Chewy, Crunchy Strawberry Protein Bars

I’ve made a lot of protein bars in my day and every now and then I think, “hmm, these may be the best ones yet…” but that thought has never been 100% accurate until now. In my daughter’s words “these are the GOODEST. ONES. EVER!!!!”.  And she should know, she’s tried a LOT. 🙂

Previous experiments (such as my Rich Baked Homemade Protein Bars and Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Power Bars) have been good but I really wanted a super simple, non-dairy, gluten-free AND sugar-free bar that used a plant-based protein powder and these are it! My kids lose their minds over these and I have zero guilt handing them out as a bedtime snack.

The original version is peanut butter (I call them my homemade butterfingers because that’s what they taste like to me!) but I just tried the strawberry version again and I’m so excited with how amazing they turned out, I’m sharing that recipe first! Be on the look out for the peanut butter ones coming soon!

Chewy, Crunchy Strawberry Protein Bars
Author: 
Category: Protein Bar
 
Ingredients
  • 4 c. Rolled Quick Oats
  • ¼ c. Ground Flaxseed
  • 2 T. Hemp Hearts
  • 4 T. Chia Seeds
  • 1 c. Vega Bodacious Berries Protein Powder
  • ½ t. Sea Salt
  • 1½ c. Fresh Ground Almond Butter (the kind you grind yourself at the store..no added oil or salt)
  • ½ c. Coconut Oil, melted
  • ⅔ c. Agave
  • 3 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. Freeze Dried Strawberries
Instructions
  1. Line a 9x13 pan with foil. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. Add all wet ingredients and mix on low until thoroughly combined.
  4. Add freeze dried strawberries until they have broken up into smaller pieces and are just combined (you don't want them to be too crushed/pulverized..they add an awesome crunch to the bar).
  5. Press evenly into the pan and place in the freezer for one hour or until firm.
  6. Remove the bars from the pan, peel away the foil and cut into even bars.
  7. Place in an airtight container and store in the freezer or refrigerator (we like our in the freezer).
Notes
36, 1-inch bars

 

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Strawberries & Cream Cake

Strawberries & Cream Cake Slice

I found a recipe on Pinterest for Strawberry Brownies and even though they had very mixed reviews (half said they were awesome, half said total flop), I decided to give them a try.  I made some modifications.  I know, big shock.  And what resulted was possibly one of the best strawberry cakes I’ve ever had.  And get this–I used a box mix.  The horror!  I was totally skeptical and slightly disgusted with myself for not making it totally from scratch but once I tasted this dreamy strawberry concoction, I forgave myself immediately.

Strawberries & Cream Cake

No, these did not turn out thick and dense like brownies.  And I admit, it was most likely because of my changes.  But I was totally ok with that after tasting this stuff.  I took the recipe and added in strawberry pie filling to give it a bit more strawberry flavor and added white chocolate chips.  Topped off with vanilla buttercream and what resulted was a cake that reminded me of my childhood.  It was slightly nostalgic of strawberry shortcake, minus the fresh berries and whipped cream.  It was super simple to make and would be such a fun Valentine’s Day treat for your kids or co-workers.  Don’t be put off by the use of cake mix, it totally works in this recipe.  Even a from-scratch-cake-snob (such as myself ) will LOVE this recipe.

Enjoy!

Strawberries & Cream Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1, 18.5 oz. Strawberry Cake Mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 2 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ c. Vegetable Oil
  • 21 oz. Strawberry Pie Filling (about 1¼ c.)
  • 1 c. White Chocolate Chips
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
  • ½ Stick Unsalted Butter
  • 2 T. Shortening
  • 4 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • ½ c. Heavy Whipping Cream (or whole milk)
  • ¼ c. Red Chocolate Candy Coating Discs (such as Wilton), melted
  • Valentine Heart Decor (I got mine at Target in the $1 section-yay!)
Instructions
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl stir cake mix, eggs and oil. Gently fold in strawberry pie filling and white chocolate chips. Spread evenly into pan and bake for 25 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening until smooth. Beat in vanilla. On low speed, gradually beat in half of the powdered sugar. Beat in half of the heavy whipping cream. Beat in the remaining powdered sugar and then the rest of the heavy whipping cream. Beat until smooth and then spread evenly onto cooled cake. Drizzle with red chocolate candy coating and sprinkle with Valentine's decor.
Notes
Serves 24

