Saturday, December 25, 2010

Brownies with Pumpkin Chocolate glaze

I was put in charge of Christmas dessert, which is great.....if I had gotten my ingredients the day before Christmas....when all of the stores are closed....even Walmart. With that being said, it was time to get inventive! I had ingredients for brownies and some leftover cream cheese frosting I was saving for a rainy day (or snowy, for that matter.) This was the end result! Honestly, not what I had hoped for, but it's fairly delicious, and extra delicious with some ice cream!


INGREDIENTS: (makes 12)

for the brownies

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt

for the frosting
1 cup cream cheese frosting
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

4 oz dark chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9x9 pan

2. In one bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and eggs.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, and salt

4. 1/2 cup at a time, mix the dry ingredients with the wet. Mix until well incorporated and smooth. Pour into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

5. For the frosting, cream together the cream cheese frosting, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in one bowl. In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate. Pour these mixtures over your COOLED brownies in whatever way your little heart desires. Serve with ice cream, or not--it's Christmas, eat what you want!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pina Colada Cupcake

Let's get a little summer flavors in the middle of the Christmas season! I mean, I don't know about you, but cold weather and I don't mix well. These will be my little trick to make myself think it's warm....and that I'm on a beach....with a lot of sun.

I used a cake mix for this (gasp!) to save some time. I know, I know, naughty! But I'm generally never disappointed in the texture of a boxed cake mix. HOWEVER, I will never use pre-made icing. Yuck.


INGREDIENTS (makes 12 cupcakes)
for the cake...
1 yellow cake mix
1/3 cup oil
3 eggs
1 cup water
1 cup pineapple
for the frosting...
1 8oz package of cream cheese (room temp)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
6 oz shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease or line 12 muffin tins. (I actually was able to make 6 standard sized cupcakes, and 6 jumbo sized cupcakes).

2. In one large bowl, mix together the cake mix, the oil, eggs, water, and pineapple. Mix with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until smooth and the pineapple has been shredded.

3. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until insides are baked through.

4. While they're baking, mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Mix until the icing can hold its shape.

5. Once your cupcakes are done, toast the coconut! On a baking sheet, spread the coconut out until it is a single layer. Place the coconut under the broiler for about 2 minutes or until brown/toasted. CAREFUL! Once it begins to brown, it only takes about 10 seconds until it's ready to be pulled out. Nobody likes burnt coconut! : )

6. Ice cupcakes, top with toasted coconut, and dream of the warm weather!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vegetarian Egg White Frittata

This is your new power meal. Let me break down the stats for you:
Calories: 170
Fat: 2.8 grams
Protein: 27

I mean, this meal is not playing around. I wanted to have something that was filling and satisfying, without a lot of fat and low calories. This is truly filling and won't leave you hungry. The eggs give it a breakfast feel, but it's really a dish that can be eaten for lunch or dinner. If you need to have some carbs with it, stick to a whole grain toast or maybe a wheat tortilla. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: (makes 1 serving)
6 eggs white
1 cup spinach
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/8 cup cheese (I used a mozzarella/asiago mix)
salsa (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a bowl, mix together the first three ingredients, until the egg whites are evenly distributed
3. Pour egg mixture into a baking dish, top with cheese and salt/pepper
4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until egg white are white throughout
5. Top with salsa

Saturday, December 4, 2010

DIY: Almond Butter

I found out a little secret a few days don't have to have any spectacular tools or involved process to make nut butters. Considering I could easily survive off of peanut butter alone, this is good news! I generally don't buy almond butter at the store, because it's so much more expensive than PB. Almonds, however, have half the amount of saturated fat, more fiber, and the same amount of sugar as peanuts.

Here's the plan to make your own almond butter, for half the price!

In a food processor or blender, grind 2 cups DRY ROASTED almonds w/ about 1 tbsp of oil. I used olive oil, for health benefits, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Blend blend blend until smooth, then enjoy! Easy, no? Enjoy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Martha's Old Fashion Apple Pie

Hi hello! It has been nearly 2 months since the last post (gasp!). I've been lacking in the creativity department, but fortunately Thanksgiving forced me to get back to the kitchen! I was asked to bring a dessert for thanksgiving, so I thought I would go with a nice, traditional favorite. Naturally I look to Martha Stewart for her recipe. I stuck to it almost exactly, but I switched out the cloves for nutmeg, and I ended up only needing 5 or six apples instead of the suggested 8. It's a really good idea to do half sweet apples and half tart. That way you get the best of both worlds!

