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.


Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios

Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios

The great thing about being a food blogger is sometimes you get to have cake for breakfast. Which is a very good thing when you stayed up too late baking zucchini cakes to take along to your parents’ house for the 50th wedding anniversary party and didn’t have dinner and woke up STARVING.

I just wanted to use up the last of my zucchini before I visit my parents’ garden again. It is always overflowing with good vegetables this time of year. Besides, we are going to have lots of extra mouths to feed this weekend and it will be good to have something relatively healthy and totally delicious to snack on. The last big zucchini was big enough to make two cakes, so I made a chocolate one and this beautiful zucchini lime cake that my sweet friend Dor from La Difference Catering made when her house was overflowing with courgettes. She calls them courgettes. I think that’s a marvelously elegant word! Still I refer to them as zucchini. That’s just what we call those big green squash things here in the midwest US.

By the way, today we are on the letter Z in the A-Z Health Challenge on facebook! We made it! I have to thank all the wonderful bloggers who contributed their recipes, tips and knowledge along the way. That’s what made it so very fun. I will do a wrapup post with all the letters and their health benefits once this anniversary party is over.

For today, Z is for Zucchini! Let’s eat cake!

Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios

Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios

Slightly adapted from La Difference Catering. I made just a small amount of frosting because I like it light on the frosting, so if you want a heavily frosted cake, you will need to make extra frosting.

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons golden rum
  • 1 3/4 cup finely shredded zucchini
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup lowfat or nonfat plain yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Frosting:

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 oz. light cream cheese
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • Topping: a few Tablespoons of chopped roasted pistachios

Directions:

  1. Set the raisins in the small bowl, pour the rum over and let them soak for a good while (an hour or so) until they plump up good.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and stir it all together. Stir in the raisins and rum.
  4. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray, pour in the batter and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Mix up the powdered sugar with the cream cheese till smooth, then add the lime zest and juice. Once the cake is cool, frost it. Just before serving, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of chopped pistachios.

Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios

This recipe was shared at Weekend PotluckTalent Show TuesdayTrick or Treat Tuesday1 Month of Fun, Cast Party Wednesday, and Thursday’s Treasures.


Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Do you want to hear the story of the refrigerator and the caramel rolls, how I gained a great appreciation for towels, teflon tape and good neighbors …  and how this bread pudding came to be?

It all started when my sister and her husband came to visit. The ice machine in my refrigerator has been broken for some time. We’ve been making do with ice cube trays, which was a little frustrating at times because we’d be spilling water on the floor and sometimes it was kinda hard to get the ice cubes out of the tray, but it wasn’t a terribly big deal to us. However, ice is important to my sister. She mentioned to her husband that perhaps he ought to fix the ice maker in my refrigerator. So he set out to do that. We pulled the refrigerator out of his spot, he started cleaning and investigating and finding all sorts of strange things in the grate and around the back of the fridge, some from the previous owner of the house even. He figured out what was wrong, but then he needed a part to fix it. He started calling all the local repair shops and nobody had the right part.

So we ordered the part online, he put the fridge back together and we pushed it back into place. No big deal, right? Except now the water dispenser in the door (which didn’t work before he started) was leaking. We put a cup under it and went about our business. A few days later after my sis and her husband were gone,  it started leaking faster. Like the cup would be full in an hour! You can’t really fit a bucket under there, and the part wasn’t here yet, so my kids and I rigged up a system with a piece of an old hose, some duck tape and a bucket. Then you could actually go to sleep at night and let the thing drip. It was ugly and awkward, but it worked. Then the part finally arrived, but it was days before I could get to fixing it.

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Now, I’m not a fix-it kind of person. Anytime I have to do a fix-it project I get terribly nervous, but I got my son to help me move the fridge, we shut the water off, and we set to work to put this new part in. It was going pretty good, I got the part in, tightened it up, but left the fridge out so I could observe it for a while after we turned the water on. It was dripping. Oh dear. I tried tightening it. It dripped faster. I got more towels and turned the water off. My son tried tightening it. No luck. He went downstairs all frustrated and I sat down and cried. Then I started looking for the phone number for the plumber. But then it dawned on me that my neighbor might be able to help. He was outside working on his van when I ventured over there … sure, he would look at it. He told his son to grab the teflon tape and the two of them came over to look at my fridge. It wasn’t even 15  minutes before they’d fixed it. No leak! YAY! And the ice maker works! No water will come out of the dispenser that was leaking like crazy before, but I’m okay with that.

I felt a moment of great gratitude for good neighbors, towels, and teflon tape.

The next morning I woke up determined to do something nice for my neighbor. I set about making some freshly baked peach caramel rolls, sure that that would be the perfect treat for him and his family on a Sunday morning. But when I finished the rolls, my neighbors were nowhere to be found. They weren’t around all day, in fact, and by the next morning, the peach caramel rolls that had looked so delicious the day before didn’t look so appetizing. They still tasted good if you warmed them up first, but they weren’t very pretty and I was NOT going to give my neighbor an ugly treat.

So I made the caramel rolls into bread pudding. I dare say, this bread pudding was even better than the rolls and it made for lovely breakfasts for me for several days … and even served as breakfast over the weekend at my parents’ place. This is the view from the dock at my parents’ place …

Gratitude

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

Maybe you don’t have a big plate of caramel rolls sitting around, so I’ll give you two variations of the recipe here: one made with old caramel rolls, and another similar bread pudding made with bread and peaches.

