McDonald’s Mash-Ups

McDonald's Hotcakes with Berries from their Fruit n' Yogurt Parfait, topped with their Granola and Syrup.

Ok who hasn’t at least once dipped their fries from their favorite fast food joint into some soft-serve ice cream?? That’s right, no one!  My favorite part about going to Wendy’s when I was a kid was dipping those hot, salty, crisp french fries into a cold, chocolate Frosty…no wonder I was a fat kid!  I also loved dipping my chicken nuggets from McDonald’s into honey–it’s good people, trust me!  Needless to say I got a total kick out of this food writer’s experimentation with some shall we say, unique dessert creations at McDonald’s.  Click here to see a slideshow with all six sweet monstrosities from the home of the golden arches.

What is YOUR favorite dessert mash-up from a fast food joint??

 

 

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Cookie Monster Crockpot Cake

I struggle with some recipes…in particular, bread puddings and crockpot cakes.  Why??  Because they are so darn hard to photograph!  It’s a crying shame that a couple of the most delicious types of desserts (especially bread pudding) just look plain ugly in photos.  Delicious?  Yes.  Photogenic??  No.  So hopefully I can convince you to make this crockpot cake based on my simple review of this recipe!

To say this cake is AWESOME is an understatement…it’s actually FREAKIN AWESOME.  I was making a dessert for a family get-together and was a little stumped because I knew everyone wanted something majorly chocolate but I didn’t want to just do a chocolate layer cake or cupcakes.  And then out of nowhere I remembered this Rocky Road Crockpot cake that one of my former co-worker’s had brought to work for a party and how absolutely, incredibly amazing it was.  So I thought why not swap out the nuts for cookies and voila!  Cookie Monster Crockpot Cake!  If you like chocolate, cake, gooey marshmallows, chocolate chip cookies and Oreos, you may like and possibly even love this dessert.  Oh and do I even have to mention the vanilla ice cream??  That’s kind of a no-brainer.

Enjoy!

Adapted from Southern Living Rocky Road Chocolate Cake

Cookie Monster Crockpot Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (18.25 oz) Devil's Food Cake Mix
  • 1 (3.4 oz) Package Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix
  • 3 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 c. Sour Cream
  • ⅓ c. Butter, melted
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3¼ c. Milk, divided
  • 1 (3.4 oz) Package Chocolate Cook-and-Serve Pudding Mix
  • 2 c. Oreo Cookie Pieces
  • 2 c. Chocolate Chip Cookie Pieces (I used Keebler Elf Soft and Chewy)
  • 1 c. Bittersweet or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 2 c. Miniature Marshmallows
  • Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. Lightly grease a 4-qt slow cooker or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cake mix, next 5 ingredients and 1¼ c. milk at medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour batter into slow cooker.
  3. Cook remaining 2 cups milk in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 5-8 minutes or until bubbles appear (do not boil); remove from heat.
  4. Sprinkle cook-and-serve pudding mix over batter. Slowly pour hot milk over pudding. Place a towel over the slow cooker and place lid on top (this prevents condensation from dripping into the cake). Cook on LOW for 3½ hours. Meanwhile, mix chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips together in a large bowl.
  5. Turn off slow cooker or onto low if yours has that setting. Sprinkle with the cookie, marshmallow and chocolate chip mixture and let stand 15 minutes or until marshmallows are slightly melted. Spoon into dessert dishes and serve with ice cream, if desired.
Notes
Serves 8-10.

 

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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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Bakery Review – My Daddy’s Cheesecake in Cape Girardeau

As I mentioned last week in my B&B Weekend post, we stopped in at a bakery called My Daddy’s Cheesecake while were out and about exploring Cape Girardeau and hitting up antique shops.  I did NOT expect the town to have a bakery, let alone one that offered all that this one did!  The building was very straightforward, nothing kitschy or frilly about it and kind of reminded me a of a Panera Bread or McCallister’s restaurant.  They did, in fact, have quite a menu of food other than dessert but that was NOT what I was there for–I had come to get a sugar high!

First of all, let’s just start with the selection.  They had not one, not two, not three, but FOUR bakery cases jam-packed with so many different, mouth-watering treats that I was immediately overwhelmed and thought “Holy crap, how am I going to decide!”.  We’re talking one whole case with only cheesecake (of course!), another with cupcakes, gooey butter cake slices, chocolate covered strawberries, cannoli, etc, another with muffins, cinnamon rolls, Italian pastries and yet another case pretty much devoted entirely to cookies…you name it, I’m pretty sure they had it!

