Posts in dessert
hazelnut thumbprint cookies with a chocolate almond butter filling | gf + vegan

I am finally in holiday and cookie baking mode. The temperature has dropped to about 20-somethingºF here, and all I want to do is hibernate and bake (and eat) indulgent things, and order christmas presents online. My decorations are slowing making their way out of storage, and I am well stocked with wrapping paper, tape, and little boxes to hand out all of the extra cookies I am going to be baking this year.  

It's no secret, I am a little in love with the chocolate - hazelnut - almond butter combo. I'll take it any which way I can get it. In the form of a smoothie, a cake, or even these guys that I made recently, but now that I am in the holiday baking mode, I think it is most appropriate that I use my favorite sweet ingredients for cookies. 

I love a GOOD cookie. I have a habit (and you might too) where once or twice a week, I sit down with a cookie and a cup of coffee at about 4:00 in the afternoon. It's my little treat to myself. When I indulge, I like all kinds of cookies, from crunchy chocolate chip, to super soft oatmeal raisin, but my favorite kind of cookie is one that is super tasty with a little bit of the guilt shaved off. Guilt in the form of loads of refined sugar and butter. I love to feel like I am being bad without actually being that bad. 

This cookie, is that cookie. 

 

These thumbprint cookies are full of crunch and flavor, all sort of things that are good and nothing that is bad. They are made without refined flours and sugars and butter, just a short list of wholesome ingredients like ground hazelnut flour, maple syrup, coconut oil, cacao, and of course, almond butter (yum). 

I like to think of these cookies as a really tasty vehicle for shoveling almond butter + chocolate into my mouth. 

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apple + sage + oat crisp ... in a jar! | gf + vegan

I am still on a bit of a sage binge, but now I have turned it's attention to dessert. Not just any dessert. One of my all-time favorite comfort deserts, one that I make over and over this time of year. 

I've also been kind of obsessed with the idea of making a dessert in a jar. I've seen apple pie in a jar, and I always thought that it had a bit of a fun and wow factor rather than just serving as it normally would be. 

Years ago, when we first started dating, Michael took me on a date to this fancy place that cooked and served everything in mason jars. I loved it, he totally impressed me with that one. I am a sucker for food things that are interesting and different (even if a bit gimmicky).

When they came over to serve our food, the waiter carrier over an uber-hot jar with some sort of tong holder thing (just like those ones you would use for canning) and then he spooned it from the jar onto the plate. They cooked the food low and slow in those jars, and the results were quite delicious. That place has since closed, and I have yet to find anywhere that does something similar. Such a unique idea. Things in jars are always more fun. 

I’ve been brainstorming about my dessert in a jar for weeks now, and I've been craving a good apple crisp. Apple crisp is so much easier to thorw together than a pie, but it is just as satisfying … sometimes more. Alternate layers of crisp and apple is how a crisp should be. Equal part crispy goodness, equal part sweet apple yum. 

Serving them in a jar is fun because adds a bit of interaction if you have guests. It also has a practical element because you can make them ahead, put a lid on them, and save them until you are ready to bake/eat. If you're having a party, I would pre-bake it, that way you can pop them in the oven shortly before you're ready to serve. Just be sure that if you are serving them to your guests in the jar that they are cool enough to touch, or else you'll need to provide some sort of oven mitt or heat proof towel for them to spoon it out. Better yet, it's probably better if you bring it over to their plate spoon it out for them. I'm sure they'd be impressed.

Before you ask, I am going to answer the question that might be burning in your brain, which is …. No, these jars are not going to explode all over your oven.  I promise. I’ll admit, I was a tinge nervous putting them into the oven that I was going to have a mess of glass and crisp all over the place, but I've done it a few times, and everything was fine. You MUST use canning jars for this, because canning jars were made to take the heat. They are made to withstand boiling water which means they can easily withstand the heat of a 350º oven. 

This recipe is for a basic, vegan, gluten-free crisp which you have probably seen around before. The sage mingles so well with apples, if you love sage feel free to add as much as you like. You can also experiment with different crisp combinations in these jars.  I think pears with be great, or if you want to get crazy and more savory, go for some butternut squash.

The only thing I will not negotiate with you is the ice cream. It is a must. I always use a dairy-free coconut based vanilla, but any type or flavor that you like will do just fine. A crisp is not a crisp without the cold melty ice cream to go with it. 

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chocolate + almond butter + banana bites | cacao crunch

 

Recently, the best place to find me would be standing in front of my refrigerator with a spoon in a jar of almond butter. This is new to me. I've officially crossed over to the dark side. Please tell me you've been there too. 

