The Great 8: Valentine’s Day Recipes

Ready for Valentine’s day?
Or Galentine’s day! This year, my girlfriends and I are getting together for a potluck.  I plan on making some pizza and some goodies from the list below. So, if you’re getting together with your sweetie, friends, or it’s just you and and a glass bottle of wine, here’s a list of some of my favorite delicious in a dash recipes you can easily whip up this weekend.  Share your love with food!

Looking for a breakfast treat?

Peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins.jpgOr how about some homemade granola? My Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola is crunchy and makes a great topping for yogurt, oatmeal or just for great snacking.  It’s much healthier and tastier than anything you get in the store. (cheaper, too!)

Maple Pecan Quinoa GranolaEasy and Delicious Meals:

Tasty Vegetarian: Easy Thai Coconut Butternut Squash SoupEasy Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup.jpg

A hearty sausage and pepper pasta – a perfect winter meal.  Especially enjoyed when eaten after shoveling feet of snow after successive Nor’easters.

20140318-081953.jpgDelicious Desserts:

No-Bake Butterscotch Oatmeal bars.  No oven needed – whip these up in no time at all!

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For the peanut butter lover:  The best peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, EVER

Super chewy and never flat.  You can make a few cookies and freeze the extra dough for later.

The Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies.jpgFor the chocolate addicts in your life: Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies.  These are for chocolate lovers and must be accompanied by a big glass of milk.

Triple Chocolate cookie stackFinally, the top thing I am making this Valentine’s day is a favorite of my taller half – Pomegranate Strawberry Cheesecake bars.  They are made with pomegranate Greek yogurt – so no need to spend your time getting those pesky seeds out of the fruit.  (You can also sub strawberry yogurt if you can’t find pomegranate)Pomegranate Strawberry Cheesecake bars.jpgForget about the cards and the mediocre boxed candy.  Share your love with delicious food! ❤

 

 

Winter Kale Salad with a Maple Vinaigrette

A hearty kale salad with a 4-ingredient maple vinaigrette. This salad is simple, yet has many flavors and textures that will keep you satisfied until you’re ready to devour that Valentine’s Day candy. And why not eat that whole box? You just ate a salad!

20150130-204131-74491501.jpgI first discovered a version of this salad on Cookie and Kate, who adapted it from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I was looking for an easy, non-oven-using vegetable recipe to serve at my Mom’s Thanksgiving. She makes so many delicious dishes that I knew I couldn’t take up any oven space. I also needed to make most of it hours before so I wouldn’t get in the way and I would be free to help her. Kale seemed like a good choice, since it is such a hearty green, doesn’t wilt like lettuce or baby spinach and can be prepared hours before eating. The only potential issue with kale is that I knew I was taking a huge risk serving kale at my family’s Thanksgiving. I have a reputation of bringing food that isn’t traditional enough on Thanksgiving. A few years ago I brought my Easy Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup and most of my family revolted against it. Some refused to even try it. They reacted to it as if I was I was asking: “would like to try this gum I scraped off the bottom of my shoe?” So you can imagine, I didn’t have high hopes for most of my family to even try the kale salad. But to my surprise, everyone LOVED it.  They said the maple vinaigrette was their favorite part! I was hoping for leftovers, but there were none left! What a compliment.

Winter Kale Salad with a maple vinaigrette

That’s right. You heard it. On Thanksgiving, where we have 3 types of stuffings, 20lbs of turkey, roasted crispy potatoes and about 10 other dishes, this very kale salad was eaten up. If that doesn’t convince you to make this, I don’t know what will.

dressing and apples2I’ve adapted this recipe slightly since Thanksgiving. Since it has been SO COLD in Boston (and we’re buried under 40 inches of snow, no biggie), I’ve taken to wilting the kale first. It warms it, and I feel like it’s much more fitting for winter now. You can make this raw or wilted. Whatever tickles your fancy.

before after kale

Left: Before wilting. Right: After wilting

Just in case you are not sold yet, let me briefly elaborate on why this salad is so great. The maple syrup in the vinaigrette brings a little sweetness that tempers the bitterness of the crunchy radishes and the toughness of the kale. The granny smith apple is tart and juicy while the goat cheese adds some creamy decadence. Finally the salad is finished off with toasted walnuts for a nutty crunch and some protein. Bam. All the flavors you would ever want in a salad.

Winter Kale Salad radish.jpg

Kale chips are overrated. Make a kale salad.