So after a little (ok, a LOT of) deliberation, we made our choices!  So, here they are, in no particular order.  Ok, that’s a lie.  They are definitely in order, from least favorite to most favorite.  These are my selections, although Jeremy and I agreed on our top three.  Yay!   Ok, here we go!  (First, a picture of the spread!  I’m sure people thought we were absolute pigs!!)

First up in sixth place the Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookie.  I chose this cookie because not only were there only two left (from a massive tray of them) the girl that was helping raved on and on about them.  I was excited.  And then I was sad.  These cookies were, in a word, horrible.  It was dry, crunchy and tasteless and I wanted so badly to spit it out but didn’t have a napkin.  I knew I should have gone with my gut and got the white chocolate macadamia nut cookie and I was *this close* to going back up to the counter and asking for a trade-in or something.  But I didn’t.  So here is the red velvet cookie, dead last.  Sigh.

Fifth, the baklava.  I love baklava.  LOVE.  But this just didn’t hit the spot for me.  It was ok, but a little dry and lacking some serious honey/gooey factor that is a necessary component of great baklava.  Not bad, just not outstanding.

Fourth, the Chocolate Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake.  It was decent but to be honest both the cheesecakes to me were more thick (solid?) and like a very firm ganache consistency than they were creamy.  The texture was just a bit off for me.

Third, the Amaretto Cheesecake.  Again, texture weird, but the Amaretto flavor redeemed it slightly for me–that was YUMMY.

Second, the Chocolate Ganache Cupcake.  I have to say this was a very good cupcake.  The cake was tender and fluffy, the chocolate frosting was delicious and the chocolate shavings on top were so yummy.  Only complaint was the massive tunnel of chocolate ganache inside the cupcake that had completely hardened.  A little awkward trying to cut into the cupcake but we managed!

And, drum roll please, first place goes to…the Cannoli!  Woo hoo!  This thing was deeeeeelicious.  I couldn’t stop eating it.  And I didn’t.  And I did not care.

So the desserts were a little less than stellar and seemed to be more style than substance but I’d really like to go back and try some other things, since they have such a variety!   And I heard people raving about the cinnamon rolls which were so huge and nearly sold out…I KNEW I should have tried one!  Oh well, next time.

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Dessert Prints

I’ve been meaning to incorporate some fun dessert prints into my kitchen decor for quite awhile now.  So, I finally got online the other night to do some research.  Here are some of my favorites from Etsy.

(Click on each photo to see the seller’s info.)

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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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Art and Romance of Chocolate

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of helping my friend Robyn, of Red’s Cupcakes, hand out her amazing Chocolate Espresso cupcakes to hundreds of chocolate loving people at the Art and Romance of Chocolate event in downtown Springfield, MO.  The event proceeds went to the Friends of the Springfield Art Museum and there were judging in certain categories.  You can see the list of participants and who won what, here.

It was a fun event for a great cause and I was honored to be part of it.  I did manage to make it around to all the vendors before the event started and snap some pictures with my phone (sorry for the poor pic quality!) of their amazing creations.  I couldn’t even begin to tell you what everything was (except Red’s Cupcakes–first photo!) so just enjoy the pictures and give it your best guess! 😉

 

 

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Hummingbird Cake

My resolution to bake classic cakes has so far been a success, starting with this Coconut Cake and now the Hummingbird Cake.  If you’ve never heard of the Hummingbird Cake before, it goes all the way back to, well, it’s hard to tell where or when exactly it came on the scene.  The first published recipe for the cake showed up in the February 1978 issue of Southern Living magazine and was submitted by a woman named Mrs. L.H. Wiggins but it’s roots trace from the deep south aaaaaallll the way to Jamaica!  How crazy is that?  You can read more of the history and details here.

I used a recipe from myrecipes.com that was a little of a modernized version of the cake with the addition of white chocolate to the cake and the frosting and a touch of almond extract.  I was tempted at first to leave the white chocolate out of the cake but I’m so glad I didn’t–I LOVED getting little bits of white chocolate in every other bite.  This cake is very, VERY dense, almost like banana bread and the flavors of the almond extract, cinnamon and banana are incredibly delicious.  I can’t believe I waited so long to make this cake!

