Date and Walnut Blondie

Healthy Experiment #2

P1150051.JPG

The first time I looked at this recipe, I was skeptical. And if I’m completely honest, I am still not 100% convinced that these little guys are worth the investment (Be warned– the maca powder cost me nearly 15 bucks). But, these date and walnut treats surprised me with their increasing appeal. The cacao nibs are the secret ingredient of the recipe, for me anyway. Not only do they provide a chocolately crunch, but they also are an excellent source of magnesium, iron, fiber, and all kinds of antioxidants! These raw blondies are piled up with superfoods, including walnuts, hemp seeds, maca powder, and cacao nibs. In other words, every single ingredient is worth having in your body, even if the price tag is a bit high.

This recipe is a slightly different version of “The Raw Blondie” found in the cookbook My New Roots.

Ingredients
– 2 cups whole raw walnuts
– ¼ cup maca powder
– ½ cup hemp seeds
– ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
– 2 ½ cups pitted Medjool dates
– ½ cup cacao nibs

Directions
1. Put the walnuts in a food processor and blend on high until the nuts are finely ground (but not too much).
2. Add the maca, hemp, and salt to the food processor. Pulse to combine.
3. With the food processor running, add the dates, one at a time, through the feed tube. The mixture should hold together, but should not form a paste. Sprinkle the cacao nibs in and pulse briefly to combine.
4. Line an 8-by-8 baking dish with plastic wrap. Press the mixture very firmly into the pan, so it holds together, especially around the edges. Chill in the freezer for at least 3 hours before eating.
5. Using a sharp knife, slice the blondie mixture into squares and serve. Store any extra blondies in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

P1150053

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time looking up different superfoods and their benefits. This post would be a book long if I wrote everything I have read. So I recommend doing some research. It’s amazing some of yummy healthiness you might be missing out on!

Cocoa Banana Cupcakes

P1010826

The best milkshake that can be made by human hands is the cocoa banana milkshake. Not chocolate and banana, oh no… cocoa! It’s the real deal. It’s not dumbed down with milk or any bad sugars. It’s healthy; some call it a “super-food.” But even if you’re not a health fanatic, you could always mix cocoa into a milkshake or cupcake as a source of (no, not antioxidants, though it does contain a lot of them) tastiness. The milkshake combo gave me the idea to use cocoa and bananas in a cupcake. Oooh, this is good. The cake is similar to banana bread, but with a bit of cocoa added; and the cocoa frosting is rich and delectable.

P1010830

Cocoa Banana Cupcakes

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Total Time 40 minutes plus cooling
Yield Makes 12
INGREDIENTS

    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 3 teaspoons cocoa
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas), plus 1 whole banana, for garnish (optional)
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture (do not overmix). Dividing evenly, spoon batter into muffin cups.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.

Cocoa Frosting

INGREDIENTS

2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
powder
DIRECTIONS
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa, and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with evaporated milk. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar.
Click here to find out more!

Cranberry Orange Scones

Citrus, sugar, and butter— a spring breakfast doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Mmmm, these scones are just the thing. I usually don’t love anything in the realm of dried fruits (ugh, raisins!); but in baked oatmeal and these scones, dried cranberries get their promotion. Welcome to delectability, dried cranberries! Yes, cranberry orange scones make me drool. One note: it is completely worth following all the steps (kneading, glazing, and all) in order to get the scrumptious end-product. That orange marmalade butter… I’ll just say it’s worth going to the store to buy orange marmalade.

P1010556

Cranberry Orange Scones

10 Servings   Prep: 20 min   Bake: 15 min

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 10 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons orange marmalade
DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 7 teaspoons sugar, orange peel, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the cranberries, orange juice, cream and egg. Add to flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. On a floured surface, gently knead 6-8 times. Pat dough into an 8-in. circle. Cut into 10 wedges. Separate wedges and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with milk; sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove to a wire rack. Combine glaze ingredients if desired; drizzle over scones. Combine orange butter ingredients; serve with warm scones. Yield: 10 scones.