  • 6 cups of old caramel rolls, cut into 1-inch chunks (it’s ok if they are a little stale or dry)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped (if you’re using my peach caramel rolls, cut the amount of added fruit to 2 1/2 cups)
  • Sliced almonds & raw sugar, for the top

Directions:

  1. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Put the chopped caramel rolls in the casserole dish. Pour the milk over the rolls and let the cubes bask in their milk bath for about 15 minutes, tossing gently every once in a while to give all the rolls a chance to soak.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs till they are a little fluffy, then add the vanilla, nutmeg and salt and whisk till everything is well blended. Mix the peaches into the egg mixture.
  3. Fold the fruit into the soaked caramel rolls. Top with almonds and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of raw (turbinado) sugar.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about an hour or until the pudding is set.

Variation using bread: Substitute 6 cups of bread cubes for the caramel rolls. You can use any kind of bread … I think whole wheat adds a nice texture. Add 1 cup of brown sugar + 2 Tablespoons melted butter to the egg mixture.

Caramel Peach Bread Pudding

This recipe was shared at Foodie Friends Friday, Scrumptious Sunday and Weekend Potluck.


Ginger Cantaloupe Ice Cream

Ginger Cantaloupe Ice Cream

I was at the grocery store last week and they had these HUGE locally grown cantaloupe … my daughter had been staying with her grandparents for the week and would be coming home soon and she loves cantaloupe, so I bought one, brought it home, cut it up, and had this gargantuan tub of pretty orange cantaloupe chunks in my fridge to greet her upon her return.

She was quite pleased to see it and munched away at her cantaloupe. But, well, it was a HUGE cantaloupe and she didn’t make much of a dent in the big tub at her first munching. I expected she would have more later, but she didn’t. A day passed, then another, and she didn’t touch the cantaloupe, though I asked her if she would.

It became clear to me that I need another solution for using up this cantaloupe. I had seen a cantaloupe sorbet that was quite beautiful … I briefly considered that, then thought, no, I want something more creamy. With ginger. Yes! Ginger would be perfect with cantaloupe.

So this ginger cantaloupe ice cream is what I came up with. It’s quite healthy for you with loads of vitamins from the cantaloupe plus ginger is so good for the sinuses and digestion … but the most important thing is it’s totally delicious. The ginger is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet mellow cantaloupe flavor and I really like the cream taste and the hint of rum.

Even after making this, though, I still have a big pile of cantaloupe pieces in my fridge. Would anyone like some cantaloupe?

Ginger Cantaloupe Ice Cream

Ginger Cantaloupe Ice Cream

  • 1 cup fat free half and half
  • 1 egg
  • 2 thin slices of fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 cups of cubed cantaloupe
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup whipping cream (I used 1/4 cup to keep my ice cream low in fat, but if you want it extra-creamy, add a little more)
  • 1/4 cup golden rum (optional, but it helps the ice cream from freezing too hard and adds a nice flavor … if you want the rum flavor without the alcohol, use 1 teaspoon of rum extract)

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, stir together 1 cup of the fat free half & half with the sugar and cook over medium heat just until hot. While the milk and sugar are cooking, in a small mixing bowl, beat the egg till it is fluffy and a consistent yellow (that is, no blobs of egg white floating about).
  2. In a slow stream, add about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture to the egg, whisking or beating constantly as you do. Beat it a little more just for spite, then add it back into the saucepan in a thin stream (while whisking) and heat at medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.
  3. Blend the cantaloupe, vanilla, ground ginger, and whipping cream in a blender until smooth. Mix the cantaloupe mixture with the cream mixture, pour into a jar, cover and refrigerate until it’s nice and cold.
  4. Just before freezing, add the rum and shake it well (or stir), and pull out the two ginger root slices. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Eat it straight away, or put it in the freezer for an hour or two to firm up a bit more. Either way, it’s lovely.

Ginger Cantaloupe Ice Cream

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayThursday’s TreasuresTastetastic Thursday, Foodie Friends Friday and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


1,2,3 Chocolate Zucchini Cake {Lowfat}

123 Chocolate Zucchini Cake {Lowfat}

This is a luscious, moist and healthy chocolatey cake that takes only takes a few minutes to put together (most of that time is grating the zucchini) and it’s so yummy! I made it years ago when my daughter-in-law first came to visit and we topped it with strawberries (or was it raspberries?) and whipped light cream and reveled in it. She mentioned to me not long ago how good it was and I had completely forgotten that I’d made this cake for her. I’m so glad she mentioned it because this cake is way too good to be forgotten! I got up this morning eager to look up the recipe and make it again since my sis brought me some gorgeous zucchini.

My sweet daughter just had some of this for breakfast, so I asked her if she would take the photos for me. I think I might let her do the photography more often. She has a good eye and a different style and perspective and it makes me so happy when she helps me with my cooking and blogging projects.

A little note about fat: it is true that the low-fat diet led to a lot of health problems. I don’t advocate cutting fat out of your diet (especially not if you’re going to replace it with sugar!) Include healthy fats like olive oil, cheese, nuts and avocados, but also include lots of fiber and grains, fruits and vegies and watch your total calorie intake. I like to reduce fats and sugar in baked goods and desserts because it reduces the calories, but then I also try to add whole grains and fiber to make treats that are truly health conscious, but still satisfy my desires for a decadent dessert.

