because what is life without good food?

Dessert

Pumpkin Apricot Oatmeal Pie

Pumpkin Apricot Oatmeal Pie

If you bake it in a pie pan, it’s a pie, right?

I am naming this a Pumpkin Apricot Oatmeal Pie to distinguish it from the mushy stuff you usually think of as oatmeal. Don’t get me wrong: I love a hot steamy bowl of oatmeal, but this definitely doesn’t have that soft mushy texture of stove top oatmeal. But then again, it’s not totally soft, moist and dense like a pumpkin pie either, and it has no crust. It’s not cakey either. I think most people would call it baked oatmeal, but really, it’s a cross between baked oatmeal and pumpkin pie. It is packed with dried fruit and has a slightly chewy texture to it. You could eat it for breakfast (because it’s totally healthy and packed full of fiber and  protein and vitamins and other good things), or you could add ice cream and a little drizzle of caramel and call it dessert.

This lovely “pie” was inspired by my sweet friend Ann at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen, who made Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal the other day. She always soaks her oatmeal for several hours before she bakes it. I keep meaning to try that method, wondering if it would change the texture, but I never seem to think ahead enough to do it. Maybe next time?

Pumpkin Apricot Oatmeal Pie

Pumpkin Apricot Oatmeal Pie

  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons rum (optional)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons Stevia in the Raw or brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Amaretto (optional)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1 ripe banana, smashed (or grated apple would be wonderful too … )
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped into bits
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • For the top: 1/3 cup pecans + a Tablespoon or two of raw turbinado sugar

Directions:

  1. Soak the raisins in the rum for at least 15 minutes to get them nice and plump. If you don’t want to include the alcohol, you can use water with a little vanilla and/or rum extract to plump the raisins.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Mix all the other ingredients (except for the topping) in a mixing bowl until everything is well mixed. Add the rum-soaked raisins (with any residual rum).
  4. Spray a large pie pan with cooking spray and pour the pumpkin oatmeal mixture into it, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula.
  5. Sprinkle the top of the pie with pecans and raw sugar. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes or until the pie is set and golden brown on top.

To serve, you can cut in wedges and eat it warm, with no topping, or for a fancier dessert oatmeal pie, you can top it with light vanilla ice cream (or vanilla yogurt for an even healthier option!) and drizzle with a little warm caramel sauce. The warm oatmeal pie with the toasted pecans on top and cold ice cream melting into it is really a wonderful contrast, but most of the time I ate it just plain, no topping, because it’s quite nice just like that, with a cup of hot chai.

Pumpkin Apricot Oatmeal Pie

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridayShare it SaturdayScrumptious SundayWeekend Potluck, Melt in your Mouth Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tuesday Talent Show, Thursday’s Treasures and Everyday Mom’s Meals.


Chocolate Pistachio Cannoli Icebox Cake

Chocolate Pistachio Cannoli Icebox Cake

Is it okay to have cake for breakfast? Because I really can’t sit here and look at all this drizzly chocolate and finish this post without eating some … it’s just TOO tempting.

This all started when Justine at Full Belly Sisters shared her recipe for Cannoli Ice Cream. It looked SO good! A few of my foodie friends also made it and they ALL raved about it. I was totally intrigued by the idea of using ricotta in ice cream … and so I decided to jump on the bandwagon and try it too.

I tasted the mixture before it went in the ice cream maker …oooooh yummmm! It tasted SO wonderful! … and when it came out, it was perfectly frozen and I couldn’t wait to dig in.

I discovered something about myself that day. I have a texture issue with ricotta cheese. At least in ice cream. I want my ice cream super smooth and creamy. Crunch from nuts or chewy brownie bits and things like that are ok. But any grainy texture at all … nope. I just can’t to it. Don’t get me wrong: the cannoli ice cream is fabulous, and maybe I screwed up and just didn’t puree it long enough in my blender. I do highly recommend trying the ice cream. Every single one of my friends that tried it totally RAVED about it. But I just couldn’t eat it. And since my kids will not touch anything with nuts in it, they would not eat it either. I put it in my freezer and forgot about it … until I was cleaning out my freezer the other day. I almost threw it out, then I had second thoughts. I stuck it in the fridge instead and started thinking: what could I do with this wonderful mixture? I toyed with the idea of a dessert lasagna, but that sounded like a lot of work.

