Wednesday, April 30, 2014

dark chocolate chunk peanut butter blondies (gluten free & vegan option).




If you're looking for a gluten free and/or vegan dessert, you're at the right place! Oh and don't be scared of the chickpeas- I promise you won't even taste them. They are hidden by the sweetness of the honey and chocolate and by the creamy, nuttiness of the peanut butter. 

The first thing I love about this recipe is how easy it is to make. It took me all of 5 minutes to whip up! The second thing I love is the natural sweetness and general natural-ness of the recipe- there's no butter, oil, flour, OR granulated sugar. The third thing I love about this recipe is the nutritional value (especially for a dessert). The beans and peanut butter give this dessert some fiber and protein. Being a type 1 diabetic myself, it's always nice to actually have a dessert with fiber/protein to balance out the simple sugars. 

These bars are awesome so don't wait to make them...seriously, get baking now!


 

Ingredients
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter* (or another type of nut butter)
  • 1/3 cup honey (or pure maple syrup or agave nectar for vegan option)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I used between 1/8-1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3.5 oz dark chocolate bar, chopped or broken into chunks (OR 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp chocolate chips [regular or vegan])

*In addition to pb, I added about 1/4 cup Trader Joes Speculoos Cookie Butter which would make these NOT gluten free.  Sadly, it didn't add much to the bars so I will probably leave that out next time anyway.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat 8×8 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray or shortening and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor (or blender or magic bullet), add all ingredients except chocolate and process until batter is smooth. Fold in chocolate. 
  3. Optional step: eat some batter...you won't be disappointed or feel guilty for eating raw dough because there's no eggs :) Happy day! 
  4. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan then stick some chocolate on top. Bake for 15-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are a tiny (key word: tiny) bit brown. I took mine out at 18 minutes. The blondies may look underdone, but it'll be gooey and delicious and will not make you sick!
  5. Cool pan for at least 20 minutes on wire rack or trivet. Cut into squares or just eat out of the pan with a fork like I did.  Makes 9-16 servings, depending on how big you slice them.


Recipe Source:

mexican sausage alfredo.



This is the second time I have made this but the first time we ate it before I could get a picture. So of course, I had to make it again so I could share it with you all!

This is my sister's recipe. I did make a couple adaptations but for the most part, it's the same. This recipe is seriously the bomb. It has a rich alfredo sauce combined with spicy, flavorful seasonings PLUS mild Italian sausage. Does Ital-ican really get any better than this?! ;)

Oh and if you are curious, the Garden Delight aka veggie pasta doesn't taste different than normal pasta. I just thought all the colors would look pretty for this dish specifically. :)

--

Ingredients:
  • 16 ounces spiral pasta (I used 12 oz Ronzoni Garden Delight Rotini)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (I used coconut butter)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 12 pieces
  • 2 1/4 cups milk, divided
  • 2 cups parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 pound mild italian sausage
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped onion (however much you prefer or feel like cutting ;)
  • 4 tablespoons taco seasoning, divided (I made my own
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup frozen corn
Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Begin by bringing a large pot of salted water to boil. While you are waiting, start on the alfredo sauce.
  2. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir constantly so it doesn't burn. 
  3. Add cream cheese piece by piece, stirring until smooth through each addition. Mixture will probably look curdled, but don't worry and keep stirring. It will become smooth in just a couple minutes.
  4. Next, slowly add a total of 2 cups milk in 1/4 cup increments. Make sure the milk is fully incorporated before adding the next 1/4 cup. 
  5. Then, stir in 1 cup parmesan cheese and 1 teaspoon pepper, mixing until cheese completely melts. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until it is thickened, then cover and remove from heat.
  6. When water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, you can start cooking the sausage.
  7. Cook sausage, onion, remaining pepper, and 2 tablespoons taco seasoning to the pan. Keep sausage going until it is cooked all the way through. Then, pour in Alfredo sauce [if it's homemade, give it a good stir first] and bring to a boil. Add remaining 1/4 cup milk, remaining 1 cup parmesan cheese, remaining 2 tablespoons taco seasoning, salsa, and corn. Mix well, then pour into an ungreased 9×13 inch baking pan.
  8. Drain pasta and fold into sausage mixture. Bake (covered or uncovered) for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. :)
Recipe Source: my lovely sister- The Pajama Chef :)


Monday, April 28, 2014

creamy zuppa toscana soup.




You are probably wondering why I am posting a soup recipe in the middle of spring. And I know winter is finally over (well, hopefully it's over) but this recipe is too good not to share. I know I will be making this in the summer (we have fans and AC, we'll be just fine!)

I've never had Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana soup so I'm not even sure if this is what it tastes like. It's awesome nonetheless so you should definitely try this stellar recipe!

--

INGREDIENTS:

3 cans (14 oz) chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream, milk, or half&half would probably work too)
1 lb Italian Sausage
½ pound bacon
4 russet potatoes
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2½ cups chopped spinach or kale (I used some of each)
salt and pepper (to taste)


DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook and crumble the bacon. Set aside.
  2. Cook the sausage in a pot. Once it is cooked through, add broth and spinach/kale.
  3. Put lid on the pot and bring sausage, broth, spinch/kale to a boil.
  4. Slice potatoes in half and make about ¼ inch slices. You can slice these into fourths making the potatoes more bite sized.
  5. In a skillet over medium heat, sautee potatoes, diced onion, and garlic. Sautee until potatoes are tender.
  6. Once potatoes are tender/cooked, add potatoes/garlic/onion to the pot of sausage/broth/spinch/kale. Also add the crumbled bacon.
  7. Reduce heat and add heavy cream. Don't let mixture boil so it doesn't curdle.
  8. Cook until heated through and add salt and pepper to taste.





Sunday, April 27, 2014

any season m&m cookies.




Before I start, I am so sorry I have been M.I.A. since...late March. I've been busy training for my mini marathon and work in general. BUT- I am back now :) And I hope I can use this awesome cookie recipe to convince you to forgive me.



M&Ms are definitely NOT my favorite candy. I think they are slightly boring as far as candy is concerned. I DO, however,  love them in baked goods, snack mix, trail mix, etc. My favorite M&Ms are the seasonal ones, like the Easter/Spring pastel ones. 


I found this M&M cookie recipe from Averie Cooks. She described these cookies as soft and chewy. Naturally, I was ALL over that. Best of all, that statement was more than true. These cookies were soft, chewy, and just plain delightful. They are perfect for any season (or holiday)- hence my name for them ;)


Ingredients:

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional/to taste
1 1/2 cups plain M&Ms

Directions:
  1. Beat butter and sugars together with stand mixer or hand mixer. Add egg and vanilla. Beat again, until everything is light and fluffy.
  2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, optional salt, and mix until just combined.
  3. Fold in M&Ms by hand.
  4. Form dough balls with scoop or with your spoon/hands. Flatten dough balls slightly.  Place on a plate and freeze for 10 minutes.   Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place them on the baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart; I bake 9ish cookies per sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if slightly undercooked, pale and glossy in the center. Do not bake longer than ten minutes as cookies will firm up as they cool Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.
  6. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Cookie dough can be frozen up to 3 months and baked later, OR refrigerated 5-7 days and baked later.




Recipe Source: Averie Cooks