123 Chocolate Zucchini Cake {Lowfat}

1,2,3 Chocolate Zucchini Cake {Lowfat}

Adapted from Food.com. I cut down the sugar, replaced some of the oil with yogurt and replaced some of the flour with whole wheat flour and flaxmeal.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour + 1/4 cup flaxmeal (or 1 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup lowfat or nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini

Directions:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the liquid ingredients and stir it all together.
  3. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray, pour in the batter and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

123 Chocolate Zucchini Cake {Lowfat}

This recipe was shared at Weekend PotluckScrumptious SundaysFamily Fresh MealsManic Monday, Cast Party Wednesday, Thursday’s TreasuresTastetastic Thursday, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, and Foodie Friends Friday.


Watermelon Basil Rose Sorbet

Watermelon Basil Rose Sorbet

I’m guest posting over at  Cupcakes and Kale Chips today … Brianne is a good friend of mine and she is off on vacation. I’m quite happy to help her out while she enjoys her well-deserved vacation. I have several “food sisters” and Brianne  is one of them. With Brianne, we are salad sisters. We really match on the salads … the only thing that we don’t agree on is the subject of onions … I must have onions on my salads and she prefers hers without.

So for this post, I stayed away from onions and salads … just a sweet cold summer treat. I tried this in champagne, by the way. I personally didn’t like it … I prefer the sorbet by itself … champagne separate … but some of my friends disagreed with me and very much enjoyed it.

Yes, there ARE roses in the sorbet. And basil. Watermelon and basil go so well together. Add roses and it’s a wonderful, icy cold, sweet summer treat.

Anyway, head on over to Cupcakes and Kale Chips for the recipe …

Watermelon Basil Rose Sorbet

This recipe was shared at Thursday’s Treasures.

 


Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

Last week my aunt from Florida came to visit. I don’t know how many stops she had planned on her trip, but one of them was to visit my parents … I suspected she would go see mom, but I didn’t really know until it was my turn to see my aunt.

My daughter and I drove down to meet my aunt and her artist friend for dinner. It was then that my aunt told us she had been to my parents’ place and my dad had made this green tomato cake for dessert … what?!? … my dad made a green tomato cake?! What the … ?

I thought it sounded really odd, and then when we went to see my parents this weekend, dad mentioned his green tomato cake. Mom said that it was more like a bar than a cake and Dad said the recipe he used just had too much green tomato in it. I could see the wheels turning in his head … I asked him to tell me about this green tomato cake … and he had already figured out how to make it better. I looked him in the eye and said “let’s make a cake!” … and so my dad and I set to work making a green tomato cake.

We started with our favorite carrot cake recipe, which is from The Jack Daniel’s Cookbook, but by the time we finished, I don’t think you’d even recognize the original recipe. Nonetheless, my dad was totally right (he usually is) … the cake turned out absolutely amazing. Both dad and I had two pieces of it for dessert after brunch (I NEVER have two pieces of cake …) and then later, on my way home, I brought some to my friend and had another piece of cake with her. Three pieces of cake in one day. This is totally a record for me. I’m not a cake person (unless it’s like some kind of of amazing decadent chocolate cake), and this cake isn’t even chocolate! … but it is SO worth it. The tart green tomatoes taste so much better than carrots in this (kinda pretty awesomely healthy) moist and flavorful cake.

The green tomatoes came from mom and dad’s garden. They fell off the vines while Mom was trimming the tomato plants. There was a whole bucket full of them. Their tomato plants are just thick with fruit … there will be LOADS of tomatoes this year. Only a few are ripe yet; the rest are yet to come.

Green Tomatoes for the Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

My very favorite part of the day? I got to cook with my dad. The big bonus was that it turned out to be something totally jaw-dropping awesome.

Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

Highly Adapted from The Jack Daniels Spirit of Tennessee Cookbook

  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups chopped green tomatoes (about 2 large green tomatoes)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts

Heavenly Frosting:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 oz. light cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz. powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon whiskey

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the raisins in a cup with the 1/4 cup of whiskey to plump them up.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then make a well in the center and add in the wet ingredients. Whisk up the eggs and  other wet ingredients together, then stir to incorporate them into the batter. Add the raisins & whiskey, green tomatoes and walnuts and stir just until everything is mixed up well.
  3. Pour the cake batter into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting by mixing the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and whiskey until smooth. Let the cake cool, then frost it with the Heavenly Frosting.

Whiskey Green Tomato Cake

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This recipe was also shared at Scrumptious SundaysMade it by MondayThursday’s Treasures, Katherine Martinelli’s Tomato Bloghop and Foodie Friends Friday.


Raspberry Cream Brownie Truffles

Raspberry Cream Brownie Truffles

One of my girlfriends, when she tasted these truffles, told me (in a quiet voice so the “boys” wouldn’t hear) that these truffles are almost better than sex. I laughed, and she said, “I’m serious!” … since then, a couple of my other girlfriends have confirmed her opinion … and I’m quite curious to see what my male friend says about them. He better hurry though, or he is totally going to miss these truffles!

There is a story behind this recipe … I started out to make brownie bites for the party, baking them in my mini-muffin tin. The first batch I put raspberries in the middle of the brownies and I undercooked them. They tasted really good, but they were just too gooey to eat. I didn’t want to throw them out … what a waste of good chocolate that would be!

So I decided to make my brownies into truffles. And while I was thinking about how to do this, I was chatting with my friend online … he had just gone to the vending machine to find something to eat:

Me: so what did you find to eat?
Him: Peanuts and Coke.
Me: lol peanuts are good
Him: I needed some fluids and sugar. I was getting the shakes really bad.
Me: Shakes are not good …
… unless they’re chocolate
Him: Chocolate and raspberry

Something about him saying “chocolate and raspberry” in the context of a milkshake while I was in the midst of figuring out how I was going to make my chocolate/raspberry truffles made me think “raspberry cream” … and that’s how they got the raspberry cream center.