I don’t know what made me think of it, but somehow I thought of doing an icebox cake. I’ve never ever made one before, but I’ve often marveled at the simplicity and beauty of them. And so began my first icebox cake. I was so incredibly excited to see the beautifully layered result and I cannot believe that chocolate graham crackers and ricotta cheese could transform into such a beautiful, decadent dessert! The crackers become delightfully cakey and they create such a GORGEOUS layered effect … I can’t wait to make my next icebox cake! I already have visions of other flavors dancing around in my head …

Chocolate Pistachio Cannoli Icebox Cake

Chocolate Pistachio Cannoli Icebox Cake

Inspired by Full Belly Sisters Cannoli Ice Cream. I didn’t have the full amount of ricotta mixture shown here because I had eaten SOME of the ice cream, but really it doesn’t matter. Just keep layering till it’s gone! This makes enough for 2-4 desserts, depending on how big your servings are. If you’re making it for a crowd, you’ll probably want to at least double the recipe.

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1 3/4 cups good-quality ricotta (I used lowfat)
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, chopped roughly
  • about 2 ounces dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa, chopped
  • Chocolate graham crackers (or cookies) — I used 4 full-size crackers, but you may need more.
  • additional chopped pistachios and chocolate syrup, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Put the sugar, vanilla, salt and milk in your blender and blend until the sugar is dissolved. Add the ricotta and puree until smooth.
  2. Pour the ricotta mixture into a bowl and stir in the chopped pistachios & dark chocolate.
  3. Spray a small bowl or tray that fits your cracker size/shape, and set a cracker on the bottom. (I used two small square bowls that each fit half a cracker nicely.) Spread a layer of the ricotta mixture on top, then add another cracker, then another layer of ricotta. Repeat until the ricotta mixture is gone, ending with the ricotta mixture on top. Cover your bowl (or tray or whatever you’re using) with a plate that fits tightly (or if you must, use plastic wrap) and refrigerate overnight.
  4. To serve, cut wedges of the “cake” and use a spatula to place them on your plate, drizzle with chocolate syrup and serve. I would highly recommend garnishing this beautiful cake with some roasted, salted chopped pistachios, but alas, I was all out … at least I had chocolate syrup!

Chocolate Pistachio Cannoli Icebox Cake

This recipe was shared at Kitchen Fun FridayWeekend PotluckFriday Favorites, All my Bloggy Friends, Melt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday, Tuesday Talent Show, Wonderful Food Wednesday and Scrumptious Sunday.


Lemon Poppy Seed Yogurt Trifle

Lemon Poppy Seed Yogurt Trifle

My sister gave me this pretty parfait glass … isn’t it gorgeous? This is a simple idea to dress up a Lemon Poppy Seed cupcake (muffin? What IS the difference between muffins and cupcakes anyway?) and change things up if you are tiring of the same old cupcake. I used an unfrosted Zucchini Lemon Poppy Seed cupcake for my trifle, but if you have another on hand, feel free to use that! You could change out the flavors, add fruit, whatever you like. If you use healthy cupcakes like my Zucchini Lemon Poppy Seed ones, it can make for a very healthy breakfast, snack or dessert. You could do this on a larger scale in a glass bowl using several cupcakes and a big tub of lemon yogurt for a party too.

Lemon Poppy Seed Yogurt Trifle

For each trifle you will need:

  • 1 lemon poppy seed cupcake (a normal sized one … if yours is a large-size “muffin”, half of one will do!)
  • 1 small container of lemon lowfat yogurt (or use plain yogurt and mix in lemon juice/lemon zest & some sweetener)
  • Garnish: Poppy seeds and fresh lemon slices

Cut the cupcake into small squares (about 1/2 inch wide/deep/tall). In a pretty parfait glass, carefully spoon in some of the yogurt, then add some of the cupcake squares. Top with another layer of  yogurt (reserving a dollop for the top), more cupcake squares, then a nice dollop of yogurt on top. Sprinkle the top with poppy seeds and garnish with fresh lemon slices. Serve immediately with long, fancy ice cream parlor-style spoons if you have them.

Lemon Poppy Seed Yogurt Trifle

This recipe was shared at Thursday’s Treasures and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


White Chocolate Rose Petal Scones

with a sweet rosewater glaze

White Chocolate Rose Petal Scones

I have been planning/dreaming of making these scones since June, when my friend Melissa posted her Rose Butter Tea Sandwiches. I saw the rose petal sugar she used on her pretty little tea sandwiches and thought: hey I could use that in SCONES!