I've only made pastry dough a few times, and if you've never made your own dough before, fear not! Just be patient. For a pie crust, always use COLD butter and don't skimp on cooling it. The cold butter cut into the flour is what gives pie crusts their flakiness. I try not to be flaky, but I surely do want my pies to be.

Enjoy (and happy Thanksgiving!)

RECIPE for Martha Stewart's Old Fashion Apple Pie

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Choco-mel Pumpkin cookies

You know it's the right time of the year when there's two pumpkin entries in a row. I adapted this recipe from the fantastically awesome Coconut & Lime . I just switched it up a bit by adding caramelly chocolate and upping the pumpkin a bit. The result? A soft, low-fat niblet of fall goodness. That's right. (ps, they're super easy to make!)


INGREDIENTS (makes 1 dozen cookies):
1 3.5 oz bar of Ghiradelli milk chocolate and caramel squares, chopped
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg

1. Whip together the pumpkin, vanilla and brown sugar. Add the egg and mix until fluffy.
2. Add flour, baking powder, salt and oatmeal. Mix until well incorporated.
3. Fold in Ghiradelli.
4. On a greased cookie sheet, "plop" dollops of cookie dough and bake for 12 minutes, or until cooked throughout.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chocolate and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I know that macarons and whoopie pies have been all the rage in the baking world for the past few months, but I just haven't really gotten into them. I guess I never hopped on the sandwiched cookie trend train in the beginning, but here I am! I was supposed to make a dessert for a work picnic, and I wanted to find something fun. So, where do I look to find inspiration? Martha! And, of course, it didn't fail! I found this delightful little recipe that allowed me to make a fall-inspired, fun cookie...or pie...whoopie!

These little cuties are a mix between a cake and an cookie. The texture of the cookie is more like that of a cake, but the shape reminds you of a cookie. I'm pretty much in love with the pumpkin filling. It's a wonderful taste of fall, and really satisfying. I found the recipe HERE. The only thing I changed was that it only took 10 minutes to bake. For real! So fast!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

S is for Spinach

Oh my goodness, I am so excited about these two recipes. For real. I had a bag of spinach that I had neglected throughout the week and needed to use it asap. Spinach is, for me, one of those ingredients I could usually do without. I like spinach salads, but unless it's cooked with lots of other fatty goodness, I'm not a huge fan. I don't know how Popeye did it.

Anyway, these two recipes are amazing because they are super healthy, but super flavorful. They are both made in the blender/food processor. The pesto is so delicious, almost buttery. I didn't have any pine nuts, so I used raw almonds. You could also use this pesto over other foods, ie chicken, eggs, and whatever your little culinary heart desires.

The smoothie is a wonderful surprise. I honestly was a little hesitant to try it. I mean, spinach with a fruit smoothie? I had read about others making it, and I was curious. The result? It tasted like a frozen dark chocolate bar with blueberries. It's an amazing smoothie, because it has NO EXTRA SUGAR (que Hallelujah chorus!). It doesn't need it! You're not making a milkshake, you're making a healthy smoothie. The spinach is not noticeable at all. If I didn't know it was in there, I wouldn't have guessed it.


RECIPE 1: Spinach pesto

-pasta (I just used whatever I had left in the box...)
-4 cups fresh spinach
-1/4 cup raw almonds (no pine nuts? gasp! I had to use what was in my pantry!)
-2 cloves garlic
-1/3 cup olive oil
-1/2 cup parmesan
-salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook pasta as directed.

2. In a blender or food processor, blend together the rest of the ingredients until smooth and all of the almonds have been chopped.

3. Pour pesto over hot pasta, top with a dab of extra Parmesan and enjoy.

RECIPE 2: power "green" smoothie.

1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup almond milk (you can also use soy or cow milk if you would like)
2 cups fresh spinach
1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Do you fondant?

Alright, so this picture is sub-par, but it was late and I was too tired to care!
This was my first experience with fondant, and it was a lot easier than I expected! If you can play with play-doe, you can work with fondant. It takes some time, especially to color it evenly, but the outcome was really fun. I made this cake for my sister's baby shower, and it went over pretty darn well! I did a cream cheese icing, with the rubber ducky fondant and polka dots on the side (not visible here). Anyway, if I can do it (as a not very artistic person...) so can you!