Raspberry Cream Brownie Truffles

Raspberry Cream Brownie Truffles

  • 1/3 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen … if you are using fresh, pack them into the cup a bit … thaw out the frozen ones before adding them)
  • 8 oz light cream cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rose vodka or Chambord (raspberry liqueur) … (optional)
  • 2/3 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 1 2/3 cups brownie “crumbs” (about 10 brownie bites) … mine wouldn’t exactly make crumbs. I just broke them into small pieces as best I could. I do recommend you undercook your brownies just a bit so they are a little soft and gooey for the truffles.  Here’s the brownie recipe I used.
  • 1 1/3 cups crushed chocolate graham cracker crumbs, ground into a fine powder in a handi chopper or food processor (if you can’t find chocolate graham crackers, just crush up some chocolate cookies)
  • For dipping: 2 high quality chocolate bars (4-oz. each) … (I used Ghirardelli)

Directions:

  1. First, make the raspberry cream: mix the raspberries with the cream cheese, honey, vanilla and liquor. Divide this creamy berry mixture in half, putting half of it in a container in the fridge for later.
  2. In a small microwave-safe bowl or double boiler, melt the chocolate chips. (Microwave on high for one minute, stir, then microwave 30 seconds, stir … repeat until you can stir out all the lumps of chocolate.)
  3. Mix the rest of the cream mixture with the melted chocolate chips, the brownie “crumbs”, and the chocolate graham cracker crumbs. Cover the bowl and set in the freezer for an hour or so to chill or in the fridge for several hours.
  4. When the chocolate “dough” is good and cold, it’s time to form the truffles! Choose a cookie sheet or other flat pan that will fit in your freezer. Take a small spoonful of the dough and shape it into a little cup in your hands. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of the raspberry cream mixture into the cup, then add a little more chocolate “dough” on top to cover the cream and form it into a ball shape. Set the ball on the pan and repeat until you’ve used up all the dough. Somehow I came out just about right … there was enough cream and chocolate to make a bunch of truffles (I’m not quite sure how many there were, though.) Don’t worry if the cream isn’t covered all the way or if some of the balls are bumpy. We’re going to dip these in chocolate anyway.
  5. Put the balls into the freezer and let them chill for several hours or overnight.
  6. When you are ready to dip your truffles, prepare an area to set them by laying out some waxed paper. I like to put them on a cookie sheet so it is easy to move them or stick them in the fridge if I need to (which is sometimes necessary on a hot day like it was the day I was making these!).
  7. Break the chocolate bars into pieces and melt in the microwave or over a double boiler, taking care to melt just till the chocolate is smooth and no longer. Dip each ball in the chocolate, rolling it around with a spoon to cover all the sides. I then stuck a toothpick in the ball and shook it a little (so there’s some chocolate left for the rest of the truffles!) and then put it on the waxed paper, sliding the toothpick out when quickly before the chocolate sets up. You can use the spoon to remove it too, or your fingers … no matter how you do it, it’s going to be a little messy (but hey, who doesn’t like to be covered in chocolate?).
  8. Once you’ve dipped all the truffles, let them sit until the chocolate is set. You may need to put them in the fridge to get the chocolate to set up … once it is set, transfer the truffles into a covered container to store in the fridge.

Raspberry Cream Brownie Truffles

This recipe was shared at Foodie FridaysScrumptious Sundays, and Made it by Monday.


Blueberry Gooseberry Ginger Yogurt Cheesecake

Lowfat Blueberry Gooseberry Ginger Yogurt Cheesecake

It’s hard to choose, but I think this is my favorite of all the recipes I made for my party last Saturday night. It’s a rich, decadent, creamy no-bake blueberry gooseberry mini-cheesecake made with nonfat greek yogurt and light cream cheese. The graham cracker crust is made with candied ginger, egg white and just a bit of butter.

Well, okay, you do bake the crust, but the creamy ginger yogurt filling is not baked. The gooseberry sauce is cooked on the stove and it’s quite simple to make. Then you mound fresh, sweet blueberries over top.

This cheesecake is the most Bohemian, Ally-style cheesecake I have ever made. If you have ever run across my friend Ally from Ally’s Kitchen, you know exactly what I mean when I say that. She has this bold style of cooking, food styling, and photography that transcends amazing. So I’m dedicating this recipe to my dear friend Ally.

Each part of this recipe is quite simple, so I suggest making this in steps. I made the crust and the gooseberry sauce one evening, and set the yogurt to drain overnight, then mixed up the filling in the morning. This was done days before the party, so at party time, I just pulled it out, put on the sauce and the berries, and cut little slices for the friends who wanted to try the cheesecake. Seriously, serve this in little slices. It’s really rich.

Lowfat Blueberry Gooseberry Ginger Yogurt Cheesecake

Blueberry Gooseberry Ginger Yogurt Cheesecake

a.k.a. Bohemian Blue Goose Cheesecake

Adapted from Food & Wine. Makes a 7-inch cheesecake with a pretty thick crust. If you want a larger cheesecake, double the yogurt filling recipe. There will be enough of the crust (although the crust will be thinner) and plenty of gooseberry sauce to make a normal-size cheesecake.

