Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

Growing up, I skipped the peanut butter and jelly faze.  I went through a pasta faze and a chicken nugget faze and I even went through a frozen corn faze, but a PB&J faze?  Not once.

I was never the kid with a smushed sandwich in their lunch everyday, or the kid who survived solely on the jar of peanut butter and grape jelly in the fridge.  In fact, to this day, I've never had a typical Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.

I can't really say I mind, though.  Sure, I may get some weird looks when I tell people, but it's not like I missed out by not eating that stereotypical sandwich.  White bread, Jiff peanut butter, and grape jelly?  Eh, I think I'll pass.

But take the classic flavors of a PB&J and turn them into a healthy, natural, and delicious cookie and you've got me drooling.

These cookies disappeared in under 24 hours.  I ate three in a row without even stopping for air.  I would make them again in a heartbeat.

Subtly sweet, hearty, and 100% healthy, these cookies are a triple threat.  PB&ampJ lover or not, you will adore them.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Filling (can also be replaced with your favorite jam or jelly):
  • 1 1/2 cups wild blueberries, frozen (feel free to try another frozen fruit, but I can't guarantee the results)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
For Cookies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat, or grease a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Mix together.  Add peanut butter, applesauce, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla and mix well until completely incorporated.  Dough will be sticky.
  3. Take about 11/2 tbsp of dough and form into a ball.  Place on baking sheet.  Continue until all dough has been used.  You should have 10-12 large dough balls.  There's no need to place them far apart on the baking sheet because these cookies will not spread in the oven.
  4. Using your thumb or the back of a spoon, press down in the middle of the cookies to create an indent for the jam to go in.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.  Cookies will look under baked at first, but that's OK.  They continue to cook as they cool, so by the time the cookies have cooled down they will be fully baked.
For Filling:
  1. Combine blueberries, chia seeds, and maple syrup in a cereal bowl and give them a quick stir to incorporate.
  2. Microwave the bowl for about two minutes, or until the blueberries have melted and the mixture is juicy.  Microwaving times may vary depending on your microwave. (You can also do this on the stovetop, although cooking times will change)
  3. Remove from microwave and place in fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes.  You will know the filling is ready when it has a jelly-like consistency and is no longer juicy.
  4. Use about 1 tsp of filling to fill each cookie.  Once cookies are done, store in fridge until serving time.  Recipe makes 10-12 large cookies.

Enjoy your Wednesday everyone!
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Chocolate Pretzel Tarts with Caramel

Here's the full title for this recipe: Chocolate Brownie Tarts with Peanut Butter Pretzel Crust and Peanut Butter Caramel On Top.

A bit of a mouthful, huh?  But tell me it doesn't sound delicious.

This recipe was born when my mom accidentally bought too many pretzels.  I'm not quite sure what she was thinking, but she came home from the grocery store with two huge bags.  I don't want or need that many pretzels, so recipe ideas immediately began flying through my head.

What goes well with pretzels?  Peanut butter, chocolate, peanut butter and chocolate, yogurt, more chocolate... the list goes on and on.  In the end, I decided to combine a whole bunch of delicious pretzel combinations into one amazing recipe.  And hence, these tarts were born.

Please don't be intimidated by this recipe.  Please, please, please.  I promise you, it's really not that hard.  In fact, despite the three different parts to it, there are only ten different ingredients.  That's really not too much.  Aaannd, none of the ingredients are really outlandish or anything.  The weirdest it's gonna get is  special dark cocoa power, and even that can be subbed in for another high quality cocoa of your choice.

So really, no chickening out and convincing yourself this recipe is too much work.  It's not!  It'll all be worth it once you take the first bite....

Chocolate Pretzel Tarts with Caramel

  • 60 g (about three cups, un-crushed) pretzels
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter (or another but butter of your choice)
Brownie Filling:
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup special dark cocoa powder (or another good quality cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
To make crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a muffin tin or line with 12 silicone cupcake liners.
  2. Place pretzels in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the pretzels have turned into fine crumbs.  
  3. Add milk and nut butter and blend again until completely mixed.
  4. Take crust mixture and press into prepared pan.  You should have enough to make 12 "cupcakes"
  5. Set aside.
To make filling:
  1. Quickly rinse and dry bowl of food processor.
  2. Add all ingredients of filling to the bowl of food processor.  Process until completely combined, with the oats completely broken down and the batter smooth.
  3. Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter into each prepared crust so that the crust is full.
  4. Place pan in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes until filling is firm and crust has browned.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool.
To make caramel:
  1. While tarts cook, make caramel.  In a small saucepan, whisk together honey and peanut butter.  Cook in high until mixture has reduced by about half.
  2. Once reduced, remove from heat and add milk.  
  3. Turn heat to low and continue to mix until mixture has thickened into a caramel.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Once cool, spread onto cooked starts.
  5. Store in fridge until serving time.  Recipe makes 1 dozen tarts.