 

Winter Kale SaladRecipe: Winter Kale Salad with a Maple Vinaigrette

 Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

Kale Salad

  • 1 Bunch of Kale
  • 4-6 radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 Granny smith apple, cored and chopped
  • ½ cup of walnuts
  • Lots of goat cheese (2-3oz)

Maple Vinaigrette

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

1. Toast the walnuts: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Allow the walnuts to cool before adding to the salad. Walnuts can be toasted up to a week before. Store toasted, cooled walnuts in an airtight container.

2. Wilt the Kale: Rip off the leaves from the ribs. Tear the leaves into bite size pieces (or however large you like them) and rinse well with water. With the kale leaves still wet from the water, add them to a large pot with a lid. Wilt the kale leaves with a pinch of salt on medium heat. Stir the kale about every 1-2 minutes to wilt all the leaves evenly and leaving the top on the pot when not stirring. I usually wilt the kale for about 3-4 minutes or until kale has become a bright green color and has become fragrant (See picture in the post). Time and amount of water will depend on how much kale you are wilting and how big the pot is.  The small amount of kale I have in the picture only took 1 minute to wilt (2 handfuls of kale leaves) and no extra water except what was on the kale to rinse. You may need to add a little more water if it dries up before your kale is wilted.  Be careful not to add too much water or cook it too long, or your kale will be super chewy.  After kale is wilted, drain any extra water and squeeze the kale to remove excess water before adding kale to a large bowl and set aside.*

3. Make the dressing: In a small bowl add olive oil, maple syrup, red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard. Whisk with a fork until well combined.

4. Put it all together: Dress the salad and let the leaves soak up the dressing about 10-15 minutes before serving. Top with radishes, apples goat cheese and walnuts.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, if desired.

*Another way I have also cooked the kale for this salad is to saute with a little bit oil (olive or vegetable) in a non-stick skillet for a few minutes until it has softened a bit (3-4 minutes).  The original recipe serves the kale salad raw. I have made this raw and it is delicious! Head over to Cookie and Kate to get good tips on how to prep raw kale.

Recipe sources: Maple Vinaigrette deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

Kale salad adapted from Cookie and Kate

Looking for some more great vegetarian recipes?

Breakfast Grilled Cheese

Egg Apple and cheese sandwichMy taller half and I eat this sandwich at least once a week.

Spanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell Pepper

Spanish TortillaA delicious egg and potato dish.  A spin on the traditional Spanish Tortilla.

Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke dip

Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke dipMy favorite dip.  Perfect for watching movies and trashy tv shoes when you’re snowed in.  It’s made with vegetables and Greek yogurt – so it’s totally good for you.

Exciting news!

We’re in the midst of a blizzard here in the Northeast and I’m taking a break from shoveling to share some exciting news with you.  My curried apple tuna salad was featured on the Huffington Post! If you’re here from there, thanks for stopping by.  Grab a drink and take a gander. A great place to start is with one of my most popular recipes, and it’s a great winter breakfast recipe, peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins. 

As for what is coming up, I have some great winter posts in store for you over the next few weeks.  Here’s a few photos for a sneak peak:

Winter kale salad with a maple vinaigrette

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Easy spaghetti squash with a basil pesto

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Lightened up Nutella swirled banana bread

Nutella-swirled Banana breadStay tuned! And to all my northeast folks: stay warm and good luck shoveling!

 

Two Minute Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

A creamy and filling oatmeal that tastes like pumpkin pie and takes only 2 minutes. It’s dessert for breakfast!

Pumpkin Pie oatmeal bowl 5It’s PUMPKIN SEASON! That also means that it’s getting cold out.  Like real cold, real fast.  This weekend we saw the first flurries in Boston.  Did you get snow?  Ah!  get ready.  With all this cold weather, it really makes me want something warm for breakfast.  Cold cereal, or a quick muffin won’t do. I need something that will warm me up AND fill me up and take less than 5 minutes to make. As I’ve said before, I have a bit of a sweet tooth when it comes to breakfast.  I made two pumpkin pies last week.  One was for a work Halloween party and the other was a test pie that my Taller Half and I enjoyed for most of the week. The pumpkin pie was delicious, and it went GREAT with my morning coffee.  I figured, hey, I’m eating a vegetable for breakfast.  But I know pie is not really a wise breakfast option if I want to fit into a wedding dress in May. That’s when I came up with this little biddy.   Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal.

