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

 

Advertisements

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.

20140521-181232-65552918.jpg

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

Chocolate Coconut Granola

Need an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast?

20140429-224516.jpg

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.

20140429-224526.jpg

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!

20140429-224401.jpg

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.

20140418-221900.jpg

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!

20140417-074243.jpg

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!

20140418-222356.jpg

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!

20140417-074343.jpg

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

Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola

I never really got aboard the “WOOO QUINOA!!” train.

20140223-152221.jpg

I’m Italian. I eat pasta and bread like there’s an imminent flour shortage. And I don’t mean whole wheat or omega-3 fanciness. Nope. Plain ‘ol standard pasta. I know brown rice and whole wheat flour are probably a teensy bit better for me, but I enjoy the good stuff. Still, I attempted to replace a pasta/cous cous side dish with some quinoa. Eh. I’m just not that excited to eat it. And if you know me, I like to get excited to eat! So, I wanted to try to use quinoa in a different way. BAM – lets mix it with some oats and sugar and bake it! YES! now I can get excited to eat quinoa!

If you have seen my other granola recipe, you know how much I get excited about granola.

20140223-152303.jpg

Quinoa gives the granola some extra crunch and adds a little nuttiness. Who doesn’t want a little more nuttiness in their day? 🙂

Quinoa also adds extra protein to the granola. Quinoa is a complete protein; it contains all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make and we must get from food. So, eat up!

***Also, if you don’t want/have quinoa – you can still make this granola! Replace it with an equal amount of your favorite granola add-in: another nut, seed (sunflower, pumpkin etc..) or shredded coconut! (just replace it with something that can be baked (ie – not chocolate)

20140223-152254.jpg

Mixed Quinoa! You can use any kind of quinoa in this recipe. Fun Fact: Quinoa is a seed of the Goosefoot plant.

The other star of this granola? Pure maple syrup.

20140223-153617.jpg

No, that’s not Crown Royal. It is a Crown Royal bottle FILLED WITH MAPLE SYRUP!

I’m a really lucky girl. My Taller half’s Uncle gives these as Christmas gifts every year. Amazing, right?! Look at all that pure, rich, made with love maple syrup! I added the pecans there for a relative size comparison. So much delicious MAPLE SYRUP.

I understand that not everyone has a vat of maple syrup, so you can replace this with honey or agave. The taste will be slightly different, but equally delicious!

So now that I am sufficiently excited to eat – let’s make some granola.

20140223-152240.jpg

Making homemade granola is easy!

20140227-001526.jpg

If your quinoa is not pre-rinsed – give it a quick rinse in some cold water. Don’t worry about drying it off – the quinoa can be wet.

Combine all your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then in a small saucepan melt the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, oil, water and stir until well combined. Then add in the vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and mix until all the dry ingredients are well coated.

Spread out on a large baking sheet lined with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Bake at 320F for 25 minutes – stirring once at about 15 minutes. And DONE!

20140223-152328.jpgDon’t even get me started on how much more cost effective AND nutritious it is to make your own granola instead of buying it.

20140223-152233.jpgPlus, it tastes WAY better when it is homemade. Seriously.

20140223-152311.jpg

BONUS: Baking this will also make your house smell delicious. Start snacking!

20140228-192800.jpgRecipe: Maple Pecan Quinoa Granola

Yield: 4 cups

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (use gluten-free oats to make gluten-free)
  • 1 cup of pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed (don’t worry about drying it, it can be wet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1.5 tablespoons butter (or replace with equal amounts of oil to make vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or canola, or coconut)
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of real maple syrup* (you can replace with honey or agave)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 320 degrees F and place oven rack so it is in the top third of the oven. Line baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Rinse quinoa in cold water
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to make sure all ingredients are mixed well
  4. Add Wet ingredients except vanilla to medium saucepan and melt on low heat while stirring. *To easily measure maple syrup, spray measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray (such as Pam), before measuring. After wet ingredients are melted and well combined, remove from heat and add vanilla
  5. Pour the warm mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together using a rubber spatula – until all the dry ingredients are coated by the sugar/oil/butter mixture
  6. Spread granola out into a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 320 F for 15 minutes. Remove and stir granola
  7. Bake at 320 F for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Enjoy!

Adapted from my Maple almond cinnamon granola

Granola can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature for up to two weeks (good luck getting it to last that long!)

**If you don’t want/have quinoa – you can still make this granola! Replace it with an equal amount of your favorite granola add-in – such as another nut, seed (sunflower, pumpkin etc..) or shredded coconut! (just replace it with something that can be baked (ie – not chocolate or dried fruit)

Easy S’mores Cookie Bars

Happy Valentine’s Day! Time to mix it up with a sweet treat!