Make.  These.  Now!!
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tomato Caramelized Onion and Spinach Pizza (Recipe ReDux)

There are two types of pizza: adult pizza and kid pizza.  I'm guessing you know which one is which.

While kid pizza is not limited to only children, it is the kind most eight year-old's will reach for.  Thick, fluffy crust, tomato sauce, and melty cheese to top it all off.  Maybe some sort of meat on top.

Then there's adult pizza, the type that I love.  All bets are off when it comes to adult pizza.  One can throw pretty much whatever they want on top and no one will question it.  Lemons, beans, squash; it's all fair game.

The pizza I'm sharing today is a mix of the two primary types of pizza.  It's not super crazy, but it isn't your average cheese pizza either.

You start with some caramelized onions.  OK, a lot of caramelized onions.  Once they're all golden and delicious, stir in some marinara sauce and coat the onions with it.  That's gonna be the first layer of your pizza.

Next comes baby spinach.  Nothing fancy, just lay it down in a thick layer covering the onions.  Don't worry about there being too much because it's gonna shrink down a ton in the oven.

Finally, top your pizza with fresh mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes.  Perfect!  This pizza is simple, but delicious, and you're going to love it!

Tomato Caramelized Onion and Spinach Pizza
  • 1 pizza crust of choice (I used store bought, but you can make your own)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • marinara sauce of choice (either store bought or homemade is fine)
  • baby spinach
  • fresh mozzarella
  • sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
Preheat oven to 450F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Add some olive oil to a pan and add chopped onions.  Caramelize onions; if you don't know how, check out these directions.  Add marinara sauce and mix to coat onions.  Place pizza crust (pre-baked, if homemade) in prepared pan.  Arrange onions in an even layer on top of crust.  Add a layer of spinach, and top that with a generous amount of fresh mozzarella.  Lastly, evenly distribute sun dried tomatoes on top.  Bake in preheated for 15 minutes, until cheese has melted.  Slice and enjoy!

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Brownie Batter Pie with Oatmeal Cookie Crust

Fact:  Ghirardelli has the best brownie mix in the universe.

I don't even want to hear you disagree.  Your argument is invalid.

But, as good as that brownie mix is, I can't justify how bad it is for you.  Especially if you're like me and can't stop at one brownie.  I don't buy it anymore.

Recently, however, I discovered a giant Costco-sized package of Ghirardelli brownie mix hiding in my pantry.  Tempting, don't you think?  In an effort to use it up, I've been using the brownie mix in a variety of healthier and unconventional ways.  The pie right here is a definite winner.

I love pies; both the fruit and the chocolate varieties.  In my experiments I've found that chocolate types are much easier to 'healthify' than their fruity counterparts.  I have so many chocolate pie recipes on this blog.

This Brownie Batter Pie is an excellent addition to the collection.  It has a chewy crust that comes in the form of an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie and a rich and fudgy filling that tastes just like brownie batter!

What could be better?

Brownie Batter Pie with Oatmeal Cookie Crust

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Pie Filling:
  • 1 12.3 ounce package shelf-stable tofu (I get mine from Trader Joes)
  • 2 1/2 cups of your favorite brownie mix (use a high quality mix for the best taste)
  • 1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350F.  Grase a 9in circle pan.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine all crust ingredients except chocolate chips.  Process until completely mixed.  Add chocolate chips and process briefly to incorporate.  Mixture will be runny.  Pour oatmeal cookie batter into prepared pan and spread into a thin layer so that it covers the whole area of the pan.  Set aside.  Quickly rinse and dry the bowl of your food processor.  It doesn't have to be completely clean.  Add tofu, dry brownie mix, and milk to food processor.  Mix until completely combined.  Make sure there are no tofu chunks or dry spots of brownie mix.  Pour pie filling on top of unbaked crust and spread into a smooth and even layer.  Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until filling is firm.  Let chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight, before slicing and serving.  Recipe makes 8 servings.  Store pie in fridge.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Easy Chocolate Banana Muffins

Easy food is good food.

That's why I try to make the bulk of the recipes of this site pretty simple.

But let me tell you, when you want some dessert, and you want it fast, sometimes even the easy recipes on this blog take too long to prepare.  But fear not, my fellow dessert lovers, for I have solved the problem.  This recipe for Chocolate Banana Muffins has six ingredients, comes together in less than 10 minutes, uses only one bowl, and tastes delicious to boot.