16 ounces white mini-marshmallows
3 tablespoons water
2 pounds confectioners sugar

1. In a microwavable bowl, combine the marshmallows and water. Microwave for 30 seconds and then stir. Continue the microwave and stir action until the texture has turned soupy.
2. Being careful (because it's HOT), add the powdered/confectioners 1/2 cup at a time. Fold in the sugar until the fondant turns into a play-dough texture. Roll out with a rolling pin. If you need to add color, just add in the coloring and knead until the color evens out.
3. Have fun!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Curried Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Can we say "helloooo falll!" The weather is cooling down, football and holidays are in the air, and those wonderful orange foods are coming out! Carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and squash. It's the most wonderful time of the year!

I wanted to make a really flavorful, healthy dish that would incorporate these new flavors of fall. This was mostly a "make up as you go" recipe, but it turned out quite well! It's warm, filling, and comforting, without the typical fattiness of "comfort foods". Overall a delightful bowl of autumnal happiness. : )


INGREDIENTS (makes 4 servings):
1 lb carrots, diced
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until fragrant.

2. Add in the broth, potatoes, carrots, and curry powder. Let simmer until carrots and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Remove ingredients from pot, and blend in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into bowls and serve with croutons.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Honey Garlic Roast Chicken

I'm sure there's a time and a place for complicated foods, but I'm a believer that most of the time simple is best. This is a great recipe to feed the whole family, with some left over! I love taking the leftover chicken and putting it in a quick, weeknight chicken noodle soup. It's also great for sandwiches and salads for work lunches. If you've never cooked a whole bird before, fear not! Just have a little patience, baste every 20 minutes, and you'll be so impressed with yourself! It's a beautiful sight to pull the whole, browned, succulent bird out of the oven.

The flavor of the chicken with the honey and the garlic is incredible. I mean, I tore off a drumstick like Fred Flinstone and took care of it! The sweetness of the honey makes the skin irresistible, and the garlic brings out the savory flavors of the chicken.


Whole chicken (cleaned and trussed)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. After cleaning out the insides of the chicken, pat it with a paper towel and salt and pepper the outside and inside.
3. In a bowl, whisk together the oil, honey and garlic. Spread evenly over the outside of the chicken.
4. Bake for 1 1/2 hour, or until inserted thermometer reads 170 internally. While baking, baste every 20 minutes or so to ensure the chicken stays moist and the flavors soak in.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

I think I may have magic zucchinis. I buy a box on Saturday (grocery day), and it doesn't matter if I make zucchinis every day, I still seem to have some left the next Saturday! I don't know what they're doing in there...breeding like little bunnies? Either way, this is a great way to use up that wonderful summer vegetable. I can't take credit for this recipe; it is from the Slice of Feist blog. Overall, the muffins are very rich. They're not frou frou chocolate cupcakes, so if you really need to fill that chocolate void, these are for you!


INGREDIENTS: (makes 7 jumbo muffins)
1 1/2 cup finely chopped zucchini
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup oil (I used half olive oil, half canola...because I only had a quarter cup of each! Eek!)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350. Either oil or line the muffin tin.

2. In one bowl, mix (with an electric mixer) the brown sugar, white sugar and oil. Once these are fully incorporated, add in the zucchini, eggs and vanilla. Mix until well-incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and chocolate.

4. Combine the wet and dry and pour into the muffin cups, until they are 3/4 full. Bake on 350 for 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yaki Udon with Beef

Here is a nice little quick weekday meal! I had two leftover eye of round steaks, and needed to put them to good use. I adapted the recipe from soy and pepper with some changes made. I didn't have any sake or mirin on hand (gasp!), so I used sherry. Basically, any sweet wine will do. This meal is definitely not your typical overly sweet, overly oily "lo mein" at Chinese restaurants. You can really substitute any veggie you would like; I just had broccoli on hand.


2 bunches of udon noodles
12 oz steak
beef marinade: 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp sherry, 1/2 tsp corn starch
1 head of broccoli (or whatever vegetable your heart desires!)
2 tbsp oil
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sherry
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sesame seeds

1. Marinate the steak for a few hours or overnight.

2. Cook the udon noodles as directed on the package. While they are cooking, combine the soy sauce, sherry, worcestershire sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Set aside.