So, when my most fragrant rose bush was covered with roses, I gathered some and made some rose sugar and set it in my cupboard to wait for a week. A week went by, and then a month, and then another. I told my daughter I was planning to make her rose scones and her face lit up. But life got crazy and the summer got SO hot and there never seemed to be a good time to bake rose petal scones.

Now it’s fall, the temperatures are dropping and my thoughts are turning to baking again. I woke up this morning, looked at the clock and decided today is the day I’m going to make those rose petal scones.

These scones have a soft, gentle rose flavor. It’s just a light hint of rose, like a passing floral scent on a breeze.

White Chocolate Rose Petal Scones

White Chocolate Rose Petal Scones

Inspired by Melissa at ChinDeep, who makes the most beautiful things with edible flowers. Plan ahead if you want to make these because it takes a week to make the rose petal sugar.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup rose petal sugar (recipe below)
  • 6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into little pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vanilla low fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon culinary rosewater (my recipe for rosewater is here)
  • about 3/4 cup good quality white chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • Rosewater glaze (recipe below) and fresh clean organic rose petals (if desired, for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the rose petal sugar, crushing any lumps with your fingers.
  3. Add the little pieces of butter and work it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the butter chunks are all broken down and the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (I use my fingers–it’s messy, but fun!)
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg, yogurt and extracts. Mix until just blended (dough will be soft and wet).
  5. Turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly 3-4 times. Pat or roll the dough into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into wedges and place on your prepared cookie sheet.
  6. Bake scones for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle with rosewater glaze and let the glaze set. At serving time, garnish with fresh organic roses or rose petals (if you like).

White Chocolate Rose Petal Scones

Sweet Rosewater Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons culinary rosewater

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the powdered sugar with the rosewater till smooth.

Rose Petal Sugar

Recipe from ChinDeep

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups very fragrant, unsprayed rose petals, washed and dryed completely

In a food processor or handi chopper, pulse the sugar and rose petals until the rose petals are tiny little confetti-like pieces. Put the sugar in a covered jar and wait for a week before you use it.

This post is an Eating the Alphabet post.

Eating the Alphabet Challenge

This month we’re cooking things that begin with the letters P, Q or R. R is for ROSES!

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Click here to see the other great Eating the Alphabet Challenge recipes this month …

This recipe was also shared at Scrumptious Sunday, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Thursday’s Treasures, Full Plate Thursday and All my Bloggy Friends.


Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bites

Chocolate craving! Time for something chocolatey good. With nuts. Yes LOTS of nuts. Oh and some peanut butter. Dried fruit in there … ah yes. And to add a little bit more healthy yumminess, some oats.

Roll it all into a little ball and what do you have? A quick, healthy snack. Not one you want to eat a LOT of at one sitting because they are a bit calorific, but something you can grab on the go when you need a little energy, especially before or after a good workout. An energy byte! (Terrible geeky pun intended.)

I like to eat one of these for a bit of dessert after a good meal, or when I am running out the door and need something fast to grab for a quick bit of energy. Or when you need a quick chocolate fix, but you don’t want to totally destroy your healthy eating plan. A little bit of chocolate and a few nuts every day are very good for your health.

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

Chocolate, Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

You could use a good quality dark chocolate in place of the almond bark and cocoa powder. I just didn’t have enough on hand, so I decided to make my own “chocolate”!

  • 2 squares of almond bark (or white chocolate)
  • 4 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons of Chocolate PB2 powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2/3 cup nuts (I used a mix of peanuts and cashews)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped into bits
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Melt the almond bark in a medium mixing bowl in the microwave by microwaving on high for 1 minute, stir, microwave for 30 seconds, stir again, keep microwaving for 30 seconds/stirring until the white almond bark is completely melted.
  2. Stir in the dark cocoa powder, PB2 powder, vanilla and peanut butter and stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in the oats, nuts, cranberries and apricot bits until everything is coated in chocolate. Form the mixture into balls and set on a tray. Sprinkle the bytes with a bit of coarse sea salt.
  4. Set it in the fridge until the chocolate is set, then transfer to a covered storage container. You can store these at room temperature or in the fridge, as you prefer. I like to eat them at room temperature so I’m not bothering to refrigerate mine. They aren’t going to last that long anyway!