20140213-073459.jpgI LOVE s’mores. They’re gooey and chocolatey.  The flavor combination of marshmallow, chocolate and graham is one my favorites.  I’ll eat anything s’mores – s’mores ice cream, s’mores cake, s’mores candy, s’mores cereal (remember Smorz?!)… you get the idea.  There is just something about toasty marshmallows, melty chocolate and graham cracker that just make the perfect dessert for me. MMMmmm! My mouth is watering just thinking about these cookie bars!

20140210-194227.jpgThese bars are made with Biscoff spread, aka cookie butter.  If you have never tried Biscoff, it is a creamy spread made from Belgian Biscoff cookies – which are shortbread cookies that have a hint of graham taste mixed with a little cinnamon.  I know this sounds weird, a creamy spread made from cookies, but it’s not.  It’s the most delicious thing that comes in a jar, which is why I had to make some treats with it.  1. To make a DELICIOUS dessert 2. To use it up so I wouldn’t keep eating it straight out the jar with a spoon.  ACK!  I usually have pretty good self control, but this is my kryptonite.  Seriously.

20140213-073411.jpg

And if you’re wondering, yes, I ate this whole spoonful after I took the photo.

These bars are so great not only because they’re SO moist, chewy, toasty marshmallow-y and chocolatey, but because they’re super simple to put together! No mixer is needed!  AND, unlike standard S’mores, no individual serving assembly required – No fighting over the fire to roast your marshmallows and no sticky fingers.  You’re welcome.

Definitely Delicious in a DASH!

20140210-194300.jpg1. Combine all the wet ingredients and then stir in the Biscoff spread (Cookie Butter) 2. Add in the dry ingredients and 3. Fold in until well combined 4. Add in the chocolate chips and marshmallows 5. Toss it all in a baking dish lined with parchment paper 6. Smoosh it down and throw a few more marshmallows on top.  Then pop it in the oven – and you are 25 minutes away from Heaven.

Make this for your sweety for Valentines Day. Or better yet, Treat Yo Self!

20140213-071432.jpgMy taller half loves cheesecake – so I made him some special cheesecake bars for Valentine’s Day (stay tuned for the recipe!), but I’ll be making THESE for myself. Who says you can’t have a whole 8×8 pan of cookie bars for yourself?

20140213-070511.jpg

Stretchy, toasty marshmallow, and melty chocolate with a chewy, moist graham center.  Yep. make these for yourself.

20140210-194405.jpg

Happy Valentine’s Day, YOU. Wonderful, Beautiful YOU.

Recipe: Easy S’mores Cookie Bars20140213-073459.jpg

Yield: 16 bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Biscoff spread (or Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of mini marshmallows + an extra handful for the top

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients –  flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside
  3. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar together until combined and then add the eggs and the vanilla. Stir in the Biscoff spread. Stir until mixture is well combined
  4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Do not over mix – I usually fold with a rubber spatula to ensure that I don’t overmix.  The batter will be very thick.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips and marshmallows and “dump” the batter into a prepared baking dish.  Then press down the batter so that it is even throughout the baking dish and top with reserved marshmallows.  Gently press down the marshmallows.
  6. Bake for about 25-35 minutes. The bars will appear very soft and look under done but they will firm up as they cool. Allow the bars to cool completely- about 3 hours – before cutting into squares. *I know this is TORTUROUS but if you don’t wait, they will be too mushy and fall apart and you’ll need a spoon.  Totally feel free to eat them with a spoon 🙂

Cookie bars stay fresh for a week when stored in a sealed container at room temperature.

Enjoy!

Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke Dip

What are you eating on Super Bowl Sunday?  My answer is (usually) a lot.

20140131-194900.jpgLet’s get a little more specific. How about something warm, cheesy and spicy and still have some healthy stuff in it?  Then you will LOVE this Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke dip!

20140131-194828.jpgI’m not the biggest football fan, but I do LOVE an excuse to eat snacks and hang out with friends! Bring on the football!

20140131-194847.jpgThis recipe is a spinoff of your typical spinach artichoke dip, but it has a few extras in it that really make it special.  Lets go over the major players in our game:

  1. Spinach
  2. Broccoli
  3. Canned artichoke hearts
  4. Cream cheese (sounds unusual, but totally delicious)
  5. Greek yogurt (adds that extra creaminess!)
  6. Mozzarella
  7. Parmesan
  8. Garlic (because everything is better with it)

It is easy to assemble (all in one bowl), pop it in the oven and you have your warm and creamy dip in 25 minutes!  I know cream cheese sounds a little unusual but you won’t taste any cream cheese flavor (I promise!); it will just add creaminess.

