I was approached by a representative of Nuts.com to enter their healthy summer snack contest! Woo! People are finding my blog and I get an excuse to play with cool ingredients and make a healthy snack.
I knew I wanted to do some kind of bar, but I am not enough of a baker to create a recipe on my own, so I turned to the best baker I know - Melissa from Smells like Brownies. Together, we came up with a granola bar recipe that included cacao butter, cacao nibs, dates, hazelnuts, unsweetened coconut, almond flour, chia seeds, and oats. Sweetened only with honey, these bars are a powerhouse of energy (they also have great texture and flavor).
To get the most flavor, roast the hazelnuts at 350 for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan at 10 and 15 minutes to ensure that they roast evenly. You can then rub most of the skins off with a towel. If you really want to get rid of all of the skins, you will have to blanch them and the skins before roasting.
You will need a food processor for this recipe, but it comes together very easily. Then you just press into a pan and bake. The bars are a little crumbly, so if you aren't a fan of that - try soaking the chia seeds in a bit of water before adding them.
The real MVP of this recipe is the cacao butter. My goodness, does it smell and taste delicious. It's like vegetable oil (or more like coconut oil in terms of healthiness and uses) that tastes like chocolate - I might be a little obsessed now. You can wrap these individually to travel or to freeze. You can also sub in whatever nuts you like, add more dried fruit - whatever you want!
Oh, yeah - if you make sure to use GF oats, this is totally Gluten Free! And if you replace the honey with something like maple syrup, it's also vegan! Enjoy!
In my last post, I mentioned that one of the recipes that I wanted to make from my blog assignment, Pale Yellow, was Vanilla Pudding Shots. Well, guess what? I made them! And they were awesome (and STRONG). I didn't have little shot cups to put them in, so I just split the pudding among four cups for my friends. I wasn't able to finish mine, so be warned that they are strong! You can mix more whipped cream in to dilute it.
Just mix instant pudding mix with milk and flavored vodka, then fold in Cool Whip. That's it - so easy! There is something about Cool Whip that helps stabilize things like this in a way that whipped cream can't. But feel free to whip your own cream and use that instead. Top with more whipped cream and sprinkles and party on!
This is True Food Kitchen's Chia Seed Pudding Pudding, made with banana and coconut milk, it is one of my favorite desserts ever. I crave it, I dream about it, I love it so much! I used to stop by after working out to treat myself (it's a healthier dessert, but still sugary). And then I moved from 5 minutes away to 35 minutes away. Sad day!
So I hit the web to find a recipe to make it for myself at home and it turns out that it was incredibly easy to find! Success! Then it turned out to be incredibly easy to make, too - double success!
Please try this wonderful treat for yourself, and enjoy!
Chia Seed Pudding
adapted from Dallas News
2 1/2 to 3 large ripe bananas (divided use)
18 oz canned coconut milk, or coconut cream if you can find it (not cream of coconut, just unsweetened coconut cream)
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 small pinch kosher salt
6 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp toasted coconut chips, for garnish
Combine 2 large bananas with the coconut cream, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt in a blender. Purée until smooth, about 1 minute.
Add the chia seeds; blend on low speed to combine. Place mixture in a sealed container to set; stir after 20 minutes. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving (may be prepared to this point up to 48 hours in advance). Top with banana slices and toasted coconut chips.
One Year Ago - Apple Galette with Salted Bourbon Caramel
Two Years Ago - Miso Tahini Soup
Three Years Ago - Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Broccolini
Four Years Ago - Lasagna with Cinnamon
Five Years Ago - Spiced Pumpkin and Lamb Tagine; Thai Pumpkin Soup; Spiced Carrot Soup
I'm gonna be honest with you guys - I totally messed up this pie, in three different steps. Ugh. More on that later. But as it turns out, it didn't even matter - it still came out super delicious! So I definitely call that a win.
We are doing a special Holiday Treats edition of the Secret Recipe Club! My assigned blog was I am a Honey Bee written by Nicole. We both live on the East coast and share a love of Buffy, tattoos, Greece, eggs bene, and a fear of open water and having to open gifts in front of others. I like that her blog includes reviews in addition to recipes, just like mine!
Anyway, I went to look for desserts on her blog and noticed a page called The Year of Pies, where she posted a pie recipes every week for a year. A year! I didn't to look at any other category, ladies and gentlemen, I was home. But would it be caramel pie? One of four different kinds of chess pie? Maybe Reese's or Thin Mint pie? So many to choose from! It was around this time that I began to feel woefully inadequate for my own dessert selection, and sorry for whoever drew my blog... I hope you were able to find something!
I scrolled down to the end of the year to look for holiday dessert and saw this No Bake Eggnog Pudding Pie. I love eggnog! And easy recipes! I wanted to make this right away.