3. To toast the sesame seeds, heat a thick pan on high and toss them in dry. They will turn brown. Set aside.

4. Cook the beef in the marinade and the oil

5. In a separate pan, cook the broccoli in 1-2 tbsp oil, until tender

6. Once the noodles, beef, and broccoli have finished their separate cooking, place them all together in a large pot and pour the remaining sauce combination over them. Stir well. Serve with the toasted sesames sprinkled on top.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vegan Mango Bread

Who says vegan baking can't be just as wonderful as non-vegan? I have been getting a few requests for vegan and vegetarian recipes, so here's a good start! The only unusual thing about this recipe to make it vegan is to replace the eggs.
This bread has the delightful combination of an amazingly moist center with a PERFECTLY crunchy outside! I was actually a little concerned at first because it seemed like the crust got crunchy right off the bat (10-15 minutes into baking), but I was so happy to find a wonderful outside crisp. The mango flavor is definitely apparent throughout the bread, but it's not overpowering. The teaspoon of ginger does wonders for accentuating the flavor.


-for the egg substitute: mix together 3 oz water, 3 tbsp oil, and 2 tbsp baking powder.
-3/4 cup canola oil
-2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
-1 cup sugar
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp ground ginger
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-2 1/2 cup diced mango

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Oil a loaf pan
3. Whisk together the egg substitute and oil in a large bowl. Set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar.
5. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients into the wet. Mix well and then add in 2 cups of the mangoes. Spread into the pan and top the mixture with the final 1/2 cup of mangoes.
6. Bake for 1 hour or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Basic Barbecue Sauce

I wanted to try my hand at making a simple, basic barbeque sauce that I could go back in and add different flavors in for different dishes (ie mango, peach, chipotle, honey, etc). I am probably the vice president of the Barbeque Sauce Fan Club, with my husband as president. We could drown in that stuff if someone let us! With that being said, I'm excited to make this again and again, tweaking it until it is perfection.

As for the below recipe, there's nothing terribly unusual about it---not too sweet, not too hot, not too vinegary; it's just right for that summer grilling!


1 small onion
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 2/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup worcestershire
2 teaspoons chili powder

1. Heat oil in a thick saucepan. Mince onion and garlic. Add to oil and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Add in the remaining ingredients and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chocolate Pancakes with Chocolate Peanut Butter sauce

I don't even need an explanation for this one. Chocolate AND pancakes??? What more could you ask for?



For the pancakes:
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup all purpose flour2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp melted butter
1. Combine the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. Whisk together the egg, milk, vanilla and melted butter. Slowly add in the dry ingredients until JUST COMBINED. Don't overmix unless you want chewy, tough pancakes.

3. Cook on a medium-high griddle or pan with 1 tsp of oil or butter. About 1 minutes on each side.

For the sauce:
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (or whatever kind of chocolate you have)
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp butter

Heat ingredients over low in a saucepan until melted and smooth. Lick the spoon, and then apply to pancakes. : )

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chicken Parmesan: the remix!

I think Chicken Parmesan is one of those recipes that appeals to everyone. I wanted to make it for dinner without all of the fat that is found in a restaurant Chicken Parm. In other words, cut down on that breading! I wanted to focus on the protein and those classic flavors, without the excess oils. This version gives a minimal (but satisfying) breading, but doesn't cut back on the flavors!

In addition to cutting down on the fat, I wanted to cut down on the carbs with the usual pasta. Trust me, carbs are my bffs, but my husband is trying to cut down as much as possible, so I comply....sometimes. : ) In order to do that, I made a zucchini "pasta". This way, we were able to have something filling and fresh which resembles pasta! Also, this was a great way to use up the huge box of zucchini I got at the farmer's market.

The thing I noticed most about this recipe is the moistness (is that a word?) of the chicken. Totally flavorful, and the breading along with the sauce keeps all the moisture in the chicken. I could only finish half of mine because it was so filling!



Chicken parmesan:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cups tomato sauce or marinara (I just used a jarred marinara)
1 cup mozzarella (I would recommend the fresh, but only had shredded in my fridge!)
2 tbsp olive oil2 tbsp parmesan
1/2 tbsp oregano
1/2 tbsp basil
1/2 tbsp parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1. Heat oven to 350

2. Mix together the oregano, basil, parsley, garlic, and breadcrumbs. Coat the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture.

