Archives for category: Treats

IMG_20140119_165356Part of a healthy diet is having your fair share of fruits and vegetables. They give you vitamins and nutrients that can ward off illness, provide all-natural energy, and keep you brain in top notch condition throughout the day. But some days it can be difficult to make sure that everything you eat throughout the day includes these super foods. Juicing is a great way to stay on top of your fruit and veggie requirements, without needing alot of time to prep or cook – or eat for that matter! Juicing has also become big in the dieting world to lose weight and detox your body. This particular recipe is great because it contains kale – a super food related to broccoli known for having high levels of beta carotene, vitamin k, vitamin c and calcium. And while it may not look like the most delicious drink to some, it has a surprisingly sweet and delicious flavor that may have you reaching for your greens more often. Simply throw all the items through you juicer, add ice and enjoy your veggies like never before!

5 large kale leaves

1 large cucumber

1 peeled lemon

1 apple

2 large ribs of celery

Do you juice? What’s your favorite green juice recipe?

 

 

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During the holidays is the best time to bake up as many treats as you can muster. Why? Because there is never a shortage of people to give them to!! Ever year I wish and wish that the days leading up to Christmas would magically become my days off so that I could spend them at home listening to Christmas music and dancing away in my kitchen. But alas, these activities must be saved for the weekends. And since there isn’t much time on the weekends, it’s important to find items that are quick and easy to make for parties or even just to enjoy while wrapping gifts.

As I had said in a previous post, mini cheesecakes should become the new trend in decadent desserts. Cupcakes have been in the spotlight for a while, and not being a cupcake person myself ( I think that cheesecakes are soooo much better), it’s time for something new!! Not only that, cheesecakes can be made to be just as pretty as their cakey cousin. For this recipe, I was in a hurry to make something for a band Christmas party. Most of the people attending had already tried my other miniature cheesecakes, and so I was immediately volunteered to make the desserts. I made mini peppermint cheesecakes and mini cookies and cream cheesecakes, both with Oreo crusts and topped with chocolate ganache. I made the cheesecakes the night before, so they would have enough time to cool, and made the chocolate ganache a few hours before the party. They turned out amazing, and I can’t wait to make more of them and see what other flavor combinations I can come up with.

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Every year around the holidays, my Mom used to bust our her incredible sugar cookie recipe. She would bake dozens of them and all of us kids would sit at the table and decorate them for hours and hours. I can remember glowing at all the designs we would come up with on all the Christmas cutouts. These are some of my fondest holiday memories, and now that I am older, I still have just as much fun making my own cookies and reminiscing as I “paint” them.

The secret to making these cookies the best is to not skimp out on the dough – you gotta make these babies thick!! Most recipes will say to roll the dough out to about 1/4 of an inch – I say, at least double that for the perfect soft sugar cookie. Here’s what you need (this recipe makes about 4 dozen if rolled out nice and thick):

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

First, mix together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla, then add flour, baking powder and salt. At this point, you can chill the dough if you desire (some recipes call for this), but I can never wait. So if your impatient like me, just keep going…

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and start rolling out your dough on a floured surface (also don’t forget to flour your rolling pin, or the dough will stick to EVERYTHING). Make sure the dough is thick and even, then start using your favorite cookie cutters. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until you see the bottoms start to brown. You can cook them longer if you like a crispier cookie.

Once finished, eat one and let the rest cool. If you don’t wait through the cooling process all of the cookie “paint” will drip right off and look awful. For the “paint”, mix together powdered sugar and milk until it reaches a nice pasty texture. I like to make 4 or 5 small cups of it so I can have lots of colors to choose from – just use a drop of food coloring in each. I will try to post pictures of these delectable little guys the next time I make them. Unfortunately, I was in such a rush last time that I forgot to take any photos.

Breakfast – quite possibly one of my favorite meals to eat as well as cook. Now this pancake recipe is easy as pie – forget the bisquick and krusteaz people!! It’s really as easy as just mixing a few ingredients together, and what’s better, is you probably already have the ingredients at home – which is always my favorite.