Crust:

  • 10 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces, or 1 1/2 cups plus 2 1/2 tablespoons of crumbs
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (if you want to make your own, here’s a recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger sugar (the sugar that falls from the ginger pieces when you make candied ginger … you can substitute white sugar)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg white

Filling:

  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 4 oz. light cream cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated  ginger
  • Juice and zest from 1/2 of a lemon

Gooseberry sauce: (makes more sauce than you’ll need for the cheesecake)

  • 1 3/4 – 2 cups of gooseberries, cleaned (snip off the tough stems of the berries)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds

Topping:

  • Fresh blueberries
  • Mint leaves, for garnish (if desired)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 7 inch springform pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray.
  2. In a handi chopper or food processor, process the graham crackers with the candied ginger, sugar and salt until finely ground. Add the butter and egg white and blend until the crumbs are evenly coated. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is light brown. Set the crust aside to cool.
  3. While the crust is baking, set the gooseberries and brown sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and smashing a few of the gooseberries with a spoon to release the flavor. Remove from heat and stir in the chia seeds (they will thicken the sauce). (If you don’t have chia seeds, you can use cornstarch or tapioca to thicken the gooseberry sauce–chia seeds are just a very quick, healthy way to thicken things.)
  4. Now for the filling! First you will make a “cheese” out of the greek yogurt. Take a coffee filter and place it in a strainer or funnel over a tall mug or something to catch the juices. Put the yogurt in the coffee filter and set it in the fridge to let it strain overnight.
  5. In the morning, mix the yogurt cheese with the cream cheese, honey, ginger and lemon zest & juice till smooth and well mixed. You might need to use a blender to get it smooth. (I did!) Pour the filling into the crust and smooth it out to cover the crust. Cover and store in the fridge till serving time.
  6. Just before serving, spread the cheesecake with a layer of the gooseberry sauce, then add a tumble of blueberries (as many as you like). Serve in small slices because the taste is really rich, and garnish with a mint leaf or two, if you so desire.

Lowfat Bluberry Gooseberry Ginger Yogurt Cheesecake

This recipe was shared at Everyday Mom’s MealsMy Sweet PartyScrumptious Sunday, Crazy Sweet TuesdayHearth & Soul Bloghop, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, and Cast Party Wednesday.


Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

It’s my one-year blog-iversary today. I am having a party in the real world tomorrow to celebrate. I’ll have a party in cyberspace too and I’ll invite all my foodie friends to bring wonderful things. There will be much revelry and champagne (with watermelon sorbet!) and good food shared.

I made these brownies for the party. I suppose you could say I made these brownies for both parties because this I will surely bring them to my virtual party too. I have to thank my sweet foodie friend Robin from Knead to Cook for the recipe for these … she made hers with raspberries. I started out doing that, too, but dropped the raspberries after the first batch because it just took too much time. I am a bit rushed this week …  (by the way that first batch turned out bad because I undercooked that batch … ooops! so I turned them into something else … another post coming soon about that … )

I also substituted some low fat cream cheese for some of the butter. I was running low on butter but had plenty of cream cheese, and besides, it just sounded good. And I used chocolate chia pudding in place of the eggs. I had some in my fridge that I needed to use up to make room for party food! Chia pudding does make a nice substitute for eggs. It even rises like eggs! Those little chia seeds are magic, I tell you.

A year ago I didn’t even know what chia seeds were … things have changed a LOT in a year. I’ve learned so much, met so many wonderful people, shared so many wonderful foods. It’s been a fantastic journey so far … and I plan to continue this journey for a long, long time. Because food is meant to be shared. It’s the most basic human connection.

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Adapted from Knead to Cook

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter (or light butter spread … I actually used a mixture of both)
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chocolate chia pudding (recipe here … or substitute 2 eggs and add a little extra cocoa + 1 teaspoon cinnamon)
  • 1/2 cup of non fat greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup of dark or Dutch processed cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli cocoa powder)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • if you want: fresh raspberries (make sure they are very dry, not wet … put one or two berries in the middle of each brownie bite)
  • for the top: mini chocolate chips (or other little candies or sprinkles)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line 3 mini muffin pans with mini-cupcake liners or spray them with cooking spray (or spray an 8×8 pan if you prefer). (I only have one mini muffin pan, so I ended up doing this 3 times.)
  2. In a mixing bowl, blend the sugar with the cream cheese and the butter until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, chia pudding and greek yogurt.  Blend well.  Add the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and stir till everything is mixed together well.
  3. Pour the batter into your mini muffin pans, filling them about 2/3 – 3/4 full and sprinkle each one with a few mini chocolate chips. (If you are using raspberries, put a small spoonful of batter in the bottom, add a couple berries, then top with more batter.) Bake at 350 for 15 – 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the biggest one comes out mostly clean.

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

This recipe was shared at Foodie Friends FridayMy Sweet PartyFit & Fabulous Friday and Crazy Sweet Tuesday.


Chocolate Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal

Chocolate Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal

Since my first baked oatmeal turned out so good, I wanted to try another version. I meant to make this one banana pecan, but once I got into the kitchen, well, I couldn’t help but add chocolate. In the end, I’m glad I did … this oatmeal is SO deep dark chocolate decadent. I almost want to try making it again without the banana … or maybe use berries instead? Yeah, it’ll happen.

This could be breakfast or dessert. Mid-afternoon snack. After dinner treat. Whenever you eat it, it’s delightful.

