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Category Archives: Desserts

Paleo Brownies

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It’s MS Awareness Week. Once a year I let myself get preachy about MS. Congratulations, it is that time of year. Feel free to skip this section and scroll down to the recipe.

You may have noticed a change in the content of my blog; that’s because I recently decided to try a Paleo diet to help with my MS. I’ve noticed some pretty significant improvement so I’ll be keep the diet around.

Most people who know me also know that I have MS. It’s a pretty nasty disease- you can read about it here. MS is different for everyone. I was diagnosed about 6 years ago in my last semester of seminary. My presenting symptoms were vision problems; since then I have wrestled with fatigue, numbness, and weakness in my legs. I told you that it is a nasty little devil.

I’m very lucky that I am still able to do most of the things that I love to do and my disease has been relatively quiet. I’d gone about 4 years without an attack until it made itself known again this last December. I really struggled with this attack because I’d been off medication for some time to have another baby and I was still breastfeeding my daughter. It is hard to go into the doctor and hear that you must immediately stop feeding your child so that you can take high level steroids and try a new disease modifying therapy. But there it was. The good news is that since I’d become pregnant and had my daughter new drugs were available- PILLS! A normal person would not be that excited about taking pills everyday but when you have grown accustomed to giving yourself (nasty) injections every day; pills get you giddy. And so, 2015 started with a new regimen. I’ve spent years reading various things about diet and MS but you all know I’m a foodie and giving up my biggest hobby seemed too steep a hill to climb. Until now. I have a busy career, an amazing family, and if changing my diet could help with those things, by God, I’m going to do it. And so, here we are. Since mid-January I have removed gluten, dairy, and refined sugar from my diet. You’ll notice from my obsession with trying brownie recipes; I haven’t given up chocolate- merely made some adjustments.

Talking about my chocolate addiction is a great segue into the recipe today. I find keeping my diet is a whole lot easier when I know I have something on hand at home so I try to keep a container of brownies in the fridge and a bag of Costco’s chocolate covered super fruits in the pantry. If you decide to use a dry sugar (coconut, etc.) use 1 cup. I’ve made these with both coconut sugar and maple syrup and I just happen to prefer maple syrup but that’s just me. You could also double the recipe for an 8×8 pan but a loaf pan makes plenty for me. These are very rich so a little goes a long way. Not to mention they are kind of expensive.

Also, I’m lazy and I don’t like too many dishes so I make these in the blender. Because they are gluten free, you don’t have to worry about over-mixing. I wouldn’t recommend that method with a “normal” brownie recipe.

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Paleo Brownies (Here’s the original)

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ c. maple syrup
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted (to be honest, I just guess and sometimes it comes closer to ½ c.)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients in a bowl until smooth or throw them in a blender. Pour into a parchment lined 8×4 loaf pan. Bake 25-30 minutes.

Cool brownies and cut them into squares. I keep mine in the fridge.

Avocado Brownies

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I might be on this diet but I am NOT giving up chocolate. On a side note, I’ve seen some significant improvement so I’ll be sticking with this whole health-kick-thingy. Luckily for me, there are plenty of recipes that are big on chocolate flavor that do not use refined sugar (hello, Pinterest). Also, Costco has dark chocolate covered “super fruits” that are just about the greatest thing ever. Seriously, try them.

This recipe for brownies was my first foray into the whole “Paleo” dessert realm. I must say, they are pretty darn good. Having said that, give them a day. The first day you bake these they aren’t all that great. They are even better chilled so I keep mine in the fridge. Even if you aren’t into the whole Paleo-thing these have avocados in them so basically they are a health food. I found this recipe at The Not So Desperate Housewife; without Pinterest I’d be living on baked chicken and broccoli.

avocado brownies

Avocado Brownies

  • 4 oz Baking Chocolate (unsweetened or semi-sweet)
  • 1 T Coconut Oil
  • 2 Large Avocados, pureed
  • 1/2 c Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 c Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 T Vanilla
  • 1 T Coconut Flour (I have also used almond flour/meal)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 t Salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave (stirring at 30 second intervals); allow to cool. Fold in avocados. Add the rest of the ingredients. In a recipe with flour I would say fold everything until just incorporated but this doesn’t have gluten in it so stir to your heart’s content/the batter is smooth. Pour mixture into a prepared 8×8 pan (personally I’m a big fan of just lining with parchment paper). Bake 30 minutes. Allow brownies to cool before removing from pan. Again, I keep mine in the fridge but that’s a personal preference.

Candied Pecans (Crock-Pot)

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Did you know that the world’s largest pecan is in Brunswick, Missouri??? Until I moved to Missouri I always thought of the South when I pictured pecan groves but it turns out there are quite a few in the Show-Me State. See, we all learned something today!

One of my parishioners gave me a bag of these locally grown treasures for Christmas and I knew just what I was going to do with them.  Not only do candied pecans taste delicious, your house will smell like Santa’s Christmas Village (without the reindeer stable). Did I mention I have a toddler? We have imaginary lands on the brain… And we’re back on topic.