20141030-221157-79917429.jpgThe stars of this oatmeal include:

  • Quick Oats
  • Milk
  • Brown Sugar
  • Pumpkin puree
  • Cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice
  • Biscoff Spread (or Cookie Butter)
  • Toasted walnuts (optional)

And the best part (besides how creamy and pumpkin-y it tastes) is how quick it is to make.  It only takes 1 minute to assemble and 1 minute to cook in the microwave!  Check it out – delicious pumpkin pie oatmeal in a DASH.

20141030-221225-79945597.jpgMeasure our your oats

20141030-221226-79946313.jpgAdd milk (or water, if you prefer) and pumpkin puree

20141030-221226-79946973.jpgAdd the spices and brown sugar.  Then microwave for 1 minute.

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To finish off this filling Fall breakfast, stir in some Biscoff spread (or Cookie Butter).  The Biscoff spread gives the oatmeal that “graham cracker crust” taste.  AND it makes the oatmeal extra creamy.  Do I even need to give these reasons? Biscoff ALWAYS makes everything better. Don’t believe me? Check it out herePumpkin Pie oatmeal bowl picI LOVE dessert for breakfast, especially when it’s not actually dessert AND has a vegetable int it!  Since this only takes you two minutes to make, you have some extra time.  So go ahead, sit down and enjoy your creamy and healthy pumpkin pie (oatmeal) for breakfast. 

20141030-221155-79915931.jpgRecipe: Two Minute Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Yield: 1 serving

Time: 2 minutes

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of Plain Quick Oats (the kind that cooks in 1 minute)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup milk  (or water – depending on how thick you like your oatmeal)
  • 1 Tablespoon of pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice**
  •  Sprinkle of cinnamon**
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar  (If you want it sweeter – just add more)
  • 1 teaspoon of Biscoff Spread
  • 3 Toasted walnuts (for serving, optional)

Instructions:

In a microwave safe bowl, add oats, milk, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar. Stir everything until combined.  Microwave for 1 minute.  Stir in Biscoff Spread and top with toasted walnuts, if desired.  Enjoy!

*** I really like cinnamon and usually add a sprinkle of cinnamon along with the pumpkin pie spice.  Pumpkin pie spice works best in this recipe, but if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can substitute cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  I would do a 1/8 tsp of cinnamon, and a light sprinkle of cloves and nutmeg.  Adjust spice to your liking.

 

I really like Oats.  Do you? Check out my other recipes using oats:

No-Bake Butterscotch Oatmeal Bars

No-bake Butterscotch Oatmeal bars.jpg

Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola

Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola

Chocolate Coconut Granola

Chocolate Coconut Granola

Maple Walnut Apple Crisp

Maple Walnut Apple Crisp

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Muffins.jpg

Strawberry-Glazed Salmon

Sweet, juicy and baked with berry goodness! A healthy and delicious dinner that is on the table in 30 minutes.  Delicious dinner in a Dash!

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Are you ready for a strawberry treat that you can eat for dinner?  If you have eaten salmon before, you may have had maple-glazed salmon, orange-glazed salmon or honey-glazed salmon.  Allow me to introduce you to their sweet, juicy, slightly spicy, delicious and much better looking cousin, Strawberry-glazed salmon. 

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This salmon is made with a quick homemade strawberry glaze that is studded with garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and a touch of salt. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes (the cooking time may vary depending on how thick the salmon is) and enjoy!

This summer has been packed with fun.  I’ve been to two beautiful, fun weddings, vacationed with my family + adorable nieces and nephew on Cape Cod (Happy was there!) and moved in with my Taller-half!  One thing I didn’t get to do this summer was go strawberry picking. But I made up for it by buying strawberries by the 3lbs and made this strawberry-glazed salmon 3 TIMES in two weeks.  Yeah, it’s that good.

I also made a strawberry cucumber salad with a balsamic lime vinaigrette to go along with it. (recipe coming soon!)

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Did you miss all the strawberries this season?  No worries, you can use frozen berries for this too! Never cooked fish before?  This is the time to start! This recipe is perfect for beginners and can be enjoyed by all.

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This simple recipe starts by preparing the glaze. This glaze is easy and quick and makes all the difference! In a small saucepan, add sliced strawberries, water, sugar, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook this on low heat for about 10 minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved.  I used raw sugar, but you can use white sugar or even brown sugar.

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Place salmon in a baking dish and carefully pour the hot strawberry glaze over the salmon. Note: The baking dish I used below (9×13 inch) here is too big and the glaze will burn a bit – this can be avoided by adding a little water to the pan halfway through baking. Two pieces of salmon (~5-7oz each) fit nicely in a square 8×8 inch pan.