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20131017_194551I’ve never been a big cake person, however I LOVE a good chocolate cake. I have tried layer cakes before (a long time ago) and was never able to make them beautiful the way they were intended. The cakes would fall apart, or get stuck in the pan, or the frosting would rip off parts of the cake – SO MAD!!! But this time was different, SO SO different. This cake turned out amazing looking and tasting, even if it did take me a while to make. The chocolate pairs perfectly with the raspberries and the fresh raspberries on top with powdered sugar gives a perfect presentation. If you need a dessert to impress – this is it, and if I can make it, so can you! I found the recipe on http://www.epicurious.com and made some small changes as usual. Instead of pre-packaged raspberry jam, I made my own filling with fresh raspberries and had to find a quick fix for not having buttermilk. Let’s go!

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I can’t believe I am still posting stuff from last weekend! Is it better to space them out? Because I feel like it is, but maybe you guys would rather see it all at once – Let me know!

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Anywho, these bars were created because I had run out of muffin cups while making my Caramel Apple Pie Mini Cheesecakes. I had made about 12 minis and still had filling left over, and I am not one to waste. So I needed to find something that didn’t require muffin cups, and would only need a small amount of filling since I didn’t have enough to do a whole cheesecake. I decided on these delectable cheesecake bars. I found the recipe on Food Network‘s website, and I picked it apart to use only the parts that I needed (divided in half) – the crust and the amazing streusel topping.

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After making my Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes I knew that I had to make more mini cheesecakes with other fall flavors. And it’s no surprise that I immediately settled on apple. These little delights are filled with homemade applesauce and topped with sliced apples and homemade caramel sauce. And WOW are they good! Not only that, I used the same gluten free crust as used in my pumpkin recipe by using oats for the crust instead of crackers or any type of flour mixture. Now my only problem is to figure out what flavor I want to do next! Any suggestions?

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Whenever I had seen people “make” caramel, it usually meant melting down this little caramel square candies – you know the ones that get wedged into your teeth for days? But since, I didn’t have any of those candies, and I didn’t want to run to the store, I did my usual internet scavenger hunt. I found a simple recipe from www.inspiredtaste.net. It’s a great post on caramel because it goes through step by step with photos, which is great because I don’t own a candy thermometer (and again not in the mood to go to the store). So I was able to make this caramel based on time limits and visuals. I was so excited because it ended up being so much easier than I thought it would be and only required 4 ingredients – sugar, water, vanilla and heavy whipping cream – 5 ingredients if you include patience. Also, I only did half of the recipe from their post since I was only using this sauce as a drizzle for some other treats I made on Sunday, but I will post the full version anyway. I also left out the sea salt, but I imagine I will want to try making this again with the sea salt added. Here we go…

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This weekend was so amazing! I spent all of Friday night baking with my mom, and all of Sunday day baking and eating, and Saturday I had an outdoor show with my band (Once An Empire). The outdoor shows are so fun! I just love playing under the sun and being able to enjoy the beautiful weather. The amphitheater in the park looked pretty cool too. 20131012_105001

Anyways, Friday night my mom showed me how to make Sugar Free Applesauce, and I made some amazing Maple Glazed Pumpkin muffins. I brought them as breakfast for our show as well, and those things went fast! They go great with coffee and tea, and are perfect for breakfast because they’re not too sweet but still have that hint of maple flavor.

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Weekends are my favorite – well, I think most people would say that, at least those of us that work during the week. My favorite part about the weekends is breakfast or brunch. Waking up early and drinking my coffee or tea while making something delicious just makes my entire day. And although, I am not a morning person, I would like to think I would be if I had the time every morning to concoct a tasty jump start before hitting the road.

Back before I started this culinary journey, I would make pancakes from the bag – you know the Krusteaz or Bisquick bag of white dust. During that time, I was never a big fan of pancakes. The consistency was always weird, and the taste was bland unless it was flooded in butter and syrup – ick. But, in recent weekends, I’ve started making my own pancakes from scratch. I started simple at first with just regular old pancakes, and the first time I made them I was blown away. There are so many other ingredients besides powder and water to make these delicious, so it’s no wonder the bagged version tastes so boring! I will no longer be using the prepackaged pancake mix. Pancakes from scratch are so easy to make and use ingredients I generally have in my kitchen, so there’s really no excuse to go back.

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