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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

I know, I know, it’s been a long time since I have posted anything.  I’ve been busy traveling and having company and a lot has happened that has kept me away from cooking for a while (or at least finding time to write about any interesting recipes).  But fear not, I have been sticking mostly to my Paleo diet and feeling great.  There has been a good deal of cheating on the weekend, but I try to minimize it as much as possible by finding ways to tweak recipes to make them fit my diet better.

Weekend before last, we went over to a CrossFit reopening event where everyone brought something that was as close to Paleo as possible.  One of the recipes that came along were these delicious lemon bars with a crust that was somehow slightly crumbly and slightly chewy, a perfect combination with the lemon curd topping.  Of course I had to try this myself.

Crust before going in the oven

Crust after coming out of the oven

After looking through a variety of recipes, I landed on a couple different ones that I combined and altered a bit to make my own.  For the crust, I followed this lemon bar recipe and for the filling I most closely followed this recipe (props to her for the creative and hilarious name of the website).  Clearly, if you look at the recipe for the filling, I decided to add a little dairy into my Paleo dessert.  I am lucky enough that dairy doesn’t affect me to strongly, so while I still use it in moderation, I do occasionally pop it into recipes – typically via cheese.

The flavor of the filling of this was great and the hint of almond from the almond extra was perfect.  I think you could cut the crust recipe in half and have a much thinner crust based on preference.

**As a side note, I found (by accident) that if you bake the crust, let it cool, then pour in the filling, you can put in the fridge and bake it off at a later time if necessary.  Just be sure to let the baking dish come back to room temp after taking out of the fridge before putting it into a hot oven if using a fragile dish like the one I used.  I also think a little cinnamon in the crust would be fantastic, but haven’t tried it yet so didn’t want to post it.
Crust:
2 cups nuts (I used 1 cup almonds, 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup pecans)
2 eggs
1/4 cup grapeseed oil (I’ve also heard that coconut oil works well)
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp salt
Filling:
8 oz (1 package) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 c honey
3 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs
1/2 pint blueberries (fresh or frozen is fine)
For the crust:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Process nuts in food processor until ground, but not too finely, I like a few bigger chunks.  Combine nuts, eggs, honey, oil, salt and pour into a greased round pie dish (I used a 12 inch diameter deep dish pie dish).  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Set aside to cool.
For the filling:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Using a hand mixer, blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Pour on top of crust and sprinkle the blueberries over top.  Bake for 25 -35 minutes or until top is just starting to get golden around the edges.

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There was something missing from the first batch of muffins I made.  They were good, but a little dryer and not quite sweet enough.  They were, should I say, average muffins.  I have made about three batches since and I think I finally found the right combination, so I thought I would share.

I have to continue to credit Elana’s Pantry for the base recipe which I shift and play around with to suit my tastes.

**Since I first posted this recipe, I have been playing around with it a lot (since I make these practically every week).  I know replace all of the oil with a 1/2 cup of apple sauce (make sure it is unsweetened!).  This seemed to keep the muffins from getting too soft and wet as they sometimes do with the oil).**

Here you go:

Serves 10 muffins.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

3 eggs

1/2 cup strawberries, mashed

1/3 cup grapeseed oil

1/4 cup agave nectar

1 tbsp vanilla

1/4 cup blueberries

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup pecans

Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl, blend eggs, strawberries, oil, agave, and vanilla together with a hand mixer.  With the hand mixer, add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until smooth.

Stir in the blueberries, walnuts, and pecans.

Scoop the mix into pre-greased muffin tins (I find they come out much cleaner in greased muffin tins instead of paper lined, but use whichever you prefer).

Bake for 20 minutes or until just slightly golden (keep an eye on them as they go from golden to burned quickly).  A toothpick inserted should come out clean.

Store wrapped in a paper towel in a plastic bag at room temperature (I find the fridge does funny things to the muffins – kind of dries them out).