Chocolate Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal

Chocolate Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal

  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup (100g) old fashioned oats (not instant oats)
  • 1/3 cup (30g) pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened quality dark cocoa powder (such as Ghirardelli)
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Chocolate Chia Pudding or 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon Frangelico (optional)
For the top:
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons pecans
  • 1/2 Tablespoon or so of raw (Turbinado) sugar
  • A few chocolate chips
  • A few banana slices

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Spray a small casserole dish or 8×8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray and make a layer of banana slices on the bottom.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the oats, chopped pecans, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Sprinkle half the oat mixture over the bananas, then add another layer of bananas and cover with the remaining oats.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, chia pudding (or egg white), vanilla, and Frangelico. Pour this liquid mixture over the oats, trying to coat all the oats with liquid. Sprinkle the top with the toppings, then set in the oven.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until the dish has set. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysCast Party Wednesday, Thursday’s TreasuresTastetastic Thursday, My Sweet Party and Fit & Fabulous Friday.


4th of July Fruit Kebabs with Dipping Sauces

Fourth of July Red White & Blue Fruit Kebabs with dipping sauces

After the rainbow fruit kebabs we made for my daughter’s birthday, my daughter and I thought it would be fun to do a 4th of July version with red, white and blue. We were having trouble figuring out what to use for the white, though. Are there white fruits? I suppose you could use apples or bananas … at the time, we couldn’t think of any … so we ended up going with angel food cake for the white … you could also use marshmallows.

Fourth of July Red White & Blue Fruit Kebabs with dipping sauces

But then if you have cake, you want a dipping sauce, right? Something wonderful to dip it in or to drizzle over it to make it more dessert-like.

Three options occurred to me:

  1. Whipped cream: so you have a berry shortcake on a stick
  2. Strawberry (or blueberry) yogurt: a healthier option for dipping. You could even mix your own using plain yogurt and  crushed strawberries and honey
  3. Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Sauce: oh yeah! the take-it-over-the-top, make-it-flippin-amazing option (this was my favorite … can you tell? The way the sauce soaks into the cake and contrasts with the fruit is just oh so wonderful.)

I am guessing you probably don’t need a recipe for #1 and #2, so I’ll just give you the recipe for #3. These 4th of July kebabs are a great project to do with kids … it’s a good pattern recognition exercise for little ones.

Fourth of July Red White & Blue Fruit Kebabs with dipping sauces

Red, White & Blue Fruit Kebabs with Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Sauce

The sauce is, incidentally, the very same dressing I used on my Red, White & Blueberry Salad.

  • Blueberries
  • Angel Food Cake, cut into squares
  • Strawberries, washed and cut in half
  • Wooden skewer sticks

for the dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

In a small bowl, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together until they are well mixed. Keep any leftover sauce in a covered container in the fridge.

Skewer the fruit and cake on the wooden skewers to make a red, white and blue pattern. My daughter says the way to do it is to start with blueberries, then cake, then a strawberry so that you end up with a strawberry on top.

Serve with dipping sauces of your choice.

Fourth of July Fruit Kebabs with a Honey Lime Ginger Yogurt Sauce

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysTrick or Treat Tuesdays, and Thursday’s Treasures.


Berry Cherry Cream Crepes with Pecans

Berry Cherry Cream Crepes with Toasted Pecans

My daughter was hungry for crepes the other day, but it was in the middle of my work day, so she decided to make them herself. I thought I would have to help her because she usually gets frustrated with the cooking of the crepes, but she cooked them all herself, with no help from me (except for a little whisking of the batter)! I was so totally proud of her.

There were several left after she had her own personal crepe fest which she stuffed with caramel apples (just chunks of apples that she stirred into in a caramel sauce), so I put the remaining crepes in a tortilla bag in the fridge for another day. And then yesterday I thought I might have one of her crepes. I offered to make my girl one, but she wasn’t in the mood for a crepe. I guess her crepe craving was done. Good thing, because mine has just begun.

Berry Cherry Cream Crepes with Toasted Pecans

Berry Cherry Cream Crepes with Toasted Pecans

  • Crepes (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup berry basil sauce (the sauce left from making Italian Cream Sodas … or cook up some fresh berries with a bit of sugar and fresh basil, then blend to make a sauce)
  • 3 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • Sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
  • Toasted pecans
  • Whipped cream or sweetened yogurt (either fruity or vanilla), for the top

Mix the berry basil sauce with the light cream cheese and greek yogurt till it’s pretty well combined. I couldn’t get the cream cheese to completely blend with the fruity sauce, but I got it pretty well mixed. Heat the crepe a bit in the microwave if it’s been chilled (like mine was) … 15 – 30 seconds should do it, then spread a good thick layer of the creamy berry sauce down the middle, leaving a little space on the ends. Sprinkle with cherries and toasted pecans, then fold over the ends and roll up the crepe.

Add a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt on top and sprinkle with berries and cherries and a few nuts.

Enjoy!

Berry Cherry Cream Crepes with Toasted Pecans

Crepes

from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs

Mix all the ingredients together to form a thin batter. You may need to whisk it a bit to get the batter smooth.

Spray a 6 to 8 inch frying pan with cooking spray and pour in 1/4 cup of the batter. Roll the pan around to coat the bottom of the pan with a very thin layer of the crepe batter. Cook until the bottom side is light brown, carefully lifting the edge of the crepe to check for brown-ness. When it’s ready, gently lift the edge of the crepe and slide a spatula under it, then flip it over to brown the other side. Stack the completed crepes on a plate. Betty says to put waxed paper between them to keep them from sticking, but I’ve never had a problem with my crepes sticking together.

Don’t get discouraged if you break a few crepes in the process … they are delicate pancakes and they can be a little tricky to flip. Just munch on your ‘mistakes’ with a bit of powdered sugar (or just eat them plain, like my daughter did) … and try again.