Strawberrry glazed salmon.jpgBake salmon for 20 minutes, or until salmon is flaky.  If you are not sure you can use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the thickest portion.  It should read 140F/60C

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Serve with a salad and enjoy!  Strawberry goodness.  Healthy and light.  It’s the perfect end of summer meal.

Recipe: Strawberry-glazed salmon

Serves: 2 (This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled…)

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of raw sugar (white granulated sugar or brown sugar can  be substituted)
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • sprinkle of salt
  • 2 skinless salmon fillets (5-8 oz each)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F

Spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside

Make the Strawberry Glaze:
In a small saucepan, add the strawberries, sugar, water, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook on low heat, stirring frequently until all the sugar is dissolved and the strawberries are soft, about 10 minutes.  This mixture can burn easily, so be sure to keep an eye on it.

Place salmon in prepared baking dish.  Carefully add hot strawberry glaze over the salmon. Using a spoon, gently spread and press the glaze on the salmon.

Bake at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes** (time will depend on the size and thickness of the fillets) or until salmon is opaque throughout and flaky.  You can also use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the thickest part of the fish.  The temperature should be 140F or 60C.

Serve the salmon warm.  Salt and pepper the salmon, to taste.

**About halfway through cooking, check on the fish.  If the pan is too large, the glaze will burn.  If this is happening, just add a little water to the dish, enough to make a very thin layer on the bottom.  This will prevent burning and de-glaze the dish.  

*** The salmon can be served with more glaze on top.  Just double the glaze recipe and upon serving,  top with more warm glaze.

Baby Banana Pancakes

Mini pancakes that are perfect for your little ones.  They have a light banana flavor and are easy to make and are special diet friendly – they are gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free. Pancakes for EVERYONE!

20140531-232520-84320527.jpgMy little niece, Happy, is the cutest 1-year old in the whole world.  She loves Elmo, bananas, singing the abc’s and “ninach” (spinach).  She also giggles and smiles all the time, which is why I call her Happy. But poor little Happy is allergic to almost EVERYTHING. Dairy, eggs, certain preservatives and possibly wheat. My sister-in-law was having a hard time finding  snacks to give Happy, so she asked me to test out some recipes. These tiny pancakes quickly became Happy’s favorite snack.  They are very easy to make and freeze well so you can always have a quick and healthy snack on hand to give your little one.

20140531-232521-84321926.jpgI tried a few iterations of this recipe (as well as a failed muffin recipe) before coming up with this final recipe.  If you have little ones in your house who love bananas – make them these pancakes!  They have no added sugar, no dairy, no eggs and are made with rice flour.  Perfect for little tummies. You can find rice flour in your grocery store in the baking aisle – usually next to the all-purpose flour.  You can also buy it online.  I buy Bob’s Red Mill (see picture below).  I also tried making this with brown rice flour, but I found the pancakes came out too dense.

20140531-232519-84319882.jpgAnother great thing about these pancakes is that they only have 7 ingredients AND they take about 4 minutes to cook up.

20140531-232602-84362535.jpgRemember, these pancakes were formulated for little tummies, so they are not bursting with flavor. But if you’re not making them for toddlers, you can add some cinnamon and nutmeg for some spice and some sugar (or honey/agave) for some sweetness, to the batter.  I would start with a teaspoon of cinnamon, a sprinkle of nutmeg and 1-2 tablespoons of sugar – and adjust from there.  For those who are not allergic to peanuts, I enjoy them made as is, then slathered with peanut butter and jelly.  Mmm.  Perfect breakfast on the go – peanut butter and jelly banana pancakes.  Yum

20140531-232523-84323271.jpgFast. Tasty. gluten-free vegan pancakes.  Perfect for little and big tummies alike! Pancakes for EVERYONE!

Recipe: Baby Banana Pancakes 20140531-232521-84321268.jpg

Yield: 15-20 baby pancakes-serves about 2 adults

Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium overripe banana
  • 1 cup plain soy milk (or any milk)
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 cup White Rice flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl mash the banana very well.  Then add the soy milk, applesauce and vanilla and stir until well combined, set aside.
  2.  In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients.
  3.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and then stir until just combined. Do not over mix.  The batter will be lumpy.
  4. Spray a small frying pan with vegetable oil spray (or coat with vegetable oil) and heat the pan on medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of batter and cook for about 2 minutes or until edges are rounded and bubbles form in the middle. Then flip the pancake and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Enjoy plain, with maple syrup, your favorite jelly or peanut butter (or both!).

