to make something extra special for my father-in-laws birthday because he definitely deserved it.  He is one of the most selfless, giving people I know and his birthday lunch needed a fabulous cake!  Jeremy told me he had mentioned pineapple and yellow cake so I thought hmmm, Pineapple Upside Down Cake??  Sounded good to me!  Now I had never made one before but I had had plenty in younger days…Pineapple Upside Down Cake seemed to show up at every church potluck and family gathering we had.  You know the kind, made with boxed yellow cake mix and canned pineapple slices..and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that version but I wanted to try my hand at a totally from scratch Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

I found this recipe on simplyrecipes.com and only made a couple of changes, nothing major at all.  As for the cake, I really liked the way it turned out, more like a pound cake.  I thought the addition of almond flour was somewhat odd but it added a nice texture to the cake.  It was definitely better the second day after the pineapple juices and butter/brown sugar mixture had time to seep into the cake a bit more.  I served it at room temperature with vanilla ice cream and everyone loved it.  I’d say it was a successful birthday!

Pineapple Upside Down Pound Cake
 
Ingredients
Topping
  • 1 c. Firmly Packed Regular or Dark Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 5 Slices Fresh, Cored Pineapple (or 1, 20 oz. Can Pineapple Slices)
  • Maraschino Cherries
Cake
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 6 T. Cake Flour
  • 6 T. Almond Flour/Meal
  • ¾ t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1¾ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¾ c. Sour Cream
Instructions
For the Topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 10-inch, round cake pan. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly into pan. Pour butter evenly over brown sugar. Arrange pineapple slices in a single layer on top of the butter/sugar mixture and fill the center of each pineapple with maraschino cherries (I used 5 cherries in each center).
  2. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, almond flour/meal, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, beating well after each addition. Pour cake batter into pan.
  3. Bake in oven for 1 hour and 25 minutes or until a tested inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely or turn out onto a platter after 10 minutes and serve warm.
Notes
Serves 16.

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No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

The healthy recipes just keep getting better and better!  This week I’ve got a fabulous, super-quick recipe for no-bake energy bites…that taste like a cross between peanut butter cookie dough and no-bake cookies.  Can you say YUM??  They are full of good stuff that won’t send you on a sugar-high but instead provide a source of natural, tasty energy.  All you need is one bowl and handful of ingredients–get busy!

Recipe adapted from fooddoodles.com

No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. All-Natural, Smooth Peanut Butter (or any nut butter you prefer)
  • ⅓ c. Honey
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ¾ t. Fine Sea Salt
  • 1 c. Rolled Oats
  • ½ c. Wheat Germ
  • ½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • Oats, Peanut Halves, etc for topping
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl stir together peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add oats, wheat germ and white whole wheat flour and stir until thoroughly mixed together. Form into 1" balls and roll in oats or top with peanut half. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 2 dozen.

 

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Thin Mint Brownies with Bailey’s Buttercream

I am proud to say that my husband is now a chocolate and mint convert–all because of these brownies.  He said he wasn’t going to try them but then he saw them…and then he tasted them…and then he couldn’t keep his hands out of them.  Hah!  And I have to admit, they are GOOD.  I mean, I love anything mint and chocolate but these are one of the best renditions of that combo I’ve ever had…if I do say so myself.  The mint flavor from the Thin Mint cookies and Andes mints is not overwhelming and somewhat subtle and then the Bailey’s buttercream…oh my word, don’t even get me started.  It took so much restraint to keep from eating this frosting by the spoonful.

Now when I say Bailey’s, let me clarify.  When I went to purchase my bottle of Bailey’s I could not believe that is was nearly $20!!!  And all I needed was two-thirds of a cup!!  Ummmmmm, no, not happening.  So I thought hey, what about Irish cream flavored coffee creamer?  Yes!  Perfect.  Well, much to my surprise and delight I discovered that Bailey’s had their own brand of coffee creamer–for two bucks!   Score!  I knew I had some whiskey at home that I could throw in and I’d be good to go.

Perfect for St. Patty’s day!  You’ll love them–promise.

Thin Mint Brownies with Bailey's Buttercream
 
Ingredients
Thin Mint Brownies
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ⅔ c. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 T. Instant Coffee Granules
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • ⅔ c. Bailey's Irish Cream Creamer
  • 1 T. Whiskey
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
  • 1 Box Thin Mint Cookies (3 c. crushed cookies)
  • 1, 8.5 oz. Bag Andes Mints
Bailey's Buttercream
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 5 T. Bailey's Irish Cream Creamer
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • 1 T. Whiskey
Instructions
For the Brownies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt until combined. Set aside.
  3. Place chocolate, butter and instant coffee granules into a medium size bowl and melt in mircowave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until completely smooth. Set aside to cool a bit.
  4. Once the chocolate mixture is warm (NOT hot) add eggs, one at a time, whisking to incorporate. Add sugar, vanilla, Bailey's creamer and whiskey and whisk until combined.
  5. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture, folding with a spatula until just combined. Fold in the crushed Thin Mint cookies.
  6. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. While the brownies are baking, chop up ⅔ (about 30 squares) of the Andes mint squares. As soon as the brownies come out of the oven, sprinkle with the chopped Andes. Put back in oven for about 25-30 seconds, remove and spread melted Andes over the brownies. Let the brownies cool completely and frost.
For the Bailey's Buttercream
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in two cups of the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, on low, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add 3 tablespoons of the Bailey's Irish Cream creamer and beat thoroughly. Beat in the remaining powdered sugar, one cup at a time, on low until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla, whiskey and remaining 2 tablespoons Bailey's creamer until completely incorporated. Chop remaining Andes mints, frost brownies and sprinkle with chopped mints.
Notes
Serves 18.

 

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No-Bake Almond Butter Rice Crisp Treats

Ladies and gentleman, I may have discovered my most absolutely, favorite, healthy dessert recipe to date!  To say these “rice krispie” bars are good is an understatement…they are amazing.  Quite truthfully, if given the choice between these bars and oh say a cupcake, I’d choose the bars!  Yes, that’s how good they are!

I found this recipe over at ohsheglows.com and just the words “no-bake” and “almond butter” drew me in immediately.  I think one thing that made a difference for my bars was the particular kind of brown rice cereal that I bought at our local health food store.  It’s made by Enjoy Life Foods and it was so crunchy and delicious in these.  I was a little skeptical about the bars holding together without any marshmallow like a typical rice krispie treat but the almond butter and honey works perfectly as a binder.  I did leave them in the fridge, just to be on the safe side and I actually liked them cold the best.

Do yourself a favor and try these immediately!

No-Bake Almond Butter Rice Krisp Treats
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. Almond Butter (or any all-natural nut butter you prefer)
  • ½ c. Honey
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 T. Unsalted Butter
  • ½ t. Fine Sea Salt
  • 3.5 c. Brown Rice Crisp Cereal
  • ⅛-1/4 c. Dark or Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, melted (for drizzle)
Instructions
  1. Prepare an 8x8 baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
  2. In a large pot over low-medium heat, add the honey, butter, almond butter and salt. Stir well until combined and heated through. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Stir in the brown rice crisp cereal until thoroughly coated.
  3. Scoop into pan and spread evenly. Place in freezer to set for about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from freezer and drizzle with the melted chocolate. Place in freezer to harden the chocolate, about 5 minutes. Slice into squares and serve or store in fridge until ready to serve.

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Blueberry Almond Meal Muffins

I have to say that this whole new world of baking without flour is really quite exciting to me.  I never knew that there were so many options!  I wanted to do another gluten-free recipe and also wanted some kind of muffin and was so excited when I stumbled upon this recipe from So Good and Tasty for Cherry Almond Meal Muffins.  I only modified it a bit by subbing blueberries for the cherries and throwing in some applesauce and additional spices and extracts.  And wow, this muffin is delicious!  I absolutely love the taste of texture from the almond meal and can honestly say I think I like it better than flour!  Jeremy also loved them which was the real test to me..he could hardly wait for them to cool off before trying one!  We ate them warmed up for just a few seconds with a teensy bit of unsalted butter and a drizzle of honey (not needed but oh so good)…mmmmmm!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Blueberry Almond Meal Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Almond Meal
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Sea Salt
  • ¼ t. Cinnamon
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¼ c. Honey
  • ¼ c. Olive or Safflower Oil
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Unsweetened Applesauce (I used all-natural, chunky applesauce)
  • 1 c. Fresh Blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a regular size muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate, large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add in the honey, oil, vanilla and applesauce and stir to combine.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined. Carefully fold in the blueberries.
  5. Pour batter into the muffin tin, filling to the top if you want a nice muffin dome. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in muffin tins for about 5 minutes then remove and place on wire rack until completely cool.
Notes
Makes 8 muffins.