I like a lot of flavor so I’m pretty heavy-handed with the cinnamon and nutmeg. You could live a little and throw any spice in the pot. Also, excessive stirring tore my Crock-Pot liners (side note: Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners are the greatest things EVER) so unless you want to scrub burnt sugar from your Crock-Pot, be gentle.

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Candied Pecans (Crock-Pot)

  • 1 ¼ c. white sugar
  • 1 ¼ c. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups pecans
  • ¼ c. water

Prepare your crock-pot by spraying it with cooking spray or using a crock-pot liner. 

In a bowl, mix together sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk the egg white and vanilla until it is frothy. Coat pecans with the mixture. Toss pecans with the sugar mixture until well coated. Cook on low, 3-4 hours. Stir every 20 minutes. During the last hour of cooking add water and stir well.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the pecans on the baking sheet to cool.

Peanut Butter Cookies (GF)

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Gracious it has been a long time since I’ve posted! Honestly, living in an apartment is not conducive to my blogging. It isn’t that I don’t bake or cook but that I simply don’t want to go to the effort to blog about it. I promise I will get back into the blogging thing as soon as we have moved to our new house. Which will be happening sooner rather than later. We bought a house and will be moving at the end of May or early June. There is light at the end of this transient-tunnel!

Today’s post is peanut butter cookies. These are amazing. Yes, they are gluten and dairy-free but this is not a case of going without gluten because these are honestly the best peanut butter cookies you can make. I first ran across the concept for these cookies in a cookbook we received as a wedding gift and now this style of peanut butter cookie is everywhere. Maybe because of the surge of gluten-free? I dunno. But try them. They are quick, easy, and delicious. My kitchen Trinity!

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Peanut butter cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixer combine ingredients, mix for a minute or so. Roll into balls and flatten with a fork.

Bake about 11 minutes and cool at least 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet. Enjoy!

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

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I’ve been doing research for quite awhile now and I have decided to take the leap. Gluten-free and Dairy-free. We’ll see how this goes. A lot of anecdotal evidence suggests that strict diets help people with MS. And while I love bread and chocolate the idea of being able to keep up with my family sounds even better. Go ahead and ask yourself why I decided to do this right before the Holidays. I honestly do not have an answer to that. It would probably take more self analysis than I am willing to subject myself to in order to find an answer.

I may be cutting out gluten and dairy but that does not prevent me from eating well! My first foray into the dessert realm was crustless pumpkin pie. Right in time for Thanksgiving! I don’t think you need to be on any sort of diet to consider this delicious. The best of the pie is the filling in my opinion.  Oh, you don’t like the way it looks in the picture? Do yourself a delicious favor and drown it in whipped cream.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, & 1/8 tsp. ground cloves)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup flour (Almost any will work, but not coconut flour)
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 (15-oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 tsp  cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 F, and grease a 10-inch round pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine first 6 ingredients, and stir very well. In a separate bowl, combine all liquid ingredients with the cornstarch, and whisk. Pour wet into dry, stir to combine, then pour into the pan and bake 35 minutes. (It’ll still be gooey after baking, but that’s ok.) Allow to cool completely before transferring uncovered to the fridge to “set” for at least 6 hours before trying to slice.

I’m Baaaaack!

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Wow! It has been an insanely long time since I have blogged. Life has been more than a little crazy. I accepted a new call in Missouri and we packed up and headed south. We are now (mostly) settled into our new lives in this beautiful place. I say “mostly,” anyone need a house in Council Bluffs, Iowa?????

While we are waiting for our house to sell we are renting a little townhouse so my kitchen is a bit of a downer after my previous three ovens. However, we are adjusting. But don’t expect too much from this blog until we upgrade!

So, what recipe is worth of my return post? I thought I’d share this little dandy with you today. Think the candy bar but a whole pan of them.

Peanut Butter Bars

Ingredients
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup + 4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

Directions
In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan. In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips with the peanut butter, stirring every 30 seconds until melted until smooth. Spread over the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.

Chocolate Mint Pie

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When I was growing up the chef at the local country club was a dessert genius! He had a million incredible recipes but one that really stood out was something he called, Tipton Pie. When I started baking I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find this recipe but never did. However, this one is very close. If you like this recipe save it! I dug it out of an old Baker’s recipe book and you can’t find that little booger anywhere to save your life… trust me, I’ve tried.

This recipe is incredibly simple and no-bake (a nice perk considering it is 103 degrees today). If raw eggs make you nervous just get the pasteurized ones at the grocery store. Also, if you are hardcore you could make this with real whipped cream but I don’t recommend it. Strangely, Cool Whip is your best bet as it sets up better than real whipped cream. Can you believe that I am saying that?! But it is true.

Chocolate Mint Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup thawed Cool Whip
  • 1 baked 9-inch pie shell (I use a graham cracker crust)

Cream butter, gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate, vanilla and peppermint extract. Add eggs one at a time, beating about 1 minute after each. Fold the Cool Whip into the chocolate mixture and spoon into pie shell. Chill at least 4 hours.