Store leftover pancakes in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week. Pancakes can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Recipe adapted from: Food.com

 

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie (butter) Cake

A rich, chewy, and decadent cookie cake.  Made in 35 minutes flat – from prep to your plate or belly.  Gooey, chocolatey, cookie buttery cake. With an easy Biscoff caramel on top.  Yep.  Biscoff caramel.

Cookie butter cake light

This is the ultimate.  Why is this the ULTIMATE?  Because it is just so damn good.  When you bite into this cookie cake you’re going to say “Wow” but it will sound more like “Mow” because your mouth will be full of chocolate goodness and gooey Biscoff caramel.  That was the reaction I got when my coworkers devoured this cake and again when I brought this to my future mother-in-law’s house, then to a friend’s graduation party and then again to a family BBQ. Many of them asked for the recipe, so I decided to triage this cake to the top of the blog roll. In the past 3 weeks, I have made this cake FOUR times. It really is incredible how chewy and rich this cookie cake is.  And drizzled (or smothered) with a Biscoff caramel on top.  Moist, chewy, chocolately goodness.  And, it is SO simple to make – I will show you step by step how simple this was.  Don’t take my word for it.  Just scroll down.

Cookie Butter Cake.jpgThis recipe came from me needing a quick dessert. You know, when you need something delicious and you need it NOW!  Whether it be you have last minute guests, or you are such a clutz, you dropped the original dessert that took you hours to make and now it’s all over the floor, scattered with broken glass. Or you had a bad day and there is no pint of Ben and Jerry’s in sight. Or maybe you’re just looking for a quick and delicious way to use up that Biscoff in your cabinet so you stop eating it by the spoonful 3X a day. #dessertproblems

WELL, let me tell you, that this cookie cake is about solve all your problems.  ALL of them.  Because that’s what cookies are.  Problem solvers.  This cookie cake is faster than baking individual cookies (no dropping dough on a pan, or chilling dough), it is faster than baking a cake (no mixer required!), it is faster than blondies (no hour + cooling time needed).  And, if I haven’t mentioned, it is so damn good.

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Chewy, chocolate, cookie goodness. It is so moist, and so chewy, it is the ultimate cookie cake.  If you like chocolate chip cookies, and you like blondies, you will LOVE this cake.

I promised this cake is easy – so here is a quick rundown of the steps in photo form:

20140605-074207-27727615.jpg1. Melt the butter

2. Add brown sugar

3.  Add Biscoff (Save a spoonful for yourself!)

4. Beat in 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, and vanilla

5. Add flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder

6. Fold flour until well incorporated.

Then add your chocolate chips – I used a mixture of semisweet and white chocolate for this cake. Then pat into a prepared pie pan and bake for 20 minutes

20140526-113026-41426595.jpgThe next time I used a combination of semisweet and butterscotch chips – YUM (My taller half LOVES butterscotch)

The last step is to make your Biscoff Caramel Sauce.  As I’ve stated before: I LOVE Biscoff – it is the most delicious thing that comes in a jar.  So why not smother the top of this cookie cake with some extra Biscoff love.  The caramel sauce is made with just equal parts milk and Biscoff stirred together until smooth.  This makes a creamy drizzle on top of your cookie cake.  You can alter the ratio to get a thicker or thinner caramel on top.  I made it with both a 1:1 and a 1:2 milk to Biscoff ratio. The 1:2 ratio yields a thicker caramel (see left bottom pic) which makes it difficult to drizzle (compared to the 1:1, the bottom right pic) But I honestly loved it both ways.

20140609-235623-86183078.jpgCan’t decide? Heck, just make it all 4 ways.

 Also, try some Biscoff caramel in your morning oatmeal – shhhh I won’t tell.

Recipe: Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie (Butter) Cake Cookie Butter Cake.jpg

Yield: 1 9inch cookie cake

Time: Prep 10 minutes Bake: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2
 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup Biscoff
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (Or half semisweet chocolate chips and half white chocolate or butterscotch chips)

Biscoff Caramel

  • 2 Tablespoons of milk (I used 1%)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Biscoff

Instructions:

Make cookie cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round pie pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Stir to mix everything and set aside.

Melt butter in microwave, just until there is a small piece of unmelted butter left. In a large bowl, stir melted butter and brown sugar until well combined. Then add in the Biscoff and mix until well incorporated. Next add the egg and egg yolk and vanilla and stir until everything is well combined.