 

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42 Valentine’s Day Dessert Ideas

I started pinning things for Valentine’s Day on Pinterest and couldn’t stop.  Thus, this blog post.  I knew there was no way I was going to be able to make everything I was pinning so I decided to just put them all into one massive blog post and let you decide what to make!  In my opinion, anything pink, red, strawberry, raspberry, cherry or chocolate says Valentine’s Day!  And that’s pretty much what you’ll find in this post.  Lots of pretty, delicious, Valentine’s Day-perfect treats and ideas!  How to choose?!  I hate making decisions.  Especially when it comes to dessert.  They all look amazing.

Enjoy!

 

2-Ingredient Strawberry Fudge

 

2-Ingredient Strawberry Fudge

Berry Banana Smoothie

 

Berry Banana Smoothie

Frozen Cherry Limemade

 

Cherry Limemade

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Popsicles

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Popsicles

Chocolate Dream Cupcake Bites with Whipped Chocolate Buttercream

 

Chocolate Dream Cupcake Bites with Whipped Chocolate Buttercream

Conversation Heart Cheesecakes

 

Conversation Heart Cheesecakes

Cupid Corn Cookie Bark

 

Cupid Corn Cookie Bark

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread

 

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Banana Bread

Dreamy Mini Cheesecakes

 

Dreamy Mini Cheesecakes

Heart-Shaped Doughnuts

 

Heart-Shaped Doughnuts

Hershey Heart Pretzels

 

Hershey Heart Pretzels

Love Potion #9 Drink

 

Love Potion #9 Drink

Mini Chocolate Cake

 

Mini Chocolate Cake

Pink Confetti Cupcakes

 

Pink Confetti Cupcakes

Pink Lemonade Cake

 

Pink Lemonade Cake

Pretty Pink Cookie Dough Truffles

 

Pretty Pink Cookie Dough Truffles

Puff Pastry Strawberry Tart

 

Puff Pastry Strawberry Tart

Raspberry Coconut Scones

 

Raspberry Coconut Scones

Raspberry Confetti Kisses

 

Raspberry Confetti Kisses

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

 

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

Raspberry Party Punch

 

Raspberry Party Punch

Red Velvet Sweetheart Cupcakes

 

Red Velvet Sweetheart Cupcakes

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Reese’s Cupcake Topper

 

Reese's Cupcake Vday Topper

Skinny Berry Cheesecake Trifle

 

Skinny Berry Cheesecake Trifle

Skinny Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

 

Skinny Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

Strawberries and Cream Popsicles

 

Strawberries and Cream Popsicles

Strawberry and Chocolate Nachos

 

Strawberry and Chocolate Nachos

Strawberry Angel Food Cake

 

Strawberry Angel Food Cake

Strawberry Cake

 

Strawberry Cake

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Strawberry Cream Pie

 

Strawberry Cream Pie

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

 

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

Strawberry Nutella Poptarts

 

Strawberry Nutella Poptarts

Strawberry Tiramisu

 

Strawberry Tiramisu

Sweet Swirl Cookies of Love

 

Sweet Swirl Cookies of Love

Triple Chocolate Cherry M&M Cookies

 

Triple Chocolate Cherry M&M Cookies

Valentine Love Letter Cupcakes

 

Valentine Love Letter Cupcakes

Valentine’s 5-Layer Finger Jello

 

Valentine's 5-Layer Finger Jello

Valentine’s Day Fruit Pizza

 

Valentine's Day Fruit Pizza

Valentine’s Day Pudding Parfait

 

Valentine's Day Pudding Parfait

Valentine’s Day Fruit Kabobs

 

VDay Fruit Kabob

 

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Strawberry Lemonade Ooey Gooey Bars

Yes, I know.  Another, ooey gooey bar recipe, Sarah??  For real?!  Yes, FOR. REAL.  I can’t help it!  Trust me, this recipe started off as far away from ooey gooey and baked as you can get but somehow evolved to what you now see!  I don’t know what happened, honestly.  I intended to make a super fruity, summery, refreshing drink for all of you and somehow ended up with my oven on and my KitchenAid mixer going full throttle.  Ugh!  I seriously racked my brain for a looooong time trying to think of a unique, colorful and delicious drink and all I repeatedly kept going back to strawberry lemonade, specifically a Sonic Lemonberry Slush.  Obviously I love the cherry limeades from Sonic but the Lemonberry Slush is a pretty close second.  And all I wanted to do was turn it into…cake.  Ooey gooey butter cake.