3. Heat olive oil in a pan until hot (little waves should appear in the oil). Brown each chicken breast on each side, heating about 1 minute on each side.

4. Pour the tomato sauce in a glass or ceramic pan. Place chicken on top of oil the tomato sauce, and top each breast with one tbsp of parmesan and one tbsp of mozzarella. Cook for 15 minutes covered with aluminum foil. Remove foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Cheese should be melted and chicken should be cooked through.

5. Place chicken on top of zucchini "pasta" (see below) and pour tomato sauce on top of chicken.

Zucchini "pasta":Take 3-4 small zuchinni and use a apple peeler to peel the zucchini lengthwise. In a large pan, place the ribbons of zucchini and 1/3 cup water. Cover for 5 minutes until the zucchini is soft. Uncover and cook until the water has evaporated. Toss with a sprinkling of parmesan and salt. I've also added marinara before, which makes it even more sneaky. : )

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blueberry Yogurt and Olive Oil Cakes

I think some of my best recipes/mad-scientist creations have come out of a necessity to use up excess ingredients. In this case I had an extra tub of yogurt and about 4 bags of frozen blueberries. (note to self: just because the blueberries are cheap doesn't mean I have to buy all of them...) I perused some "yogurt loaf" recipes, and created the following.

The cake has a much more complex flavor than your typical blueberry muffin recipe. The yogurt gives it almost a tangy, cheesecake flavor. The best part is that it is so SMOOTH and moist. Ohmygoshyum. This is my first experience with an olive oil cake, and I will be sure to have more asap. Lighter than pound cake, but heavier than a regular cake. I'm in love.


INGREDIENTS: (makes one regular "loaf" or 4 minis)
1 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup full fat yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cup frozen blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Mix together the first 3 ingredients in one bowl. Put these dry ingredients to the side.

3. In a separate bowl, cream together yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla and olive oil. Once these are nice and creamy, add blueberries.

4. Little by little, add dry ingredients to the wet. Mix just until mixed. A few lumps are ok.

5. Pour into greased loaf pan/s and bake for 40 minutes (for the mini loaf pans) or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Martha Stewart's Ultimate Chocolate Cake

If I haven't already mentioned it, I LOVE Martha. When I say love, I mean obsessed. It's a little much. In fact, I just spent about 20 minutes in PetsSmart looking at her new pet line. Everything she touches is gold. The fact that she went to prison and then came back to make her company even stronger makes her that much cooler. With that being said, I hope I have done her recipe justice.

I made this cake for an office birthday party. The birthday gentleman requested chocolate cake with chocolate icing, so I wanted to make it epic. I wanted people to have their veins flowing with chocolate by the time they were done eating a slice. I should also mention that the birthday party gave me a reason to bake other than to just make a cake and eat it all myself....

When I made the cake, I had left over batter, but not enough to make a whole other layer, so I decided to make cupcakes. The whole recipe makes enough for a two layer cake and 3 giant cupcakes. Perfect! Warning: I didn't flour the pans after greasing them, so I had a few near disasters! Both cakes had a crack on a corner, but I melted some chocolate and used it as a glue to put all the pieces in their place. Problem solved!

As it is Sunday evening and I am feeling a little on the lazy side, HERE is the link to the cake recipe. Additionally, HERE is the link to the ultimate chocolate frosting. Wanting to lick your spoon already? I thought so.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Italian Sesame Brittle

I was lucky enough to be able to take a trip to Italy in high school, and OF COURSE one of the best parts was the food. Little secret here: I could not fit in to any of my clothes when I got home. Oops! Too much gelato for me...

Anyway, I remember trying these and then buying a whole bag of them in an Italian candy shop, and then again in the Duty Free store at the Rome airport! They are great because they are sweet, but not too sweet. They have a subtlety to them that is unmatched in any other candy I've found. On top of everything else, they have a nice nutty tone from the sesame seeds.

I was super happy to find this recipe, from Great Italian Desserts Now, if I could only find a recipe to make the incredible little Italian Baci Balls


1 1/2 cup sesame seeds (I ended up throwing some black sesames in there for a little extra kick)
1 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
Shake of cinnamon

1. In a thick saucepan, heat all ingredients together until temperature shows 160 degrees CELSIUS.

2. *Carefully* pour the hot mess of sugary goodness into a pan lined with wax paper (I used 9x5 inch pan).