This love for almond butter crept up on me slowly until it became a full-blown obsession. Now, my day is not complete without a scoop of almond or peanut butter in my mouth. 

I've been trying to come up with different ways to feed my all my AB/PB cravings. I'll have a scoop of it over some banana after a workout, I smear it over some apples for a mid-day snack, I make it in a smoothie with cacao and mint and have it for breakfast, and I eat it straight out of the jar .... oh sorry, I've already mentioned that. 

 

 

I've been trying to come up with another way that I can devour my favorite treat, and I decided I wanted something that incorporated not just almond butter, but my favorite things to eat with my almond butter. 

I thought about dipping bananas into some sort of almond butter chocolate concoction, then I thought, sure that would be great, but how often am I going to make that. Then, the light bulb went off. I can just blend everything together and make fun little bite sized snack things. Simple. Easy. Yes! 

You know what is awesome about these bites? I can eat them for breakfast and I pretend like I am being really bad, but actually I am being really really good. Give me one of these little bites over a muffin any day of the week. In fact, give me 7. These also make awesome snacks, as well as dessert that you can bring over to a friend's house. Loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, this could be one of the healthiest and tastiest little bites you will ever put in your mouth. 

Be sure to adjust any ingredients depending on the amount that you are going to eat out of the jar/blender. 

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mango + white peach galette with coconut cream + a cookbook announcement!

Chase Happiness.

What fantastic words to live by. 

When I was surfing the radio the other morning, I caught the tail end of a discussion on this topic, and I have not been able to get these two words out of my head since. In the same category as following you heart and dreams, this particular phrase really hits home to me. I feel like I can say with a big smile on my face that I have subconsciously always lived my life like this, more so in recently years, and I want to make sure that when I look back on my life, this phrase will have defined much of it.  

Chasing happiness is such a wonderful thing, because it does not only about the big and the grand, it can also be about finding those little moments in your day that put a smile on your face. And sometimes, all those little happy moments are what lead us to the bigger ones. 

Like eating a fresh white peach and mango galette with right out of the oven (small happy moment)

Or, writing on a cookbook that is going to be released in the Summing of 2014 (giant happy moment) 

Yep. That was my way of announcing to you that for the past few months, I have been keeping a big, huge, ginormous, happy secret from you. For the past few months, I have been working on my first cookbook that is going to be loaded with the same kind of goodness that you get here. 

I guess it goes without saying that writing a cookbook has always been a dream of mine. I always thought that writing a cookbook would be the ultimate tangable object to define my life in the kitchen. I've been chasing that happy dream for years, and here we are. Wow. I could not be more excited.

 

My book, title is still in the works, is going to be published in the Spring of 2014 by Skyhorse Publishing. It is going to have a party theme (you know I love a good party). It's going to have the same kinds of healthy indulgent recipes you find here, but with a focus on entertaining. Fun party food, dinner party menus and tips, and ton and tons of inspiring photos. I seriously cannot wait to share it with you. In the meantime, I will be sure to be giving lots of updates on the book here, including sneak peaks of some of the recipes, as well as plenty of instagrams and behind the scene photos. 

So today, in celebration, I made you a galette. A galette is a fancy word for a not-so-fancy pie. It's rustic, it's rough around the edges, it's crazy delicious. It is about 10 times easier to make than a pie, and pretty much fool-proof. If you know me, you are well aware of my love for pie ... but I have to tell you something .... these easy-going galettes may have won my heart over.

Go! Chase happiness. Eat some pie (or a galette). Let's celebrate! 

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rhubarb ice cream with pistachio chunks | dairy-free

I don't like things that are complicated. 

I especially don't like complicated recipes. I like things that are easy, intuitive, and make sense. I'm not lazy, I just like to keep things simple. 

 

Ice cream is simple. I know, it may seem like a daunting task, but trust me, it is not. It's not complicated, it just takes time and patience. Something that I don't always have a lot of, but I am trying to teach myself to. 

About two years ago, I bought the ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. When I purchased the ice cream attachments, I had visions of myself pulling out the ice cream maker over and over again to make fresh ice cream for friends and neighbors all summer long. Lovely thought, never happened.

This year will be different. This year I have learned to have a little patience in the kitchen, and a lot about planning ahead. Something I did very little of up until the past few years. Menu planning, soaking beans, cooking grains ahead of time all have given me a whole new respect for patience and planning in the kitchen. 

You need to plan ahead to make ice cream, it not something you can decide to make for dessert at 5pm the night of, but it is totally worth the effort. It takes a leisurely two days to make, or one full day (starting in the morning and ending at night) but only about 30-45 minutes of physical work. I like that. 