Yes, I have a problem (as documented here, here and here).  Sigh.

So, I resigned myself to baking and did I have any regrets?  Heck no!  These ooey gooey bars turned out awesome!  What I really like about these is you could do the lemon cake base and then get creative with the gooey top part.  It calls for strawberry pie filling but you really could do cherry, blackberry or even blueberry–they’d all be delicious!  Drinks can wait people.  Trust me.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Lemonade Ooey Gooey Bars
 
Ingredients
Base
  • 1, 18.25 oz. Lemon Cake Mix
  • 1 Large Lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla Extract
Filling
  • 1, 8 oz. Pkg Cream Cheese, softened
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1, 21 oz. Can Strawberry Pie Filling
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, egg, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix well. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan and set aside.
  3. Still using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat well. With mixer on low, slowly pour in butter. Beat in strawberry pie filling. Pour onto the cake mixture and spread evenly. Bake for 55 minutes and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
Makes 15-18 bars.

 

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July 4th Cupcake Inspiration

I just love these patriotic cupcakes from a few of my favorite blogs.  So creative and soooo tasty looking!  Makes me want to grab a sparkler and get the party started!

Enjoy!

Red, White & Blue – Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Photo by Love From the Oven

Color Swirled July 4th Cupcakes

Photo by Bake at 350

Blueberry & Raspberry Cupcakes

Photo by the Cupcaketologist

Berry Patriotic Cupcakes

Photo by Kitchen Daily

Cute Star Candy Cupcakes

Photo by Grey Luster Girl

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Photo by Bakergirl

Bomb Pop Cupcakes

Photo by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

 

 

 

 

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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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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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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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Bakery Review – TwentyOne Cakes in Nixa, MO

Cupcake places are popping up everywhere!  It’s madness I tell you!  Delicious, sweet (slightly sickening) madness!  Believe it or not, after Jeremy and I stopped at Stacey’s Sweets in Ozark, we hightailed it to Nixa to try ANOTHER new cupcake joint.  I have to be honest…this place was good but after trying several different kinds of cupcakes and a brownie at Stacey’s Sweets, I probably was a little sugared out at this point.  TwentyOne Cakes is in a house turned bakery right on Highway 14.  It’s a very straightforward, unassuming place.  I was surprised to walk in and see the cupcakes were actually mini cupcakes which I was VERY thankful for after gorging ourselves on EIGHT regular size ones not even an hour earlier.  There were also a couple of different kinds of cake pops, a HUGE peanut butter chocolate chip cookie and I believe there was a cake also that you could get by the slice.

My only criticism of this bakery was the lack of just a basic cupcake.  Most of the flavors were somewhat unique and different if not what some might consider “odd” and I really like to try at least a couple basic cupcakes when I go somewhere new.  Then again I might have just come on the wrong day.  I did however think her cakes were nice and moist (which is impressive for minis!) and the buttercreams were quite delicious.  And I wasn’t a fan of the cookie; it wasn’t quite as soft and chewy as I prefer.  But hey, that’s just me.  Overall, a delicious experience!  Here’s what we ended up choosing:

Maple Bacon

German Chocolate

Strawberry

Red Hot

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

If you are in Nixa, check this place out for a sweet fix!  And if you’ve been there, let me know what you think!

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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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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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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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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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Bakery Review – Stacey’s Sweets in Ozark

 

This past weekend Jeremy and I went on a cupcake tasting roadtrip to some new bakeries in Ozark and Nixa.  I had been following Stacey’s Sweets on Facebook and every picture she would post looked sooo good and I was so excited to finally get a chance to taste everything!  Her shop is located in the corner of an older building on the square in Ozark and even though it was tiny, it was packed with cuteness.  She even had a couple of small tables and chairs to eat at, which we took full advantage of.