This recipe was shared at Everyday Mom’s MealsManic MondaysTotally Tasty Tuesdays, Trick or Treat Tuesdays, Tastetastic Thursday, Thursday’s Treasures, Foodie Friends Friday and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Chocolate Peanut Butter BonBons

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbons

Craving. Chocolate. Peanut butter. Nagging, nagging. Helllooooo. Chocolate. NEED Chocolate! Peanut butter. Mmm. Peanut butter. Nagging. Craving. Peanut Butter. Chocolate. CHOCOLATE!

Bonbons … Mmm. Bonbons. Yes. Chocolate. Peanut butter. Yes, yes, yes. Ah! Better.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbons

I feed my cravings with high quality ingredients and then I also try to lighten up my favorite decadent treats.  If they taste really good, I find I don’t need to eat large quantities of them. These are sort of like a Reese’s peanut butter cup, except they’re healthier.

Chocolate Peanut Butter BonBons

Heavily adapted from Baby Gizmo Blog. To reduce the fat, I used PB2 in place of half of the peanut butter, which is a powdered form of peanut butter with 85% of the fat removed. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store (in the health food section), you can order it online.

  • 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (chocolate or regular … whatever you prefer/have on hand … I used a mix of both)
  • 1/4 cup flaxmeal
  • 1/2 cup PB2 (chocolate or regular or a mix of both … I used half chocolate/half regular)
  • 1/4 cup fat free half & half
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light cream cheese
  • For dipping: good quality dark chocolate and mini chocolate chips … I am not sure how much I used because I grabbed some bar chocolate then added chips to it, but I would guess it would be about 1 – 1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate chips plus a cup of mini chocolate chips
In a handi chopper or food processor, grind the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Pour them into a bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients. Form the mixture into balls (makes about 24 or so), set the balls on a tray and set in the freezer for an hour or longer.
Set the mini chocolate chips in a separate bowl, then melt some dark chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. To melt it in the microwave, microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir, then microwave 30 seconds longer and stir again. If it’s still not melted, microwave another 30 seconds and stir.
Lay out a section of waxed paper on a baking pan to set the chocolates on once you’ve dipped them.
To dip the bonbons: roll a ball around in the melted chocolate with a spoon, then poke it with a toothpick and shake gently to remove some of the chocolate. Hold the ball by the toothpick over the bowl of mini-chops and sprinkle with mini chips, then set on the waxed paper. Let the bonbons sit until the chocolate is set (in the fridge, if needed). Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bonbons

This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth MondaysManic Mondays, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, Foodie Friends Friday and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Basil Green Tea Gelato

Basil Green Tea Gelato

Do you love basil? I love basil. My mother has suggested maybe my dad and I love basil a little too much. How could that possibly be?

I have seen people put basil in sorbets and syrups and even cookies, so for #icecreamlove this month, I had this brilliant flash of inspiration: I wanted to make ICE CREAM with BASIL in it! I thought I was SOooo clever … but well, I googled it and it turns out that’s not an original idea. Sigh. But then very few ideas are. I mean with 7 billion people on this earth (currently, plus how many before us?), it’s highly unlikely that none of them ever had the same flash of insight.

I made my brilliant basil ice cream anyway. But I put green tea in mine too. Because it just felt right to add green tea.

I don’t really know whether to call this an ice cream or a gelato. I chose gelato because Saveur calls it a gelato and hey, they’re Saveur, they should know.

If you are a basil lover like me, you will love this gelato. It has a wonderful sweet basil taste. It IS very clever, even if it wasn’t my own brain child. I totally ♥ this gelato … er, ice cream? oh whatever …

Basil Green Tea Gelato

Basil Green Tea Gelato

Kinda sorta adapted from Saveur and Eats Well with Others

  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup fat free half & half
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (for a lower-fat version, use skim milk in place of 2%, more fat free half & half and less heavy cream … I would recommend 1 1/2 cups fat free half & half and 1/2 cup whipping cream)
  • 1/2  – 3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup, but if you want it sweeter, add more sugar … )
  • 2 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 green tea bags

Put the basil, milk, half & half, whipping cream, sugar, eggs, and salt in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and heat till the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch (like as hot as a tea you would drink). Put the green tea bags in the pot and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or so to let the tea steep.  Chill the mixture in the fridge until it’s cold. If you want, you can strain out the basil leaves by straining the mixture through a fine sieve or cloth. (I decided to strain it this time, but I’ve seen others leave the specks of green.) Either way, take the tea bags out and freeze it up in your ice cream maker.

Enjoy immediately, or freeze it in the freezer for a couple hours to firm it up some more.

Basil Green Tea Gelato

This post is an #icecreamlove post powered by Linky Tools

Click here to see all the other wonderful ice creams everyone is making this month …

This recipe was also shared at Weekend Potluck, Manic Mondays and Melt in your Mouth Mondays.


Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Is this baked oatmeal breakfast or dessert? I styled it like a dessert, with a pouf of whipped cream on top because it TASTES like a decadent fruity dessert, a lovely warm fruity crumble with a crunchy topping and a fruity sauce on the bottom. But really (if you skip the whipped cream) it is a quite healthy breakfast full of fruit, fiber, and protein. I love breakfasts like that.