3. Let cool for 10-15 minutes. Once the mixture is hard enough to cut, but still warm enough to give without cracking, cut into rectangles, squares, or whatever shape you want. Dinosaur shaped? Yes.

***These are great with a REAL, strong Italian cappuccino.
Now, time for me to sit and reminisce...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cranberry Granola

Contrary to popular belief, granola is actually not very good for you. It's full of sugar, but people think "Oh granola! That's good for me! I will eat 3 cups of it!" It's not meant to be eaten like cereal, bowl after bowl. It's meant to be used in MODERATION (a key word I'm trying to apply to every day life...) to give you some essential fats and complex carbs. Otherwise you're going to load up on the calories and sugars without even knowing it. I mixed this with plain, organic yogurt, just enough to give it texture, and it was something I could feel good about.

Now, on a lighter note, it's delicious! Granola is nice because you can utilize just about anything you have laying around, be it fruit, nuts, grains, etc. I made cranberry because we had a big bag of dried cranberries and a bottle of cranberry juice, but you can really mix it up to use up whatever you have. It's easy and will last. Put it in a ziploc and freeze extras which will last for weeks. Or, as I like to do, share it! Bring it to work, or put it in a nice jar and give it as a gift.



3 cups rolled oats (NOT the silly instant kind, the old fashioned ones)
1 cup sunflower seeds ( I didn't have raw, so I used roasted, salted)
1/2 cup almonds (or any other nut you have)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup canola oil (and extra to coat the pan)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup juice (I used cranberry)
1 tbsp honey

1. Preheat oven to 400 and grease a large cake pan with canola oil.

2. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl (ingredients 1-7) and set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the final 4 wet ingredients.

4. Pour the dry ingredients into the pan. It should be about 1 inch thick.

5. Pour wet ingredients over the dry and mix slightly.

6. Bake for 45-60 minutes, mixing every 15 minutes. Be sure to scrape the sides into the middle to avoid burning.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mango Guacamole

Ok, so I have to give credit to my husband on this one. With having Mexican genes, I think he naturally is gifted in guacamole making! He realized one day that he liked avocado (for good reason!) and wanted to make guacamole. He asked for a suggestion, and I told him add mango for the sweet and salty combo. He took that and ran with it! Although I made this batch, he came up with the original recipe. The sweet and salty are amazing with the fatty, nutty avocado. I may or may not have eaten almost the whole batch just now...umm...oops?


2 avocados
1 mango
1/2 large tomato or 1 roma tomato
1/2 lemon
1/2 lime
garlic salt

1. Peel and dice mango. Spoon out the avocado. Dice the tomato. Mash these three together.

2. Squeeze 1/2 of lemon and 1/2 of lime on guacamole. Taste the mixture and decide how much garlic salt you want to add ( I like a lot!).

3. Eat copious amounts of this good stuff with tortilla chips, pita chips, or anything else your heart desires.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

Here's a little taste of autumn (oh how I miss thee, crisp weather!) in the middle of hot, muggy Tennessee June. These muffins have a great texture because of the chopped apples, and I used my mother-in-laws homemade apple sauce, which also has some chunks of apples. PS, I hate the word "chunk", but sometimes there's no alternative.


INGREDIENTS ------------>
Makes 8 JUMBO muffins!

1. Preheat oven to 350. Either line muffin tins with paper or spray with oil/butter.

2. Peel and chop apples (it took me 2 small gala apples to make 1 1/2 cup chopped)

3. Mix together dry ingredients (the first 5)

3. In a separate bowl, cream together eggs, sugar, and oil. Add in applesauce and vanilla, mix well. Add in apples, and then dry ingredients one cup at a time.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

OPTIONAL: I sprinkled the top with butter and brown sugar before baking to give it something a little special.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Super Simple Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Here's a nice alternative to its fried counterpart! Really easy, but very flavorful. They help to satisfy that french fry craving, without the grease remorse!

Ingredients: (serves 2)
1 medium to large sweet potato
1.5 tbsp olive oil
course sea salt and course ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Wash sweet potato and cut into eighths, lengthwise

3. Mix sweet potatoes with olive oil and shake on the S & P.

4. Bake for 30 minutes (I used a stainless steel pan, but you could also use a cookie sheet), or until insides are soft and outsides begin to crisp.