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My friend pointed out last night that it had been a long time since I posted – shout out to the LionWhisperers – which is true.  It’s been a long busy few months (work and personal) and I just haven’t found the time or motivation to post.  If you must know as well, I’ve done some damage to myself (arm injury, slamming my face into a wall) which has made me a little lazier than normal.  I think, too, I cook a lot differently these days than I used to cook so my “recipes” just don’t really seem like anything worthy of sharing.  Most nights of the week I throw a piece of cod or flounder basted in olive oil, salt, and pepper on the grill with some asparagus and cherry tomatoes on the side, which let’s admit isn’t really ground breaking cooking.

I should also admit that I don’t think writing and photography are my strong points, so I’m not 100% happy with how my blogging turns out most times (I can also be a bit overly critical of myself).  I really enjoy blogging, but not sure that my readers always get where my mind wanders due to my writing/thinking style (if I can call it a style?).

For example, as I am sitting here typing I can’t decide where to take this particular post next.  Do I talk about lunch?  Which is the one meal that is always (still) a challenge on the Paleo diet…but as I think that, I think I may need to do a lunch specific blog one of these days to get all my ideas in one place and to see if I can solicit some new ones as well.

Do I talk to you all (if there are any you’s reading) about cleaning all the carbs out of my pantry??  About the fact that I cheat every weekend on my diet??

So then I try to refocus my mind again, back to the subject at hand, my lack of exciting cooking and blogging.  So, while I say that I don’t cook like I used to I have been doing a few interesting experimentation’s with different forms of carb substitutes.

I know I’ve mentioned one of my favorite sites these days, Elana’s Pantry, quite a few times.  The recipe today is a modification, once again, from her site.  When you can’t have carbs, you really need to find some substitutions for things like bread, muffins,  and potatoes.  Elana has a lot of great ideas and most are easily modifiable.

I decided to try out a recipe for muffins made with coconut flour earlier this week but Elana  made Blueberry and Cream Cupcakes and I made mine into Banana Walnut Muffins.  I also cut back a bit on the agave and oil a bit – but I can tell you from experience that her recipe is amazing as written and I may go back up on the oil and agave next time.   Either way, the muffins were tasty and satisfied my need for carbs.  I had at least two a day and here is how I made them…

Banana Walnut Muffins

Makes 12 muffins.

½ cup coconut flour, sifted

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

3 eggs

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1/5 cup agave nectar

1/5 cup grapeseed oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line or grease muffin cups.  Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, bananas, agave, oil, and vanilla extract with a hand mixer.  Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients with hand mixer and mix until smooth.  Fold in walnuts.
Using an ice cream scoop, scoop and one scoop of batter into each muffin cup.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

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Oh.My.Goodness.  Smitten Kitchen never lets me down!  These cookies were straight from her site and so good that I couldn’t help myself but write about them as well.  I’ll be honest that I have learned my lesson when baking finally, FOLLOW RECIPE EXACTLY or beware of the results.  So I did that, except no raisins for me because I didn’t have any in the cupboard.  Mine didn’t come out quite as pretty as hers (or perhaps it’s just my terribly photography skills), but I do believe they must be just as tasty.

These cookies were a good find in a pinch because I always have oats on hand and the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples as well.  On the surface, oatmeal cookies may sound bland and not so exciting, but don’t let these little gems fool you – they were quite possibly one of the best cookies I have ever had.  What’s even better?  You can freeze them off and save them so you have cookies on demand – in fact – they are even better after frozen!

 

I put instructions on the bag for cooking!

Makes about 3 dozen silver dollar sized cookies

Ingredients

1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon (I used a rounded tsp because I love cinnamon)

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup oats (I used the quaker non-instant type)

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

raisins (optional – I’d say about a half cup if you want to use)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla together.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt (whisk this together so it is well blended).  Combine the flour mixture and the butter mixture a little at a time.

Stir in the oats and walnuts.  Cover the batter and chill in the fridge for about 15 min.