This is something I’ve been meaning to try ever since Ann at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen posted her Strawberries & Cream Baked Oatmeal. When I met mom and dad for lunch last Sunday, they brought me some rhubarb. To me, that seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out this “baked oatmeal thing”. After trying this delicacy, I may never go back to eating regular oatmeal again …

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

Adapted from Nutmegs, seven

  • 3 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (100g) old fashioned oats (not instant oats)
  • 1/3 cup (30g) almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60g) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (250ml) milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the top:
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons flaked almonds
  • 1/2 Tablespoon or so of raw (Turbinado) sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 cup mulberries (or other berries)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Spray a small casserole dish or 8×8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Scatter the rhubarb over the bottom and toss with the sugar and vanilla.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the oats, chopped almonds, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, milk, egg white and almond extract.
  3. Sprinkle your oat mixture over the rhubarb evenly, then pour the milk mixture over the oats as evenly as you can. Sprinkle with mulberries, raw sugar and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of flaked almonds.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until the dish has set and turned a lovely brown and crunchy on top. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

If you want to serve it for dessert, serve in wedges with a little dollop of whipped cream. Or just scoop it out in warm spoonfuls into a bowl for breakfast with your coffee or tea in the morning.

Mulberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal Crumble

This recipe was shared at It’s a Keeper ThursdayFull Plate ThursdayFit & Fabulous Fridays and Weekend Potluck.


Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

So I have these chia seeds that I won from Lauren at Nutri-Savvy and Ruth’s Foods and I’ve heard they make a nice pudding … tapioca-like. Well, of course I had to try a chocolate version. I added a little cinnamon because I love the taste of cinnamon and chocolate together: the taste combination reminds me of Mexican hot chocolate.

The chia pudding does have a tapioca-like texture, except there is a slight crunch from the seeds. And it’s much easier to make than tapioca. I think I still prefer the texture of tapioca, but this is a nice, simple, and very healthy pudding. I thought it was really interesting how the little chia seeds seemed to absorb most of the chocolate. It’s so healthy you could eat it for breakfast and even pat yourself on the back for taking good care of your health. The chia seeds give it fiber, protein, and healthy omega-3 fatty acids (which are very good for your heart).

Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

Adapted from Oh She Glows

  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup fat free half & half + 3/4 cup milk (or use 1 1/4 cups milk of your choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (or more to taste)
  • 2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed (optional, but hey if you have a ripe banana sitting there that needs to be used, toss it in. I always seem to have some over-ripe bananas about that need to be used up)

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until the clumps are gone. Place in fridge for 1-2 hours (or overnight), until it’s thick. Add milk if you want the pudding a little thinner, or more chia seeds if you want it thicker (then chill again for a while …).

Serve it cold or heat it up in the microwave for a warm pudding.

Cinnamon Chocolate Chia Pudding

This recipe was shared at Scrumptious Sundays and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Ginger Rhubarb Rum Cake

Ginger Rhubarb Rum Cake {Lowfat}

A while ago, I spent a day playing with rhubarb and one of the things I made was ginger rhubarb sauce … the reason I made that sauce was for this idea for a rhubarb rum cake I had floating around in my head.

The first time I made the cake, I was really unhappy with it. It just wasn’t the cake I had pictured in my mind. I gave it to the neighbor and she and her dad loved it, so I figured perhaps I was being too self-critical.

So I made the cake again, with a few improvements. I fed some to my friend and asked him for his feedback. He is not a huge rhubarb fan so he liked that the rhubarb was not “in your face” like so many rhubarb dishes are. I, on the other hand, AM a rhubarb fanatic so I love “in your face” rhubarb dishes, but that wasn’t what I was going for here. I was trying to let the taste of the ginger, the rum, and the rhubarb gently interplay with each other.

I was worried that the cake was too dense, but he challenged me there. Who says a cake has to be light and fluffy? After I tossed out that pre-conception, I fell in love with this cake. It’s moist and dense and flavorful. It does have that delicate interplay of rhubarb, rum, and ginger and they really play so nicely together. I’ve been eating this cake for breakfast all week. Yes, breakfast. What? Who says you can’t eat rum cake for breakfast? I replaced all of the butter in the cake with the ginger rhubarb sauce, used half whole wheat flour for fiber, added pecans and rhubarb, it’s even got yogurt in it. It’s really not so bad for you. I think it’s a very pleasant way to start your day… or if you prefer, you could serve it with afternoon tea or at a dinner party.

Ginger Rhubarb Rum Cake {Low fat}

Ginger Rhubarb Rum Cake {Lowfat}

Adapted from Squidoo

  • 1/2 cup ginger rhubarb sauce (recipe here … if you don’t want to make the sauce, substitute some applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Rum syrup / glaze (a.k.a. “cake paint”)

  • 1/3 cup ginger rhubarb sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup golden rum

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the rhubarb ginger sauce, honey & sugars to make a smooth mixture. Add in the eggs, vanilla, and yogurt and whisk till smooth.
  2. Add the flours, ginger, salt & baking powder and stir till everything is fully incorporated into the batter. Fold in the rhubarb & pecans.
  3. Spray your baking pan with cooking spray and then dust with flour. I used my grandma’s bundt pan (even though the batter filled it only about half-way), but you could also bake it in a 13x9x2 inch pan if you like. Pour the batter into your pan and bake at 325 for about 50 minutes. Test it with a toothpick to see if it’s done. Let it cool for 15 minutes after you take it out of the oven, then turn the bundt pan over onto a plate.
  4. Make the rum syrup by heating the ginger rhubarb sauce with the sugars and butter till hot and bubbly, then stir in the rum.
  5. Using a basting brush, “paint” the cake with the rum syrup several times, giving it several minutes to soak into the cake between paintings. My daughter helped me with this part. She loves painting things. She decided the glaze should be called “cake paint”.

Ginger Rhubarb Rum Cake {Lowfat}

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck.


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