Hummingbird Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 3 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Large Eggs, beaten
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 t. Almond Extract
  • 1, 8 oz. Can Crushed Pineapple, undrained
  • 1 c. Chopped, Toasted Pecans, divided
  • 2 c. Chopped Bananas (about 3 medium-large bananas)
  • 4 oz. White Chocolate, finely chopped
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1½ c. White Chocolate Chips, melted and cooled
  • 1½ (8 oz.) Packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • 6 T. Butter, softened
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
  • ½ c. Chopped Toasted Pecans (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3, 9-inch round pans and then line with parchment paper (optional).
For the Cake
  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened (do not overbeat). Stir in vanilla and almond extract, pineapple, pecans, bananas and white chocolate.
  2. Divide batter evenly among the three pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.
For the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until creamy. Add melted chocolate and vanilla, beating well. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat at medium speed until mixture reaches desired spreading consistency (do not overbeat).
To Assemble the Cake
  1. Spread cream cheese frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle ½ cup of chopped pecans on top. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Notes
Serves 16.

 

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Spicy Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

A friend and I had been chatting about how much we love to cook and, like myself, she is into very healthy and nutritious cooking (I said COOKING..not BAKING).  We’d often find ourselves at an event where we both brought homemade dishes and we’d be asking each other for the recipes at the end of the night, so we decided what better way to share our love of cooking and yummy recipes than start a gourmet cooking club??  So, our first official cooking club get together was this past January and it was SO fun!  The food was all delicious and it gave me the opportunity to try out a new healthy dessert recipe–Spicy Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies!

My inspiration for these cookies was based off of one of my FAVORITE “healthy” indulgences from Trader Joe’s…cayenne covered dried mango dipped in dark, bittersweet chocolate.  It is one of the best things to ever cross my lips and sadly, since we have no Trader Joe’s here in Springfield, MO, I’m not sure I’ll ever get it again!  But I loved the combination so much I thought I’d try it in these cookies.  Now the cookies themselves were absolutely WONDERFUL.  They were soooo soft and tender and the heat from the red pepper combined with the bittersweet chocolate was out of this world!  The only thing I didn’t like about this recipe was…the mango!  It was such a bummer, but it just didn’t work for this cookie, in my opinion.  So, I’d omit it for sure in the future and went ahead and wrote the recipe without it.  But I’m not too upset about it–I still discovered an amazing, nutritious cookie recipe!

Recipe adapted from injennieskitchen.com

Spicy Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Sea Salt
  • 1 t. Cayenne or Ground Red Pepper
  • ¼ c. (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ¼ c. Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • ¾ c. Sugar in the Raw
  • 1 T. Molasses
  • 2 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ c. Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet)
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda salt and pepper. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, molasses and pumpkin on medium-high speed until light and fluffy about 5-7 minutes. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Wrap dough in a large piece of plastic wrap, place in an air-tight container and refrigerate overnight (I refrigerated mine for about 24 hours).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. gently form dough into 1½-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 16 minutes, rotating pans once and switching racks halfway through. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
Notes
Makes about 25 cookies.

 

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Weekend Getaway B&B

The Bellevue Bed & Breakfast

Jeremy and I decided to take a last minute trip this past weekend and stay in a new (to us) B&B called The Bellevue.  He found this absolutely beautiful historic home in Cape Girardeau, right on the Mississippi River, in the heart of the downtown area.  We left Friday night, stayed in Poplar Bluff and got up early the next morning to hit the road so we could arrive to Cape Girardeau in time for all the shops to open.  We spend Saturday visiting antique shops, seeing historical sites, had an amazing dinner at a place called Bella Italia and relaxed the rest of the evening in our amazing bedroom.

Front door with beautiful stained glass transom above.
The men's parlor.
Beautiful windows and draperies in the women's parlor.
Love the chandelier and seating in the women's parlor.
Pretty mirror in our bedroom.
Cove bedroom upstairs.
Homemade pecan pie tassies and chocolate covered cherries in our bedroom.

The next morning we were treated to one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.  It was 3-courses and started with the cutest mini bundt shaped blueberry muffin.  It was an amazingly moist cake bursting with blueberries and a hint of cinnamon and had a homemade blueberry sauce spooned over it.  Second course was thinly sliced sweet strawberries, drenched in an amaretto infused Chantilly creme topped with homemade whipped cream–DIVINE.  Finally, we were treated to enormous omelettes stuffed with cheese and, to our surprise, vegetarian “ham”, all smothered in a rich hollandaise sauce!  I was super excited to find out the “meat” inside the omelette was actually a vegetable based, high-protein, low-carb substitute.  It was delicious!

Strawberries in Amaretto Chantilly Creme.
The spacious dining room.
The china--too pretty to eat off of!
We came through the back entrance and this was the first thing I saw--LOVE.
Fun sitting area in the dining room.

After stuffing ourselves at breakfast, we hit the road to head back home and stopped at a place called Big Spring and another place Jeremy and I had both been to as young children, Alley Spring.  It was so neat to go somewhere that we both vaguely remembered from our childhood and make our own memories together as adults.

Big Spring. Pictures can't even begin to show how amazingly clear and blue the water was.
Big Spring.
Alley Spring Mill.
Alley Spring.
Alley Spring...beautiful water.
Bridge over the water at Alley Spring.

Oh and how could I forget!  Much to my surprise and extreme delight, there was a BAKERY in Cape Girardeau.  Here’s a sneak peak picture–I’ll give my full review next week!

My Daddy's Cheesecake Bakery.

It was so much fun I really did NOT want to come home–a  fabulous weekend and great early Valentine’s Day getaway!

Me and Jeremy at Alley Spring.

 

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake Shake

I know the big thing around Valentine’s Day is chocolate dipped strawberries, which are great, but I’ve gotta admit I’m more of a chocolate covered cherry kinda girl.  And I know I can’t be the only one!  So my love of chocolate and cherries inspired me to create this super simply shake but not just any shake…a CAKE shake.  Yep, there is one big ‘ole slice of chocolate cake with vanilla frosting mixed right into this creamy concoction.  I picked my slice of cake up in the Wal-mart bakery case (don’t judge) but if I’d been thinking, I would have gotten one of the mega-huge chocolate cupcakes that Walgreens now sells.  But the shake still worked out alright. Actually, better than alright–it was, in fact, AWESOME.  I topped mine with homemade whipped cream, melted chocolate and festive sprinkles–so cute!

Share one of these with your sweetie tomorrow!  Or don’t share….it’s makes enough for two. 😉

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake Shake
 
Ingredients
  • One Big Slice of Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting or Two Regular Cupcakes (or chocolate frosting/white cake/etc..whatever you prefer)
  • 20 Maraschino Cherries, chopped
  • 1 Pint or 4 BIG scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 14-1/2 c. Heavy Whipping Cream (depends on how thick you want it...I used ½ a cup)
  • ¼ t. Pure Vanilla
  • 1 T. Maraschino Cherry Juice
  • ½ c. Dark Chocolate Chips, melted
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in the blender (reserving a tablespoon or two of the melted chocolate for decoration) and blend until the shake has reached your desired consistency. Top with your choice of sprinkles, chocolate, whipped cream, etc.
Notes
Serves 2.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Tart Cherry Frosting

I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck are cupcakes doing on the “healthy recipe day”, right??  Believe it or not I have found a recipe for healthy cupcakes!  Well, they are at least INFINITELY better for you than the regular ones.  After adding up some of the nutrition facts on these, I don’t even want to think about the amounts of sugar, fat and calories in regular cupcakes.  Gulp!  Not good, not good at all.  Which is why they are a TREAT and should be eaten in moderation.

But I digress….let’s back to these fabulous, nutrition-packed little cakes, shall we?

What if I told you that the flour in these was replaced with a black beans??  Say whaaaaat??  Yep, black beans…you know the things that go in your burritos, soup and make a mean chip dip?  Yes, those!  Now I’ve seen many recipes lately for brownies made with black beans, all with mixed reviews, so I was very intrigued by this cake and I have to admit that the pictures of it looked so good, I just had to try it.  As I mixed up the batter and was filling my muffin cups, my curiosity got the best of me and I tried a little taste…umm, it was good!!  Tasted just like regular cake batter.  Ok, I was hopeful at this point.  Things started looking even better as they baked..they smelled amazing and were actually rising, even though they never quite formed a “dome” like regular cupcakes.

Once I had them cooled off, I couldn’t resist trying one, despite what the original poster of the recipe said about letting them set overnight to lose any “black bean” taste.  To my delight the cake was super moist and had no bean taste at all!!  I loved them.  And I was totally shocked!  This is seriously revolutionary for me people..I see many experiments in the future!