Total success!

Next time you're in need of a quick chocolate fix, look no further than these delicious muffins!

Easy Chocolate Banana Muffins

  • 2 banana
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup special dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 12 cups in a cupcake pan, or line a muffins pan with cupcake liners.  In a large bowl, mash bananas until smooth.  Add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, honey, and milk and mix until a smooth batter forms.  If you have trouble mixing it together, add some more milk by the tbsp. Mix in chocolate chips.  Scoop batter into prepared pan or liners until about 3/4 full.  Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until firm.  Recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

Enjoy y'all!
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Friday, January 10, 2014

Dried Fruit Granola Bars

I don't know if this happens to anyone else, but in my family, we have a bit of a dried fruit problem.

It's not the eating that's the problem, it's the buying.  The quantity of dried fruit in our kitchen increases at an alarming rate, until it's practically spilling out of the cabinets.  I don't have an aversion to dried fruit (I'm looking at you, all you raisin haters), but things were getting a little out of hand.

Solution?  Make granola bars, of course.

These bars are pretty versatile.  There's a simple base of oats, oat flour, applesauce, and peanut butter, and to that you add two cups of whatever the heck you want.  Dried fruit, chocolate, nuts, seeds, sprinkles, pretty much every mix-in you can think of will work.  I used 1 1/2 cups of dried figs, dried apricots, dried cranberries, prunes, and yellow raisins (yes, I had all of that on hand), and 1/2 cup of chocolate.  Because chocolate makes everything better, right?

Once that's done, all you've gotta do is spread your batter into a pan and pop it in the oven for about half an hour.

These are not wimpy granola bars.  They make a great afternoon pick-me-up and paired with some fruit and yogurt, one bar will keep you full for hours.

I'm a fan of store bought bars, don't get me wrong, but nothing compares to a homemade snack in both the nutritional and taste department.  You're gonna want to make these bars, guys, don't miss out a recipe this good.

Dried Fruit Granola Bars

  • 3 cups oat flour (to make: grind rolled oats into a fine flour in a blend, coffee grinder, or food processor)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup honey or agave
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter (or another but butter of your choice)
  • 2 cups dried fruit, chocolate, and/or nuts of your choice (I used 1/2 cup chopped chocolate and 11/2 cups chopped dried fruit)
Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9x9 square pan.  In a large bowl, mix together oat flour, rolled oats and baking powder.  Add applesauce, honey/agave, and nut butter and mix until completely combined.  Your dough will be wet and sticky at this point.  Mix in all of your desired add-ins until evenly incorporated.  Scoop dough into prepared pan and spread into a smooth and even layer.  Bake in oven for 28-32 minutes, until slightly golden and firm to the touch.  Once cooled, slice into 18 thin bars, and store in fridge until serving time.  Bars will keep in fridge for up to one week.

Happy Friday everyone!  What are your weekend plans?
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts with Wild Blueberry Salsa

{By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.}

I know, I know, this sounds weird.  Just trust me on this one.

This week is all about blueberries.  Wild blueberries, to be exact.

But aren't all blueberries the same?

No!  Wild blueberries are the smaller, more intensely flavored sibling of the blueberries you're used to seeing is stores.  They've got twice the antioxidants of cultivated blueberries and are so much fun to cook with.  The easiest way to get your hands on some wild blueberries is to check out the freezer aisle of your local grocery store.  Wild blueberries should be found with all the other frozen fruit; look for "wild" on the bag and the feel of smaller berries inside.

Because I already made one wild blueberry recipe that was sweet, I wanted to try out something savory.  Now, you must know that I'm a lot less comfortable when it comes to cooking rather than baking, so this proved to be quite the challenge.  No worries though, after much deliberation and some experiments, I came up with this quirky and delicious meal.  Let me break it down for you:

First, we have puff pastry, topped with goat cheese and caramelized onions and baked to flaky perfection.  Sounds pretty good, right?  Here's where things get funky (in a good way).  I made a lime cilantro and blueberry salsa to top the tart with right before serving.  It doesn't sound like it would work, but it so does.  There's something about the tart/sweet flavor of the blueberries and the sourness of the lime that perfectly pairs with creamy goat cheese and super sweet caramelized onions.

This is one meal that's so weird, you can't help but try it.

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts with Wild Blueberry Salsa
For Tarts:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed
  • 4 onions, chopped and caramelized*
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400F.  Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking mats or parchment paper.  Roll puff pastry dough out until it's the thinnest you can make it without it ripping.  Cut into 6 even rectangles.  Place dough on baking sheets.  Take a spoonful of caramelized onions and spread on top of each rectangle.  Sprinkle each rectangle with goat cheese on top of the onions.  Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden-brown and flaky. 