P1010565

St. Valentine’s Day Cheesecakes

P1000557

I altered an old but yummy recipe to yield these sweet, addicting cupcakes. A while back, I made some little cheesecakes topped with apricot jam. They were, oh, so good!  Today, needing something rich and red, I made those same cheesecakes, but they had the same fate as the good Saint himself. They’re bleeding….. Just kidding y’all! It’s raspberry sauce. Well, they were tasty. For the crust, since I didn’t have any chocolate cookies, I used vanilla wafers and added a generous tablespoon of cocoa. That worked out nicely. In case I don’t get back before then, have a happy V-day!

Rich Chocolate Cake and Raspberry Whipped Cream

The title of this blog post pretty much describes my taste buds. Cream+ raspberries+chocolate (not the guilt-free, light and fluffy kind) = best dessert PERIOD. I was going to make it in the form of cupcakes, which make this girl happier than a monkey eating a banana. But seeing the shelves cupcake-liner-free and my hands being less than willing to scrub hole after hole of the muffin tin, I resorted to a cake. It proved itself; if it had been anything less than what I expected, I would now be signing a paper shunning the idea of ever making a cake again. Fortunately, the cake will be given more chances. Anyway, the cake recipe follows, and I just topped it with a homemade whipped cream which I mixed with a small bit of liquid raspberry jam (got the idea from my Food Network Magazine).

IMG_9215

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 10-inch round cake pan by greasing it with cooking spray and then lining the bottom with parchment paper.

2. To make the cake, pour the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Whisk thoroughly to ensure that all of the ingredients are incorporated.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs and granulated sugar on medium speed until light-yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. With the mixer running on low speed, mix in a third of the flour mixture and half of the milk. Scrape down the bowl. Add another third of the flour mixture and all the remaining milk. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining flour mixture until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

5. Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the pan in the oven and bake for 20 more minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Then turn the cake out onto a clean plate, remove the parchment, and turn the cake back over onto a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely.

Cranberry Sauce

I don’t know about you, but cranberry sauce is one of the best things about the Thanksgiving meal. Well, really everything is the best part of the meal… hmmm, except the green  bean casserole. Anyways, back to the sauce. I love it so much I even eat that canned, jellyish, weird kind. But if you’re looking for some top-notch cranberry sauce, I’ve got the kind for you. It’s pretty sweet but fresh tasting, since, after all, it does use fresh cranberries. The recipe calls for cointreau, but considering we didn’t have any on hand, I used apple cider in its stead, which I think was a good move. It’s so fast and easy. I probably made it in about 20 minutes including cook time. I wanted to post  a pumpkin pie we made– I put the word “PIE” on top using crust. So excited about it… But the pie crust edges fell into the pie, so now we have a collapsed pie, not worthy of a photo. I also made a pumpkin cheesecake pie today. Let me know what you are making for the big meal. Y’all have a happy and thankful Thanksgiving!

Yummy Cranberry Sauce

Directions:

Combine one 12-ounce bag cranberries, 1 diced peeled Granny Smith apple, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup Cointreau or Grand Marnier, 1/2 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and cloves in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the berries start to pop, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the grated zest of 1 each lemon and orange; chill.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

Wow, I’m finally back from my blogging slump! Tonight I made a pumpkin swirl cheesecake. I love pumpkin everything, maybe just because it signifies fall. Or maybe I love fall because of pumpkins… Either way, you can feed me any kind of pumpkin something, and I’ll gobble it up! For this recipe, which I whipped up in about 15 minutes (besides cook time), I just used frozen pie crust (that may be a no-no, but it was super handy!), and I actually only used 8 ounces of cream cheese, because we didn’t have any more. But I’m pretty sure it would be even better with all the cream cheese! It was delicious!!!

Yum! On a side note, I can’t wait to show y’all my doily project!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Pie crust
  • Filling:
  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (300 degrees F. for a dark springform pan) and position the oven rack in the center of the oven.

For the Cheesecake Filling:
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla until well blended. On low speed, 2 eggs one at a time, mixing each time just until blended. Remove two-thirds of the batter and set aside.