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Amaretti Cookies

I bet you thought I had forgot about my New Year’s resolution to make one International dessert a month but guess what??  I did not forget!  As a matter of fact I made Brazo de Mercedes in January but things, shall we say, didn’t work out quite as I had planned.  So we’ll come back to that another day.  I’m still a little emotional about it.

I decided on Italian for February because, quite frankly, I REALLY wanted to make Amaretti cookies.  The first time I had ever had them was when Jeremy and I visited Missouri Baking Company in St. Louis and I fell in love with the morsels of chewy almond goodness.  I seriously think I have some kind of problem when it comes to almond-flavored things…meaning I have NO CONTROL over my hand and mouth.  As I made the almond paste for this, my food processor had hardly had the chance to cool off before I starting shoving bites of the sweet almond mixture in my mouth.  It was like an almond paste induced feeding frenzy.  And then I remembered, “Wait!  This has to go in a recipe!!”.  Oh…yeah…the cookies.  Almost forgot about them.  Ahem.

I managed to gather myself and actually make the cookies.   Go me.  I wasn’t sure what recipe to use but I settled on this one from Smitten Kitchen.  Her recipes always look so amazing and this is the first one I’ve actually made (I think).  They turned out amazing…little crisp around the edges, majorly chewy and completely delicious.  I did discover that the longer they sat, the softer they became which is usually totally opposite of how it is with baked goods of any kind.  I made them on a Friday evening and by Monday they were still delicious.  After Monday….well, I don’t know, because we ate them all!!

If you’re an almond lover such as myself, you MUST try these cookies immediately.

Amaretti Cookies
 
Ingredients
Chewy Amaretti Cookies
  • 1, 7 oz. (3/4 c.) Tube Pure Almond Paste (Found in the baking aisle or you can make your own..which is what I did. See recipe below.)
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Large Egg Whites, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
Almond Paste
  • ¼ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 6 T. Powdered Sugar
  • ¾ c. Almonds (original recipe calls for blanched but I just use raw, whole almonds)
  • 2 T. Light Corn Syrup
  • 1¼ t. Pure Almond Extract
Instructions
For the Almond Paste
  1. Process almonds, powder sugar and granulated sugar in a food processor until the nuts are very finely ground. Add corn syrup and almond extract and process until the mixture is thoroughly blended and moist enough to hold together when pressed in your hand. Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and an air-tight container until ready to use.
For the Cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Pulse the almond paste, sugar and salt in a food processor until broken up, then add egg white and puree until smooth. Using a 2 t. measuring spoon, drop batter onto pans, about 2 inches apart. They will spread quite a bit so make sure there is plenty of room between the cookies. I got 8 on the pan.
  3. Bake in the very center of the oven for 8 minutes, rotate pan and then bake for another 7 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from parchment paper. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 25 cookies. TIP: To easily remove cookies from the parchment paper, gently push up on the cookie with your finger from underneath the parchment paper. It should peel away easily.

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Soft Baked Cinnamon Apple Pecan Oatmeal Bars

Have you ever wanted a nice warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning but just didn’t have the time to actually make AND eat it??  Yeah, been there.  Our mornings are fairly rushed around here and we hardly ever have a sit down breakfast, except for the occasional big splurge breakfast on a lazy Saturday morning.  And those are few and far between.  What a shame.

So, if you’re like us and just want something to grab on your way to work, these baked oatmeal bars are what you need!  It’s all of the ingredients in a hearty, filling bowl of oatmeal put them into one neat little bar.  Besides heart-healthy oats, they’re sweetened with honey and have wheat germ and wheat bran for added fiber and protein.  They’d even be great for an afternoon snack when vending machines are practically screaming your name.  Delicious, nutritious, yummy and most importantly, travel-ready!

Soft Baked Cinnamon Apple Pecan Oatmeal Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 3½ c. Thick Rolled Oats
  • ¼ c. Wheat Germ
  • ¼ c. Wheat Bran
  • 2 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • ¼ t. Cloves
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Sea Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ c. Honey
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¾ c. Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 2 T. Safflower Oil
  • 1 c. Skim Milk
  • ¾ c. Chopped, Dried Apples (or raisins, cherries, etc)
  • ⅓ c. Chopped, Toasted Pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the oats, wheat germ, wheat bran, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl stir together the eggs, honey, vanilla, applesauce, oil and milk. Add wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add chopped apples and pecans.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes.
Notes
Makes about 18 bars. Tip: Feel free to substitute any kind of add-in for the dried apples and pecans...whatever nut, fruit, chocolate chip, etc you may like.

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