I went ahead and ordered one of each cupcake she had in the case (eight total!) because at $1.75 apiece they were VERY affordable (if not somewhat underpriced!) and also got a brownie because they looked delicious.  I passed on the cake pops, but they were covered in sparkly red, pink and purple sanding sugar and totally adorable…very tempting.  We started tasting with the brownie and wow, it was SO good.  Very fudgy, loaded with chocolate chips and had that nice thin crackle “crust” on the top.  We had a hard time not eating the whole thing.

Cake Pops
Fudge Brownie

Next up, cupcake tasting!  The flavors were Red Velvet, Wedding Cake, Cookie Dough, Pretty Princess Strawberry, Double Chocolate, Peanut Butter Cup, Honeybee and Cherry Bomb (see photo captions for descriptions).  I can honestly say that these cupcakes not only looked pretty but were so yummy!  Her cakes were light and fluffy and the frosting was not overly sweet but somewhat airy and not heavy or greasy, which was nice.  It’s one of the better cupcake tasting experiences I’ve had in a loooong time!  I could definitely see myself making a special trip to Ozark just for these cupcakes (or the brownie!) and would strongly advise you to do the same–you will NOT be disappointed!

Red Velvet--Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting topped with a Heart Gummy Candy
Pretty Princess Strawberry--Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Buttercream
Peanut Butter Cup--Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Mini Peanut Butter Cup
Honeybee--Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting, Honey Drizzle, Chopped Peanuts and Banana Chip
Double Chocolate--Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Mini Chocolate Chips
Cookie Dough--Chocolate Chip Cake filled with Cookie Dough, topped with Brown Sugar Buttercream and Mini Chocolate Chips
Cherry Bomb--Cherry Cake with Cherry Filling, Cherry Buttercream, dipped in Ganache and topped with a Cherry
Wedding Cake--White Cake, Vanilla Buttercream, Candy Pearls
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Strawberry Cakies

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake…in cookie form.  That’s what this little pink nugget of cookie goodness is.  And it’s delicious.  I typically am against cake mixes but it is a must in this cookie (until I can figure out how to make it from scratch, of course!).  It’s soft and chewy all at the same time and bursting with strawberry flavor from the cake mix and tiny little pieces of dried strawberries.  And they’re perfect for that holiday coming up…ya know, the one with hearts and cupid and all that.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Cakies
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1, 8 oz. Package Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 t. Vanilla
  • 1 Box Strawberry Cake Mix
  • ½-3/4 c. Finely Chopped Dried Strawberries
  • 1 c. Powdered Sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla thoroughly. Beat in the cake mix and then the dried strawberries. The mixture will be very sticky, but that's ok, it's nothing a little powdered sugar can't handle. Put powdered sugar in a bowl. Coat your hands in powdered sugar and pinch off some of the cookie dough, roll into a ball about 1" in diameter and dredge in the powdered sugar then place on the baking sheet. Keep using the powdered sugar to coat your hands in order to work with the dough. Place the balls about 2" apart on the baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, rotating and switching racks halfway through to ensure even baking. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes and move to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
Notes
Makes 30 cookies.

 

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Whole Grain Strawberry Newtons

Ok, I am so so so excited about this recipe for (healthy) homemade strawberry newtons!  I had done a little research to see if there was anything that would make a good substitute for butter in cookies and let me tell you, the results were grim.  So I went ahead and made this recipe that I had found online that was already altered to be healthy but still included butter.  However, instead of using the butter I substituted a half cup pumpkin and 2 T. safflower oil.  These cookies didn’t turn out horrible and were actually pretty good, but in all honestly they were more like a whole wheat pie crust with strawberry filling and nothing like a thick, cakey fig newton.  Bummer.

So I decided the best place to start was with an unhealthy, regular ‘ole homemade newton recipe and I’d modify however I saw fit.  I found this one from Serious Eats and went with it, although I was a little skeptical of a couple of things, such as putting the cookies hot out of the oven into an air-tight container in order to “age”.  But I was proved wrong–these are phenomenal!  I did leave half the butter in but replaced the other half with pumpkin…and I can’t believe it worked!  These are low on sugar and full of whole grains, great for both adults and kids!

Enjoy!