I am not going to plan ahead for just any type of ice cream, if I am going to break out the ice cream maker it is definitely going to be for something special. This ice cream recipe is something special. Rhubarb lends itself so well to ice cream and the pistachios are the perfect crunchy compliment. 

When I was making this, I couldn't stop licking the bowl. It was almost impossible for me to not eat it all in one sitting ... It's ridiculously good. 

This recipe contains no dairy, no refined sugar, and just a little maple syrup to sweeten it up. I fed this to a few dairy ice cream lovers and they had no idea that it was dairy-free. The coconut milk gives it a creamy consistency that you would get from heavy cream, and it does add a slight coconut flavor which only adds to the overall experience. 

When you make ice cream at home, I find that is it best enjoyed right out of the ice cream maker. It's so good you probably won't have any leftovers anyways. 

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vanilla cardamom chia seed pudding + honey poached clementines

My morning routine goes a little like this:

I wake up, usually early, before Michael leaves for work. I make myself a warm water with lemon, and then I make us a green smoothie. 

I take Bayley for a walk, the same route every morning. Two blocks north, four blocks west, two blocks south, then four blocks east back home. I pick up the New York Times from our front door step and go back upstairs and plan my day. 

Recently, I added a new step to this routine. I go out mid-morning and I get a cup of coffee. I quit drinking coffee for about a year because I thought it was healthier to not have that habit, however I found that I was really missing that part of my routine. I was not necessarily missing the coffee or the caffeine, I was missing the ritual of going out to get a cup of coffee.

In my neighborhood, there is no shortage of really good coffee places. I have about three that I frequent depending on my mood and the weather (how far I am willing to walk in the cold) and how strong of a cup of coffee I want (or need).

I love being a part of the morning hustle and bustle. I love watching other people take part in their morning routine. I love seeing the regulars sneer at the tourists who don’t know how to order efficiently. I love seeing what people are wearing and I listen to what they are ordering. I love to watch a good barista at work. 

It’s part of my routine, but I feel like it is a break from my routine. It breaks up my morning.

You might not have guessed it from reading this blog, but I get into a routine with recipes that I make for us at home. I will get stuck eating the same thing over and over, for breakfast especially. It is usually a green smoothie or eggs (made by Michael over the weekend). I’ve been trying to break it up by doing something different one or two days out of the week.

Recently I decided I was going to make some chia seed pudding and keep it around, for breakfast, for a snack, or maybe even for a little dessert. It's super easy to make, it's a set it and forget it type of recipe, so I figured it was an easy way to switch up my routine.

I decided to take it one step further and change up my chia seed pudding recipe a bit. Watch out, things are getting crazy over here. When we were in Switzerland a few weeks ago, a lot of the desserts we had were flavored with vanilla + cardamom. I decided that when I got home I needed to incorporate those ingredients, and chia seed pudding seemed like the perfect candidate.

I have never seen or made a fancy chia seed pudding, so I thought, why not. There is no reason chia seed pudding cannot get fancy. 

This fancy chia seed pudding helped break up my morning recipe routine, and then some. Because it is good to break up the routine once in a while. 

 

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hazelnut truffles rolled in goji berries // raw + vegan + gf

If we're anything alike, you probably pretend that you don't care all that much about Valentine's Day, but deep down you love it and you're secretly hoping for a surprise delivery of big, beautiful bouquet of flowers. 

When I was single, sometimes I would hope that some really hot guy like ..... say ..... Bradley Cooper would send an enormous lovely bouquet of flowers to my work. You know, because stuff like that happens on Valentine's Day all the time. 

Now that I am happily married, I still pretend like I don't care all that much, and I still secretly hope that Michael will surprise me with flowers, or a food-related thing. And he does. He always does well. 

{and ... sorry Brad, you can hold the flowers, Michael beat you to the chase.}

 

I love Valentine's Day. It's a holiday about love. It's another reason to show the person/people in your life that you love them. It does not have to be a romantic type of love, it can be a friendship love, a parental love, an animal love. Celebrating love is a wonderful thing. 

I think one of the best ways to show someone you love them it to make something for them. And when that something is raw, vegan and loaded with super healthy vitamins and antioxidants, well then you are spreading extra special love all around. 

Nothing says "I love you" like homemade chocolate truffle rolled in a powerful aphrodisiac. Yes you heard me correctly. Goji berries are known in Asian herbalism not only for their high antioxidant content, but also for their aphrodisiac qualities.

Every single ingredient in this truffle is a super ingredient with superpowers. Cacao, cinnamon, coconut oil, and hazelnuts are all great for us, especially when consumed raw. 

I cannot think of a better gift than a homemade truffle that is as chocolatey and tasty as it is good for you. 

Happy Valentine's Day! XO

 

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