For Salsa:
  • 2 cups wild blueberries, frozen
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped**
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1-2 tsp honey 
  • salt to taste
While tarts bake, make salsa.  In a medium bowl, combine blueberries, cilantro, lime, and honey.  Mix together to combine.  Taste and add salt as necessary.  Let salsa sit until tarts are ready.  In this time, the blueberries will begin to thaw slightly and make the salsa juicy and easier to eat.  I don't recommend making the salsa the day before because it will become more juice than berries by then.

When tarts are done baking, serve and then top with blueberry salsa right before eating.  Store any leftover tarts without blueberries salsa in the fridge and reheat in the microwave or oven.  Add salsa after reheating.

* If you're not sure how to caramelize onions, here's an online tutorial 
** If you don't like cilantro, use basil, parsley or mint to replace it.  It will alter the taste, but it will still be delicious!

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Whole What Wild Blueberry Pancakes

{By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.}

Raise your hand if you at too much over the holidays.

It's okay, I'm guilty too.  And I'm not even sorry.

But now it's a new year, a new beginning, and we're gonna start it off healthy.

It's time to get back on track, guys, and I've got just the recipe: Whole Wheat Wild Blueberry Pancakes.  They're sort of amazing.

I don't know if you've heard of wild blueberries before, so I'll tell you a bit about them. They're uncultivated blueberries, known for their small size and stronger taste.  Whereas "normal" blueberries are plump and mostly water, wild blueberries are tiny little spheres that are pure blueberry flavor.  If you've ever been to Maine, you've probably seen and heard a lot about this fruit.  In terms of health benefits, wild blueberries are bursting with them.  They're super good for you, with twice the antioxidants of cultivated blueberries.  Also, their cute size makes them even more fun to eat.

Paired with whole wheat flour and made into a delicious batch of pancakes, wild blueberries help to create a breakfast for champions with this delicious recipe.

Whole Wheat Wild Blueberry Pancakes

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds, ground
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
In a medium bowl, combine milk and vinegar.  Set aside to curdle.  Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk ground chia seeds into milk mixture and add to flour mixture along with water, oil, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Mix until just incorporated.  Do not over mix.  Add oats, wheat bran, and wild blueberries and mix again.  Cook as you would cook any other pancakes.  But because these are thick and hearty, be extra careful to make sure that each pancake is cooked all the way through.  Recipe makes 5-6 thick pancakes.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Craft Time - Vegetable Art

How about something a little different today?  I don't know about you, but where I live the snows coming down hard and school is closed for the day.

Pefect craft weather!

Lately I've been getting more into DIY projects.  I think they're really fun for the winter and I've been pinning craft projects like crazy over on Pinterest.

I finally decided to actually try something out (yes, I have the dreaded pin and then never try syndrome), and it came out pretty well if I do say so myself.

I call this Vegetable Art.  And yes, vegetables are necessary in the creation of the piece.  I don't call myself a food blogger for nothing ;)

Basically, it's a super fun and easy way to create unique and fun wall art.  I made mine for my room, so it's fit for a teenage girl, but you could easily change the feel of the painting based on colors and how you decide to polka-dot your canvas.

Inspiration for the project came from from this pin.

What Do You Need?
  • 1 blank canvas of any size
  • 4 paint colors of your choice (I went to a pain store, picked out a color swatch that I liked, and asked for a sample in each other.  It's cheap and gives you a lot of paint; enough for many more projects than this)
  • Potatoes, carrots, and any other root vegetable of your choice
How Do You Make It?
  1. Prepare a clean work place.  Set down your canvas and prepare your paints by pouring each one into a shallow container with a large surface area.  I used the lid of the paint containers  (see first picture)
  2. Slice your vegetables into round disks.  Try to be mindful of how the shape will come out after you cut it.  Your painting will come out best if there are multiple sizes and shapes of your circles.
  3. Start painting!  It's your choice as to whether you want to paint with any design in mind or just go crazy.  At first I tried to do big circles to small, but then I gave up and polka-dotted in random places.  I think it'll look pretty good no matter what you do.  The important thing to remember is not to use too much paint.  You want each stamp not to be solid, because that what makes it so cool to look at.
  4. Let it dry and hang it up.  Currently, mine is sitting on my dresser, but I hope to have it up on the wall soon.  Maybe I'll post a picture once it's up.

I'll be back with the usual recipe post in a couple days.  Happy new year everyone, and here's to an awesome 2014!

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