As for the frosting, I really wasn’t sure how to make a “healthy” frosting, especially since I didn’t want to use powdered sugar.  I did some research online and found some recipes that used cream cheese with honey or butter and vegan shortening, but I really wanted something as healthy as possible.  I finally decided on Neufchatel cheese (which I’ve recently discovered and LOVE..way better than cream cheese and less fat!)  with some honey.  I threw in a little almond milk which I think I’d omit because it made the frosting less sturdy and more like a super thick yogurt.  For natural pink color and super delicious flavor, I threw some freeze-dried cherries in my food processor until they were a fine powder.  The cherries were actually quite expensive so feel free to buy a less costly berry…or you can omit the powder all-together but I’m not sure how the consistency will be if you do.  I was pleased with the end result (as in, I was eating it with a spoon…oooops), but will probably keep working on frostings and experimenting to get a thick, creamy more “normal” frosting.

Anywho, that’s the story of my first healthy cupcake.  In my mind it was a total success and I couldn’t be happier.  Guess I gotta stock up on black beans now!

Recipe adapted from healthyindulgences.net

Chocolate Cupcakes with Tart Cherry Frosting
 
Ingredients
Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1, 15 oz. Can Unseasoned Black Beans, drained and rinsed (shake off ALL excess water)
  • 3 Large Eggs, 4 Egg Whites
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ t. Sea Salt
  • 4 T. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 T. Unsweetened Applesauce (or pumpkin...I was out, otherwise I would have used it)
  • ½ c. Honey
  • 6 T. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
Tart Cherry Frosting
  • 12 oz. Organic, Neufchatel Cheese
  • ½ c. Honey
  • 2 T. Almond Milk (optional--don't recommend)
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ c. Ground, Freeze-Dried Tart Cherries
  • Dried, Naturally Sweet Tart Cherries (for topping)
Instructions
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two, regular-size muffin tins with cupcake liners (only need 16).
  2. Place beans, the 3 eggs, salt and vanilla in a blender and blend on high until beans are completely liquified. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, applesauce (or pumpkin) and honey on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (I beat for about 10 minutes..never really got "fluffy" but wasn't total liquid either). Add the egg whites one at a time. Pour in the bean mixture and mix thoroughly. Gradually add the cocoa powder mixture and beat on high for one minute, until smooth. Place three tablespoons of batter into each lined muffin tin. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes at clean. Cool completely.
For the Tart Cherry Frosting
  1. Cream the Neufchatel in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the honey. Beat in vanilla, almond milk (if using) and ground, freeze-dried cherries. Let sit in refrigerator for a couple of hours to stiffen up.
  2. Top each cupcake with a heaping spoonful of frosting and smooth with an off-set spatula. Top with a dried cherry.
  3. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until a few minutes before serving.
Notes
Makes 16 cupcakes.

 

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Romantic Valentine’s Day Dessert

Despite the title of this post, I’m not really sure desserts can be classified as sexy, romantic, etc.  I mean, what defines that exactly??  Is chocolate inherently sexy??  Is it the shape of the dessert?!?  Is it the way the candlelight bounces off the glistening, sugary crust of your crème brûlée into the deep and yearning eyes of your one and only true love??!?!

These are the important questions people!!

Ah well, regardless of what you think of the umm, sex appeal (?) of sugar, these desserts are touted as perfect for a romantic evening and sure to get you…uhh….in the mood…for…dessert??  Yeah, let’s go with that!

Cupid Cakes (plus many more from Woman’s Day)

Chocolate Souffle

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding with Raspberries

Individual Brownie Sundaes

Crème Brûlée

Almond Praline Cakes (see more desserts for two from Taste of Home)

Lemon and White Chocolate Mousse Parfaits with Strawberries

Cherry-Ricotta Doughnut Holes with Chocolate Sauce

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Red Velvet Crepes

Chocolate Fondue

Strawberry Zabaglione

Mocha Pots de Crème

 

 

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Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

As you know I can’t let a holiday pass without showing all the best that the internet has to offer in themed cupcakes. And Valentine’s Day is no exception!  Check out these absolutely adorable cupcake ideas!

Box of Chocolates Cupcakes

 

Heart in the Middle Cupcake

 

Cupcakes for Two in Under 10 Minutes

 

Fondant Rose Cupcakes  (These pretty fondant roses have been a favorite of mine for a looong time!)

 

Swirled Two-Toned Frosting Cupcakes

 

Buttercream Frosting Rose Cupcakes

 

Sugared Heart Cupcake

 

Double Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

 

X and O Cereal Cupcakes

 

Conversation Heart Cupcakes

 

Red Velvet Heart Cupcakes

 

X and O Candy Cupcakes

 

Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes

 

Flying Hearts Cupcakes (L.O.V.E. these!)