20140131-231211.jpgThis dip will fit nicely in an 8×8 or 9×9 but I got a really awesome Le Creuset stoneware dish (1.75 qt) for Christmas that I really really really wanted to bake something in. It’s a really pretty blue color so it looks nice (it really does!) and it is heavy so it keeps food hot longer.   It’s amazing and I love it! – thanks Ro and Nancy! 

20140131-194934.jpgSprinkling some extra cheese on top – Mmmmm melty cheese!

20140131-194945.jpgDid I mention I snuck extra veggies in this dip? You get spinach, artichoke AND broccoli!

20140131-194957.jpg

What a beaut, right? Most of my kitchen stuff is hand-me-down or picked up at garage sales – so I really wanted to flaunt my fancy new baking dish! 🙂

20140131-231306.jpg

But most importantly is the warm, cheesy, creamy and veggie-filled dip that was made in the pretty dish!  Just another delicious way to get more vegetables in your diet!

Happy Snacking!

Recipe: Spinach and Broccoli Artichoke Dip

Yield: About 3 and 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 8oz of cream cheese, softened*
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 package (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup of broccoli, chopped small
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan- reserve a handful to melt on top
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided –  ¼ cup reserved to sprinkle and melt on top
  • salt, to taste
  • sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large bowl stir the softened cream cheese and Greek yogurt together until smooth.  Then add in the remaining ingredients and mix together. Spoon into 8×8 or 9 inch pie plate or oven safe dish. Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.
  3. Remove and sprinkle the reserved cheese on top and bake for another 2-3 minutes just until cheese is melted.

Serve warm with pita chips, pretzels, crackers or veggies.

*If you want to soften the cream cheese quickly, place the fully unwrapped cream cheese in a microwave safe dish and microwave it for ~15 seconds.

Curried Apple Tuna Salad

How about an apple and some tuna for lunch?

20131028-205956.jpg

How about we put them together.  On a sandwich. With some spice. Yum!

I’m constantly on the look out for new lunch recipes.  I ALWAYS bring my lunch to work because I hate buying lunch. It’s expensive, usually less healthy and I’m super indecisive, so it takes me forever to decide where to buy lunch.  But mostly, I am cheap and buying lunch is not.   In the past year, I have bought lunch at work 3 times.  THREE times.   Yeah, I’m wicked frugal.  So this is a great salad/sandwich to add to your lunch rotation!

20131028-205844.jpg

What else is so great about this Curried apple tuna salad?  It is delicious and healthy and perfect for using up some of those apples you still have.  Also, it is so full of flavor, you won’t realize it is healthy.  Really. And this is no wussy salad – it is FULL of protein. Tuna and Greek yogurt pack a pretty good protein punch that will make sure your tummy stays full at least until your 3pm chocolate break.  Wait, you don’t have a 3pm chocolate break?  What?!  Well, you should. Bonus: it is SUPER easy to whip up!  1 step.  There is only 1 step to make this salad.

20131028-205949.jpg

What is in this salad?

1. Tuna (I use chunk light, packed in water)

2. Plain Greek yogurt

3. Apple

4. Dijon mustard

5. Curry powder

6. Crunchy veggie of your choice

This is another recipe for you MAYO HATERS>>> There is NO mayo in this tuna salad!

20131028-205908.jpgThe warm curry flavor pairs perfectly with the crunchy, sweet apple.

20131028-205916.jpgAnd it all goes so well to make a creamy, crunchy, warmly spicy and slightly sweet tuna salad

20131028-205857.jpg

Mmmm.  Delicious in a Dash.  Seriously fast and scrumptious!

Recipe: Curried Apple Tuna Salad 20131028-205936.jpg

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 5oz canned tuna, drained (I like chunk-light tuna packed in water)
  • 1/2 of a medium sized apple, chopped (I like crunchy, slightly tart apples)
  • 3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder (depending on your taste)
  • 1/2 cup of your veggie of choice, chopped (I really like celery because it adds a nice crunch.  I used cucumber because that is what I had in the house – but I recommend celery)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, add all ingredients and stir until combined.

Serve on your favorite bread, lined with spinach leaves or lettuce or just eat it right from the bowl!

Enjoy!

Maple Walnut Apple Crisp

I hope you’re ready for some apple recipes!