To the remaining batter, add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Using a large spoon, stir to combine.

Pour the pumpkin batter over crust in a pie pan. Spoon the set-aside batter over pumpkin layer. Using a long butter knife, gently swirl cheesecake batter without disturbing crust to achieve a marbled effect.

Bake for 50 minutes or until center is almost set. Do not overbake. Use a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the crust. Cool completely on wire rack. Remove outer pan and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, before serving.

Yield: 12 servings

Raspberry Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a slight bit of a cheater’s version (cake mix out of a box!), but unfortunately they worked perfectly. I say unfortunately because I now may become a lazy baker and use a mix more often. I might say that a homemade mix would taste a little better. But if you’re in a time crunch, these are just the thing. The reason I made these is because I was craving a cupcake, but definitely not something that would sit heavy in my tummy. These meet both  criteria: #1- Cupcake and #2- Light. They are beautiful cupcakes except for the fact that they are blue. I wish I could made the raspberries stay a little more separated from the batter, but at least it didn’t mess up the taste! I’m sorry I can’t advertise how many fingerfuls of icing I had. Giada’s recipe that I used calls for almond extract which I did use, but I might recommend leaving that out. I adapted the recipe slightly by adding raspberries into the batter as well as the icing. So you can try hers (below), or use some of my pointers, or go all natural and make your own mix instead of using the boxed kind.

Here’s the batter before it turned blue!

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix (recommended: Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe)
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 3 large eggs whites
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 (6-ounce) containers fresh raspberries, cut in half or 1 (16-ounce) container fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, plus additional for dusting

Directions

Line 18 muffin cups with muffin papers. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cake mix, water, egg whites, melted butter, almond extract, and vanilla extract in a large bowl for 2 minutes, or until the batter is well blended. Using about 1/3 cup of batter for each cupcake, spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake the cupcakes until they are very pale golden on top, about 15 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely on a cooling rack.

Using a fork, coarsely mash 1 1/2 containers of raspberries in a medium bowl. Beat the cream and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar in a large bowl until firm peaks form. Fold the mashed raspberries into the whipped cream.

Generously dollop a spoonful of icing onto each of the cupcakes and eat immediately.

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

I generally cannot tolerate the mint/chocolate combination. But these cupcakes are sensational. I will admit they can’t be healthy. The icing is a mint  buttercream… emphasis on butter. The cake part of it is so easy to make, but the icing is the most complicated icing I’ve ever made. That’s not an exaggeration. You really can’t make these cupcakes and leave off the chocolate mint leaves. They just top it off (literally!). So if you have some time on your hands and some pounds to gain, these are the cupcakes for you. If you don’t, make ’em anyways! The recipe is here.

Here’s the chocolate mint leaves in the making:

Apricot cup-cheese-cakes

I had an urge to bake cupcakes today. So I was flipping through my Martha Stewart cupcake book, trying to decide if I wanted something new, or one of the oldies. I came across this one which I have refused to make for years because its picture is similar to that of a raw egg. But today, it caught my eye, because my mom just canned a whole batch of apricot jam which I am always looking for an opportunity to eat. The chocolate, cheesecake, and apricot flavors seemed like odd amigos, but they complement eachother better than you would imagine. I love them! They were pretty quick and easy; and no icing is involved, an encouragement to me! If you don’t happen to be an apricot fan (you’re crazy if you’re not ; ), I think it would be good with raspberry or cherry jam, too.

Makes 18

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup crumbled chocolate-wafer cookies (about 18 cookies)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Mix cookies and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar in a bowl. Stir in butter. Press 1 tablespoon of mixture in bottom of each cup. Bake until set, about 7 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees. Beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, then vanilla. With mixer running, add eggs slowly, scraping down side of bowl. Add sour cream and salt. Pour batter into muffin cups, filling almost to the tops.
  3. Bake until sides are set but centers are wobbly, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Wrap tins tightly with plastic, and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Warm jam in a small saucepan until liquidy. Strain through a sieve. Spoon 1 teaspoon jam on top of each cake.