Add the mixed dry ingredients into the large the bowl with the wet ingredients. Fold the flour mixture into the Biscoff mixture using a spatula until well incorporated. This may take a minute because the wet ingredient mixture is thick, but keep folding, everything will go in. Fold in the chocolate chips. Then dump it into the prepared pie plate and pat down using your hands to make an even layer.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until cookie is light golden brown on the outer edges. Allow cookie cake to cool about 10 minutes.

Make Biscoff Caramel drizzle:

While cake is cooling, in a small bowl, stir milk and Biscoff until well combined. This may take a minute or so, just keep stirring. If you would like a thicker caramel to spread, use only 1 tablespoon of milk.

Drizzle or spread Biscoff Caramel over cake. Serve directly from pie pan and enjoy!

Store leftover cookie cake in plastic wrap or in a sealed container. Cookie cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days

Want more BIscoff?

Easy S’mores Cookies Bars

Easy S'mores cookie bars.jpg

5 Ingredient Toasted Pearl Couscous

A tasty dish filled with veggies and done in 30 minutes using a whole grain that looks like little pearls. So cute.

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Sorry for those of you who received the teaser email last night with an incomplete post.  My butterfingers hit “Publish” instead of “Save”  and emails automatically went out (a bloggers nightmare) Ahh!  

Today I’m sharing a recipe using pearl couscous.  If you don’t know what this is, it is also known as Israeli couscous and are small balls of wheat or semolina flour.   They have a slightly chewy texture – and when toasted, like I do for this dish, they have a subtle nutty flavor.  It’s a nice alternative to rice or pasta.  It can be found near the rice in most grocery stores.  Or if you’re lucky, you can buy it from the bulk bins.  This dish can be used as a side dish or a light main dish (feel free to toss in beans or your protein of your choice) – perfect for all you Meatless Monday folks!

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Grape Tomatoes were on sale last week. $0.88 a pint!! That’s CRAZY! So, naturally, I went crazy and bought 4 pints of grape tomatoes. After inhaling two pints raw, I wanted to enjoy the others cooked. My favorite way to cook grape tomatoes is to roast them. It makes them even sweeter, and doesn’t require you to do much to them. I just plop some chopped garlic in the baking dish, sprinkle some olive oil, salt and pepper and bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes and TADA!  EVEN SWEETER grape tomatoes. Yum.  This is also a great way to use grape tomatoes that are starting to wrinkle and not look so “salad fresh”.

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While your grape tomatoes are roasting, you can toast and cook the couscous.  Toasting really brings out a nutty flavor and is a small extra step that is totally worth it.  To toast the pearls, simply saute them with olive oil in a saucepan on low-medium heat, while stirring for about 5-10 minutes until the couscous is lightly browned. Then add your liquid and frozen vegetable of choice ( I threw in some frozen spinach) and simmer for 10 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Add the roasted grape tomatoes and their juices to the cooked cousous. Then add a little water to the baking dish to deglaze it (which will get all the roasty deliciousness out) and add it to the cooked couscous and dinner’s ready!

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In 30 minutes and 5 ingredients (not including olive oil and salt pepper) you have a delicious vegetable filled side dish that is nutty and full of grape tomato sweetness.

 

Recipe: 5 Ingredient Toasted Pearl Couscous 20140519-065127.jpg

Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 as a side dish, 2 as a light main dish (this recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled…)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced or roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup Pearl Couscous (Israeli Couscous)
  • 1 1/4 cup of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1 cup of frozen chopped spinach (or frozen veggie of your choice)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  In a oven safe baking dish, toss grape tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes or until tomatoes start to caramelize.
  2. Add the remaining oil to a medium saucepan.  Over low to medium heat, add the couscous and cook, stirring for about 5-10 minutes, until light golden brown.  Add the broth and frozen spinach and bring to a boil.  Immediately, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add cooked grape tomatoes plus their juices to the cooked couscous. You may remove the garlic or smash up and add to the couscous (depending on how much garlic flavor you like) De-glaze the baking dish with a tablespoon or 2 of water and add to the couscous. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm with a sprinkle of cheese.

* Garbanzo or cannellini beans go really well with this dish if you are looking to serve as a main dish and want some extra protein. Just toss in after the couscous is done cooking.

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Want more quick veggie dishes? Click on the Vegetarian Link on the top menu or try one of my favorites below!