I used a tablespoon measure to scoop out my batter.  I then rolled it into balls and placed 3 on parchment paper to bake off for myself for a single serving.  I baked those for 12 minutes and they were golden brown around the edges and the center still looked a little moist when I pulled them out.  Let them cool and set for about 5 minutes before you devour them.

For the rest of the batter, I rolled it into similar sized balls, placed on parchment paper and put the whole tray in the freezer.  Once frozen, I transferred them to a freezer bag, which I labeled with instructions (350 for 12-14 min) to keep for emergency cravings (those have happened to come every night since I made them).  I found after freezing that they needed an extra two minutes to cook.

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So, I woke up yesterday morning and after writing my post from the evening prior, decided I was starving (and a little hungover).  I don’t tend to keep a lot of ready-made breakfast food and I will admit that most weekend mornings find me at Bagel Bin – they have a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich on a roll that sends me to a place of euphoria (and then I add on a pastry – yes I know I cannot keep up this routine without needing to grease the door to get me into the shop in the future).  But the pastry and sandwich are heavenly.

However, as I mentioned I was a tad hungover and was also quite unpresentable in my state, I decided it would be better off for me to cook.  I was actually watching a show on The Food Network by Marcela that immediately made me want to make crepes.

The tip I got from the show, which was something I had never known or tried, was to let the batter sit for 30 minutes so the bubbles will disappear.

This made about 10 crepes.

3 Eggs (2 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk)

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup flour

2 tbsp butter (melted)

pinch of salt

Topping of choice (I used strawberry jam and marscapone)

Throw all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Set the batter aside to let the bubbles disappear (I waited about 20 minutes and they weren’t completely gone but I was able to stir the batter lightly and almost all were gone).

Get a small fry pan nice and hot on the stove (I used medium high heat).  Spray the pan with cooking spray (or brush with melted butter – I used Pam).  Using a measuring cup, scoop out a 1/4 cup of the batter and pour onto hot pan.  Immediately swirl the pan so all the batter evens out in a circle on the bottom of the pan.  Let it cook for about 1 minute.  The edges will start to brown very slightly and will pull away from the edge of the pan.  Flip the crepe with a thin spatula and cook for about 30 seconds on the other side.  Both sides should be a light golden brown.

I spread marscapone and jam on mine, but they could also be covered in syrup, powdered sugar, whipped cream.  They could also be filled with something savory like the original version (I have had them this way as well and they are phenomenal).

**Note**After making a whole batch of these, I only ate two, so I had a bunch leftover.  I decided to try freezing them for later.  I separated each crepe between a piece of plastic wrap and put them into the freezer.  This weekend I pulled them out, pulled off two layers (so I would have two crepes) and microwaved both for 20 seconds and they were perfect!

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Cookies!

I don’t make many desserts, in general, but I love them.  When I watch the show with the two sisters who make cupcakes in Georgetown, I have to go get cupcakes immediately (the more icing the better).  I am always “that girl” who wants to just see the dessert list at restaurants, I just can’t help myself.

The only cookie I make on a relatively regular basis is the thumbprint cookie.  They are great to give as gifts at Christmas time and they are easy to change up if wanted.  Best of all, they are so easy!

I’ll tell you how I made them tonight and then give a few possible alterations to shake it up.

Poppyseed Almond Thumbprints

Makes about 24 half-dollar sized cookies.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter room temp (or softened for 10 seconds in the ‘wave)

1/4 cup brown sugar packed

1 egg

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 tsp poppy seeds

1 cup flour

Flavored jam to fill the prints (I used strawberry and apricot on this batch)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix butter, sugar, and egg together.

Stir in poppy seeds, almond extract, and flour a little at a time.

Roll dough into balls about the size of a large cherry.

Press the back of a 1/4 tsp or your thumb into each ball to create an indentation.

Fill each indentation with your choice of jam.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Possible alterations:  use vanilla extract instead of almond extract, add 1/4-1/3 c peanut butter, top the cookies with coconut before baking, roll the cookies in nuts, use lemon curd instead of jam, great lemon or orange peel into the dough…the list goes on and on!

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