Whole Grain Strawberry Newtons
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • ¼ t. Fine Sea Salt
  • ½ Stick Unsalted, All-Natural Butter, softened
  • ¼ c. Pumpkin
  • ¼ c. Sugar in the Raw
  • 2 T. Honey
  • ¼ t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ⅛ t. Cinnamon
  • 1 Large Egg plus 2 Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 1 T. Orange Juice
  • 1 c. All Fruit, No Added Sugar Strawberry Jam
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugar, honey, baking soda, vanilla and cinnamon on medium speed until thoroughly mixed, about 5-7 minutes (it will still look runny and not fluffy, but that's ok!). Scrape down the sides with a spatula and continue mixing. With the mixer still running add the egg and mix thoroughly; add the egg white, one at each time, mixing throughly after each addition. Beat on high for two minutes. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour. Drizzle in the orange juice and continue mixing until thoroughly combined and dough is homogenous.
  3. Prepare a large sheet of plastic wrap and use a rubber spatula to transfer the dough from the bowl to the center of the plastic. Wrap the dough with the plastic, place in an air-tight container and let firm up in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight (I left mine in for about 9 hours).
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Dust your counter generously with flour and gently (press LIGHTLY) start to roll dough out into a large rectangle, about 12x16. Halfway through rolling, dust the surface of your dough generously with flour, flip and continue rolling. With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 4 strips, about 3½ inches wide. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the strawberry jam down the middle of the dough, fold the edges over the filling and pinch to seal (make sure you seal them completely). Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush. Place the dough strips on a the cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
  5. As soon as the cookies are removed from the oven, use a sharp knife to trim each bar into several 1"long cookies. While the cookies are still warm, transfer them to an air-tight plastic container. If you need to stack the cookies, use parchment paper or foil between the layers. Seal the container tightly. This is done to slightly steam the cookies and give them the cake like texture..and it WORKS. Don't skip this step.
Notes
-Makes 25 cookies. -TIP: If you are worried about condensation after sealing the warm cookies (like I was), every 10 minutes or so wipe off the lid and inside edge of the container to prevent moisture.

 

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Cupcakes…from Walgreens?

Yes, you read that right.  Walgreens now sells cupcakes under the name Good & Delish.  Jeremy and I were in this past weekend when we saw them and our curiosity was piqued.  I mean, isn’t buying a cupcake from Walgreens the equivalent of buying one at a gas station?  I mean, you just don’t do that!  It’s cupcake SIN.  But, we had to try these.  I was curious about the claim that they were “all natural” and was certain they would be just downright horrible.  So, I picked out three at $1.99 each and off we went to try them at home.

First up, Strawberry.  It was indeed all natural, deriving the strawberry flavor and pink color from beet juice.  My first impression of this cupcake was that it was HUGE.  Way bigger than a normal size cupcake.  My second thought was…”hmm, this isn’t bad”.  I mean, it was actually…gulp…good.  Yes, I know!  It’s cupcake sacrilege but the vanilla cake was actually VERY dense and moist and honestly good!!  The “strawberry” flavored frosting tasted more like cranberry or some other slightly indescribable berry, which wasn’t horrible, just not strawberry. And don’t be fooled by the little dollop of frosting on top; there is a tunnel of frosting down the middle.

On to the second one, Red Velvet.  Ummm, it was good too.  Not out of this world amazing, but in a pinch, it would curb that craving you have for something sweet and is far superior than something you’d pick up from Wal-mart.  Although this one was labeled “All Natural Flavors” due to the red dye in it.  Ah, details.

And last, Tuxedo.  Ok, get ready for this people…I really, REALLY liked this one.  Jeremy and I both agreed it was our favorite. It was a dark chocolate cake that was honestly soooo good.  Very rich and super moist (how do they do that?!?) and the cream cheese frosting was yummy as well.

Oh, and this is a Black Cherry drink under the same label, that Jeremy just had to try.  Again, very good.  Awesome cherry flavor and it was lightly carbonated.

Needless to say, we were impressed.  Seriously, I can’t believe I’m saying that!!  I totally expected these to be the WORST cupcakes ever but that was not the case at all.

So, if the urge ever hits you around 2 a.m. for a cupcake, now you know where to go!

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