Vegetarian Orzo Parsley Salad Orzo Parsley Salad.jpgSpicy Avocado Egg SaladSpicy Avocado Egg Salad.jpgSpanish Tortilla with Baby Spinach and Red Bell PepperSpanish Tortilla.jpg

Chocolate Coconut Granola

Need an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast?

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I usually don’t. But if you have judgey roommates, spouses, coworkers, pets or parents… here’s a DELICIOUS, healthy, more sensible (and socially acceptable) way to enjoy chocolate for breakfast. CHOCOLATE COCONUT GRANOLA! Crunchy, nutty, rich and chocolatey. Easy to prep and only 25 minutes to bake. Get ready for your new favorite granola.

20140429-224418.jpgAs I have mentioned before, I LOVE eating sweet stuff for breakfast. I also really like granola. Really.

What better way to cure those midweek “I don’t want to get out of bed” blues than by starting your day off with some morning chocolate! Chocolate is a great motivator.🙂 Also, your kitchen will smell like chocolate cake while baking this. I’m getting hungry just thinking about that smell.

Of course, granola is not just for breakfast. This crunchy, chocolatey treat makes a great topping for yogurt, ice cream or just by itself. While photographing this, I ate HANDFULS. That tends to get problematic when your subject amount keeps disappearing. Whoops.

20140430-013742.jpgYou might be saying: “How the heck is this stuff healthy??” To make this granola, I used my maple almond cinnamon granola recipe as a base.   This Chocolate Coconut Granola has a very similar sugar and fat content as the base recipe.  How? I removed a little bit of the butter/oil fat and sugar to make up for the addition of some chocolate chips that really bring home the chocolate taste. I also added some flaxseed meal which adds some extra fiber and some healthy Omega-3s. You can totally omit this ingredient if you don’t have it. It won’t change the flavor with or without it. You’ll just be missing an extra “healthy” boost!

So, go ahead. Have it for breakfast. You know you want to.

20140429-224328.jpgAnother great thing about this granola: It’s adaptable. All you need are old fashioned oats and unsweetened cocoa powder. Other than that – you can do equal substitution of many ingredients. Don’t have almonds? That’s ok, substitute another type of raw nut. Don’t have nuts? Allergic to nuts? Sub in more oats. Allergic to coconut? (sorry Alana!) No worries, sub in more nuts or oats. Want to use coconut oil? Sure. Or flaxseed, double paleo, super slick, vegan, dairy-free, nut-free, caveman oil? No problem. Want to use butter? YES – go right ahead. Want to add dried fruit instead of chocolate chips? Wait, WHAT? Sure, you can. But you’re missing the point. Want to stick to the recipe? That’s cool too.

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Since I’ve posted variations of this recipe two other times, I’m not going to bore you with the details. I’ll save you the reading time. If you need more photo explanation – head on over to my first or second granola posts for more detailed process/prep pictures.

I will stress, you want to mix in the cocoa powder with all your wet ingredients until smooth. It will look like a thin, chocolate ganache – and it will taste so rich and chocolatey. Mmmm – go ahead and give it a taste.

20140429-225752.jpgGo. Make some. Make your house smell like chocolate cake that you can eat for breakfast!

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Chocolate Coconut Granola.jpgRecipe: Chocolate Coconut Granola

Yield: About 4.5 cups

Time: 30-35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup of raw nuts, coarsely chopped (I used raw almonds)*
  • ½ cup of sweetened shredded coconut*
  • ¼ cup of flaxseed meal (optional and can omit without substitution)
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil*
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons of water
  • ¼ cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (dark or semisweet)**

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 320 degrees F. Place oven rack on top 1/3 in the oven. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the first set of ingredients (oats through the salt) and stir.
  3. In a small saucepan, add the oil, honey,*** water, brown sugar and cocoa powder. Whisk while gently heating on very low heat for about 1 minute. Then turn off heat and continue to mix until everything is smooth and well combined. Do not overheat – this mixture will burn easily. You can also mix this without heat, but I find warming the mixture makes it easier to get everything well combined and smooth.
  4. Pour liquid over oat mixture and stir until the oat mixture is well coated. Stir in chocolate chips and spread into a single layer on prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 320 for 25 minutes – stirring once half way. Allow to cool to room temperature and store in a airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

* See the above text about substitutions

**Chocolate Chips are heat resistant and don’t melt, but they do get soft. If you don’t want soft chips or are using baking chocolate, be sure to add this AFTER baking the granola.

*** Be sure to add the oil first, then use the same tablespoon to measure honey, the honey will slide right out because the oil created a nonstick surface!

Recipe adapted from my Maple Almond Cinnamon Granola

20140429-224439.jpgOops. I spilled again. I guess I’m just going to have to eat to clean up this mess.

Want more granola?!

Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola

Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola.jpgMaple Almond Cinnamon Granola

Maple Almond Cinnamon Granola

 

 

 

 

Pomegranate Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

Pomegranate Strawberry Cheesecake bars made with Greek yogurt that will satisfy your craving for fruity Spring treats and won’t bust your waistline.

20140414-002049.jpgFruit, Oreos and cheesecake!?! YES. This is what we’re making today. Creamy cheesecake made with tart pomegranate Greek yogurt and speckled with sweet strawberries. No need tap out all the seeds from a pomegranate for this cheesecake. Nope. That is waaaay too much work. I just used pomegranate yogurt that has the seeds mixed in!

20140414-002101.jpg Had too many treats for Easter? Impossible! But I know I’ve eaten a TON of Easter candy. I love Cadbury mini dark chocolate eggs! The dark chocolate ones are harder to find than the milk, but they are well worth the search! I’m also a Peeps fanatic (shocking, I know). All that candy is delicious, but these bars, MMmmm MMm. Besides being creamy, fruity and chocolately all in one bite, these bars come with a bonus – they are made with Greek yogurt – so you get a nice boost of protein. They are basically like a health food. (not really, but that’s what I tell myself when I scarf down my fourth bar of the day) AND you probably get a serving a fruit with 4 bars, so, go ahead, have that fourth.🙂

20140414-002111.jpgThe other great thing about these bars is that they are EASY. Yes, I know, I usually say this about my all my recipes, but I only say it because it is true! Let’s make some Pomegranate Strawberry Cheesecake bars!

Start by adding a teaspoon of sugar to about 10 sliced fresh strawberries.  Let these macerate – this allows the strawberries to release some of their delicious juice – you can start this step hours ahead if you like.  While they are juicing up, make the crust.

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To make the crust, crush up the oreos in a food processor until they are fine crumbs (my food processor is very crappy, and thus, my crumbs are not fine) These less than fine crumbs still make a super tasty crust, but the bars can crumble a little easier when cutting. While the crust is baking you can whip up the cheesecake layer. The key to creamy cheesecake is to whip the heck out of your cream cheese (and to make sure your cream cheese is NOT cold).  You want all the sugar to get incorporated well into the cream cheese so you have NO LUMPS.  Add the remainder of the ingredients, except the strawberries, and beat until well combined.  Then gently stir in the strawberries with their delicious juices!

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Pour into a prepared pan and bake! Cool in the fridge (a perfect make-ahead dessert!) and get ready to enjoy creamy sweet, tart, oreo-licious cheesecake!

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Recipe: Pomegranate Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

Yield: 16 bars

Ingredients:

Strawberry Center

  • 10 strawberries, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

Oreo Crust

  • 25 oreos
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Layer

  • 8oz of cream cheese, softened to room temperature (This is essential!)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 container of Pomegranate Greek yogurt (Chobani is 5.3oz )
  • 1/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt – I used 2% (all yogurt should equal ~ 1 cup total)
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line an 8×8 pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang (for easy removal of the bars later).  Spray foil with non-stick spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon of sugar to fresh sliced strawberries, stir and set aside
  3. Make the Oreo crust: Using a food processor, crush Oreos into very fine crumbs.  Dump crumbs into a medium sized bowl and stir in melted butter until all crumbs are moist.  Press crumbs into a single layer in prepared baking dish.  Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  4. Make the cheesecake layer:  In a large mixing bow, add room temperature cream cheese and beat on medium-high speed until cream cheese is whipped – about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and then add half the sugar and beat on medium-high until well incorporated.   Scrape down the bowl again before you add the remaining sugar and beat on medium high until sugar is well incorporated.
  5. Add in the eggs and beat until well incorporated.  Then add the yogurt, flour and vanilla and beat until all are well incorporated.
  6. Gently fold in the chopped strawberries with their juices
  7. Pour over prepared Oreo crust into an even layer.  Bake for 35-45 minutes, until edges are set but the middle jiggles a little.  Let cheesecake cool to room temperature then place in refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours or overnight.  After cooling, remove from pan and slice cheesecake.  Enjoy!

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Pile-o-cheesecake. Oreo-licious. Berry-licious. Pomegrant-e-lcious. Yum.