 

Candy Kiss Cupcakes  (Could these be any cuter?!  Seriously.)

Sweetheart Cupcakes

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Strawberry Fruit Dip

Sometimes “mistakes” in the kitchen really work out.  For instance, Strawberry Fruit Dip.  It started with me wanting to do some kind of simple, homemade strawberry candy or truffle for Valentine’s Day.  But as I mixed up this pretty pink concoction, I slowly realized the consistency was, ummm, not quite…firm.  This is normally when I go into panic mode.  But I decided to shove it in the fridge overnight and see what would happen.  I literally laid in bed trying to think what I could do with the mixture.  It tasted WAY too good to throw out.  What to do?!!?

So, the next morning I was again racking my brain with what to do as I ran a few miles on the treadmill (how wrong is that??).  And then it hit me–fruit dip!  Perfect.  I wouldn’t have to throw it out!  Phew.  And what a yummy fruit dip it is…packed with strawberry flavor and so creamy and delicious.  I served it at a party with graham crackers, fudge brownies, pretzel chips, strawberries, bananas and apples.  My favorite thing to dip in it was the pretzel chips.  It reminded me a really amazing white chocolate dipped pretzel but with strawberry flavor thrown in.  And the best thing was I didn’t have to spend hours in my kitchen rolling little balls of strawberry truffles and dipping them in chocolate.

Yay for “mistakes”!

Strawberry Fruit Dip
 
Ingredients
  • 1, 8 oz. Package Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 c. White Chocolate Morsels, melted and cooled
  • 1 c. Vanilla Wafer Crumbs
  • ½ c. Strawberry Preserves
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla
  • ¼ t. Strawberry Oil (optional)
  • 1 c. Powder Sugar
  • Pink Dye (for color--optional)
Instructions
  1. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until cream. Beat in melted chocolate until smooth. Stir in vanilla wafer crumbs, strawberry preserves, vanilla and strawberry oil. Beat in powdered sugar. Serve with fruit, cookies, marshmallows, pretzels, etc.

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Strawberry Almond Butter Soup

In case you haven’t noticed by now, Fridays have become the designated “healthy recipe” day.  And today I have a recipe for a sweet dessert soup to share with you!  I’ll never forget the first time I had a fruit “soup” was on the one and only cruise I took to the Bahamas after I graduated high school.  They served it with dinner one night and I fell in LOVE.  It was sweet and creamy and so refreshing!  Just like this delicious recipe!  Jeremy seemed really confused by the name and I asked a couple of times why it was called soup…but I honestly don’t know!  It’s blended in a blender but it doesn’t have ice so it’s not really a smoothie..so what else would you call it?!  Other than amazingly delicious!  We enjoyed this for dessert a couple of nights in a row and it is sooo much healthier for you than your typical after dinner fare.  It’s got fruit, protein and calcium..almost a meal in itself!

Enjoy!

Strawberry Almond Butter Soup
 
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs Strawberries (4 cups sliced)
  • ¼ c. Plain, Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 2 T. Natural Almond Butter
  • ½ t. Almond Extract
  • 2 T. Agave, or to taste depending on the sweetness of your strawberries
  • Chopped strawberries and almonds, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Remove green stems off strawberries, rinse well, pat dry and slice.
  2. In a blender, add the almond milk, strawberries, almond extract and almond butter. Starting on lowest speed, blend until it comes together. Turn up the speed gradually and blend until completely smooth.
  3. Taste test and add your desired sweetener. Blend again to combine. If your blender does not puree the seeds, you can pour the soup through a fine strainer. (or just leave the seeds, which is what I did--I don't mind them)
  4. With blender cover on, place blender in the fridge and chill until very cold, a few hours or overnight. Alternatively, you could chill in a container in the freezer to speed things up. Keeps for a few days in the refrigerator.
Notes
Makes about 3 cups.

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Kid-Friendly Valentine’s Day Treats

Most people think of romance when they think of Valentine’s Day but it’s also a great day to express your love to your kiddos!  And let them do the same to others!  I thought I’d share some easy, kid-friendly treats I found around the web.  Even as an adult with zero kids, I’m tempted to make some of these–they are just that cute!

Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treats Hearts

Valentine Jelly Pops

Valentine’s Day Marshmallow Pops

Chocolate-Raspberry Hearts

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Sweethearts Bark

Valentine’s Day Candy Cane Hearts

Easy Valentine’s Day Brownies

Oreo Cakester Hearts

Valentine’s Heart Cookie Pops

Valentine S’mores

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