I finally got my act together in time to post for Food 'n Flix, ha! I really need to work on that! Anyway, this month's movie is Butter - hosted by Cheap Ethnic Eats. This hilarious movie is about wealth, race, privilege, power, family, small town America, and (of course) butter. I'd seen it before, and enjoyed it so much that I didn't mind renting it again just to look for food references. Which, by the way, are few and far between other than the ubiquitous butter.
So what was I going to make that would feature butter? I came up with a few ideas, but I kept circling back to these apple dumplings (even though I'd posted about them before). They really are perfect for this movie, though - a little bit redneck, totally unhealthy, and drenched in butter.
The dumplings are actually really easy to make. I like them best when they are fresh and the sugar on top is still crunchy, so I tend to make half a recipe one day and the other half the next day - which is why you will only see 4 dumplings in the photos. Start by peeling and coring an apple, then cutting into 8 slices.
I recently moved to a new house about 35 minutes from my old one, but I still have a gym membership near my old place because I need to use up some training sessions before I quit. So I've been driving over there twice a week to train. I'm used to drinking a protein shake on the way to the gym, working out, then getting lunch. But now with the extra drive (and waking up earlier), I'm getting hungry by the time I get to the gym - and that is no good for working out! So here is where these (vegan, paleo, gluten-free) date and nut bars come in handy. I throw one in my bag straight from the freezer, and by the time I get to the gym they are thawed, so I eat it before heading in. They fill me up and give me a boost of energy - perfect!
These are also great for healthy homemade snacks or desserts, and especially for people with food allergies (other than nuts, obviously). I bet kids would love them.
The crust is made from nuts, date, and coconut - most of which is pressed into the bottom of a pan, and the rest is sprinkled on top later. The original poster is a big fan of soaking and drying nuts before eating them to remove the phytic acid that can make them difficult to digest. I tried it for this recipe and it took quite a bit of time (I dried them in the slow cooker overnight), but if that is too much work for you it's okay to just use raw nuts. The original recipe also calls for brazil and macadamia nuts, but these are a bit hard to find and a little expensive. I recommend raw cashews as a replacement.
The filling is made from dates, dried figs, and orange zest - yum.
Who says cranberries are just for Thanksgiving? With this combination of bright and tangy cranberry orange compote over sweet and creamy vanilla custard, you will want to eat them all Winter long. The acidity from the compote is balanced out by the custard - perfect. The gorgeous bright red color makes it great for the holidays, as well.
You can make the two components of this pie separately, chill them, and assemble when ready to serve. That makes traveling to a holiday potluck much easier. For the compote - combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice and zest in a pot and simmer until the cranberries start to burst. Transfer to a container and chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
For the pie - prebake a pie crust, then fill with a custard made from flour, sugar, milk, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla. Bake until set, cool completely, then chill for at least a few hours and up to 2 days. Spread the cranberry mixture over the custard pie just before serving.
This month for Food 'n Flix our movie is Bridesmaids, hosted by Cheap Ethnic Eatz. This movie is hysterical, with a lot of heart. I've seen it multiple times and I still lose it during the scene where the main character drives back and forth in her car doing various illegal things to get her cop friend's attention.
Kristen Wiig plays a woman whose bakery fails because of the economy crash. There is a very memorable scene of her making a gorgeous single cupcake and then chowing down on it. So I knew that I definitely wanted to do a cupcake for this post. There is also a lot of drinking in the movie, so I thought - what about a boozy cupcake? Perfect.
I ended up making Moscato Cupcakes with sweet wine in both the cake and the frosting - so good. Though I made a lot of changes to my inspiration recipe - subbing half melted butter and half coconut oil for vegetable oil, subbing vanilla sugar for regular sugar, and subbing whey (from all that cheesemaking) for buttermilk. I also made a simple syrup from equal parts moscato and vanilla sugar to brush over the warm cakes to boost the flavor. And I used half cream cheese and half butter in the frosting (I'm not a big fan of too sweet frosting).
Oh. My. Goodness. This is the most deliciously decadent thing ever. I don't even know whether to call it brunch or dessert, or both. Buttery brioche french toast, sweet pastry cream made with vanilla bean, and crunchy brûléed bananas topped with a drizzle of salted caramel. Total epic ridiculousness.
Step one is to make the vanilla pastry cream. Bring cream to a simmer with a vanilla bean and then let steep before adding to a mixture of egg yolks, sugar, and flour and cooking until thick and creamy. It needs to cool completely and then chill, which is why we make it first.
The next step is to make the salted caramel sauce, which is a bit tricky if you have never made one before (I hadn't). You have to leave the sugar alone while it melts and colors, and watch carefully for the right moment. Then you add butter and cream. The caramel with pop and splutter like crazy, and ball up on the end of your whisk. You just have to keep whisking over low heat until it all comes together. Then add in your sea salt and let it cool.
While that is cooling, make your French toast using big, thick slices of brioche (a little stale is better).
BLOW TORCH TIME. This is seriously so much fun. Sprinkle banana slices with sugar and brown with a blow torch. Easy. If you don't have a blow torch, I'm pretty sure that you can use a broiler.