20130925-213719.jpg

If you make one apple dessert this fall – make this maple walnut apple crisp! Apple crisp has ALWAYS been my favorite apple dessert. Why? Because I love the crunchy, sweet topping. AND because it is easier than pie (haha) – no crust needed!

My Taller Half and I recently went to Smolak Farms to pick apples. The orchard is picturesque and has dozens of apple varieties! I LOVE apple picking. Ever since I was a little piglet, I always looked forward to biting into a crisp, juicy apple just picked from the tree, and then would do this over and over again for until my belly was waaaay too full. This year, I held back a bit and didn’t make myself sick. It was a perfect fall day and we picked TONS of apples. I just couldn’t wait to get home and bake with the freshly picked fruit.

20131013-205113.jpg

A beautiful day at Smolak Farms!

Now, let’s talk about this crisp! It has such a thick, crunchy, cinnamon-y topping. Hands down my favorite apple dessert. It also went really fast!

20130925-213732.jpgThe filling of this crisp has tart apples (I used a mixture of Gravenstein, Cortland and Granny Smith), mixed with meaty walnuts, cinnamon and sweet maple syrup! And then there is the topping. OOOh the topping. It is so crispy, so thick, and crunchy (and of course cinnamon-y) and perfectly balances the tender, soft apples. You NEED to make this crisp. Bonus – It takes 5 minutes to put the topping together and only 5 minutes to make the filling. So what are you waiting for?!! Let’s make some maple walnut apple crisp!

20131016-235032.jpgSprinkle cut, peeled apples and chopped walnuts with cinnamon and a few squirts of lemon juice

20130925-213807.jpg

Pour the melted sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and butter “sauce” on top

20131013-205536.jpg

Prep the topping by mixing flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cut with chilled butter -just smash it up with your hands until it is crumbly, like so:

Crisp topping

Then add the walnuts to the topping and spread the topping over the apples

( look how thick that topping is!!)

20131016-235004.jpg

Place in the oven and wait 45 minutes for sweet, cinnamon-y, apple-y, maple-y, oat-y goodness.

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

20130925-213824.jpgOne more thing- If you don’t have walnuts, or don’t like walnuts you can substitute any other nut – almonds, pecans,  peanuts, hazelnuts etc… or just leave the nuts out. They add some texture and taste but are not essential to your new favorite apple dessert.

Recipe: Maple Walnut Apple CrispMaple Walnut Apple Crisp

Servings: 6-10 (or 2 if you are me)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 5-6 apples, peeled, cored, chopped chunky (I used Gravenstein, Cortland and Granny Smith – but any firm, baking apple will do – you may have to adjust the sugar if the apples you use are less tart and more sweet)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (substitute almonds, pecans, peanuts etc… or omit)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Few squirts of lemon juice (About 1/2 -1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping (adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (substitute almonds, pecans, peanuts etc… or omit)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss apples and walnuts with cinnamon and lemon juice and pour into a 8×8 baking pan.
  3. In a small saucepan on low heat, melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup***  while stirring.  Do this slowly, you don’t want your sugar to burn! When combined, remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  Pour sauce over apples in baking pan and stir to coat apples.
  4. Make the topping: In a large bowl, add all the topping ingredients EXCEPT the butter and walnuts.  Stir until well combined.
  5. Add the butter and use your hands to incorporate the butter and the dry topping.  This involves squeezing the butter and the flour/oat mixture together in your hands – until the mixture becomes crumbly – you don’t need to overwork this – you want the mixture to be lumpy.  Just smash it between your fingers with the oat/flour mixture – it will be uneven and will look like wet sand.  If you don’t like the “hand” technique, you can also use 2 forks, 2 knives, or a pastry cutter (oh so fancy!).
  6. Stir in walnuts and sprinkle the crumbly topping over the apples
  7. Place on top of a baking sheet, to prevent a sticky mess (just in case the apples/sugar bubble over) and bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes. As always, baking time may vary based on your oventop should be brown and you should see bubbles on the sides of the baking dish. The apples should be tender.
  8. Allow crisp to cool for about 10 minutes before serving – just so you don’t burn your tongue on SUPER hot, bubbly sugar/apple goodness.

Serve warm, with vanilla Ice cream if you please. I didn’t have any.  Shameful.

ENJOY!

*** For easy maple syrup measurement, spray tablespoon with non-stick cooking spray prior to measuring and maple syrup will slide right out.

Happy Fall!

Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies

This is a chocolate lovers dream.

20130913-010459.jpg

Do you wish you could have chocolate after every meal? Or maybe, INSTEAD of every meal?  Do you dream about chocolate while awake? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then THESE are your NEW favorite cookies. Chewy triple chocolate cookies.

