No-Bake Coconut, Cranberry, and Chocolate Nut Bites

DSC_0133

I started making no-bake cookies and bites about a year ago after learning how similarly finely ground nuts taste to cookie dough. Since then, I’ve tried a few different varieties including no bake bars that taste like vanilla shortbread and chocolate chip cookies.

DSC_0105

Though I will admit that these raw cookies and bites don’t taste exactly like the real thing, they are definitely a satisfying alternative. And because these treats are made with all good-for-you ingredients like nuts and coconut oil, they are pretty much guilt-free.

DSC_0113

I made these bites last Sunday and had them as a snack throughout the week. I love having a couple of these bites on hand at work for a mid-morning or 3 pm snack when a chocolate/sweets craving hits. Instead of leaving me wanting more sugar, these raw bites give me an energetic pick-me-up and satisfy my sweet tooth.

DSC_0118

I love the versatility of these no-bake bites because you can customize them using whichever nut/dried fruit/chocolate combination you’re in the mood for or that you have on hand. You can definitely omit the chocolate for an even healthier treat, but the chocolate chips are my favorite part. And if you’re not a fan of nuts, you might just like these bites. My mom and I joke that nuts are her nemesis, but surprisingly, she enjoyed these bites just as much as I did.

DSC_0123

Unlike regular cookies that take time to make, bake, and cool, these raw treats are prepared in no time. For an even quicker sweet snack, press the dough into a rectangular dish to make bars instead of rolling into balls. I like these bites when they’re a bit firmer after being refrigerated, but if you can’t wait for that boost of energy, eating the dough right out of the food processor is perfectly fine by me.

DSC_0128

No-Bake Coconut, Cranberry, and Chocolate Nut Bites

Adapted from Oh She Glows and Shutterbean

Makes about 40 bites

–       2 cups raw almonds

–       2 cups raw pecans

–       5 medjool dates

–       2 tbs. maple syrup

–       1 tsp. salt

–       1 cup shredded coconut

–       ½ cup coconut oil

–       ½ tsp. cinnamon

–       1 tsp. vanilla extract

–       ½ cup dried cranberries

–       ¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Blend almonds and pecans in a food processor until mostly finely ground, but some larger pieces remain. Add dates, maple syrup, salt, shredded coconut, coconut oil, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Blend again until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Add dried cranberries, and pulse until dried berries are chopped and incorporated into the mixture. Transfer mixture from food processor to another bowl, and fold in chocolate chips until combined. Form small balls from the dough, place on cookie sheet, and refrigerate until firm. Nut bites are best kept refrigerated.

Advertisements

Cheddar, Herb, & Olive Oil Muffins

Image

This past week, I’ve been craving warm and hearty carbs. I think it’s the prolonged winter temperatures here in New York that have me wanting muffins and soup instead of fresh fruit and veggies.

Image

In an attempt to satisfy my craving while making something that also nodded at the (hopefully) approaching spring, I decided my weekend baked good (there’s typically at least one) would be these delicious and comforting savory muffins.

Image

I knew I wanted to bake an atypical muffin, and after deciding to go with savory flavors and doing some research, I think I hit upon a winning combination.

Image

I used a trio of fresh green herbs — thyme, parsley, and dill — along with lemon zest and juice to brighten up these muffins. These flavors are built on top of the caramelized onion and garlic, which you really just can’t omit. The onion becomes sweet after sautéing in olive oil and adds a wonderful depth of flavor. On top of that, I used olive oil as the choice of moisture and fat, which is a lighter and fruitier alternative to butter. The cheddar cheese unites all of these ingredients and provides that comfort I was looking for. There’s really nothing as good as crisped cheddar on top of a freshly baked muffin.

Image

These muffins would be an excellent savory option to make for a brunch alongside a frittata, and they would be equally delicious as an accompaniment to a chili or soup for a winter (or cold spring) dinner. Let me know how these muffins turn out and if you experiment with any other herb or savory flavor combinations. I can’t wait until the weather warms up, but until then, these muffins will have to suffice.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Cheddar, Herb, & Olive Oil Muffins

Adapted from From My Sweet Heart

Makes one dozen muffins

–       2 tbs. olive oil for sautéing onions and garlic

–       2 shallots or 1 small yellow onion, diced

–       4 cloves garlic, minced

–       salt and pepper for onions

–       2 eggs

–       ½ cup Greek yogurt (I used nonfat)

–       1 ¼ cup half and half (regular milk is fine, too)

–       ½ olive oil

–       zest of one lemon

–       juice of ½ lemon

–       2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour

–       2 tsp. baking powder

–       2 tsp. sugar

–       2 tsp. salt

–       ¼ tsp. pepper

–       1 tbs. fresh thyme, chopped

–       1 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped

–       1 tbs. fresh dill, chopped

–       ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top

–       Cooking spray for muffin tins

Add onion and garlic to olive oil once it is heated in a sauté pan. Sauté until onions are caramelized, about 5-7 minutes. Whisk eggs, yogurt, half and half, olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a bowl. Add flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and pepper, and mix until dry ingredients are incorporated. Add fresh herbs and cheddar cheese, stirring until just combined. Spoon batter into muffin tins coated with cooking spray, and top each muffin with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

Chocolate Hamantaschen

IMG_0735

When I first saw Martha Stewart’s recipe for chocolate hamantaschen in this month’s issue of Living magazine, I knew I had to make them. Though I wouldn’t pass up a traditional hamantaschen, which are typically eaten on Purim, they’re not at the top of my list of favorite desserts. Most of the hamantaschen I’ve had in the past are quite dense, a bit dry, and lacking in my favorite dessert ingredient – chocolate.

IMG_0703

In honor of last week’s Purim holiday, I decided to test out these new and improved hamantaschen. Though I am not religious, I will always be in support of celebrating a holiday – religious or otherwise – when there is good food involved.

IMG_0706

Martha’s recipe looked pretty close to perfection, but as I mentioned in my last blog post, I eat mostly gluten-free now, so I wanted to make these cookies with a gluten-free twist. I decided on using half gluten-free all-purpose flour and half almond flour since I’ve found that combining different gluten-free flours often yields the best result. (The all-purpose flour mix I used consisted of mostly rice flour.)

IMG_0716

I also reduced the amount of sugar to make these cookies just a tad bit healthier. But I didn’t sacrifice on the butter. Despite the griping from my older brother, I decided not to experiment with substituting the butter for coconut oil. Maybe I’ll try this substitution another time, but I wanted a guaranteed good result with this first batch.

IMG_0712

The results did not disappoint. These hamantaschen are quite the improvement from the hamantaschen I ate as a kid in Hebrew school. The dough bakes up moist and buttery, the orange zest works its magic to delicately balance the richness of the chocolate, and the chocolate center is the perfect filling.

IMG_0715

My mom said she would eat these cookies plain without the signature hamantaschen center, as the dough was delicious as is. My brother suggested using Nutella for the filling — an indulgent suggestion I just might take next time.

Whether you celebrate Purim or not, these cookies are worth the multi-step process. I’m typically a fan of easy, one-bowl cookies that go straight into the oven, but the chilling in this recipe is essential in order to roll out the dough. You will not think this extra time wasted once you taste these cookies.

Give these hamantaschen a try, experiment with the different flours and fillings, and let me know how they turn out. Happy Purim, but mostly happy baking!

IMG_0718

IMG_0719

IMG_0721

IMG_0723

IMG_0739

Chocolate Hamantaschen

Makes about 36 medium-sized cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart

–       2 sticks unsalted butter

–       1 ¼ cups sugar in the raw

–       2 tsp. vanilla extract

–       zest of one orange

–       2 eggs, plus 1 egg for an egg wash before baking

–       2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour, plus more for rolling out the dough

–       2 cups finely ground almond flour (I used this brand which my mom and I happily spotted at Costco.)

–       1 tsp. salt, plus more for sprinkling before baking

–       1 ½ tsp. baking powder

–       3 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

–       7 oz. semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale in color, about 3-4 minutes. Add vanilla extract, orange zest, and 2 eggs. Add flours, salt, and baking powder, beating until incorporated. Add finely chopped chocolate, and mix until combined. Form dough into three disks, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour.

Roll out dough, one disk at a time, on a floured surface. Dough should be about a 1/4 inch thick. Cut out circles using a cookie cutter or a round drinking glass, and place on cookie sheet. Whisk the remaining egg with a little water, and brush egg wash around the edges of the circular cookies. Place chocolate chips or chunks in the center of each cookie. Form the cookies into triangles, and freeze for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle each cookie with a little salt to make the chocolate flavor pop. Bake cookies at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes, or until the dough turns golden brown.

Banana Quinoa Breakfast Bake

Banana quinoa bake 1

Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day. When I was in high school, I was often late for my first period because I thought that eating breakfast was more important than the first five minutes of physics class. Even now, I would rather be a little tardy than miss out on a sunny side over egg on top of avocado toast or a waffle spread with peanut butter and cinnamon-sprinkled banana slices.

IMG_0655

As these two examples suggest, my breakfast selections tend to be split fifty-fifty when it comes to savory or sweet options. Both omelets and pancakes reign supreme in my mind.

IMG_0661

I do notice, though, that my savory breakfasts tend to keep me fuller for longer. Oatmeal is often one of those sweeter dishes that leave me hungry just a mere two hours later. Regardless, I woke up yesterday morning craving a baked banana oatmeal. But since I am now mostly gluten-free and since there were no gluten-free oats to be found in my parents’ kitchen, I decided to substitute quinoa for oats.

IMG_0664

At first I was a little nervous about how the quinoa would bake, as this was my first time making a quinoa bake. But I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

IMG_0670

Cooking the quinoa in almond milk provides additional flavor and creaminess. Maple syrup adds the perfect amount of sweetness to this early morning treat. Walnuts compliment the nuttiness of the quinoa and add texture. Nutmeg, cinnamon, and bananas combine to create the flavors of banana bread in this protein-packed bake. And because of the protein, this bake is heartier and more filling that its oatmeal counterpart.

IMG_0682

I love this bake served with Greek yogurt drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon. If you’re looking for a vegan accompaniment, it would also be great with coconut whipped cream.

The next time you’re thinking of reaching for oatmeal and have a few minutes to spare, I hope you give this quinoa bake a try. It is definitely going to be a new addition to my weekend breakfast rotation.

Banana Quinoa Breakfast Bake

Adapted from CookingQuinoa.net

Serves 6-8

–       2 ½ cups almond milk

–       1 ½ cups uncooked quinoa

–       1 egg

–       2 tbs. coconut oil, melted

–       1 tbs. vanilla

–       1/4 cup maple syrup

–       ½ cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

–       2 tsp. cinnamon (plus more for sprinkling on top)

–       ½ tsp. nutmeg

–       ½ tsp. baking powder

–       1/2 tsp. salt

–       1/2 cup chopped walnuts

–       1 ½ to 2 bananas

Bring almond milk and uncooked quinoa to a boil in a medium-sized sauce pan. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Check on quinoa every few minutes and stir. The quinoa will be ready when the milk is absorbed and the quinoa is softened but still has a slight bite. While the quinoa cooks, combine all other ingredients except for the bananas. Add the mixture to the cooked quinoa. Spread into a baking dish, and top with slices of banana and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes. Serve with Greek yogurt, maple syrup, and more cinnamon, if desired.