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Energy Bytes

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Nut BloghopShare it SaturdayLunch Box Linky and Scrumptious Sunday.


Zucchini Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes

Zucchini Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

After the Zucchini Lime Cake went over so well and I came home from Mom and Dad’s house with a zucchini the size of a baseball bat (only fatter), I thought I might try a lemon version of that cake … but with poppy seeds because lemon and poppy seeds are just sooo yummy togehter. I also wanted to make it in cupcake form because my daughter really really loves cupcakes.

Anyway, I decided to take a short break from work and whip up some cupcakes right before my girl came home from school. And she just happened to come home that day with this book about cupcakes that she checked out from the library. So it was quite serendipitous that I happened to be baking cupcakes. She really wants to try some of these cupcake recipes out of the book. I am supposed to choose which one we will make. Maybe I need to just buy her that book so we can try them all. The cupcakes finished up just as we were supposed to head out the door for dance, so I grabbed one of the smaller cupcake pans and brought it along and she ate two of them on the way. The rest of the six I fed to my yoga friends, right out of the cupcake pan, at the bar we go to after yoga for a glass of wine.

Most of these cupcakes we ate unfrosted, but I did make a lemon cream cheese frosting to go on some of them. Do you want the recipe for the frosting? It’s just light cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon juice. You can add lemon zest if you like to intensify the lemon taste.

Zucchini Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

Zucchini Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes

You could also bake these as a cake in a 13x9x2 inch pan or two rounds or … well, whatever you like. Just add more cooking time for a cake.

  • 2 cups finely shredded zucchini
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup lowfat or nonfat plain yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon + juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 – 4 teaspoons poppy seeds (I used two and my daughter and I both agreed they could use more poppy seeds)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, mix the wet ingredients, then stir in the dry ingredients.
  2. Spray your cupcake pans with cooking spray or use cupcake liners and fill each cupcake about 2/3 full.
  3. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Frost them if you like with lemon cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with poppy seeds (and lemon slices if you want to be extra fancy).

Zucchini Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayThursday’s TreasuresFit & Fabulous FridayWeekend Potluck and Foodie Friends Friday, Lunch Box Linky and Share it Saturday.


Dad’s Fresh & Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

Dad's Fresh & Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

Whoever coined the term “plain vanilla” really just didn’t know what they were talking about. As The Pastry Chef Online said when we were having our ‘V is for Vanilla’ day, “Vanilla is complex and sophisticated and wonderful.” It is! Vanilla is one of those subtle but wonderful flavors that just enhances everything it touches.

When we were up at my mom and dad’s for the 50th wedding anniversary party, everyone was asking for ice cream. My dad got out his ice cream maker (he has one of those Cuisinart ice cream makers, but he bought TWO of the freezer inserts) and he made this vanilla ice cream and people were coming back for seconds and thirds.  He didn’t give me his precise recipe and he didn’t write it down … I had to guess at it a little, but I think this is pretty close. It’s a simple formula with just a few ingredients, but it tastes so fresh and wonderful. Dad has a way of making the simplest things taste marvelous.

At my house, vanilla is a celebrated ingredient. We use it so much that we buy Mexican vanilla extract by the quart. And vanilla ice cream is just one of those essential things you simply MUST have in your freezer. I have  been struggling to come up with a really good homemade vanilla ice cream recipe and I think it’s because I was very reluctant to allow any fat into my ice cream. But for a good creamy vanilla … one that doesn’t go all rock hard and crystallize on you when you put it in the freezer, I think you really need a little milkfat. This is still much lower in fat than most ice creams you’ll find at the store, and it tastes so much fresher. Not to mention it’s SO simple! No cooking, no waiting … just blend together the ingredients and pop them in your ice cream maker.

Dad's Fresh & Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

Dad’s Fresh & Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

You will want to eat this lovely ice cream all by itself, with no toppings, no cake, no drizzles. Don’t get me wrong … I’m sure it would be fine with those things as well and I do intend to try all of that, but first let’s stop and savor the complex, sophisticated and fresh wonderful taste of real vanilla ice cream.

  • 2 cups fat free half & half
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3/8 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt (optional)

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or whisk them together in a bowl, making sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Enjoy immediately or stick it in the freezer for a couple hours if you want a firmer ice cream.

Dad's Fresh & Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

This recipe was shared at Share it Saturday.


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