Let’s review over the 3 major chocolatey players that make these cookies over-the-top chocolate:

  1. Unsweetened cocoa
  2. White chocolate chips
  3. Dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet, if you prefer)

Triple Chocolate CookiesThese cookies, and the fact that there are 3 chocolates together reminds me of my two  best friends from grad school, C and K. They both live in different states now. 😦

When we all lived in the same state, we enjoyed these really delicious “break and bake” triple chocolate cookies. They were really good, and you could break off just a few and bake them up. The downside of the “break and bake” cookies: they were really expensive. So, back in April, when I was going to meet up with the girls, I went on a mission to try and replicate the cookies.

HERE. THEY. ARE.

20130911-071017.jpg

I tested them out on C on our way down to DC to meet K to run the Nike All Woman half marathon in April.

Here we are after the race!

20130913-010400.jpg

Ok. ok. back to the cookies… C ate them on the plane at 7am (I’m a huge supporter of sweets for breakfast!) 🙂  SHE LOVED THEM.   They got a little banged up in the plastic bag, so she proceeded to tip the bag so that the crumbs would fall out and she could enjoy every last bite. Cookie replication success!

20130913-010421.jpg

The secret to these cookies being so chewy is honey! It keeps them soft and chewy for days after you bake them.  Honey adds moisture to the cookie, even after it is baked – it pulls moisture from the air (to get all science-y on you, honey is hygroscopic), so these cookies are guaranteed to stay soft! This is based off my Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies – which also have honey to keep them soft and chewy. The other thing about these cookies is that they are very, very and I mean VERY chocolatey.  They are not too sweet, which is why I added white chocolate chips to them.  White chocolate is much sweeter and balances out the cookie.

Triple Chocolate Cookie stitchA few important points when making these cookies –

1. Just as in my Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, cream the butter/sugar, then add the wet ingredients.  I always mix the dry ingredients separately and THEN mix the wet and dry together.  I really like doing this because it ensures that everything is mixed prior to combining, that way you don’t over mix your cookie dough.

You NEVER want to over mix your cookie dough.

2.  This dough MUST be refrigerated for at least 2 hours before baking. The dough must be cold.  Two hours might be overkill, but I want to make sure the dough is cold.  The chilled dough is sticky, but I promise you, the messy hands you get as a result of measuring out dough onto a baking sheet is WELL WORTH it.  Non-chilled dough is impossible to handle (WAAAY too sticky), and the cookies will just bake out flat.  blah.

flat cookies = sad Liz.

I know, I know, this waiting a whole 2 hours totally goes against my “dash” mantra, but you can make the dough ahead and keep it in the fridge a day or 2 or 3 or freeze them until you’re ready to bake them up.

20130911-070939.jpgLook at that soft, chewy chocolatey center and the dark chocolate chips are all melty…  Mmmm my mouth is watering just thinking about these gooey, chocolatey cookies.   Not too sweet, and all the chocolate you have ever wanted. Fat. Chewy. Delicious. Super Chocolate cookies

20130911-070901.jpg

20130911-070939.jpgRecipe: Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies

Makes ~20-24 cookies

Wet Ingredients – step 1:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar

Wet Ingredients- step 2:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of honey*
  • 1 tablespoon water

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet chocolate chips, if you prefer)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients, except chocolate chips, and set aside
  3. In large mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients from step 1. Cream the ingredients until smooth
  4. To that same mixing bowl, add step 2 wet ingredients *To measure out the honey, use a non-stick cooking spray (like Pam) to spray the tablespoon. The honey will slide right off the tablespoon and you won’t loose any honey.
  5. Mix all the wet ingredients (step1 and 2) until well incorporated
  6. Add the mixed dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir the wet and dry until just combined
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips
  8. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours  (or wrap in double layers of plastic wrap and freeze)
  9. After dough has chilled, roll about a tablespoon of dough into a ball and place on a baking sheet. You can smoosh the cookies with your hands if you like.  The dough will be sticky.
  10. Bake for 9-11 min. 10 minutes is perfect for my oven and the size I bake, but it may vary based on oven and cookie size.  Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet – then go ahead and DEVOUR them.  Cookies may look a bit underdone – but that’s ok!  They will continue to bake a few minutes after being removed from the oven. If you over-bake them, the cookies will get crumbly.

Recipe Source: deliciousinadash.wordpress.com

Want MORE soft and chewy cookies made with honey??!!  Check out my Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Ever (or to see representative step-by-step pictures of creaming butter and sugar)

The Best Peanut Butter Chocoalte Chip Cookies, Ever