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!  ❤

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

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.

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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?

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

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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!

Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies

This is a chocolate lovers dream.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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

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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

The Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER

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My best friend, Chelsea, defended her doctoral thesis on Friday, and this post is in honor of her. What is her connection with these supposed “Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER”? Chelsea, is not a cookie lover. You know, she’s the type of person who will choose any other type of dessert over a cookie. Well, ladies and gentleman, this changed after she tried these cookies. She’s actually requested me to make these cookies multiple times AND she nagged me for the recipe. I say nagged, mostly because I took forever to give her this recipe. I stink at writing down recipes, which is one of the reasons I started this blog. It forces me to write down my recipes and it makes it easier for me to share them with my friends and beyond!

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These cookies have clearly changed Chelsea’s life (for the better), and I’m confident they will change yours. What makes these cookies the absolute BEST?

These cookies are super chewy and soft, and they are this way consistently. Look at those beauties. They’re nice and fat.

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If you like crispy cookies, sorry, these are not crispy. But I do beg you to try these, because I bet you will like them. No. You will love them. They might even convert you to being a chewy cookie lover. Seriously, if you follow my easy recipe – no substitutions, they will come out perfect every time you make them. These cookies don’t flatten and these cookies don’t run. The dough doesn’t need to be refrigerated before you bake them, but you can if you need to. Normally, cookies are a delicate beast, so to be able to say these are so easy to make and hard to mess up?! Well, we have a gem on our hands.

Another bonus? The peanut butter to chocolate ratio is perfect and they are not too sweet. I’ve worked really hard to perfect this. *disclaimer: your taste for chocolate/peanut butter may vary.

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Do you need anymore reasons? OK Ok, I have another one for you. The dough freezes really well. This means you can have fresh baked cookies in under 10 minutes anytime you want. ANYTIME. I guess this can be a pretty dangerous thing. But, eh. Enjoy life. You can whip up a batch and divide it into smaller portions and wrap 2x in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer.

20130418-075253.jpgThen when you want the Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER, you just take a frozen portion out of the freezer, let it thaw for ~ 1 hour on the counter, or a few hours to a few days in the fridge – and bake up a fresh batch. Simple, easy and amazingly delicious. I guess you could say these cookies are Delicious in a DASH : )

20130418-074844.jpgSo how do you make these chewy, chocolatey, peanut buttery cookies in a DASH?

First, pull out your butter so it can soften at room temperature. You never want to melt your butter, just let it sit at room temperature about 5-10 minutes. While your butter is softening, gather up all the other ingredients and bowls and things. I usually prep my dry ingredients first, because my butter is still softening. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. **When measuring flour, be sure to scoop into the cup, and then level off with a knife. You never want to scoop with the cup. It will pack the flour down into the cup and you will measure too much. For more on how to measure flour, check out the King Arthur Flour website.

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Now tackle the step 1 wet ingredients. I cut the still cold stick of butter into 4-6 pieces, this way, it is easier to mix. **A tip for measuring out the creamy peanut butter – spray the cup with non-stick cooking spray – it will make the peanut butter slide out easier.** I also have always used Skippy creamy peanut butter with these cookies, but any creamy peanut butter will do. I’ve never tried natural peanut butter with these cookies, (I usually save that for sandwiches) so I can’t guarantee their perfection, however, you can try.

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In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars and peanut butter together. If you are using a mixer, do not go above medium speed, it will warm up the butter too much. It should look like the picture below. Make sure the ingredients are very well combined, mix for about 3-4 minutes. You want the sugar to poke holes in your butter so your cookies will have air in them (the baking soda needs some air in there to work with). Now, I should warn you, if you taste this stuff at this phase it will taste like peanut butter frosting. Careful, you need this stuff to make the cookies, but go ahead, taste it. : )

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Next, combine step 2 of the wet ingredients to mixing bowl that contains the well-creamed butter/sugar/peanut butter mixture. ** Tip for measuring honey. Just like the peanut butter, spray the tablespoon with non-stick cooking spray before measuring the honey. The honey will slide right out.** Mix all the ingredients till they are well combined.

20130416-215254.jpgFinally, Add the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) to the mixing bowl that has the well mixed wet ingredients. I add the dry ingredients in 2 batches – ½ in, stir till combined, then the other ½. Do NOT over mix your cookie batter at this step.

After the flour mixture is incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips. Mmmm

To measure out the cookies, I usually use a tablespoon, this is the size cookie that my baking time is for. You can certainly make them larger. You will need to adjust the baking time. These cookies don’t spread, so you can put them closer together than I have pictured here.

20130418-075239.jpgNow you’re ready to bake. Get ready for peanut buttery, chocolatey deliciousness!

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Mmmm! Warm, creamy peanut butter and melty chocolate.

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Recipe:20130416-215148.jpg

The Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, EVER

Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 and ½ cups of flour (I use all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

Wet Ingredients – step 1

  • ½ cup of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature (1 stick)
  • 1 cup of creamy peanut butter (not natural kind – I like Skippy the best)
  • 1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup of white sugar

Wet Ingredients – step 2

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 and ¼ cup of semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients 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. You may add the mixed dry ingredients in 2 batches to make it easier to incorporate.
  7. Stir the wet and dry until just combined
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips
  9. Drop cookies onto baking sheet using a tablespoon to measure. You can smoosh the cookies with your hands or mold them into balls if you like.
  10. Bake for 7-9 min. 8 minutes is perfect for my oven and the size I bake, but it may vary based on oven and cookie size. ** The cookies will be soft and a will look a little underdone – but will cook a little more as you let them cool on the sheet.  Do not over bake.  The cookies will come out hard and crumbly if you bake them too long. 

Enjoy!

Cooled cookies keep for a week in a sealed container.

Dough freezes well up to 3 months.

You can also refrigerate the dough for up to ~ 3 days before baking.

* I used a mixer because I have one. But you do not need any mixer to make these cookies.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies